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1 John Chapter Three


1 John 3

Now to say that we are born of Him is to say that we are children of God. [1] What a love is that which the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children! [2] Therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. The apostle returns here to His appearing and its effect on us. We are children of God: this is our present sure and known position; we are born of God. That which we shall be is not yet manifested; but we know that--associated with Jesus as we are in the same relationship with the Father, Himself being our life-we shall be like Him when He appears. For it is to this we are predestined, to see Him as He now is with the Father, from which the life came which was manifested in Him and imparted to us, and to appear in the same glory.

Having then the hope of seeing Him as He is, and knowing that I shall be perfectly like Him when He appears, I seek to be as like Him now as possible, since I already possess this life-He being in me, my life.

This is the measure of our practical purification. We are not pure as He is pure; but we take Christ, as He is in heaven, for the pattern and measure of our purification, we purify ourselves according to His purity, knowing that we shall be perfectly like Him when He is manifested. Before marking the contrast between the principles of the divine life and of the enemy, he sets before us the true measure of purity (he will give that of love in a moment) for the children, inasmuch as they are partakers of His nature and have the same relationship with God.

There are two remarks to be made here. First, "hope in him" does not mean in the believer; but a hope that has Christ for its object. Second, it is striking to see the way in which the apostle appears to confound God and Christ together in this epistle; and uses the word "Him" to signify Christ, when he had just been speaking of God, and vice versa. We may see the principle of this at the end of chapter 5: "We are in him that is true, [that is to say] in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." In these few words we have the key to the epistle: Christ is the life. It is evidently the Son; but it is God Himself who is manifested, and the perfection of His nature, which is the source of life to us also, as that life was found in Christ as man. Thus I can speak of God and say, "Born of him;" but it is in Jesus that God was manifested, and from Him that I derive life; so that "Jesus Christ" and "God" are interchanged with each other. Thus "He shall appear" (chap. 2:28) is Christ, He is righteous; the righteous one "is born of him" But in chapter 3:1 it is " born of God," "children of God;" but the world did not know Him: here it is Christ on earth; and "when he shall appear," it is again Christ and we purify ourselves "even as He is pure." There are many other examples.

It is said of the believer, "he purifies himself:" this shews that he is not pure, as Christ is. He needed not to purify Himself. Accordingly it is not said, he is pure as Christ is pure (for in that case there would be no sin in us); but he purifies himself according to the purity of Christ as He is in heaven, having the same life as the life of Christ Himself.

Having set forth the positive aspect of christian purity, he goes on to speak of it in other points of view, as one of the characteristic proofs of the life of God in the soul.

He who commits sin (not transgresses the law, [3] but acts lawlessly. His conduct is without the restraint, without the rule of law. He acts without curb; for sin is the acting without the curb of law or restraint of another's authority, acting from our own will. Christ came to do His Father's will, not His own. But Christ was manifested that He might take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin; so that he who commits sin acts against the object of the manifestation of Christ, and in opposition to the nature of which, if Christ is our life, we are partakers. Therefore he who abides in Christ does not practise sin; he who sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. All depends, we see, on participation in the life and nature of Christ. Let us not then deceive ourselves. He who practises righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous: for, by partaking in the life of Christ, one is before God according to the perfection of Him who is there, the head and source of that life. But we are thus as Christ before God, because He Himself is really our life. Our actual life is not the measure of our acceptance; it is Christ who is so. But Christ is our life, if we are accepted according to His excellence; for it is as living of His life that we participate in this.

But the judgment is more than negative. He who practises sin is of the devil, has morally the same nature as the devil; for he sinneth from the beginning: it is his original character as the devil. Now Christ was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil; how then can one who shares the character of this enemy of souls be with Christ?

On the other hand, he who is born of God does not practise sin. The reason is evident; he is made a partaker of the nature of God; he derives his life from Him. This principle of divine life is in him. the seed of God remains in him; he cannot sin, because he is born of God. This new nature had not in it the principle of sin, so as to commit it. How could it be that the divine nature should sin?

Having thus designated the two families, the family of God and that of the devil, the apostle adds the second mark, the absence of which is a proof that one is not of God. He had already spoken of righteousness; he adds the love of the brethren. For this is the message that they had received from Christ Himself, that they should love one another. In verse 12 he shews the connection between the two things: that hatred of a brother is fed by the sense one has that his works are good, and one's own evil. Moreover we are not to wonder that the world hates us: for we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. If this love is an essential proof of being renewed, it is quite natural that it should not be found in the men of the world.

But, this being the case, he who does not love his brother (solemn thought!) abides in death. In addition to this, he who does not love his brother is a murderer, and a murderer has not eternal life. There is the absence of the divine nature, death; but more, the activity of the old man in the opposite nature is there, he hates, and is in spirit the activity of death-a murderer.

