Jdgs. 21:25 π Mt. 15:18-20 π Mt. 18:21 π Mt. 24:3-14 π Jn. 8:46 π Jn. 15:4-10 π Jn. 15:10 π Rom. 8:14-17 π Rom. 8:16-17 π Rom. 14:17 π Rom. 14:23 π 2 Cor. 10:5 π Gal. 5:19-21 π Eph. 2:8-10 π 2 Ths. 2:3-4 π 2 Ths. 2:9-12 π 2 Tim. 2:19 π Heb. 4:15 π Heb. 5:8 π Heb. 9:24-28 π Jas. 1:27 π Jas. 4:17 π 2 Pet. 1:3-4 π 1 Jn. 1:9 π 1 Jn. 2:16 π 1 Jn. 3:1-2 π 1 Jn. 3:1-8 π 1 Jn. 3:2; 2nd π 1 Jn. 3:3 π 1 Jn. 3:4 π 1 Jn. 3:5 π 1 Jn. 3:6-7 π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 1 Jn. 5:17
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. ( 1 Jn. 3:1-8; top )
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” ( 1 Jn. 3:1-2; top )
We have so often read that we, as believers, are the children of God that we have become jaded to the full truth of what that means. Paul wrote, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” ( Rom. 8:14-17; top )
If we are to claim our heritage as the sons of God - and truly live that and not just make false claims - we must be led by the Spirit of God. It is that Holy Spirit who enables us to cry out with joy and adoration, “Abba, Father, Daddy!” And this is not a one-time occurrence. We must have that moment-by-moment life with the Lord through the Holy Spirit. And this is not just a “He says, we do” kind of thing. The workings of the Holy Spirit affect us on every level - spiritual, soulical and physical. The spiritual level may manifest as either a straightforward command to be transmitted directly through our spirit to our soul (the mind, will and emotions) or it might manifest as something that more resembles an instinctual desire or urgent compulsion to do a certain action. But whichever way the leading of the Holy Spirit manifests, it is a command which, when analyzed, will conform to the parameters God has laid out in the Scriptures. There is no room here for someone to claim that the Holy Spirit led them into a rash or unrighteous action. It will not happen. When the Holy Spirit leads, He leads towards righteousness, peace and joy. He establishes the kingdom of God in our lives. ( Rom. 14:17; top )
It is essential that we understand this basic description of the kingdom of God: it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And this is the heritage that we will progressively embrace if we are true children of God, truly “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” If our lives are not characterized by genuine righteousness (believing and obeying God), peace (resting in God) and joy (knowing we cannot be diverted from God’s path by any outside force), then we can know with certainty that we have embraced a religious alternative and have somehow missed the genuine kingdom of God.
It is also important to note that, if we are truly God’s children, we shall be like Christ. ( 1 Jn. 3:2 ) The passage we just read from Paul’s letter to the Romans confirms this by saying, “We are children of God...if indeed we suffer with Him...” ( Rom. 8:16-17 ) Christ learned to be obedient by the things He suffered. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.? ( Heb. 5:8; top ) If we will not suffer the discipline of God - not referring to the “church abuse” foisted upon so many by those religious leaders who are truly sons of the devil masquerading as leaders of the people of God (though God can and will and does make use of that too) but referring to that correction and persistent training that truly conforms us to the likeness of Christ that genuinely comes from God’s hand - if we will not endure that, then we are embracing a religious alternative to the kingdom of God.
Those who are not willing to suffer through the things which teach obedience to God are not the children of God. Those who are not the children of God are the children of the devil and they will be removed from the kingdom of Christ before the harvest at the end of the age. They will be taken to a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth and a fire into which they will be cast to be burned.
“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” ( 1 Jn. 3:3; top )
“This hope” is the hope “that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him.” ( 1 Jn. 3:2; top ) Again we see that “family resemblance” is at the heart of what God is doing. If there is no family resemblance to Christ in our lives - and this is measured in terms of righteousness, peace and joy and not in terms of self-righteousness, strife and religiosity - then there is no family tie. It is that simple.
