Righteous living, a sign of a born again Christian
28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Word Study: The word “abide” means to remain or to stay. It is in the present imperative, meaning that it is a command. It is also important to know that there are two words in verse 29, “praticing” and “born” that must be understood properly for us to understand the verse. The words are both in a present tense and perfect tense respectively. In Greek the perfect tense refers to action that took place in the past whose results are continuing in the present.
Comment: In verse 28 John refers to believers as little children indicating a sense of family. He commands them to abide in Jesus Christ, that is to continue in a relationship with Him. John says the reason they must abide or remain in Jesus is that, Jesus will come again, and when He appears, because they have remained in Him, they will have confidence, boldness and courage to look to Him rather than, shrinking away from Him in shame.
In verse 29, Paul uses two words in the perfect tense. If one misses this, it is so easy to misinterpret this verse. At face value, it appears that John is saying that as long as a person practices righteousness, then that person will be born of God. This interpretation obviously goes against the teaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone. The question is what came first between practicing righteousness and been born. The word “practicing” is in the present continuous tense while the word “born” is in the perfect tense. This then clearly tells us that the one who practices righteousness, came after the person has already been born of God. Practicing righteousness is a result of been born by God and shows also that one has been born of God. John is therefore saying in verse 29, that because they know and continue to know that Jesus is righteous, they can then conclude or come to this conclusion that, everyone who practices and continues to practice righteousness, is one who has been born of God.
In the very next verse, which is now chapter 3 verse 1, John tells the believers to take note of how much love God has for them that they may be called His children. John continues to emphasize that they indeed are the children of God. Those who have been born of God. John says because of this, because they are God’s children, the world does not know them, why? Because even Jesus, they did not know, how then can they know them. As God’s children, they have a nature that is incompatible with the world. Righteousness is incompatible with the world and one who lives a righteous life, falls outside the norm of what the world expects.
Message: We will do well ourselves to obey this command from John. We also must continue to abide in Jesus Christ.We must continue to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We need to continue to put our trust in Him. This continuing relationship with Jesus will give us the confidence we need to look to Him, when He does come and appear in the sky. We will not shrink away from Him. The consequence is that if we don’t continue to abide in Him, we will indeed not have the courage to look to Him and instead we will shrink away from Him.
John says we must live and continue to live a righteous life, since we have been born of God and we are therefore His children. As God’s children, we must live a righteous live. Living a righteous life will be a sign that we are God’s children. The consequence is that those who don’t practice righteousness and continue not to practice righteousness, show that they have not been born of God. They are not God’s children.
Being God’s children automatically makes us aliens in this world. This world rejected Jesus Christ and we should not be surprised if we also are rejected by it. Living a righteous life is incompatible to the world system that reject God and His standards.
Therefore, John commands us to continue to have a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to live a life of righteousness, like those who have been born of God. This will be a sign that we are indeed God’s children. We should also not be surprised if this word rejects us, because they rejected Jesus first.
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Comment: John tells the believers that they are indeed God’s children now in the present but, there is a future state that they will be in and that state has not appeared as yet. However, John says that one thing that as believers they know, is that when Jesus appears, believers will be like Him. The reason being that believers will see Him as he truly is. Therefore, the believers are currently God’s children and in the future, when Jesus comes, they will be like Him. I don’t think this means that believers will stop being God’s children when Jesus comes but, what this refers to is that, on top of being God’s children, when Jesus comes, believers will be transformed and glorified. They will receive glorified heavenly bodies suited for heaven. Therefore, everyone who hopes in Jesus, who hopes for this future state, purifies themselves because He is also pure. This means striving to live and to continue to live a righteous life. This continual striving to live a righteous life is a process of purification.
Message: Those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ and continue to live a righteous life, are God’s children. That being said, when Jesus comes, we will be transformed and glorified and given glorified bodies suited for eternal life in heaven. In the meantime and while we live in this world, we must strive and continue to strive to live a righteous life. In this way we purify ourselves as He is Pure.
Therefore, John continues to insist that as believers we need to live a righteous life. As God’s children, let our lives reflect that we have been born of God.