1 John 3:7-10
Born of God
The Apostle continues with the same theme begun in verse four, and, indeed, in quite a repetitive fashion. Verse seven begins: “Let no one deceive you.” This line acts as an exclamation point at the beginning of the next sentence, as if to say, “Now hear this!” “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous,” the “he” being our Lord. Our Lord is without sin and the essence of all that is right and pleasing to the Father. Thus, the one who walks in the same way, though never perfectly of course, is walking as the Lord walked. It is a simple test. Observe the believer who follows Christ, imitates his life, and strives after holiness and purity. Mark that man; he is righteous.
But “whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” This is the next test. If his life manifests sin, and that in a carefree way; if his life does not show daily repentance and mortification of sin; if he has not grown an inch in the Spirit but indicates immaturity or even a complete lack of care for the things of God—well then you may be sure that such a one is “of the devil”—the father of sinners. And as John said just above that Jesus came to “take away sins,” so he now says that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”—that is, the practice of sinning.
There is no “in between” for John, no gray area. One is either a child of God or a child of the devil. And the proof of each is not in their profession or personal experience but in the living. Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). It is the fruit people produce that proves the profession; there is no other way to know. Thus, John concludes, “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.”
But to be certain that the Apostle is not preaching a “works-righteousness,” the reason that the believer practices righteousness is because “God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” The seed is the new life planted within upon spiritual rebirth. In short, the one truly born again will walk with Him and shun sin. He will grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will run the race. He will strive for the victor’s crown. And he will do all this because “it is God who works in [him] both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).