This morning we continue our series entitled, “Power of Fellowship.” Yesterday I provided you a summary of what I consider to be the progression of the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. I then connected it to the passage we have been studying in 1 John 1. Today’s message will flow in the same vein. Let’s get back to it.
(1 John 1:5-10 Easy To Read Version)
5 We heard the true teaching from God. Now we tell it to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness.
6 So if we say that we share in life with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars, who don’t follow the truth.
7 We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we are saying that God is a liar and that we don’t accept his true teaching.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things.
1. Because the Apostle Paul was in ministry for so long, and he wrote so many books of the Bible, we get a see a picture of his progression in Christ in a way that no other Bible writer (I say writer and not author, because the Holy Spirit is the author) affords us. The closer Paul got to God, the less he thought of himself. This progression in humility is something we should all strive to personify.
2. Early in Paul’s ministry he saw himself as a dead-man-walking. His life was all about Jesus. This is how we all feel when we come to Christ. The excitement of being Born-Again and saved from sin is amazing. But Paul acknowledged that he had zeal without knowledge. I was the same way early on. I told everyone they were going to hell. I even told my mother she was going to hell (true story). This type of zeal without knowledge or humility may produce someone who is excited about Jesus, but it will not produce someone who is effective in evangelism. This type of zeal turns people off to Christ and His church. When you add some wisdom to that zeal, and a young babe in Christ starts to gain humility and perspective, especially as it relates to their flaws, they can become a powerful tool in the hands of God.
3. After Paul’s “zeal with no knowledge” stage, he got to the point where he acknowledged his calling in a sober way. He was okay with letting people know that he was called of God to be an Apostle, but because he was growing in Christ and in humility, he considered himself to be the least of all the Apostles. Paul was not there when Jesus and Peter walked on water. Paul was not there when fish and loaves multiplied in the hands of the Apostles. Paul was not there when Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and Lazarus popped up, still wrapped like a mummy. Further, not only was Paul not there, but when he was around, he was on the wrong team. He was persecuting the church. He had countless Chrsitians killed. When Paul considered his past, it helped him embrace the humility required to be an effective witness for Jesus. If you want to be effective in telling the lost about Jesus, you must be humble. Your message about eternal life will rarely be received if you do not deliver it from a humble heart.
4. After Paul acknowledged that he was an Apostle, but the least of the Apostles, he grew to the point where he saw himself as the least of all believers. He said, “I am the least deserving of all God’s people.” (Eph 3:8). At this point he was not comparing himself with the other Apostles. He looked around at all believers, everywhere, and he considered himself the least of all. Paul’s power was in his humility. Where you end, God can begin. Where you acknowledge that you are weak, God can release His strength. But if you think yourself strong, God will withhold His strength. God will not compete with you. The secret to success in Christ is not more trying. It is more dying. As you die, God is able to live through you. We see this clearly in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. May we see it in your life as well.
5. Towards the end Paul’s life, when he knew his days were numbered, he made it clear that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And he then said he was the CHIEF of them all! (1 Tim 1:15). After going on four missionary journeys, after writing half the New Testament, after operating in spiritual gifts for years, and after being a Pastor of Pastors, Paul said he was the Chief of Sinners. The closer he got to God, the less he thought of himself (outside of God). In Christ Paul knew he could do all things. But outside of Christ Paul considered himself nothing. Unfortunately, this type of humility is lacking in the Body of Christ today. And without it, it is hard to have true fellowship. John taught us that if we want to have fellowship we cannot claim to be without sin. But if we are open, honest and transparent, if we walk in the light as God is in the light, then we can have fellowship one with another. If you ever run into a Christian who is very critical or judgemental, that person is proving to you that they are a baby-Christian. They don’t know anything yet. If they truly knew God, they would never look down on you!
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I am growing in You. Growing In You means dying to me. The closer I get to You, the less I think of myself (outside of You). In You I know I can do all things. Outside of You I can do nothing. In You the supernatural is natural to me. Outside of You I am flawed and frail. Your strength flows through my weakness. Where I end, You begin. So I embrace the humility the Holy Spirit leads me to operate in. This humility helps me to look at others the way You see them. I will never look down on anyone, because I realize how flawed I am. This perspective helps me to have true fellowship with other people. I am able to honor them without tripping over their flaws, because You treat me the same way. Thank You Father for teaching me how to have great relationships in this world. This requires humility and grace. I have both! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!