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How is Your Eyesight (1 John 2:28-3:3)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 11 August 2013 00:00

Last Sunday we considered 1 John 2:28-3:3 and our need for “spiritual monovision.” As we move along in life, our eyes lose their ability to focus. Monovision is an alternative to bifocals. One eye is fitted for reading and the other for distance. The dominant eye is fitted for distance, and the brain adjusts over a period of about three weeks to switch back and forth between the eyes as the need may be. As noted on the sermon handout, we don’t have much choice but to look at this world, since we’re living here for now. But we will lose our Christian balance if we don’t put one eye on the world to come! Spiritual monovision is what we need! But even if we have it, we must not forget a regular eye exam to see if we are keeping both worlds in proper focus. We all look forward to that Day when we won’t need this monovision anymore. That’s the day we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is and have perfect vision!

1. A Lens for Long Distance Vision (2:28)
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.
Even though eternal life is an entirely free gift which can never be lost, the New Testament plainly states that the believer must give an account of his or her Christian life in the presence of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Romans 14:10-12). These passages show that this judgment is not merely a review of our good deeds, but a comprehensive review that embraces both “good and bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The “abiding life” is the life lived by a disciple of Jesus who keeps his Lord’s commandments and is marked by love for the brethren.
And it is this life of abiding in Him that leads to confidence before Christ’s Judgment Seat.
Why do we need to have one eye focused on things to come?
It assures us of God’s justice and fairness. He will make all things right!
It motivates us to live our lives for the Lord to do His will and thus to please Him.

2. A Description of Perfect Vision (2:29-3:2) NKJV/KJV
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

Possibly the false teachers taught that God’s nature included both light AND darkness (1:5).
If this was so, then God by His very nature had experience with BOTH good AND evil. An obvious deduction from this understanding of God’s nature is that His children could do the same.
In other words, if these false teachers included in their doctrine the teaching that God’s nature included both “light” AND “darkness, then they could easily argue that “evil,” as well as “good,” originated from the Creator, and so therefore, moral distinctions were invalid. This could lead to a disregard for God’s commandments, something that may possibly have characterized them (1 John 2:3-4). That is why John had emphatically made the point that God is holy in 1:5 – “darkness is not in Him – NONE!”

But (by way of contrast), since God is righteous, [then] everyone who practices [lit. “does”] righteousness is born of Him.
This is the first reference in this book to the new birth. John says that the born again person can be recognized as such if he manifests Christian righteousness.
Of course, John is not talking here about a humanistic, or secular (do-gooder) kind of righteousness. John’s concept of righteousness is totally formed by Christian standards.
Look ahead to 1 John 3:22-23. As he states there, the commandments of Christ (plural in 3:22) can be summarized under a single commandment (3:23).
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
John tells us that true righteousness is impossible apart from faith in Christ and love for fellow Christians.
John is not talking here about how one can decide if a person is regenerate.
John is clearly concerned with the deduction one can make if a person knows that God is righteous.
If that is known, then it follows that one who reproduces His righteous nature is actually manifesting that nature and can rightly be perceived as born of Him.
We must not read into the verse and make it say more than is plainly does say!
John certainly does not say here: “Whoever does not do righteousness is not born of Him.”
That would be an inference in no way justified by John’s statement.
John is not discussing here how we can decide if a person is saved or not.
If we know that a person believes (5:1a ~ Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,) then we can know that he is saved.
But here, John is clearly concerned with the deduction we can make if we know that God is righteous.
If that is known, then it follows that one who to any extent reproduces His righteous nature is actually manifesting that nature and can rightly be perceived as born of Him.
To draw more than this out of John’s statement in 2:29 is unwarranted.
It also fails to recognize that John is moving into a section where the correct perception of God’s children is critical to his overall theme of “confidence … before Him at His coming.”
Then we come to one of those unfortunate chapter breaks because 3:1 clearly flows directly out of 2:29’s mention of the new birth.
Now in 3:1 we find John’s exclamation of wonder over the wonderful fact that we have been born into God’s family by new birth.

