Obediently Imitating the Master (1 John 2:3-6)
I.) Discovering Why Christians Obey and Imitate Christ
In this next section of 1 John we are faced with another test of genuine salvation in Christ; after all John begins by saying, “and by this we know that we have come to know Him…” Our immediate question should be, “By what standard can we see that we actually know Him.” John does not leave us without a standard to compare ourselves to. It is summed up as obedience to, and imitation of, The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Before we look at the exam there are couple of areas we need to first cover to best understand why these marks will be seen in a person who has truly turned from there sins, and believed upon Christ: 1.) The necessity of sinners acknowledging Christ as the Lord for salvation. 2.) The reality and meaning of Christians being a possession of Christ.
II.) Lordship Salvation
There is something very important for us to understand when we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not only teaching a message that saves sinners and gives them the hope of eternal life in Christ. We are essentially teaching sinners that they must submit to Christ as Lord in order to be saved and be granted His everlasting life.
This is an unpopular view today among most Christians, but it is the truth found in the teachings of Christ. To come to come to a different conclusion requires one to neglect the strong statements and implications of the Scripture, and to establish a dichotomy between true discipleship and salvation that the Word of God does not create.
It means a person cannot look to Christ as merely their Savior, but not as Lord, and still be saved. Submitting to the Lordship of Christ is essential to salvation. If you want to put a name to it, it has been coined Lordship Salvation.
Why should we believe a teaching that is contrary to what many in the evangelical community believe? Why should we believe that submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation? There are several reasons:
1.) It is clearly seen in Christ’s commission to His church in Matthew 28:19-20:
“18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with youalways, even to the end of the age.”
The commission begins with Jesus establishing His sovereign authority and ends with us being commanded to make disciples that observe all the He commanded. To observe all that Christ commanded is to obey Him. To obey Christ is to submit to Him as Lord.
2.) Jesus stresses the demand of the gospel upon the hearer in Mark 8:34-38 when He says:
“34 …If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
The sinner is called to lose sight of self and personal interests, embrace sufferings for another’s name sake, and lay aside their autonomy in a pursuit of Christ. To deny self and follow Christ is to submit to His Lordship. Make no mistake about this portion of Scripture. These are the underlying demands of the gospel when someone is called to repent and believe in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for His sake and the gospel’s will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Nothing! What will a man need to give in exchange for his soul? Everything! What will he gain? Christ as His Lord and Savior!
3.) The clearest reason is that the Scripture says in Romans 10:9-10:
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Confessing Christ as Lord is essential to salvation. A sinner must submit to the Lordship of Christ in order to be saved. Those who do so will be saved by His grace through their faith in His substitutionary work on the cross, and they will in turn make disciples who submit to Christ. Such submission will be evidenced by their observing His commandments.
III.) Slave of Christ
It is also important for us to understand not just the sinner’s submission to Christ as Lord, but Christ’s possession of those whom He saves, and His being Lord over them. Why should we expect genuine believers to keep His commandments and to walk in the same manner that He walked? Christians are bondservants of Christ:
1.) Paul says of himself in Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…”
2.) In Titus 1:1 he says, “Paul, a bond-servant of God…”
3.) Jesus’ brother James refers to himself in the same manner in James 1:1, “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
4.) Peter says in 2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.”
5.) Jesus’ other brother Jude opens his letter by saying in Jude 1:1, “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.”
6.) The implication that all believers are considered this is seen in Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ…”
7.) The church referred to themselves as such in Acts 4:29, “Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence.”
8.) Paul says to Timothy in his second epistles 2:24, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged…”
9.) Peter instructs all believers in 1 Peter 2:16, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”
10.) In Revelation 22:3 every believer is called this, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;
What then is a bondservant? A bondservant is a Doulos, a slave. One who gives themselves up to another’s will. It is a person owned by someone else. They are subservient to, and reliant upon that individual. Jesus Christ says in Mark 10:45 that He came “to give His life a ransom for many.” When someone redeemed a slave in New Testament times they had to first pay a ransom price. Jesus Christ purchased our redemption with His blood on the cross. He bought us with a price. Those who were once slaves to sin are now slaves to God. Their lives are not their own. Titus 2:14 tells us that Jesus, “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
Notice the people He has redeemed for Himself are “zealous for good deeds.” The best way for us to understand our being slaves of Christ is to look at a certain provision for slaves under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament. Every slave in Egypt was to be freed on the seventh year of their service, however, Exodus 21:5-6 states:
“If the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.”