Further, as in the case of righteousness and of purity, we have Christ as the measure of this love. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; we ought to lay down ours for the brethren. Now, if our brother has need, and we possess this world's good, but do not provide for his necessity, is that the divine love which made Christ lay down His life for us? It is by this real and practical love that we know we are in the truth, and that our heart is confirmed and assured before God. For if there is nothing on the conscience, we have confidence in His presence; but if our own heart condemns us, God knows yet more.

It is not here the means of being assured of our salvation, but of having confidence in the presence of God. We cannot have it with a bad conscience in the practical sense of the word, for God is always light and always holy.

We also receive all that we ask for, when we walk thus in love before Him, doing that which is pleasing in His sight; for thus walking in His presence with confidence, the heart and its desires respond to this blessed influence, being formed by the enjoyment of communion with Him in the light of His countenance. It is God who animates the heart; this life, and this divine nature, of which the epistle speaks, being in full activity and enlightened and moved by the divine presence in which it delights. Thus our requests are only for the accomplishment of desires that arise when this life, when our thoughts, are filled with the presence of God and with the communication of His nature. And He lends His power to the fulfillment of these desires, of which He is the source, and which are formed in the heart by the revelation of Himself. (Compare John 15:7)

This is indeed the position of Christ Himself when here below: only that He was perfect in it. (Compare John 8:29; 11:42)

And here it is the commandment of God which He desires us to obey; namely, to believe on the name of His Son Jesus; and to love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Now he who keeps His commandments dwells in Him; and He dwells also in this obedient man. It will be asked whether God or Christ is here meant? The apostle, as we have seen, confounds them together in his thought. That is to say, the Holy Ghost unites them in our minds. We are in Him who is true, that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. It is Christ, who is the presentation of God to men in life in man; and to the believer He is the communication of that life, so that God too dwells in him, in the revelation, in its divine excellence and perfection, of the nature which the believer shares in the power of the Holy Ghost who dwells in him, so that love is alike enjoyed and exercised.

But what marvelous grace to have received a life, a nature, by which we are enabled to enjoy God Himself, who dwells in us, and by which, since it is in Christ, we are in fact in the enjoyment of this communion, this relationship with God! He who has the Son has life; but God then dwells in him as the portion, as well as the source of this life; and he who has the Son has the Father.

What marvelous links of vital and living enjoyment through the communication of the divine nature of Him who is its source; and that according to its perfection in Christ! Such is the Christian according to grace. Therefore also he is obedient, because this life in the man Christ (and it is thus that it becomes ours) was obedience itself, the true relationship of man to God.

Practical righteousness, then, is a proof that we are born of Him who, in His nature, is its source. In presence also of the world's hatred, we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. Thus, having a good conscience, we have confidence in God, and we receive from Him whatsoever we ask, walking in obedience and in a way that is pleasing to Him. Thus walking, [4] and He in us.

A third proof of our christian privileges arises here. The Spirit whom He has given us is the proof that He Himself dwells in us, the manifestation of the presence of God in us. He does not here add that we abide in Him, because the subject here is the manifestation of the presence of God. The presence of the Spirit demonstrates it. But in abiding in Him there is, as we shall see farther on, the enjoyment of that which He is, and consequently moral communion with His nature. He who obeys enjoys this also, as we have seen. Here the presence of the Holy Ghost in us is spoken of as demonstration of one part only of this truth, namely, that God is in us. But the presence of God in us according to grace, and according to the power of the Spirit, involves also communion with that nature; we dwell also in Him from whom we derive this grace, and all the spiritual forms of that nature, in communion and practical life. It is in verses 12 and 16 of chapter 4. that our apostle speaks of this.

Practical righteousness or obedience, the love of the brethren, the manifestation of the Spirit of God, are the proofs of our relationship to God. He who obeys the Lord's commandments in practical righteousness dwells in Him, and He in him. The Spirit given is the proof that He dwells in us.


[1] See previous note

[2] John uses habitually the word "children," not "sons," as the more distinctly expressing that we are of the same family. We are as Christ before God and in the world, and so will be when He appears.

[3] In Romans 2:12, the word is used in contrast with law breaking, or sinning under law. That is, the Greek word here used for what is translated "transgression of the law" is that used for sinning without law, in contrast with sinning under law, and being judged by it. I do not dissemble that this changing what is a definition of sin is a very serious thing.

[4] Here dwelling in Him comes first, because it is practical realisation in an obedient heart. His dwelling in us is then pursued apart as known by the Spirit given to us, to guard against being misled by evil spirits. In chapter 4:7, he resumes; the indwelling in connection with the love of God.

