About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 2:28 to end of 3
verse 28 John admonishes his readers to “continue in Him”, that is,
continue in Jesus. This is
very much like what John and the others heard Jesus tell them in John
chapter 15. Jesus told the
disciples to remain in Him and now John passes these instructions along to
problem we have as Christians, as can be seen in the Galatian church, is
that we start with Jesus but end up in the flesh so to speak.
We tend to find it hard to stay in tune with Jesus as we should.
suggest that his readers need to continue in Jesus means that there might
be a chance that they wouldn’t continue.
The false teaching that was being spread was a cancer to the church
and he did not want his readers to fall prey to this cancer.
It is apparent that John
did not believe Cerinthus and his followers were true believers, as seen
in the last chapter. Thus, if
some of his readers would take up Cerinthus’ position, especially on the
Deity of Christ, then they’d become like him, that is unbelievers.
I believe John does think that one can lose his salvation.
positive reason why John wants his readers to continue in Jesus is in
order for them to be confident at the appearing of Jesus.
If we do our best in following Jesus now, we should have a certain
measure of confidence when we stand before Jesus on the last day when He
will judge all mankind. It
doesn’t mean we will be arrogant. I
personally believe that I will be very much humbled on that day and fall
before Jesus and almost melt away as wax melts with the heat of a flame.
There is nothing in me that deserves His mercy on that day, but I
know I will receive it on account of Jesus and His work of grace
demonstrated on the cross.
also the word "ashamed" in verse 28.
How many of us will be ashamed when we stand before Jesus when He
comes back to earth? I think
many of us will surely be ashamed because we have not done what we should
have done on earth for His glory.
telling these people about the return of Jesus, is John suggesting that he
or they may be around at His return? Does
John believe that Jesus will come in his life time?
Not necessarily. John
is simply saying "when
Jesus returns." He's not
saying He will return soon
thing to note concerning these end time passages.
John was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
John may not have known, but the Holy Spirit knew that you and I
would be reading these words about 2000 years later and would be
meaningful to us, as well as those in the first century.
verse 29 John says, that “everyone who does what is right has been born
of God”. This does not mean
that any righteousness that we may claim to have gets us saved.
First comes true salvation. Real
righteousness only follows true salvation.
also does not mean that one who claims or appears to be righteous is a
Christian. We are not speaking
of man’s righteousness here. The
Pharisees were very righteous in their own way, but Jesus called them the
sons of the devil. We’re
talking about God’s righteousness that is seen in the Bible.
Someone who lives out this righteousness is a true believer.
A religious person with religious righteousness is not necessarily
a true believer.
verse 29 John says, "if you know that He is righteous …"
The pronoun "he" is not capitalized in the NIV.
I do believe it refers to Jesus.
Therefore, I believe the righteousness and doing right spoken of
here refers to the righteousness of Jesus, not our righteousness.
We know our righteousness is like filthy rags.
They are meaningless.
chapter 3 verse 1 John says, “how great is the love the Father has
lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God”.
The early Christians understood their depravity as seen in the
first two chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans.
With the sorry state that man is in, to these early Christians, it
was hard to fathom why God would love them so
much to do what He did in Jesus.
The result of what Jesus did was the calling of true believers
God’s sons. We are called
God’s sons, because we have indeed become God’s sons, through Jesus
and what He did. God has
adopted us into His family, where He is the Father and Jesus is our
brother. Understanding our
sinful nature and then understanding the atoning work of Jesus is what
John understood and would be a good thing for us to understand.
should note here that the love spoken of by John is the love that makes us
sons of God. The early
Christians suffered greatly for their faith in Jesus.
Many were killed. Some
of us would ask, "where is God's love in that kind of life?"
John isn't speaking of that kind of love.
He is only speaking of God's love that calls us His sons.
next phrase says, “and that is what we are”.
This is exactly what I’ve just said.
We are called God’s sons, because we “are God’s sons”, not
because of anything we have done, but because of God Himself.
then goes on to say that ‘the reason why the world does not know us is
because it does not know Him”. Him
refers to God in this verse. John
is saying that there is a great gulf between the people of the world and
true believers. The world does
not know, or does not understand Christians. There is a major disconnect
between the two groups. The
world can only shake its head at us in wonder.
