You Look Like Your Dad! (I John 3:1-12)
November 27, 2016, 3:27 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

I John is written to cast God’s spotlight on a form of false teaching, Gnosticism, that existed among the believers of the early church. Since there had never been “Christians” before Christ built the church, believers faced the enticement of false teachers which would damage the these “little children”. God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, instructed these believers to two practical moral tests to validate their reality of their faith.
The verse that unlocks the two moral tests in I John 3:10, “in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
The first test is: “True Christians practice righteous living” and the second is “True Christians loves other Christians”. In John 3, the first ten verses focus on the right living and verses 11 and 12 start the section about loving other Christians.
The Gnostics claimed man is divided into a “dualism”: the material and the spirit. While that is true, the problem with the Gnostics was their position that the material (body) is evil and no one can change that, so we should just fulfill its lusts. But the spirit is totally detached from the body, so it suffers no consequences of sin. So here is what Gnosticism taught- a person could sin all he wanted without it ever affecting him.
John, again led by the Holy Spirit, said that true Christianity and sin are incompatible. A true Christian, one who has a relationship with God has the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives them the desire to avoid sin and the new nature which enables them to live in the right relationship with God and with other believers. Since we are Christ-like ones, we behave like God’s sons and daughters.
In this passage are two controversial statements that are difficult to understand. In verse 6 the assertion is made that if we live in Christ, we don’t sin. In verse 9, we read that whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin. In simple, common language, verse 6 tells us sin is incompatible for a Christian and verse 9 tells us that it is impossible to be a Christian who sins.
What is a good understanding of these two concepts? I think the best understanding is that the “sin” here is habitual sin. In this passage, John is talking about practicing sin as a way of life. Verse 6 literally translates, “whoever abides in him does not continually, habitually practice sin” while verse 9 translates as “whoever is born of God doesn’t continually, habitually practice sin.”
As a Christian, we sometimes sin, and sometimes it is deliberate. However, unlike the lost, true Christians will respond (eventually) with grief and repentance over their sin. Sometimes, the lost will show grief and remorse over the consequences of sin. Let me insert this important concept into this examination of the passage. What about the good and righteous actions of the unsaved? Isaiah 64:6 tells us that those are as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. But what John teaches us in I John 3:1-10 is that true Christians don’t live lives of habitual sin.
In verses 4 to 10, John teaches us that true followers of Christ can’t habitually practice sin because it is incompatible with the law of God, the work of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In verse 4, the correct understanding is that the person who is continually doing actions that break God’s standards because they live as if there were no law of God. “Transgresseth” is the Greek word “anomia” which means “without law” or “lawlessness”. While the Bible gives many definitions for the word “sin” perhaps we find the best one in verse 4. Sin is to live without law. To live with law is to live as if God doesn’t exist. A Christian, in a relationship with God, could never habitually practice sin as if God doesn’t exist would be violating the very nature of His relationship with God. To sin is open rebellion against God. The continually sin is declared war against God. In our relationship with God, He enables us to have the capability to obey and do what is right in God’s sight. Paul writes in Romans 7:22 that he delighted in the law of God, but struggled at times to obey and do it. He saw himself as a “wretched man” because of his failure to obey God’s law because he loved the law. Romans 7 is Paul trying to fulfill the law on his own but in Romans 8, we see God the Holy Spirit fulfilling the law through me. As a Christian, that’s how we are to live. True believers follow God and false believers stand out because they habitually practice sin.
A second reason that believers don’t practice sin is because it is incompatible with the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to take away sin. When we are in Him, there is no sin. To continue in sins would make the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus pointless. I love the part of the verse, that says “to take away our sins” because it means “to remove by lifting”. Same word as in John 1:29 which talked about the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus took our sins off us and took them on Himself on the cross.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” How did Jesus do that? When He died on the cross, He bore our sins in His body. He lifted them off us and took them on Himself. The minute we are saved, sin’s dominant power in our lives was broken. We no longer sin because it is our nature, but sin because we choose to. But if we sin habitually, that is proof we have never received salvation based on Christ. We are servants to the one that we yield ourselves to.
The final thing is that sin in a believer’s life is incompatible with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We become “new creatures” with the Holy Spirit within us. We are partakers of the divine nature. We are new creations, in Christ Jesus. Sin no longer controls us. We start looking like our Father.
In I John 3, verse 11 we are told that since we are new creatures, no longer control by sin, we are free to love one another. The freedom to love as Christ loved is the result of the Holy Spirit’s control in our lives.
A common thing is to tell parents of a newborn is that he or she looks just like them. As the child gets older, appearance and conduct reminds people of a parent. Who do you remind people of?


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