A Christian is a slave of Christ who has had their ear pierced by Him. We love Him, because He first loved us. He is a good Master whose yoke is easy and burden is light. We do not serve Him begrudgingly, but with a willing desire and devotion to do His will.
Keep in mind what we have discussed in past sermons about the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. God makes new creatures with new hearts inclined towards Him, and He puts His Spirit in every new creature He makes causing them to walk in His statutes and to be careful to observe all of His ordinances. Christ redeemed us from the cruse of the Law, and after He freed us from the curse of the Law we turned around out of love and inclined our ears towards Him to be pierced so that we will forever live according to the Law of Christ.
IV.) Marks of a Doulos
Every Christian is a Doulos. A slave of Christ who gives themselves up for His will. With new hearts, pierced ears, and the indwelling Spirit, the Christian will walk in His statutes and carefully observe the Law of Christ. Will they be perfect in their obedience to Him? No, but they will desire to walk in a manner worthy of the calling by which they have been called, and they will be grieved when such a walk is marked by disobedience. John says:
“3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
To Keep means to carefully attend to something. It conveys guarding something dear to you. This is a very basic examination. Do you possess a growing desire for the Law of Christ, and is your life marked by a gradual application of His commands? Works do not earn salvation, they evidence it:
1.) Ephesians 2:8-10, “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
2.) James 2:17-20, “17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”
In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” In verse 21 of the same chapter He says, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and He who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” Verse 23-24, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.”
This exactly what John is presenting to us. 1 John 2:3-5a is the condensed version of chapter 14 of his gospel account:
“3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected…”
Those who profess to know Him, but live a life apathetic and disobedient to His commandments are self-deceived demonstrating they do not love Christ. Their lack of attending to His Word, and not carefully guarding it is evidence their heart is not new, their ear is not pierced, and His Spirit is not in them. It is proof they view Him neither as Lord, nor possess Him as Savior. They lie and the truth is not in them.
“5 Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected…” What this means is that a Christian’s love for God is proven through their obedience to His Word. Their love is shown to be complete and genuine. This is certainly not a perfect love, but it is one which is growing in accordance with the qualities of the new creature. It is a love which draws a person to be careful to guard Christ’s commandments and to obey them. The Christian finds assurance of their salvation in their growing desire to live in obedience to their Lord and Savior who bought them. Why do we love God? We love God because He first loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
“…By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Those who have truly come to know Him, and love Him, and abide in Him, will imitate Him. The only logical outcome to keeping His commandments is that you will walk in the same manner that He walked. A life marked striving to imitate Christ is evidence your heart is new, your ear is pierced, and His Spirit indwells you. It is assurance that Christ is your Lord and Savior. Jesus says in John 15:1-11:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
V.) Are We Marked as His Slaves?
Let’s end with these questions:
1.) Are our lives marked by a growing desire for the Law of Christ, and obeying His commands?
2.) Are we gradually becoming more like Christ, and walking in the manner that He walked?
In regards to imitating Christ, Paul Washer says this:
“Imagine a little boy who loves and admires his older brother very much and seeks to imitate him in everything. Although his features are those of a child, a close examination of his face and mannerisms reveals enough of a resemblance to his older brother to prove their kinship. One snowy winter’s morning the elder brother sets out to do his daily chores around the farm, and his younger brother follows closely behind. The elder brother is tall and his stride is long and sure. His footprints in the snow reveal a strength and balance far beyond the ability of the little boy. Nevertheless, undaunted by the seemingly unattainable challenge and driven by a passion to be like his elder brother, the boy lengthens his stride to match the footprints left behind. After only a few feeble attempts, it becomes obvious to the boy and any observer that the elder brother’s stride is simply beyond that of the younger sibling. Though he fixes his eyes upon the path marked out before him, though he set himself to the task with the greatest resolve, and though he exerts himself to the point of exhaustion, the result is an extremely awkward, even comical imitation. However, in spite of his inability to match his brother’s stride, the boy’s perseverance proves the sincerity of his devotion to his brother. In spite of his frequent failure, it is obvious to any honest observer that the inclination of the young boy’s heart and will is to be like his elder brother and to walk as he walked. According to the Scriptures, Christ is not only our prophet, priest, and king but also our eldest brother, and the path that He walked provides both the direction and pattern for our lives.”
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number: 1401
 Ezekiel 36:26-27
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number: 5083
 The Gospel Assurance and Warnings, Paul Washer; Page 54 ki_h�� �