v.1: The thought of being born of God grips John with wonder, so he calls upon his readers to consider the wonderful love that brought them into the family of God. God could have saved us without making us his children, but the quality of God’s love is seen in that he brought us into His family as children. Abba – Father. The difference between being a child or a son. The emphasis is on being born into the family, child. A son can be adopted, a child is born.
Behold – look earnestly upon – consider with the kind of love, the unique quality of the Father’s love in that he has made us His children. The world does not recognize us as such.
They do not understand us sometimes. John says this is what we must expect because they did not understand the Lord Jesus when He was on the earth. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received Him not. Since the true child of God has the same characteristics, we cannot expect the world to understand us.
v. 2: However despite what the world says, God says that we are His children now, and this is our quality of future glory. “It doth not yet appears what we shall be”. We cannot appreciate what this relationship means while on earth. I Corinthians 2-9. But we do know that when Christ raptures us, we shall be changed, we shall be like him. This does not mean that we will be physically like the Lord Jesus. The Lord will have his own unique appearance, and will bear the scars of Calvary throughout eternity. Each of us will have our own distinct features and we will be recognizable as such. The Bible does not read that everyone will look alike in heaven. The thought is that we will be morally like the Lord. He will be free from sin, defilement, sickness, sorrow and death. Each day that we live the process of becoming like Christ should be going on. But the process will absolutely complete when “we see Him as He is.”
v. 3: Every man says John who has the hope of seeing Christ and being like him, purifies himself even as Christ is pure. The hope of seeing Him brings into focus the rapture. If we live our lives as if Christ was crucified yesterday and coming tomorrow we would be continually purifying ourselves. The imminence of the rapture should have a sanctifying effect on every believer.
v. 4: Give a better translation.
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin in lawlessness. This is a picture of an unbeliever. This is the opposite from what is taught in v. 4.
v. 5: This verse tells us why Christ came into this world, “to take away our sin”. For a Christian to keep practicing sin would be a denial of the purpose for which Christ came. Furthermore a Christian cannot live in sin because it would be a denial of the one whose name he bears. “In him was no sin” – Peter, “He did no sin”- Paul, “He know no sin”. Our Lord was sinless – “The manna rested on the dew” For one to call oneself a believer and continue in the same old ways of life, is an impossibility.
v. 6: Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not, whosoever practices sin has never seen Him, and certainly does not know Him. This verse contrasts the true believer with one who has never been born again. The subject here is not isolated acts of sin but rather its practice. Christians do sin – this breaks our fellowship, but not our relationship.
v. 7: Little children let no man desire you. The Gnostics made great claim as to their knowledge, but were very careless about their personal lives. There should be no confusion on this point. A man cannot have spiritual life and go on living in sin. On the other hand, a believer can only live a spiritual life because he has the righteous nature of Christ in him.
v. 8: Most children are like their parents. This is true of God’s children and of the devils children. The thought in this verse is “He that practiceth sin is of the devil”. The devil has kept on sinning from the time he fell. His children follow his example. Continuous sense. In contrast, the coming of our Lord Jesus was to destroy the works of the devil. It cost the Lord Jesus so much to put away sin. The attitude of His children should be to abhor that which is evil and to abstain from the appearance of evil.
v. 9: Whosoever is born of God doth not practice sin. This verse represents the impossibility of one who has been born of God going on in sin. The reason for this is that His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
The Question of “the seed”. Common beliefs – new nature – the Holy Spirit – Word of God. As I see it, it is a combination of the three, which produces new life. Because these things are in the believers he cannot sin habitually. This then is the fourth distinction of the children of God and the children of the devil.
4. Righteousness and Godly living
Those who do not practice righteousness are not of God. There is no in-between, no gray area. There are none who are half in and half out. In contract God’s children are know by these righteous lives. John then reverts back to the subject of love which he had discussed in chapter 2.
v. 11: From the beginning of the Christian dispensation the believers had been taught to love one another. This is not mere affection, but we should love each other as Christ loved us.
v. 12: Instructs us that we are not to be like Cain we did not love his brother Abel – he murdered him. The reason Cain hated and murdered Abel was because his works were evil, while Abel’s were good.
v. 14: Note the change that comes to one at conversion. The believers whom they once hated they now love. John says that this is an evidence of salvation. Those who do not love God’s children never have been home again.
v. 15: In the eyes of the world hatred is not counted as a very wicked thing. In the eyes of God it is murder. Hate is murder in embryo form. The thought and motive is there – the act might not be committed.
(Quote the second part of the verse.) John does not mean that a murderer cannot be saved. He rather is saying that a man who hates his fellow men is a potential murderer and is not saved.
V. 16: The Lord showed what true love was like – he laid down his life for us. This is in contrast to Cain. Our love for the brethren should be so great that, if necessary, we should lay our lives down for them.
V. 17: Love is practical. Our lives should be a continual giving out for our brethren. If we have an abundance and fail to share it with brethren in need, John says the love of God is not in him.
v. 18: Our love should be practical. Not in word or tongue – but in deed and in truths.
v. 19: Such manifestations will assure us that we are in God’s family and give us confidence to approach him.
