When in doubt, delight in his law. Really?
SEPTEMBER 9, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
When in doubt, delight in His law, really? Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
You’re listening to Key Life. Our message is simple, because life is hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re tired of religion that just beats you down, pull up a chair and stay awhile.
Zach Van Dyke:
Well, thank you for tuning back in today on Wednesday. If you’ve been with me since Monday, I’m just so glad. And if you haven’t, you can always go back and check out podcast on keylife.org. If you’ve been missing Steve, you’ve got all his teachings on there as well. Steve will be back on Friday with Pete Alwinson for Q & A. You should definitely tune in to that. But today we’re getting very close to wrapping up this three part series that I started back in July called When In Doubt, where we’re looking at the letter that John wrote to the early church, towards the end of his life. And in this letter, he really is trying to give young believers assurance of faith. How do they know that they really know Jesus? How do they know that they really are a Christian. And yesterday we talked about what it means to be born again. Or we talked about the fact that we needed to be born again. Didn’t really talk about what it means. We talked about the fact that Jesus says over and over again in the gospel of John, and then John reiterates it throughout his letter to the church that in order for us to be a Christian, we have to be born again. We have to be born of God. So the question is, how do we know if that’s happened? How do we know that we in fact are born again. Now, John, in this letter in the middle of this letter, which we didn’t really look at, he really kind of lays out three tests for Christians. He lays out a theological test, essentially says, Hey, if you believe these things, then you pass the test. If you believe that Jesus is the son of God. If you believe that he came and lived the perfect life, the life you and I were designed to live. And then he died the death that we deserve for our sin and disobedience, and then you believe that God raised him from the dead. Then you believe the right things. You’ve you’ve passed the theological test. Then he gives us a moral test and this test is all examining ourselves when it comes to our sin. Are we continuing in sin? And it can be a very kind of a devastating thing to look get, especially the way John talks about it in 1 John chapter three in particular. I mean, he blatantly says, if you are a child of God, if you were born of God, you will not continue in sin. And so you’ve got to kind of wrestle with, well, wait a second, I still struggle with sin. Again, you gotta read the letter in, in context, right? You’ve got to go all the way back to the beginning of the letter where he says, if we claim we do not have sin, we make God out to be a liar. At the very beginning, he says like, we will continue to sin. So, Him saying, if you’re born of God, you won’t continue in sin, can’t just mean blatantly, you never struggle with sin. So you kind of go through the moral test and maybe you think, well, yeah my heart’s desire is no longer to sin. Like I, I hate that I sin. I’m living kind of in the place of Romans 7, where Paul says the good I want to do, I don’t do. And the evil that I don’t want to do this I keep doing. Like, is that happening? Are you, are you in a state where all of a sudden, sin becomes sin to you. You know? And then the last test is a social test. Do you love other people? If you are born of God, it will change the way you treat other people. The outward marks of those that are born again, our belief in Jesus, as the Messiah obedience to God’s commands and love for others. If we see those marks in our lives, we can know, we can know that we know. Now listen, some of you will go through those tests and you’ll be like, yep. Got it. Got it. Got it. Others of you will be like me and you’re like, Hmm, may I maybe have one and a half may maybe on a good day. Right? But you know, if you’re one of the people who, who feels like you get through the test and you check all the boxes, John, at the end of this letter, I think gets you. It’s like he’s presented these tests so that you and I can know that we know. And then he hits us with First John 5 verse 3. This is what he says.
