3:1 See how great a love the Father has Depression days also taught us thrift and
bestowed upon us, that we should frugality.... We also learned the value of
be called children of God; and money and the importance of avoiding
such we are. For this reason the credit.” Finally, Dr. Sweeting says, “The
world does not know us, because it Great Depression strengthened our faith.... I
did not know Him. look back with gratitude for the lessons we
How great is the love the Father learned.”
has lavished on us, that we
should be called children of God! Dr. Sweeting offers an example of the
And that is what we are! The positive effect that dire circumstances can
reason the world does not know have on us. God wants our trials to have a
us is that it did not know him. purifying--or sanctifying--effect on our
Behold, what manner of love the characters (Jas. 1:2-4). He also wants our
Father hath bestowed upon us, that anticipation of heaven to have the same
we should be called the sons of purifying effect.
God: therefore the world knoweth us
not, because it knew him not. We certainly have all the reasons we need
to motivate us toward holy living as we look
3:1 As believers, our self-worth is based on forward to Christ’s return. God has lavished
the fact that God loves us and calls us his His redeeming love on us for no other
children. We are his children now, not just reason than His great grace. We have gone
sometime in the distant future. Knowing that from being God’s enemies to being His
we are his children should encourage us to children--literally, His “born ones” who are
live as Jesus did. For other references about also God’s heirs.
being part of God’s family, see Romans
8:14-17; Galatians 3:26-27; Galatians 4:6-7. But as satisfying as being God’s heirs is
now, John says that so much more awaits
3:1ff 1 John 3:1 tells us who we are— us in heaven that we can’t grasp it. We can
members of God’s family (“children of God”). be sure it will be far beyond anything we can
1 John 3:2 tells us who we are becoming— imagine or dream.
reflections of God. The rest of the chapter
tells us what we have as we grow to John does give us one important glimpse of
resemble God: what will happen; he says that when Christ
appears our bodies will undergo a
C. H. Spurgeon transformation that will make us “like him.”
I have read this chapter many times in your We’re called to be like Jesus Christ
hearing, but we cannot read it too often, for spiritually right now. But when He comes
it is full of the deepest and most important back for His church, “We will all be changed-
instruction. God grant that fresh light from -in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor.
above may shine upon it as we listen once 15:51-52). We will be able to imitate Christ
more to the familiar words! without the battles of sin.
TODAY IN THE WORD C. H. Spurgeon
Dr. George Sweeting, the former chancellor If you never used your eyes to good purpose
of Moody Bible Institute, tells how enduring before, use them so now:
the hardships of the Great Depression
“taught my family many life-building lessons. Let the truth of our adoption amaze us, the
We learned the importance of each family adoption of such unworthy
member as we struggled to meet the ones as we were to so high a relationship
monthly mortgage payment.... The “that we should be called the sons of God.”
Victory over sin
There is no need to say to whom this last Love for others
sentence refers; the pronoun “Him” is quite Confidence before God
sufficient to indicate our Lord Jesus whom
the world knew not. Every living, loving heart Oswald Chambers
must at once have thought of “Him” who is On the chapel wall at Eagle Village, a
the chief, the firstborn, the only-begotten residential treatment center for boys near
Son of God. Hersey, Michigan, hang the portraits of two
twelve-year-old boys; Rick and Rosy. The
Charles Stanley pictures bring to mind a tragedy that
One of the most devastating failures in a happened several years ago. Boys from
Christian’s life is the inability to embrace the Eagle Village were on a canoe expedition on
pure love of God. What prevents a believer Lake Superior when they pulled ashore to
from accepting His unconditional love? make camp. Rosy spotted something
floating in the water, so he pushed off in a
Our own relationships: canoe to retrieve it. Strong winds quickly
Ironically, the way we love each other can blew him offshore. The staff recognized his
distort how we perceive God’s love. As peril and started off in two canoes to rescue
imperfect people, we exhibit imperfect love. him. When Rick saw that his best friend was
Conditional responses, wrong motives, and in danger, he insisted on going along. The
emotional highs and lows taint our wind tossed all three canoes until finally they
understanding of God’s pure love. capsized. The staff members all made it to
shore. But Rick and Rosy were both lost in
Guilt the depths of Lake Superior. A plaque
Our remorse over sinful behavior can subtly between the pictures is inscribed: Rick, who
convince us that we are unworthy of God’s loved enough to give his life for another.
love. This is a trap of the Devil. We have the Rosy, who was loved enough to have
assurance of Scripture that the Father loves another pay that price.
us completely, regardless of our actions.
This story calls to mind what manner of love
Legalism the Father has bestowed on us. He loved us
Many people view the Bible as a simple rule enough to give His Son to die as payment
book; a collection of dos and don’ts. If you for our sin. And we were loved enough that
base your view of divine love on your ability He would willingly make that sacrifice. Our
to uphold every biblical precept, you are salvation is the best demonstration of the
doomed to failure. God gave us His Word for power of love.
instruction and inspiration, not as a
measuring stick by which He distributes The true measure of God's love,
love. Is that He loves without measure.
Misinterpretation of divine discipline C. H. Spurgeon
Make no mistake; God definitely disciplines As we are called the sons of God, we are to
His children when they go astray. However, be made like his only-begotten Son; and
He is a trustworthy Father; His discipline and here is the beginning of the likeness, that, as
love are intimately connected. He corrects the world did not know him, and therefore
our behavior when necessary for our benefit, crucified him, so it does not know the other
not as a form of punishment. Jesus already sons of God, and therefore spends its
paid the price for our sin; God will not make malice upon them whenever it can. Yet what
us pay a second time. a marvelous thing is this, — what a wonder
of divine condescension, that we who were
the slaves of Satan, the children of expert at loving!
disobedience, the heirs of wrath, should be
called the sons of God! We can well accept John exclaims See what love the Father has
the consequence of such a position without given to us in order that we should be called
any very great sorrow: “Therefore the world the born ones of God. The scriptures find a
knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” healthy area of comparison between the
procedures leading to natural birth and
C. H. Spurgeon those leading to spiritual birth. The
Behold it, wonder at it, and never cease to production of children bears a direct
admire it. Is it not one of the greatest relationship to love. Our new birth in Christ
marvels that even God himself has ever is the product of God's love exclusively. To
wrought that we should be called the sons of become the born ones of God implies the
God? importation of part of God's own self into our
being. The apostle Paul declared that the
It does not know the Father, then how importation of natural birth is part of Adam
should it know the children? It did not know himself and that thus, by natural generation,
the elder Brother, — the firstborn among I am bent toward sin. However, the apostle
many brethren, — and as it did not know further declares that to be a child of God I
him, how should it know us? must lose this Adamic importation and
receive a direct seed from God Himself. This
Coming of Christ: is accomplished for me by the miracle of
Pure in heart Christ's death and resurrection. Thus we
Resolute in purpose read, If any man be in Christ he is a new
Sanctified in life creation.
Ardent in love
Patient in trial John goes on to declare that since Jesus, in
Expectant in attitude the flesh was rejected as the Son of God so
Faithful in service we too, who are born of God, will be rejected
in the minds of unbelievers. The rejection is
Illustration not as to our person or our work but to our
The Chacabo Indians of northern Bolivia claim that we are of God. Too often this idea
have a peculiar way; at least to the minds of of rejection has been equated with being
English speakers, of declaring ownership. A unpopular in society because we are
man know for his running ability is called Christians. Nothing is further from the truth.
habati ibo: an owner of running. Likewise, a Jesus was wanted for His work but He was
murderer is called ati hibo: an owner of rejected for His claim to be God. It is
killing. Thus, being an owner of something doubtless true that Jesus, if He had dropped
signifies that a person has special ability in a this statement, would have had no earthly
certain activity. difficulty. So it is with believers. We are
acceptable for what we are but the world
Linguists Gilbert and Marian Prost used the rejects our claim that what we are is
phrase to introduce new concepts from because we are the children of God by the
Scripture. A priest became an owner of miracle of regeneration.
worship. But how would they express God is
love since in the framework of the Chacabo We do not know what we shall be but
language love is always a verb and cannot because of our relationship to God in Christ
meaningfully correspond with a noun? They and by this Divine importation to our nature
simply used the ownership pattern. God is we shall be similar to Christ. This is a
love became God is an owner of loving. The purifying thought.
Chacabos interpret this to mean: God is an
Our Daily Bread we'd sail past the breakwater, hoist the sails,
In an article in Moody Monthly, Craig and head out to open water. But as soon as
Massey told about being in a restaurant I'd see any cloud formation coming our way
when he heard an angry father say to his 7- or the wind seemed to be piping up, I'd head
year-old son, “What good are you?” The back towards shore, take the sails down,
boy, who had just spilled his milk, put his and regain my normal breathing pattern only
head down and said, “Nothing.” Years later, when we were safely tied up in the slip. Most
Massey said he was disgusted with his own of the time, it was fun having a friend along,
son for a minor infraction. He heard himself but in a storm I knew this kid wouldn't be
ask what he called “the cruelest question a much help.
father can ask.” He said, “What are you
good for anyway?” His son replied, Other times, however, my dad would come
“Nothing.” Immediately he regretted the home from work and we'd go out together.
question. As he though about this, he When I was sailing with my dad, I'd actually
realized that the question was all right but look for cloud formations and hope for heavy
the answer was wrong. air. I loved the feel of the strong winds and
A few says later when his con committed
another manor offense, he asked, “What are My dad had sailed across the Atlantic
you good for?” But before his son could Ocean. He had endured five days of sailing
reply, he hugged him and kissed him and through a hurricane. He was a veteran, and I
said, “I’ll tell you what you’re good for. was confident that he would be able to
You’re good for loving!” Before long, handle anything Lake Michigan could throw
whenever he asked the question, his son at us. Everything changed when my dad
would say, “I’m good for loving.” was on board.
As parents, we don’t realize how demeaning 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of
and cruel we can be to our children. Not a God, and it has not appeared as yet
child in this world is good for nothing. Let’s what we shall be. We know that,
give them the love and respect they deserve when He appears, we shall be like
and need from us: especially when they Him, because we shall see Him just
make mistakes. After all, isn’t that exactly as He is.
what our heavenly Father has done for us? Dear friends, now we are children
of God, and what we will be has
Humans were made to run on love, not yet been made known. But we
And they do not function well on know that when he appears, we
anything else. shall be like him, for we shall see
him as he is.
Facing Challenges with the Father:
Beloved, now are we the sons of
God, fatherhood of God, and it doth not yet appear what
Trust we shall be: but we know that, when
he shall appear, we shall be like
When I was first learning how to sail my him; for we shall see him as he is.
dad's sailboat out of Lake Michigan, he
would often say to me, "Go ahead and take 3:2-3 The Christian life is a process of
the boat out, but take a friend with you." becoming more and more like Christ (see
Romans 8:29). This process will not be
A 42-foot sailboat on a body of water the complete until we see Christ face to face (1
size of Lake Michigan is a big responsibility. Cor. 13:12; Phil. 3:21), but knowing that it is
But always up for a challenge, I'd find a our ultimate destiny should motivate us to
junior high friend to accompany me, and
purify ourselves. To purify means to keep Oh, for the blessed vision! Meanwhile, let us
morally straight, free from the corruption of be content to look at him by faith, and to be
sin. God also purifies us, but there is action ever growing more and more prepared for
we must take to remain morally fit (see 1 that brighter vision which is yet to be ours.
Tim. 5:22; James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22).
