Tuesday, July 21, 2009

7-22- Abiding in Him means not abiding in something else

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/22- I John 2:24-29
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. Now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
2:24- Overview- John connects this to the former passage pointing out the fruit of obedience, and exhorting them to perseverance.
“From the beginning”- John is not trying to prove his teaching (or any other teaching) is true because it is old. But he is saying they have been taught the good faith and they should continue in that teaching. It would be stubbornness not perseverance if we were unwilling to depart from a doctrine that we once embraced because we held to it before. So wisdom is encouraged so that a reason for our faith may be clear form God’s word: then let inflexible perseverance follow. “what you have heard”- Here is the fruit of perseverance, that the ones in whom God’s truth remains, remain in God. Remaining and cleaving to God is the greatest truth to pursue in religion. But the one who does not dwell in the Father through the Son is fake and empty whatever knowledge he may possess. He also reminds us that real happiness occurs when God dwells in us. 2:25-“this is the promise- eternal life” basically means that we must live in order to nourish the seed of life sown in our hearts. John insists that not only the beginning of the blessed life is to be found in the knowledge of Christ, but also its end or perfection. John cannot repeat this enough because so many have been ruined when they are discontent with Christ and want to wander beyond the simple doctrine of the gospel.
2:26- “These things have I written to you” John admitted he was admonishing some who knew what he was saying. But he did this so that they might ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. He was saying, “I do my part, but is it still necessary that the Spirit of God should direct you in all things; for unless he speaks within you I am wasting my voice.” We are reminded when John writes about those who would seduce us from our faith, that the duty of a good pastor is not only to gather the flock but also to drive away the wolves. No one can faithfully teach the Church unless they are diligent in banishing a seducer’s errors whenever they are found.
2:27- It is fanatical and absurd to take this passage as if it excludes the outward ministry of the Church. The faithful have already been taught by the Spirit, so that they did not need to re-learn such things. Everyone had some assent to this knowledge according to the measure of their faith. In some faith was small, in others stronger, and in none perfect, so it follows that no one knew so much that there was no room for progress.
2:27- “And you do not need anyone to teach you”- It is not that teaching is useless; It is not, as some say, that we do not need any outward ministry. He was saying that the faithful, taught by the Spirit (illumination), did not need to teach new truth, but to appropriate the truth already revealed to them. When people really understand what is necessary for them, we still should warn and rouse them so that they may be assured and confirmed in their understanding. John wanted to strengthen their faith when he called them to listen to the Spirit who corrects and approves doctrine and seals it in our hearts, so we may know what God says. God is His own witness that what we received from Him really comes from Him. “as that anointing is real, not counterfeit” The Spirit seals God’s teaching making it certain in our hearts. The Spirit gives us judgment and discernment so that we will not be deceived by lie, so that we will not hesitate, vacillate and be doubtful. “Continue in him”- or abide in Him. He has said that the Spirit abides in us; John now tells us to abide in the revelation made by the God (Christ). He is not saying we should abide in the anointing but in the anointer (Christ). The purpose of the illumination of the Spirit is that we may know Christ. He promises here the fruit of perseverance which is confidence. Faith is not a naked and frigid apprehension of Christ, but a lively and real sense of his power, which produces confidence. Faith stands up against the waves of attacks by looking to the coming of Christ. Those who indulge in their vices fearlessly turn their backs on God; they obtain peace by forgetting God, and in a stupor neither dread sin nor fear death, and shun the judgment seat of Christ. But a godly confidence delights to look on God, so that the godly calmly wait for Christ, and do not dread his coming. 2:29- “if you know that he is righteous”- faith is here connected with a holy and pure life. We are spiritually born into the likeness of Christ. Thus, no one is born of Christ except the one who lives righteously. We are born of God in Christ; but we are born of Christ who are renewed by his Spirit.

The idea of abiding, remaining, continuing in Christ here is very important to Calvin and echoes John 15. This is a work of the Spirit of Christ. There are many counterfeit teachings to lead us astray, but when we abide in Christ we are able to discern by the Spirit the true from the false teaching. The best way to detect a false dollar bill is to focus on a good dollar bill and know it well. So we are called to focus on Christ. Abiding in Him means not abiding in something else.

Prayer: Lord, keep my eyes on you today. Let your Spirit give me grace to abide in you today- wherever I go, whatever I do. Help me to live in ways that would please you, and keep me abiding in your great love.

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