Becoming What We Behold

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically today’s passage is found in the third and fourth chapters of this New Testament book. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 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 hinm as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth. Not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 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. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because se love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:1-15).

 

            “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 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. And he that keepth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:16-24).

 

            “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth. Not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and a the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:1-13).

 

            “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the. Love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:14-21).

 

            When you come to the third chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find one of the most well-known and beloved verses in all of Scripture. In the opening verse of this chapter you find the apostle John beautifully declaring and speaking of the manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. In the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we know from the first and opening chapter that John declared concerning those who believed on the Lord Jesus how He gave them power to become the sons of God. In fact if you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the opening chapter of the gospel you will find the apostle John declaring that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for the power to become and be made the sons of God was and still is given to those who not only receive the Lord Jesus but who also believe on Him. The apostle John made it perfectly clear that to those who and as many as did receive Him were given the power to become the sons of God. Not only this but the apostle John would also declare that unto those who believed on His name were given the power to become the sons of God. Thus within the first and opening chapter of this gospel narrative we find the apostle John emphatically declaring that those who received the Lord Jesus and those who believed on His name can and will be given the power to become the sons of the living God.

 

            If you continue reading in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find him declaring of these who were given the power to become the sons of God that they were born—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when we think about and consider this passage of Scripture for within it we find the apostle John declaring that those who receive the Lord Jesus and believe on His name were given power to become the sons of God. What’s more is that these who were given power to become the sons of God were born—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. This is something we must needs recognize and understand—particularly and especially when we consider the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus who came unto Him by night. It would be during this exchange the Lord Jesus spoke unto Nicodemus and began speaking unto him concerning the need to be born again—something Nicodemus did not and could not understand. The words which we find in the third chapter must be carefully considered in light of the words which are found in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the words which are found in the third chapter of the first epistle written by John. It is in the first chapter of the gospel narrative we find the apostle speaking of those who were given the power to become the sons of God as well as those being born as the sons of God while in the third chapter we find the Lord Jesus speaking of being born again. It would be the Lord Jesus who emphatically declared that unless a man be born again he shall not and will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

            Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is the words we find in this particular passage of Scripture that call and draw our attention to the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the need to be born again—something which the apostle John alluded to in the first and opening chapter. It would be in the first chapter of this gospel narrative the apostle John would speak of those who were given the power to become the sons of God as being born—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. The apostle John recognized and understood that being a son of the living God was something one was born into as a supernatural and spiritual act and not something which one could do for and unto themselves. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand just how incredibly important this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the beautiful reality that we have been called to become the sons of the living God. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of this gospel narrative beginning with the first and opening verse:

 

            “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:1-17).

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the significance of what the Lord Jesus was saying unto Nicodemus in this particular encounter. We know from the first and opening chapter how the apostle John declared that those who received the Lord Jesus were given power to become the sons of God. Not only this but we know that those who believed on Him were given the power to become the sons of God. This being made sons of the living God was not of the will of man, nor of the flesh, nor of anything that is earthly and natural but is something entirely and altogether spiritual in nature. In all reality that which we find and read in this passage of Scripture indicates that for those who and as many as receive the Lord Jesus Christ and believe on His name—it is unto those who were given the power to become the sons of the living God. Not only this but when speaking unto Nicodemus the Lord Jesus Christ would declare that unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. When Nicodemus struggled to understand these words which Jesus spoke unto him Jesus would go on to declare that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare how that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand when seeking to comprehend the words which the apostle John wrote in the first epistle unto the saints which were at Ephesus.

 

            If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of the third chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle John declaring unto his readers and audience the love which the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. This is something which must needs be carefully considered for when we read the gospel narrative written by the same author we find it being the power of God that enables us to become the sons of God. Now in this epistle we find the apostle John writing and declaring that it is the love of the Father bestowed upon us that allows us the privilege and the right to be called the sons of God. What’s more is that at the very heart of this is the understanding that we not only receive the Lord Jesus Christ but also believe on His name. We dare not and must not think and/or believe for a single moment that if we have not received the Lord Jesus nor believe on His name that we can and will be called the sons of God. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this particular epistle you can and will be brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth concerning creation itself groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God.

