Living as a child of God (1 John 3:1-10)

Publié le 15 novembre 2020 dans Non classé

By Aurelien Duperchy, intern

Introduction

Our theme today is « living as children of God ».

It’s folly to say today that you are a child of God. When you say to your friends or colleagues, « I am a child of God », people will stare at you with wide eyes wondering, « but who does he think he is? God is not a human being. He’s gone mad, he is a fanatic! »

That’s why we first need to live as children of God, bearing witness to it in life before we can say this. It is generally wiser to say that we are Christians rather than children of God.

What John has written allows us to see why it is necessary to live as a child of God.

Scripture reading: 1 John 3/1-10

1 Jesus’ disciples are children of God: vv1-2

The first verse reads, « See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are ».

John clearly tells us why the Father manifested his love, that we may be children of God. He marvels at this.

To be a child of God is a privilege that God grants us. It is a source of hope for us.

A theologian said that the first verse could be translated into « SEE what kind of love, totally different and unusual, the Father has given us. »That we are born of God is related to His intervention. He adopts us; He makes us heirs of Heaven; He powerfully restores the hearts of those who once belonged to the devil and have now turned to God.

Paul says in Romans 8/17 that « if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ. » God grants us the privilege of being His heirs.

When God adopts us, we can no longer become children of the devil once again, for we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We can’t lose salvation. If we could lose it, it would mean that we could earn it, and that we would therefore be good enough. If we could gain salvation, it would be by our own efforts, therefore it would be on our own merit. If it were the case, it would no longer be grace.

God gives us this enormous grace to be His children forever. This is the greatest of all privileges.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have the firm assurance that Jesus did not die in vain. We don’t run the risk of losing the grace He offers us.

v3 « And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. »

John speaks of the hope quoted in v2: hope in our God, in the return of Christ. Those who have this hope will be like Him because they will see Him as he is, and will be as He is. They will be 100% pure, just as Jesus is.

Titus 2:13 reads, « At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. »

To be a child of God is to hope in our Father who fulfills all His Word in a sure and perfect way.

To be a child of God is a source of wonder for John, and specifically for Jesus because the Son of God loves the Father, and the children of God live out of love for the Father.

We seek to live as the Son of God did.

We can’t say that we live in Christ if we don’t behave like him, because the children of God strive to live out the example of God’s only begotten Son, and also because the Son of God appeared for this purpose (v8).

In his book, « The divinity of Christ in the face of Islam, » Rémi Gomez says: « To follow Jesus is to model a man who has succeeded where no other has succeeded. »

No man is a perfect model –Moses, David, John the Baptist, Peter, all these men were sinners. They were examples at certain times during their lives, but Jesus alone is the perfect example during ALL his life!

A question arises: Is the Son still the Only-begotten Son since we are children of God?

The word « Son » does not always have the same meaning throughout the Bible. Jesus is the Son of God, He is the Word of God, the expression of the thought of God.

Therefore Jesus did not become Son of God when he was baptized (contrary to what false teachers said in John’s time), but He is, has been from the beginning, and will forever be God’s eternal Only-begotten Son.

He comes from the Father. As we see in John 1/18, Jesus is « at the Father’s side, » and in John 16/28, Jesus « left the Father and came into the world. »

The Only-begotten Son is God by nature whereas we are not God. We become God’s children by adoption, by being born again.

This is a source of motivation for us to seek to live as Jesus did.

2 Children of God live without sin

In John’s time, false teachers did not live out a life that glorified God. Intellectual knowledge was paramount for them, but living a holy life had little importance.

To be honest, we are basically like them, particularly in the French culture and among intellectuals, and also according to the era of Enlightenment. But to be a child of God is to live for our Father who is holy, and because we love and know our Father, we run away from sin.

Sin means « to miss the target ».

v4 « Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. »

John talks about the law of love, rather than a list of prescriptions to apply with no understanding.

This is what Jesus says in Matthew 22/34-38

« When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. « Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law? » He replied, « You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands. »

1 John 3/6 reads, « Every person who remains in relationship to him does not sin. Any person who sins has not seen him or known him. »

The first part of v8 says the same thing differently, « The person who practices sin belongs to the devil. »

V9 reads, « Those born from God don’t practice sin. »

John uses specific words in the passage. It is of utmost importance to be careful to what he says to get it correctly, otherwise we can easily misunderstand what he says.

In v8, John talks about « the person » and in v9 about « those ».

The definition of those is « all those ». Concretely speaking, John says that all the children of God don’t practice sin since it is only the person belonging to the devil who practices sin.

In v6, can we see God? God is invisible but He reveals Himself in Jesus.

In John 6/46, John also says, « No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. »

What John means here is that we only see God through holiness. He fills us with his Spirit, and as a result we show God’s work by living as Jesus did.

v10 « This is how God’s children and the devil’s children are apparent… »

We can recognize a child of God because he runs away from sin. A Christian can’t play hide-and-seek and live a holy life. John says that people can recognize the children of God, which does not leave them indifferent.

That’s why Christians have an impact on others, and can bring them to Jesus by witnessing. And that’s also why they are persecuted as they live according to God’s will.

The word of God is spread by witnessing and living as children of God. Preaching the Gospel is both bearing witness in our lives and teaching Jesus’ death and resurrection. These two things are inseparable.

However, we still sin even though we are children of God. So why does John say that we no longer sin?

