I John 3


Verse1:  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God, therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. (KJV)  
NIV states- How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. ( Lavish = to expend profusely, to give freely.)

We love Him ( God) because He first loved us. (just like with our parents.)

If during a season of trouble and heartache and you wonder why God is not helping you- do not question His love. For remember He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  (Romans 8)
And John writes in his gospel of John, ‘but as many as received Him to them He gave the power(authority) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ ( John 1:12)
These verses mean we are His children now- not just in eternity.
So this chapter is easily outlined.
In the first verse John tells us we are God’s children NOW. Let that truth sink in. Almighty God is my Father. He knows you and me by name. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows my thoughts before I speak them. He knows when I sit and when I rise. He is familiar with all my ways. He saw my last day before the first one ever came to be. He knew me in my mother’s womb. He has laid His hand upon me. He upholds me with His right hand. Though I stumble I will not be utterly cast down. The Psalmists says such knowledge is too wonderful  for me- too lofty for me to attain. His thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand.  ( Psalms 139)
Now having let that fact encourage you, verse 2 tells us:  “ what we will be has not yet be made known . But we know that when He appears we shall be like Him,for we will see Him as He is . That verse tells us the next great truth.

Truth #1: We are His Children Now.

Truth# 2: We are in the process of becoming like Him. We are to be reflections of Him. Just like we favor our genetic parents and there is a family resemblance, we are to resemble Him, be a reflection of Him.

Now the rest of the chapter tells us what the growth process, the sanctification process involves. In order to become like Him the following verses tell us what God has given us to grow up like Him:

Victory over sin. ( verses 4-9)

Love for others.  ( verse 10-18)

Confidence before God. ( verse 19-24)

Today we will deal with victory over sin.
John seems to deal with this process in the order we are to deal with it. First John anointed by the Holy Spirit tells us what we must do to have victory over sin- what we have received that will allow us to not be sinless- sin less.
John tells us we should purify ourselves, just as He is pure. (Verse 3)
The next five verses ( I John 3: 4-9) deal with the issue of sin. It is important that we comprehend what is being taught here and realize and be reminded that  John is dealing with false teaching , heresy that had crept into the early church. Remember John said he was writing to us that we would not commit acts of sin- yet if anyone sinned, he/she had an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just one (I John 2)  John also told us if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us and we are deceived. Those in the church were doing then what we are doing today- they were developing a theology that rationalized and excused their sin. The Bible tells us homosexuality is a sin. Then man comes along and develops a theology that rationalizes his/her sin. By the way- the heterosexual has a problem with sexual sin- because the Bible states that adultery is a sin as is fornication. But be careful as you tsk, tsk in self righteousness for if you think you are standing take heed lest you fall. For all of us seem to have come up with our own rules as to what we count as serious sins and minor sins- we can certainly rationalize our minor sins as being of no consequence- but that is not what the word of God says. The word of God says be not deceived God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. ( Gal. 6) {to make light of sin(s) is to mock God}
Here is a spiritual truth and fact in verse 4:  “Everyone who sins breaks the law;  in fact, sin is lawlessness”   Paul tells  us clearly:  All have sinned. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Romans 3) We are born with a sinful nature, then spend years developing our own particular style of sin.
In other words, we all stand guilty as accused in the court of God’s law. The penalty for sin- the wages of sin is death. Our flesh thinks that is too harsh- our finite mind and sinful nature believe God should be more lenient. Since we have sinned and are under the sentence of death- we are like prisoners on death row awaiting the day of execution. We are prisoners of our sinfulness- powerless to overcome our situation.  All seems lost. But wait – who is that who is coming down the corridors of the prison. He carries with Him the Keys of the Kingdom. Who is that who has stopped at your cell and listen to what He has to say:  “ The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” ( Luke 4-Jesus at Nazareth in the synagogue.)
Verse 5 tells us:  “ But you know that he appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.”  What good news- what great news. You and I were under a sentence of death. We had no recourse- all was lost. Death awaited. But listen to the good news: “You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5)
We have been justified. We have been set free. From the Garden of Eden to that fateful night in Egypt all through the years of the tabernacle and the temple  the shedding of blood for the covering of sin was God’s way of teaching us the system of sacrifice. The sacrificial system was based on the shedding of blood of a lamb without blemish. This lamb without blemish was a symbol of perfection and complete innocence being sacrificed in the place of and for the sins of the people. These all pointed to the One who  was coming, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Notice what John has reminded us of in verse 5b: “ In Him is no sin.” The lamb without  blemish. Complete innocence. The only one qualified to die in our place and satisfy the wrath of God.  This is the gospel, the good news. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. ( Romans 1)
Now let’s put some of this together so we can more easily understand what is coming next. When we get saved what are we told happens to us? I am in Him and He is in me.
What did John just tell us?  In Him( Christ) is no sin. He was without sin- our sins were placed upon Him and not only our sins but the sins of the whole world. Therefore, he/she that is in Christ  has no sin upon him or her in the sense of condemnation- because when God sees us- He sees the blood that covers our sins and there is therefore no longer any condemnation. However, we still have sin in us in the form of our sin nature in our flesh, or mortal body.
Here is the scriptural truth and fact:  If you are a saved-  born-again believer you are UNCONDITIONALLY saved from sin because you are in Christ and in Him is no sin.
Furthermore, you are CONDITIONALLY saved from the power of sin. Because we are crucified with Him, we are freed from the power of sin and are no longer slaves to sin.  ( Romans 6) {Conditional means there is a stipulation. That stipulation= obedience. When we were born again we have the potential and the power to resist sin, the responsibility is ours.}
But Paul goes on in Romans 7 to say that he finds himself on occasion doing that which he does not want to do in fact hates. Paul like us is frustrated- he says I have a desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out. (my behavior at times does not reflect my belief) Behavior is a learned response- we must be taught how to behave by the Holy Spirit.
How do we live a life of victory over sin? First of all realize Jesus has destroyed the devil’s work at Calvary. We have the victory. We do not need to pray for victory- we need to pray for OBEDIENCE. You see you and I as believers are called to be holy as He is holy. Disobedience most often arises out of unbelief. Unbelief arises out of  creating our own theology.
John is writing so that we will sin not. He is writing to us about holiness. Sanctification is the process  of  being set apart from sin and impurity and set apart to God. I have some questions. They are not unlike the questions a new employee has beginning a new  job.

