Children of God
1 John 3:1a ESV
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
How do we become children of God? By faith in Jesus Christ. But, this faith is not human faith. It is not a feeling or an experience or an intellectual assent to who Jesus is. And, we don’t get to determine for ourselves what that faith should look like, because the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God.
So, what do the scriptures teach regarding who the children of God are?
In Romans 8 we read that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins). But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (with Christ for eternity). For we are children of God, provided we suffer with Christ in order that we may also be glorified with him (Rom. 8:1-17).
And, further on down in this passage in 1 John 3 we read that whoever makes a practice (habit, lifestyle) of sinning is of the devil, but whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as God is righteous.
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 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” (1 John 3:9-10).
But, this is not our own doing. This is not about us just following a set of rules, nor is it about us trying to earn our salvation by good works.
For, the only way we can become children of God is that Jesus had to first die on a cross for our sins that we might become the righteousness of God. He had to give his life up for us so that we would now become God’s possession so that we might glorify God with our lives (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:14).
So, all this comes from him. By faith in Jesus Christ we are delivered out of our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and we are empowered of God to walk righteously before him, to follow him in his ways and in his truth.
We just have to yield control of our lives over to the Lord and let him be Lord of our lives. And, then we just have to do what he says in his power and strength at work within us. All glory to God! (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Lu. 9:23-26).
They Don’t Know Us
1 John 3:1b ESV
“The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
“The world” does not just consist of those who have made no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said the world hated him, and yet his greatest persecutors were those who professed faith in God the Father – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. And, they were leaders within the temple of God.
So, “the world” includes all who are still of the world in how they think, act, speak and live their lives.
They don’t know us. And, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know who we are. They are acquainted with us because we are their family members, or their neighbors, or their co-workers, or their fellow attendees at gatherings of the church. So, they know us, but they don’t really know us, for they don’t get us. They don’t understand what makes us tick or why we do the things we do. The way we live our lives doesn’t make sense to them.
So, they see us as out-of-touch with the world, as oddballs, as social misfits, and as those whose behaviors seem out of place to them. They may even think we are foolish or crazy. For they don’t understand why we do the things we do, i.e. why we live separate from the world of sin and unto God. They may not realize that we are living with purpose and that it is our intent to live apart from the world of sin and unto God, to which he has called us.
But, one of the reasons that the world, including the worldly adulterous church, might see us as odd, out-of-touch with reality, and as social misfits is that they don’t really know Jesus, either. They may claim to know him. They may read their Bibles and pray. They may attend gatherings of the church and even serve in positions of ministry or leadership, and still not know Jesus intimately, personally, which is why they don’t get him, either.
When Jesus walked the face of this earth, though at times he had large crowds following him, few really knew him intimately. Few really understood the passion of his heart, and who he truly was, and why he did things the way he did, and said things the way he did, too. For, many thought he was crazy, or of the devil, or odd, or out-of-touch with the world, too.
So, don’t be surprised, if you are truly following Jesus with your life, that you are not going to “fit” even with those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who are still living and thinking and behaving like the world. Don’t be surprised if they exclude you, if they shy away from you, if they think you are odd, and even if they hate and persecute you for your walk of faith with Jesus Christ, for this is what the religious, but worldly, did to Jesus, too.
He Purifies Himself
1 John 3:2-3 ESV
“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. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
As God’s children, we are called to be a holy people, set apart from the world and unto God, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. Although we live in the world, and among the people of the world, we are to live separate (unlike, different) from the world.
So, we should stand out as odd. We shouldn’t blend in with everyone else. We shouldn’t be ones that people flock to, nor should we be well liked by everyone.
And, that is because we shouldn’t be walking according to the flesh anymore, but we should be walking according to the Spirit. We should be purifying ourselves as Jesus is pure, via walks of obedience to our Lord, in his power and strength at work within us.
And, the more we grow in our faith and in fellowship with the Lord, the more we should be separating ourselves from the world of sin, and the more we should be becoming like Jesus.
So, we shouldn’t be viewing junk, taking in the garbage of the world, watching movies and videos which are contrary to holy living and to purity. We shouldn’t be listening to songs which glorify the flesh and which dishonor our Lord. We shouldn’t be playing games or watching movies or reading books that wander into what is of Satan, of demons and the occult, either.
We should measure all that we take into our minds, eyes, ears and hearts against the scriptures, in prayer, seeking God’s face, listening to what our Lord says, and then do what he says regarding what needs to be cut out of our lives and what we need to do in order to purify ourselves as he is pure.
Don’t worry about appearing odd or as a social misfit. Don’t worry about losing friends or having people reject you. It is Jesus we must serve! It is Jesus we must please, not the world. As children of God we are to die to the things of this world so that we can live in purity of devotion to our Lord. For, Jesus called us out of the world.
He didn’t put us here on this earth to blend in with the world or to immerse ourselves in our culture so that the people of this world will like us. We are to be leading people to Jesus, not to us.
And, leading them to Jesus is not leading them to a Jesus who just forgives them but who makes no requirements of them regarding walks of purity and of holiness. We need to be leading them to the Jesus of scripture who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (out of sin into walks of obedience and surrender to him).
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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