Family Resemblance (1 John 2:28-3:10)

2016-week-44If you were to meet my family, it would be clear I am my parent’s son. I have been told by numerous people I look like both my father and my mother. People have even remarked I have the humor of my father. In my looks and actions there is a resemblance to my father and mother. It is clear I am their son. As we continue in our expedition through 1 John we see evidence we are genuine Christians is that we resemble our Lord. What particular ways are we told we resemble Him? We resemble our God in righteousness (2:29, 3:7) and in purity (3:3). Of course, no one resembles and reflects the character of God perfectly. The reality is we all have failed to obey God. Therefore, the confidence we have in Christ’s coming is not our righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ. The object or our confidence is that we are abiding in Him. Because we have been saved by the grace of God through Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a righteous life. If we live a life in accordance with God’s Word, it is because we have been loved by the Father who has caused us to be born again (2:29–3:1). Because of God, we can be called His children. We were once those who lived a lifestyle of sin. Our lives were characterized by living for self, ignoring and rebelling against the law of God (3:4). When God saved us, though, our hearts and lives were changed. Do we still struggle with sin? Yes. The Apostle John reminds us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (3:2). Our salvation is based on who Christ is and what He has done. As those who have been saved by God, we are growing in Christlikeness but we are still a work in progress. We look forward with our hope in Christ that one day sin will be totally defeated and we will see Christ and be like Him. In the meantime, we are called to resemble Christ by growing in purity by obeying God’s Word in our desires and actions. As we have learned in this letter, however, there are those who have been within the Christian community who are not genuine Christians (see 1 John 2:19). For that reason, John wants to be clear those who abide in a lifestyle of unrepentant and continual sin are not those who know Christ (3:6–9a). Instead, those who practice sinning as a lifestyle are revealed as children of the devil. The father of lies is the one these people resemble. What this means is in terms of spiritual family resemblance, there are only two options: either you are a child or God or you are a child of the devil. The humbling truth is we all either were or are children of the devil. For those who still live a sinful lifestyle, you are children of the evil one. For those who have repented of their sinful lifestyle and have turned to Christ, you can be sure you are saved by the Holy One who took away our sins (3:5a) and who destroyed the works of Satan by His coming (3:8c). God through Christ has adopted us into His family. This presses home the question: Which family do you belong to? As John summarizes it succinctly, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (3:10). Who are you resembling?

Reflection Questions:

  • How does the truth of 1 John 3:2 serve as an encouragement and reassurance for Christians?
  • Is your life characterized by a desire to walk a life of righteousness and purity or of regularly giving into your fleshly desires? What does this say about who you resemble?
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