Behold, What Manner of Love!

1 John 3:1-10

In this third chapter of 1st John, the emphasis is on sonship. Because a Christian is "born of God" he is a son, and will practice righteousness and also love his fellow Christians whom John calls "the brethren."

VERSES 1-3. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

John gives us the first of three reasons to live holy lives.

1. God the Father loves us.
"Sons of God" isn't just a fancy name, it's a reality. We are God's children. The whole wonderful plan of salvation begins with the love of God. He wanted us for His children enough to sacrifice His Only Son for us. We don't expect the world to understand this thrilling relationship, because it doesn't understand God. Some people try to deny that God exists, or that if He does, He isn't the Almighty we recognize Him to be. Only a person who knows God through Christ can fully appreciate what it means to be called His child by God Himself.

Verse one tells us what we are now, and verse two tells us what we will be when Christ comes for His Church.

God's love for us didn't start when we got saved. If it did, none of us would have gotten saved. He loved us from the foundation of the world. After we get saved, His love doesn't stop, either. It continues throughout our lives and right up to the return of Jesus Christ. Then all Believers will go to be with Him and be like Him forevermore.

Philippians 3:20-21. "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

This means we'll have new glorified bodies that are suited for heaven! These verses told us what we are now, what we will be, and now in verse 3 he tells us what we should be. In light of the promised return of Jesus, we should keep our lives clean. These are reasons John gives us for leading a holy life.

2. God the Son died for us.
He gives two reasons why Jesus came and died;
[1] To take away our sins (verses 4-6), and
[2] To destroy the works of the devil (verses 7-8).

3. God the Holy Spirit lives in us.
Here is the third reason for the Christian to lead a holy life. The first was God the Father loves us, and the second was God the Son died for us. Now, God the Holy Spirit lives in us. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin." Why? Because he has a new nature within and that new nature can't sin. John calls it God's seed. The old nature can still sin, but the ability to control it is there. When we get saved we get a whole new nature that gives us a new standing before God. He views us as righteous in His sight. We still have the old nature, but God enables us to overcome that by His power. But, we can still fail in that.

Salvation from start to finish is an expression of the love of God. We're saved by grace, but the provision for that salvation originated in the love of God for His creature, man. And, if we have experienced that tremendous love, we have no actual desire to sin against Him. It's not something we really wish to do.

An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator. A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father. The unbeliever sins against the law; the believer sins against love.

The phrase, "The fear of the Lord" is repeated often in the Bible. This doesn't mean the Christian should live in an atmosphere of fear or terror of God. It means that God's Children hold their Father in reverence and won't deliberately sin against Him or try His patience.

For a child of God to deliberately sin indicates that he does not understand or appreciate what Jesus did for him there on the cross.

An unsaved person lives a life of habitual sin, even if he professes to be saved. The fact that he claims to be a Christian and isn't is sin. You may lead the best life in the community and still be an unsaved sinner. The Christian may commit sin, an occasional wrong act, but won't practice sin, that is, make a settled habit of it.

VERSE 4. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." The Bible tells us there are several kinds of sin. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" Romans 14:23. "The thought of foolishness is sin." Proverbs 24:9. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. Here, John defines sin as lawlessness and as defiance of God. This emphasizes is on sin. Sin is the root, sins are the fruit.

The fact that God is love doesn't mean that He doesn't have any rules or regulations for His family. Any parent that loves their children has rules for them. 1 John 5:2. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."

God's children aren't under bondage to the Mosaic Law, because Christ set us free, but God's children are under the law of Christ's commandments.

Sin is basically a matter of the will. When we assert our will against God's will it's rebellion, and rebellion is lawlessness and that is the root of sin. When we knowingly and willingly sin, it reveals itself in our behavior.

Think of it like this. You're walking through a grocery store and there are some white grapes that look really good and you're kind of hungry. You take a couple and pop them in your mouth. That is sin. You know those grapes don't belong to you. You know you're not going to go to the checkout counter and tell them to charge you for two grapes.

I don't care how small a thing it is to you, but in God's eyes you deliberately stole something, and that's sinning. God sees sin as sin. We see it as degrees of sin. God's assessment is the only correct one. That's why Jesus had to come and redeem you to God by His blood sacrifice on the cross. Yes, even for ONE grape, because you sinned and God can't take anyone to heaven that is charged with even one sin. Christ had to pay for ALL our sins, not just the grapes. Do you want to see how God looks at sin? JAMES 2:10. " For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

After we're saved, God has given us the ability to control even tiny sins like stealing two grapes. He expects the best out of us and expects us not to do things like that as well as things that mankind looks at as bigger sins. God expects us to live holy lives up to the knowledge we have of what is right and what is wrong.

Every great personality mentioned in the Bible sinned at one time or another. Abraham lied about his wife. Joseph taunted his brothers. Moses lost his temper. Peter denied the Lord three times. David committed adultery and murder. They all knew better but these things weren't a settled practice in their lives. It was an incident totally contrary to their normal habits. When they sinned, they admitted it to God and asked and recieved forgiveness.