Believer’s are called:
C. H. Spurgeon Children
It is enough to make the lame man leap as Saints
the hart to hear that blessed, and to know it Christians
to be true. Brethren
In proportion to our view of Christ is our Servants
likeness to him. Those who never saw him Friends
are not like him at all; those who have in a
measure seen him are in a measure like Study Note
him, they who see him as he is are like him. The great climatic thrill of the New
Testament is the fact that Jesus will come
There is a transforming power about the again. There are several Greek words that
image of Christ when it is seen by the soul: are used relative to the second advent and
“We shall be like him; for we shall see him each has its own particular shade of
as he is.” meaning. The word used in this instance is a
word that means to appear openly, or
Be like Him: publicly. This word could never possibly
Glory permit of the idea of a mystical, spiritual
(of His immortality) return of Jesus Christ. There are those who,
Purity in thinking of the second coming of Christ,
(of His spotlessness) endeavor to spiritualize, but these Greek
Eyes words are precise and in this case John is
(of His penetration) speaking of a real, visible and public re-
Capacity appearance of Christ.
(of His endurance)
Voice There is tremendous speculation involved as
(of His power) to the exact manner of Christ's appearance,
Hand but the reality of it can never be denied.
(of His administration) John states that it is not yet manifested or
Effectiveness publicly evident what we shall be like, as
(of His ministry) believers, at the coming of Christ. We shall
Glory be like Jesus.
(of His personality)
The second coming is referred to by John as
C. H. Spurgeon well as Paul as a hope. This word may
And that vision will be transforming and carry, in natural terminology, the connotation
transfiguring. The pure in heart see God, of uncertainty but this is in no wise the
and they are pure because they see God. sense of its Biblical use. The writer to the
Hebrews can refer to hope as an anchor
There is both action and reaction, when God safe and steadfast. The Greek word is more
has purified us we shall see Christ and when explicit than our translation for it means to
we see Christ as he is, our purification will confidently expect with pleasure. For the
be complete. When will that day arrive? believer, there is no sadness involved in the
second advent of Christ, and it is and has
been for centuries the confident expectation opened, he sprang in without fear. As
of the saints. Christians, we know little of what is on the
other side of death, but we do know one
The appearing of Christ as a confident thing--our Master and Savior is there, and
expectation should be the impetus for purity that is enough! When the door opens, we
of life. We cannot tell the day or the hour shall pass through with gladness, for we
when the Son of Man will come but, knowing shall see Him."
that His coming is a certainty, we should live
our lives so as to be ready at any day or Yes, if we know Jesus as our Savior, when
hour. we consider our death, it is enough to know
that we shall see Him.
Relationship love affair For the Christian, death means heaven,
Reconciliation agreement happiness, and Him.
Nearness intimacy His Return:
Union juxtaposition Promised Christ
Abiding unfailing Declared Men
We Will See Him Described Paul
We know that when He is revealed, we shall Urged James
be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. -- Affirmed John
1 John 3:2 Quoted Jude
Death ushers the believer into the presence Oswald Chambers
of the Savior (2 Cor. 5:8). Yet many dread Naturally, we are inclined to be so
that step from earth to heaven because God mathematical and calculating that we look
has told us so little of what will happen. upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We imagine
that we have to reach some end, but that is
A man who was very ill said to his physician, not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of
"Doctor, I am afraid to die. What happens to spiritual life is that we are certain in our
a Christian in that hour of death?" The uncertainty, consequently we do not make
doctor, who was also a believer, softly our nests anywhere. Common sense says;
answered, "I don't think anyone really Well, supposing I were in that condition. We
knows." cannot suppose ourselves in any condition
we have never been in.
As he walked across the room to leave the
man's home, he wished he could say Certainty is the mark of the common-sense
something more comforting. As he stood life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the
holding the doorknob, there came the sound spiritual life. To be certain of God means
of scratching and whining from the other that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do
side. When he opened the door, his faithful not know what a day may bring forth. This is
dog sprang into the room to greet him. generally said with a sigh of sadness; it
should be rather an expression of breathless
Turning to the patient, the physician said, expectation. We are uncertain of the next
"Did you notice that dog of mine? He had step, but we are certain of God. Immediately
never been in your house before. He did not we abandon to God, and do the duty that
know what was inside this room--only that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises
his master was here. When the door was all the time; we do not believe God, we only
believe our belief about Him. Jesus said, Conversion of a sinner takes only a moment;
Except ye ... become as little children. Growth of a saint takes a lifetime.
Spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not
uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is Believe also in Me, said Jesus, not Believe
going to do next. It we are only certain in our certain things about Me. Leave the whole
beliefs, we get dignified and severe and thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how
have the ban of finality about our views; but He will come in, but He will come. Remain
when we are rightly related to God, life is full loyal to Him.
of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and
expectancy. Follow Me to the:
Manger of humility
Believer’s Outlook: Nazareth of ministry
Meet Christ Jordan of surrender
See Him as He is Wilderness of temptation
Received by Him Mount of instruction
Stand before Him Place of transfiguration
Rewarded by Him Field of service
Be like Him Garden of Gethsemane
Be with Him Cross of Calvary
Tomb of resurrection
Our Daily Bread Throne of ascension
We as Christians may get discouraged at Hope of glory
times by how unloving, impatient, and selfish
we really are. From our hearts we cry out, C. H. Spurgeon
“will I ever be any different?” In today’s Not merely in heaven, or when we come to
Scripture, John answers with an emphatic die, but now, in this place, in our pain, in our
YES! We can change. Here’s why: God has sorrow, ay, notwithstanding our
showered on us a marvelous love that imperfections and infirmities, “Beloved, now
allows all who trust Jesus as Savior to be are we the sons of God,”
called “children of God. We also bear a
unique family similarity that will burst forth We are made like unto Christ; but when he
one day into full-bloomed likeness. In Christ was here, it did not then appear what he
we are already perfect; in our daily walk we should be. If you had seen the lowly
are becoming more Christlike. And the hope Nazarene, who was “despised and rejected
that one day we shall be like Him motivates of men,” could you have guessed what he
us to purify ourselves. will be in his glory when it shall please God
to judge the world by Jesus Christ? So, in
Dr. Ida Scudder, a missionary doctor in India like manner, “it cloth not yet appear what we
for many years, was once asked by a shall be.”
Muslim woman, “Why is it you don’t eve
seem to lose your temper when others are Every spiritual sight of him is transforming.
abusive to you?” A Hindu friend who knew Our looking at him here makes us what we
Dr. Scudder answered for her. “Don’t you are, our looking at him at the last shall make
know why? It’s because Dr. Ida’s God is us like what he is.
patient and loving, and she’s like her God.”
God is changing us, but we must confess Oh! what joy to know that the medicine for
our sins, and love one another. This will our souls is taken in at the eyes of faith, and
keep love’s shaping power working in our by the sight of Christ we are healed
Sinless The converse is also true, that he who is
(outward acts as well as inward begotten of God loveth.
Incorruptible We do not presumptuously and
(body is exempt from decay after habitually yield to known sin.
the resurrection) The Apostle is not speaking of some
Painless isolated act into which a man may fall under
(no sensation of physical or mental unexpected temptation, but of habitual
discomfort) courses of inconsistency and wrongdoing.
Spiritual Test yourselves, therefore, whether he are
(condition opposed to materialism) indeed born again.
(having qualities that delight the God’s People Are:
(forceful, authoritative and Helped
It's our privilege, not only to be children, but Happy
to know that we are such. Such we are. The Heavened
world knows us not; but God knows us, and
we know Him, and we know that we are his Billy Graham
sons and daughters, through regeneration The government in God's kingdom is
and faith. How do we know? unique. It is not a democracy where the
people govern, but a Christocracy where
We believe His word. Christ is the supreme Authority. In a
By faith we have received Him, we do trust government of unredeemed men,
in his name; then, by the authority of that democracy is the only fair and equitable
text, if there were no other, we may claim to system. But no democracy can ever be
have been born into the divine household. better than the people who make it up.
When men are selfishly motivated, the
We have the witness of the Spirit. government will be inequitable. When men
The fact that our hearts look to God as are dishonest, the government will be the
Father, and appeal to Him with the infant's same. When everyone wants his own way,
cry. Abba, is a proof that we are born again. someone is going to get hurt. But in God's
Do not look for an audible voice in your kingdom, Christ is King. He is
heart, but notice whether the thought of the compassionate, fair, merciful, and just.
fatherly love of God towards you is not When He is sovereign in men's hearts,
becoming more familiar and precious. It is anguish turns to peace, hatred is
not the perception of your childship, but of transformed into love, and misunderstanding
his fatherhood, which will reassure you. into understanding. Not only this, but God's
kingdom is lasting. The history of man has
We are led by the Spirit. been a continuous series of half successes
If we are led by the Spirit, we shall love the and total failures. Prosperity exists for a
things we once hated, and hate those we time, only to be followed by war and
once loved. Our choices, tastes, methods of depression. Twenty-six civilizations have
life, habits, and companionships, will come and gone, and man still battles with
undergo a radical alteration. the same problems, over and over again.
But the kingdom of God will abide forever.
We love the people of God. The fluctuations of time, the swinging of the
pendulum from war to peace, from in His humiliation, for we are to be exalted
starvation to plenty, from chaos to order, will with Him.
end forever. The Bible says, And of his
kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:33 Beloved, now are we the sons of God. That
is easy to read, but it is not so easy to feel.
Soul: How is it with your heart this morning? Are
Perfect you in the lowest depths of sorrow? Does
(ultimate form of excellence) corruption rise within your spirit, and grace
Holy seem like a poor spark trampled under foot?
(free from evil and morally perfect) Does your faith almost fail you? Fear not, it
Instructed is neither your graces nor feelings on which
(educated and informed) you are to live: you must live simply by faith
Developed on Christ. With all these things against us,
(having reached full growth and now, in the very depths of our sorrow,
development) wherever we may be, now, as much in the
Strengthened valley as on the mountain, Beloved, now are
(prepared for action and vigorous we the sons of God. Ah, but, you say, see
exertion) how I am arrayed! My graces are not bright;
Active by righteousness does not shine with
(performing quickly, lightly, and apparent glory. But read the next:
It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but
No: we know that, when He shall appear, we
shall be like Him. The Holy Spirit shall
appear, we shall be like Him as He is.
(enticement of a person to commit a
Our Daily Bread
As Charles Simeon, the great nineteenth
(state of disagreement and
century English preacher, lay mortally ill in
his Cambridge home, he realized that his
Suffering time on earth was fast slipping away. He
(state of prolonged anguish and turned to those at his bedside and asked,
privation) Do you know what comforts me just now? I
find infinite consolation in the fact that in the
C.H. Spurgeon beginning God created the heaven and the
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath earth. His friends asked how that thought
bestowed upon us. Consider who we were, could give solace as he faced death. He
and what we feel ourselves to be even now answered with the confidence of one about
when corruption is powerful in us, and you to meet the Lord, Why, if God can bring all
will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are the wonder of the worlds out of nothing, He
called the sons of God. What a high may still make something out of me!
relationship is that of a son, and what
privileges it brings! What care and To think of the glory that awaits God's
tenderness the son expects from his father, children, to have a spirit perfectly pure and a
and what love the father feels towards the resurrected body that will enable us to enjoy
son! But all that, and more than that, we now eternity to its fullest, staggers the
have through Christ. As for the temporary imagination. The great changes we will
drawback of suffering with the elder brother, experience in glory are beyond our
this we accept as an honour: Therefore the understanding.
world knoweth us not, because it knew Him
not. We are content to be unknown with Him
Even now God's transforming power is at C. H. Spurgeon
work in us. At conversion we became Discouragement and despair will not purify
children of God and were made alive you, doubt and darkness will only make you
together with Christ. But that is not all. Paul worse than you were before; but the
said that in the future God will show the indulgence of this blessed hope that you are
exceeding riches of His grace in His to be like Christ will help you to purify
kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. No yourself, “even as he is pure.” Therefore,
wonder the apostle John exclaimed with beloved, have hope in God. Remember that
astonishment, It has not yet been revealed it is one of Satan’s tricks and snares to try to
what we shall be. Glorious prospects await discourage you, but it is God’s will to
those who have trusted Christ for salvation. increase your hope, for thereby you increase
God is not done with us yet. The best is yet in purity.