In fact this is love for God to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
That’s a trap, right? Because listen, if you went through the test and you felt pretty good. Yes. I believe the right things. Yes. I’m pretty good at not sending at least better than most people. I pass the social test. Yeah. I help people every once in a while I give to charity, but then bam. And his commands are not burdensome. All week, as I’ve been looking at this last chapter in First John, that verse has been messing with me and I’ve been asking myself, gosh, why do God’s commands still seem so burdensome to me at times. I came up with two reasons, because I’m still living, like I got to earn it. And because I still don’t trust, there for my good. This reminds me very much of the prodigal son story, the older brother, right? You remember the story of the younger brother runs away squanders all of his inheritance in wild living, but all the meanwhile, the older brother has always stayed at home and he’s done the right thing and he’s worked the farm. And then when the younger brother comes home, you know, we’re told the father runs out to meet him and he hugs him and he kisses him and he tells them all is forgiven. And you’re my son. I love you. And not only that, we’re going to throw a huge party to celebrate you. And remember the older brother’s response, when he hears the party and the celebration going on, he comes out to the father and he says to him, look you, all these years, I’ve been slaving for you. And I never once disobeyed you. Older brothers pass all the tests, they believe the right things, they do the right things and they serve others. They pass the test, but it’s all obligation. It’s all burdensome. There’s no delight. So John gets to the end of this letter and he kind of hits you. And it’s kinda, it’s kinda sly. Like you can kind of pass over that pretty quickly, but he says, listen, this is it, to love God is to keep his commands and his commands are not burdensome. Do you delight in God and his law? The book of Psalms opens with these words,
Blessed as the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law. He meditates day and night.
It’s all burdensome. There’s no delight. It’s all about results. They obeyed to get things from God. You know, essentially the son says to the father, all that my obedience has gotten me is you. I just have been stuck with you all this time. And that is worth nothing to me. You know how you can kind of test where you are with this. What’s your prayer life like? Do you spend most of your time just asking for things? And listen, it’s important to bring our petitions before God. And he loves for us to do that. He wants us to bring everything before him. He wants us to bring every want and desire and need and lay bare before him all of that. But if your prayers are all just petitions, if you just go to God to get things from him. If your whole prayer life is a list of things that you want, or you need, and may be an occasional confession of sin. And you never just waste time praising God, adoring Him. Just being in his presence and listen, I know that can be abstract. A lot of people say like, what is that? I don’t even know what, what, what does that mean? I’m not a poet. I can’t just sit and just think and ponder and pontificate on the beauty of God and write beautiful love songs to God. Like, that’s just not me. I have a friend, who describes it like this. She says, I think what it means to just kind of praise God and just waste time with him is a lot like Facebook stalking, right? She said, when, when she first started really developing feelings for her husband, then she would go on his Facebook and she would just stalk him. She would find out, like she wanted to know everything that he was into. She wanted to know the music that he liked. She wanted to know the things that he was passionate about, the things that broke his heart. Like she wanted to know like how much of him, can I relate to. I just want to know everything without him. That’s essentially what, how often do you just spend time in God’s word, not trying to learn what you need to do in order to get God to do this for you? How often do you just spend time getting to know him, trying to see his heart, trying to see his character? How much time do you spend, just saying God, I just want to know who you are. That’s what it means, right? Do you pray to get things from God or simply to get God? The older brother comes to the father and says, I’ve been obeying you. And it’s got me absolutely nothing. Being with you means nothing to me. He has fulfilled the letter of the law, but not without breaking his father’s heart in the process. He’s saying, I don’t want you. If my obedience means I get to be with you, so what. I don’t want you, I just want your stuff. And that way he’s no different then his younger brother, who comes to the Father at the very beginning of the story and says, Hey dad, I wish you were dead. Give me my inheritance now. But thankfully, we all have an older brother, who’s not like that. He said whatever I have to do, whatever I have to sacrifice, what ever I have to lay aside, I’m willing to do it, if it means you get invited into the party. Jesus is the true older brother. He’s the one that came after us in our disobedience. He came after us when, when we wanted nothing to do with Him, he came after us because he is all about grace.
Thank you Zach. That was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, teaching us from First John 5:3 about delight. Of course, as we’ve mentioned, this is the third and final week of this series on doubt. Tomorrow, Zach will be wrapping the whole thing up and I know you don’t want to miss that. And as always, if you have missed any of these episodes, there’s one place to find that, keylife.org. But listen, big news. We have just revamped the entire site. Yes, it is a brand new keylife.org more than two years in the making, cleaner layout, quicker loading, simpler navigation. It’s never been easier to find exactly what you’re looking for and to discover new content that you’re going to love. Check out the station finder tool that lets you find out what stations are going to be playing Key Life and Steve Brown Etc. Also brand new transcripts for Key Life. So now everything you hear Steve teach, you can also have it in print. In addition to all of that, all your favorite stuff is still there. Our digital magazine, sermon videos, Key Life Connection, and even more audio content. And all of it is still free. Thanks to the generous support of listeners, just like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. Or you can mail your donation to
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