Summary: "Laying down in a pig pen doesn't make you a pig; but you'll sure get up smelling like one" -Unknown
Looking back as we begin, at chapter 2 verse 28 of this letter, we see that John is exhorting his readers to “...abide in Him (Jesus); so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming”.
I think it is very appropriate to begin a sermon about our lifestyle as Christians, with this same exhortation. “Abide in Him”. Because, you see, all that I’m going to say to you today, and your success in following my counsel (should you choose to do so), hinges on whether or not you truly abide in Him.
Jesus is coming back, my friends. John was already looking forward to that day. He closed his account of the Revelation with the urgent prayer, “Amen, come Lord Jesus”. Now, we look forward to it; and since that day is so much closer now, we should be even more earnest and diligent in looking for His coming.
Well, John says, “...abide in Him; so that when He appears, we (you) may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at his coming”.
I can always tell, when I walk into a room where Nicole is, whether she’s been up to something she should not. She is a terrible liar (and that is a good thing, I think); she cannot hide her guilt from me.
I may not know immediately what she’s been up to, but when I walk in the door and she is in the process of standing, or coming away from some corner of the room, or stepping away from the cat or the dog, ...and our eyes meet... and without my saying anything she looks at me with as innocent a look as she can muster and asks, “what?” then I know something is amiss.
She is shrinking back in shame at my coming.
This is what John was talking about, in reference to our relationship to Christ. The big difference is, He knows exactly what we’re doing, as He will know at that moment he returns. We won’t be looking into His eyes and asking, “what?”, but I’m afraid that many of us will be shrinking away from Him in shame at His coming.
Let’s talk about why.
Now I want to point out first, that John is writing to the church. He is writing to Christians, and his message is not intended at all for the unsaved. Everything he is saying here is to and for the believer in Christ; partakers of the Divine Nature.
He is talking at some points about the unsaved, but not to the unsaved; and he is not talking about the unsaved as third parties, ‘out there somewhere’, he is giving information so that those who have attached themselves to the body of believers and yet are not truly believers themselves, may possibly recognize themselves in his words, and turn to the Lord.
Now we’ll take these verses, 7 - 10, and talk about them one at a time.
In verse 7 John says something that on the surface sounds like a ‘salvation by works’ doctrine. He says, “the one who practices righteousness is righteous”. Since we know that scripture does not contradict itself, and other scripture makes it very clear that we are saved by God’s grace through faith and not of works, then we have to look closer and be sure we are understanding John’s point.
To understand verse 7, it is helpful to go back once more to chapter 2; this time to verse 29.
“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
Here John is telling us that the evidence we see that convinces us that they are ‘born of God’, is that they practice righteousness. His kind of righteousness.
So in verse 7 of chapter three, he is only expounding on that point, and saying, Christ is righteous, therefore when you see someone practicing His kind of righteousness, then they must also be righteous.
One attribute of God, is that He is righteous altogether. So when someone habitually practices God’s kind of righteousness, it is evidence that the person practicing righteousness, is right, (or just) before God.
That is John’s point.
So with that in mind, move on to verse 8.
“...the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.”
So what is this saying to us? That if we sin, we are of the devil? No!
It is saying that those who are of the devil sin; and if someone habitually practices sin, that should tell us who they belong to...who their real master is.
If you can habitually practice sin; you who wear the label “Christian” ... you who attend church faithfully and talk the talk and attach yourself to the body like a leech ...