Children of God: 1 John 2:28 - 3:10
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 13th, 2019.
For the past five weeks we have been going through the epistle 1 John. Today continue our study as we dig into chapter 2:28 – 3:10. If you recall, this short letter was written to a church in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) who was going through a hard time as they had recently faced a church split or a division that was caused by false teaching and bad doctrine. Up to this point in the letter the apostle John has written to warn this church to stay away from these false teachers and their heretical doctrine. He also wrote to exhort his readers to stay faithful and grounded in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He spends some time writing about the conduct of a believer in order to show who he/she belongs to by living in obedience to God, thus he should live a God-honoring life. The faithfulness and obedience of the believer to God is foundational because according to the Apostle they were living in the last hour, and this would result in people being deceived.
Last week we I talked about the four pathways to deception which were apathy, deceit, confusion, and temptation. I then talked about the two ways we can safeguard ourselves so that we do not fall into the deception of the last hour. We are to be rooted in the Word of God by reading, studying and even memorizing it and by also allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide.
Now John changes course in his letter as he directs his readers to know the privilege they have in being children of God and this should bring them confidence in God and His promises.
1 John 2:28 – 3:10
Vs 28: “So now little children…” John continues this train of thought… He writes specifically to the Christians (little children) in the church “since we are living in the last hour it is important for you to remain, continue, or abide in Jesus. John is referencing the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is encouraging believers to continue living in obedience and love to Jesus. Remaining faithful and obedient will give confidence to the believer when Jesus does come back.
In regards to the second-coming of Jesus The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:10b – 11, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” There will be a day when we stand before the throne of God and those who have believed on the name of Jesus and remained in Him will stand in confidence before the throne. However, we will not stand in our own confidence (proud or boastful because we were able to live a disciplined and holy life), we will stand in the confidence of what Jesus has done for us. Believers can and will have confidence at his second coming. We are not in danger of losing our salvation (they/we are his children; we belong to Jesus Christ already.) This will be a glorious day for us who believe and a horrible day for those who do not.
There will be two reactions at Christ’s appearance
Justification means that we are declared innocent before God. This is grace in action. Romans 8:30 says, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.” Now, keep your attention on this passage as I will be talking about glorification a little later. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ you can have confidence in the truth that God has predestined (chose) you to be his, thus he has called you to himself, and since he called you to be his child, you have been justified. When you responded to God’s call in your life through faith in Jesus Christ you were justified in the presence of God. Through him you are declared innocent (you are no longer declared guilty because of your sins) because through the shed blood of Jesus Christ you are justified. So, your righteousness (doing what is right, obedient, following Jesus, justification) is evidence of your rebirth. Note, your righteousness is not why you have been given new life, it is the evidence of new life.
Vs 3:1: Do you understand how much God loves you? Since you have been justified, you are not only declared innocent, you are now declared a child of God. This is a privilege we all have through grace. We do not deserve to be sons and daughters of God, but because of God’s great love and grace for us he has adopted us as his children. The idea of being adopted sons and daughters is spoken of by the Apostle Paul who paints a beautiful picture of what it means to be adopted, listen and let this truth sink in as I read Ephesians 1:4 – 6, “For He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy, blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.” Through God’s grace we have become adopted sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. We belong to him and since we belong to him we have the right and privilege to be called his children.
“See what great love the Father has given to us that we should be called God’s children – and we are!” I love this final declaration… “And we are!” We can see John’s excitement in his declaration, and this should excite us as well. Commentator I. Howard Marshall says that this (exclamation) is an act of “legitimation” and Gary Burge says, “This is an act of legitimation in which the father names his child and thereby makes a permanent claim to identity and ownership. Hence it is not in the child’s hands! Rather, this identity is entirely in the Father’s hands, so that the child’s security is assured.”
Now, as Christians or children of God we are commanded to not love or be influenced by the world. Since we do not love the world, the world does not and cannot know us because we are God’s children and the world does not know our Father.
