Summary: 15th in First John Series
BIRTHMARKS OF A BELIEVER
INTRO: Were I to ask you if you are sure that you have been born physically you would think it a foolish question. Yet there are many people who are not sure that they have been born spiritually. There are certain characteristics that mark those that are of the same family. Many times physical similarities, perhaps color of eyes, hair, size of frame, hands or feet. Sometimes the characteristics are not physical and not so readily detectable. In like manner, those who share this spiritual birth have characteristics that distinguish them from the world, birthmarks if you will.
The Bible teaches that this experience is definite and that you can know for a certainty that you are a child of God. So, let us look at these three birthmarks of a born again child of God.
I. APPRECIATION OF GOD’S CHILDREN (v. 1).
There are two things stated here about the child of God.
Love the Father. — In 1 John 4:19 the Bible says we love Him because He first loved us. It is natural for a child of God to love his Father. The more we know about the Father and His love for us, the more we will love Him. We come to know Him through His Word.
Love the Family. — Being born again means that you are born into a family. It is a natural thing for family members to love one another. This is one of the precious truths about being a Christian. How is love going to behave? Look at 1 Corinthians 12:26; 13:4. This is the way love behaves itself toward the members of the family of God. Is this love in your heart for the family of God?
ILLUS: Paul and Silas with the Philippian jailer. The jailer had beaten them but when he was born again the Bible says he washed their stripes, put a meal on the table for them and fellowshipped with them! If you are truly born again, the birthmark of love will be evident in your life.
II. APPLICATION OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (vv. 2-3).
Two times in these verses we are told that the children of God love Him and keep His commandments.
Desire to Keep God’s Law. — In the Old Testament people were forced to keep the law as a moral responsibility. The Pharisees professed to love the law and they kept it outwardly, but there was no joy and no peace. They did it as a duty. But, when you are born into God’s family, doing God’s law becomes your desire. It is love that makes duty desire.
ILLUS: A young lady got a job typing manuscripts for an author. Then she fell in love with the author and they were married. What had previously been a duty now became the desire of her heart. She desired to please the one she loved.
That is what happens when we are born again. When the Bible says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain...” That is not a duty for us. It becomes the desire of our heart not to take His name in vain. When Jesus comes into your life and you are born into God’s family, the duty of the law becomes the deepest desire of your heart.
Delight to Keep God’s Law. — Jesus said in Matthew 23:3 that the Pharisees made religion a burden. However, Jesus came to teach us that through the new birth it becomes a joy to keep the commandments of God. God’s commandments are not designed to rob us of joy and happiness.
ILLUS: A child given command not to touch a hot stove. That command comes from a loving parent who is concerned for the child. The commandments of God come from a loving, heavenly Father who knows what is in the future and is concerned for His children.
Freedom. — John 8:31-32. The world clamors for liberty. Everybody wants to be free, to be loose from all restriction. But in their pursuit of liberty and freedom they want to do what they want in spite of the laws of God in their lives. Consequently they find themselves in the bondage of sin and the slavery of shame. A person finds great release and freedom and joy in submitting himself to the will of God. All of those who do not want to be Christians because they want to be “free” are to be pitied because they are under the most cruel of taskmakers.
III. APPROPRIATION OF GOD’S CONQUEST (vv. 4-5).
Three times in these verses John uses the word overcomes. That is to let us know that there is a real conflict going on. There is an unseen war that is raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. We fight three enemies; the world, the flesh and the devil. John writes these words to inform the children of God that everything necessary for victory has already been given to us.