Family Privileges

Posted: June 6, 2010 in 1 John

1 John 2:28-3:3, “Family Privileges”

Every family has certain privileges that go with it. The royal family of England has the perks & trappings that come with simply being born into the house of Windsor. Those born into farming communities get the birthright of having the family land passed to them. Other families have educational benefits, or community connections. These are just family privileges.

For those who have personally trusted Christ as their Lord & Savior, we also get family privileges, because we have been born into a new family: God’s family. We have been born of the Holy Spirit & we experience depths of love & grace that we can hardly imagine. Not because we deserve any of it…simply because we are privileged to be part of a new family!

Keep in mind that 1 John was written due to the infiltration of false teachers in the Church. These teachers proclaimed that only certain people who had certain knowledge were the truly spiritual ones – that physical actions (like sin) didn’t really matter – they went so far as to deny that the incarnate Jesus was truly the eternal Christ! John doesn’t mince words on the matter – he calls them antichrists & deceivers. So to help the Church, John’s given various tests by which the antichrist teachers could be identified, as well as assure the Church of their own salvation & plead with the Church to stay grounded in what they were initially taught in the gospel.

That’s what John continues with in the last part of Ch 2 & beginning portion of Ch 3. There are certain ways of knowing we are in the family of God – and when we abide in Christ we have a wonderful assurance of what’s yet to come in the future.

1 John 2:28-3:3 (NKJV)
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

A. The instruction: “abide in Him” [Christ]. John has already written briefly about abiding in Jesus (as well as abiding in the word of the gospel, keeping us rooted in our faith). In vs 27, John left off with the thought of the Holy Spirit abiding in us, teaching us, and how His work helps us abide in Christ. Through the rest of the letter John will come back to this idea over & over again: what it looks like to abide in Christ & how God abides in us & the proof of that. Since John deals with it so much (more than any other writer in the NT), it’s worth taking a closer look at it.
__a. (Mentioned last week) Define “abide” = “be at home / to dwell.” When Jesus sent out the disciples, He told them to go into a city & stay at one house until it was time to leave (Matt 10:11)…same word/idea. When Paul told Timothy to “continue in the things which you have learned” (2 Tim 3:14)…same word/idea. [] We are to continue in Christ – we are to stay with our Savior – we are to dwell with Him at all times. This flies smack-dab in the face against the modern idea of “part-time Christianity.” So often we get the idea that we can say a prayer asking Jesus to be our Lord, but yet only act like He’s Lord for two hours on Sunday morning… [] That’s not dwelling with Christ; that’s treating Him as the uncomfortable relative… ! On the contrary, we’re to remain with Him – to continually dwell with Him – to always at all times endure with Jesus as our Lord & God.
__b. Jesus told us the same thing regarding the vine & the branches. [BIBLE: John 15:1-8] Just as branches wither when separated from the vine/tree, so do we wither apart from Christ Jesus. There is no such thing as part-time Christianity; one of the very definitions of a Christian is one who is currently abiding in the work of Christ Jesus.
____i. What’s keeping you from Him? Abide in Christ!

B. What’s one reason to abide in Christ? Because we will see Him very soon! We will see Him “when He appears…” The Lord Jesus is coming back, to the praise of His glory! He came first to suffer and bear the wrath of God for sin – to seek & to save the lost; He’ll come the 2nd time to rule & reign, and to judge the living & the dead. [] Earlier in Ch 2, John reminded the Church that it is the last hour, and that Antichrist was coming. That’s the bad news. The good news is Who else is showing up: the Lord Jesus! Jesus WILL appear; it’s not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of “when.”