Power of His Coming:
While you prepare a place for us, Lord, Comfort in sorrow
Prepare us for that place. Joy in persecution
Purifier in life
3:3 And everyone who has this hope Outlook of expectation
fixed on Him purifies himself, just as Confidence in confession
He is pure. Patience in trial
Everyone who has this hope in Strength in endurance
him purifies himself, just as he is
pure. C. H. Spurgeon
And every man that hath this hope The great object of the Christian’s hope is
in him purifieth himself, even as he perfect purification. If we expect to be like
is pure. Christ, we look for it in the putting away of
sin, and in the girding on of all manner of
The End of Growth excellence, and holiness, and loveliness, for
Second Peter 3:18 commands believers to therein will lie our likeness to Christ. Oh, that
“grow in the grace and knowledge of our God would give us more and more of this
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Your Christ-likeness!
response to this verse is either action or
inaction. If you desire to mature in Christ, John MacArthur Jr.
you will experience blessing, usefulness,
and victory by following the biblical path of Second Peter 3:18 commands believers to
glorifying God. And as David discovered, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our
you will also experience joy: “I have set the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Your
Lord always before me…. Therefore my response to this verse is either action or
heart is glad” (Ps. 16:8, 9). inaction. If you desire to mature in Christ,
you will experience blessing, usefulness,
The apostle John summed up the goal of and victory by following the biblical path of
spiritual growth when he said, “Beloved, now glorifying God. And as David discovered,
we are children of God; and it has not yet you will also experience joy: “I have set the
been revealed what we shall be, but we Lord always before me…. Therefore my
know that when He is revealed, we shall be heart is glad” (Ps. 16:8, 9).
like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1
John 3:2). The growth process will end on The apostle John summed up the goal of
the day that we see Jesus Christ and spiritual growth when he said, “Beloved, now
become like Him. 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 rebellion can either be an open defiance or a
John 3:2). The growth process will end on hidden resistance: either way it’s a refusal to
the day that we see Jesus Christ and do as God commands. Today’s passage
become like Him. puts this in terms of “sin” and “breaking the
C. H. Spurgeon law.”
It is the nature of this divine hope, — this
Because believers are children of God,
hope of being like Christ — that it helps us
to grow day by day more like him; and so we focusing on our true identity and all that God
purify ourselves, as Christ is pure. is doing in us has the effect of purifying us
(v. 3). Even more, Jesus came to take away
3:4 Everyone who practices sin also our sins (v. 5). For these two reasons, John
declares that no one who remains in Him
practices lawlessness; and sin is
can keep on sinning, or living in rebellion,
Everyone who sins breaks the against God. If fact, John says that the
law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. person who persists in defying God has
Whosoever committeth sin probably never known Him (v. 6).
transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law. In the midst of this passage is a very
important truth about the nature of our Lord
3:4ff There is a difference between Jesus Christ. So far, John has taken great
care to show that Jesus is both fully human
committing a sin and continuing to sin. Even
and fully God. But he also wants his readers
the most faithful believers sometimes
to know that as fully human, Jesus is also
commit sins, but they do not cherish a
completely without sin. Although He is able
particular sin and choose to commit it. A
believer who commits a sin repents, to understand our weakness and to
confesses, and finds forgiveness. A person intercede for us (Heb. 4:15), “in him is no
who continues to sin, by contrast, is not
sorry for what he or she is doing. Thus this
Doctrine of Sin:
person never confesses and never receives
forgiveness. Such a person is in opposition Author of sin
to God, no matter what religious claims he Course of sin
or she makes. Nature of sin
Wages of sin
TODAY IN THE WORD Sin of sins
Writer Doris Greig relates the following: “The Judgment of sin
story is told of a little girl who was riding in Sacrifice for sin
the car with her daddy. She decided that she
wanted to stand in the front seat, but her C. H. Spurgeon
father commanded her to sit down and put This is the best definition of sin that can be
on her seat belt. She refused, so he told her given; let none of us ever tolerate any other
a second time to sit down. Again she idea of sin but that it is “the transgression of
refused. Her father said, 'If you don’t sit the law.”
down immediately, I’ll pull the car over . . .
and spank you!’ This moved the little girl to Not to let us live in them at ease, not to
obey, but in a few minutes she said quietly make sin become a pardonable matter, so
to her daddy, 'I’m sitting down outside, but that we might indulge in it, and yet hope to
I’m still standing up inside.’ ” escape from its consequences. Oh, no! “He
was manifested to take away our sins.”
As cute as this little girl may have been,
there’s nothing cute about rebellion. Spiritual Study Note
The word commit in the A.V. is an the Holy Spirit within us on every occasion,
unfortunate translation of the Greek word although we have the physical and material
which means rather to continually proactive. possibility of sinning, the sin will become
This section has no reference to the impossible. If, however, we consistently and
occasional sins of the believer, for which continually practice any given sin with total
there already is Divine provision. It does, oblivion to the standards of the Holy Spirit,
however, refer to the consistent engagement who is within us, then the conclusion must
in the same sin by a believer. The claim to certainly follow that we are not born again.
sinlessness that appears in this section has No believer can consistently practice sin and
to be understood within the above context. If enjoy doing it if the Holy Spirit is present and
John is here referring to sinless perfection in convicting.
the life of a believer and, at the same time
as we have noted, reveals God's provision C. H. Spurgeon
for the believer's sin, then we are faced not And there will never be a better definition of
only with a scriptural contradiction but also a sin than this. However men may
denial of human experience. philosophically try to mar it, this simple
statement will be better than any that they
There are those who, in order to justify the can give us: “Sin is the transgression of the
idea of sinlessness in the life of the believer, law.”
set the standard of perfection not in
relationship to the holiness of God but to an 3:5 And you know that He appeared in
arbitrarily attainable standard of human order to take away sins; and in Him
experience. We must remember that our there is no sin.
righteousness before God is that which is But you know that he appeared
imputed by Christ and not that which is so that he might take away our
practiced by the believer. It is on this basis sins. And in him is no sin.
that our eternal salvation is secured, even if And ye know that he was
our temporal experience fails. manifested to take away our sins;
and in him is no sin.
The meaning of this portion of Scripture, and
expressly the statement, He cannot sin 3:5 Under the Old Testament sacrifice
because He is born of God. is perhaps system, a lamb without blemish was offered
illustrated in the following way. Although I as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is “the Lamb of
am a preacher I have an intense interest in God, who takes away the sin of the world”
sports cars. Several years ago I saw a (John 1:29). Because Jesus lived a perfect
particularly attractive European model on life and sacrificed himself for our sins, we
display which I would have appreciated can be completely forgiven (1 John 2:2). We
immensely as my own. The gentleman can look back to his death for us and know
standing by the automobile informed me that that we need never suffer eternal death (1
I could buy a lottery ticket for 25 cents that Peter 1:18-20).
would give me a chance for this automobile.
I could certainly, at that moment, have C. H. Spurgeon
physically given him this small amount, yet I That is to say, if sin is the habitual course of
said to him, I can't. The physical and our life, we do not truly know the Lord. He
material possibilities were there but the who walks with God endeavors with all his
overriding spiritual standards that govern my might to be free from am, and he is
life forbade me to do this thing. The word sanctified by abiding in Christ.
cannot then is a moral word in this case
rather than a word of physical and material Whatever he does, it does not contribute to
impossibility. It is true to say that if we obey sin, but is the deadly antagonist of sin,
If I murmur in the least at afflictions; if I am
Our Sins: in any way uncharitable; if I revenge my own
Confession case; if I do anything purely to please
Propitiation myself, or omit anything because it is a great
Substitution denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any praise
Cancellation for any good which Christ does by me; or if I
Emancipation am in any way proud, I shall act as my own
Supplication and not God's. I purpose to be absolutely
Consecration Of Jonathan Edwards Sin & Sins:
I claim no right to myself—no right to this Sin is the root
understanding, this will, these affections that (sins are the fruit)
are in me; neither do I have any right to this Sin is the cause
body or its members—no right to this (sins are the effect)
tongue, to these hands, feet, ears, or eyes. Sin tells what we are
(sins proclaim what we have done)
I have given myself clear away and not Sin is condemned
retained anything of my own. I have been to (sins are forgiven)
God this morning and told Him I have given
myself wholly to Him. I have given every Define Consecration As Blank Sheet
power, so that for the future I claim no right "Will you please tell me in a word," said a
to myself in any respect. I have expressly Christian woman to a minister, "what your
promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail. idea of consecration is?"
I take Him as my whole portion and felicity,
looking upon nothing else as any part of my Holding out a blank sheet of paper the
happiness. His law is the constant rule of my pastor replied, "It is to sign your name to the
obedience. bottom of this blank sheet, and let God fill in
as He wills."
I will fight with all my might against the
world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of Eight Questions:
my life. I will adhere to the faith of the For whom did Christ die?
Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the For what did He die?
profession and practice of it may be.
Why did Christ come into world?
Did God put His Son to death?
I receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher,
Did Christ die willingly?
Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish
all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, What did He do with our sins?
comfort, and assist me. This I have done. Where did He bear our sins?
Is it necessary to repeat?
I pray God, for the sake of others, to look
upon this as a self-dedication, and receive Jim Elliot's Diary
me as His own. Henceforth, I am not to act In a diary entry, Jim Elliot, the Auca Indian
in any respect as my own. I shall act as my martyr, wrote, "God, I pray Thee, light these
own if I ever make use of any of my powers idle sticks of my life, that I may burn for
to do anything that is not to the glory of God, Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is
or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one,
whole and entire business. like You, Lord Jesus."
Holy the full, clear light of the new day—broke in
(in His nature) upon his soul.
(in His actions) 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no
Undefiled one who sins has seen Him or
(in His life) knows Him.
Separate No one who lives in him keeps on
(in His service) sinning. No one who continues to
Meek sin has either seen him or known
(in Spirit) him.
Humble Whosoever abideth in him sinneth
(in heart) not: whosoever sinneth hath not
Devout seen him, neither known him.
C. H. Spurgeon
Livingstone's Last Birthday If this declaration related to any one act of
When Stanley found Livingstone, the great sin, none of us could ever say that we have
missionary who spent thirty years in darkest seen or known him, but it relates to the habit
Africa, he wanted him to come back to of sin, — if we love sin, and live in sin, if the
England with him, but Livingstone refused to main course of our life is sinful, then we
go. Two days later he wrote in his diary: have “not seen him, neither known him.”
"March 19, my birthday. My Jesus, my King,
my Life, my all, I again dedicate my whole Study Note
self to Thee. Accept me, and grant, O Hope is confident expectation, certainty
gracious Father, that ere the year is gone I about the future. If we know our destiny is to
may finish my work. In Jesus' name I ask it. be like Jesus, this sense of our true identity
Amen." A year later his servants found him will move us to be like Him now.
on his knees dead.
The man who dwells in Christ is the holy
man; but the man who lives in Bin is no child
Christ’s Faultlessness: of God, for he proves by his evil conduct that
He did no sin he has no vital union with Christ. The fruit of
In Him was no sin Christianity is holiness; and if thy life be a
He knew no sin sinful one, if that be the main run and tenor
He was holy of thy life, thou art none of his.
Luther's First Bible Study 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive
Luther's biographer tells us that the first you; the one who practices
word of the Bible Luther ever read, out of the righteousness is righteous, just as
Bible at Erfurt, was the story of Hannah and He is righteous;
"her child lent to the Lord forever;" (cf: 1 Dear children, do not let anyone
Samuel 1-2). lead you astray. He who does
what is right is righteous, just as
That beautiful narrative, so full of fresh, he is righteous.
prophetic meaning to his ritual-laden spirit, Little children, let no man deceive
drew him on to the study of the whole Holy you: he that doeth righteousness is
Word—until, he came to the text, "The just righteous, even as he is righteous.
shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17). And then,
it was as through the gates of the morning— C. H. Spurgeon
Because you are little, you are apt to be might destroy the works of the devil.
deceived. There is a great blessedness in He who does what is sinful is of
being little children, but there is also some the devil, because the devil has
danger connected with such a condition, so been sinning from the beginning.
we must beware of those who would The reason the Son of God
deceive us. appeared was to destroy the
The test of a man’s real character must be He that committeth sin is of the
what he does, not what he professes; not devil; for the devil sinneth from the
what he boasts of, but what is really the beginning. For this purpose the Son
manner of his life. of God was manifested, that he
might destroy the works of the devil.
