1 John 3:1-10
What Lavish Love Is This!
We return to the First Letter of John. The beginning of this chapter is so wonderful as it establishes some realities about who we are as Christians. It begins: “See, what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” That’s good enough, but then it adds: “And so we are.” (Had I been translating this passage, I would have stuck an exclamation point at the end of that sentence.) “And so we are!” (There. I did it.) It’s as if John really wants to drive this point home: We are God’s children, adopted into His kingdom. We weren’t born this way, mind you. We were children of wrath (Romans 1:18). But God has transferred us from “the domain of darkness … to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). We are now heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17). It’s not just an idea; it’s not idle talk. We really are his children.
And because we are, “When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Throughout the Scriptures, no one can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). Yet, one day, we will. And the only way we will be able to do such a thing is if he remakes us to be like himself, which is the very hope of glory. One day, this mortal body shall put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42-57). Our souls shall no longer bear the shattered images they do now but will be fully restored and redeemed, so free, in fact, that sin will no longer be a temptation or desire (2 Corinthians 5:17). And it is this hope and assurance that compels us to holiness right now, for “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” No Christian wants to stand before his Savior ashamed.
The rest of the passage reminds us that Christians do not make a habit of sinning. Christians do sin; John is certain of this (1:8-2:1). But something is wrong in the Christian’s life if he “keeps on sinning.” This challenges us, for we know that we each have besetting sins that seem to hound us and never give us relief. Our adversary seems to know our every weakness and rarely gives us respite. But we also know that there is mercy with the Lord. Through daily repentance and continually walking after the Spirit, we shall conquer through Christ, for “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4; see also 5:4-5). We shall never be sinless, but we can at least make a beginning in this life – a beginning that our Lord will one day bring to completion (Philippians 1:6).