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 John


1 John 3

Chapter Contents

The apostle admires the love of God in making believers his children. (1,2) The purifying influence of the hope of seeing Christ, and the danger of pretending to this, and living in sin. (3-10) Love to the brethren is the character of real Christians. (11-15) That love described by its actings. (16-21) The advantage of faith, love, and obedience. (22-24)

Commentary on 1 John 3:1,2

(Read 1 John 3:1,2)

Little does the world know of the happiness of the real followers of Christ. Little does the world think that these poor, humble, despised ones, are favourites of God, and will dwell in heaven. Let the followers of Christ be content with hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, where their Lord was so badly treated before them. The sons of God must walk by faith, and live by hope. They may well wait in faith, hope, and earnest desire, for the revelation of the Lord Jesus. The sons of God will be known, and be made manifest by likeness to their Head. They shall be transformed into the same image, by their view of him.

Commentary on 1 John 3:3-10

(Read 1 John 3:3-10)

The sons of God know that their Lord is of purer eyes than to allow any thing unholy and impure to dwell with him. It is the hope of hypocrites, not of the sons of God, that makes allowance for gratifying impure desires and lusts. May we be followers of him as his dear children, thus show our sense of his unspeakable mercy, and express that obedient, grateful, humble mind which becomes us. Sin is the rejecting the Divine law. In him, that is, in Christ, was no sin. All the sinless weaknesses that were consequences of the fall, he took; that is, all those infirmities of mind or body which subject man to suffering, and expose him to temptation. But our moral infirmities, our proneness to sin, he had not. He that abides in Christ, continues not in the practice of sin. Renouncing sin is the great proof of spiritual union with, continuance in, and saving knowledge of the Lord Christ. Beware of self-deceit. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, and to be a follower of Christ, shows an interest by faith in his obedience and sufferings. But a man cannot act like the devil, and at the same time be a disciple of Christ Jesus. Let us not serve or indulge what the Son of God came to destroy. To be born of God is to be inwardly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. Renewing grace is an abiding principle. Religion is not an art, a matter of dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And the regenerate person cannot sin as he did before he was born of God, and as others do who are not born again. There is that light in his mind, which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart, which disposes him to loathe and hate sin. There is the spiritual principle that opposes sinful acts. And there is repentance for sin, if committed. It goes against him to sin with forethought. The children of God and the children of the devil have their distinct characters. The seed of the serpent are known by neglect of religion, and by their hating real Christians. He only is righteous before God, as a justified believer, who is taught and disposed to righteousness by the Holy Spirit. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. May all professors of the gospel lay these truths to heart, and try themselves by them.

Commentary on 1 John 3:11-15

(Read 1 John 3:11-15)

We should love the Lord Jesus, value his love, and therefore love all our brethren in Christ. This love is the special fruit of our faith, and a certain sign of our being born again. But none who rightly know the heart of man, can wonder at the contempt and enmity of ungodly people against the children of God. We know that we are passed from death to life: we may know it by the evidences of our faith in Christ, of which love to our brethren is one. It is not zeal for a party in the common religion, or affection for those who are of the same name and sentiments with ourselves. The life of grace in the heart of a regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a life of glory, whereof they must be destitute who hate their brother in their hearts.

Commentary on 1 John 3:16-21

(Read 1 John 3:16-21)

Here is the condescension, the miracle, the mystery of Divine love, that God would redeem the church with his own blood. Surely we should love those whom God has loved, and so loved. The Holy Spirit, grieved at selfishness, will leave the selfish heart without comfort, and full of darkness and terror. By what can it be known that a man has a true sense of the love of Christ for perishing sinners, or that the love of God has been planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, if the love of the world and its good overcomes the feelings of compassion to a perishing brother? Every instance of this selfishness must weaken the evidences of a man's conversion; when habitual and allowed, it must decide against him. If conscience condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too. Let conscience therefore be well-informed, be heard, and diligently attended to.

Commentary on 1 John 3:22-24

(Read 1 John 3:22-24)

When believers had confidence towards God, through the Spirit of adoption, and by faith in the great High Priest, they might ask what they would of their reconciled Father. They would receive it, if good for them. And as good-will to men was proclaimed from heaven, so good-will to men, particularly to the brethren, must be in the hearts of those who go to God and heaven. He who thus follows Christ, dwells in Him as his ark, refuge, and rest, and in the Father through him. This union between Christ and the souls of believers, is by the Spirit he has given them. A man may believe that God is gracious before he knows it; yet when faith has laid hold on the promises, it sets reason to work. This Spirit of God works a change; in all true Christians it changes from the power of Satan to the power of God. Consider, believer, how it changes thy heart. Dost not thou long for peace with God? Wouldst thou not forego all the world for it? No profit, pleasure, or preferment shall hinder thee from following Christ. This salvation is built upon Divine testimony, even the Spirit of God.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 John


1 John 3

Verse 1

[1] Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

That we should be called — That is, should be, the children of God. Therefore the world knoweth us not - They know not what to make of us. We are a mystery to them.

Verse 2

[2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

It doth not yet appear — Even to ourselves.

What we shall be — It is something ineffable, which will raise the children of God to be, in a manner, as God himself. But we know, in general, that when he, the Son of God, shall appear, we shall be like him - The glory of God penetrating our inmost substance.

