Text: John 3:19-21 4/19/09 a.m.
Thesis: Salvation comes as God overcomes our deep hatred with Christ’s great glory. We see the Light and believe in Him.
Intro: Why do so many people reject the salvation that is offered freely in Jesus Christ? Why are the truths of man’s sin and need for a Savior so repulsive to some?
Why are our loved ones okay with things like worship services, preaching, Sunday School, and AWANA but they never talk about Jesus?
Up to this point in John 3 Jesus has been dealing with specifics. You must be born again. The Son of man must be lived up. Those who believe in Him are not condemned.
If you do not believe in Him you are condemned already.
Now, in verses 19-21, Jesus gets to the heart of why people do not believe on him for eternal life.
What motivates a person to reject this magnificent King of Glory?
So we’re going to get categories in which we must fit ourselves and all those who are around us.
The purpose of clearly dividing those who are born again and those who are not is so that we will see the reality of our situation and run to Christ.
This passage, like Christ, is not for condemnation but so that you will see your great need and trust your life to Jesus Christ.
I pray that by hearing the simple truths of this passage we will think biblically about our neighbors, be broken for them, and in turn give and serve and even die if necessary so that they will understand their great need for Jesus Christ.
May God break our hearts for our own condition and for the condition of those who are perishing all around us.
Read John 3:16-21
I) Love is our problem and love is our solution
a) Since all people of the world choose darkness over Jesus all the people of the world are under God’s judgment.
i) We saw last week that God’s righteous condemnation is upon everyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ.
ii) Everyone who does not embrace Jesus Christ as the perfect deliver and sovereign ruler of his life will perish eternally in hell.
iii) The difference in eternal life and perpetual perishing is simply believing in Jesus Christ.
iv) But if it is so simple, so easy, and so obvious to us why do people not believe?
v) Jesus begins to answer that question with the phrase, “And this is the judgment” this is the reason for condemnation.
vi) This is why you and your family and your neighbors and the nations do not believe in Jesus Christ and therefore remain under condemnation.
vii) The light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light.
b) Jesus has come! What we need has been given.
i) When Jesus began his ministry Matthew chose to use the words of the prophet Isaiah to explain what was happening:
ii) The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region of the shadow of death, on them a light has dawned (Mt 4:17; Is 42:7).
iii) We saw in John 1:4 that in Jesus, in the Word, was life, and the life was the light of men.
iv) What mankind needed, what you and I need, has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
v) We are eaten up with cancer. We are on our death beds. The Christ has come. The cure has come.
vi) Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the light because our problem is a problem of darkness.
vii) And the problem is not that we are all good people who just happen to live in darkness and so what we need is for God to shed a little light on the subject.
viii) The necessity of the new birth, the necessity of the cross, and the necessity of belief in Jesus all tell us that the problem is not around us.
ix) The problem is in us. They are not the problem. I am the problem. The problem is darkness and Jesus who is the light is the cure.
c) Here is the sickening reason we all won’t accept the cure
i) Verse 19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
ii) Now the temptation is to set up categories among sinful humanity. There are those humans who are really bad. Emperor Nero, Adolph Hitler, Jeffery Dahlmer, and the like.
iii) And then there are other humans who aren’t as bad because they don’t sin so terribly.
iv) But the kicker in this gospel of John is that there is no such thing as sinners, bad sinners, and really bad sinners.
v) The reason is because John rightly defines sin as loving self or loving darkness and obedience as loving the truth, loving God, and loving one another.
vi) If we are going to diagnosis and cure sin biblically then we must understand that sin has more to do with what you love than with what you do.
vii) Mankind is now being sentenced by God because you and I have been given the greatest gift and we have spit on it.
viii) We love the darkness. God loves the world and the world loves the darkness.
ix) This is everybody. This is the world. This is you and me. This is our family and our coworkers.
d) This is total depravity
i) God’s great love causes him to give the greatest gift so that we can believe in Jesus and have eternal life
ii) And we reject the gift because our works are evil.
iii) This isn’t just a category of some very sinful rebellious or hard members of humanity.
iv) This is the category of every who has not been born again.
