You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week we saw the great love God has for us. We are called children of God because of this great love. We learned to expect trouble because the world does not know God and as a result, the world does not know us – does not understand us. This morning, we’ll look at the hope that is found in Christ.
1 John 3:2-3 says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
There is some uncertainty in John’s words. He is a man of contrasts and he offers up yet another one here in v. 2. We see the present and the future. The known and the unknown. So what’s it all mean? John states that we are children of God – that is a fact. Remember who this letter is written to. But we don’t know what we’re going to be. What we’ll look like. Will we have special powers? What we will be like is veiled in smoke – we can’t see what it will be. No matter though, we’re still children of God. In Phil. 1:6 Paul said, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” We don’t know what it will be like, but we do know that no matter what we will be, we will be like Christ. But it won’t happen until He appears. Notice there is no uncertainty of that fact. He says, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” When – not if – He appears. How is this going to happen? John’s not so interested in the process of the change, but in the certainty that it will happen. Using Paul’s words, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21) We’ll be transformed into the likeness of Christ by the power of Christ.
Don’t confuse this transformation with the daily transformation we undergo as a result of abiding in Christ. Rom. 8:29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We call this process sanctification. It is a continual process of changing to be like Christ. As we live our lives in service to the King, we should be growing more and more like Christ, but we’re still subject to these earthly bodies. No matter how much you work on your body, it’s not suitable for heaven. In the last decade there was a 69% increase in elective cosmetic surgery. 12.5 million people underwent elective cosmetic surgery. We’re trying to preserve our bodies, but we can’t. Our earthly bodies are subject to the curse of sin and no matter what we do, our bodies will continue to age and deteriorate. But when Christ returns, our physical bodies will be transformed by Christ. What will they be like? They’ll be like Christ, and that’s all that matters.
Why does John shift gears in this passage? He’s talked about anointing, and deception, and abiding. Why talk about the second coming of Christ? John brings it back to authenticity. V. 3 says, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” There are some significant implications of being a child of God. Notice again John’s phrasing: “Everyone who has this hope.” A person can absolutely know he is a Christian. Let me remind you of John’s benchmarks for a vibrant walk in Christ. Christians, “Walk in the Light.” (1:7) We, “Confess our sins” to God. (1:8) “We keep His commandments.” (2:3) We, “Keep His Word.” (2:5) We walk in the same manner as Christ. (2:6) We, “Love our brother and abide in the Light.” (2:10) We, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.” (2:15) We remain in the community of believers. (2:19) We, “Have an anointing from the Holy One.” (2:20) We, “Know the truth.” (2:21) We , “Abide in the Son and in the Father.” (2:24) We have confidence in Christ. (2:28) We practice righteousness. (2:29) We are called, “children of God.” (3:1) That’s 14 specific indicators of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Everyone – not just the spiritual elite, not just those that claim spiritual illumination, but everyone. This certainly includes those Gnostics that said flesh and spirit are separate so their sin had no affect on their lives. Everyone would certainly include those of us that are living. Everyone would certainly include those of us that profess to be Christians; that claim a relationship with Christ. Hope means to look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial. Our hope, our confidence, our trust is in Christ. Paul calls it a “blessed hope” in Tit. 2:13. Heb.10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Peter called it a, “living hope.” (1 Pet. 1:3) Since we have this hope, we are to purify ourselves. Back in 1:7 John said the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin. That is absolutely true, but here John is talking about what we need to do. The purification we experience at salvation is the first step in the transforming power of Christ. As John said earlier, we have an anointing, an ability to rely on the power of God to help us be pure. Peter, Paul, and James all speak to this self purification. Christians do have a responsibility in the process of sanctification. The idea that Christians don’t have the ability to walk in the Light is ridiculous. We have the anointing; we have the power residing in us and on us that raised Jesus from the dead. So why do we often choose to walk in darkness? We live in a world that surrounds us with a spirit of anti-Christ. A world system that is bent on derailing us from true Christian character. Satan will use whatever he can to accomplish that goal. Our enemy wants to distract us, deceive us, and destroy us.
Purification is a process. It does not happen overnight. “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Purify means remove contaminants. Purify is an active verb. That means the subject is doing the purification. John says this purification is happening, it is present tense, it’s going on now. We do get help from the Holy Spirit, but we have individual responsibilities as well. Why are we to purify ourselves? Because Christ is pure. It is Christ, not other people that is our example. John’s mandate to, “abide in him” in 2:24 is critical to our purification. We must stay close to Christ who is completely pure.
We are not in this Christian walk alone. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, His written Word, the Church, and other Christians to help us. The question is do we want to actively participate in this walk of faith? The answer for the authentic Christian is, YES.