See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 ESV
Who are God’s children? How do we know if we are the children of God?
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:3-6 ESV
On a surface read, this sounds really black and white. We either have to be totally perfect, or we are out, done for. But, we can’t be totally perfect, which is why Jesus Christ gave his life up for on the cross. He became sin for us on that cross so that, through his death, he might put sin to death, and so, through faith in him, his righteousness would be credited to our account.
But, faith in him is God divinely persuading us as to his salvation, and as to his righteousness and holiness. The gift of God’s grace to us is God delivering us out of slavery (bondage; addiction) to sin, and it is setting us free to now walk in his righteousness. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. The righteous requirement of the law, though, is fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
All throughout the NT we see this continuous teaching regarding our salvation, that it is a process of sanctification in our lives, that it is ongoing, and that it is a walk (how we conduct our lives), either by the flesh or by the Spirit. It does not say we will never sin, but that sin should no longer be our master. We should be walking in obedience to our Lord. If we are not walking in obedience, but we claim to know God, then we are liars.
It all comes down to lifestyle, how we live, not in absolute sinless perfection, but whether or not our lives are given over to the flesh or to the Spirit. What or who is ruling our lives? For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Rom. 8:1-17).
Don’t Be Deceived!
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:4-10 ESV
Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins, but to eradicate sin from our lives. He died to free us from enslavement to sin, not to give us a pass so that we can keep on sinning without guilt. If we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins, for we don’t know God. If we want to be righteous, we must practice righteousness.
Yet, this is not works-based salvation. Our own righteousness is filthy rags in God’s sight. This is not about us trying to earn our way into heaven by our own flesh works. This is about Jesus Christ, now living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, having cleansed us from our sins, now empowering us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. It is God doing his work in and through us as we cooperate with his work of grace in our lives, by doing what he says.
This is also evidence of who is truly born again of the Spirit of God and who is not. If sin is still what we practice, how we live, by lifestyle, and righteousness is not what we practice, then we are not children of God. If we claim to have believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, yet we feel we do not have to repent of our sin or obey God, and so we continue sinning just like we did before, then what we have is a false hope of salvation, not true faith in Jesus Christ.
Love for Others
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:11-15 ESV
If we are truly born again of the Spirit of God, we should have love for others. Yet, this is not human love, but God-like love, which prefers what God prefers, i.e. it prefers what is holy, righteous, just, merciful, pure, moral, decent, upright and godly. This kind of love embraces God’s will, and it chooses his choices, and obeys them through his power (biblehub.com). Thus, it will love others like Christ loves us.
But, again, this comes down to our practice, or our lifestyle, our walk. And, it is a process of sanctification, of being made holy, of God purifying our hearts, and conforming us to his likeness. It is us listening to him daily and responding to what he says. When we sin, we repent of our sin, and by the Spirit we are putting those sins to death. It is daily taking up our cross and following Christ, dying to sin and self, and obeying Him. And, it is about maturing and growing in Christ. I am all the time growing in this area of loving others with Christ’s love. Daily I must resist Satan, flee temptation and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.
Not only should we be ones who practice love and not hate, but we must be prepared to be hated even for loving others as Christ loves us. People will hate us if our deeds are righteous and theirs are evil. They will hate us if we are different from them, and if we don’t participate with them in their sinful practices, too. They will hate us for all the same reasons they hated Jesus, thus having put him to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong, if we are walking in fellowship with our Lord, allowing him to live his life out through us. And, they will hate us, too, if we share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if we confront sin, and if we call people to repentance.
Yet, telling people the truth about their sin, about judgment, and calling them to repentance and obedience to Christ is the ultimate in showing them the love of Christ, because this is why Jesus died for us, to free us from our slavery to sin, and so we might walk in his righteousness. If we love others with Christ’s love, then we will willingly lay down our lives and our reputations in order to see others be free from slavery to sin and walking in freedom, and in Christ’s holiness.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
Thursday, February 15, 2018, 11:47 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. May we put these truths into practice.