1 John 3

* The apostle admires the love of God in making believers his

children. (1,2) The purifying influence of the hope of seeing

Christ, and the danger of pretending to this, and living in sin.

(3-10) Love to the brethren is the character of real Christians.

(11-15) That love described by its actings. (16-21) The

advantage of faith, love, and obedience. (22-24)

1,2 Little does the world know of the happiness of the real

followers of Christ. Little does the world think that these

poor, humble, despised ones, are favourites of God, and will

dwell in heaven. Let the followers of Christ be content with

hard fare here, since they are in a land of strangers, where

their Lord was so badly treated before them. The sons of God

must walk by faith, and live by hope. They may well wait in

faith, hope, and earnest desire, for the revelation of the Lord

Jesus. The sons of God will be known, and be made manifest by

likeness to their Head. They shall be transformed into the same

image, by their view of him.
3-10 The sons of God know that their Lord is of purer eyes than

to allow any thing unholy and impure to dwell with him. It is

the hope of hypocrites, not of the sons of God, that makes

allowance for gratifying impure desires and lusts. May we be

followers of him as his dear children, thus show our sense of

his unspeakable mercy, and express that obedient, grateful,

humble mind which becomes us. Sin is the rejecting the Divine

law. In him, that is, in Christ, was no sin. All the sinless

weaknesses that were consequences of the fall, he took; that is,

all those infirmities of mind or body which subject man to

suffering, and expose him to temptation. But our moral

infirmities, our proneness to sin, he had not. He that abides in

Christ, continues not in the practice of sin. Renouncing sin is

the great proof of spiritual union with, continuance in, and

saving knowledge of the Lord Christ. Beware of self-deceit. He

that doeth righteousness is righteous, and to be a follower of

Christ, shows an interest by faith in his obedience and

sufferings. But a man cannot act like the devil, and at the same

time be a disciple of Christ Jesus. Let us not serve or indulge

what the Son of God came to destroy. To be born of God is to be

inwardly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. Renewing

grace is an abiding principle. Religion is not an art, a matter

of dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And the regenerate

person cannot sin as he did before he was born of God, and as

others do who are not born again. There is that light in his

mind, which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is

that bias upon his heart, which disposes him to loathe and hate

sin. There is the spiritual principle that opposes sinful acts.

And there is repentance for sin, if committed. It goes against

him to sin with forethought. The children of God and the

children of the devil have their distinct characters. The seed

of the serpent are known by neglect of religion, and by their

hating real Christians. He only is righteous before God, as a

justified believer, who is taught and disposed to righteousness

by the Holy Spirit. In this the children of God are manifest,

and the children of the devil. May all professors of the gospel

lay these truths to heart, and try themselves by them.
11-15 We should love the Lord Jesus, value his love, and

therefore love all our brethren in Christ. This love is the

special fruit of our faith, and a certain sign of our being born

again. But none who rightly know the heart of man, can wonder at

the contempt and enmity of ungodly people against the children

of God. We know that we are passed from death to life: we may

know it by the evidences of our faith in Christ, of which love

to our brethren is one. It is not zeal for a party in the common

religion, or affection for those who are of the same name and

sentiments with ourselves. The life of grace in the heart of a

regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a

life of glory, whereof they must be destitute who hate their

brother in their hearts.
16-21 Here is the condescension, the miracle, the mystery of

Divine love, that God would redeem the church with his own

blood. Surely we should love those whom God has loved, and so

loved. The Holy Spirit, grieved at selfishness, will leave the

selfish heart without comfort, and full of darkness and terror.

By what can it be known that a man has a true sense of the love

of Christ for perishing sinners, or that the love of God has

been planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, if the love of the

world and its good overcomes the feelings of compassion to a

perishing brother? Every instance of this selfishness must

weaken the evidences of a man's conversion; when habitual and

allowed, it must decide against him. If conscience condemn us in

known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too. Let

conscience therefore be well-informed, be heard, and diligently

attended to.
22-24 When believers had confidence towards God, through the

Spirit of adoption, and by faith in the great High Priest, they

might ask what they would of their reconciled Father. They would

receive it, if good for them. And as good-will to men was

proclaimed from heaven, so good-will to men, particularly to the

brethren, must be in the hearts of those who go to God and

heaven. He who thus follows Christ, dwells in Him as his ark,

refuge, and rest, and in the Father through him. This union

between Christ and the souls of believers, is by the Spirit he

has given them. A man may believe that God is gracious before he

knows it; yet when faith has laid hold on the promises, it sets

reason to work. This Spirit of God works a change; in all true

Christians it changes from the power of Satan to the power of

God. Consider, believer, how it changes thy heart. Dost not thou

long for peace with God? Wouldst thou not forego all the world

for it? No profit, pleasure, or preferment shall hinder thee

from following Christ. This salvation is built upon Divine

testimony, even the Spirit of God.

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