Taken from sermons by MacArthur (1, 2, 3, 4), Piper, and Cole (1, 2)
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!” This great love should amaze us. Cole preached, “Some things grow commonplace over time… Maybe at first, when it was new, an idea or experience affected us. But over the years, the effect grows weaker and weaker, until finally it’s just a far-distant memory. But the Father’s great love for us is the kind of experience that should grow stronger and stronger over the years, until it totally dominates every aspect of our lives. It should consume our thoughts and control our behavior. It should motivate us to serve God and to live holy lives. It should give us comfort in all our trials. It should fill us with the eager hope of being with Him in heaven. It should fill us with awe and worship, that He, the holy sovereign of the universe, would set His love on a sinful, self-willed rebel like me.”
“Everyone who has this hope fixed on [being made like] Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Our hope is not in men. It is in the unchanging God who has spoken and cannot speak anything other than the truth. “Psalm 43:5 says this, ‘Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God.’ Things aren't what they should be. Things aren't what you'd like them to be. Things aren't the way you would plan them if you were in charge. And so you become despairing and you become disturbed and the psalmist says, ‘Stop that and hope in God.’ Remember that God is your help… Our hope then comes from God... because God has made promises of care and concern and protection and guidance and direction and sustenance that we can trust Him for a better tomorrow” (MacArthur).
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Our hope comes from God by grace and is dispensed to us in the Scriptures. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you. Give this with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pt. 3:15). Paul wrote in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Hope is more than a good feeling; it is a defense against Satan when he hammers you with doubt. “Our hope also… is confirmed through trials… We have as a helmet the hope of salvation… Therefore encourage one another and build up one another just as you're also doing… in the middle of a trial when you're pounded by doubt, you go back, you re-grip the Scripture, you are reminded that God has not destined us for wrath, but rather has given us through Christ the salvation that is ours that has been obtained for us through Christ. And by that you encourage one another. You build up one another so that even through the struggle of doubt, even through the trial itself you come out stronger.
“A person who walks in the light... sees sin the way God does and agrees with God. He hates sin, he is sorry for sin, he turns and flees from known sin. When sin is pointed out in his life, he does not bristle with self-righteousness; he confesses, admits, repents” (MacArthur).
Cole teaches that “John [hits] at the truth that sin, at its core, is much worse than an outward breaking of a commandment. To practice sin is to be in open rebellion against God Himself. The modern American church has fallen into serious deception on this crucial matter of sin. The popular view is that there are two options for the Christian life. 'Plan A' is for the really committed: you trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is tough. You have to obey Jesus totally, repenting of all your sins. It means giving up the right to spend your money as you choose, because you yield it to Jesus and manage it as His steward. It means following Jesus as His servant. He may call you to go to the mission field or even die as a martyr. But, you will have rewards in heaven. If that’s too difficult, you may want to try 'Plan B.' In this option, you accept Jesus as Savior, but you don’t need to follow Him as Lord. With this plan, you will go to heaven when you die, but you just don’t get as many rewards. But, you can enjoy the pleasures of sin now and at least get in the door of heaven later. But the truth of the Bible, the truth that John emphasizes here is, 'There is no Plan B!' Plan A is the only plan for eternal life. Christ calls you to follow Him as Savior and Lord. You cannot do this by your own strength or willpower, but only if He imparts new life to you, causing you to be born of God. If you have been born of God, it will be obvious. The new life in you will produce a life of righteousness. ‘Little children, make sure no one deceives you!’”
“We're still asking people to raise their hand, walk an aisle, sign a card, pray a prayer and then affirming to them that they're Christians no matter what happens... The correct view [is that the true] Christian does not, cannot habitually and persistently sin. He will sin sometimes. He will sin willfully. But he will not sin habitually, persistently and relentlessly… The whole direction of your life is now toward God. The direction of your life is toward holiness. Your mind is set on the Spirit (Rom 8:6). Your mind is set on things above (Col 3:2). You are disconnected from earthly things (Phil 3:19). And so we can say although the believer sometimes sins, yet the ruling principle of his life is opposition to sin so that he hates the sin that he sees in his own life.
“Lawlessness is an attitude. It is not so much the transgression of the Law, as the indifference to the Law... It's living as if there is no Law. It's living as if there is no law-giver… The believer and sin are incompatible because of the Law of God. We are now dominated by the Law of God, whereas before we were dominated by lawlessness. We hated God. We hated His Law. Now we love Him and we love His Law… Habitual sin then is incompatible with the Law of God.
"If any man be in Christ he is a new creation," (2 Cor 5:17)... You can't be connected to the person and work of Christ and not have your relationship to sins dramatically changed. Your attitude toward the Law of God is dramatically changed because you're made new on the inside. Your conduct is dramatically changed because of that new life on the inside so that sin is lifted… No one who abides in Him, no one connected to Christ like that, no one who possesses His life and is the recipient of His grace sins. No one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
“So the simple principle is this. True believers have a pattern of righteousness in their life. The pop gospel is void of this truth. It only wants to acknowledge an emotional moment, an event, and affirm people's salvation on the basis of that event, that prayer, that moment rather than on life transformation” (MacArthur).
Piper taught, "’No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature… abides in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.’ Now anybody can sin who wants to sin. So when John says that a person born of God cannot sin, he must mean that a person born of God has new wants, new desires. It's like a birth; something new has come into existence. Paul calls it a new creation (Eph 2:10; 4:24). Jeremiah calls it a new heart (24:7). Ezekiel calls it a new spirit (36:26). Being born of God is being changed by God so that the dominion of sin is broken… No one can be born of God and be content to continue sinning.”