Yet too often they don’t shake their heads because we are too
much like them and so they do understand us.
Yet in John's day this was not the case.
I believe the time is coming where true believers will stand out
from the rest of the world, and what John speaks of here will be true.
problem that I feel we have as present day Christians, and as the church,
is that we are too much like the world in many respects.
I'm not speaking of legalism here.
I'm not speaking about the kind of music we play or the clothes we
wear. I'm speaking of how we
conduct our lives, and how we conduct the church.
We conduct our lives and church life too much like the world.
For example, many churches look more like a business than a church.
In this respect we are
too much like the world.
verse 2 John says that “we are now the children of God”.
There’s no doubt about this.
Right now every true believer in Jesus is a child of God.
Yet John goes on to say that it is not certain what we shall be.
There’s much mystery about our future.
Even John, to whom the
book of Revelation was revealed to, doesn’t totally understand the
future, or so I believe. The
future for true believers in Jesus is way beyond our ability to
comprehend. It's going to be
simply amazing, out of this world.
John, and us too, don’t totally understand the future and what we’ll
be like, we do have some glimpses. We
know we will have a glorified body. The
details to that is somewhat obscure. But
John tells us here that when we see Jesus, we will become like Him.
In some way shape or form we will be like Jesus.
We won’t be like Him in His ministry and who He is.
We will be like Him in the sense that we will have a body like His.
Thus is the love of God shown to us.
It is my thinking that Jesus did not have such a body before He was
incarnated on earth. Jesus
changed his very nature of existence when He came to earth in His great
act of love. The change is
eternal. He will never return
to be just exactly the way He was, that is, the eternal Word of God that
spoke creation into being.
verse 3 John says that
“everyone who has this hope purifies himself”.
We have a part to play in the sanctification process.
We take some initiative to bring change in the way we live, and we
do this because of the hope we have that some day Jesus will return for
us. We want to be ready for
Him. We want to get all fixed
up and clean when we meet Him in the air so to speak.
speaks of hope in verse 3. Some
people see hope as "weak faith", or "a lack of faith".
They view hope in some kind of
sub-light to faith. That
should not be. Hope is
important and is Biblical. Christians
do hope for the next life to come. There
is nothing wrong with hope, and it certainly isn't weak faith.
verse 4 John says that “everyone who sins breaks the law, in fact sin is
lawlessness”. There are a few definitions of sin in the Bible and this
is one of them. John says that
sin is breaking the law, and I think he's thinking of God's law as in the
Law of Moses. We all sin, even
means acting as if there is no law. If
there is no law, then we live unto ourselves.
But we know God has laws, these laws go far beyond the Ten
Commandments. Sin is in fact laying these laws aside and living as if
there are no laws. This is
John’s definition of sin.
can lay aside the commands of Jesus just as easy as we can lay aside the
Ten Commandments, and again, Christians do that every day.
That is why Jesus is our great high priest.
He intercedes to the Father on our behalf all of the time.
verse 5 John tells us that Jesus appeared to “take away sin”.
How has Jesus done this? First
of all when Jesus died on the cross, He received the punishment for our
sins. Thus God’s sense of
justice was satisfied. Sin was
accounted for and punished. He
thus no longer has to look at us and feel He needs to punish us, even for
the sins we still commit. In that sense, Jesus has taken away our sins
before the eyes of God. That
being said, we still sin, but those sins are covered by the blood of
the coming of the Holy Spirit helps us to overcome the sins that have been
forgiven. In this sense our
sins are being taken away as well, one by one, as we live in the light of
the gospel we are overcoming sin.
when Jesus returns, our sins that we still commit and did not get rid of
will be gone forever. In this
sense of the word, Jesus will take away our sins at some future date.
my opinion verse 6 is much misunderstood, at least by the casual reader.
John says that those “who live in Him do not continue to sin”.
What does this mean? Does
it mean, we don’t sin any more. I
think the rule of logic, and other Scriptures tell us that we still sin.
So if this is the case, what is John saying?
I believe John is saying that we do not continue in a
lifestyle of sin where sin is prevalent in all we do.
We will sin, but we don’t want to sin.
We do not make sin the way of life.
way of putting it is looking at John’s definition of sin which is
lawlessness. Lawlessness means
without any law. There are two
groups of people. Christians
live by the law of Christ, and sinners live by no law.