*What are my responsibilities in this new job;new role as a believer?

*What are God’s responsibilities?

* What provisions has God made to help succeed in my new position?

* What happens if I fail to do as I am supposed to do?
The answers to these questions for a new employee starting a new  job would be shared with them in  training and also in their employee hand book.

We are given an employee handbook, the Bible that provides us with this relevant information. We are also instructed to study to show ourselves approved, a workman who needs not to be ashamed.
Understand this is a joint venture. It is also a family business. I must do my part and God will do His part. I cannot do what only God can do-He will not do what I am supposed to do. ( it is like the farmer who knows he must plow, plant the seed, cultivate and fertilize but depends entirely on God for the seed to germinate, the rain to fall and the sun to shine. )
If we are not producing a harvest- bearing fruit , what is the problem? One of two situations: we are not doing what we are responsible for- we are irresponsible. Second we are ignorant of what our responsibilities are and what are God’s responsibilities. This implies we have not studied our employee handbook, the Bible.
“ Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.” ( Hebrews 12:14)  See the word effort. That is our part we put forth our best efforts, we strive to enter the narrow way. We fight the good fight. We discipline ourselves. Be diligent. Be on guard.  All through our employee handbook are clear instructions what we are to do.

? Do you make the same effort to live a holy life as you do to earn a living? Perfect a sport or hobby ? Enjoy leisure time?
First of all understand God is Holy. If God enters an area – that area becomes holy. He told Moses to take off his shoes as he approached the burning bush, because it was holy ground. Isaiah saw the Lord lifted up and his reaction was ‘woe is me- I am a man of unclean lips.’.  The apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians to ever live in his pursuit to know the Lord, he saw how sinful he was and said I am chief among sinners.
So let’s look in our employee handbook, the Bible and find out what we are supposed to do and what our employer, God has provided in the way of instruction, provisions and training to help us succeed in our new role. For God does not want us to fail.
First I am told to not let sin reign anymore in my body or obey its evil desires. ( Romans 6).