v) Given the choice between sin and Jesus we choose sin every time.
vi) We do what is in our hearts. So if our hearts are filled with darkness then we join ourselves to the darkness.
vii) If our hearts are in rebellion to God we rebel again God. If our hearts are evil then we do works that are evil.
viii) I must be born again. You must be born again.
ix) Jesus has come and instead of following him we choose to give our lives to the cause of greed, sex, power, and an unending lust for more.
x) Why is all of humanity born on a path headed toward hell? Why is God just in condemning men and women boys and girls to an eternity separated from him?
xi) Because the light has come and we chose to love the darkness.
II) Our fundamental problem is the problem of pride
a) The truth about you and me is we do wicked things because we hate Jesus.
i) Prior to the new birth, the reason every one of us sins is because we hate the light.
ii) The outward action of doing worthless Christ-less things is always caused by an inner hatred of the things of God.
iii) To hate something is to despise it, to have a strong aversion to it, you are hostile toward it, you detest it.
iv) To hate something is to value one object or choose that object over another. Left to ourselves we will always choose something else over Christ.
v) But it was just a little white lie. But it was just one time. But everyone else is doing it. It just felt like the right thing to do.
vi) If it is not done through faith; that is, if it is not done believing God rewards those who seek him and believing this deed will be done for God’s glory, then it is a worthless deed (Romans 14:23).
vii) So when you read verse 20 don’t just think of grandiose sins like murder or child abuse or kidnapping.
viii) When you read “everyone who does wicked deeds” think of everyone who does things without any thought of Christ.
ix) This person living life without any thought of the cure is a person making a statement of hatred toward the cure.
x) Typically we get all worked up over the things that don’t matter and we don’t care at all about the things that really do matter.
xi) We don’t think like God and we don’t have God’s priorities so when we hear that those people who do not believe in Jesus are already condemned that is offensive.
xii) How dare God send some one to hell who was a good person and did a lot of good and gave a lot of money and was so sweet and funny and nice?
xiii) God that’s just wrong.
xiv) But now we know where God is coming from. God loved the world to such an extent that he gave his only begotten Son to redeem the world, guide the world, and give eternal life to the world.
xv) And we like the world ignored God’s gift. We just went on living. We just went on doing wicked deeds hating the light.
xvi) This surely is the judgment. This surely is the condemnation.
xvii) The truth is we do wicked things because we hate Jesus.
b) And the truth is we’d rather try and hide our wickedness than have it exposed and removed.
i) Read 20
ii) The depravity of mankind is so complete that we would rather hide our sin and remain under the pain than bring it out into the open to Jesus and be healed.
iii) We’re all pretty good at hiding our teeth. Have you noticed that? My bottom teeth are jacked up. But I’m really good at concealing them.
iv) My daughters don’t know about my messed up teeth. I bet most of you didn’t know that. I’m good at keeping it hidden.
v) But do you know you I can’t hide my teeth from? My dentist. If anyone knows my teeth are crooked it’s her because twice a year I have to open my mouth wide and have my crookedness exposed by that blinding light.
vi) If you are trying to keep your teeth hidden and keep them from being fixed the last place you’re going to want to go to is a dentist’s chair.
vii) The problem with us is we are so in love with our sin that we would rather remain in our pain under God’s condemnation than have our sins exposed.
viii) We are sick; it’s true.
ix) Leon Morris said it best, “to come to the light means to have one’s darkness shown for what it is, and to be rebuked for what it is” (207).
x) People make up all kinds of excuses to not come to church. It’s just a bunch of hypocrites is the main one.
xi) But why does Jesus say people stay away from the light? Because people don’t want to have their lives opened up and their wickedness hung out for all to see.
xii) There truly is no salvation without repentance. If a person does not go to Christ in order to deal with sin that person is not born again.
xiii) You can believe all manner of things about Jesus but if you do not believe that he saves you from God’s wrath because of your sins then you have missed what it means to believe.
