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Bible Commentaries
1 John 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-24

Chapter 3

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God ( 1 John 3:1 ):

I love that verse. Behold, what manner of love God has bestowed upon you, that you should be called the son of God. What glorious love, that God should adopt me as His son, that God should claim me as His son. That God should call me His son. What manner of love God has for me that He would call me His son.

therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doesn't yet appear what we're going to be: but we know that, when he appears, we're going to be like him; for we will see him as he is ( 1 John 3:1-2 ).

Now, we should not look for the rapture to make a tremendous transition and change in our lives. You know what I would hope? I would hope that I could be in heaven for an hour before I realized it. That I walked in such fellowship with the Lord, such communion with Him, lived so close to Him, that suddenly I'd say, "Man, the air is clear. Where am I? Hey, this heaven!" And you'd be there an hour before you ever knew it. That there would be no real radical change. You know, people are looking for real radical changes to take place, but you know, the Spirit working in our heart, day by day He is conforming us into the image of Christ. And we are being changed from glory to glory into the same image by the power of His Spirit working within us, so that there should not be some dramatic radical change when we then come right into the actual presence of our Lord in glory. You see, what will we be occupied with when we get there? Just loving Him, and fellowshipping and worshipping Him, sharing with Him. What should we then be occupied with here? Just loving Him, serving Him, worshipping Him. It shouldn't bring to pass a real radical change, you know, a hundred and eighty degrees. Running in my flesh, hard as I can this way, and then the rapture, and back now the other way. But just that transition right on in.

"Now we are the sons of God, it doesn't yet appear what we're going to be." You know, the Bible is interesting in that it doesn't give us that much insight into just what heaven is gonna be like. And the reason why is because there are no words that can describe it. That's what Paul said of his experience, "I was caught up into the third heaven and, hey, I heard things that it would be a crime to try to describe them in human language, and I'm not gonna even try" ( 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 ). It would be a crime to try to describe them in human terms. There is no human language that can express these things. So, because language is limited and is incapable of really expressing the fullness of the glory, the beauty, it just remains not described for us. "Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the hearts of men those things that God has prepared for those that love Him. But God has begun to reveal them to us by His Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ).

Now there are occasions when I have a taste of heaven. A special work of God's Spirit within my heart and I'm carried away into an ecstasy. I experience a joy that's indescribable, full of glory. I feel a deep glorious peace that I can't describe. The Spirit of God beginning to reveal to me some of those things of the heavenly scene, but yet, so far beyond anything that words could describe.

What if you had a child that was blind and you tried to describe the sunset that we had last night? With a child who has never seen the oranges, and the reds, and the clouds and the beauties, fading out into the light blues and the pinks and all. How could you with words, adequately describe the beauty of a sunset? It defies description. So the heavenly scene defies description. The Bible doesn't attempt to. It just tells you, "Hey, it's glory beyond anything you could ever believe or imagine."

It doesn't yet appear what we are gonna be. Paul said, "Some of you will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what body will they come?'" ( 1 Corinthians 15:35 ) And he doesn't really seek to tell us too much about the body, only in the fact that it's going to be vastly superior to the body that we have. We're planted in corruption; we're going to be raised in incorruption. We're planted in weakness; we're going to be raised in power. We are sown in dishonor; we're going to be raised in glory. We're planted as a natural body; we're going to be raised in a spiritual body. There is a natural body; there is a spiritual body. As we are born in the image of the earth, so shall we bear the image of the heavens. When you put a seed into the ground it dies before it comes forth into new life, and the body that comes out of the ground isn't the body that you planted. All you planted was a bare grain and God gives it a body that pleases Him, so is the resurrection of the dead.

New body--it's not gonna be the body that I planted in the ground. I'm not gonna have gimpy knees and I'm not gonna have bad eyes, and I'm not gonna have a bald head. I'm not gonna have wrinkles. A glorious new form, and I don't know what it is, it does not appear what I'm gonna be. It doesn't bother me. I know this, I'm gonna be like Him. Hey, that's all that matters. I'm gonna be like Him, for I'm gonna see Him as He is. And that's my hope tonight. I'm gonna be like Him as I see Him as He is.

And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure ( 1 John 3:3 ).

This to me is one of the most purifying hopes within the church: Jesus is coming at any moment, and I'm gonna be changed to be just like Him. I'm gonna see Him as He is. And so that keeps me from doing a lot of things that I might otherwise do, from getting involved in a lot of wasted time that I might otherwise get involved in, because the Lord is coming soon and I want to use my time for His glory. Keep myself pure.

Whosoever commits sin ( 1 John 3:4 )

Now this word commits should be translated "practices sin" or "living in sin".