Verse 2: We are God’s children and we know our Father; however, we do not fully know everything about the Father, and about what we will be like at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Stephen S. Smalley writes in his commentary of 1 John, “The Christians knowledge of heaven, and indeed of God himself, is bound to be incomplete during our earthly pilgrimage. We shall only ‘know fully as we are fully known’ when we see the Lord ‘face to face’, Meanwhile a humble confession of our ignorance about the ultimate truth of God, and the salvation in Christ which makes possible, is a desirable attitude for the Christian to take.” Even though we do not have the specific details and full knowledge of God, we do know that when we stand before the Lord at the end we will be like Him.
Glorification: The end of this chapter describes a theological term that is the final step in the soteriological process. Now, this is a big way of saying that glorification is the final step in the act of God redeeming us. Glorification is what we become when die and stand in the presence of God. The doctrine of glorification describes what the Christian will become once he has died and is resurrected in the presence of the Father. It is the state where we will be given new bodies, all our unrighteous deeds and acts will be burned away like chaff, and we will be made fully holy and righteous.
Verse 3: This gives us hope. We have hope because we have been purified and one day we will be glorified. Our hope lies in the truth that we are currently children of God, and one day we will be glorified in the presence of God. This hope is both present and future. We have hope today because Jesus died for our sins and we have been justified before God and our hope is future because one day we will stand before the Lord and receive new bodies and made holy and righteous.
Verse 4: John now turns his discussion from justification and glorification to the tension or pull between sin and righteousness. John writes, “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness.” In this passage we have a clear and concise definition of sin… sin is lawlessness. He is declaring that sinners break the law. The law is considered the rule or word given by God and when one has disregard for the law and pays no heed to it and does as they please, they commit sin. Christians are called to live lives of obedience to God’s Word and commands, and antichrists live lives of disobedience and rebellion to His Word and commands.
Verse 5: Jesus came and died so that sin may be defeated. He gave his life so that anyone who believes in Him is called, justified and ultimately glorified. He was the perfect sacrifice because Jesus is sinless.
Verse 6: If we go back 1 John 2:28 we know that we are called to abide or remain in Jesus. Those who abide in Jesus do not live in sin (we do not run to sin, allow sin to rule in their lives… willful, ongoing sin). We need to be careful that we do not misunderstand what John is saying. He is not saying that the Christian can aspire to live a holy and sin free life here on earth. He is speaking specifically to those who live in willful sin and they are not from God. We must also be careful to not misunderstand that since we are Christians, we do sin and since God is in the forgiving business it is ok to remain in sin. The Apostle Paul confronted people who tried to justify sinful living and being a Christian. In Romans 6:1 – 3a he writes, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” John and Paul both agree that those who belong to Jesus cannot live in willful disobedience and sin. Truth be told, we are sinners saved by grace and we all struggle with sin in some capacity in our lives. Sometimes we give in to our sins and often, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can refrain from sin. I do not believe that this is the sin Paul and John are talking about… I believe they are confronting those who are living openly and unashamedly in sin, all the while calling themselves Christians.
Even though this passage can be a bit confusing I do not believe John is indicating that one can reach a state of sinless perfection, nor does God require it from his children. We are, however, to pursue holiness in our lives, but we will not be perfected until the day we stand before the Father in glorification.
Verses 8 – 10: If one remains in sin and continues living in sin is from the devil. The devil has been in the sin business since he was kicked out of heaven. The sole purpose in Jesus coming to the earth was to destroy the devils work and to glorify God.
So, if you are born of God (a true believer in Jesus Christ) then you will not live in sin. But the one who continues and abides in sin is of the devil. If you only hear one thing today I want you to hear this… The life you live reveals who you serve. How you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about who you serve. If you continually live in willful sin and disobedience, then you serve the devil. However, if you live in obedience to God’s Word and His commands then you serve your Jesus. So, if you consider yourself a born-again believer in Jesus Christ then know you are an ambassador of Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and since we are ambassadors, we represent our Father, so we must live our lives to honor and glorify his name.
 Marshall, I Howard. The Epistles of John, Eerdmans Books, Grand Rapids. 19978 Page 170 - 171
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 146
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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