[1John 3: 10- 11]
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another”
This is the 26th session of the Lecture Series on 1 John.
In the last session we discussed, ‘he who sins belongs to the devil’.
We also discussed, ‘he who is born of God has the seed of God in him and thus he cannot sin’.
Today’s reading passage has the same context.
1 John 3:10 says, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”
Who is your father?
Those of us who have accepted the Lord and received salvation call God “Father”.
If you say to an unbeliever, “You are a son of the devil,” he will be very offended.
They might get very angry saying you insulted their parents.
But the reading passage today is talking about parents, not in physical sense, but in a spiritual sense.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit call God, Father.
But those unbelievers who do not belong to God belong to the power of darkness whether they want to or not.
It’s because, being controlled by the enemy devil and Satan, who have authority over this world, they live in darkness.
But it’s not only the unbelievers who do not attend church that are children of the devil.
Some who call God, ‘Father’ and say they believe in the Lord are in fact, children of the devil.
Even pastors and elders can belong to this category.
In the Gospel of John, we find Jews who did not want to acknowledge Jesus.
Jews were filled with pride.
They thought they were the chosen people of God and they were proud that they were ‘sons of Abraham’.
But Jesus told them that what they thought was wrong.
John 8:39-41 says, “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.’ They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.'”
It means one’s father is decided according to what kind of behavior he has.
But the Jews wouldn’t understand and answered, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
So, Jesus explained to them once again.
John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.”
In the physical genealogy, their father is actually Abraham.
But true sons of Abraham are not physical sons but spiritual sons.
Namely, in this sense everyone who follows the faith of Abraham and obeys the word of God is a son of Abraham.
Even though they are biological descendants of Abraham, they are still spiritually sons of the devil if they do the works of the devil.
Even though they call God ‘Father’, God would not hear them.
Today’s reading passage gives us two criteria to discern between children of God and children of the devil.
First, it is the ‘practicing of righteousness’, and second is ‘loving the brothers’.
First, to practice righteousness is to keep and practice the word of God.
If you practice the word that is beneficial for you but not the one that is not to your benefit, and if you obey the word you understand but not the one you don’t understand, then it is not righteousness.
True righteousness is to believe the 66 books of the Bible as a whole and obey them.
Even if you attend church diligently, you are not righteous if you are filled with sins and evil just like worldly people.
Then you cannot be acknowledged to have faith.
Also, those who were once faithful but have forsaken the word of God with their love for the world cannot be considered to have faith.
Of course, those who just began their life in faith cannot keep all the words of God immediately.
So, God evaluates them according to the measure of their faith.
If you have been a Christian only for a little while and do not have strength to practice the word, God recognizes you as righteous when you try your best according to your measure of faith.
As it is said that you are justified by faith, God calls you righteous even though you have not accomplished righteousness, because you are trying within the faith that you possess.
It is the duty of God’s children to try and eventually cultivate perfect righteousness.
The second criterion to discern the children of God is the love that they have for the brothers.
The brothers here do not only refer to biological brothers but all relatives, neighbors, and brothers in faith.
Matthew 22:37-39 says, “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Jesus said the greatest among all the Law is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
As said, we have to love our brothers, and we have to love them as ourselves.
How do people love themselves?
They eat good food, and they make themselves warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.
They adorn themselves, fulfill their necessities, and try to cover up their faults.
It is love to do the same for the brothers also.
When your brother is cold and hungry, if you just say ‘What a pity’ it is not love.
You have to supply him with what he needs with your deeds and truthfulness.
If you do not help those who are in need, and if you reveal brothers’ faults and spread it to others, it is not love either.
Of course, you should teach the truth to those who commit sins and go the way of death and advise them to repent.
But without earnest and burning heart to save that soul, if you just criticize and slander him within your own righteousness and frameworks, it is demonstrating hate for that brother.
If you get angry, become jealous, seek your own benefit, it means you do not have love, and you cannot confidently say you are children of God.
The next verse, 1 John 3:11, emphasizes love once again.
It says, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
What is the message that we heard from the beginning?
It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is the news that God the Creator loved the sinners to the point that He gave His one and only Son to crucifixion.
It is the news that Jesus came to this earth in human flesh and fulfilled the Law with love by being crucified.
Brothers and sisters, when Jesus redeemed us from our sins, it is not that He just took the cross at the last moment.
He forsook His heavenly glory, and for 33 years of His life on earth, He showed love to us with all His body, heart, and mind.
