The following is for sinners. And that means that this message is for everyone.
John made it clear in the previous chapter, that if we are born of God, we are children of God, and that practicing righteousness, provides evidence that we are saved.
Dictionaries define righteousness as “behavior that is morally justifiable or right.”
The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word. The Bible describes the character of God and gives us the plumbline by which he measures human righteousness.
The apostle John is addressing people in the first century church, but it is the same people that we have also today in our churches all over the world. People who think they are Christians, but really, they are not born again. This is a shock tactic of John, that should make us all take a hard look at our lives.
The number one problem in the world today is sin. And only God can rescue us and solve this problem. In verse 4 we read that sin is breaking God’s law. Sin is a defiant rejection of God’s rightful rule over your life.
Daniel Akin wrote, “Sin is nothing less than personal treason against the Sovereign of the universe.”
Because the problem with sin is so great, a great rescue was needed. That great rescue was in the form of the sinless lamb of God (John 1:29). Jesus is the only one who never sinned (1 John 3:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).
John continues his logic in verse 6, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
As we abide in Christ, it is illogical and impossible to live in a consistent lifestyle of sin. If you continually practice sin, you haven’t encountered Jesus, let alone know him, or abide in him.
This does not mean Christians live in sinless perfection. The verb tenses in verse 6 and 9 point to an ongoing practice of willful rebellion against God with no remorse or desire for reconciliation.
If you are knowingly sinning and it doesn’t bother you, you have no relationship with Jesus, and you are not saved.
When we become followers of Jesus, we are born again, we take on a new nature. Sin no longer has control over us, and we are free from its enslaving power.
As followers of Jesus, we are not without sin, but it is not our daily practice and as the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we repent of our sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can gain victory in that area of our lives. This is the process of sanctification.
We are in a titanic battle until the day Jesus calls us home or he returns (Hebrews 12:4).
John wrote this letter to challenge false teachers who were saying that it is possible to be a follower of Jesus and still be practicing sin. We have the same false teaching today and it is sending people to hell. There is a false Gospel that says, “God is love, He is full of grace and no matter what you do, He will never send you to hell, keep on sinning allowing the grace of God to bless you.”
This is a lie from Satan himself and it has infiltrated the church, convincing people that simply raising your hand or going forward in a meeting is enough to be saved, and you can live however you please (1 John 3:7). We should be concerned that people are being deceived about the seriousness of sin.
We need to be clear that we aren’t righteous because we do good things, we are righteous because we are in Christ. He is our righteousness. Abiding in Christ, with Jesus as Lord, we are positionally right with God and experientially we live that position out in acts of righteousness (Galatians 2:20).
Verse 8 explains the reason why Jesus came to the earth, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
The devil means the accuser, and he has been lying, and destroying lives since the garden of Eden.
The Son of God came invading enemy territory and defeated Satan.
“God’s infiltration of rebel planet earth, was a search and destroy mission.” John Piper
Jesus destroyed Satan’s schemes on the cross and the empty tomb is proof of his victory over death and ours too.
To be saved we need to have a life altering conversion encounter (2 Corinthians 5:17).
John points out three clear distinguishing marks of conversion.
- We have experienced the new birth.
What does it mean to be born again? It is a miraculous work of God’s grace. There is a change of heart as we are convicted of sin, and we respond in repentance before God. We are transformed from the inside by the Holy Spirit. Every conversion is a radical conversion, moving from darkness into light.
When that happens, we get God’s seed abiding in us (1 John 3:9). God fills us and deposits His presence in us, abiding in us. We can only abide in Christ as God’s Spirit first abides in us. We will try in vain to overcome sin in our lives. We cannot do what only the creator of the universe can do.
- God’s children don’t practice sin.
As followers of Jesus, we will not be able to make a practice of sinning. We don’t have to live in constant defeat (1 John 4:4). Are you living from your identity?
- God’s children will love one another (1 John 3:10).
There are two very simple and fundamental tests for identifying a Christian:
A: Do you do what is right?
B: Do you love other believers?
True Christians are to love one another, not because we are forced to love each other, but because we love the spirit of Christ in each other.
When we despise other believers and gossip about them, we are living as an unbeliever, and we are serving the purposes of the devil.
“By a carpenter mankind was made, and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade.” Desiderius Erasmus.
Have you been remade? Have you truly been born again?