Summary: 1 John: Chapter Three
1 John: Chapter Three
DOL produces Holiness (26-28 – 3:3)
In this new section John addresses the believers as little children, and commands them to abide or persevere so that (purpose) they have confidence when he returns. He knows that there will be people who will shrink back when Christ returns (Mat 7:21-23). The whole context, before and after (12-20; 24-27), is about the necessity of obedience for following Jesus. He is commanding them to abide or persevere, walk in the light, in the truth, or Christ likeness (4:17). A life of obedience is what gives us confidence on the DOL (1 John 3:2). Then he points to the ground of our obedience, we have been begotten (perfect passive verb) by God. Obedience is proof of paternity but obedience is not the ultimate ground or foundation. The ultimate ground of our assurance is what God has done for us (2:29). Obedience arises because we have been born of God. It is the prior work of God that gives us our confidence (5:1; John 1:13). New birth is a transformation of desires, appetites, etc (3:9) which will be completed on the day of Christ (3:2). Listen and let this soak in. It is seeing and and savoring Jesus for all that he is for us and promises for us for that makes us Christ like. The goal of our salvation, outside of glorifying God, is Christ likeness including all that happens to us (Rom 8:28-32). What brings this about on the DOL is the sight of Jesus unaffected or untainted by sin. The fog of sin will be removed and the experience of him will be so intense that we will become like him (1 Cor 3:18). The principle for today is that we become what we admire most. So this future hope (faith looks forward to the promise) for pursuing holiness today (v. 3).
Definition and source of sin 4-10
Sin is defined as lawlessness. Again he is talking about sin as a way of life (present active verb) or continuing in sin in same way as we did prior to Christ. He supports his argument for not sinning by stating the purpose Christ came was to take away sin. Again, John is black and white – if you abide in him you will not continue in sin. If you claim to abide in him or walk in the light and keep on sinning then the only conclusion is that he has not seen Christ as he truly is (3:2), you are not a Christian. Apparently the false teachers were deceiving people into thinking that sin did not affect ones standing with God (6-7). The character of our lives points to the source of life, either God or the devil. The very reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. The works of the devil, in context, is sin. That is why a genuine follower of Christ cannot continue with a life of sin. John sees being begotten (aorist passive) as such a radical change that there is a break with sin as a way of life, he cannot go on sinning (9). The characteristic of our lives points to paternity; is evidence for paternity suit: one who does not live righteously or does not love is not child of God. But again assurance is not based upon works as much as works points to paternity.
Love One another 11-18
The basic message and theme of the Christian life is to love one another. The whole bible can be summed up in the two greatest commandments. John cites the example of Cain, described as ‘of the devil, who killed his brother because his brother was righteous and he was evil.’ Again actions point to paternity. He applies this as a general principle, ‘do not be surprised the world hates you (negative promise).’ He equates hate with murder, and no murderer can possibly be a genuine Christian – described as having eternal life abiding in him.
The example of love is Christ himself, sacrificing his life for us. Love shows a concern for those who lack and seeks to meet their need. The whole point can be summarized as genuine love is not what we profess but what we live.
Assurance and Love (19-24)
This last section has two themes – assurance before God and love for fellow believers. Confidence before God frees us to love others. Gods love for us and his commitment to us frees us to love others sacrificially (4:9). It frees us to trust the promises of God over the promises of sin. Our confidence even strengthens when we love others because we have confidence that we are in the truth and know God. The nature of assurance comes from a genuine love for others. If we are genuinely love lacking our heart condemns us because we do not do what we know we should do. If someone is not following Christ we should give them no assurance. The word, condemn, literally means to know against. Our hearts or conscious sees the disconnect and condemns us. The reason we must love in deed and truth and thereby assure our hearts before God that we are in truth (18) is this – if our hearts condemn us for lack of love (as in the example given in 17), it is because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. In essences our hearts echo God’s opinion of us.