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Family Likenesses – 1 John 3:5-10


Family Likenesses!

Text: 1st John 3:5-10. V10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

If we are part of God’s family, there will be a family resemblance, and I base this observation on verse 10. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

1. Real Christians will not live like children of Satan. 6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
a) The textual implications. Now, we still haven’t dealt with the major difficulty that some people have with this passage, that is, that it seems to imply to us that Christians cannot sin, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God, and that in itself would make it directly in contradiction to 1 John 1:8-10. You don’t need me to tell you how ineffective and wrong-headed such a belief was. So what of this passage. The key of course lies in our simple rule of Biblical interpretation: CONTEXT of the book, CONTEXT of the passage, and CONTEXT of the verse, and in just a little bit of Greek grammar. James Montgomery Boice in his commentary ‘The Epistles of John:’ lists seven possibilities about what John could be meaning here. We don’t need to look at them all, but one or two might be useful…

John is not meaning MORTAL SIN. Roman Catholics believe in this..
John is not speaking about SINLESS PERFECTION.
John is not speaking about WILFUL SINNING.

He does mean, that Christians do not PRACTICE A SINFUL LIFESTYLE. That conclusion is borne out by both the contexts no the grammar of the passage. So let’s see…
b) The textual interpretation. The Greek word translated ‘committeth’ in AV is the word ποιων – it’s from the root ‘to do’ and it simply means to practice, to ‘keep on, habitually doing something.’ The correct grammar seems to be best illustrated by the ESV, with its references to the phrase ‘KEEP ON SINNING and the word ‘PRACTICE’. So how will people know you are a child of God? You will not keep on sinning, and you will not continually practice sin!
c) The textual imperative. Abide in Christ, so that you do not practice sin – practice a sinful lifestyle. The Christian does not and can not keep on sinning with impunity. and he cannot (PRACTICE) sin, because he is born of God. His help in this will be simply to dwell in Christ. But there is another help for us…

2. God’s Seed is in Us.
John is now going to help us, by showing us the internal mechanism by which we will recognise sin within us, and be appalled by it; he tells us that anyone who has been born again has God’s Seed in him. 9No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. What does this mean?
It could mean the Word of God, which indwells the Christian. James 1:18 1 Peter 1:23-26, Or the Holy Spirit? For the Holy Spirit also indwells us, …

But there is something else.
The divine nature dwelling in us by virtue of the New Birth? We have been BORN AGAIN, and we have NEW LIFE within us. Paul told us that if anyone is in Christ they are a NEW CREATION.

We have been born again. We have God’s seed within us. A miracle has occurred and we must never play it down or underestimate it, when we are born again, we are not the same as we were before. The Greek word for seed is actually just σπερμα. The seed of eternal life is already placed within us, a foretaste of Heaven, Jesus is truly living in our hearts! It makes our own sin abhorrent to us, it offends us and it grieves us and we recoil from it, and repent of it, and plead with the Lord for forgiveness. So we abide in Christ, and Christ abides in us!

3. People who Look like Unforgiven Sinners Probably Are! 8He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning… whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother..
John writes, do not let anyone deceive you… The Gnostics were saying that you could be a Christian, and just live any way you like, even in open sin. You can’t. Unbelievers live a Godless lifestyle. They practice sin, and the reason that they do so is because they are the children of their father the devil, as in verse 8, Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

So, which family are we in? What family likeness are we bearing? Will people recognise Christ living in me, or will I just look like the same as everyone else in the world, who are still under Satan’s bondage and ensnared by him? You can fool the minister on a Sunday, but right throughout the week, will people see that Christ has made a difference in your life, that you no longer practice a sinful lifestyle?

Listen to this sermon on-line at http:


© Bob McEvoy.

From → 1st John

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