Beloved Children of God
1 John 3:1-3
See what great 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 John 3:1 NIV)
1 John 3:1
Realising afresh the immensity of God’s love for sinners in giving his one and only Son to be their Redeemer, the apostle exclaims: Unbounded love, immeasurable love, and undeserved love. This is the nature of the love bestowed upon us as those who are closest and dearest to our heavenly Father’s heart. So great—so infinitely great—is God’s love toward us: a love based upon what his Son has done for us, and on what he sees in us of his only Son.
Once, we were sinners at enmity with God, and abiding under the wrath of God. Yet, now, we who deserved no mercy have found mercy. (Col. 1:21-22)
More than this, however, God has not only been merciful to us in drawing us to himself by his Holy Spirit, he has also given us his Holy Spirit to indwell our hearts and lives. Through his indwelling and sanctifying presence and power, the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the unbounded love of God in our hearts. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!
Even more than this—we are now God’s children! We—who once despised the name of Jesus, or ignored the work of Christ—are now the children of God and joint-heirs with Christ! Great beyond measure is the Father’s love for such as we! (Rom. 8:16-17)
This is what the Father, in his grace, has made us: not strangers, not friends, but children! What closer relationship can we bear to our heavenly Father than this?
The apostle John tells these believers (and us) not to be surprised that they are no friends of the world. The reason that the world of sinful men and women does not know the believer—i.e., does not acknowledge God’s children or desire to associate closely with them—is that it did not know him (i.e., it refused to acknowledge Jesus and his claims on their lives).
Just as the world despised and rejected the holy Son of God, so too the world will despise and reject the redeemed and adopted children of God. Just as the world humiliated the Lord Jesus and treated him with contempt, so too the world will shamefully treat and wrongfully accuse his followers. The world did not know him because it did not want to know him. The very presence of the holy and sinless Son of God brought to fallen mankind a tremendous realisation of sin and guilt. Of these things, however, they did not desire to be reminded. In like manner—because, as believers, we represent the name of Christ—we too are making the world feel uncomfortable in our presence. Therefore, the world does not want to know us.
In verse 2, the apostle John continues:
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 NIV)
1 John 3:2
Sonship is not something that awaits us in the future. It is not something laid up for us in glory. No, at this very moment, …we are children of God—and have been since our new birth. As yet, the Lord has not revealed to us what we will become finally. However, as the apostle Paul says (quoting Isa. 64:4):
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9 NIV)
One day, all those things that now cause us sorrow, suffering, grief, pain and anguish—together with all those things that allure us and tempt us to sin—will affect us no more. Whatever else may escape us; whatever things we cannot now comprehend—this much we do know:
…when he appears, we shall be like him….
Our struggles with sin and temptation will be over for ever. When the Lord delivers us from this earthly tent or tabernacle (our bodies), he shall free us forever from the remaining shackles of sin and from the effects of sin. At his appearing, he shall transform us. He shall change or transfigure us into his likeness. He shall make this mortal body immortal; and he shall clothe this corruptible body with incorruption. Then, with great glory, he shall present us faultless and blameless before the throne of God, with rejoicing. (1 Cor. 15:35-58)
In verse 3, the apostle continues this train of thought:
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3 NIV)
1 John 3:3
Everyone who looks forward eagerly to the final redemption of the children of God, purifies himself. The sanctifying effect of God’s Word and God’s promises together with the atoning work of Christ cleanses the soul from sin, doubt, fear and uncertainty. The daily application of these spiritual truths creates a life that is being purified—or sanctified—for God by his Holy Spirit.
(Extract from Gordon Lyons’ Expository Notes: 1 John, chapter 3. Read or download the full version of these Notes from this website under NT Commentaries: 1 John.)Follow @gordon_lyons