For we shall see him as he is — Manifestly, without a veil. And that sight will transform us into the same likeness.

Verse 3

[3] And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

And every one that hath this hope in him — In God.

Verse 4

[4] Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Whosoever committeth sin — Thereby transgresseth the holy, just, and good law of God, and so sets his authority at nought; for this is implied in the very nature of sin.

Verse 5

[5] And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

And ye know that he — Christ.

Was manifested — That he came into the world for this very purpose.

To take away our sins — To destroy them all, root and branch, and leave none remaining.

And in him is no sin — So that he could not suffer on his own account, but to make us as himself.

Verse 6

[6] Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Whosoever abideth in communion with him, by loving faith, sinneth not - While he so abideth. Whosoever sinneth certainly seeth him not - The loving eye of his soul is not then fixed upon God; neither doth he then experimentally know him - Whatever he did in time past.

Verse 7

[7] Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Let no one deceive you — Let none persuade you that any man is righteous but he that uniformly practises righteousness; he alone is righteous, after the example of his Lord.

Verse 8

[8] He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

He that committeth sin is a child of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning - That is, was the first sinner in the universe, and has continued to sin ever since.

The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil — All sin. And will he not perform this in all that trust in him?

Verse 9

[9] Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Whosoever is born of God — By living faith, whereby God is continually breathing spiritual life into his soul, and his soul is continually breathing out love and prayer to God, doth not commit sin. For the divine seed of loving faith abideth in him; and, so long as it doth, he cannot sin, because he is born of God - Is inwardly and universally changed.

Verse 10

[10] In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Neither he that loveth not his brother — Here is the transition from the general proposition to one particular.

Verse 12

[12] Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

Who was of the wicked one — Who showed he was a child of the devil by killing his brother.

And wherefore slew he him — For any fault? No, but just the reverse; for his goodness.

Verse 13

[13] Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Marvel not if the world hate you — For the same cause.

Verse 14

[14] We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

We know — As if he had said, We ourselves could not love our brethren, unless we were passed from spiritual death to life, that is, born of God.

He that loveth not his brother abideth in death — That is, is not born of God. And he that is not born of God, cannot love his brother.

Verse 15

[15] Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

He, I say, abideth in spiritual death, is void of the life of God. For whosoever hateth his brother, and there is no medium between loving and hating him, is, in God's account, a murderer: every degree of hatred being a degree of the same temper which moved Cain to murder his brother.

And no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him — But every loving believer hath. For love is the beginning of eternal life. It is the same, in substance, with glory.

Verse 16

[16] Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

The word God is not in the original. It was omitted by the apostle just as the particular name is omitted by Mary, when she says to the gardener, "Sir, if thou hast borne him hence;" and by the church, when she says, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth," Song of Solomon 1:2; in both which places there is a language, a very emphatical language, even in silence. It declares how totally the thoughts were possessed by the blessed and glorious subject. It expresses also the superlative dignity and amiableness of the person meant, as though He, and He alone, was, or deserved to be, both known and admired by all.

Because he laid down his life — Not merely for sinners, but for us in particular. From this truth believed, from this blessing enjoyed, the love of our brethren takes its rise, which may very justly be admitted as an evidence that our faith is no delusion.

Verse 17

[17] But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

But whoso hath this world's good — Worldly substance, far less valuable than life.

And seeth his brother have need — The very sight of want knocks at the door of the spectator's heart.

And shutteth up — Whether asked or not.

His bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him — Certainly not at all, however he may talk, 1 John 3:18, of loving God.

Verse 18

[18] My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Not in word — Only.

But in deed — In action: not in tongue by empty professions, but in truth.

Verse 19

[19] And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

And hereby we know — We have a farther proof by this real, operative love.

That we are of the truth — That we have true faith, that we are true children of God.

And shall assure our hearts before him — Shall enjoy the assurance of his favour, and the "testimony of a good conscience toward God." The heart, in St. John's language, is the conscience. The word conscience is not found in his writings.

Verse 20

[20] For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

For if we have not this testimony, if in anything our heart, our own conscience, condemn us, much more does God, who is greater than our heart - An infinitely holier and a more impartial Judge.

And knoweth all things — So that there is no hope of hiding it from him.

Verse 21

[21] Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

If our heart condemn us not — If our conscience, duly enlightened by the word and Spirit of God, and comparing all our thoughts, words, and works with that word, pronounce that they agree therewith.

Then have we confidence toward God — Not only our consciousness of his favour continues and increases, but we have a full persuasion, that whatsoever we ask we shall receive of him.

Verse 23

[23] And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

And this is his commandment — All his commandments in one word.

That we should believe and love — in the manner and degree which he hath taught. This is the greatest and most important command that ever issued from the throne of glory. If this be neglected, no other can be kept: if this be observed, all others are easy.

