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1 John 3:1-3

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

1 John 3:1-3

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Thoughts From 1 John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him.  We as Christians have an awesome spiritual goal. Our goal is to be like Jesus! We sometimes say it so easily and without serious consideration of the magni­tude of what we have said. Yet John tells us that we will be like Him!

John says: “1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1 NAS)

We shall never be equal to Jesus for He is supreme, but we shall be like Him–like Him in motivation, in attitude, in action. It is amazing to say that we will be like our awesome Savior. We read about His greatness in Colossians 1:15-20:

NAS Colossians 1:15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Our salvation, made possible by His shed blood on the cross, may be expressed in three tenses–past, present, and future. We were saved; we are being saved, and we shall be saved. This does not reflect negatively on our standing or our position as sons. As soon as we believe in Christ, we become sons of God. Then, as long as we remain in Christ, we can be secure and confident of our stand­ing as sons. It does mean, however, that there is a great “not-yet” to our salvation. We have yet to fully realize all that God has done for us and will do in and through us.

As believers, we are already like Jesus; yet we are not completely like Him. Maturity, in the fin­al analysis, means a reasonable degree of His likeness has been realized in us. Our maturity begins with our new birth. Our goal in maturity is simply to be like Jesus.

More Thoughts From 1 John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him. John says: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (verse 1). We can become children of God because of our Father’s love for us. Then, because we are children of God, we shall be like Jesus (verse 2). Our Father manifested His love for us in sending His Son, Jesus, to die for us (John 3:16).  He continues to express His love and care for us in many unceasing ways. Our new birth begins our new life. In our new life, we are under our Father’s care.  In Ephesians 1:3 Paul tells us that He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

For a moment, please think about your earthly father. I hope that you can think of many positive characteristics. I can! Your heavenly Father is all this and much more. He cares for you. And He desires that you be like His Son, Jesus.  All this is possible because of God’s love for us.

Unfortunately, the world does not recognize that we are children of God. The reason is that we are like Jesus whom they do not know. If they knew Jesus, they would know that we are like Him. The underlying premise of this truth is that we as believers really are growing in His image.

When people have a true concept of God, they will know the children of God. Even beyond this, they will be attracted to God through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When we do know Him, we can have full confidence in Him; we can trust Him fully to care for us, guide, under­stand, and develop us in the image of Christ.

More Thoughts From 1 John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him. John tells us, in verse 2, that we shall be like Jesus. He declares: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when he appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.” Our destiny is to become like Jesus. Because of our Father’s love and concern, we will reach that goal.

Now we read, “it has not appeared as yet what we will be.” We can read these two ways: One, what we will have not yet been made known to the public. This is true. Even what is known is not understood by the public, the unconverted. They cannot really know what has been revealed.

Beyond this, even our knowledge of what we will be in the future is not complete. When Jesus appears, we will know what our future is because we will see Him and be like Him. We will see Him just as He is. In the future, beyond the grave, we will become even more like Him. For example, we will be glorified in the body (Philippians 3:21).

Meanwhile, we continue to grow in the Lord and become more like him while we are here on earth (2 Corinthians 3:18). Step-by-step as we follow the Lord, the Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ.

In my next “thoughts” we will focus on the question, “What is Jesus like?” While we are thinking about what we will be, we can meditate on what we know already know. Our great source of information is the Word of God.

More Thoughts From 1 John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him. John writes: “1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1 NAS)

The pronouns “Him” and “He” in this passage could refer to God the Father or to God the Son. Given that these pronouns in verse 5 clearly refer to Jesus, it seems likely that they refer to Him also in verses 1-3. The exception might be Him in verse 1. However, it does not make much difference in that Christ is the Son of God and is like God.

What is Jesus like? What His physical characteristics were is unimportant. We know that He was a person of compassion.  He was a person filled with the Spirit. He preached to broken people, bound up their wounds, healed them, and responded to need. He was a person of humility. He washed the feet of the disciples. Yet he could assume com­mand and authority.

He was a person of understanding. He knew what was in man. His penetrating understanding enabled him to help the helpless and expose the cynical. He was a brilliant person. He confounded his questioners with questions. No man dared to challenge Him further. We will never be His equal, but we can follow His example.

When Jesus appears again, there will be yet more that we will know about Him, and we will be more like Him. On this point, Lenski makes these comments: “Not yet do we wear the white robes of heaven; not yet does this crown of glory sparkle on our brow. The robe of Christ’s righteousness, our crown of hope, the diamond of faith, and the pearls of love, are invisible to physical eyes… But this shall be changed completely.”

If we keep our faith in Christ, our destiny is certain. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him. We shall be like, but not equal to, the Son of God. Concerning Him, Paul wrote: “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him.” We have an incredible future!

More Thoughts from John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him. John tells us that because of our Father’s love, we are His children. Also, he declares that our destiny is to become like Jesus. Or, we could say, we shall be like God. We have discussed these points. John further says: “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (verse 3). Today, we will highlight this responsibility.

Our purification is both objective and subjective. When we believe in Christ, we become objectively righteous in God’s sight. However, each day we must live up to what God has so graciously done for us.  We must subjectively experience what God has done for us.

John says that each believer must purify himself “just as He is pure.” Notice that John does not say “just as He was purifying” or “did purify” Himself. Jesus had no need to purify Himself; He was sinless. He lives in a state of purity. We are to purify ourselves in order to be like Him. With regard to believers, John uses the present tense. We continue to purify ourselves.

We might consider our tsk hopeless without the presence and help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within. In his prayer for the Ephesians (3:14-19) Paul prays that the Spirit will strengthen us in order that Christ may dwell in us.

In the New Testament, we have a Spirit-faith spiral. The Spirit draws us to Christ; we believe in Him; then the Holy Spirit indwells us. When the Holy Spirit indwells us, He strengthens our faith and makes it possible for Christ to further indwell us. Paul expressed the goal of this upward spiral with these words, “so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

John says that each believer must “purify himself.” Our salvation is because of God’s grace alone. Yet, we have a responsibility. It is still true that we must act in accordance with God’s will and purposes. We must cooperate with God who graciously saves us in Christ. When we do, we become more and more like Jesus.

More Thoughts from 1 John 3:1-3

We Shall Be Like Him! Today, I will make a few comments in summation of our thoughts on this passage. Keep in mind the words of John:

“1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Because of the Father’s love, He sent His Son to atone for our sins and to make a way for us to be His children (John 3:16). It is through faith in Jesus, that we become children of God. Right away John signals that we are like Jesus (God) and will be more so. He points out that the world does not know us, we who are like Jesus, because they do not know God.

Even in this life, we are growing in the image of Christ. While this is true, John puts the emphasis on the future. When Jesus returns, we will know dimensions of His life that are only possible in the life to come. When He returns, we shall be like Him in new ways. For example, Paul says:

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Obviously, we have an incredible future. Meanwhile, we rejoice in what Christ is doing for us now. Because of His graciousness, we subject ourselves to the Lord in order to purify ourselves, just as Christ is pure.

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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