There’s a difference between living in sin, that is under the yoke of sin, and committing sin.

The difference between living in sin and living in Christ is that when we live in sin, we don’t take into account the abounding grace Jesus came to bring us. And so we belittle God’s grace and the gravity of sin, and we can’t be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Our sinfulness brings us pleasure. By nature, we cherish sin whereas the spiritual pleasure of God’s children lies in holiness. The objective is to turn our eyes away from sin to lift them up to Christ.

When I first read the New Testament, I wasn’t converted. When I finished reading it, I thought there were many values that I could apply to my life to be a better person.

I tried to be better by my own strength. I was careful with my actions and my words, but in the end, I couldn’t achieve it. I was increasingly disappointed with myself, which is called legalism.

It made me realize that I was even more sinful than I thought, and I realized that I needed God, because I didn’t have the strength to be better without Him and without His intervention to sanctify me. We are not sanctified by our own strength but by letting the Holy Spirit work in us.

When you are a disciple of Jesus, and commit evil, then the Holy Spirit shows you your sin, makes you sad and aware of it, and leads you to repentance.

In fact, John contrasts « living in sin » with « living in purification ».

In 1 John 2/1, John says that he’s writing this letter so that we don’t sin. The text shows that the target of the Christian life is to commit no sin.

John is not saying that a Christian no longer sins at all but that a Christian no longer lives under the law of sin.

The text says that a Christian can’t sin. It doesn’t mean that « he is incapable of committing a sin, » but rather that « he can no longer live in sin in the usual way without being aware of it ».

So Christians still sin. Vv2-3 show that we purify ourselves, but that we are not yet pure enough, and that when Jesus returns, we will no longer commit any sin.

We often do evil: we are unpleasant to our family members or our colleagues, and even as children of God we can fall into a sin that has lasting consequences. Yet the habit of living in sin has been broken.

We have not reached perfection yet, but we’re striving for it. And we will eventually reach it because Jesus is perfect.

When a Christian does evil, he doesn’t take what Jesus did on the cross at face value. And quite honestly, all of us often take the cross of Jesus too lightly. When I hurt my wife, I take the cross of Jesus lightly. When I complain about what I have, or about not having enough, I take the cross of Jesus lightly.

What John means is that to reject the sin in our lives shows that we are children of God.

We can’t say we can still sin on the grounds that there is grace.

Romans 6/1-2, « So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? »

Sin is death, but Jesus takes us out of the law of sin. We are baptized in His death by immersion in water, and He gives us life by taking us out of our immersion in sin. Paul says the same thing as John. We are dead to sin, we can’t willfully practice it as an affront to God. We used to willfully sin but we now want to live as children of God.

In the past, when someone hurt me, I would enjoy to retaliate. When I was insulted, I would sometimes go so far as to hit the person. But now God gives me love and compassion for them. I’m sad not because they want to hurt me, but because they live in darkness, imposing a life without God upon themselves while God is knocking at the door of their hearts. It’s now out of question for me to be violent when I’m insulted because it’s not worth it.

God gives us consideration for His values and not for what characterizes the values of sin.

In the example I’ve just given, God’s values are to love those who insult me, and to reject the values of sin and retaliation. Now on, I reject my desire to prove that I’m superior to others.

V8b reads that « God’s Son appeared for this purpose: to destroy the works of the devil. »

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil that we had done, and that had caused us to be increasingly destined to hell.

But God has predestined us for Heaven, to see His glory. He has made us partakers of His divine nature. The glory of God is the sum total of his attributes. And there’s nothing more glorious than to be a child of God.

So even if someone wants to hurt me, what can they do? I’m sitting in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ. Heaven is my destiny. No-one can reach me.

If you insult me, I leave it to God to handle it. I no longer act on my own since my Father protects me as He is my Father. Jesus destroyed the works of the devil but even though I am still imperfect, I am spiritually untouchable.

Try to attack a child of the President, and see what happens… Well, I’m a child of God!

Conclusion

The purification process is on. It’s loading.

One must be patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Even when we bear fruit, there might be seeds. But let’s persevere even if it’s long and difficult, and even if we go through moments of doubt and discouragement.

During this time of lockdown when we’re staying at home, we must put our hope in God. To live as children of God today means to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus. By protecting ourselves, we protect others.

In the same way, we also need to protect ourselves from sin. And by doing this, we also protect others from the consequences of our sins.

Jesus rose to first open the door to resurrection for us.

When we live in sin, under the yoke of sin, we live as children of the devil. But Jesus came to earth to take us out of the devil’s claws.

We can’t be half child of God and half child of the devil; half sinner and half saint. We are children of God or we are not. But even as children of God, we’re still sinning and are waiting for the great deliverance.

To live as children of God is to preach the Gospel every day, feeding ourselves on the Word of God, which in turn nourishes our dialog with Him. It’s also to remember that the Son of God came to bear our sins, and that He took both the condemnation of our sins on Himself, and our place so that we can be purified.

It is like a man being tried for murder, who bitterly regrets and asks forgiveness for his act, recognizing that he deserves the sentence that he will have to serve. And then the sentence is given: 15 years in jail. But a man, unknown to all, having heard him repent, says, « I’ll serve the prison sentence. Murderer, you are forgiven. Justice is done. I’ll pay for your sin, and I’ll serve the 15-year prison sentence in your place even if I’m innocent.

Jesus is like that unknown man who came to serve.