Characteristics of the Family of God
1 John 3
1 John 3
1 John 3. The .
The Children of God Practice Righteousness (2:29)
29 If ye know that he is righteous, know that every one who practises righteousness is begotten of him. v.29 Practicing Righteousness. God is righteous, and the believer knows His character. The standard is the righteousness that Christ displayed here below. All who display the family character are born of God. A believer may fail, but God would remind him of the family character, something already true of him.
The Father’s Love and Our Relationship as Children (3:1-3)
1 See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God. For this reason the world knows us not, because it knew him not. v.1 It is not only that the Father has given us love, but the immensity of that love which would have us to “be called then children of God”. Amazing love!
2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. v.2 Although it doesn’t appear so now, we are the children of God. When the Lord appears that will be manifested, and we will be totally like Him. There is a measure of Christ-likeness in us now, but the beauty of it is not apparent. Then the transformation will be complete. Not only physically (Phil. 3:21) but morally! “When” would imply a change at the appearing, but it is “if”, not implying a time. The actual change will be at the rapture.
3 And every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as “he” is pure. v.3 Seeing that we will be like Christ then, we ought to be like Him now! But it is an ongoing process.
Christ’s Separation from Sin, and Our’s (3:4-7)
4 Every one that practises sin practises also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. v.4 The introduction of the expression “transgression” in some translations gives totally the wrong idea. You don’t need to have a law in order to have sin (Rom. 5:15). We are not under law, but we are not free to be lawless. We are responsible to obey God as subject to Him (1 Cor. 8:20). Sin is “lawlessness”, or living according to our own will without reference to God or anyone else. Antichrist is the epitome of this; the “man of sin”, the “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2). Christ is the total opposite; “I delight to do thy will O my God” (Psa. 40:7-8), which follows in v.5. “Practice” implies a general course of things, like a doctor practices medicine.
5 And ye know that “he” has been manifested that he might take away our sins; and in him sin is not. v.5 There are teo
manifestations, the first to take away our sins and the second to display glory. To carry on with sin unrepentant flies in the face of the work of the cross. Peter was a man of action, and he said, “He could do no sin!” (1 Peter 2:22). Paul was a man of intellect, and he said, “He knew no sin!” (2 Cor. 5:21). But John was a man of intimacy, and he said, “In Him was no sin!” (1 John 3:5). “In him” is very deep. I find no fault in him. Have thou nothing to do with this just person.
6 Whoever abides in him, does not sin: whoever sins, has not seen him or known him. v.6 How do we not sin? Abide in communion with Him (John 15). This is characteristic; one who shares the life of Christ has a life that does not sin.
7 Children, let no man lead you astray; he that practises righteousness is righteous, even as “he” is righteous.
The Devil’s Family and God’s Family (3:8-10)
8 He that practises sin is of the devil; for from the beginning the devil sins. To this end the Son of God has been manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil. v.8 “From the beginning” – from the very first time we are introduced to the serpent.
9 Whoever has been begotten of God does not practise sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God. v.9 same seed → same fruit. See Gen. 1:11.
10 In this are manifest the children of God and the children of the devil. Whoever does not practise righteousness is not of God, and he who does not love his brother.
Mutual Love For One Another (3:11-18)
11 For this is the message which ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another: 12 not as Cain was of the wicked one, and slew his brother; and on account of what slew he him? because his works were wicked, and those of his brother righteous. 13 Do not wonder, brethren, if the world hate you. 14 “We” know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Every one that hates his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. v.15 Some have tried to take this verse and teach that no one who commits suicide can go to heaven, because suicide is murder, and no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. However, we must understand that John is speaking characteristically. David was a murderer and we will see him in heaven. Also, you can’t take only the last part of the verse alone. If the latter part of v.15 refers to a single act (it doesn’t) then the first half must mean that one single thought of hatred toward other constitutes murder. Then no one would be saved!
16 Hereby we have known love, because “he” has laid down his life for us; and “we” ought for the brethren to lay down our lives. 17 But whoso may have the world’s substance, and see his brother having need, and shut up his bowels from him, how abides the love of God in him? vv.16-17 Love is ultimately manifested – even defined – by the self-sacrifice of Christ. The result of the love of Christ in our hearts is that same character of love reflected toward our brethren. To lay down our life literally is the ultimate sacrifice (John 15:13), but as v.17 suggests this is broader than literally laying down your life (Deut. 15:7-9). Aquilla and Priscilla are an example where both are true (Rom. 16:3). The “bowels” are connected with our gut-instinct to care for others. Judas was one without instinct-level care for the Lord Jesus, and when he fell his bowels gushed out. Be ye warmed and filled.
18 Children, let us not love with word, nor with tongue, but in deed and in truth. v.18 Not that we shouldn’t ever express our love verbally, but it must be coupled with reality. Love thou didst dearly prove.
Reality Before God and Obedience to His Commandments (3:19-24)
19 And hereby we shall know that we are of the truth, and shall persuade our hearts before him — 20 that if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. vv.19-20 When we love in deed, we are assured that we are of the truth; we have assurance that we are saved. Our heart may condemn us when we fell we have fallen short in showing love in deed and truth. We only know our hearts in part. God is greater in knowledge of our hearts, and we can turn to Him who is the source of Love, and cast ourselves in humility and self-judgment at His feet (John 21:17). It is more the matter of the heart than the conscience. God as Love is able to overcome our lack.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness towards God, 22 and whatsoever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments, and practise the things which are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and that we love one another, even as he has given us commandment. vv.21-23 If we give to our brother who has need, then we have boldness to ask of God, and confidence that He will give to meet our need! God will not do less than us. We cannot out-give Him! The commandments in John are the commandments that the new life loves to obey. Believing on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and loving one another are coupled together. There is an order: believe first, then love one another. But they are presented on the same level!
24 And he that keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given to us.