They make their own laws up to suit their individual sinful nature.
Thus the person who is born of God lives by Christ’s laws.
They may sin from time to time, but they do not live a life of
lawlessness. While those not
born of God live a lifestyle of lawlessness.
They are a law unto themselves, that is, they live according to
their own rules.
John says that those who continue to sin really have never seen or known
Him. Those who continue in a
selfish lifestyle of sin, even though they may claim to know God, don’t,
and there are many so-called Christians today who live in a lifestyle of
verse 7 John admonishes his readers to “not let anyone lead them
astray”. Men like Cerinthus
was attempting just that. John
then says that “he that does what is right is righteous just as He is
righteous”. Remember, we are
thinking of God’s righteousness here, not man’s righteousness, not
like the righteousness of the Pharisees.
We are speaking of Biblical righteousness.
Just because a person appears to be righteous by man’s standards
of righteousness does not mean he is truly righteous.
false teachers may have had a look of righteousness about them, but if
they were teaching wrong doctrine, especially concerning Jesus, then they
were not righteous. John even
goes on to say that they are of the devil, not of God.
verse 8 John says that he who is sinful is of the devil because the devil
has been sinning from the beginning. I
don’t believe that John is speaking of immoral sin alone here.
I think in context the sin of spreading wrong doctrine is also to
be considered in sin. One
wrong doctrine that we’ve seen these men to be promoting is that they
don’t sin in the first place. Well
that statement itself is a sin.
doctrine is something we don't get too upset about these days, but we
should. We don't even really
think that doctrine is important. As
a matter of fact, doctrine in some circles is a bad word.
What a sad place we have come to.
It was because of false doctrine that we have this letter from John
in the first place. He was
very disturbed over false doctrine.
seems to be saying that there are only two sides of the fence to be on.
You’re either on God’s side or the devil’s side.
Some might add another side and that is man’s side.
I used to think this way, but not any more.
When Adam and Eve left God’s side, they didn’t go to their own
side. They went to the devil’s side.
They followed his advise, not their own advice.
John doesn’t seem to leave room for people to be in either one of
three camps. He only notes two
camps. I believe we're either on God's side or the devil's side.
That's it. Man's ways
belong to the devil.
verse 8 John says that “the reason why the son of man appeared was to
destroy the works of the devil”. The
appearing of the Son of God came at the incarnation of Jesus.
From that point onward, and even now Jesus is in the process of
destroying the work of the devil, or to put it another way, He is undoing
what satan began in the Garden of Eden. The cross was a big part of
Jesus’ destruction of the devil. Yet
even now as He lives by the right hand of God His work of destroying the
devil is continuing.
9 speaks of being born again, being born of God, as Jesus spoke in John's
gospel book, chapter 3.
John says that if you are really born of God, you will not continue
to sin. Once again, John is
not saying we never commit another sin.
He is saying that we will not live in a lifestyle of sin.
We all sin, but Christians don't want to sin, and their whole life
doesn't revolve around sin. John
says that we don't sin because "His seed" is in us.
Paul explains that the "seed" is Jesus.
Jesus, by His Spirit lives in us.
We still sin. We
struggle with sin, but our lives revolve around Jesus, not our sin.
should be a notable difference between people of the world and people of
say that people born of God never sin does not fit into the context of the
Bible as a whole. We must
interpret what John is saying by understanding what the Bible says about
sin, righteousness, fallen man, and other such topics.
To say that Christians don’t sin is also a contradiction
of what John says in this very letter.
verse 10 John concludes that this is how we know those who are children of
God and those who are children of the devil.
Note again, only two camps – God’s camp or the devil’s camp.
For the most part true Christians can tell another true Christian
because of this underlying attitude to do right.
I admit on the odd occasion this may not be so clear.
Some people you may just wonder about.
It is in the Lord’s hands. The wheat grows with the weeds, and
some day Jesus will make the separation.
That’ s not our job.
adds one more point concerning those that we recognize as being born of
God. These truly born again
people love their brothers in Christ.
There should be a genuine love to Christian brothers with true
Christians. We should
understand that we love people and our brothers in Christ in different
degrees. We cannot express the
same intensity of love to everyone, but we can love with more intensity
those the Lord has placed us with. It
is obvious that we can’t love our brothers in
verse 11 John once again uses the words “in the beginning”.
