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"Holy Like Him"
1 John 2:28-3:3
Wednesday AM Bible Study
October 19, 2005
The three tests of our fellowship with Christ - the test of obedience (2:3-6),
the test of love (2:7-11), and the test of belief (2:18-27) - are all repeated
throughout John's little letter; three times each. Each repeating cycle
involves a little different perspective. This morning's passage is the
first half of the second presentation of the first test - the test of
The whole portion that presents the test of obedience is 2:28-3:9; but we
look today at the first half of that portion. It relates to God's call for
holiness in our lives because of the fact that we are His children. The
second half, 3:4-9, deals with the test of obedience as it relates to those
who are not His children.
I. THE CALL TO LIVE HOLY LIVES (2:28).
A. It's a call to "abide" in Christ (John 15:4-10). God puts us in this
relationship; and it's our part to faithfully "abide" in it.
1. "Abiding" is a repeated theme in John's letter. It's one that he
objectifies with respect to all the tests of fellowship:
a. The test of "love" involves abiding "in light" (2:10); not shutting up
our hearts toward our brother's need (3:16-19). It involves perfecting
God's love in us by loving one another (4:12); and thus abiding in God by
abiding in love (4:16).
b. The test of "belief" involves abiding by letting the truth we have heard
about Christ "abide" in us (2:22-24); and by confessing that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God (4:15).
c. The test of "obedience" involves abiding by walking as Christ walked
(2:6), not practicing sin (3:6), and keeping Christ's commandments (3:24).
2. We can't be brought into a saving relationship with Christ by simply
praying a prayer and be done with it. We must also "abide" in that
fellowship. Here, John reminds us that it involves "abiding" in obedience
to Christ. This is how we prove that we truly are "little children" - born
into the family of God.
B. We so "abide" in Him that we will be confident and unashamed at His
1. The word for "confidence" means "to have freedom and boldness in
speech". It's a metaphor for being completely assured in our standing
2. By contrast, the word for "be ashamed" paints a picture of someone
shrinking back in fear and shame. To not be ashamed before God in this way
also describes confidence in our standing before Him and of His full
acceptance of us.
3. The time being described is that of His coming. The Bible warns that
many will be ashamed at His coming and will shrink back (Rev. 6:15-17).
Knowing that we must all give an account before Him (Matthew 24:45-51; 2
Cor. 5:10) should motivate us to so live and work and build on the
foundation of faith that we will have no cause to shrink back at His coming
(1 Cor. 3:12-15).
C. Note that John includes himself in this - so that "we may have confidence"
at Jesus' coming. It would be a cause for shame to him if those he loved
and cared for were to shrink back at Jesus' coming (cf. 1 Thess. 2:19-20).
Will those who have led us to Christ and built us up in the faith have cause
to be ashamed when we stand before Christ, or will we be a cause of their
II. THE MOTIVATIONS FOR LIVING HOLY LIVES (2:29-3:3).
A. Our relation to Christ (v. 29).
1. We know that Christ is righteous (1:5). John assumes that we have this
knowledge in our minds as a settled truth - that is, as a perfect and complete
2. Therefore we also know (different word, involving an acquired and
growing knowledge) that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
3. Children reflect the traits of their father; and righteousness is the
trait of our Father. As His children, we should be like the one we have
been born of (3:7, 10).
B. Our identity in Christ (3:1).
1. We are called "children of God" (John 1:12-13). We possess this title
now; along with the characteristic necessity that we be righteous as He is
2. This is confirmed by the fact that the world does not know us as it does
not know Him (John 17:14).
3. Every time we sin, we behave like what we were before we were brought
into God's family (Eph. 2:2-3). We act like someone else's child. But when
we recognize that we are - right now - God's own dear children, we are motivated
C. Our destiny in Christ (3:2-3).
1. We are destined to share in the glory of Christ at His return (Rom.
8:18-29; Jude 24). There is a work of the Holy Spirit going on right now,
to conform us to Christ's image (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:16). But there is a
final and perfect work that will occur when He returns.
2. The expectation of this is to permeate our lives as we walk on this
earth (Phil. 3:20-4:1). This hope is to affect the way we live right now!