C. When we see Him, we do not want to “be ashamed…” Other translations say “shrink from Him in shame” The word in Greek is rooted in the idea of disfigurement or disgrace – used often in the LXX to refer to God bringing shame upon His enemies. As born-again believers, we are obviously NOT enemies of God; when might a Christian be ashamed? When giving an account for our live at the Judgment Seat of Christ… 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (14) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. [] Even beyond the ‘official’ Judgment, simply to see our Savior face-to-face and know that we’ve been willfully engaging in ongoing sin would be enough to bring shame. …
__a. It doesn’t have to be that way! We don’t have to be ashamed when we’re abiding in Christ. It’s when we don’t abide in Christ that we wander off into sin & things that would bring disgrace to the name of Jesus.

D. Instead of shame, we can have “confidence” of our relationship with Him! The Greek has the idea of a “bold courageousness” – the same word used in Heb 4:16 in regards to boldly going before the throne of grace to find help in our time of need. In the ancient Greek culture, it was used of having the right to say anything a citizen wanted to in public. That same kind of confidence is what we have in Christ Jesus as we abide in Him. Abiding in Christ leads to assurance of our salvation… []
__a. There’s no better assurance of salvation anyone could have than to look at their current standing in Christ! To look at a past prayer of confession can be misleading if you are currently engaging in willful, habitual sin against God. (False convert) To place all your hopes of salvation on a death-bed conversion is beyond foolish – you don’t know if you have tomorrow; much less a death-bed opportunity. All we have is right NOW. Are you abiding in Christ NOW? It’s not a matter if you thought you did 10 years ago, or hope you might 10 years from now; where are you in your relationship with God right NOW? Is Jesus your Lord & Savior today?

E. Notice the two sides of confidence before Christ. As we abide in Him, we HAVE confidence, and we will NOT BE ashamed before Him. It’s not that we have unfounded confidence that will be shattered when we our Lord Jesus at the Judgment… Nor is it that will approach His holy throne in shame, terror, and trepidation… As we abide in Christ we have BOTH: the full confidence & assurance of all that Christ has done in us through His work on the Cross & in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit – AND we need not be ashamed when we enter into His presence in glory. What glorious assurance comes with abiding in Christ!

29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

A. The “if” isn’t in question for Jesus; it’s in question for us. If we do indeed recognize Jesus as righteous, then we will naturally recognize the work of Jesus in those who practice righteousness… Break this down a bit:

B. Jesus IS righteous; no doubt! John even gave Him this very title at the beginning of Ch 2 – “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Righteousness is our moral standing before God – to be “righteous” is to be just & upright according to God’s standard (irrespective of any standard of man). The Lord Jesus Christ IS righteous – He is the fully righteous Son of God – He is the only one TRULY righteous at all! Not that He didn’t have the opportunity to sin – Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). He lived an absolutely perfect life, truly free from any moral imperfection. He is the very example of the righteousness of God.
__a. Keep in mind that if Jesus had NOT been fully righteous, He would not have been able to offer Himself as the sacrifice for the sin of mankind. If Jesus had even committed one sin, His sacrifice would have had to been applied to Himself… It’s only because Jesus is FULLY righteous that salvation has been offered to us at all!

C. Outside of Christ, no one is righteous… This should be fairly obvious, but it’s amazing how much time people spend justifying themselves & their own actions. “I may not be perfect, but overall I’m a good person.” Well, define ‘good’! In the sight of God, to be ‘good’ is to be perfect (hence Creation before the Fall). Jesus affirmed that no one is truly good except God alone (Mk 10:18), because He Himself is perfect (Mt 5:48). If we’re not perfect, we’re NOT ‘good’ by Jesus’ own definition! We may be ‘morally acceptable’ in our culture, but we’re certainly not ‘good’ by the only standard that truly matters. The Scripture goes as far as to declare, “there is none righteous, no, not one,” (Rom 3:10) & that all of our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isa 64:6) – it’s tough to make it more clear than that!