False teachers have little concern for 3:8-9 We all have areas where temptation is
morality, as the pressure in some churches strong and habits are hard to conquer.
to ordain practicing homosexuals makes These weaknesses give the devil a foothold,
clear. John warns us not to be deceived. so we must deal with our areas of
Those who 'do what is sinful' are of the devil, vulnerability. If we are struggling with a
not God. particular sin, however, these verses are not
directed at us, even if for the time we seem
C. H. Spurgeon to keep on sinning. John is not talking about
He is practically righteous, he is truly people whose victories are still incomplete;
righteous; but let no man talk about being he is talking about people who make a
righteous before God while he is willfully practice of sinning and look for ways to
indulging in sin. This cannot be; thou must justify it.
be divorced from sin, or thou canst not be
married to Christ. The gospel demands and Three steps are necessary to find victory
also creates holiness of character; and over prevailing sin.
wherever it works effectively upon the heart
and conscience, it produces purity in the life. Seek the power of the Holy Spirit
and God’s Word;
C. H. Spurgeon Stay away from tempting situations;
You must judge a tree by its fruit; if it brings and
forth good fruit, it is a good tree, and if it Seek the help of the body of Christ
brings forth evil fruit, it is an evil tree. Do not
be deceived about that matter, for there Be open to their willingness to hold you
have been some, who have dreamed of accountable and to pray for you.
being righteous, and of being the children of
God, yet they have lived in sin as others do. C. H. Spurgeon
They have been self-deceived; it has been a He sinneth not with any pleasure, it is not
mere dream on which they have relied. the course of his life. There are, alas! in the
Practical godliness is absolutely needful to a best of men, infirmities and imperfections
true Christian character, and a man is not and failures would God these were all
righteous unless he does that which is removed! Still, the man is not what he used
righteous. to be; though he is not what he shall be, he
is not what he once was.
3:8 the one who practices sin is of the
devil; for the devil has sinned from Christ’s Death:
the beginning. The Son of God Predicted He would die
appeared for this purpose, that He Manner of His death
Said He would die
Showed love in dying C. H. Spurgeon
Died for our sins That is to say, this is not the course, and
Destroyed the devil’s works habit, and tenor of his life; there is sin in
Died that we might live in Him much that he does, but he hates it, loathes
it, and flees from it.
The word here is yo, 'to undo.' All sinful acts Satan’s Activities:
reflect the character of Satan. Yet the harm He provokes
done by Satan can be and is a being He resists
undone by Jesus. How? Through Christ, He tempts
God's own seed has been planted in the He desires
personality of the believer. The devil's work He transforms
in us is being unraveled by God, so surely He incites
that no one who is born of God will continue
to sin. This does not mean the believer will Satan's Existence Makes Headlines
be sinless. It does mean that he cannot go So what did New York's John Cardinal
on sinning, because he has been born of O'Connor do to cause newspapers and
God. television newscasts across the country,
even Time magazine, to report his behavior?
Doctrine of Sin: The big news was that he said he believed
Author of sin the Devil exists.
Course of sin
Nature of sin Time magazine asked, "Was O'Connor
Wages of sin seriously suggesting that demons ware
Sin of sins loose in the land?"
Judgment of sin
Sacrifice for sin Ironically, recent issues of Time had stories
on mass-murdering sociopaths, "wilding"
C. H. Spurgeon gang rapes, brutal wars, heinous
He did not come to make us easy while negligence!
under the devil’s sway, but to fetch us out
from the tyrant’s dominion, and lead us to 3:9 No one who is born of God practices
live a godly, sober, righteous, pure life unto sin, because His seed abides in
his praise and glory. him; and he cannot sin, because he
is born of God.
Ever since he became a devil, he has No one who is born of God will
continued to sin. It was sin that changed the continue to sin, because God's
angel into a devil, and a sinner he has seed remains in him; he cannot
always remained. go on sinning, because he has
been born of God.
Sin’s: Whosoever is born of God doth not
Hindrance is removed commit sin; for his seed remaineth
Guilt is answered for in him: and he cannot sin, because
Author is overthrown he is born of God.
Gulf is spanned
3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue
Pollution is removed
to sin” means that true believers do not
Power is broken
make a practice of sinning, nor do they
Victory is destroyed become indifferent to God’s moral law. All
believers still sin, but they are working to commission came to this frightening and
gain victory over sin. “God’s seed remains in factual conclusion:
him” means that true believers do not make
a practice of sinning because God’s new life " 'Every baby starts life as a little savage. He
has been born into them. is completely selfish and self-centered. He
wants what he wants when he wants it—his
3:9 We are “born of God” when the Holy bottle, his mother's attention, his playmate's
Spirit lives in us and gives us Jesus’ new toy, his uncle's watch. Deny him these
life. Being born again is more than a fresh wants, and he seethes with rage and
start; it is a rebirth, receiving a new family aggressiveness, which would be murderous,
name based on Christ’s death for us. When were he not so helpless.
this happens, God forgives us and totally
accepts us; the Holy Spirit gives us new "He is dirty. He has no morals, no
minds and hearts, lives in us, and begins knowledge, no skills. This means that all
helping us to become like Christ. Our children, not just certain children, are born
perspective changes too because we have a delinquent.
mind that is renewed day by day by the Holy
Spirit (see Romans 12:2; Ephes. 4:22-24). "If permitted to continue in the self-centered
So we must begin to think and act world of his fancy, given free reign to his
differently. See John 3:1-21 for more on impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every
being born again. child would grow up a criminal, a thief, a
killer, a rapist.' "
“What,” say you, “does a Christian never New Birth Proofs:
sin?” Not with the new nature. The new Righteousness of life
nature never sins; the old nature sins. It is Separation from sin
the darkness which is dark; the light is not Love to others
darkness. It is not possible that the Christ
Faith in Christ
who dwells in us could sin. What sin there is
Loving the Lord
in a believer comes from the remnants of
corruption. The spirit which is implanted
never can sin and never can have
A Stubborn Child's Real Want
communion with sin, any more than light can
I once heard of a spoiled child who was in a
have communion with darkness.
dreadful fit of temper because his nurse
would not let him have a valuable vase from
Sin & Sins:
Sin is the root
(sins are the fruit)
Hearing him crying loudly, his mother went
Sin is the cause into the room and asked, "What do you
(sins are the effect)
want, darling?" Said the boy, "I want that!"
Sin tells what we are pointing to the vase. "Yes, darling, you shall
(sins proclaim what we have done) have it," said the mother unwisely, but
Sin is condemned wishing to make him happy.
(sins are forgiven)
But when she put it before him the child
Studies Support "Original Sin" simply lifted up his voice and yelled afresh.
Ray Stedman wrote, "The clearest "Why, what do you want?" asked the mother
statement on original sin I have ever read again. "I want—I want," said the boy
comes from a report of the Minnesota Crime between his sobs. Then the words came out
Commission. In studying humanity the with a rush, "I want to have something that I
mustn't." So the forbidden tree had a fatal moral boredom and life-weariness. The
attraction for Eve. church is tired, discouraged and
unastonished. Christ seems to belong to
Seven Secrets: yesterday.
Word of God power
Will of God continuance The prophetic teachers have projected
Love of God service everything into the dim future where it is
beyond our reach; unavailable! They have
Born of God holiness
dispensationalized us into a state of spiritual
Presence of God assurance
poverty and they have left us there! But
Faith in God victory
regardless of such teachers, the course of
Spirit of God discern spiritual victory is clear; let us trust what the
Word of God continues to say to us!
C. H. Spurgeon
Love is the essential mark of the true child of The Scriptures are open and plain. Jesus
God. “God is love;” and, therefore, he that is Christ is our Savior and Lord. He is our great
born of God must love. Hatred, envy, malice, High Priest, alive and ministering for us
uncharitableness, — these are not the today. His person, His power and His grace
things to be found in the children of God; if are the same; without change, yesterday,
they are found in you, you are not one of his today and forever!
C. H. Spurgeon
3:10 By this the children of God and the Some people try to deceive us with the
children of the devil are obvious: notion that all men are the children of God;
anyone who does not practice but John, writing under the inspiration of the
righteousness is not of God, nor the Holy Spirit, shows how false that idea is.
one who does not love his brother. Holiness and love distinguish the children of
This is how we know who the God from the children of the devil.
children of God are and who the
children of the devil are: Anyone Illustration
who does not do what is right is The conscientious Bible translator cannot be
not a child of God; nor is anyone too careful in his work. He must constantly
who does not love his brother. be alert to recognize wrong meanings which
In this the children of God are native speakers of the language may derive
manifest, and the children of the from a passage. Sometimes this may
devil: whosoever doeth not require an additional word or phrase which
righteousness is not of God, neither is not in the Greek, similar to the italicized
he that loveth not his brother. words and phrases which translators of the
King James Version used to fill out the
C. H. Spurgeon meaning of Scripture.
Holiness and love are the marks of the true
child of God; and where these are not to be Kenneth and Barbara Williams had an
found, a man must not bolster himself up experience like this in translating Acts for the
with any notion that salvation is his, for he is Chuj Indians of Guatemala. The Chuj
no child of God. attribute many phenomena of nature to the
activity of Satan. Thus, it was easy for them
A.W. Tozer to misunderstand the initial rendition of the
As Christian believers, we stand together in first part of Acts 4:31 The place in which
the evangelical faith, the historical faith of they were gathered was shaken. One Chuj
our fathers. Yet, we must confess that many gave the Williams this explanation: The devil
congregations seem bogged down with
shook the place. Then because the people on a few very important topics and keeps
were all frightened, God sent the Holy Spirit returning to them. In today’s passage, we
to them. The solution was to add by God come back to the theme of love, which in
after the word shaken to specify the agent of many respects sets the gospel of Christ
the action. apart. Having reminded his listeners of the
command to love, John illustrates it with two
C. H. Spurgeon starkly contrasted examples: first, the
An unlovely spirit is also self-condemnatory negative example of Cain, and then the
as being an unholy spirit; in fact, want of perfect example of Jesus.
love is want of righteousness. There are
some who profess to John had already made the link between sin,
be so righteous that they condemn hatred, and the devil (v. 8). The example of
everybody else, and they have no Cain is a chilling portrait of a child of the
bowels of compassion for those who are devil (v. 10), for we see that Cain was
suffering in consequence of their jealous of his brother’s righteousness. It
fault. But oh, beloved, it is one thing to hate wasn’t even that he was coveting a
sin, and it is another thing to possession or physical characteristic of
hate the sinner! Let your indignation burn Abel, but rather that he couldn’t tolerate that
against everything that is evil; his brother did what was right. Cain
but still, towards him who has done the represents the “world” here, and John wants
wrong have ever the gentle his readers to know that those who hate do
thought of pity, and for him present the not have eternal life. Moreover, the actions
prayer that he may leave his sin, of Cain reveal why the world hates true
and turn unto his gracious God. It may be believers (v. 13).
difficult to reach this point; but
there should always be just that happy In welcome relief to the example of Cain is
mixture in the mind and heart of the the supreme example of Christ, who laid
child of God, — love to the sinner and down His life on our behalf. What a contrast!
hatred of his sin. Cain took another life; Christ gave His own
life. Love like this can never be
3:11 For this is the message which you counterfeited. It may be possible to put on a
have heard from the beginning, that pretense of love; indeed, Cain may have
we should love one another; feigned affection for his brother. But given
This is the message you heard enough time, hatred can’t be masked. In
from the beginning: We should Cain’s case, his hatred led him to murder.
love one another.
