Wednesday, July 9, 2008

1 John, Chapter 3

This particular chapter of the book of 1 John is a little confusing in its nature. In it, we are told that once we become a child of God, we cannot sin. I find this confusing because I know that it is impossible for us to be perfect because of our human nature. We can only be perfect once we are like Christ. We see here that this is not promised until he appears.

2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3

We are then told in verse six that no one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. It seems like this is almost contradictory because we don’t know what we will be like until Christ returns. I think that maybe this is a vision of the future for what life will be like once He returns. In our bodies, we cannot possibly be made pure except through the blood of Christ. We are purified only by hope in him, and not by anything we do. Once we accept this, however, we can eventually made pure and sinless upon His return. I think that John sees this as the idyllic glimpse of a world without sin. Obviously, this is something that we cannot imagine. As long as sin exists in the world, it will taint us.

A lot of this deals with the idea of two births. In our first birth, our human birth, we are born into sin. We cannot escape this on our own. It takes a second birth, the birth in God mentioned in verse 9, to change things.

8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. – 1 John 3:8-9

We have seen illustrations of the power of sin all over the Bible. To me, it is something that is difficult to comprehend because we are fallen from the beginning. We have no choice but to be born into sin, and because of that, we are powerless to break free of that. Still, we see not only God’s power to break through that, but His mercy at His willingness to do so. To me, it is His mercy that is even more astounding than His power. He has no individual need for us, yet He loves us as His own and sacrificed so much to save us.

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. -- 1John 3:16

Take a look at the symmetry found in this verse. John 3:16 is arguably the most famous verse in Scripture. 1 John 3:16 is very similar in describing that love one more time. The Bible is God’s love letter to His people. Therefore, what else can we do but love him back and give him our all?

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