What to watch for below: I have chosen a few worship songs that I believe will help us turn our hearts to Jesus and prepare us to hear His Word in the following video message. I am taking another look at 1 John 3:2-10, but this time focusing on three reasons Jesus appeared to this world. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in Christ’s righteousness. When Jesus returns may He find us faithful.
Press the arrow below to hear the Closing Prayer and Benediction
Sermon Manuscript ~ “The Test of Being a Child of God”
Text: 1 John 3:2-10
Jesus a World Conqueror?
How much do you value your freedom? God created us to have relationship with Him and with each other. How much are you willing to sacrifice to keep those freedoms? Will a few months of isolation and social distancing be worth the effort to destroy a virus that is trying to keep us apart? Will our efforts be worth it? What are the risks if we don’t comply? How much do you value your life and your freedoms?
For millennia, world leaders have arisen to become famous (or infamous) for their exploits in trying to improve the life and freedoms of their own people. You might have heard of some of these conquerors: Cyrus the Great 580-529 BC; Atilla the Hun 406-453 BC; Alexander the Great 356-323 BC; Roman Emperors Julius Caesar & Augustus Caesar 63 BC-14 AD; Charlemagne 742-814; Genghis Khan 1162-1227AD; British Monarchs William the Conqueror, Richard I, Edward I, Henry V; and French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821AD. Of course, this list is incomplete, and you may argue that some names should be added here. I believe a prominent name that is missing is that of Jesus the Christ (4 BC – 30 AD).
Many do not see Jesus as a world conqueror. He did not lead a rebellion to overthrow the Roman Empire, but for two millennia His teaching of the Kingdom of God, His life of compassion, the nature of His death, His resurrection from the grave, His ascension into Heaven, and the sending of His Holy Spirit to birth His Church has left an unalterable course for mankind which is leading to His return. This is what the apostle John saw in Revelation and what he has written in his God-inspired gospel and letters to the churches. Do you really know why Jesus appeared in this world?
Jesus Appears for Three Reasons
The apostle John reveals three reasons Jesus appeared in his first letter of John in chapter 3:2-10, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
1. To Take Away our Sins
The apostle John makes it clear in this passage that Jesus has appeared for three reasons. First, in verse 5a, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Jesus came to free mankind from sin.The word “sins” comes from the Greek word “hamartia” which means “missing the mark” (used in ancient Greek archery) and leads to a disqualification. Sinning against God is missing His perfect target for your life. God’s target is having you live in His will by trusting in Him and obeying His laws.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, a step by step understanding of how Jesus took away our sin. Christians call this the Roman Road of salvation or freedom from sin. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin separates us from God’s perfection and holiness. Paul continues in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here’s the good news in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul continues in Romans 10:9, 10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Have you accepted Jesus’s death on the cross for your sins? Are you saved from sin and its everlasting separation from God? I want to encourage you to pause right here and in prayer (talking to God) ask Jesus to take away your sins in your life and accept His forgiveness by praying, “Jesus I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I accept you as my Saviour and LORD. Thank you for saving me from God’s wrath and making me a child of God. I ask for your Holy Spirit to give me new life and lead me to live for You. Amen.” If you prayed this prayer from your heart you are now a child of God free from the penalty of your sins. Hallelujah! Go tell, text or message someone about this right now!
2. To Destroy the Devil’s Work
Secondly, Jesus appeared not only to take away sins, but to destroy the devil’s work. We read in verse 8, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” What is the devil’s work? His work from the beginning has been to exalt himself above God and to disobey God’s will making himself a “god.” The devil’s work is “selfish pride.” The apostle John records Jesus’s teaching on being a Shepherd to helpless sheep and guarding against the devil in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
When we pray to receive Jesus as our Saviour, and become a child of God, He will constantly make us aware of how the devil is trying to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives. The devil will tempt a child of God to sin because sin will separate us from God’s plan and the fullness of Jesus’s life in us. Jesus will make us aware of these battles against the devil through His Holy Spirit in order to destroy any foothold or stronghold that the devil is trying to get in our hearts, souls and minds.