He did not wear beautiful clothes. He did not eat good food. He lived in poverty to redeem us from poverty.
Right from the beginning of His public life, He spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and healed the sick to deliver the love of God.
He was flogged and shed blood with His love to redeem us from the pains of diseases.
He wore the thorns to redeem us from sins we commit in thoughts, and He was nailed through His hands and feet to redeem us from our sins we commit with our hands and feet.
He was hung on the wood to redeem all mankind from their curses according to the spiritual law. He shed all His blood and died to give us life, when we were going the way of death.
When He talked to His disciples and stayed with them, taught the crowd, healed the sick people, cared for the children, and even as He was breathing, He did everything to show the love of the Father for us.
If the parents love their children, they want to stay with them, talk to them more, and express their love.
They’d want to feed them with delicious food and hold their hands or faces.
Similarly, Jesus stayed with the people with His warm love for 33 years.
When He was about to take the cross, He was not afraid of the wretched punishment of the cross.
He did not feel relieved thinking, “I taught them enough to save them, and I did everything by sacrificing myself so much. I am happy that I am going back to the glory of Heaven and to the bosom of the Father.”
He had the great burden for the disciples who were being left in the world which is controlled by the enemy devil and Satan.
He was thinking like, “I taught and protected the disciples with My love, but after I am gone, what will they do?” He went up to Golgotha having this kind of concern in His heart.
He was not thinking of His own pain or happiness, but He only thought of the souls. He stayed with mankind with this kind of love until His last moment.
And because the disciples had received this kind of love, they could love each other, too.
As Jesus showed them love, they loved God and the souls with all their lives.
They had compassion on the weakness of others. They sacrificed and devoted themselves in service for the souls.
Once we have heard the gospel, we must love each other, too.
This way we can be recognized as God’s children and not children of the devil.
Brothers and sisters, sometimes people might pretend to have faith and cheat others.
Their hearts are full of unrighteousness, but they pretend to be full of the Spirit and praising God or praying in tears.
They might even cheat themselves thinking they have good faith.
But the spiritual realm is very precise.
God is spirit, and we can never cheat Him. We cannot cheat the enemy devil and Satan either.
If you are children of God and you really practice righteousness and love the brothers, God will know you and the enemy devil and Satan also know you and fear you.
On the contrary, no matter how much you say you believe, Satan will not fear you as long as you do not have true faith in your heart.
When the apostle Paul commanded in the name of Jesus Christ, the demons trembled as they left the people.
Handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out from them.
Seeing these amazing things, some people who did not even believe the Lord, imitated Paul but they were following their greed.
Acts 19:13-15 says, “But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, ‘I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, ‘I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?'”
Those who experienced the works of God by taking handkerchiefs and aprons from Paul had faith.
Even though they did not have as perfect faith as that of Paul’s, they acknowledged the Lord and gave glory to God when they experienced the power of God.
But the sons of Sceva did not have any intention to acknowledge the Lord.
As they earned money by deceiving people with magic, they wanted some profit from it if some works would take place by driving out demons in the name of Jesus Christ just like Paul did.
The demons knew that unrighteous heart exactly and did not fear them. But rather they leaped on them and overpowered them.
It’s the same today.
True children of God can enjoy the authority as God’s children.
But even though you say you believe in the Lord, you cannot enjoy that authority if you do not have the proof of your true faith.
Namely, if you do not try to cultivate righteousness in your heart and if you do not love your brothers, you do not have the ‘proof’ that you are children of God.
So, when the enemy devil and Satan try to give you tests and trials insisting that you are devil’s children, God cannot protect you.
You cannot receive any blessings or get answers to your prayers.
Even if you have a big title in the church, or even if you are teaching the church members the Word of God, what is more important is whether you have the proof of your true faith.
As mentioned earlier, the Jews at the time of Jesus thought they were the Elect and they lived by the Law of God.
But Jesus rebuked them saying they forsook justice, mercy, and faithfulness, and they had nothing to do with God.
With their own frameworks, they distorted the righteousness of God and they passed judgment and condemnation on others. This is only hypocrisy and useless in the sight of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those who are listening to this message all around the world. Let me ask you this question once again:
WHO IS YOUR FATHER?
Can you confidently say, “I am a child of God. My father is God who is light and I practice righteousness and love the brothers.”?
I hope all of you can answer like this.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be blameless and perfect as children of God, so that you can drive away the power of darkness with spiritual authority and later dwell in great glory in the kingdom of Heaven.