2 November 2018

1 John 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

In 1 John 1 the author focused on the analogy that a believer no longer walks in darkness but now in light, having recognised that they are a sinner whose sins have been forgiven. In chapter 2, John explained in more detail what walking in the light looks like, namely calling us to obey God’s commands and love each other. He pointed out that if someone claims to be in the light but hates their brother, they still walk in darkness (verse 9). Chapter 3 circles back again to the message of the previous two chapters, but now goes into more depth.

John starts chapter 3 by declaring the great love the Father has for His children (verse 1) and reminds us that although we are still sinful people now, we will one day see Jesus for who He is and we will be like Him. After a reminder that anyone who continues to live in sin cannot truly know God, John spends the next 13 verses (verses 11-24) talking about what it means to love one another. He starts off with an obvious example: don’t be like Cain and murder your brother. We read this and smugly think, “no problem, I’ve never killed anyone.” But now we’re told that Cain’s real issue wasn’t just his actions, but his heart. He belonged to the evil one (verse 12) and his deeds reflected his heart’s allegiance. Do mine? Do yours? Verse 15 says that in God’s eyes, hating a fellow believer is murdering them. We have all been tempted to hate someone, whether in a fleeting moment when they’ve cut us off in traffic or over a period of time when we see a loved one hurt. Now we’re given the ultimate example of Jesus, who showed His love by giving his life for those who hated Him (verse 16). As we live out our faith practically, we can’t and won’t always get it right. In fact, we may start to doubt if we are believers at all. John offers encouragement in this area too: God is greater even than our hearts (verse 20) and He wants us to seek Him to meet all our needs, asking Him for help (verse 22).

In order to drive the point home, John leaves the punchline for last – we have help to obey God’s commands and love others. We don’t have to do it on our own, and in fact it is impossible for us to obey on our strength alone. God has given us the Holy Spirit, who works in and through us, producing fruit that proves Jesus lives in us (verse 24). Praise the Lord! May we go forward living out our true identity as children of God!

Dear Lord, thank You for not leaving us in the dark, but for calling us to the light. Help us to live out our identity in You by obeying Your commands and loving one another! Amen