1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
The Apostle John writes “these things” in 1st John that your joy “may be full” (v.1.4) What things?
- Full joy comes from fellowship with God, walking in the light. (1.5-7)
- Full joy comes from confessing our sin (1.9)
- Full joy comes from having Jesus as our Defender (2.1)
- Full joy comes with knowing God; evidenced by our obedience and love (2.3-11)
- Full joy is for all Christians in every stage of maturity (2.12-14)
- Full joy through loving the things of God and not of the world (2.15)
John continues in chapter three describing the “things” that contribute to a life of “full joy”. I love the way the Apostle just lays it out there in 1st John in such clear, simple and unmistakable terms. I often hear people say, “I just wish God would just tell me directly and plainly what He wants me to do and I would do it”.
Well there are two problems with that. One, for most things that have to do with daily living a holy life, HE DOES TELL US plainly and directly what to do. We’re just like a bunch of kids who want to find loopholes and exceptions to excuse our poor choices and when that’s not possible, we play dumb like we didn’t know or didn’t understand God’s Word! Second, even when we do discover what God says, we are still faced with the choice of actually doing it!
1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (NKJV)
John not only writes to us with a “holiness for dummies” level of simplicity, but gives us an incredible motivating result: FULL JOY! We started this lesson with six bullet points that have been covered in previous devotionals. We continue at the end of chapter 2 with more clear, precise, simple, to-the-point teaching on how to have a life of full joy:
- Full joy comes through abiding in Christ
2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (NKJV)
“Abide” means to wait with, remain stable in, to continue with or remain in fixed state. We abide in Christ now so that when He comes we won’t have to be ashamed but have confidence. It’s not all that hard to understand when we think of it in terms we can relate to.
For example, when you were a child do you remember the feeling you had when your Dad came walking through the door and you had not done what you were told such as clean up your room? You weren’t exactly confident at that moment, were you? But oh, how proud and ready for inspection a kid is when they have actually done the chore! (However infrequently that may actually occur!)
Or how about at work? How would you feel if you were approaching a project deadline and had procrastinated and been lazy to the point where you knew that your work was unacceptable and below standards? Contrast that with the confidence you have when you know that you hit a home run with your efforts and can’t wait until the boss shows up to take a look.
Not abiding in Christ will rob you of your joy.
When we abide in Christ, we look forward to His appearing. Are you apprehensive or downright scared of Jesus showing up tonight? How much of that stems from you not abiding in Him at this point in your life?
- Full joy comes from being righteous
2.29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (NKJV)
Are you born again? Is it evidenced by growing and consistent righteousness in your life? Jesus is righteous, we can all get our teeth into that fact. If we know that He is righteous, then those who want to be like Jesus have to practice… guess what? Righteousness. That’s a little harder for us to get a grip on.
If our lives are marked by increasing righteousness then according to John we know what fact? That we are “born of Him”. If we are born of Him, that means we are what? Truly saved. Knowing that we are truly saved is what? Assurance. Assurance brings what? FULL JOY!
- Full joy comes from being called children of God
3.1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (NKJV)
I love the word “Behold”. It has a kind of timeless elegance that is lost in today’s vocabulary. Behold… pay attention! Behold… look and marvel! Behold… stop and focus your mind! Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us!
What manner of love is it? That we frail, pitiful, sinful, wishwashy, disloyal, ungrateful creatures should be granted the the most privileged title in the universe… children of the Most High! Behold, what manner of love!
If that fact doesn’t cultivate “full joy” in your heart, I’m not sure anything can.
- Full joy come from expecting to see Jesus
3.2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
We are called children of God and at the moment of true salvation it becomes a fact. However true that may be, the fullness of exactly what being a “child of God” actually encompasses has not been revealed completely to us. But it will be!
When Christ returns we will be like Him and see Him for what He really is. We strive to be like Him now but it is based on understanding that is flawed by the curse of sin. We can read and meditate on the person of Jesus now but our comprehension is inhibited by our sinful nature.
When we appear before Jesus either by death or the Second Coming, we shall see Him “as He is”. Three simple words. “As He is”… as He truly is; undimmed and undistorted by our sin, ignorance, neglect or biases. And we will finally be exactly like Him in perfect holiness, not just striving to be. Being just like Christ… does that bring any joy to your life?
- Full comes from purification
3.3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (NKJV)
Do you hope to see Christ and to be just like Him some day? (for clarity, being just like Christ in this context means that we will finally be free of sin and exist in perfect righteousness and holiness. It is important to define that in this day and age where false teachers even in the church claim that we are “gods” and are “equal” to Christ)
If you have the hope to see and be like Christ then what must you strive for now? Purity. Why? Because Christ is pure and we strive to be like Him. The result? Righteousness. And righteousness is evidence of what? Being “born of Him”. And that means what? That you are truly saved. Which is what? Assurance. And once again, assurance of salvation brings what to your life?…. drum roll please… full joy.
The blessed Apostle John… what a debt of thanks we owe to him for recognizing how hard headed and difficult we can be. He just lays it out there in terms that any believer at any stage of life can understand. Do this, be that. Sweet and simple.
Joy comes through righteousness, being a child of God, expecting to see Jesus and the purification of our lives by becoming more like Christ. These are more of “the things” that John says will result in “full joy”.
Lord God, thank You for making these things simple for us to understand. Thank You for giving us the recipe for a life full of joy. Thank You for calling us Your children and may we long for the day when we will see your Blessed Son and finally be just like Him. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you have full joy in your life? Does your lack of joy parallel your lack of righteousness and purity? Do you have confidence in seeing Jesus or will you be ashamed of your life? Have you ever thought about what it really means to be called a “child of God”?
Application: Full joy comes on God’s terms. Righteousness, purity, obedience, love… all of these things are evidence of true salvation and bring assurance of that fact. Assurance of salvation and an eternity with God brings fullness of joy into our lives that is not possible any other way.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?