1 John 2:4 Whoever says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
The fact that God forgives us through faith in Jesus Christ will appeal to our sinful nature to keep on sinning. If Jesus paid for all our sins, and makes us right with God, why resist temptation? The logic is sound, but it comes to the wrong conclusion. A true profession of faith will have a corresponding lifestyle.
A professor was having lunch with an international student who was a professing Christian. His wife was studying medicine in another country, and they planned to reunite when they finished their degrees. The student let it slip that, in his wife’s absence, he was seeing a prostitute. The professor asked, What about God? The student replied, God will forgive because that’s what God does.
The Apostle John would have disagreed, since that attitude reveals a lack of genuine faith. God will forgive all manner of sin, for those who truly believe, but those who truly believe will try to follow Christ. Whoever says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
1 John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
The Holy Spirit gives believers a love for each other that we did not have before. But we are not in heaven yet, so conflicts still occur. Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company (Acts 15:39), wrote Luke. Nevertheless, true believers should never hate each other, and should reconcile whenever possible.
A company was hired to build a bridge across a narrow river. They tied some string to an arrow, and shot it across to the other side. Then twine was tied to the string, so it could be pulled back. Then cable was tied to the twine, so it could be pulled to the other side again. This was the beginning of a strong and lasting bridge. If you are ever separated by a river of conflict, keep sending over a line. With a little back and forth, you can make a way.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
No one ever did more good for the world than Jesus Christ. John watched him heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and feed the hungry. No wonder John was appalled when the world rejected Jesus so violently. Instead of returning his kindness, they crucified him. And when he rose from the dead, they made up a lie that his body was stolen (Matthew 28:13). To be at home in this kind of world is not to love God, said John.
John was not saying we should not love the physical world (since it was made by God), or that we should not love everyone in the world (since God loves everyone). John was saying that we should not fall in love with a world that hates the Father’s Son. If anyone loves that kind of world, love for the Father is not in them.
1 John 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
The return of Jesus Christ will be the best or worst day for everyone on earth. Some will be received into everlasting happiness; others will be cast into everlasting misery (Matthew 25:46). And many who thought they were right with Christ will find out they were deceived (Matthew 7:21-23). This is why some believers have mixed feelings about the return of Jesus Christ. Instead of looking forward to the best day of their lives, they fear it may be the worst.
The solution provided by John is simple: continue in him. Continue in his way, continue in his word, continue in his church, and continue in his service. Then when Jesus appears, we will be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
John never lost the wonder of being a child of God. He was an apostle, of course, but that was not the most important thing to him. It is good to be an apostle, or a doctor, or a general, but all such titles are nothing compared to being a child of God. Our core identity is not what we have achieved, or what other people think of us, but that we are God’s dear children, through faith in Jesus Christ.
When my daughter was small, I put her to bed one night and said, Baby, you’re a little slice of heaven. The next day her brother called her a goof. She said, No I’m not. Dad says I’m a little slice of heaven.
What your father says about you is more important than what others say about you. And what your heavenly Father says about you, is more important than what anyone says about you. The God of heaven and earth calls you his child, and that is what you are. Like the Apostle John, we should never lose the wonder of that.
1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.
We know that we are children of God, but we do not know how we will appear in the age to come. The Bible gives us hints, but is surprisingly quiet on this important topic. Perhaps we would not understand, even if God explained it. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him (1 John 3:2b), wrote John.
Two things are clear from this. First, our sinful nature will be gone forever. The very thought of sin will be more repulsive than eating maggots off a corpse. All our words, thoughts and deeds will agree with God, and the struggle with sin will be a thing of the past.
Second, we will be glorious. He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21), wrote Paul. We will never have to go on a diet, go to the gym, or have our parts replaced. This would have been a comfort to the aging apostle, and should be a comfort to every believer who struggles with a mortal body.
Reflection and Review
Why shouldn’t Christians love the world?
How do you feel about the return of Christ?
Why is being God’s child important to your identity?