VERSE 5 "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." John turns from the future appearing of Jesus mentioned in verse 2, to His past appearance in Verse 5.


VERSES 6-8. "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.
7: Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.
8: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

The logic here is clear: If a man knows God, he'll obey God. If he belongs to the devil, he'll obey the devil. The contrast here is between Christ who has no sin, and the devil who can do nothing but sin.

Christians may rest assured that Satan is a defeated enemy. He may still win a few battles against Christians here and there, but he has already lost the war. His sentence has been pronounced, but it will be a while before punishment is meted out by God. Meanwhile, Satan still controls those who haven't trusted Christ.

A person who has been delivered from the bondage of sin through Christ's death on the cross has no desire to obey Satan and live like a rebel against God. Christ appeared to destroy the works of the devil.

VERSES 9-10."Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."

John doesn't deny that Christians sin, but he does deny that Christians can live in sin and not be convicted that it is wrong. A person that deliberately enjoys sinful things and doesn't feel convicted, or experience God's chastening, had better examine themselves to see whether on not they are really born again. God says you can't be doing this and be a Believer.

When John states that one born of God doesn't sin, he is taking into view the fact that God views us as righteous because even those sins we do after we're saved were paid for at the cross by the blood of His Son. God has stated in the book of Hebrews, "Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

We're given a new position, that of being sanctified, regenerated, and justified. Sanctification means "being set apart for God" to be of service to Him. The unsaved can't serve God no matter what great good they do. Regeneration means "a new nature," God's nature. Justification means a new standing before God. "Just as if we had never sinned."

Physical life produces physical life. Spiritual life produces spiritual life. Just as children bear the nature of their parents, God's children bear His nature. His seed is in them.

A Christian has an old nature from his physical birth and a new nature by his spiritual birth. The old nature produces sin, the new nature leads us into a holy life. Our responsibility is to live according to the new nature, not the old.

The Christian that feeds the new nature from the Word of God will have power to live a godly life. We can fill our lives so full of this new life that the necessary things of this world become secondary, and we will have lives filled with joy from God.

On the other hand, if we neglect these things, we will wonder why things are so hard for us. Sometimes we even think God is down on us but in reality, we are the ones who have strayed. It's so gradual sometimes that we don't even realize it. Stay home from church once and it's easier to stay home another time. Skip a few days of reading your Bible, maybe when you're on vacation or just busy, and it soon becomes a habit to put off that daily reading of Scripture. We get out of touch with God and His Word and then we tend to blame God, when in reality, we are the guilty party. God won't forsake you, you forsake God, and wonder why things aren't going well.

Temptation appeals to our basic instincts, our natural desires. There is nothing sinful about our instincts, but temptation gives us an opportunity to satisfy them in a sinful way. Yielding to sin is the mark of Satan's children. They profess or claim one thing and practice another. Satan is the father of all liars and his children are like him.

The most natural thing for the unbelievers is to try to convince you that something that is wrong in God's eyes is right to do. Look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous people today. Many of them are outspoken against Bible principles. People idolize or respect these famous people and tend to believe them and their theories, even though God's Word says otherwise.

Often these same people try to confuse the issue by declaring evolution as the origin of all life on the earth. Contrary to God's Word, they put the things God gave to man to serve him, such as the animals and the trees, above man and his needs.

They have destroyed God's natural order that puts God first, then man as the head, then woman, followed by the children. 1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Today, it's children first, followed by the mother. The man's place in the order as well as God's place is not even considered. Just watch any T.V. program where there is a family involved. God won't be mentioned and the father of the family will be portrayed as a buffoon.

Some teach that a Believer doesn't have to worry about sin because only the body sins and what the body does in no way affects the spirit. To begin with, the "old nature" isn't the body. The body itself is neutral, it can be used either by the sinful old nature or by the new nature.

ROMANS 6:12-13. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey it's evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness." Our "evil desires" here aren't the body's desires, they are the desires of sin.

How does a child of God overcome the desires of the old nature? Begin each day by yielding your body to God in prayer. Determine you are not going to do anything wrong in God's eyes. Do nothing to dishonor God.

Spend time each day reading God's Word and praying. Sacrifice some of your sleep time or leisure time to prepare yourself through the power of the Holy Spirit to be fed and led by Him. The ability to live for and serve God comes through this.

Claim God's promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Notice that God has offered us a way out, but He won't force you to take it. We have to accept or reject that ourselves, but He offers it.

The things in this chapter were written so that we can EXAMINE OURSELVES, not so we could check on other people. Each one of us has to answer some things honestly before God.

1. Do I have that divine nature in me or am I merely pretending to be a Christian?
2. Do I cultivate this new nature with daily prayer and Bible reading?
3. Has any un-confessed sin remained? Am I willing to confess it to God when I sin?
4. Do I allow the old nature to control my thoughts?
5. Do I play with temptation when it does come, or do I put it out of my mind?

The life that is real and meaningful to God is honest with God on all issues. When we begin each day by turning our lives and bodies over to Christ we'll have greater joy than we ever deserved and we won't miss out on any of the pleasures that are legitimate.