See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Understanding And Applying the Text
This is true love that Christ died for us. He died for us even while we were in a state of rebellion. Not only has Christ paid the price for our sins, but He adopted us into His family. He calls us His children! This has John in awe. He asks “What kind of love is this?” He ends that thought. Not only are we called the Children of God, which would be great in and of itself, but we ARE the children of God. Not only are we the children of God here and now but we have a future also. What that exactly means we are not sure of because God has not revealed what we will be to us. But it will be great! In the future, we will be like God because we will see God as He is.
Do you want to know why people will ridicule and belittle you and your faith? It is because, if God has redeemed you, they do not know who you are. They do not understand you. You do not fit into their categories. You are a child of God. They cannot comprehend that. They do not know who you are because they do not know who God is. So it is little wonder that they do not understand.
If we are the children of God, There will be a family resemblance. That family resemblance is evident both now and in eternity. Since we are in Him our lives should resemble His life. Only after our knowledge of Him is complete will we be purified. But even now we know “he is righteous” and that knowledge makes us increasingly righteous.
John defines sin as lawlessness. Many would claim that since we are under grace and not under the law, the law has no authority over us. It is important to remember that John is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So not only John but God says in very clear terms sin is lawlessness. Christ said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning practices lawlessness. They are not obeying the law. The Greek is in the present tense. This suggests behavior that is characteristic or usual. John is not claiming that you will not sin. He is referring to the specific sin of apostasy, mentioned in 2:19. John means true believers will not totally abandon their faith.
Some may remember Flip Wilson. He was a comedian who did a character named Geraldine. Geraldine made famous the saying, “The devil made me do it.” She would use that to excuse her actions. Well, the devil did not make do Geraldine anything. We know that and that is why the bit was funny. And like Geraldine, we sin because we want to.
I must admit that I do not fully understand the depth of my sin. But I know that my nature is to rebel. When my children were in high school they were going through normal teenage rebellion. It is a natural part of the maturing process. Knowing it is natural and normal did not make the process less painful. One of my sons would often claim I did not love him. I would retort I did and as evidence, I would mention specific things I had done for him. His response is was, “Well that just your job.” It would cut deeply. We do that kind of thing to God regularly. The only difference is our sin is worse and deeper than teenage rebellion. We take for granted the air He gives us to breathe. Why? We assume, “That is His job.” We are unthankful, ungrateful, and rebellious. Even while we were in active rebellion God reached down and chose us. As John said, “What kind of love is this?!”
If God has redeemed us, not only will we not make a practice of sinning we cannot. The seed of God is with us. That is something to get excited about!