V. 20: This is rather a difficult verse to understand. The words heart and conscience seem to be interchangeable. It is serious when our conscience convicts us of our actions, at its best conscience fail sometimes, but God knows everything about us fully and absolutely.
v. 21: This is describing a believer who has a good conscience before God. This is not a person who has been living sinlessly, but one who has confessed and forsaken his sins. By doing this he has confidence and boldness in prayers.
v. 22: Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him. Such a statement could only apply to one who was living in close vital intimacy with the Lord. Living like this we get to know the Lord’s will, and knowing His will we would not ask for anything outside of it. So that, when we ask something, we know that it is His will, we receive it.
Look for a moment a the conditions for answering prayers
1. We must have a clear conscience – no outstanding sins. v. 20-21
2. We must keep his commandments. v. 22
3. Our lives must be pleasing to Him. v. 22
4. We must believe in the Lord Jesus. v.23
5. We must love one another. v. 23
v. 24: John says that any person who keeps these commandments dwells or abides in Christ and he abides in Him. We know that he is in us by the Holy Spirit.
1 John 3, part 2
v. 1: “Behold what manner (kind) of love,” etc. God could have saved us without making us children. (Compare II Samuel 14.) Abba – Father. Explain the difference between “Sons” and “children”. Born of God and born into the family of God.
v. 1b: The world does not recognize us as such. They did not recognize the Lord either. We are God’s masterpieces. Ephesians 2:10.
v. 2: We are God’s children now. Ephesians 5:27. We cannot fully appreciate what this means. But we know that when Christ comes we shall be changed and we shall be like Him. Have a body like unto his body of glory, etc. We shall see Him as He really is.
v. 3: Every man that has this hope, etc. “Blessed hope”. The expectation of the coming of the Lord has a sanctifying effect on the believer. The coming is certain, but the time uncertain. Consider Mark 13:33-37.
v. 5: Quote…. “In Him was no sin.” The intimate disciple. This is one of the three key passages which deal with the sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus. I Pet 2:22: “He knew no sin.” The intellectual disciple. The temptation. Manna resting on the dew.
v. 6: Says he does not.
v. 9: Says He cannot. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” The believer does not practice, or live in sin. Commit sin. New Nature (see v. 5-6). Old nature – flesh. Romans 7:20 “now if I do that which I would not, it is no more I that does it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Paul is simply saying that it is the old nature that sins, not the new. The reason “His seed remaineth in Him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” What is the seed? Some think the seed is the new nature – Holy Spirit – Word of God. It could involve all three, because the seed is there and because of what it has produced it is impossible for a born again believer to practice sin. John tells us in his Gospel what is really expected from a believer.
1. John 3:6 Born of the Spirit – Indwelling
2. John 4:14 Springing up – Infilling
3. John 7:37-39 Flow rivers – Outflowing
v. 9: The characteristics of the children of God.
v. 10: The characteristics of the children of the devil.
v. 11: John seems to revive the subject of love which he dropped in Ch. 2. This is the message of the Lord Jesus “that we should love one another.”
v. 12: This is the first record instance of a man who hated his brother. The reason is given for his hatred. His works were evil – his brother’s were righteous. His father was “the wicked one”. Abel’s father was God.
v. 13: The antagonism of the world against believers. They hated the Savior – so they will hate you. John 15:18-20.
v. 14: We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. The assurance of salvation. II Corinthians 5:17.
v. 15: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer”. Hatred is murder in embryo form. Hatred is the motive – murder is the act. The man who hates like this, John says, has not eternal life… He is unsaved. “No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
v. 16: in contrast to the murderer of v. 15 and Cain v. 12, John gives us the highest expression of love. “He laid down his life for us.” This example should be followed by us. We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
v. 17: Love is practical, sacrificial love. If we have an abundance ourselves and we do not share it with our brothers in need, John says “the love of God does not dwell in us”. He who was rich became poor.
v. 18: Our love has not to be in theory. Our love should be expressed in deed and sincerity. The reward – a cup of cold water, etc. See James 2:14-16.
v. 22: And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him. This is not a carte blanche statement. God does not grant all the answers to our prayers that we desire. Such would be disastrous. There are certain stringent conditions to be kept ere such a sublime promise could be claimed.
1. We must keep His commandments. V. 22
2. Believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. V. 23
3. We must love one another. V.23
This means living close to the Savior, creating an intimacy with him, being in fellowship with Him. Dong this we make His will our will – then in our prayers the Holy Spirit fills us with the knowledge of His will. So that as we pray we ask according to His will, then we receive in their entirety the things which we ask.
v. 24: Dwelling in Him, God dwelling in us. I am my Beloveds, my beloved is mine. Christ is mine – Praise God. But I am Christ’s.
v. 27: He reminds them of their anointing…. He says that it “abideth in you”. Describe the difference of the old and N.T. saints relative to the Holy Spirit. David said “take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” John says “He abideth with you.” “And shall be in you”. So a spiritual believer is fully equipped to discern false teaching because he has the Spirit of God in his heart and he has the Word of God in his hand.
v. 28: John 15 …..abide in Him…. Live in fellowship with him….that we may have confidence and not be ashamed at His coming. The judgment seat of Christ. II Corinthians 5:10. We must all appear. “Must I go and empty handed.”