This time he’s speaking about the beginning of his readers
relationship with Jesus and the gospel.
The message of love is central.
God loved us so He sent His Son to redeem us and provide salvation
for us. By the same token we
should love one another. I’m
sure the divisions caused by the false teachers provided ample
opportunities for hard feelings among people.
John tells us to love one another and not be like Cain who killed his
brother Abel. Obviously Cain
did not love his brother. It
is clear that one of the first results of the fall of man was the laying
aside of true love, something that Adam and Eve must have had.
verse 12 John says that Cain “belonged to the evil one and murdered his
brother”. This means that at
some point prior to the murder Cain gave himself to the devil.
This is an interesting commentary on the Genesis account of Cain
and Abel. Many people have
asked why God accepted Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's. They've said that
it was because of the nature of the sacrifice.
It wasn't an animal. I've
never believed that. It was a
matter of Cain's heart before the Lord.
John said that before Cain offered his sacrifice, he gave himself
to the devil.
is interesting because if Cain gave himself to the devil, the devil must
have been still hanging around, speaking to Cain as he spoke to his mother
Eve. It is thus clear that the
devil tempted those in the firs two generations of mankind and has done so
verse 12 John says that Cain’s actions were evil while Abel’s were
righteous. So prior to the
murder Cain had done other evil things.
The question could be asked, “when did Cain give himself to the
story of Cain and Abel goes like this.
They were the sons of Adam and Eve.
Cain was born first. Cain
worked the land while Abel worked with livestock.
Both came to sacrifice before God.
We do not have any written
information of God telling anyone to offer sacrifices for sin but it is
clear that He did or else these two men would not have done so.
is also clear that God told these men to offer animal sacrifices.
The shedding of blood was, and is, important for the atoning of out
sins. Abel provided an animal
sacrifice as instructed but Cain didn’t.
Being one who worked the fields, Cain brought an offering from the
field, of which God was not pleased with.
thing to note here is that any offering brought to God had to be as He
instructed. Any good intention
on man’s part was not good enough if it was not as God instructed.
Thus the idea of “good works” is seen very early in human
history. Just because we think
something should satisfy God isn’t good enough.
We must do as He wants, not what we think He wants, or what we
think is good, as Cain did.
was angry with Cain and punished Him and in turn Cain was angry with God.
This most likely made Cain turn to the devil even more.
Thus the struggle between good and evil, God and satan continued
into the second generation of mankind.
verse 13 John tells us that we should not be surprised if the world hates
us. Like Cain hated Abel, so
the world will hate us. Of
course this is assuming that we are like Abel and doing righteous things.
If we aren’t so righteous, we’ll be like the world and they
will have no need to hate us. Thus
is the situation for the most part in the modern church.
Thus the real battle is between us and the devil, and between God
and the devil
verse 14 John says that “we know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers”. John
is speaking about brothers in Christ at this point.
Extending love to our Christian brothers and sisters is evidence
that we have passed from death into life.
Bible teaches that sin leads to death.
If we live in a lifestyle of sin, we live in death.
But once being born again of the Holy Spirit, we pass from this
death caused by sin into life.
does passing from death into life mean.
We are born apart from God, apart from Jesus, the author of life.
When the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we enter into the
world of eternal life, that eternal life that was with the Father
throughout eternity. We’ve
been elevated into a new existence, which is life for ever.
outside of Jesus are still in the realm of death. This death is eternal
separation from God, and ultimately carries on into eternal death, that
is, always dying but never being able to die. It is our trust in Jesus
that takes us from death to life, and nothing else.
goes on to say in verse 15 that if we hate our brother it is like we are a
murderer. Jesus said the same
thing. Yet John does not stop there. He
says that if we hate our brother, we don’t have eternal life in him.
These are strong words. Hatred
towards Christian brothers is evidence of not being a real Christian.
We might want to distinguish between hatred and simply not
liking a person at this point.
Dislike and hated are not the same.
Brothers may have struggles with each other, and maybe even have
disputes that separate them, but I'm not convinced that this can be
classified as hate.
says that eternal life lives in us. The
reality is that God’s Spirit, who is eternal, lives in us.