The essential element of the genuine believer’s life that is exposed here is hope. If this hope is present in an individual’s life, that individual will purify him or herself from all impurities of this world. This is also the only religion the Scriptures say is acceptable to God. James wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” ( Jas. 1:27; top ) And while we can do all these things outwardly to some degree, we must remember that God looks at the heart.
What we really do not understand is just what the world is. John wrote, “For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world.? ( 1 Jn. 2:16; top ) All that is in the world - not most or some or even a little - all that is in the world is not of the Father and all of that is contained and concealed within the human heart. ( Mt. 15:18-20; top ) John describes just what is of the world in terms of lust and pride. The lust of the flesh is the desires of the sinful nature - whatever is sinful or wicked. The lust of the eyes is the desires of the self-life - whatever pleases “me” or makes “me” feel good independently of God. And the pride of life is the assertion of our self to primary importance and status - doing whatever it takes to be or feel superior to all others in our life.
All of these things are what the person who genuinely hopes in God will seek to remove from his or her life. If a person is not interested in being free of all the impurities of the world in their own life and personhood, they have only embraced a religious alternative to the genuine life in Christ. A person who is content to be even a little worldly is simply a religious person, a tare sown among the wheat by Satan in his attempt to prevent some genuine wheat from maturing and being harvested to the benefit of the Master.
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” ( 1 Jn. 3:4; top )
Lawlessness is not the absence of law. Rather it is the absence of a righteous standard. Thus one could have, as does this nation, multitudes of laws - but yet it is legal, and therefore “right,” to murder innocent children and call it “abortion” and “right to privacy.” It could be legal, and therefore “right,” for homosexuals to flagrantly and openly practice their rebellion against God and call it “alternative lifestyle.” It would be legal, and therefore “right,” for the leaders of this nation to lie, cheat and steal, doing whatever they can get away with to remain in power and call it “politics.” This is the essence of lawlessness - the complete absence of a moral and righteous standard even within the framework of a legal system. Lawlessness is best summed up in the description of the Israelites at the end of the time of the judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” ( Jdgs. 21:25; top )
It is lawlessness, the absence of a righteous standard, that will characterize the end times. Paul wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” ( 2 Ths. 2:3-4 , 9-12; top )
Jesus was asked, “‘What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation; and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.’” ( Mt. 24:3-14; top )
There is much in all this which we could examine but it would derail us from the study of the true nature of the sons of the devil. Suffice it to say that lawlessness, the absence of a righteous standard, is the order of the day and that it can cause us to cease laying down our lives for those around us. I believe those most in danger of having their love grow cold are those who perform their acts of service from a sense of religious duty. They may be genuinely born again and even have a genuine love from God for the particular people they serve. But when lawlessness abounds, the multitude of people who need to be served with their particular gifting and talents, as well as the magnitude and depth of these people’s needs, will also be proportionally increased. Those who rely on their soul’s strength to love and serve will find themselves overwhelmed and their love will grow cold.
Only those who have that moment-by-moment life with Christ will be able to remain fervent in their love for fallen humanity. First, they will recognize that not every need can or should be met. Jesus did not meet every need nor heal everyone around Him - nor will those who truly follow after God. God is not interested in having us perform generic good works that glorify only or mostly us, the person doing the good deed. No, He has prepared, before the worlds were created, specific good works just for us to do that will bring Him glory. ( Eph. 2:8-10; top )
If we would be a wheat that matures and is ready for the harvest at the end of the age, we must neither practice lawlessness nor succumb to its numbing effects by becoming unconcerned about the victims of lawlessness. We must simply remain in Christ, seeking His will and His plan for our lives.