Whosoever [is living or practicing] sin is transgressing the law: for sin is lawlessness. And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin ( 1 John 3:4-5 ).

Now, I pointed out in chapter 1 that the sins (plural) refer to the fruit, and sin (singular) refers to the nature of sin in us, here in I John. So the sin (singular) here, as far as Christ is concerned, "in Him is no sin," that is, there was no nature of sin. We have a sinful nature. If I try to deny that, I'm only deceiving myself, and the truth isn't in me. If I say I have no sin, that I don't have a sinful nature, then I'm only deceiving myself. If I say that my sinful nature has never borne any fruit, that I've never sinned, then I do even worse; I make God a liar now. But Jesus did not have a sinful nature. He was born of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit. He died, as Peter said, as a lamb without spot or blemish. Spot, an inherent defect, He didn't have an inherent defect. Nor were there any acquired, the blemishes. I have both; I have spots and blemishes. I have the inherent sin, the nature of sin, and it has produced too much fruit. So, thank God for the blood of Jesus Christ. Having confessed my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So, whosoever is practicing sin is transgressing the law, for sin is the transgression of the law, and you know that He was manifested to take away our sins. He came in order that He might die for my sins, that He might take away my sins and my guilt, and in Him is no sin nature.

Whosoever abides in him does not practice sin: and whosoever practices sin has not seen him, neither known him ( 1 John 3:6 ).

Pretty powerful words. It should cause us to examine our own lives. If I am living a life of practicing sin, I really don't know Him. I really haven't seen Him. If I really know Him, then I'm gonna be free from the practice of sin.

Little children, let no man deceive you ( 1 John 3:7 ):

And don't deceive yourself.

he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous ( 1 John 3:7 ).

Now, Christ our example in purity, every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure. He is our example in righteousness, as he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous.

He that is practicing sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. And for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil ( 1 John 3:8 ).

So again, don't deceive yourself. If you are practicing sin, living in sin, you are not of God; you are a part of that rebellion against God, led by Satan.

Whosoever is born of God does not practice sin; for his seed remaineth in him ( 1 John 3:9 ):

And the word His there in your Bible, if you'd capitalize, because it refers to Jesus Christ.

his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God ( 1 John 3:9 ).

You see, I have been born now of God, I have been born again, this is what Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about, He said, "Hey, fellow, you got to be born again if you are gonna enter into the kingdom of heaven." He says, "How can I be born again? I am an old man. I can't go back to my mother's womb anymore." And He said, "No. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Don't marvel when I say that you've got to be born again." Born of the Spirit, the new birth.

Now, born of the flesh, I was born a sinner, with the nature of sin. And because of the nature of sin, there was the fruit, a sinful life. Now I have been born again, through the work of Jesus Christ, being born again, I have now a new nature. And when I do something that is untowards, mean, ugly, nasty, I can't say, "Well, you know, that's just my old nature." Because I have now a new nature. I've been born again. So that doing the righteous things become natural; sin becomes unnatural to the child of God. It doesn't mean that I don't sin, but it does mean it becomes an unnatural thing to me. Doing righteousness becomes the natural thing of my life. Doing the right thing comes natural. The nature of Christ, His seed abides in me and I can't practice sin. It's opposite to my new nature. It's opposing my new nature. I may fall into sin, but it's so opposing to my new nature that I'm miserable, I'm uncomfortable, and I come right out of it and I say, "Lord, forgive me. I was a fool. I was blind and foolish. Oh Lord, forgive me." I can't be comfortable living in sin. It's miserable because of my new nature. I'm out of character now with the new nature that I have in Christ. And so we are what we are by nature. That's why you need the new nature. That's why Jesus said, "You've got to be born again."

Now a pig is a pig by nature, and there are certain natural inclinations of a pig. He would be very uncomfortable in a different environment than what his nature calls for. Now, by nature he loves to get in a mud hole and just oink and scoot around in a mud hole, a stinky, smelly thing by nature, and he enjoys it. Now, you can take him out of the mud hole and wash him off with deodorant soap, cologne him and bring him into your parlor. Now, this isn't natural for a pig. He would be very uncomfortable in your living room. He would go rooting around looking for a way to get out. He would want to get back to the mud, the smelly mud pit. "I like it, it's my nature," if I'm a pig.

That's why reformation doesn't work for people. It takes more than reformation; it takes a change of nature. That's what the gospel offers to us. It doesn't say, "Come on, clean up your act." No. "Reform." No, it says, "Be ye transformed," have a change of nature. To where doing righteousness becomes the natural thing. Because His Spirit, His Seed is now abiding in me. A new nature through Jesus Christ, His nature planted in me.

