1 John 2:5 | My Lifelong Fear

I have a fear. A real fear. I have a fear that I will not be able to run the race. The race of life before God. I am a sinner with all my issues but I want to love God and I want to obey Christ living the life he has for me. I have seen so many people fail and fall. People when I was a child that I looked up too. People that as an adult I liked their books or their message in media. The Ravi Zacharias issue brings up this fear in a very acute way. I did not see this coming and it dredges up memories from my past fear that I would not be able to run the race.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

I fear things I don’t understand. How can a person who serves and loves God fall so far from God’s standards? I am not talking about a one-time issue but a pattern of behavior that is outside of God’s grace? King David sinned as great as anyone can sin when he stole another man’s wife and had that man killed. Our hearts are evil but David returned to God and repented because of the relationship David and God shared. The Ravi issue demonstrates an ongoing pattern of planning and preparation for sin. It is stunning as I try to understand and that fear of my own failures clouds my mind.

5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” 1 Kings 3:5 ESV

When I was a young man, I read the account of King Solomon and how he was given everything by God. Tom Brady’s wins are nothing compared to the wining that Solomon was given. Yet at the end of his life Solomon did not run the race well. This account of Solomon’s life and Solomon’s self-reliance scares me. I am afraid of this for myself. Solomon asked for wisdom when God would have given him anything. Asking for wisdom is even a credit to Solomon but what good is wisdom without a relationship with Christ the maker of Heaven and Earth? My prayer then and my prayer now is that God, Father, Savior, Jesus… I pray for the grace and mercy to run the race with endurance to the end. An end that is in your arms with you. That is the goal. An everlasting relationship with my maker? Is can’t be about stuff. Fame. Success. Power. Money. Land. All of it will one day be gone. That is temporary. Jesus is eternal.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. … 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6 ESV

So, I look to the examples of those who have finished the race. I take my fear a very real fear and a justified fear to the truth that John speaks and I come away with reminders.

When I sin I have an advocate in Jesus Christ. Jesus loves me and died for me. Even if like King David I travel far from God and turn my back to him all hope is not lost. I will make mistakes but Jesus will be my advocate and I pray that at that moment I turn to him as I once did. Jesus can make right what I made wrong.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again Proverbs 24:11a ESV

My life must continually be turned away from the comfort of this world to the eternal perspective. If my life does not reflect the commandments of Jesus then I do not know him or love him. Do I love him enough to alter my lifestyle and my quest for money in this temporary world?

“[Jesus speaking] If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

Finally, I must abide in Jesus. Every day I must turn to him. Every moment I must seek what Jesus wants. My very being must always be about Christ. Christ only Always. Whoever abides in Jesus will walk in the ways of Jesus.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV

I Can’t Wait for Spring

Jesus used the branch and vine analogy to explain how our relationship with him should work. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:1-8 ESV

Before delving into the mechanism of how we bear fruit and what it means to abide it would be good to acknowledge what the fruit looks like.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24 ESV

The works of the flesh are what we do naturally out of the sin nature. We are selfish seeking our own gain and our own pleasure. Look at the list of selfish desires: sexual immorality, sensuality, idolatry, jealousy just to name a few. These are the things our work can produce and it is not fruit, our production is death and decay. The Holy Spirit on the other hand produces in us love, peace, and self-control. This is not a result of our work, but a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

It is a difficult concept for men and women to grasp. We do not produce anything that God wants. We “bear” fruit. We do not produce it and the fruit is not something we create with our works. When we are grafted into the vine Jesus pumps life into the branches. The branches then grow strong and strong enough to bear fruit. Fruit that is a benefit to everyone around.

The fruit of the spirit is grounded in love. Love for Jesus and the Father’s plan. As believers grow in their relationship with Jesus the motivation for everything is not fear, or religious duty, or because that is what is supposed to be done, the believer is moved by love.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 ESV

Abiding in the vine is the duty of the branch. Love is the key to abiding. Jesus made clear that a branch that will bear fruit is a branch that loves the vine. For Jesus to “manifest” fruit through a branch that branch must abide. Do we love Jesus? Have we sought after Him? Have we been ready to give up our own selfish works to in order to be ready to bear His fruit? Each man must reflect on the motivation for why we do what we do.

Jesus also said that any branch that does not bear fruit is worthless to the vine. The Father will remove and toss into the fire to be burned. We think our works bring life, but when we look at the selfishness of those works we really only see decay and death. God has no use for that so it will be removed.

My challenge to the reader is that you would consider what God desires as worthwhile and ask Him for the desire to abide in Christ our only source of life.