Hello, and welcome back! It’s me, Jason, and today we are having another blog post on the first epistle of John. This is the sixth instalment of the series, so if you have happened to miss the last couple of ones, you can check them out here! One of the big ideas that we’ve gone through this series is the connection between making a conscious effort in obeying God and knowing Jesus. And today, we’ll be touching on this again!
We’ll be going through 1 John 3:1-10. As always, be sure to read the text beforehand or read along as we go. Whatever conclusions I come to, the text probably has it better!
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
Today’s text concerns our privilege and responsibility that we are given as children of God. There are a couple of things we’ll be taking a look at today. First is the “becoming like Jesus” stuff that shows up in v. 2-3. Next will be the sections from v. 5-6 and 7-10, where we’ll be taking a look not only at a very familiar tool John uses throughout his letter, but also some very familiar teachings as well!
Before we even start going through some of the more in-depth stuff, I just wanted us to take a quick look at v. 1:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
It’s not super flashy, it’s not some super-theologian type insight, but it’s such a great and simple reminder of God’s love that he “has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Even for myself, it’s something I think I overlook and take for granted a lot of the time. I skip a devotion here or there, I tell myself I’ll pray about something later but never do…and yet, he has lavished so much love on me that despite my shortcomings, I have a right to be called a child of God. (As I type this, I’m reminded of the “Who could imagine so great a mercy?” lyrics from Living Hope by Phil Wickham).
Moving on, the first (or technically, second) thing I wanted to take a look at is the ideas presented in v. 2-3. There are two really big ideas in play here. Number one is the idea of becoming like Jesus when he appears (v. 2). Number two is the idea of becoming like Jesus now by “purifying [ourselves], just as he is pure” (v. 3). This is really something quite interesting to consider—on one hand, there’s a present purification and becoming like Jesus now, and at the same time, there’s a purification and becoming like Jesus that is still to come.
Luckily for you (the audience), I recently did a project a few months ago on Jesus’ return and some of the implications of it. One implication that the verse here talks about is when Jesus comes, “we shall be like him” (v. 2). One book that actually expands on this is 1 Corinthians, where we’ll find these couple of verses located in Paul’s insistent rant on the importance of a physical resurrection:
47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:47-54)
For context: Paul describes two men; one man is of the earth, and the other is of heaven. The first one is Adam, and the second is Jesus. Paul says we shall bear the image of the second man—but it doesn’t end there; in the midst of Paul’s description of the events that will occur during Christ’s final return, he claims that we will be “changed” (v. 51) and that us, the perishable, will be clothed with what is imperishable (v. 54). We will be given bodies that are imperishable—similar to Christ.
Oh, that seems pretty convenient, I don’t have to take care of my body now if I’ll get a new one anyway, right? I can go do whatever I want, sin however I want—since this body doesn’t seem to matter anyway. Well, no. John actually addresses this in this whole section of verses we’re looking at today. V. 3 says that:
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)
So not only is there a future transformation that makes us like Jesus, but there’s also a present transformation of us becoming like Jesus. And why do we bother purifying ourselves in such a way? Because our hope gives us faith to believe that it is worth it. When we choose to obey God rather than sin despite knowing we get new bodies, our faith is made active and in the words of James:
You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (James 2:22)
Moving on to the rest of the sections for today, if you’ve been following this series so far, you’ll notice that the stuff John is doing and teaching in these two sections is very (with an emphasis on the very) familiar, based on what we’ve taken a look at so far! First off, we have the claim, but, correction format we’ve seen before. And not only that, they’re both teachings we’ve seen before!
The first one takes place in v. 5-6, where we have:
- Claim: I live in Jesus (v. 6)
- But: Jesus takes away sin, and in him is no sin (v. 6)
- Therefore: No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him (v. 6)
Again, we’ve covered this before! Obviously, John is not saying that anyone who follows Jesus cannot sin. We’ve covered that. Earlier in 1 John, we even saw John acknowledging that we do sin and that we might sin again. But, what he is doing is stressing the importance of making a conscious effort in not sinning. What did we just take a look at a few verses ago? Why do we purify ourselves as Jesus does? Because of the hope that is in us. And it is that same hope that drives us to live lives where we do not live in sin.
Next, let’s take a look at verses 7-10, where we’ll have the same set of claims, yet John goes even further: he says that whoever does what is sinful is of the devil. Another theme that has showed up in the past: our allegiances. Where do our allegiances lie? It’s one thing to say that our allegiance lies with God, but how do our actions line up with our claims? If we continue to read to the end v. 10, yet another familiar command shows up: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (v. 10b). Wait a second, we’ve seen this before too! It was only in chapter 2 that John stressed the importance of loving our brothers and sisters!
It’s easy to read through this section of 1 John and think, “Oh, we’ve seen this before. It’s nothing new. Love God, love your brother and sister, don’t live a life of sin.” It’s easy to overlook, because sometimes we’ve just heard it so many times that we’ve grown numb to it.
But how important must these things be, that John not only bothers to write it once in his letter, but twice!? (And spoilers: maybe even more times in the rest of the letter). Imagine you wrote a letter to your friend and mentioned not once, not twice, but three times, that this particular thing happened to you? Clearly, it’s a pretty big deal. And so to John, this stuff is clearly a pretty big deal.
So as I close off this post for today, maybe you’ll read this post and think, “Hey, nothing new today, just review.” But at the same time, I challenge you to consider: maybe it’s repeated for a reason. Maybe it’s not as easy as we brush it off to be. Maybe it’s something to really reflect and think upon and ask ourselves, “Is this really something I’m practising?
Is my hope shown in my actions? Is my faith made active in the way I live?”
Because as I write this, I’ve probably got some repenting to do.
Thanks for tuning in, and hope to see you back next time!