And that is why the unconverted has such a difficulty, many times in making the decision to turn his life over to Jesus Christ. Because he sees the Christian and he says, "I could never live that way." Why? Because he's a pig, and he's happy in the mud, and he cannot imagine living a life of cleanliness, a life a purity. That's so totally opposed to his nature. He feels that he would be extremely uncomfortable in that environment. And Satan oftentimes uses that as weapon against the person making the decision. They say, "I could never live like those Christians. I would like to live that way, but, hey, that's not for me, man. I just couldn't do it." Of course you can't, we couldn't if there weren't a change of nature. But we've been born of God. His seed now abides in us. I have the new nature and I cannot practice sin in this new nature. Now, if you're comfortable practicing sin, then you don't have the new nature. "Oh, but I raised my hand and went forward in a Billy Graham crusade." I don't care. You know, you're not really born again unless there's a change of nature.

Now in this the children of God are manifest ( 1 John 3:10 ),

This is how you know if you're a child of God.

and the children of the devil are manifest: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God ( 1 John 3:10 ),

If you're not living a righteous life, you're not of God. I don't care what you might profess.

neither he that doesn't love his brother ( 1 John 3:10 ).

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that you should love one another. That's the heart of the gospel message. Remember the lawyer came to Jesus and said, "What is the greatest commandment?" And Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. And in these two are all the law and the prophets" ( Matthew 22:37-40 ). What did He teach us? Love one another, even as I have loved you. If we don't have love for each other, then we are not of God; we don't have the new nature. For he that loves God, loves him that is begotten of God. That's part of the nature.

The message that we've heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And why did he kill him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's were righteous. So marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you ( 1 John 3:11-13 ).

Because your deeds are righteous, and theirs are evil, and they will hate you for that. You make them feel guilty. They don't like to feel guilty. They hate you, "You're always doing the right thing. You're goodie, goodie, you think you are better than everybody else, don't you?" They hate you. I'm amazed at when a person, say, finds a bag, a Brinks bag on the highway with twenty thousand dollars in it and they take it down to the police department and turn it in. You know that they get all kinds of hate mail and threats on their lives and everything else? People call them up and harass them and tell them what fools they are and how stupid they were. And people that do those kind of things get all kinds of harassment. The world hates a righteous person. Marvel not that the world hates you.

We know that [oetis that] we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. And he that loveth not his brother abides in death ( 1 John 3:14 ).

Now how do I know that I've passed from death to life? Because I love the family of God, I love the brethren. Jesus said to His disciples, "By this sign shall the world know that you are my disciples, that you love one another" ( John 13:35 ). That's the greatest witness to the world is the love within the Christian body. They know that you are really Christians because you love one another as you do. Hey, not only is it the proof to the world, but it's also the proof to yourself. How do you know that you have passed from death unto life? Because God has given you such a love for the body of Christ, those within the body of Christ.

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: [as Cain,] and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him ( 1 John 3:15 ).

So hereby we perceive the love of God. How do you know that God loves you? How do you know what you know? Now I know that God loves me. How do I know that God loves me? Because He laid down His life for us, that's how I know He loves me. Again, as we mentioned before, whenever God wants to prove that He loves you, He always points to the cross. He never seeks to make proof of His love in any other way. He doesn't try to prove that He loves you by the circumstances of your life always being good and prosperous and happy and rosy. Whenever you begin to doubt the love of Christ or the love of God, turn and look at the cross. There's the proof that God loves you. For God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren ( 1 John 3:16 ).

"Love one another even as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man will lay down his life for friends. You are my friends," Jesus said, "if you do what I command you" ( John 15:12-14 ). And He laid down His life for us. We ought to have such love each other, for the body of Christ, that we would lay down our lives for each other. Jesus said to husbands, "Love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." God help us, may God work His love in our hearts.

But whoso hath this world's goods, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ( 1 John 3:17 )

Now coming to practical examples. You've been blessed, you've been prospered, you have a lot of world's goods. And now you see a brother in Christ who is in great need and you don't reach out to help him in his need. How can you really say that the love of Christ abides in you? "Oh, yes, I love him. Poor brother, I feel sorry for him. I love him so much. I feel so sorry for him. Not having any turkey this Christmas, it's a shame you know. Has to eat a Big Mac for Christmas, terrible. Oh, but I love him. Oh, how I love that man." No, No, no you don't. You can't really love them and shut your heart up on their need and be cold and calloused concerning their need. How does the love of God really dwell in you? How can you say that God's love dwells in you?