For this is the message that ye C. H. Spurgeon
heard from the beginning, that we So that, when you see a man filled with hate
should love one another. and envy and malice, it is because his own
life is not holy. There is no exception to this
TODAY IN THE WORD rule, true holiness and love always go
Recent polls show that the average together; where love is absent, holiness
American church member gives between 2 must be absent, too.
and 3 percent of his or her annual income to
charity, including the local church! Our And there is no hate like that, — the hate of
passage for today offers a significant a bad man towards a good one, not for
challenge to the people behind this doing him any wrong, but simply for
disturbing statistic. rebuking him by the silent eloquence of his
holy life. Men who love sin cannot endure
You may have noticed that 1 John focuses the sight of virtue; and if they cannot kill the
good man, they will try to kill his reputation. and Cain’s jealous anger drove him to
They sneer, and say, “Ah, he is as bad as murder. People who are morally upright
others, no doubt, if you could only find him expose and shame those who aren’t. If we
out!” That is exactly the spirit of Cain, “who live for God, the world will often hate us,
was of that wicked one, and slew his because we make them painfully aware of
brother.” their immoral way of living.
Love: C. H. Spurgeon
Source God’s love That was the real evil at the bottom of his
Measure Christ’s love great crime; it was the wickedness of Cain’s
Might Holy Spirit character that made him hate the good that
Credentials Obedience was in Abel; and, therefore, after a while, he
Outcome Labor slew his brother, “because his own works
Character Selfless were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”
Need For Love The Genesis 4 story illustrates several
Bertrand Russell, commenting on the truths. The wicked tend to hate the
complexities of this world and its most righteous. Hatred expresses itself in evil acts
urgent need, said: like murder. Hostility itself is diabolical in
origin. Thus, hostile Christian is a
"The root of the matter is very simple and an contradiction in terms. One who hates is a
old-fashioned thing, a thing so simple that I murderer in his heart and cannot be one
am almost ashamed to mention it, for fear of who has eternal life.
the derisive smile with which wise cynics will
greet my words. The thing I mean—please 3:13 Do not marvel, brethren, if the world
forgive me for mentioning it—is love, hates you.
Christian love, or compassion." Do not be surprised, my brothers,
if the world hates you.
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world
3:12 not as Cain, who was of the evil hate you.
one, and slew his brother. And for
what reason did he slay him? C. H. Spurgeon
Because his deeds were evil, and See, Cain hated Abel, and the world hates
his brother's were righteous. the saints. It is the very nature and spirit of
Do not be like Cain, who the world to hate those who are not of the
belonged to the evil one and world.
murdered his brother. And why
did he murder him? Because his Perhaps he will do it on what he calls
own actions were evil and his “principle.” He thinks it is wrong to help his
brother's were righteous. needy brother, so he says; but however he
Not as Cain, who was of that wicked may put it, the Holy Spirit asks this
one, and slew his brother. And searching question, “Whose hath this
wherefore slew he him? Because world’s good, and seeth his brother have
his own works were evil, and his need, and shutteth up his bowels of
brother's righteous. compassion from him, how dwelleth the love
of God in him?”
3:12-13 Cain killed his brother, Abel, when
God accepted Abel’s offering and not his C. H. Spurgeon
(Genesis 4:1-16). Abel’s offering showed
that Cain was not giving his best to God,
This hatred is too old for you to wonder at it. After Confederate General Robert E. Lee
If it began with the first man who was born retired from military life, he was named
into the world, even with Cain, do not marvel president of Washington and Lee University
if it should spend some of its fury upon you. in Lexington, Virginia. Originally named
Washington Academy because of a $50,000
As Cain hated Abel, so worldlings hate the gift from George Washington, the name of
saints, whose holiness is a continual rebuke the school was changed in 1871 in honor of
to the ungodly. Lee who served as its president from 1865-
3:14 We know that we have passed out
of death into life, because we love While Lee was president of the University, a
the brethren. He who does not love new student came into Lee's office and
abides in death. asked for a copy of the school's rules and
We know that we have passed regulations.
from death to life, because we
love our brothers. Anyone who Lee replied that the school had no printed
does not love remains in death. rules. Our only rule is kindness, he replied.
We know that we have passed from
death unto life, because we love the We Know:
brethren. He that loveth not his We Are in Him
brother abideth in death. (walking on earth as He walks in
C. H. Spurgeon All Things of Truth
Love becomes the distinguishing mark of the (freedom from deceit or falseness:
new life. veracity)
No Lies in Truth
No matter though he may be outwardly (no untrue declarations)
religious, and may think that, by doing
Born Again of Him
certain external actions, he will save himself,
(partaker of the divine nature and
there is no truth at all in his religion, for the
life of Christ)
very essence of true religion is that a man
Will Be Like Him
lives not unto himself, but unto God, and for
(unrestricted freedom to choose)
the good of his fellow-men.
No Sin in Him
Such self-sacrifice as this is the very highest (no falling away or missing the path)
form of love to the brethren, and is a Have Eternal Life
following of the example of Christ, who “laid (union with God is eternal life)
down his life for us.” He Lives in Us
(maintains His earthly existence in
Deny yourself In filled with H.S.
Love brothers (filled to satisfaction or excess)
Look others No Spirit of Error
Minister faithful (no deviation from correctness)
Sympathize sorrow We Live in Him
(maintain existence His way)
Seek Lord Love His Children
(deep and ardent affection)
School's Only Rule: Kindness No Willful Sinning
(tenaciously unwilling to yield)
He's Coming Back C. H. Spurgeon
(to go again to a former place) He would get rid of that brother if he could,
and he is therefore a murderer in spirit, for
C. H. Spurgeon the essence of murder is not the dagger or
What a warning this is against the evil spirit the poison, but the desire to put out of
of hate, revenge, and all that kind of feeling! existence or to do the utmost harm to the
These things are not compatible with the one who is hated. The essential element of
possession of the life of God. Where hatred murder lurks within the bosom of all hatred.
lives, there is no life of God in the soul. That
evil must be shot to the very heart, by the His action is Cain-like, he is not of the
arrows of almighty grace, or else we are not chosen seed, he has not the life of God
free from the dominion of the devil. Every abiding in him.
man who hates another has the venom of
murder in his veins. He may never actually Study Note
take the deadly weapons into his hand and Here are three important Greek words
destroy life; but if he wishes that his brother whose meanings are not adequately
were out of the way, if he would be glad if no portrayed in the English translation.
such person existed, that feeling amounts to
murder in the judgment of God. It is not the The first word is that translated life in verse
lifting of the dagger, nor the mixing of the 15. This word means the principle of being
poison, that is the essence of the grime of alive. It is the power by which we move and
murder, it is the hate that prompts the have our beings. This power is, for all
commission of the deadly deed; so, if we creation, rooted in Christ. When it says that
never commit the crime, yet, if the hate be in Christ is the way, the truth and the life it
our heart, we are guilty of murder in the uses this same Greek word.
sight of God, and eternal life cannot be
abiding in us. The second Greek word appears in the next
verse 16 and is also rendered life in our
3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a English translation. Jesus laid down His life
murderer; and you know that no for us. This is quite different for it means the
murderer has eternal life abiding in soul or spirit.
Anyone who hates his brother is The third word related to Life is in verse 17
a murderer, and you know that no and, there, is translated world's goods. The
murderer has eternal life in him. Greek word actually should be rendered the
Whosoever hateth his brother is a means of life. This refers to our material
murderer: and ye know that no possessions.
murderer hath eternal life abiding in
him. These three areas of life are important for
us. The first assures us that the principle of
3:15 John echoes Jesus’ teaching that being alive is our eternally. It points up the
whoever hates another person is a murderer reality of existence in eternity. It is as real
at heart (Matthew 5:21-22). Christianity is a and conscious as that we now know
religion of the heart; outward compliance although on a much higher plain and free
alone is not enough. Bitterness against from all sin.
someone who has wronged you is an evil
cancer within you and will eventually destroy The second phase of life in verse 16 reveals
you. Don’t let a “bitter root” (Hebrews 12:15) that the extent of Christ's sacrifice was
grow in you or your church. beyond the physical. This verse excludes
the possibility of Christ's death being merely
physical like that of the martyr. He laid down counsel when he told us to Be swift to hear,
His soul. It is this part of man that originally slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of
possessed the image of God which was man does not produce the righteousness of
spoiled by sin. It is here also that man's God. Let's not forget that whoever hates his
condemnation must be placed. It is, brother is a murderer. How important it is,
therefore, in this area that Christ also therefore, never to nurture hatred's bitter
suffered judgment for us. We are exhorted fruit!
to lay down this part of our being for the
brethren. It is not necessarily that we are to Hate, like acid,
lay down our physical life but that the whole damages the vessel in which it is
spiritual content of our being goes out in stored and the object on which it is
service and sacrifice for the brethren. poured.
The last phase in verse 17 points up our Oswald Chambers
material or worldly possessions as being The Bible never deals with proportionate sin;
under the control of the Holy Spirit for the according to the Bible an impure thought is
good of the brethren if necessary. See in as bad as adultery; a covetous thought is as
this connection Acts 4:32-37. bad as a theft. It takes a long education in
the things of God before we believe that is
Oswald Chambers true. Never trust innocence when it is
Few of us are actually murderers, but we are contradicted by the Word of God. The tiniest
all criminals in potentiality; and one of the bit of sin is an indication of the vast
greatest humiliations in work for God is that corruption that is in the human heart. That is
we are never free from the reminder by the why we must keep in the light all the time.
Holy Spirit of what we might be in actuality Never allow horror at crime to blind you to
but for the grace of God. the fact that it is human nature like your own
that committed it. Saints are never horror-
Our Daily Bread stricken because although we know that
One of the worst cases of hatred I have ever what our Lord says about the human heart is
come across is found in a will written in 1935 true, we know also of a Savior who can save
by a Mr. Donohoe. It says, Unto my two to the uttermost.
daughters, Frances Marie and Denise
Victoria, by reason of their unfilial attitude 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid
toward a doting father ... I leave the sum of down His life for us; and we ought to
$1 to each and a father's curse. May their lay down our lives for the brethren.
lives be fraught with misery, unhappiness, This is how we know what love is:
and poignant sorrow. May their deaths be Jesus Christ laid down his life for
soon and of a lingering malignant and us. And we ought to lay down our
torturous nature. The last line of the will is so lives for our brothers.
vicious I shudder to quote it. It reads, May Hereby perceive we the love of God,
their souls rest in hell and suffer the because he laid down his life for us:
torments of the condemned for eternity. and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren.
Such utter contempt didn't develop in a day.
It had to grow over a long period of time. We 3:16 Real love is an action, not a feeling. It
should never allow our minds to become produces selfless, sacrificial giving. The
fertile soil for the seeds of hatred. We would greatest act of love is giving oneself for
do ourselves a world of good by heeding the others. How can we lay down our lives? By
words of Paul, Do not let the sun go down serving others with no thought of receiving
on your wrath. And James gave wise anything in return. Sometimes it is easier to
say we’ll die for others than to truly live for
them—this involves putting others’ desires Christ gave Himself for us
first. Jesus taught this same principle of love that we might give ourselves for others.
in John 15:13.
Seven Secrets: Passion of Love
Word of God power Purity of Love
Will of God continuance Power of Love
Love of God service Pre-eminence of Love
Born of God holiness Persuasiveness of Love
Presence of God assurance Protection of Love
Faith in God victory Perfection of Love
Spirit of God discern
C. H. Spurgeon
Remembered By A Nail The master-love, the chief love that ever
By this we know love, because He laid down was in this world,
His life for us. --1 John 3:16
That is still the test; truthful love proves that
Emil Mettler, a restaurant owner in London, “we are of the truth,” children of the God of
was known for his generosity. He often fed truth, and so assures and tranquillizes our
people for nothing. If a representative of a hearts before him.
Christian organization came in and told him
of a need, he would open his cash drawer Our hearts shall be calm, confident, and
and give a sizable donation. happy before God, when we know that true
love flows within them.