3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
The Greek word translated what manner of (potapos) sometimes carries a sense of intensification, like “how great,” “how wonderful,” or “how glorious.”
YES Indeed!! How truly magnificent is the love of the Father that makes us His children!
The word Behold is an imperative.
It is as if John is saying to his readers, “Take a look at this love!”
As will become evident later, the visibility of God’s love in the church is a crucial consideration in the section of the book we are in (2:28-4:19).
But to be visible, obviously then there must be something to see!!
As 2:29 has demonstrated, the performance of Christian righteousness makes the child of God visible, or recognizable in his actions.
If we see a child of God acting in Christian righteousness, we can look at him or her as a person who is the recipient of God’s glorious love.
By making himself visible in this way, he makes God’s love for him visible, too.
Yet notice that this perception of the child of God of which John is speaking is not available to the world. In fact, the world is as ignorant of us as it was of Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Even when a believer is acting in righteousness (2:29), in imitation of his Lord (2:6), the world can no more perceive this as a manifestation of his divine life (life from above) than it perceived Jesus, in His incarnation, of (as it says in 1:2) “that eternal life that was with the Father and was manifested” among men.
So, the “beholding” urged here by John, is a uniquely Christian experience. It is not available to the world! Its importance will be developed as John moves along in his letter.

Verse 2 ~ the word Beloved picks up the thought of the previous verse that Christians are the objects of the love of the Father, who regards them as His children.
2 Beloved, now ~ this is true now (emphatic!).
But even though this fact is true now, it has it has not yet been revealed what believers shall be like when they are transformed into the Savior’s likeness.
Look at your notes and you will see the OKJV translation of this verse as well as the NKJV.
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.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
The reason I put the OKJV there is that it makes it easier to see the repetition of the word phanero which means “to render apparent,” a word repeated three times in 2:28, 3:2, 3:2.
John’s point: When Christ “appears,” (is rendered apparent), what believers shall be will “appear” (be rendered apparent) even though it hasn’t yet “appeared (been rendered apparent).”
Remember John’s long distance lens!
Since we shall be like Him then, on that Day, believers do not want to “be ashamed before Him” on that day at the Judgment Seat of Christ because we have been unlike Him until then!
[4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment;]
The reason they will like him is that they shall see Him as He is.
Seeing Jesus in His glory will be automatically transforming for each child of God.
We Christians have a marvelous expectation for the future – the glorious transforming sight of our Savior – and this should energize us toward Christlikeness now!
It should inspire us to abide in Him (2:28)!

The wonderful truth that we will one day be completely like our Lord Jesus Christ both physically and spiritually is a hope that purifies us as believers. It is a lens for seeing up close!
3. A Lens for Seeing Up Close (3:3)
3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Verse 3 is often taken to refer to the experiential effect that the anticipation of the Lord’s return can and should have on us as believers. But in light of what John will be saying later on in this chapter about a “sinless” experience (3:6, 9, 10), it is likely that the words here (just as He is pure) strongly suggest that the same idea is in John’s mind here.
Of course, in the usual NT sense, the word hope does not refer to something about which we are unsure. Rather, it refers to an unfulfilled expectation which we appropriate by faith (Heb 11:1; Col 1:5, 23, 27, etc.).
That is quite clear here, since this hope refers to something which, according to v 2, we know!

As we will see in verse 9, the born again person does not sin at all because he has in him the sinless seed of God’s nature and he cannot sin.
This means that at the inward level of his redeemed nature, the believer is every bit as pure as his Savior.
That purity will be totally realized at the coming of the Lord when we shall see Him as He is, but this purity is theirs now at the core of their being.
The phrase everyone who has this hope in Him is equivalent to John’s expression “whoever believes in Him,” or “in His name.”
[pas ho + participle: 3:3 ~ ptc = echon; 5:1; John 3:15-16; 6:40 ~ ptc = pisteuon]

When an individual believes in Christ for eternal life, God imputes righteousness to him (deposits Christ’s righteousness into my account!).
It is my response of faith which results in the new birth (5:1) with the consequent inward purification which new birth produces (3:9; Titus 3:5-6).
When we believe in Jesus for eternal life, we purify ourselves, not because of any intrinsic power in our faith, but because the exercise of our faith is the basis on which God cleanses us inwardly.
The phrase purifies himself points to a causality of the believer’s faith in Christ.
When a person responds to the message of life by believing it, he can be said to cause the purification which automatically follows as part and parcel of “the washing {Gr. loutron bath} of regeneration (Titus 3:5).”

By believing, therefore, the Christian can be said to purify himself precisely because his faith is causally related to his perfect inward purification.
This is not really different than the doctrine of justification. When an individual believes in Christ, God counts the exercise of that faith as “righteousness,” not because the faith merits it but because God imputes righteousness only on that basis.
Here, too, a man purifies himself not because of any intrinsic power in his faith, but because the exercise of this faith is the basis on which God cleanses him inwardly (gives him the bath of regeneration – John 13:10).
Sources: The Epistles of John by Zane C. Hodges
Maximum Joy: First John – Fellowship or Relationship? by David R. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

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