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Being called the Sons of God

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“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.” (1 John 3:1) A s we have been looking at the book of 1 John as a means of having assurance of salvation, we now examine chapter three. Within this chapter the apostle John, by Holy Spirit inspiration, continues the idea of knowing that we have salvation.

I have not counted the number of times the word “know” is found in this book, but just within this chapter it is seen many times (keep in mind that John was writing to a group of people that were being troubled by the Gnostics, whom have been labeled as the “knowing one’s”). In this chapter reassurance of salvation is given by observing the children of God, the characteristics of sin, and a contrast between love and hate.

We can be assured of our salvation because of the great love that has been bestowed upon us by God (v.1-2). There is a similarity between these verses and John 3:16, as they both depict the great love of God that has been poured out as Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The chapter begins with an interesting word in the original Greek language, which is translated in our English as “behold.” This is a word that is used for emphasis, or to call the attention to, and as John is about to proclaim the great love that has been given to mankind by the Father in heaven, he uses this word to catch the attention of the reader. Because of the great love that has been bestowed upon us by God, not only are we able to be redeemed, no longer are we enemies of God because of sin and now reconciled to Him, but much more than that we are now His children.

What a wonderful way to reassure the Christian of their worth, if you have obeyed the commands of the Lord and are faithfully walking in the light, God considers you to be one of His children. Being a child of God, and being redeemed from the world, having a hope that is not of this world, we are now not known by the world. Far too many people have an identity crisis when trying to walk in the light. Far too many people are trying to be known by the world and by God simultaneously, and according to this verse, it cannot be done.

Christians need to remember their identity cannot be found in this world, but when the Judgment Day is come and the faithful are escorted into heaven, then we will have our true identity as we will be like Him and be able to see Him as He is (v.2).

Not only can we be assured of salvation because we are His children, but we can also be assured by not living a life of sin (v.4-12). We have a continual hope in Jesus when we keep ourselves from sin, putting away every defilement and being purified by living a life that is pure.

Those that do not abstain from the defilement of sin, those that are entangled in sin, and those that transgress God’s law are guilty of sin (v.4). Jesus was sent into the world in order that God’s love could be bestowed upon us and our sins could be removed (v.5), and those that continue to walk in the light, keeping themselves from the filth of sin is able to abide in Him (v.6). The one that continues to keep themselves from sin, walking in the light, living a righteous life (v.7) can be assured of their salvation, but the one that commits sin, and is not walking in the light cannot be assured of salvation (v.8). The one that is living a righteous life is born of God (v.9) but this is stating the impossibility of sin (as some may falsely teach) but what is being stated in these verse is the child of God does not make sin a life habit, or lifestyle. Is it possible that a child of God will sin? Absolutely, positively, yes! But, the child of God is not making sin a standard practice of their lives, it is possible that from time to time one may sin and will need to seek God’s forgiveness of those sins, but the standard of operations, the aim, the walk, the focus of a Christian is on God and pleasing Him. This is further emphasized by noticing the message that was heard from the beginning (v.11), just as Jesus gave the greatest command and the second that is like unto it (Matt. 22:37-40). Cain is given as an example of what not to do, as he was one that transgressed the commands of God, and hated his brother, who’s works were righteous (v.12). Within this example is the summation of the previous verses, those that keep God’s commands will be accepted by Him, and those that transgress His commands commit sin.

In the final verses of chapter three (v.13-24) we are comforted and encouraged by the love of God. The world may hate those that walk in the light (John 15:17-19).

Those that are not living right do not like to be told that they are doing so, and when reminded of that fact it causes hatred. In the world we may be hated, but within the world there still remains some comfort as we have brethren that love us. We are able to perceive the love of God as Jesus laid down His life for us and we are to follow His example (John 15:13). God’s love is seen in His children, and those that fail to help a brother in Christ does not have the love of God abiding in them (v.17). We are able to be assured that we are His children and abide in His love when we put our live into action (v.18-19). The final verses of this chapter are filled with words of assurance as God knows all things (v.20), He hears our prayers (v.22), and those that keep His commands continue to abide in Him (v.24).

We can have the hope of belonging to God when we keep His commands, keep ourselves from sin, and love one another because God has bestowed His love upon us in sending His Son to die for our redemption that we might be called the children of God!

Jeremy Thornton is minister of Highway 77 Church of Christ in Marion.

Jeremy Thornton

We can have the hope of belonging to God when we keep His commands, keep ourselves from sin, and love one another because God has bestowed His love upon us in sending His Son to die for our redemption that we might be called the children of God!

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