One day Emil opened his cash drawer in the
presence of a missionary official who Superlatives:
noticed a nail among the bills and coins. Seen highest form
Surprised at what he saw, the man asked, Revealed lowest stoop
"What's that doing there?" Emil picked up Made known purest grace
the 6-inch spike and replied, "I keep this with Manifest greatest sacrifice
my money to remind me of the price Christ Unveiled sublime essence
paid for my salvation and what I owe Him in Bestowed mightiest power
return." Communicated intense blessing
Emil used that nail to remind himself that he Rembrandt In "The Crucifixion"
owed the Lord a great debt of love and Rembrandt, the Dutch painter who
gratitude because Jesus had laid down His flourished in the seventeenth century, put
life for him (1 John 3:16-23). Emil used that upon canvas his idea of the crucifixion of our
simple object to stimulate his own generosity Lord. If you should look carefully at the
as he remembered the Savior's sacrifice. figures in the shadows behind the cross, you
will notice that one of the men helping to nail
How often do we think about the sacrifice on Jesus to the cross has the features of
Calvary where Jesus paid the penalty for our Rembrandt himself.
sin with His own death on the cross? Emil's
example inspires us in the midst of our most The artist was signifying that he had a hand
mundane activities to remember not just the in the crucifixion. Through his faults, failures,
thorns, the nails, and the spear-thrust, but and sins, he had joined those who actually
the loving heart of Him who gave His life for put our Lord to death.
want to keep to themselves, who are unable
Christ’s Death: to interact even on a social level with other
Basis of faith Christians who are different from them, do
Spring of love not emulate the kind of biblical love John is
Window of hope talking about. As we have said before, we
do not love perfectly, but we can have a love
Joy of reconciliation
that is genuine.
Motive of affection
Soul of praise Love among believers means meeting the
Theme of Gospel needs in the family of God. It means bearing
the burdens of those who are weak. It
R. C. Sproul means giving up our privileges for those who
John emphasizes the need for Christians to are not as strong as we are. It means
show love to one another, stressing the helping them with their sin and their
point time and again. He also holds up love suffering. It means rejoicing with those who
for others as one of the main evidences of rejoice and mourning with those who mourn.
our salvation: “In this the children of God True Christian love is not bound by
and the children of the devil are manifest: inconvenience or social differences, but it is
Whoever does not practice righteousness is set free through sacrifice and service.
not of God, nor is he who doesn’t not love
his brother. For this is the message that you Evidence of:
heard from the beginning, that we should Faith
love one another. Do not marvel, my
brethren, if the world hates you. We know
that we have passed from death to life,
because we love the brethren. He who does Grace
not love his brother abides in death.” He Friendship
also writes, “Beloved, let us love one New Birth
another, for love is of God; and everyone
who loves is born of God and knows God. C. H. Spurgeon
He who does not love does not know God, Indeed, it cannot be there at all; he has the
for God is love.” love of himself, and not the love of God,
dwelling in him.
Though Christians should show love to all
people, for we are commanded to love our The Substitute:
neighbors and even our enemies, these God-provided
verses are talking specifically about loving Sin-made
other believers. A person who professes to Curse-bearing
know Christ cannot possibly say that he Life-sacrificing
loves the head of the body without loving the Grace-imparting
whole body. To say that you love Christ but Holy-inspiring
do not love the members of His body is a
contradiction. Our Daily Bread
The missionary noticed that the woman who
A lot of people claim to love other people in was helping the family with household
the church, but they prove by their actions chores and with the local language was
that their love is not genuine. True Christian upset. So she asked some questions and
love is sacrificial. At the very least, it is the learned that the helper was pregnant, and
kind of love that makes you want to that she and her husband had decided to
rearrange your priorities in order to be with abort the baby because they felt they
other believers. Professing believers who couldn't afford a second child.
The missionary immediately contacted her wife, the more convinced I became that what
friends in the United States for financial he really needed was not a wife. He needed
assistance. She then sat down with her a goldfish, the pretty kind with the long tail
helper and told her that for the next 2 years that floats around, or maybe a Golden
at least, there would be enough money to Retriever—but even a dog will make
take care of the child. demands on you emotionally. A goldfish,
though, just sits there and looks pretty and
The husband and wife were not Christians, doesn't ask you to communicate. It doesn't
and they didn't have convictions against ask you how your day was or expect you to
abortion. But when they heard the news, listen to how its day was. The last thing he
they were ecstatic. The economic aid gave needed was a wife, because his whole
them confidence that they could care for understanding of why the world existed was
their child, so they chose not to abort. The to meet his needs.
missionaries felt they had done something to
show Christ's love to this family (1 Jn. 3:18). Abiding in Christ:
Not practicing sin
Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? We Keeping God’s commandments
are surrounded by needy people. They're Bearing fruit
not likely to hear us if we only preach to Loving each other
them, but they may listen if we do something Walking as He walked
to help them. That, in turn, may open their Continuing in His Word
hearts to hear the really good news about Faithfulness to His truth
salvation through faith in Jesus.
Open Season On Christianity
To reach people for Christ, get practical. Angela Guidry, a straight-A-student at Sam
Houston High School in Moss Bluff,
People don't care how much you know Louisiana, was scheduled to give a
unless they know how much you care. valedictory address at her graduation. But
Me-First Marriage when a guidance counselor reviewed the
Companionship speech, she told Guidry to eliminate
Marriage; Needs references to her Christian faith. Rather than
Relationships change her address, Guidry did not speak.
Self-Centeredness Her case is now in federal court.
When Scott Klika mentioned his Christian
A man told me he had been dating a woman faith to a group of adult patients at a private
for several years, and she was starting to psychiatric hospital in Green Bay,
wonder if they would ever marry. He told me Wisconsin, his supervisors asked that he not
he didn't know if he could marry her bring up the subject again. Three months
because, as he said to me, "I don't think she later, though he had not spoken further
makes me happy." about his beliefs, he was fired. According to
Klika, his supervisors told him his faith was
I asked him why not, which was a mistake. not in keeping with the beliefs of the
He went on and on explaining all the hospital.
reasons why she didn't make him happy.
After columnist Cal Thomas learned his
Finally I interrupted and asked, "What kind appearance on ABC's "Good Morning
of wife would make you happy?" The more America" had been canceled, he called the
he described what he was looking for in a network to ask why. According to Thomas,
he was told that the producers feared he C. H. Spurgeon
would quote Bible verses on the air. Full assurance comes very much this way,
by a practical carrying out of the law of love.
Do these cases and scores of others like
them prove an anti-Christian bias in What Makes You Tick?
America? "Yes," says a growing collection of Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in
evangelical leaders. In government, deed and in truth. --1 John 3:18
education, media, law, and business,
Christians remain the last group that can be In our zeal to introduce people to Christ, we
ridiculed and discriminated against with must not forget that the Holy Spirit often
impunity. uses adverse circumstances to increase
their sense of spiritual need. He may also
3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, use those same circumstances to help us
and beholds his brother in need and share the love of Christ with them.
closes his heart against him, how
does the love of God abide in him? Author Jennifer Rees-Larcombe was
If anyone has material burdened for a neighbor named Diana but
possessions and sees his brother couldn't seem to get close to her. One
in need but has no pity on him, evening she and several friends were
how can the love of God be in praying for Diana when the doorbell rang. It
him? was Diana's husband. He was desperate.
But whoso hath this world's good, His wife had recently broken her leg and
and seeth his brother have need, ankle and wouldn't be able to walk for
and shutteth up his bowels of several months. "Do you know of anyone
compassion from him, how dwelleth who could look in on her every day?" he
the love of God in him? asked.
3:17-18 These verses give an example of Saddened, yet grateful for this opportunity,
how to lay down our lives for others—to help Jennifer and her friends began cooking,
those in need. This is strikingly similar to cleaning, and shopping for Diana. Several
James’s teaching (James 2:14-17). How months later, she noticed Diana reading a
clearly do your actions say you really love Bible. Diana explained, "I wanted to find out
others? Are you as generous as you should what makes you Christians tick, so I asked
be with your money, possessions, and time? my husband to buy this Bible." Soon they
started attending Jennifer's church, and
C. H. Spurgeon eventually they both received Christ.
Love that consists only of words is utterly
worthless, if it is true love, it must prove itself Are you burdened for someone who needs
by kind deeds and gracious actions. the Lord? Keep praying and keep loving
them "in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18).
3:18 Little children, let us not love with They'll wonder what makes you tick, and in
word or with tongue, but in deed and time they'll find out it's Jesus!
Dear children, let us not love with A helping hand can open
words or tongue but with actions the door of a person's heart to the
and in truth. Gospel.
My little children, let us not love in
word, neither in tongue; but in deed Our Daily Bread
and in truth. The favorite words my wife likes to hear
from my lips, next to “Let’s eat out tonight,”
are the words, “I love you.” But they are
meaningless to her if I don’t show my love The missionary noticed that the woman who
by the way I treat her. This is true in all was helping the family with household
relationships. We must do more than just chores and with the local language was
say we care about people who are needy, upset. So she asked some questions and
lonely, or depressed. We must show it. learned that the helper was pregnant, and
that she and her husband had decided to
Many years ago a couple told me about an abort the baby because they felt they
elderly widow who had no family or close couldn't afford a second child.
friends. She lived next door and they often
invited her over for their evening meal. One The missionary immediately contacted her
snowy afternoon the wife saw the neighbor friends in the United States for financial
head for the city dump pulling a small assistance. She then sat down with her
wagon. When dusk arrived and she had not helper and told her that for the next 2 years
yet returned, the husband became at least, there would be enough money to
concerned and set out to look for her. take care of the child.
He eventually found her near a pile of The husband and wife were not Christians,
debris, sitting on her car, head down., and they didn't have convictions against
oblivious to the snow: a picture of abortion. But when they heard the news,
despondency. He touched her shoulder and they were ecstatic. The economic aid gave
called ber by name. With a start, she looked them confidence that they could care for
up and said, “You are God’s answer to my their child, so they chose not to abort. The
prayer. I just told Him that I was here alone, missionaries felt they had done something to
that only He knew, and that nobody cared. show Christ's love to this family (1 Jn. 3:18).
He just showed me that you care.” The man Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? We
gently led her home where she rested and are surrounded by needy people. They're
shared a meal with him and his wife. That’s not likely to hear us if we only preach to
loving in deed and in truth. them, but they may listen if we do something
to help them. That, in turn, may open their
True compassion is love in action. hearts to hear the really good news about
salvation through faith in Jesus.
C. H. Spurgeon
You notice how the apostle constantly writes To reach people for Christ, get practical.
about knowing. Take your pencil, and
underline the word “know” in John’s Epistles, People don't care how much you know
and you will be surprised to find how unless they know how much you care.
frequently he uses it. He is not one of those
who suppose, or fancy, or imagine, or have A.W. Tozer
formed a certain hypothesis; but he knows, The taking over of the romantic love ideal
and he tells us what he knows, in order that into our relation to God has been extremely
we also may know. injurious to our Christian lives. The idea that
we should fall in love with God is ignoble,
Love hath a knowledge which is peculiarly unscriptural, unworthy of us and certainly
her own, — a full assurance which none can does no honor to the Most High God!
take from her.
We do not come to love God by a sudden
Get Practical emotional visitation. Love for God results
Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in from repentance, amendment of life and a
deed and in truth. --1 John 3:18 fixed determination to love Him. Then as
God moves more perfectly into the focus of actions and words that match up. Do
our hearts, our love for Him may indeed rise yours?
and swell within us till like a flood it sweeps
everything before it. Children are more likely to do
what you do than to do what you say.
