The Way - Day 205 (1 John 3)

Daily Reading:
1 John 3
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read 1 John 3:2 aloud. What was Jesus like when the disciples last saw Him? What hints might this text give us about our resurrection bodies?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 100:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 24:16
OPTION 3: Matthew 7:5-6
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for 1 John 3 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
1 John 2:28-3:9
Although we are not certain about the specific recipients of John's letter, we can conclude that he was writing to Christians who may have been the target of false teachers. As an apostle of Jesus Christ who personally witnessed His earthly ministry, John was convinced that Jesus' teachings were true and that eternal life only came through belief in Him (1:1-4). So, in order to guard the words of God, John wrote to expose deceitful men who claimed to represent God, but did not follow His ways. John used the words of this letter to reveal the true nature of those who love and follow God - belief in Jesus' humanity as well as His deity (1:1-4), belief in the sinfulness of all men (1:5-2:2), obedience to God's commandments (2:3-6), and love for others (2:7-11). These characteristics will be demonstrated in genuine believers.
In 1 John 2:18-27 John acknowledges that false teachings and teachers have existed from the beginning of the human race and will continue until the last days; however, believers need to know the truth in order to recognize error. Since God is true and His words are also true, believers must constantly expose themselves to God's written word. Why should believers remain in the truth? John answers this question when he writes, "And now, little children, abide [continue] in Him, that when He [Jesus] appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming [rapture, see also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (2:28-29). This concept should be obvious. Those who love God will obey and follow His ways.

In an expression of worship, John reminds his readers about God's love for them, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him" (3:1). In his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus, John had dedicated much of his writing to exposing God's love for mankind (John 3:16-17) as well as the privilege of those who believe being adopted into God's family (John 1:12). We have not yet experienced the fullness of being God's children, "but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (3:2-3). Our present bodies are subject to sin, sickness, and weakness but when Jesus returns for those who believe in Him, we will receive new bodies. Paul writes about how our bodies will change at Jesus' return, "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Knowing that Jesus will return for believers should challenge them to live according to God's ways.

In reality, John is trying to tell his readers that the way of sin and God's ways are very different paths which cannot be traveled at the same time. Although believers still struggle with sin, the ways of the world (1 John 2:15-17) do not characterize their lifestyle. For this reason John writes, "Whoever [habitually] commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not [habitually] sin. Whoever [habitually] sins has neither seen Him nor known Him" (3:4-6). Returning to his warnings about the false teachers, John reveals why they cannot be children of God, "Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (3:7-8). John's message is very evident. Those who have become the children of God through repentance of sin and belief in Jesus do not live according to the world's ways (3:9).

1 John 3:10-24
One of John's major purposes in writing this letter to Christians was to reveal the true character of those who follow Christ, while also exposing the false teachings of deceitful men who were attempting to infiltrate the church. Although these false teachers claimed that their message was from God, their lives did not reflect His ways. So far in his writing, John has said that those who believe in Jesus (1:1-2:2) will obey His commandments (2:3-6, 24-29; 3:1-9) which is expressed in love for God and love for others (2:7-11). In the next few verses John instructs his readers a little further on the true nature of love when he writes, "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother" (3:10). Those who do not love others are not in fellowship with God. John then illustrates this concept with the Old Testament example of Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:3-5). Even though Cain brought an offering to "worship" the Lord, his murderous actions against his brother demonstrated his true nature (3:11-12). When a so-called "believer" says that he loves God but continually hates others, his actions reveal that he is not a child of God. Furthermore, John writes, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever [continually] hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (3:14-15). John's teaching is very simple. Those who love others show that they also love God; however, those whose lifestyle is defined by hatred reveal that they are not children of God.

In case his readers did not completely understand love, John provides the perfect illustration of true love, "By this we know love, because He [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (3:16). Jesus sacrificed His life in order to provide life for those who would believe, so true love is self-sacrificing; in other words, true love willingly places the needs of others above our own. In order to further illustrate the true nature of love John writes, "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (3:17-18). When a person truly loves others, he cannot ignore their cries for help - he takes action to provide for their needs. Loving others in this way brings "assurance" of our relationship with God (3:19). Even though we may doubt God at times, a continual demonstration of love toward others provides confidence that we really do love and know God (3:20-21). Not only does love for others bring assurance of our love for God, but also answered prayer (3:22).

In the final two verses of chapter 3, John reviews the three major indicators of someone who is a child of God: belief in Jesus Christ (3:23a), love for others (3:23b), and obedience to God's commandments (3:24). Examine your heart and actions. Are you believing, loving, and obeying? If not, begin today.

Dear God, help my belief in You to lead to more love for others and more obedience to Your ways.