D. Therefore, if someone practices true righteousness, they must be born of God. There’s no other place for that righteousness to come from…it certainly doesn’t come from us & our sinful nature. In writing to the Philippians, Paul prays for them that they might be “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:11). Any truly righteous thing we do finds its origin in the grace of God – for someone to continually practice that which is truly righteous is a miracle! Thus it’s a sign that we’re born of Him; it’s an indication we belong to the family.
__a. Have you been born of God? Without Jesus, we’re spiritually dead – and we must be born of the Spirit to see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5). He offers that new birth to every man, woman, and child in the world – but we must receive His loving offer of grace! It’s interesting that the Bible uses the language of “birth” – it’s something that must happen TO us; it’s not something we can make happen on our own. [] You cannot give yourself a new birth; you must humble yourself before Jesus Christ, believe upon Him & receive it. …

E. For God to love us so much to allow someone to be born of the Holy Spirit in Christ is an amazing thought! John takes a brief moment to consider it in Ch 3…

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! …

A. Family Privilege #1: we get a new name. Not only have we been spiritually born of God; we’ve been given the ‘rights’ of being brought into the family of God…we’ve been adopted. John wrote much the same thing in his gospel: John 1:12-13 (12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [] In adoption, our whole identity changes. We once were children of wrath (Eph 2:3); now we are “children of God.” We once were slaves of sin (Rom 6:17); now we are slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:18), friends of Christ (John 15:15), sons of God & heirs according to His promise (Gal 3:26,29)! Our identity isn’t merely altered; it’s radically changed & reversed!
__1. Great example in the Apostle Paul. Persecutor of the faith turned preacher…

B. It’s an honor to be adopted! It is an outpouring of “love the Father has bestowed on us.” … This is a kind of love we’ve never before known! (Wuest) ““What manner of” is potapēn (ποταπην), “from what country, race or tribe?” The word speaks of something foreign. The translation could read, “Behold, what foreign kind of love the Father has bestowed upon us.” The love of God is foreign to the human race.” God’s love is SO encompassing, SO selfless, SO giving, SO full of grace that we can only barely begin to understand what it would take for the only Son of God to willingly go to the Cross for us (the enemies of God!) & take the full wrath of God upon Himself for sin. And on top of taking away an eternal punishment, God offers an eternal gift & reward in eternal unbroken relationship with Him. It boggles the mind! No wonder Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they: Ephesians 3:18-19 (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— (19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. []

…Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

A. “Huh? Of course the world knows us…we came from the world.” Correction: the world knew us; it no longer knows us now that we are believers in Christ. When we were spiritually dead along with everyone else, the world knew us. When we were children of wrath, the world recognized us – we were just like it because we indeed part of it…but not any longer. Goes back to the idea adoption. We don’t belong to the world any longer; we belong to God.

B. Why doesn’t the world know us? Because it did not know Jesus. Jesus affirmed this over & over in His ministry (Jn 5:37, 7:28, 8:19) – He made the world, but the world did not know Him (Jn 1:10). Logically, if the world doesn’t know (γινώσκω = understand / have experience with) Him, they wouldn’t know us either – our whole lives have been changed by Him & we are now new creations…
__a. This should actually give us hope! It’s yet one more assurance that we indeed belong to Christ. When your old friends and family no longer recognize you & start wondering what happened to the “old you” since you placed your faith in Christ, it just affirms that you AREN’T the “old you” any longer. You’re not a child of the world; you’re a child of God!

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

A. Family Privilege #2: we get a new future. What will happen to us may not be fully revealed yet, but we are assured of seeing it. It’s not “what we might be” or “for we might see”; it’s “what we shall be” & “for we shall see.” Greek doesn’t use the word “shall”; it’s actually indicated by the grammatical form the verbs are in – in each case in vs. 2, the “shall’s” are in the ‘future indicative.’ The idea is that the verb is something that is yet to happen, but is something that definitely WILL happen. We have an inkling of what eternity with Jesus will hold in store for us, but a fact that is not in doubt is whether or not that eternity is coming!
__a. Keep in mind how drastically different this is from our past, outside of Christ. Before we were born of God & declared to be His children, we had a terrible future: eternal separation from God & suffering His wrath in Hell. Now in Christ, as we are born of the Spirit our future is filled with hope! 180 degrees different!

