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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
1 John 3

 

 

Verses 1-24

Children of God

1 John 3:1-24

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

What a wonderful truth is this: "Now are we the sons of God." What! We who were once children of darkness, are now the children of light; we who were children of the wicked one, are now children of God. Yes, "Such we are."

1. We are children by being born again; that is, we are children by nature, and not by culture. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: which were born * * of God."

Did not Christ tell Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again"? Did He not say, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit"?

We are begotten again by the Word of God which, abideth forever. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ."

2. We are by virtue of BIRTH members of God's Family. It is written, "Of whom the whole Family in Heaven and earth is named." That is why we call other Christians, "brother" or "sister": it is because we are of the same Heavenly Family, and are, accordingly, members one of another.

Paul said to Philemon, "Paul * * and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon." A little later he said, "The saints are refreshed by thee, brother." Ananias, hearing of Saul the persecutor's conversion, went down to him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord * * hath sent me," etc.

If we are "brothers" we should be brotherly, and have the same care one for another.

3. We are, as children, under the tutelage of the Father. In Hebrews we read, "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," The word "chasteneth" carries with it the thought of "child traineth." He also "scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." If we receive not child training we axe bastards and not sons.

Here is a beneficial result of our being the children of God. As children He loves us and trains us up into the measure of the full stature of sons.

4. As children we are heirs. Here is a fact of great importance. We are heirs of God. and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

This means that all that Christ, is and has is also ours. All the Father possesses, we possess. Let us not, therefore, bemoan our poverty, but the rather rejoice in our riches.

"All things are ours." The things present are ours; the things to come are ours.

"A tent or a cottage, why should! care?

He's building a palace for me over there;

Though exiled from Home, yet still I can sing,

All glory to God, I'm a child of the King."

5. As children of God, Heaven is our Home . Here is the promise: "It became Him, * * in bringing many sons unto Glory," etc. Yes, we are homeward bound.

"My Heavenly Home is bright and fair,

No sin nor pain, can enter there;

Its glittering towers the world outshine,

Those Heavenly Mansions shall be mine."

One of these days God will gather His sons unto Himself, That will be a glory day. Christ prayed, "Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory."

We are no more than pilgrims and. strangers here. We are journeying toward a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.

Let us rejoice in our sonship; and seek, day by day, to give honor unto our Heavenly Father in all we say and do.

I. THE UNSPEAKABLE LOVE OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER (1 John 3:1 )

1. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." Who can measure the unmeasurable love of God? Yet the Spirit prays that we may know what is the height and depth and the length and breadth of the love of God; a love that passeth understanding. The love of God is many-sided in its operations toward men, and toward redeemed saints. To us who have known His redemptive love at Calvary, there comes the sweetest note from the voice of God, saying, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," and such we are.

We who were alienated from God by evil works, are now sons of God. We are sons with all those tender relationships that belong to children. We are sons with all the nearness to God that sonship includes; we are sons with the added glories of heirship given unto us.

Indeed we cry, "Behold, what manner of love!"

2. "Therefore the world knoweth us not." The world knoweth us not because of our relationship to God. It is not so much that Satan hates men, or that he works against their interests in all things not that. It is when men throw off allegiance to him, and by the new birth become sons of God, that he begins to fight against us.

There were many Jews in Germany who had nothing to do in fact or in spirit with the slaying of the German official in Paris; nevertheless, because they were Jews, they were made to suffer with the Jews. And, if we are Christians, we are immediately thrown under the reproach of them that reproach our Lord.

The world knoweth us not. What does that mean? It means that it refuses to recognize us, that it isolates us from its company.

Christ will say to those who have failed to love Him and serve Him with their heart, "I know you not"; even so the world knows us not, because it knows Him not.

Let us gladly go with Him, therefore, without the camp and bear His reproach.

II. WHAT WE SHALL BE (1 John 3:2 )

1. We now are sons. Without this statement none of the rest could be true. The first and the vital thing is that we are sons. We are not merely servants, although we should serve faithfully. We are sons because we have been born from above. This is the relationship that we hold as dear.