That is our responsibility. What has God done and provided in order that I can do this?

The Bible says we are united with Christ in his death. God did this and I cannot explain how He did it- but He did.( like a limb from one tree being engrafted into another tree). I was crucified with Christ. God did that – He provided a way to deal with my sinful nature- He crucified it. As a result of this I have died to sin. I was severed from my old position. God then transferred me from that kingdom and realm of darkness into the kingdom of light and righteousness. I am no longer a slave to sin- I have been set free and am under a new master- the Lord Jesus. ( The blood covered our sins; the cross crucified our old nature , the “ sin factory.”
This will not be an exclusive list of God’s provisions for you and I to perform our new role as His children- but it will give you an idea of  the resources we have.


  • Eternal life. His children. Adopted.
  • Blessed with ever spiritual blessing.
  • Forgiven of all our sins.
  • Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, our teacher and guide.
  • Access to the throne of heaven.
  • Joint heirs with Jesus.
  • And the promise that He will never allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear , but will make away to escape so we can bear it.
  • Never leave us or stop loving us.

“What must we do to work the works of God? Believe in the One whom He has sent.” ( John 6:29) We lay hold of these possessions, these resources by faith.

Do we have what it takes? Do we have everything we need? Yes. Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it. ( I Thess. 5:24)
This includes giving us the desire to do His will and the power. “ For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.” ( Phil 2:13)  Do you notice before we can act(do) we must will or desire to do . It is the Holy Spirit who will convict us of sin and righteousness and lead us into holiness as He leads us not into temptation.
What happens if we fail?  John tells us when we sin, if we will confess our sin, He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. The Lord Jesus is our advocate who intercedes for us. We will stumble but not be utterly cast down. ( Romans 8 tells us we are no longer under condemnation. Nothing can ever separate us from His love and He works all things together for good. We will however, face discipline for whom the Lord loves He disciplines. But we will not lose our standing as His children.
Show here is our short “ to-do” list.

  1. Knowing.
  2. Reckoning.
  3. Presenting ourselves to God.
  4. Walking in the Spirit.

A short list – but the activities involved in accomplishing each of these is an ongoing process. The knowing never stops, the reckoning is on a daily, moment by moment basis, we present ourselves each day and we must continue to keep walking in the Spirit.
Knowing means having the eyes of our heart opened to see what we have in Christ.

Reckoning means counting as true what God has said He has provided. We can count it as true only when it has been revealed to us as true by the Holy Spirit.

Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices for the service of the Lord is our act of worship and obedience. We are the clay- He is the potter.

Walking in the Spirit is the result of knowing, reckoning and presenting ourselves.
It can be summed up in this statement by the Lord Jesus. ´Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” ( Matthew 6:33)

You see- you and I have a new Master and a new job in this family business. We do our part, He is faithful to do His part.
Jesus came not only to save us from our sins; He came to show us how we ought to live. He is our role model. He understands our situation. How does he understand?  He ran a small business, lived on a budget, cared for a family, paid taxes and dealt with vendors and customers. He started a ministry- he got up early, prepared for the day, worked long hours. He made numerous calls, was rejected, despised, betrayed- but He did not get discouraged, He was determined.

He is a boss who is not afraid nor too proud to get his hands dirty. Look at what He did at the last supper. He got down on his knees and washed the dirty feet of his disciples. He could have delegated- but he wanted to teach them and us a lesson. He said-‘do you understand what I have done? He had set an example for us and told us to do like wise-and we would be blessed.

Consider what the Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father have sacrificed in order to provide us with the resources we need to be about our Father’s work. They have given their all.
You see this is our main job. It is our mission. It is defined in the Great Commission. It is spelled out in the two greatest commandments.
The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
So here is my advice :  TAKE THIS JOB  AND LOVE IT. Love it with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.  You will be blessed.
*Recommended reading:  “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges, Navpress.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14