There are few dispositions in life more debilitating than fear or anxiety. There are also few dispositions more dangerous to our personal welfare then misplaced confidence. The concept of the believer’s security in Christ and one’s confidence that he is in Christ are important topics. Sadly, many people go through life with misplaced confidence while others wrestle with unnecessary yet very real and debilitating anxiety. We recently addressed these issues in our church as we continue to work verse by verse through the book of 1 John. As a pastor my heart is heavy as I think of real life situations directly connected to this topic. I think of people who show no evidence of clarity in their understanding of the gospel, yet are stubbornly self-confident to their own destruction. Yet again, others who have professed faith in Christ, yet due to a highly introspective disposition, an untrained conscience, or spiritual immaturity are plagued by anxiety and crippled in their Christian experience. Neither is good nor necessary, yet both are all to common realities. It is my firm conviction that those in either category desperately need their dispositions, emotions, and daily thoughts to be brought into the light of God’s words. Scripture provides clarity and sheds light into the darkness exposing the true nature of our thoughts and emotions. Let’s study this topic in light of last weeks sermon text: 1 John 3:18-21 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”
Imagine for a monument that you are a young person who has taken the potentially life changing step to run for public office in your local community. After formally announcing your candidacy, you are approached by a member of a popular local media outlet soliciting your first formal interview. Being young and inexperienced, you thrill at the opportunity to get your name and views out to the public, and after completing the interview, you eagerly anticipate its publication. Finally, the day comes that the interview is published. You pick up the paper and begin absorbing the article, but to your dismay, you meet an article that is far less flattering toward your views than you anticipated. You cringe in several location, where the author twisted your words, and presented them in a way that misrepresented your views. Every quote was verbatim, however not every quote accurately portrayed what you said in the interview. You quickly learned the hard lesson, that your words can be easily twisted and presented in a way that is quite contrary to your original intention.
As a pastor, it is both my passion and sacred duty to labor to “rightly divide” the word of truth for God’s people. Pastoral labors are not strictly academic; however, living and working in the midst of God’s people provide countless reminders of the devastating consequences of embracing false teaching to whatever degree we meet it. Ideas have consequences, and the degree to which we embrace right ideas will directly manifest itself in the blessings we experience in our daily Christian walk. To the contrary, wrong ides also have varying degrees of negative consequences. It was this passion that drove the Apostle John to pen a series of simple yet practical epistles to his beloved church family at Ephesus. Over last few months in our church here in Cape Coast, we have been studying the first of these epistles. Week after week, my hearts has been stirred by the pastoral love of John for his church family, and his desire to confront wrong thinking. It is my desire to share with you some of the highlights of our time spent in this epistle. Our next post will discuss the primary situation facing the church, and John’s approach to correcting this great problem in the church.