2. Some things do not yet appear. It doth not yet appear what we shall be. We know that we shall be with Him. However, we do not know the exceeding riches of His grace in those eternal ages which shall be made manifest in times to come.

3. We shall be like Him. We do not know many things, but we know one thing, that, when He shall appear we shall be like Him. While we are upon the earth we bear the image of His earthly body; when we are in the Glory we shall bear the image of His Heavenly body. "Our citizenship is in Heaven from whence we look for the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change these bodies of our humiliation and fashion them like unto the body of His glory." Our new body will be a real body, even as He, in resurrection, had a real body,

4. We shall see Him as He is. Here is a second thing we know. We know we shall see Him. Many of the saints of the first century saw Him. He walked in their midst. He had fellowship with them. He ate with them, sat with them. We, too, shall one day see Him. In fact, we shall be forever with the Lord. Now we are with Him, in faith. Then we shall be with Him in person.

III. THE PURIFYING HOPE (1 John 3:3 )

1. What is our HOPE? Sometimes we may grow saddened as we observe the tendency of the age to turn away from God. We, too, may be for the time in heaviness because of the fiery trials which fall upon us; but we are not like those who have no hope.

The man who digs for gold is perfectly willing to go through privations and sorrows and troubles in order that he may obtain the precious metal. The Apostle Peter wrote very pointedly about these things, when he said: "But the God of all grace who hath railed us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while."

If the Captain of our salvation suffered that He might lead many sons Home to Glory, should we not be ready to suffer as we journey Glory-ward?

2. The purifying power of our hope. The Blessed Hope of the coming Lord, and of the glory which is yet to be revealed in us, is God's great call and our own great incentive to holiness.

Our key text says; "Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." One of the Epistles speaks of what manner of men we ought to be, as we anticipate these wonderful things which are about to come to pass. Another epistle says; that we "should live soberly, righteously, and godly, * * looking for that Blessed Hope."

The Lord Jesus Himself said that the one who said that the Lord delayed His Coming, would begin to eat and drink with the drunken. It was when the sense of the coming Bridegroom gripped the life, and the announcement of His coming was heard, that the virgins were aroused to trim their lamps and replenish their oil.

Beloved, if we are setting our affection on the things which are above, and waiting and looking and longing in hope for the. hour when. Christ shall appear in glory, then let us mortify our members which are upon the earth, and let us live lives of purity filled with service until we shall see Him.

IV. CHILDREN ARE CALLED UNTO HOLINESS (1 John 3:4-9 )

1. He was manifested to take away our sins. When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son. The happiest announcement the world had ever heard up to that time, was the announcement to the shepherds, "Unto you is born this clay in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

That Saviour came to take away our sins.

2. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not. The Lord was manifested to take away our sin, and this He could do because in Him there is no sin. Having done His Calvary work, He rose again and sent forth the Holy Spirit to empower us in our new life. It is for that reason that He said: "Little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not."

He that sinneth is of the devil, and Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. If we abide in Him, in His risen life, we will not sin.

3. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. We are now looking at the sin question from a different angle. The one who is born of God has God's seed remaining in him. The new man is begotten in righteousness and true holiness. He is God-begotten, and not God-created. Being born of God, the believer will not commit sin in the sense of living in sin. If we walk in the Spirit we shall not be fulfilling the lusts of our flesh.

Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. The child of God may sin, but God says, "Sin not." The new man begotten of God cannot sin, and the old man may be reckoned powerless, until he will not sin.

V. HOW DIVINE SONSHIP IS MANIFESTED (1 John 3:10-15 )

1. Sonship is manifested by righteousness. 1 John 3:10 says: "In this the children of God are. manifest." Then the Spirit tells us that he "that doeth not righteousness is not of God." How are we to know that men and women are the children of God? "By their fruits ye shall know them." They are known by their works, by the way they live, by the way they talk, by the way they walk, by all things whatsoever they do and are.

We once walked according to the course of this world; now we are other-worldly, and we walk as children of the light should walk.