Verse 24

[24] And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

And he that keepeth his commandments — That thus believes and loves.

Abideth in him, and God in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us — Which witnesses with our spirits that we are his children, and brings forth his fruits of peace, love, holiness. This is the transition to the treating of the Holy Spirit which immediately follows.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 John


Chapter 3. The Virtue f Spiritual Fellowship

Our Hearts Do Not condemn Us
Have Confidence Before God

I. We Are His Children

  1. Born of God
  2. Be Like Him When He Appears
  3. Pure as He Is

II. Destroy the Devil's Work

  1. To Do Sinful Belongs to the Devil
  2. To Hate Sin Is of God
  3. The Wicked Do Sinful

III. How to Love One Another

  1. Replace Hatred by Love
  2. Move Others by Words and Actions
  3. Hearts at Rest

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

The Children Of God (3:1-3)
1. In 1 Jn 2:29, for the first time John speaks of Christians as those
   who are "born" of God...
   a. It is an expression that will be used time and again throughout
      the remainder of this epistle - 1 Jn 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18
   b. It is a figurative expression, emphasizing that the Christian's
      spiritual life is a result of the redemptive work of God - cf. Co
      2:12-13; Ti 3:4-7
   c. As a result of this working of God in our lives, we have been
      "born again", and can therefore be properly called God's
2. That we can be called "children of God" was amazing to John, and in 
   our text (1 Jn 3:1-3) he desires that we reflect...
   a. Upon the significance of being called the "children of God"
   b. Upon the implications of what it should mean in our lives
[As we take the opportunity to reflect upon such things, we first 
notice that this passage reminds us of...]
      1. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, 
         that we should be called children of God!"
      2. It is through the love of God that we can even become His 
         children - Jn 3:16; Ro 5:8; 1 Jn 4:9-10; Ti 3:3-7
      3. It is an honor for God to even take notice of us as one of His
         creatures (cf. Ps 8:3-4), how much love God must have to 
         allow us to become His children!
      1. "...the world does not know us..."
      2. That is, they do not truly recognize or appreciate what we
         have become in Christ
      3. They may even deem us as religious fanatics, fools - cf. 1 Co
      4. But this is understandable...
         a. For the world did not (and still does not) really know 
            Jesus - Jn 1:11
         b. And for now, our lives are "hidden" in Jesus - Co 3:3-4
[Loved and honored by God, unknown and sometimes despised by the world;
that is what we are today as the children of God.
But as stated by Paul in Co 3:4, when Christ comes we will "appear 
with Him in glory"!  This speaks of our condition in the future, and 
John also writes of our future condition...]
      1. Exactly what we shall be like has not yet been revealed
      2. Which may be that due to our finite capability to comprehend
      3. In general terms we have been promised a spiritual body and 
         immortality - cf. 1 Co 15:42-44; 50-53
      4. But there is something else, hinted at by both Paul and 
      1. "...we know that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as
         He is."
      2. Paul also says that we will be like Jesus when He comes...
         a. We shall bear the image of the "heavenly Man" - cf. 1 Co 
         b. Our lowly bodies will undergo a wonderful transformation to
            become like Jesus - Ph 3:20-21
      3. Though we cannot fully know what we will be like, it must 
         really be something, for as Christ is now, no man can really 
         see Him and live! - cf. 1 Ti 6:13-16
[This wonderful hope of what we will be some day should encourage us to
"stand fast in the Lord" (cf. Ph 3:20-4:1).
John also has something to say as to how this hope ought to influence 
how we live, as he describes...]
      1. "everyone who has this hope..."
      2. The hope of which John writes, of course, is the earnest 
         expectation that we will be like Jesus when He comes
      1. The Greek word for "purify" is hagnizo {hag-nid'-zo} which 
         means "to make clean, i.e. (fig.) sanctify"
         a. It is closely related to the word for "holiness", which in 
            Greek is hagiasmos, {hag-ee-as-mos'}, meaning "holiness, 
         b. It therefore involves the idea of being "set apart" for a 
            holy purpose, which Christians are taught to pursue - cf. 
            He 12:14
      2. Properly motivated by the hope that Jesus will "transform our
         lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body" (Ph 
         3:21), the true child of God will work toward the purity 
         (holiness) seen in the Lord Himself
      3. How can Christians purify themselves?
         a. First and foremost by appropriating the cleansing power of 
            the blood of Jesus! - cf. 1 Jn 1:9
         b. Only then can we hope to be truly holy and without blemish 
            - cf. Ep 5:25-27
         c. But we also have an obligation to remove ourselves from 
            things that would defile us - cf. 2 Co 6:16-7:1
1. By virtue of God's love for us, and His working in us, we can truly
   be called the "children of God"!
2. However, to become a child of God, and truly remain such, we must be
   willing to cooperate with God...
   a. When our faith joins with the working of God, we can become His 
      children! - cf. Co 2:12-13; Ga 3:26-27
   b. As long as our faith remains strong, we have the assurance of 
      receiving the promises God has made - cf. He 3:12-14; 4:1-2; 
      10:35-39; Re 2:10
May the love our heavenly Father has shown in making us His children, 
serve to motivate us to remain faithful to Him!