“And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” ( 1 Jn. 3:5; top )
In recognizing the purpose of the enemy, it is always good to recognize the plan and purpose which he opposes. According to this passage, one of the reasons God was manifested in the Person of Christ Jesus was to take away our sins. Those who might think this verse means only that after we die and are resurrected, that all our sins are somehow magically dispersed out of our lives, have really distorted the Scriptures. The writer of Hebrews wrote,
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another - He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” ( Heb. 9:24-28; top )
While there is much that we could glean from this passage, let us at least see that the sacrifice of Christ, a better sacrifice by far than that of bulls and goats, was the price “to put away sin.” And as certain as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this death, they will face judgment, so too is it certain that Christ was sacrificed only once to bear the sins of many. Later, He will appear a second time, apart from sin. Let us not miss the fact that Christ and sin are not to able to be mixed together!
Sins, as we will see later in this study, are clearly defined throughout the Scriptures. And everyone has committed one sin or another. This alone qualifies us for an eternal destiny in hell. The good news, however, is that if we will submit to Christ’s purpose to progressively remove sin from our lives while we are yet alive, we will remain with Him for eternity instead. And the good news does not end with only a promise for the hereafter. No, we are given great and precious promises pertaining to all of life and godliness. ( 2 Pet. 1:3-4 ) And these promises are not given by a distant, uninvolved, insensitive generic “God.” No! The writer of Hebrews tells us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ( Heb. 4:15; top )
The forsaking of all sin is part and parcel of the life of a genuine believer. Paul said that the seal that is written on the solid foundation of God had two sentences. Paul wrote, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” ( 2 Tim. 2:19; top ) Departing from all iniquity is a foundational and integral part of every genuine believer’s life. Make no mistake about that for, if you find that you will not forsake any and all sin, you are not His. You belong to another, the devil, the adversary of God, and you will suffer the same consequences and judgment he will suffer.
“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” ( 1 Jn. 3:6-7; top )
Jesus said to His disciples shortly before He was crucified, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” ( Jn. 15:4-10; top )
Explanation, to this overly-intellectual (soulish) generation, is almost more harmful than good. We may never fully understand what it means to abide in Christ though we will come to know what abiding in Him is like if we will just do it. Abide, remain in, stay with - Him, the Lord Christ Jesus. Take every thought captive to Christ. ( 2 Cor. 10:5 ) Confess every sin and every failure to obey Him. ( 1 Jn. 1:9 ) Remain in His love. ( Jn. 15:10; top ) If you don’t abide in Him, you cannot practice righteousness - that is, believing and obeying God - you are simply not capable of it in your own strength and resources. Do not be deceived, anyone who does not abide in Him is not His.
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.? ( 1 Jn. 3:8; top )
Seems plain enough to me - when you recognize that John is referring to a habitual lifestyle that includes some sin. Interestingly, the New Testament only has a few places that speak plainly about what sin is. We will look at a list of sins, “the works of the flesh,? ( Gal. 5:19-21; top ) in some detail in just a moment. But aside from that list (which is echoed in part in other places in the New Testament), there are only a very few “definitions” of what “sin” is. Yet we see the word “sin” used often. “How often should my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” ( Mt. 18:21 ) and “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” ( Jn. 8:46; top ), as but two examples out of dozens, seem to indicate that knowing what sin is, especially in others, is not a difficulty for most human beings. But while knowing what sin is may not be difficult for the human, it would seem that confessing that sin, especially to the one or One sinned against, is virtually an impossibility for fallen human nature.
But just so that there is no question as to what sin is, the New Testament does have some “definitions” by which we can recognize sin. Paul wrote, “...whatever is not from faith is sin.” ( Rom. 14:23 ) James wrote, “...to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” ( Jas. 4:17 ) And John wrote, “All unrighteousness is sin...” ( 1 Jn. 5:17; top )
These three statements would seem to give us a fairly conclusive view of just what sin is. Anything done apart from a belief that this is what God would have you do, anything not done when it is known that this is what should be done and anything that is not consistent with the righteous standard of God is sin. And anyone who practices any sin on an ongoing, habitual basis - no matter their social or religious standing in the community or in the “church” - is a son of the devil, a tare among the wheat.
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