2. Sonship is manifested by brotherly love. 1 John 3:14 says: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." 1 John 3:12 speaks of Cain who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. He slew him because his own works were evil while his brother's works were righteous.

The message we have heard from the beginning is, that we should love one another. A man who does not love his brother is manifestly the child of the devil. Our text says, "He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." It also says "whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."

3. Sonship is distinct from Cain's attitude to his brother. We are glad that the Holy Spirit puts Cain in as an example. Cain slew his brother, and the voice of his brother's blood cried from the ground. We must remember that six out of the ten Commandments have to do with our attitude toward one another. Whether the Commandment be, "Honour thy father and thy mother," or "Thou shalt not kill," or any other Commandment, they will reveal to us our attitude to our brother.

Let us not be like Cain, who slew his brother, for we know that no murderer hath eternal life.

VI. THE LOVE OF TRUE SONSHIP EXEMPLIFIED (1 John 3:16-18 )

1. The love of God should indwell our hearts. What is the love of God? It is this: that He laid down His life for us. We ought, therefore, to lay down our lives for the brethren. Is this asking too much? Not at all. Are we not to walk in His steps, to do as He did, to love as He loved, to give ourselves to others as He gave Himself for us? We do not mean that we can die a sacrificial death, because God only could do that. We do mean that the spirit which dominated Christ in His willingness to die should dominate us.

2. Our love should be full of tender compassion. If we see our brother in need, and we shut up our bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in us? if we have plenty, we should share our plenty with him in his poverty and need. What we have, we received from God; for every good and perfect gift cometh down from above. Shall we then hoard our gifts and our blessings?

"Have you had a kindness shown?

Pass it on;

'Twas not giv'n to thee alone

Pass it on."

3. Our love should be of the heart, and not merely of the lip. 1 John 3:18 says: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." The Holy Spirit through James writes, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"

Loving, therefore, in word, is just wasted energy and it means nothing. We must show our love in our deeds. Suppose God had merely said He loved us: would we have believed Him? We know He loved us because, while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us.

VII. THE PLACE OF FULL ASSURANCE FOR SONS (1 John 3:19-24 )

1. Blessed assurance. 1 John 3:19 says: "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." It is in Hebrews that we read, "Let us draw near * * in full assurance of faith." We heard the author of Blessed Assurance sing her song, and we enjoyed it.

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,

Oh, what a foretaste of glory Divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood."

2. Unhappy condemnation. 1 John 3:20 says: "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart." It is a fearful state of affairs when we know not whom we have believed, and when we have no assurance that He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him.

The seventh chapter of Romans gives us a little touch of the cry of a dissatisfied and self-condemned soul. Here is the cry: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

3. Perfect confidence. 1 John 3:21 says, "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." The place of confidence is the only place of rest. If we cannot say "We know," "we cannot say that we have peace. Let us, on the other hand, see what a perfect confidence toward God the Spirit brings to us.

Confidence brings us assurance when we pray. 1 John 3:22 tells us that "whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." When we are living in the place of "no condemnation;" we are living in the place of power in prayer. There is such a place. Read Romans 8:1 and find out where it is.

AN ILLUSTRATION

The day we became children of God was the greatest change we have ever known, and it was a change to the better.

"Yesterday I heard two men deploring the present condition of things in the business world, and one said to the other, 'People in making a change often find it is for the worse.'

Business is always more or less a venture, a hazard. Multitudes are smarting today over 'changes' made on the financial checkerboard. Some blame themselves, some blame the times, and some blame 'the other fellow.' But a change has been made for which they are sorry.

But I gladly and emphatically affirm that I made one change that has been to my everlasting advantage. No regret, in this respect, has ever been mine. Nor has one ever been found among the countless millions of time who made the change, who regretted it.

In God's infallible Guidebook to Glory, Christ speaks to His servant Paul from the Paradise of God, informing him that His Gospel is "to turn (all who receive it) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, to receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me' (Acts 26:18 )."

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 John 3:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/1-john-3.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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