Sin And The Child Of God (3:4-9)
1. In our previous study ("The Children Of God"), we saw that the true
   child of God purifies himself because of the hope of seeing Jesus
   one day - cf. 1 Jn 3:2-3
2. In discussing "purity", the subject of "sin" naturally arises...
   a. Which may be why John moves right into a discussion of "Sin And
      The Child of God" - 1 Jn 3:4-9 (READ)
   b. It also fits into John's overall theme of combating the Gnostic-
      like influences that were teaching that sinning did not affect 
      one's relationship with God
3. How shall the true child of God regard sin?  Is it something to be 
   taken lightly? Not if the apostle John has anything to say about it!
[Using verses 4-9 as our text, then, let's consider what John has to
say about "Sin And The Child Of God".
We begin by noticing...]
      1. Sin is nothing more than a violation of human relationships
      2. Which can be easily resolved by correcting relationship
      -- While SOME sins may be a violation of "human" relationships,
         the true meaning of sin goes much further than that
      1. The Greek word for "sin" is hamartia {ham-ar'-tee'-ah}, and it
         literally means "to miss the mark"
      2. E.g., as when an archer fails to hit the center of the target
      3. So "sin" is some kind of action (or lack of it) in which one 
         fails to meet the goal intended by God - cf. Ro 3:23
      1. Sin is "lawlessness" (NKJV), or "transgression of the law" 
      2. The word for lawlessness (transgression) is anomia {an-om-ee'
         -ah}, which means "illegality, i.e. violation of law"
         a. I.e., to break or violate a law, such as the law of God
         b. E.g., to steal when the law says "Thou shalt not steal"
      3. So sin occurs when you DO WHAT IS FORBIDDEN (commonly called 
         "a sin of commission")
      1. James describes another kind of sin - cf. Ja 4:17
      2. So sin is also committed when you FAIL TO DO WHAT IS GOOD OR
         COMMANDED (often called "a sin of omission")
         a. E.g., failing to love your brother
         b. While you may not do ill toward your brother, failure to do
            good is just as much a sin!
      1. One has failed to meet a certain standard (they have "missed 
         the mark")
      2. In this case, the standard is the "law of God"
         a. Which, when carefully noted, is designed to help us in our 
            relationships with...
            1) God
            2) Other people
            3) Even self
         b. Every command of God, both negative and positive, affect 
            these relationships in one way or the other
[Failure to understand the true nature of "sin" is one reason why there
is so much apathy toward it today.  But every time we sin, we adversely
affect our relationship with either God, others, or our own selves!
Further insight into the terribleness of sin is gained by considering 
what John says about...]
      1. "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from 
         the beginning."
      2. This statement of John is reminiscent of one made by Jesus in 
         Jn 8:44
      3. From the beginning the devil has been the "father" or origin 
         of sin ("he is a liar and the father of it")
      1. Since he is the "father" of sin, those who practice sin are 
         his children
      2. "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your 
         father you want to do" - cf. Jn 8:44a
      3. So when we "miss the mark" by either...
         a. Doing what is forbidden
         b. Failing to do what is commanded
         ...we demonstrate the influences of the devil in our lives!
[If sin can make one to be "the children of the devil", that ought to 
tell us something about the terribleness of sin!
But there is something else that describes sin's terribleness, and that
is seen as we consider what John says about...]
      1. "He was manifested to take away our sins" - 1 Jn 3:5a
      2. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might
         destroy the works of the devil." - 1 Jn 3:8b
      3. As John the Baptist declared:  "Behold!  The Lamb of God who 
         takes away the sin of the world!" - Jn 1:29
      -- To continue to walk in sin, therefore, is to undermine the 
         purpose of our Lord's coming!
      1. Nothing less than His own death! - cf. 1 Co 15:3
      2. Nothing less than His precious blood! - cf. Ac 20:28; 1 Pe 1:
      -- Does not this tell us something about the terribleness of sin?
[When we properly understand what sin is, and how terrible it must be
in God's sight, then for the "child of God" there can only be one goal:
what John describes as...]
      1. The phrase "does not sin" is present tense in the Greek,
         suggesting a practice of not sinning
         a. John has already affirmed that Christians sin - cf. Jn 1:
         b. To say we have no sin is to lie, and to make God a liar
         c. So John is talking about one who does not "continuously
            practice sin"
      2. Such is true of those who "abide in Him"
         a. Those who "abide in Jesus" do not continuously engage in 
         b. That is because they...
            1) Let that which they have heard from the beginning abide 
               in them (i.e., the words of Jesus) - cf. 1 Jn 2:24
            2) Strive to walk even as Jesus walked - cf. 1 Jn 2:6
      3. But the one who continuously practices sin has neither seen 
         Jesus nor known him (despite any claims to the contrary!)
      1. Again, John uses the present tense when he says "does not sin"
         a. He is not suggesting that one "born of God" never sins
         b. But that one truly "born of God" does not continuously 
            practice sin
      2. And why is that?  Because "His seed remains in Him"
         a. The "seed" is that life-giving principle that makes one a 
            child of God
         b. Which clearly involves the Word of God - cf. Ja 1:18; 1 Pe
      3. As long as one allows the "seed" (the Word of God) to remain 
         in him, he is "born of God"
         a. As such he does not continuously practice sin 
         b. Nor can he continuously practice sin, if the "seed" is 
            remaining in him
         c. Instead, he continuously practices righteousness! - 1 Jn
1. Again, it helpful to remember that John is dealing with precursors 
   to Gnosticism, and the idea that one can claim to be "born of God" 
   and not be concerned about sin in their life
2. But when we are aware of:
   a. The "definition" of sin
   b. The "origin" of sin
   c. The "defeat" of sin
   d. The "refrainment" of sin
   ...our attitude toward sin will certainly be different than those 
   John was having to combat!
3. What is your attitude toward sin?
   a. Have you been born again through obedience to the Word of God 
      (the incorruptible seed)?
   b. Are you letting that "seed" remain in you so that you do not 
      continuously practice sin?
How you answer can reveal whose "child" you really are!