In the rest of our Scripture passage for today John engages in this battle against the devil and sin by imposing a test of authenticity upon the churches he is writing to. John wants the churches to know who is a true child of God and who is counterfeit. Can you tell the difference?
The American Banking Association in their training program to help tellers never look at a counterfeit bill. All they do hour after hour, day after day, is handle authentic currency until they are so familiar with the true that they cannot possibly be fooled with the false.
John’s test of authenticity is correctly stated this way by Bible commentator and preacher Robert Law from his book of sermons – “The Tests of Life: A study of the First Epistle of St. John” – “Doing is the test of being.” This is exactly what the apostle is stating in the following verses. In following verses look at the “doing” and the “being” references and how they define the authentic child of God.
Verse 4 – “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Whoever breaks the law (does) “is (being) lawless.” We have jails for lawbreakers. Do you remember Romans 3:23? We have all sinned (done) and are “sinners.” Are you still a sinner? Look at the next verse…
Verses 5b, 6, “And in him [Jesus] is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” John reiterates the same truths in verse 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” These verses reveal that Jesus set the standard for being a child of God and that is to be without sin. The test is in the doing. If you continue to sin which is the opposite of who Jesus is then you are not a child of God. As theologian John R, W, Stott puts it in his commentary book The Letters of John, “to sin is to deny Christ.”
Wait one moment! If you believe you are a child of God (which I believe I am) and you sin, does that mean you will lose your salvation? No. The key to understanding these verses is to look at the context of the letter. John wrote earlier in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
The apostle John is not saying that the child of God will be without sin while living on this earth. What he is emphasizing is that “sin is no longer the defining nature of a child of God.” Again verse 9 states, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them.” John is revealing this truth: whoever claims to be a child of God, but persists (continues) in sin, and is not conscious stricken, not remorseful, not repentant and does not desire to be holy, is a heretic like the false teachers who infiltrated the churches he wrote to.
When we change our identity from being in bondage to sin (child of the devil) to being in Christ (or being born again) we are unable to sin habitually. John Stott explains it this way, “The new birth involves the acquisition of a new nature through the implanting within us of the very seed or the lifegiving power of God…It exerts a strong internal pressure towards holiness.” Therefore, Jesus will destroy the devil’s work in God’s children by constantly waring against the temptations and sins we choose so that we will not be enslaved to the devil’s traps and miss God’s best, His abundant life of freedom for us.
Do you pass the “doing test of being?” Do you desire to be like Jesus Christ – sinless? The apostle John, our general, commands us in verse 7, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” And verse 10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
Passing the “doing test of being” means you will desire to live a righteous life as Jesus lived. It means you will want to love others as He did. It means you will constantly be confessing your sins such as: ingratitude, lack of love to God, neglect of the Bible, unbelief, neglect of prayer, pride, envy, evil speaking and slander, lying, cheating, hypocrisy and robbing God (wasting your money). This list of sins was provided by 19th century American revivalist C.G. Finney. Do you need to confess any of them now?
3. To Conquer the Kingdoms of this World
Finally, Jesus appeared with a promise to take the children of God to be with Him and His Father forever and to conquer the kingdoms of this world. John reminds the children of God in verse 2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Children of God will have the joy of being perfect like Jesus and see Him in His glory when He returns.God also revealed this about Jesus to the apostle John, in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Jesus will return as the Conqueror of the world and set Himself up in the city of Jerusalem as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a thousand years and then forevermore in the new Jerusalem. Jesus came as Saviour and will reveal Himself as LORD. The early church sang about this in their hymn in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Let me leave you with a challenge from John Stott and then a powerful prayer of hope for the children of God by the apostle Paul.
John Stott challenges us, “If Christ appeared first both to “take away our sins” and to “destroy the devil’s work” and, when He appears the second time, “we shall see Him” and, in consequence, “we shall be like Him,” how can we possibly go on living in sin? If we are loyal, we must ‘‘purify ourselves” as he is pure (verse 3). By so doing we shall give evidence of our birth of God.”
Paul’s prayer for children of God (for you?) from his letter to the believers in Ephesus, Ephesians 1, “15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. AMEN!”
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