Study of 1 Jn.2:28—3:12
The quality of a believer’s fellowship with Christ is manifested in the INTEGRITY OF LIFESTYLE <1 Jn.2:28—3:3>: “…continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” <1 Jn.2:28 (NIV)>: in our daily lifestyle we must persist in following Christ’s commands, for we are awaiting His return which can occur at any moment in time, and we should not be in a situation where we will be ashamed at His coming <cf. Phil.4:8; 1 Tim.5:22b; 1 Jn.1:9>. In so doing, we will maintain our righteousness, through the help of The Holy Spirit, demonstrating the fact that we have experienced the new birth <Jn.3:3>.
The characteristic of our fellowship is also confirmed in us because we are true children of God, because of our acceptance of Christ and His sacrifice for our sin, and although the sceptics of this world do not acknowledge this fact, that does not alter God’s love for us: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” <1 Jn.3:1 (NIV); see Jn.1:10, 12-13>. We see here then that we are children of God because of our belief in and acceptance of Christ, and that our future with Christ is unimaginable so we need to guard what has been given to us <see Col.3:4-5>.
Not only has God showered His love on us, the full extent of our future is not evident at the present time; but we are assured of one thing, we will be like Him in respect to our physical actuality and appearance: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” <1 Jn.3:2 (NIV)>. John has given us a description of Jesus’ resurrection body, in that He was seen and touched by His disciples <see Jn.20:10-29>, and that He ascended to heaven in a body that could be seen <Acts 1:9-11>; John now assures us that we will be like Him at His second coming.
So then, we are encouraged by John to ensure that our character demonstrates our fellowship with Christ by getting rid of the impurities of sin through the cleansing of the scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” <1 Jn.3:3 (NIV)>.
In our PRACTICE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS <1 Jn.3:4-12>, John continues to expand on the instruction: “If you know that he [Christ] is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. [Christ]” <1 Jn.2:29 (NIV)>, and gives five reasons why sinning is utterly incompatible with being a Child of God, (i) “Everyone who sins breaks the law” <1 Jn.3:4 (NIV)>; yes, we know that Paul has taught that a believer in Christ is no longer under the condemnation of the Law <see Rom.6:14>, but the effect of the Law still stands and for the believer there is an accountability to Christ <see Rom.14:12>. (ii) “Sin is lawlessness” <1 Jn.3:4b (NIV)>; and as such, God’s child must be law-abiding just as Christ was. (iii) “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.” <1 Jn.3:6 (NIV)>; for in continuing to sin we have neither “seen” Christ nor “known” Christ; but in our practice of righteousness we exhibit the life of Christ. (iv) “do not let anyone lead you astray” <1 Jn.3:6 (NIV)>; those that are led astray are not being led by The Holy Spirit, but by some other spirit, possibly an anti-Christ, as he has already warned us. (v) “He who does what is sinful is of the devil” <1 Jn.3:8 (NIV)>; and the reason why Christ appeared was to destroy the devil’s work <1 Jn.3:8b>. So, John sums it up by stating: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” <1 Jn.3:9-10 (NIV); cf Rom.6:1-2>. The believer in Christ, God’s child, cannot, or must not continue to be led astray by sin, for this is the characteristic distinction between a believer in Christ and a non-believer. Therefore, we see that righteousness is exhibited by our practice of obedience to Christ’s commands, and by love shown to each other as believers.
John now describes how mutual Christian love is demonstrated in ACTION AND GENUINENESS <1 Jn.3:13-24>, being the essential characteristic of God’s children, and that hatred is inadmissible. First, he reminds us of Christ’s teaching: “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” <1 Jn.3:13 (NIV); cf Jn.15:18-19; 17:14>, for this is one indication that we have been born again <1 Jn.3:14> as we have been taught, reminding us that we have “passed from death to life” and this is the reason why we must express love to each other as believers in Christ <see Jn.5:24; 1 Jn.2:9; Matt.5:21-22; Gal.5:19-21>. He continues to show us how real love is expressed by reminding us of Christ’s love for us <1 Jn.3:16>, and that we should pattern Christ’s example in our love for our fellow believers. Just as Christ saw our spiritual destitution, we must liken that to the material requirement of our fellow believers: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” <1 Jn.3:17-18 (NIV); cf Jn.15:12; Eph.5:1-2>; and if our spirit convicts us in a positive way when we respond by expressing our love in actions and in truth, this is proof that we belong to Christ, and The Holy Spirit confirms our true belief in Christ <1 Jn.3:19-21; cf Heb.6:9-10; 1 Jn.4:17>. But we should understand that we can be condemned by our spirit by actions that are contrary to the love of Christ!
If a believer has a clear conscience by expressions of love, The Holy Spirit confirms that there is obedience to Christ’s commands <1 Jn.3:21-23>, for there is true love demonstrated to others in our actions and; “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” <1 Jn.3:24 (NIV)>.
Therefore; by the integrity of our lifestyle, our practice of righteousness, and the genuineness of our actions; the character of our fellowship with God and our fellow believers is clearly manifested.