III) At this point I want to answer an important question. How is it then that anyone is saved?
a) If all mankind loves the darkness rather than the light and if all mankind hates the light and does not come to the light out of fear of being found out how is it that anyone is saved?
i) One answer is to deny the sinfulness of man. Some will argue that mankind is not that bad.
ii) By some act of prevenient grace God wipes away this love of the darkness and hatred toward the light so that it doesn’t really exist or effect our decision making ability.
iii) Others deny the depravity of man by saying it’s only partial. Part of a person loves the darkness and hates the light but another part of a person, namely his will to choose, remains unaffected and any person can overcome this darkness.
iv) Both of these ways of denying the deep reaches of sin into every aspect of humanity are wrong and fly in the face of what Jesus says here in John 3:19&20.
v) So how then is anyone saved? Simple isn’t it?
vi) John 3:7, “you must be born again.”
vii) In a sovereign act of love and grace God sends his Spirit to awaken your spirit. Your love for the darkness is broken. Your hatred for the light is melted.
viii) Let me explain it with the words of 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
ix) How is it that anyone believes and is saved?
x) God lovingly, graciously, and persistently works to overcome our hatred and change our love.
xi) You are not saved because you are good or smart. Salvation is all an act of grace.
xii) Upon this amazing act of grace you believe in Jesus Christ. He is your salvation and your life.
xiii) It is this belief in the Jesus who washes away all our sins that empowers us to come into the light and have our deeds exposed.
xiv) It is this belief in the God who loves us that empowers us to come into the open with our deeds of wickedness without fear of condemnation.
xv) Church we must be honest about sin and we must be honest about our need for the Holy Spirit’s power.
xvi) We cannot do anything without Him.
IV) Honesty is necessary to Christianity
Read verse 21
a) Verse 21 describes what is true of the believer.
i) Verses 19&20 describe what is true of the unbeliever; the person who has not been born again.
ii) So don’t read verse 21 like you have to do good works in order to come to the light and then because you’re good enough you’ll be made a believer.
iii) The cause of salvation has already been dealt with in verses 1-18; you were born of water and the Spirit, Christ was lifted up on the cross as your cure, you believed in him, and he saved you. Now what?
iv) Do the good works God prepared beforehand for you to do (Eph 2:10). No longer live afraid of the light.
v) If what you are doing is true, if it is of God, then what do you have to hide?
vi) This is not showing off or bragging. Instead, verse 21 reveals the desire of every true believer to wear his team’s colors.
vii) What I’m doing I’m doing because of faith. I believe this is God’s will and I believe this glorifies God.
viii) I’m carrying this out because of the will of God guiding me and the strength of Christ empowering me.
ix) We must work hard as a church to become and remain a people who constantly come to the light hiding nothing.
b) Let me close by giving you things that need to happen if we are going to remain and grow as a church built on Christ
i) First, we must be lovingly honest about sin. Evangelism without a call to repentance to God and faith in Christ is not evangelism. We must call the darkness, darkness.
ii) Second, we must recognize the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion. We must pray for the Spirit to empower us as we go out and serve so that we have the wisdom to do and say what He will use to bring people to Christ.
iii) Finally, third, we must do everything in the light. Every church is in danger of letting deeds done and things said in the darkness fester and cause problems.
iv) When there is division in the church or in your family then bring it to the light.
v) If what you did is true then come to the light. It’s not bragging it’s glorifying to God. Let us all see and celebrate and learn what it is to have our deeds carried out in God.
V) Now is your chance to come to the light
a) I pray that this morning we will hear from one of you that because of the Spirit’s work in you, you have grown sick of your love for the darkness
i) Because of Christ’s work for you, you are saved. Tell us you now have faith in Christ.
ii) Because of God’s love for you, you are no longer condemned but are one of his children.
iii) Would you tell us? We want to celebrate?
iv) Do you have questions? We want to help?
b) And I pray this morning that if you are a Christian and are struggling under guilt or some temptation that you will step out in the light.
i) Let us know. Confess your sin and be healed. Tell us so that we can help you walk in the light.
c) Come to the light. It feels so hard at first but when you come to Christ you will learn that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
i) Remaining as you are where you are is hard. The darkness is a burden you cannot bear.