1 John 3
John begins by identifying believers as “children of God”. As believers we can claim this identity. Many people who hold to the view of extreme “tolerance” believe that all people, believers and non-believers, are children of God and this statement is false. Non-believers are not children of God, not until they come to belief. As non-believers, various places in the Bible describe them as blind, lost souls, basically the walking dead. Maybe the zombie apocalypse theories aren’t too far off the mark after all. The children of God are few and surrounded by the walking dead. Now there’s an image to go to sleep with at night.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
This is an interesting verse because it shows that we truly are still children. We have not grown up yet and John says here it has not appeared as yet what we will be. Oh the mystery! How exciting. I look forward to the day when I can look over at my loved ones and see what have become!
And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
Verses like verse 6 confuse me on some level. No one is perfect. We can’t be this side of heaven. We are all going to sin again before we die. In fact, each and everyday we are going to slip up and sin. We don’t want to sin, we would like to practice righteousness all the time, but that is unrealistic to expect.
On one level I understand these statements, but on another level, I don’t. If I qualify it and say that no one who abides in Him deliberately sins, then I understand it fully, but that is not what John says. He says, no one who abides in Him sins. These type of verses make me wonder, am I truly “in Him”? I know that His blood covers my sins but I still sin. It’s a paradox for me.
It doesn’t take away from the lessons John is giving about how one can tell a child of the devil from a child of God. Obviously, those who embrace Jesus are going to try and love their fellow man and are going to try and not sin. Those children of the devil aren’t going to make decisions based on love for their fellow man or based on whether or not God would be pleased or not. So I get the lesson here.
The absolute statements about believers not sinning anymore are confusing to me though and it’s not just in 1 John but other places too.
John goes on to explain further about love of the brethren and how one shouldn’t close and harden their heart against a brother in need. You can’t say you abide in love if you never show love.
Love in deed and truth. It’s not enough to say it, you need to be able to live it and show it through your actions.
We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
To me these verses speak of guilt and shame and doubting our standing with God. We think we know who we are. We think we know what we’ve done. We think we’ve confessed it all to God. And just when we think we would have confidence before God… we think of something else we forgot to confess or we think back on a word or action from the past and feel more guilt. Or maybe just when we finally are feeling like we’re doing good, we screw up royally in all our thoughts and feelings and are back to feeling like a newborn christian again. Verse 20, I believe is for those times…God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
God is so merciful and full of lovingkindness that here, in His word through the mouth of John, He is letting us know that it’s ok. He knows all things. So even if we lack confidence before God, God is greater than our lack of confidence (our heart). If our heart does not condemn us, well congrats then, you can have confidence before God too.
How awesome is God?
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Gotta love John and the absolutes here. Earlier I questioned where I stood because of the absolute of not sinning. And now John lays it out again. Believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another…boom done, keep those commandments and you will abide in Him and He in you.
End of story.
Peaceful dreams here.
God is Great 🙂