Little children, let us not love in word ( 1 John 3:18 ),

That's easy isn't it, "Oh, I love the world, it's just people I can't stand." You know, it's easy to profess love, "Oh, I love you so much . . . " What was it Shakespeare that said, "Thou protesteth too much." I always get a little suspicious when people, every time they see you say, "Oh, I love you so much, brother." I had a fellow that was saying that to me around here for a long time. And then he did his best to put a knife in my back. Oh, he loves me so much. Yes, yes, yes. Loving in words, that isn't where it's at. Let's love in deed; let's show our love by what we do, not by our words only. It's good to express it, but it's better to show it in our deeds. In reaching out, in helping, in giving a call, in giving a word of encouragement, in giving support financially if necessary, to reach out in love to touch each other and to help each other. Let's love in deed, for that's love in truth.

And hereby we know that we are of the truth ( 1 John 3:19 ),

How do I know that I am of the truth? Because I love in truth, I love in my deeds, and that's how I know that I'm of the truth.

and it gives assurance in our hearts towards him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things ( 1 John 3:19-20 ).

Now, sometimes our hearts do condemn us, and Satan oftentimes condemns us. There are people that are suffering under the condemnation of Satan under their own heart. I feel sort of sorry for them. They always go away castigating themselves saying, "Why did I say that? Oh, why did I say that?" And they can't sleep at night because of what they said that night when they were together with their friends. And they're afraid, "Oh, I've said the wrong thing. Nobody will love me anymore." And there are people that have that kind of a nature that they are just troubled by things like that. And their hearts often condemn them. But if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts. You know, I am convinced that I condemn myself for a lot of things that God doesn't me for, because God has justified me. Paul said, "Who is he that condemns us? It is Christ who died, rather is risen again, and is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us" ( Romans 8:34 ). "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" ( Romans 8:1 ). If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.

If our heart condemn us not, we have confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight ( 1 John 3:21-22 ).

Now, there are a lot of people that take that first part as a promise, "whatsoever we ask we receive of Him," but they don't finish the verse, "because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." You see, there are some fascinating, sort of broad promises given to us on prayer. Jesus said, "And whatsoever things you desire when you pray believe that you receive them, and ye shall have them" ( Matthew 21:22 ). Now people just take that, and they start then preaching these sermons on faith, and, "Hey, you can have anything you want. You can have a Mercedes. You can live on Lido Island, or you can . . . Faith. All you need is faith. Whatsoever things you desire, do you desire it? Believe and you'll have it." Who was Jesus talking to? The multitudes? Nope. He was talking to His disciples. What constitutes being a disciple? "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" ( Matthew 16:24 ). That needs to be stamped over the top of that. "Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them . . . Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me." What does that mean? It means that your prayers will only be on those things that are for His glory and for His kingdom and not to satisfy your own desires of making a big splash in a Mercedes or whatever.

We have this confidence when we keep His commandments and we do those things that are pleasing in His sight. Then we have power in prayer, because our prayers are not directed towards our self-interest and our own self-aggrandizement, but our prayers are on the things of His kingdom and things for His glory and things whereby others may prosper and be blessed.

And this is his commandment ( 1 John 3:23 ),

Now he's talked about a lot of commandments, and he's going to be talking more about commandments and keeping the commandments. What is the commandment?

That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment ( 1 John 3:23 ).

That's all. He doesn't give you ten commandments, long list of do's and do nots. All He said is to just believe on Jesus and love one another. I'm glad that He reduced it down to just simplicity. I'll never forget it. It's easy to remember to just believe on Him and to love one another. He doesn't lay a long burden and list on me that I have a hard time fulfilling. Just do this, "Believe on Jesus and love each other."

And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abides in us ( 1 John 3:24 ),

How do I know that He abides in us or in me?

by his Spirit which he has given me ( 1 John 3:24 ).

God has filled my life with His Holy Spirit. I know He abides in me. Hereby I know, by the Spirit that He has given.

So next week we'll finish I John as we go into chapters 4 and 5. Then we'll take II and III John, and perhaps Jude in one evening. Enter into the book of Revelation for about, what, ten weeks maybe. So that means about March or so, and then we'll be starting over in Genesis again. Through the Bible, it's exciting. We learn about God, as He has revealed the truth of Himself to us.

And now may the Spirit of God teach you all things and bring to your remembrance those things that He has commanded us. We remember to just love God and believe on Jesus Christ. And may the love of Christ be perfected in your life, may it increase and may it grow and may God help you to maintain the proper perspective, in the world but not of the world. Your every touch just as light as possible, because the world is gonna pass away and the lust thereof, but he who does the will of God will abide forever. God help us to be interested and occupied with the things that are eternal. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 John 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-john-3.html. 2014.
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