The Necessity Of Brotherly Love (3:10-15)
1. In our previous study ("Sin And The Child Of God"), we saw where
   John described two different kinds of people...
   a. One who continuously practices sin, and is therefore "of the 
      devil" - 1 Jn 3:8a
   b. One "born of God," who does not continuously practice sin - 1 Jn
2. John continues to illustrate the contrast between "the children of 
   God" and "the children of the devil" in 1 Jn 3:10, presenting two 
   criteria which distinguishes them:
   a. Practicing righteousness
   b. Brotherly love
3. Both of these "criteria" have already been introduced earlier in 
   this epistle...
   a. John enjoined "brotherly love" as necessary to "abiding in the 
      light" - 1 Jn 2:9-11
   b. He connected "practicing righteousness" to being "born of Him" 
      - 1 Jn 2:29; 3:7
4. It is primarily the subject of "brotherly love" that John expounds 
   upon throughout the rest of this epistle, including that which 
   serves as our text for this study - 1 Jn 3:10-15
[In these verses, John describes "The Necessity Of Brotherly Love",
giving us two main reasons why we MUST love one another.  The first of 
which is...]
      1. The word "manifest" means:
         a. To show or demonstrate plainly; reveal
         b.  To be evidence of; prove
      2. That which clearly demonstrates the children of God are:
         a. The practice of righteousness
         b. The love of the brethren
      3. Whereas those who are the children of the devil are clearly 
         revealed when they:
         a. Do not practice righteousness
         b. Do not have brotherly love
      1. I.e., from the beginning of the gospel, spoken by Jesus 
         Himself - cf. Jn 13:34-35
      2. Note that Jesus also stressed how loving one another would 
         make the children of God (His disciples) "manifest" to the 
         world:  "...by this all will know" - Jn 13:35
      1. Just as Cain killed his brother Abel
         a. He who was of the wicked one killed his brother
         b. The murder was sparked by the contrast between the works of
            the two
      2. So don't be surprised if the world hates you as well - cf. 
         also Jn 15:18-20
[When we follow the teachings of Jesus, especially His command to love 
one another, it soon becomes evident ("manifest") that we are different
from those of the world.  But that difference sometimes leads to 
jealousy and its unpleasant consequences.
What imperative is there, then, to heed a command that makes us stand 
out so?  Well, as John continues...]
      1. Certainly brotherly love is not the ONLY indicator
      2. Remember that we must also practice righteousness - cf. Ga 5:
      3. But love for the brethren is a positive sign that true 
         conversion has occurred
      1. That one "abides in death"
      2. As we saw earlier, one who hates his brother "is in darkness 
         until now" - 1 Jn 2:9,11
      3. Indeed, hating one's brother makes one a murderer! (just like 
      4. And it should be self-evident that a murderer does not possess
         eternal life!
      1. It MAY be an indication that true conversion never occurred, 
         and that they are Christians in name only
      2. It MAY be that there was true conversion...
         a. But the Christian is still a "babe in Christ" - cf. 1 Co 
         b. Or that what the writer of Hebrews feared has occurred - 
            cf. He 3:12-14
      3. In ANY circumstance, it is not what God desires for us!
1. Two compelling reasons are therefore given by John for why we should
   love one another:
   a. It distinguishes the children of God
   b. It signifies a passing from death to life
2. John will have more to say about love and its value, but may these 
   two reasons compel us to examine our hearts and our attitudes toward
   our brethren!
                "Let brotherly love continue."  (He 13:1)


