We should act like God’s children
- 3:1 You can see how much the Father loves us. He calls us his children. And that’s exactly what we are. The world doesn’t understand us because they don’t know the Father.
- 3:2 Dear friends, we are God’s children. We don’t know all that means. But we do know that when we see Jesus as he really is, we will become like him.
- 3:3 Everyone who believes this is going to act like it. They are going to follow his example and live a clean1 life.
- 3:4 Everyone who sins as though it doesn’t matter is wrong. It matters. When we sin, we break God’s law. It’s a fact.
- 3:5 You know that Jesus came here to get sin out of our lives. And you know that he lived a life without sinning.
- 3:6 No one who keeps in touch with Jesus keeps on sinning. People who keep on sinning don’t know him and have never met him.
- 3:7 Jesus is righteous; he does what is right. Whoever lives a righteous life is following his example. Dear children, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
How to spot a son of the devil
- 3:8 People who keep on sinning show they belong to the devil because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. God’s Son came here to put a stop to what the devil has been doing all along.
- 3:9 God’s children don’t keep on sinning. God gave them life. They have been born into his family. They can’t keep on sinning.
- 3:10 Here’s how you can tell the difference between a child of God and a child of the devil. Anyone who doesn’t live a righteous life and who doesn’t love others is not a child of God.
- 3:11 I’m not breaking new ground here. You have heard this message all along: love each other.
- 3:12 We’re not supposed to act like Cain, who murdered his own brother. Why did Cain do that? That’s the kind of life he lived, making bad choices. His brother was just the opposite, a righteous man.
- 3:13 Dear friends, don’t be surprised if people in this world hate you.
Hate leads to a death march
- 3:14 We have left the path that leads to death. We’re on the eternal life trail now. We know it because we fellow believers love each other. Anyone who doesn’t love their fellow believers is on a death march.2
- 3:15 Hating fellow believers is like killing them. It’s murder. No one with the spark of eternal life inside of them is going to commit murder.3
- 3:16 We know what love looks like. It looks like Jesus laying down his life for us. It’s up to us now to do the same, to be willing to lay down our lives for our fellow believers. We are to love them that much.
Put up and shut up
- 3:17 Anyone who has the assets to help a fellow believer who needs help, yet doesn’t do a thing, how could the love of God possibly exist in a person like that?
- 3:18 Dear children, don’t show others you love them by giving them a speech or by offering a few kind words. Put your love in action so they’ll know it’s true love.
Our conscience isn’t always right
- 3:19 That’s how we’ll know we’ve got it right, and we’re guided by truth. And that’s why our conscience can relax in God’s presence.
- 3:20 Our conscience might condemn us from time to time. But God knows more than our conscience does. He knows everything. So, relax and be at peace.
- 3:21 Once we assure our conscience, it stops condemning us. Then we can come to God with confidence.
- 3:22 God will give us whatever we ask because we obey him and live the kind of life that makes him happy with us.
- 3:23 This is what God wants us to do: trust his Son, Jesus Christ and love each other. That last commandment comes from Jesus himself.
- 3:24 Anyone who obeys God is spiritually linked to him, united. God lives in that person. God’s Spirit and the spirit of that person become one, making decisions together. We know this because the Spirit God gave us lives inside of us.
The Greek word is hagnos. It can mean morally pure, innocent, modest, and even perfect.
This sounds a bit like what Jesus said in John 5:24.
The sounds similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-26.
John says, “The world doesn’t understand us because they don’t know the Father” (3:1). How do we Christians confuse people outside the faith? What do we do or refuse to do that leaves them shaking their heads and perplexed?
“But we do know that when we see Jesus as he really is, we will become like him” (3:2). Really? Like Jesus in what way? What do you think people think life will be like in the next lifetime and what our bodies will be like? (See first Corinthians 15:35 and following).
How do you react to what John says in 1 John 3:6? “No one who keeps in touch with Jesus keeps on sinning. People who keep on sinning don’t know him and have never met him.”
Do you think Jesus accomplished this goal: “God’s Son came here to put a stop to what the devil has been doing all along” (3:8)?
John says hate is like murder. Then he uses the example of Cain murdering his brother Abel as a way of reminding us that we’re supposed to love each other and not kill each other. Think about that metaphor. In what way is hate like murder?
John doesn’t seem like he’d be fond of the old saying, “Let your conscience be your guide.” He says, “Our conscience might condemn us from time to time. But God knows more than our conscience does. He knows everything. So, relax and be at peace. Once we assure our conscience, it stops condemning us” (3:20-21). He says the way we assure our conscience is by putting our love into action (3:18). Why do you think our conscience might wrongly condemn Christians for doing what they’re supposed to be doing?
LIFE APPLICATION. John says the way to tell the difference between a child of God and a child of the devil is that, “Anyone who doesn’t live a righteous life and who doesn’t love others is not a child of God” (3:10). That’s pretty broad. Can we narrow that down a bit? What are other measuring devices we can use to tell if someone is a true Christian or a true unbeliever?
LIFE APPLICATION. John says that people with the resources to help a fellow believer in need should do it, not by “giving them a speech or by offering a few kind words. Put your love in action so they’ll know it’s true love” (3:18). When have you personally seen someone do that this past week?
LIFE APPLICATION. The chapter ends with John making a mystical statement that can seem hard to understand. “Anyone who obeys God is spiritually linked to him, united. God lives in that person. God’s Spirit and the spirit of that person become one, making decisions together” (3:24). How can we explain that connection to someone who doesn’t feel as though they have it?