But we should not wait for this intensity of
feeling. We are not responsible to feel but Our Daily Bread
we are responsible to love, and true spiritual A father, leading his family in their
love begins in the will. We should set our devotional time, prayed about the needs of
hearts to love God supremely, however cold the poor widow across the street. He listed
or hard they may seem to be, and go on to the things she needed, and he proceeded to
confirm our love by happy and careful tell the Lord just how to send them. Tears of
obedience to His Word. Enjoyable emotions sympathy rolled down his wife's cheeks. But
are sure to follow! one member of the family, the couple's son,
wasn't praying. He was thinking. When the
Live Honestly father said Amen, the son walked over to
Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in him with his hand held out. Dad, he said,
deed and in truth. --1 John 3:18 give me your wallet and I'll go over and
answer your prayer myself.
As children grow up, we who are parents or
leaders pray that they will learn to That youngster knew that prayer and
discriminate more and more between right practice go together. Our conversation with
and wrong. But be prepared! Eventually God must be followed by action. When we
these children will compare our actions with pray for the Lord to send out laborers into
our words. If what we do and what we say His harvest, we must make ourselves
don't match up, they will be confused, not available. When we pray for the salvation of
knowing which to follow—our actions or our friends, we must make ourselves available.
words. When we pray for the salvation of friends,
we must be purifying hope should make us
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul could ethical in our business, good stewards with
honestly say, "I thank God, whom I serve our budgets, and Christ-honoring in our
with a pure conscience, as my forefathers lifestyle.
did" (1:3). His actions and his words agreed.
Paul then described Timothy's faith as John explained this concept in his first
"genuine" and pointed to his spiritual epistle. He said we shouldn't restrict our love
heritage: the genuine faith of his to words; we must demonstrate it with our
grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice deeds. And later he said that whatever we
(v.5). Later in his letter, the apostle urged ask we receive from Him because we do
Timothy, "Continue in the things which you those things that are pleasing in His sight.
have learned and been assured of, knowing The genuineness of our prayers will be
from whom you have learned them, and that evident in our willingness to practice what
from childhood you have known the Holy we pray.
Scriptures" (3:14-15). Christians whose
actions and words are consistent can Our good deeds are often the best
influence generations of people for Christ. answers to our prayers.
Children put a searchlight on the quality of Laundry Love
our lives. "Do as I say" is not the highest Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in
standard, but rather an honest life that deed and in truth. —1 John 3:18
invites, "Do as I do." That means having
When James Cates was a university consciences bother them. John has these
student, he worked the night shift as a people in mind in this letter. How do we
houseparent in a residential treatment escape the gnawing accusations of our
center. One of his responsibilities was the consciences? Not by ignoring them or
sometimes overwhelming task of doing the rationalizing our behavior, but by setting our
laundry for 23 teenage boys. hearts on God’s love. When we feel guilty,
we should remind ourselves that God knows
The laundering process was hard on the our motives as well as our actions. His voice
clothes, so when a troubled young resident of assurance is stronger than the accusing
named Jake was given a new shirt from his voice of our conscience. If we are in Christ,
mother, James offered to wash it separately. he will not condemn us (Romans 8:1;
Soon other boys began asking him to Hebrews 9:14-15). So if you are living for the
include a favorite article of clothing in his Lord but feeling that you are not good
“special” load. It was a small act of kindness, enough, remind yourself that God is greater
but it meant a lot to the boys. than your conscience.
Twenty years later, after establishing a TODAY IN THE WORD
successful practice as a therapist, teaching Psychologists sometimes distinguish
at a university, and being published in between “false” and “real” guilt. Real guilt is
scholarly journals, Cates wrote: “With time to feeling remorse when one has actually done
look back and reflect, no client I have ever something wrong. For example, if a
known and no service I have ever performed business person knowingly sells an inferior
means more to me than Jake and his shirt, product to an unsuspecting client, then that
and those special loads of clothes.” business person should be bothered. “False”
guilt, however, is feeling badly when one
A simple act of caring is a powerful has not done something wrong, or
expression of God’s compassion in our continuing to feel badly after an issue has
troubled world. The apostle John wrote, “My been dealt with.
little children, let us not love in word or in
tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John Many Christians approach their heavenly
3:18). Is there some “washing” you can do Father with a continual sense of
today? condemnation, or a guilty conscience, that
A little kindness isn’t appropriate. The Bible repeatedly
can make a big difference. stresses that we must confess our sins
before the Lord. In fact, 1 John contains
3:19 We shall know by this that we are of some of the clearest teaching on this (1
the truth, and shall assure our heart John 1:7, 9). But the Bible also clearly
before Him, teaches that God forgives our confessed
This then is how we know that we sins. We are to stand confidently before
belong to the truth, and how we Him, because we have been washed clean
set our hearts at rest in his in the blood of Jesus Christ. Even though
presence Satan continues to whisper accusations, we
And hereby we know that we are of rest confidently on Jesus’ righteousness and
the truth, and shall assure our do not shrink away in shame (1 John 2:28).
hearts before him.
That’s the point stressed in today’s passage.
3:19-20 Many are afraid that they don’t love John further links this point to the assurance
others as they should. They feel guilty that comes from living out our faith in
because they think they are not doing “actions and in truth” (v. 18). In other words,
enough to show proper love to Christ. Their John links confidence and obedience.
Obedience doesn’t increase our confidence, spiraling in rising thermals, hunkered down
rather it confirms it. The reverse is in the tops of trees. Seeing them, really
sometimes easier to understand: we lose seeing them for the first time in my life, I
confidence when we try to hide our understood that I was not seeing them with
disobedience. my own eyes but with Edward's eyes. He
was not there, so I was seeing them for him.
So John encourages his readers that their He was absent—or was he? He was present
righteous actions can assure them that they in me.
really do belong to the truth. But even when
this isn’t the case, John reminds his readers Our Hearts:
that “God is greater than our hearts” and The Gospel’s Target
knows our true status as His children. The Spirit’s Abode
Because we are His children, we have The Lord’s Residence
confidence before Him. And as His children, God’s Testing House
we long to obey Him. John then issues two Faith’s Concern
commands that summarize his major points: The Believer’s Assurer
to believe in Jesus Christ and to love one The Spirit’s Tablet
C. H. Spurgeon The divorce of pioneer heart surgeon
The love that will pass this test will bring a Christian Barnard, 48, from his first wife
restful assurance of peace to the heart. Louwtjie, 47, was not exactly friendly.
Louwtjie simmered while he married a
Present though Absent younger, wealthier woman, but she publicly
Christ, humanity of branded her ex-husband a liar when his
Empathy; intimacy memoirs appeared with some unflattering
Knowing God comments on their 21 years together. Now
Presence of God Barnard has announced that he has written
Relationships a new book Heart Attack, aimed at "helping
the heart sufferer toward a better
My husband, Edward, is devoted to hawks comprehension of his disease."
and especially to the golden eagles that are
returning to our part of Georgia. Driving Simultaneously, Louwtjie announced that
down the highway with him can be a test of she, too, has written a study of heart
nerves as he cranes over the steering wheel problems—though ones not necessarily
to peer at the wing feathers of a particularly connected with vascular stress. "It's a
large bird. Is it an eagle or just a turkey message of hope to all the women in the
vulture? He has to know, even if it means world who find themselves in a similar
weaving down the road for a while, or position to mine," she said of her
running off it from time to time. My view is a forthcoming autobiography. The title: Heart
bit different: "Keep your eyes on the road!" I Break.
yell at him. "Who cares what it is? I'll buy
you a bird book; I'll even buy you a bird— 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us;
just watch where you're going." for God is greater than our heart,
and knows all things.
A couple of summers ago, we spent two whenever our hearts condemn
months apart, and I thought I'd get a break us. For God is greater than our
from hawks. Instead I began to see them hearts, and he knows everything.
everywhere—looping through the air, For if our heart condemn us, God is
greater than our heart, and knoweth
all things. If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and
your heart condemns you at times,
C. H. Spurgeon remember that He knows all about it and still
If you, with your narrow knowledge of right loves you.
and wrong, — your imperfect understanding Guilt is a burden God
of your own motives, — if you find reason to never intended His children to bear.
condemn yourself, what must be your
position before the bar of the all-seeing, Prayer:
heartreading God? That little flutter in thy Rises forgiving heart
bosom, my friend, that trembling, that Recognizes will of God
uneasiness, what means it? It not this a Rests promise of Christ
forewarning of the sounding of the trumpet Relies purpose of Christ
of the great assize, when thou wilt have to Reckons power of God
stand before the Judge of all the earth, and Responds Spirit of God
answer for thyself to him? It is easy to Rejoices answer from God
deceive thy fellow-man, but it is impossible
to deceive thy God. C. H. Spurgeon
Faith worketh by love, we believe on the
Ever Feel Condemned? name of the Lord Jesus, God’s well-beloved
God is greater than our heart, and knows all and only-begotten Son and that faith leads
things. —1 John 3:20 us to love all who bear his holy name.
God knows us better than we know It is not everyone who can have whatever he
ourselves. He's aware of our weaknesses, chooses to ask of God in prayer. This
the memories of sins that seem to privilege is only granted to those who “keep
predispose us to fail again and again. He his commandments, and do those things
knows our heredity and upbringing, the past that are pleasing in his sight.”
and present influences that push us in the
wrong direction. J. I. Packer calls these the Sermon Note
"latent forces" of our existence as well as Our Love to God
the "patent facts." Tied to Him by a deep affection of faith
At my stage of Christian growth, I struggle Love Our Brothers
with attitudes and actions over which I seem Condition of being closely tied to another
to have little control. I identify with
Dostoevsky, who said, "It is nature asserting Rest Upon Jesus
its rights." Paul called it "sin that dwells in Freedom from labor, responsibility, or strain
me" (Romans 7:17). It has made me guilty
of much, and capable of much more. That's Longing of Holiness
why my heart sometimes condemns me, A fervent hope, wish, or goal
even though I'm a believer.
C. H. Spurgeon
God knows all about the forces that drive Which we do not; and, therefore, our
me. He also knows the intent of my heart- condemnation can never be so heavy as the
that I want to love others and desire to do condemnation which God will bring upon us.
right. He knows my shame when I fail and is
quick to forgive when I confess (1 John 1:9). Let the man, whose own conscience
This wonderful truth sets my heart at rest accuses him, question himself as to how he
when I feel condemned, for "God is greater will stand in the presence of the all-seeing
than my heart, and knows all things" (3:20). God.
judgment. He knows that we are dust and as
3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not our God He is loving and patient towards us.
condemn us, we have confidence If it were true that the Lord would put the
before God; Christian on the shelf every time he failed or
Dear friends, if our hearts do not blundered or did something wrong, I would
condemn us, we have confidence have been a piece of statuary by this time!