The Definition & Value Of Brotherly Love (3:16-24)
1. The apostle John has given us two reasons in 1 Jn 3:10-15 for why
   it is necessary that we love the brethren:
   a. Along with practicing righteousness, it distinguishes the
      children of God
   b. It signifies a passing from death to life
2. But what does it really mean to love the brethren?  And what 
   benefits do we receive in return when we possess brotherly love?
3. These two questions are answered by John in 1 Jn 3:16-24, which 
   serves as the text of this lesson entitled "The Definition And Value
   Of Brotherly Love"
[Beginning in verse 16, we find...]
      1. The word for love (Grk., agape), has often been described as 
         "active goodwill"
      2. In giving His life for our sins, Jesus certainly demonstrated
         goodwill in an active way
      3. By meditating upon His example, we are "taught of God to love
         one another" - cf. 1 Th 4:9
      4. With Jesus' example, then, we come to understand what 
         brotherly love is all about:  sacrificially serving others!
         a. Therefore we should be willing to lay down our lives for 
            one another
         b. In some cases, it may indeed involve "dying" for our 
            brethren; but it can also be "living" for them through 
      1. John uses the example of not helping a brother when it is 
         within your power to do so
      2. In view of Christ's love, how we can claim to have love if we
         are not willing to sacrifice for a brother in need?
      3. This illustrates that brotherly love is not only being willing
         to "die" for someone, but willing to "live" for them as well,
         through active service on their behalf
      1. An admonition prefaced by John's favorite term of endearment:
         "My little children"
      2. To love, not just in words, but truly, through deeds!
[We see, then, that "brotherly love" which 1) distinguishes the 
children of God, and 2) signifies one as having passed from death to 
life, must go beyond the spoken word or occasional hymn.
Patterned after the example of Jesus, "brotherly love" is manifested by
what one does, not just by what one says (cf. 1 Co 13:4-8).
The blessedness of such love is not only for the recipient, but also 
for the giver, as we learn beginning in verse 19...]
      1. Love of the brethren is an indication that one is "of the 
         truth", just as it was an indication that one had passed from 
         death to life (1 Jn 3:14)
      2. It is certainly not the only indicator (cf. 1 Jn 3:10), but
         it does help to provide one with assurance of their salvation
      3. The importance of such assurance
         a. If our own hearts condemn us...
            1) Because we know we do not love the brethren as we ought
            2) Certainly God, who is greater and knows all things, will
               know of our shortcomings in this area ("If conscience 
               condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, 
               God does so too." - Matthew Henry)
         b. But if our hearts do NOT condemn us...
            1) Because we are loving the brethren as we know we should
            2) This will make us able to approach God with joyful 
      1. Our prayers are more likely to be answered according to our 
      2. Because we are keeping the commandments of God (of which 
         loving the brethren is one), and thereby pleasing Him
      3. "Commandment-keeping" is a condition upon which God hears 
         prayer, just as it is a condition upon which Christ promises 
         His abiding love - Jn 15:10
      1. Abiding in Christ is contingent upon keeping His commandments
         (and loving the brethren is certainly one of His commandments)
         - cf. Jn 14:23
      2. And how do we know that Christ truly abides in those who keeps
         His commandments?
         a. By the Spirit whom Christ has given
         b. He (the Spirit) is the one Who reminded the apostles of the
            key to abiding in Christ - cf. Jn 14:19-26
1. Aren't these three blessings what every true Christian desires...?
   a. Abiding in Christ, and He in us?
   b. God answering our prayers?
   c. Confidence concerning our standing before God?
2. For these blessings to be ours...
   a. We must allow Christ to teach us by His example what it really 
      means to have "brotherly love"
   b. And then manifest such sacrificial service in our lives!
       "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue,
        but in deed and in truth."
Does the love of God abide in you?


--《Executable Outlines


The Virtue of Spiritual Fellowship

Our Hearts Do Not Condemn Us; Have Confidence Before God

I. We Are His Children

   1. Born of God

   2. Be Like Him When He Appears

   3. Pure as He Is

II. Destroy the Devil’s Work

   1. To Do Sinful Belongs to the Devil

   2. To Hate Sin Is of God

   3. The Wicked Do Sinful

III. How to Love One Another

   1. Replace Hated by Love

   2. Move Others by Words and Actions

   3. Hearts at Rest

── Chih-Hsin Chang An Outline of The New Testament


What Manner of Love

I. Our Privilege—What we are—children of God (3.1)

II. Our Prospect—What we shall be—‘like Him’ (3.2)

III. Our Practice—What we should be—‘pure’ (3.3)

   1. Pure in thought (Phil. 4.8)

   2. Pure in Word (Eph. 4.29)

   3. Pure in deed (1 Tim. 5.22)

── Archibald NaismithOutlines for Sermons