It is God’s Spirit who has placed us into a new existence of
life, and not death.
verse 16 John says that "this is how we know what real love is."
He says that Jesus laid down His life for us.
Jesus was selfless. We
should be the same. That is true love, thinking of others before you think
of yourself. So, if we never
lay down our lives for our brothers, if we always think of ourselves
first, then, we really don't know the love of God.
goes on to say in verse 17 that if a brother lacks in some material way,
and we can supply that material lack but don't, then God’s love isn’t
really in us. John is saying that the proof of love is seen in our
material giving to others that are in need. Love
must be practical or it isn’t love.
It love isn't seen, I question if it is love.
18 says it clearly. “… let
us not love in word and tongue, but in actions and in truth”.
The addition of the word “truth” is important.
Loving in action is easy to understand.
But what is loving in truth?
is the central truth of the universe.
Our loving actions should go forth based on the truth of Jesus.
People can love outside of Jesus, and often do.
But John is saying that we should love as Jesus does, and this love
should be done in His name so to speak.
We should love as Jesus loves.
This might require strong and stern words at times.
Loving in truth means that we do not accept and tolerate
all sorts of activity in the name of love as the world teaches
today. We must love according
to the truth of Jesus.
kind of love is clearly seen by John in his denouncement
of Cerinthus and the false teachers.
He did not tolerate these men out of love.
He rebuked them in the name of truth.
John says that we must love in action.
Love, by its very nature exists in action.
If you simply tell someone you love them and don't show it, you
don't love the person you say you do.
19 is somewhat of a conclusion. John
says that this is how we know we belong to the truth and can set out
heart’s at rest in the presence of God.
When our loving actions are based on truth, we are of the truth and
our heart’s can rest assured before the Lord.
acknowledges that our
heart’s still may condemn us, even when loving from truth.
If this is the case, then we should know that God does not condemn
us. He “knows all things”
as John says. He can see our
actions and the motivations of our actions.
If God does not condemn us, we should not condemn ourselves.
on the other hand we should know that if we aren’t loving people in
truth, and if our heart’s condemn us as a result, then we need to
change. Our heart's
condemnation of us is right. We
deserve to have our hearts condemn us.
verses 21 and 22 John says that if our heart’s don’t condemn us we are
confident towards God and we can ask what we will and He will give it to
Because John says that we do the things that please God.
We don’t ask out of selfishness.
also need to note that some people’s heart’s don’t condemn them even
though they are doing wrong. Paul
speaks of such a person when he says that his conscience is seared as with
a hot iron. (1 Tim. 4:2) Their
consciousness of sin has been completely destroyed so they have no sense
of condemnation. They do wrong
and don’t feel bad about it. So
just because you don’t feel condemned, doesn’t mean you are living
right. The way we know we are
living right is by loving in truth. Loving
in truth is an evidence of righteousness.
The lack of the feeling of condemnation is not the evidence of
verse 22 John gives another reason why we can ask things of God, and that
is if we obey His commands. Receiving
from God depends on obedience, not merely on our asking, and not certainly
on our faith alone.
phrase "do what pleases Him' in verse 22 is important.
That should always be at the forefront of our hearts and minds.
We should always want to do what pleases our Lord.
That should be the main motivation of our lives.
verse 23 John gives us two commands from God Himself.
The first is to believe in God’s Son.
Believing is more than mentally agreeing with the truth of Jesus’
existence. It is in fact
giving your life to Him in trust. This
we have given our lives to Jesus in trust, the next command is to love one
another. We’ve seen above
what John means by love. It is
then says in verse 24 that those who obey His commands live in Him and He
in them. By obeying this first
command, that is, giving your life to Jesus, we are elevated into a new
existence. The eternal life of
the universe lives in us and we in Him.
closes this chapter by mentioning the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is evidence that we have obeyed the command to give
ourselves to Jesus. Receiving
the Holy Spirit is the direct result of this obedience.
often wonder why the church today is not like the early church, with
miraculous power. I think it
is because we are not doing what John says here.
We really don't love our brothers, and we really don't do the will
of God. I'm not even convinced
that the church knows what the will of God is because we are so far
removed from knowing it that we think we are in God's will when in fact we
aren't. Laying aside the
Bible has brought us to this place of ineffectiveness.