B. One thing we DO know about the future: “we shall be like Him.” Who’s “Him”? Christ Jesus. In some mysterious fashion, we shall be like our Lord Jesus for all of eternity. (There’s a mind-blowing thought!) … BTW: Scripture is NOT saying we shall become little gods! [per Word-Faith or Mormonism] It IS saying we shall be like Jesus in physical resurrected glorified bodies… It IS saying that one day we will be free from the temptation of earthly sin… It IS saying that we will live in unbroken fellowship forever in the presence of God Almighty… All these things are currently experienced by our Lord Jesus in Heaven, and one day, “we shall be like Him.”
__a. Paul wrote much the same thing: to mold us to the image of Christ has been God’s plan for us from the very beginning. Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. [] What an amazing truth – that we would be made like our Lord! … In some ways, that’s already taken place spiritually: we’ve been made completely holy in the sight of God with the righteousness of Christ – we’ve been born of the Spirit & empowered for service. Yet there’s so much more to take place that will be realized when we see Jesus face-to-face… What’s all to be included with this? I don’t know – but I’m sure looking forward to finding out. 🙂 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

C. Family Privilege #3: we get special relationship. Those who are family have a unique relationship with one another, that cannot truly be shared with those outside the family. Children see their parents in a completely different light than their parents’ co-workers & friends. Why? Because co-workers don’t spend dinners & weekends & bedtime together… That’s a reserved privilege for family. [] Likewise in our relationship with God – as His children, “we shall see Him as He is.” We have a relationship with God that cannot be known outside of simply being in the family. We shall know God just as He actually IS. No paintings – no imaginings – no supposings – no speculation; in eternity, we shall see God in truth – in reality. When Jesus dwelt among us, the disciples saw His glory at the Transfiguration & in the Resurrection. (That’s basically what Moses requested in Exo 33-34…) In eternity, that privilege is opened up to all those who have faith in Christ…we will forever abide in His glory, joining with the angels in worshipping God in the fullness of His greatness & grace. Yet more than the angels – we will worship God as His own children! Now we see through a mirror darkly, but in that day we will know Jesus just as we are known by Him! (1 Cor 13:12)

3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

A. Family Privilege #4: we get new responsibilities… Just as any family member has certain expectations of what it means to represent the family correctly, so we have family responsibilities. [] The hope of glory is our motivation for holiness… There’s hardly any better motivation to live in a way that brings glory to God than knowing that at any moment we might see Him face-to-face! … Typically we think of this kind of motivation as “not getting caught” (i.e. speeding ticket). I suggest that the better idea is to want to get caught doing the right thing… Instead of fearing potential discipline, we seek to please our Heavenly Father. (One is a motivation of fear; the other is an impetus of love…)

B. The reason? Our Lord is pure & if He is indeed our Lord, we should want to be like Him! Children often want to be just like mommy & daddy – and it’s no different with us. As His children, we ought to want to be like Him in our love, our actions, our behavior, and our character. He is completely pure (as seen in Christ Jesus); as His children, we strive for the same purity.
__a. We’re not saved by that striving; we’re saved by the grace of God. Our striving for ongoing holiness doesn’t truly begin until AFTER we’ve been given the righteousness of Christ. Jesus has already made us pure & holy in the sight of God. But because of His transforming work, we want to live worthy of the calling with which we were called.

Abiding in Christ gives us the assurance that we’ve been born of Christ – and what a blessing it is to be in the family of God!

• The blessing of a new name/new identity
• The sure hope of a new future
• The privilege of a special unfettered relationship
• The responsibility to live as we’ve been called

Are you abiding in Christ? Do you have this kind of assurance? We can look to the future with hope! We can endure in the present with assurance!

Have you even been born of God? You can be, today!


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