Beloved, if our heart condemn us It is surely true that God will bring judgment
not, then have we confidence when judgment is necessary, but the
toward God. Scriptures say that judgment is God's
strange work. Where there is a lifetime of
3:21-22 If your conscience is clear, you can rebellion, hardened unbelief and love of sin,
come to God without fear, confident that judgment will come. But God watches over
your requests will be heard. John reaffirms us for spiritual growth and maturity, trying to
Jesus’ promise that whatever we ask for will teach us the necessity for fully trusting Him
be given to us (Matthew 7:7; see also and coming to the place of complete distrust
Matthew 21:22; John 9:31; John 15:7). You of ourselves. We have met God, and can
will receive if you obey and do what pleases now say with Paul, That the excellency of
him because you will then be asking in line the power may be of God and not of us.
with God’s will. Of course this does not
mean that you can have anything you want, C. H. Spurgeon
like instant riches. If you are truly seeking Other people may condemn us, but that
God’s will, there are some requests you will does not matter; they may impute to us
not make. wrong motives, and misrepresent us, but
that is no concern of ours so long as we
C. H. Spurgeon have confidence toward God.
If we can feel in our own bosoms that, by
divine grace, we have been led to be 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive
honest, and upright, and true, before the from Him, because we keep His
Lord, “then have we confidence toward commandments and do the things
God.” that are pleasing in His sight.
and receive from him anything we
Study Note ask, because we obey his
Some look at such sayings as if our hearts commands and do what pleases
do not condemn us as a condition we must him.
meet before God will answer our prayers. And whatsoever we ask, we receive
Yet, clearly John intends to encourage us. of him, because we keep his
When we love, and our hearts do not commandments, and do those
condemn us, we know we are in a things that are pleasing in his sight.
relationship with God in which He can
answer our prayers. C. H. Spurgeon
Notice those conditions of answered prayer;
A.W. Tozer we cannot expect God to grant us our
This is surely one of the great realizations wishes if we do not conform to his will.
that can come to us in the Christian life, we Holiness has a great deal to do with power
can put our complete confidence in the God in prayer. It is not every man who prays who
who has revealed Himself to us! It was a shall have whatever he asks for; but it is put
gracious day in my early Christian so here, and it is notable that it is so put,
experience when I realized that it was not in “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him,
God's character to pounce upon me in because we keep his commandments, and
do those things that are pleasing in his people it's a suburb of Battle Creek,
sight.” This is not mere legality, this is not a interrupted the woman. I had a cousin from
matter of work-mongering. When we there. Did you know the McDowell family?
become God’s children, he treats us as a Stunned, Josh responded, Yes, I'm Josh
father treats his child. You know what you McDowell! I can't believe it, said the woman.
do with a boy who is disobedient; he asks I'm a cousin to your mother. Do you
you for something that he wants, and you remember anything at all about my mother's
say, “No, I cannot grant you that; your spiritual life? asked Josh. Why such. Your
conduct is such that I cannot let you have mom and I were just girls, teenagers, when
the pleasures that otherwise I would be a tent revival came to town. It was the fourth
pleased to give you.” But you have another night and we both went forward to accept
boy, who is very careful in all things to do his Christ. Praise God! shouted Josh, startling
father’s will; and you have marked the the surrounding fishermen.
anxiety of his heart to be obedient to you,
and you say, “Yes, my dear child, you may If we are obedient to God, He delights to
have whatever you want. I know that you give us what we ask when it is in His will.
would not have asked for it if you had not We should never underestimate God's
thought that it would be agreeable to my desire to respond to our prayers. A surprise
mind; and as you have asked that which is answer may be just around the corner.
suitable for me to give, you may have it, and
I am glad to give it to you.” So is it in the When we get definite with God,
fatherly discipline of the house of God; if we He'll get definite with us.
do those things which are pleasing in his
sight, we shall have power to prevail with C. H. Spurgeon
him in prayer. Notice the link between confidence as to our
rightness and power in prayer. When a child
In His sight: has done wrong, and knows it, he cannot
Condemnation run to his father, and ask for favors as he
Comprehension used to do; he feels timid in his father’s
Consecration presence because of the sense of his guilt.
But if you and I know that we have
Our Daily Bread endeavored with all our heart to love the
While Josh McDowell was attending Lord and our fellow-men and to act
seminary in California, his father went Home righteously in all things, we have a saved
to be with the Lord. His mother had died confidence which enables us to speak with
years earlier, but Josh was unsure of her God as a man speaketh with his friend; and
salvation. He became depressed, thinking this kind of confidence God greatly loves
that she might be lost. Then he became and he listens to those who possess it. Such
obsessed. Though it seemed like an people may ask what they will of God; they
impossible request, he prayed, Lord, have learned to bring their minds into
somehow give me the answer so I can get conformity with the will of God’s, so the
back to normal. I've just got to know. desire of their heart shall be granted to
Two days later, Josh drove out to the ocean.
He walked to the end of a pier to be alone. A Surprise Answer
An old woman sitting in a lawn chair, fishing, Whatever we ask we receive from Him,
started talking to him. Where's your home because we keep His commandments and
originally? she asked. Michigan, Union City, do those things that are pleasing in His
Josh replied. Nobody's heard of it. I tell sight. —1 John 3:22
When Josh McDowell’s mother died, he was
not sure of her salvation. He became 3:23 In the Bible, a person’s name stands
depressed. Was she a Christian or not? for his or her character. It represents who he
“Lord,” he prayed, “somehow give me the or she really is. We are to believe not only in
answer so I can get back to normal. I’ve just Jesus’ words, but also in his very person as
got to know.” It seemed like an impossible the Son of God. Moreover, to believe “in the
request. name” means to pattern your life after
Christ’s, to become more like him by uniting
Two days later, Josh drove out to the ocean yourself with him. And if we are living like
and walked to the end of a pier to be alone. Christ, we will “love one another.”
There sat an elderly woman in a lawn chair,
fishing. “Where’s your home originally?” she C. H. Spurgeon
asked. “Michigan—Union City,” Josh replied. That is a great mystery, for us to dwell in
“Nobody’s heard of it. I tell people it’s a God, and for God to dwell in us. It is even
suburb of—” “Battle Creek,” interrupted the so, but only he who knows it can understand
woman. “I had a cousin from there. Did you it. Experience alone can explain our dwelling
know the McDowell family?” in God and God dwelling in us.
Stunned, Josh responded, “Yes, I’m Josh Faith and love-faith in Christ, and love to
McDowell.” “I can’t believe it,” said the one another,-are here most happily joined
woman. “I’m a cousin to your mother.” “Do together; let us never put them asunder.
you remember anything at all about my
mother’s spiritual life?” asked Josh. “Why On:
sure—your mom and I were just girls— Believe on Name of Son
teenagers—when a tent revival came to Build on Holy faith
town. We both went forward to accept Put on Holy habit
Christ.” “Praise God!” shouted Josh, startling Go on Enable Spirit
the surrounding fishermen. Mediate Lord’s things
Wait on Power
God delights to give us what we ask when it
is in His will. Never underestimate His desire Prayer Malfunction
to respond to our prayers. A surprise may be This is His commandment: that we should
just around the corner. believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ
and love one another. —1 John 3:23
If you get definite with God,
He’ll get definite with you. In a box of my father's old tools I found a
hand drill that was at least 60 years old. I
3:23 And this is His commandment, that could barely get the wheel to turn. The gears
we believe in the name of His Son were clogged with dirt, and the pieces that
Jesus Christ, and love one another, hold the drill bit in place were missing. But I
just as He commanded us. wanted to see if I could get it to work.
And this is his command: to
believe in the name of his Son, I began by wiping the accumulated dirt and
Jesus Christ, and to love one sawdust off the gears. Then I oiled them. At
another as he commanded us. first they turned hard and slow, but I kept
And this is his commandment, That working them. Soon the gears were turning
we should believe on the name of smoothly. Then I saw a cap at the top of the
his Son Jesus Christ, and love one handle. Unscrewing it, I discovered the
another, as he gave us missing parts that would hold the bit in
place. I placed them in the drill, inserted a
bit, and easily bored a neat hole in a piece C. H. Spurgeon
of wood. If he hath given us the Spirit of Christ, then
Christ himself is in us, if he hath given us the
Working with that old drill taught me Spirit of love, that also is the evidence that
something about prayer. Jesus said we will Christ himself abideth in us. Oh, for more of
receive from God what we ask of Him that blessed Spirit in every one of us!
(Matthew 7:7-8). But there are conditions.
For example, John said we must obey God Though this great truth of our dwelling in
and do what pleases Him (1 John 3:22). God, and God dwelling in us, is a great
This includes believing in His Son and loving mystery, it is a mystery concerning which we
one another (v.23). If we don't meet God's need not be in doubt if we will learn of the
conditions, our prayers will be ineffective— Holy Spirit what he delights to teach us.
just like that old drill.
If your prayer-life is malfunctioning, make Obedience is proof
sure you're meeting the conditions. When Meaning of faith
you do, you can be confident that your Response of love
prayers will be effective. Evidence of union
Soul of holiness
Faith and love Mark of abiding in Him
are vital to effective prayer.
Brings the Holy Spirit
3:24 And the one who keeps His
College Applicant Accepted As
commandments abides in Him, and
He in him. And we know by this that
S.I. McMillen, in his book None of These
He abides in us, by the Spirit whom
Diseases, tells a story of a young woman
He has given us.
who wanted to go to college, but her heart
Those who obey his commands
sank when she read the question on the
live in him, and he in them. And
application blank that asked, "Are you a
this is how we know that he lives
leader?" Being both honest and
in us: We know it by the Spirit he
conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned
the application, expecting the worst.
and he that keepeth his
commandments dwelleth in him,
To her surprise, she received this letter from
and he in him. And hereby we know
the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the
that he abideth in us, by the Spirit
application forms reveals that this year our
which he hath given us.
college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are
accepting you because we feel it is
3:24 The mutual relationship, living in Christ
imperative that they have at least one
as he lives in us, shows itself in Christians
who keep these three essential commands:
1. Believe in Christ, Double Blessing:
2. Love the brothers and sisters, and Rest
3. Live morally upright lives. Meetness
The Spirit’s presence is not only spiritual Peace
and mystical, but it is also practical. Our Keeping
conduct verifies his presence. Indwelling
Life and Joy C. H. Spurgeon
Oh, to be more and more under the saved
C. H. Spurgeon influence of that blessed Spirit!
Holy Spirit, dwell in me, and teach me the
meaning of this precious Word, for Christ’s
01. Who is someone (in history or alive
today) whose life is an example of
Experiencing God what it means to love?
Holy Spirit ___________________________________
Knowing God ___________________________________
Perception and reality ___________________________________
There is a splendid moment in the movie 02. Who is someone (in history or alive
Jurassic Park, when world-class today) whose life is an example of
paleontologist Allen Grant, who has devoted what it means to hate?
his life to the study of dinosaurs, suddenly ___________________________________
comes face-to-face with real, live prehistoric ___________________________________
creatures. He falls to the ground, ___________________________________
dumbstruck. The reason is obvious. It is one ___________________________________
thing to piece together an informed but ___________________________________
nonetheless imperfect image of dinosaurs ___________________________________
by picking through fossils and bones. But to
encounter an actual dinosaur—well, there
can be no comparison. Explore It
03. What message had the readers of 1
For many people, spirituality amounts to John heard from the beginning? (3:11)
picking through the artifacts of faith that ___________________________________
survive from long ago and far away. In that ___________________________________
bygone era, humans saw God, heard his ___________________________________
voice, and experienced his awesome, at ___________________________________
times terrible, power. But that was then. ___________________________________
Today, those kinds of gripping encounters ___________________________________
with God—with a God who wasn't an
illusion, but Someone who was real, 04. Why did Cain murder his brother?
Someone you could see, and touch, and (3:12)
feel—well, there could be no comparison. ___________________________________
Abiding in Christ: ___________________________________
Not practicing sin ___________________________________
Keeping God’s commandments ___________________________________
Bearing fruit ___________________________________
Loving each other
Walking as He walked 05. About what should believers not be
Continuing in His Word surprised? (3:13)
Faithfulness to His truth ___________________________________
06. How can a person know that he or ___________________________________
she has passed from death to life?
(3:14) 12. What is the result of not being
___________________________________ condemned by one’s heart? (3:21-22)
07. What is the result of hating one’s
brother? (3:15) 13. What is God’s command? (3:23)
08. How do we know what love is? (3:16) 14. What is the result of obeying God’s
___________________________________ command? (3:24)
09. What question did the author ask his
readers? (3:17) 15. How do believers know that God lives
___________________________________ in them? (3:24)
10. How should Christians love? (3:18)
___________________________________ 16. How does the world hate believers
11. What is God greater than? (3:20) ___________________________________
___________________________________ rather than actions?
17. When have you experienced the ___________________________________
hatred of the world? ___________________________________
___________________________________ 23. In what way does love result in life,
___________________________________ and hate result in death?
18. What does it mean to love one’s ___________________________________
24. For what fellow Christian whom you
19. When do you struggle with loving have difficulty loving will you do
other Christians? something kind this week?
20. How do you demonstrate your love for 25. How can you use your material
fellow believers? possessions to love another believer
___________________________________ this week?
21. Why do we struggle with loving other
Christians with our material 26. What specific step will you take this
possessions? week to put your love for another
___________________________________ Christian into action?
22. Why is it easier to love with words