Summary: Everything has what we consider to be identifying marks or characteristics--things that make them distinguishable from other things. In the same manner, the child of God should exhibit traits that set them apart from the world.


Text: I John 3: 1-2

Intro: The characteristics of a thing help us not only recognize it, but also to define it. This is especially true with people. Our physical characteristics as well as our individual personality define who we are. There are certain traits about every individual or thing that makes them unique.

This same idea can equally apply to the year 2001. In the next few days, the major news agencies of our country will likely recount to the nation the outstanding characteristics of this year. They will seek to journalistically identify and define the qualities that make 2001 different from other years. They will do this of course, by looking backward.

However, the “talking heads” of our day won’t stop with a look backward. They will seek to look forward into 2002, and tell us what we can expect. Certain determinations and expectations will be formulated about the coming year based upon the events of this year.

God’s children need to do much the same thing with reference to their Christian life and testimony. We need to look forward as well as back. All of us will no doubt find failures in our lives as we look back upon this past year. But we must be careful not to permit our failures to destroy our determination to go forward for God in the coming new year. We need to ask God to produce some distinguishing Christian characteristics in us during the year ahead.

Theme: May God help us this coming year to distinguish ourselves by:


A. Our Life Must Have A Godly Pattern.

I John 3: 3 “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

NOTE: [1] The word “purifieth” speaks of moral cleanness. This word speaks of “entire purification, not merely from unchastity, but from all defilement of flesh and spirit.” 1 In other words, this speaks not merely of surface purity, but also in the areas of ones life that are not readily seen.

[2] Christ is our pattern of purity. John’s basic thought here is that everyone who possesses the expectation of seeing Christ in heaven and being like Him, will seek to pattern their lives after His purity of life.

[3] The fact that you live better than someone else isn’t the issue. Other people aren’t the pattern. Christ is the pattern.

Lev.19: 2 “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.”

II Cor.3: 18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

[4] Of II Corinthians 3: 18, Matthew Henry says, “We behold Christ, as in the glass of his word; and as the reflection from a mirror causes the face to shine, the faces of Christians shine also.” 2

B. Our Life Must Have A Godly Practice.

Ps.19: 14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

NOTE: Mere words won’t cut it with the lost world.

Life’s Onlookers

A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.

C.H. Spurgeon

1. Sin is not the norm for the saint.

I John 3: 5 “And ye know that he (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6a Whosoever abideth in him (Jesus) sinneth not…

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he (Jesus) is righteous.


9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

NOTE: [1] The words “abideth” and “sinneth” in verse six are in a tense of the Greek that indicate habitual and continuous action. In other words, what is being spoken of here is not merely an occurrence, but a practice.

[2] John is saying that since Jesus died to take away our sins, the “…Christian as a habit of life is abiding in fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Sin may at times enter his life. But sin is the exception, not the rule…The child of God as a habit of life, does righteousness, and sin is not a habit with him” 3

2. Sin is the norm for the lost sinner.

I John 3: 4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

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