 

            With this in mind I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul. It is here the apostle Paul draws a powerful contrast between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit. Moreover it is here in this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul speaks of those who have become and those who are called the sons of the living God. We have a great need to recognize and understand this for even when we speak of creation itself we must acknowledge that it groans with eager anticipation and expectation for the manifestation of the sons of the living God. We know from Scripture that those who have received the Lord Jesus and those who have believed on His name have been given the power and the right to become the sons of the living God. It is important we come face to face with this incredibly powerful truth for it calls and draws our attention to just how critical and vital the reality of being the sons of the living God truly is—not only in terms of how we live our lives here upon the earth but also concerning creation itself. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul:

 

            “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through t he Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:12-22).

 

            Did you catch the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage of Scripture? In the fourteenth verse of this chapter the apostle Paul boldly declares that those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God. Not only this but the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God—and if children, then we are heirs and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. In the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find him writing of those who have received and continue to receive the Lord Jesus as being given power to become the sons of God. Not only does the apostle John write concerning those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ but the apostle John also writes concerning those who have believed on His name as being given the power to become the sons of God. Thus if we desire to be the sons of God we must not only receive the Lord Jesus but must also believe on His name. It is with this in mind we must needs recognize that this process of being made sons of God is not a process that is done in the earthly and natural realm but something that is done in the spiritual and supernatural realm. It is when Jesus was speaking unto Nicodemus we find Him declaring unto this Pharisee that those who are born again are the ones who can and will enter into the kingdom of God. Furthermore it was the Lord Jesus Christ who would go on to declare that those who are born again must needs be born of water and of the Spirit, thus speaking of being born through baptism in water and being born through baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

            In the third chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John we find what is at the very heart and center of our becoming the sons of God—namely, the love of the Father which was bestowed upon us. The apostle John declared that it was and is the love of the living God bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when Jesus came to the earth He came being known as the Son of God for He professed God as being His Father. As if it weren’t enough for the Lord Jesus to profess God as His Father He also invited all those who would believe on His name and receive Him to become sons of the living God as well. Even in the prayer He taught His disciples and followers to pray he would begin with the words “Our Father.” Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality for when we think about and consider the Lord Jesus Christ and we consider the invitations He gave unto us there is perhaps no greater invitation than to become sons of the living God. Not only is the invitation to become the sons of God so incredibly great but so also is the invitation to come near, approach and call God our Father. It would be in what we know as and what has been commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” that we have been invited to speak to and address God as Father. Not only this but in the eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome the apostle Paul goes on to declare that we have been given the spirit of adoption as sons whereby we cry out, saying, “Abba, Father.”

 

            If you continue reading in the third chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him going on to declare that for those who are granted the power and ability to become the sons of God the world does not know them because they did not know Him. This would immediately be followed by the apostle John going on to write how we are the sons of God and yet how it does not appear what we shall be. Despite the fact that it does not yet appear what we shall be we know that when the Lord Jesus appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredible truth and reality for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that with being the sons of God there is still a part of this reality which hasn’t been revealed. The apostle John would declare unto his readers and audience that although we are the sons of God it does not yet appear what we shall be in the sight and presence of the living God. We know that for those who are in Christ they are new creations and that old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. Even with this particular reality we must needs recognize and understand that it does not and has not yet appeared what we shall be. While we live our lives here on the earth in the flesh we must recognize that we see through a glass darkly and do not see everything perfectly and exactly as the living God sees it. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:

            “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:9-13).

 

            Consider also if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistles written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which gloy was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:1-18).

 

            I would also invite you to take a look at the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome beginning with the twenty-eighth verse of the eighth chapter:

 

            “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).

 

            When you read the words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament epistle written by the apostle John you will find the apostle writing how we are the sons of God. Despite the reality of our being the sons of God the apostle John would go on to write and declare that it does not yet appear what we shall be. This reminds of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints when he declared that he was confident of this very thing that He which has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand these words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints for within it he expressed confidence that the One who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. This is something which must be carefully considered—particularly and especially when we consider the following words in the first epistle written by the apostle John. It is in this epistle we find the apostle John writing how although we are indeed the sons of God it does not appear what we shall yet be. The apostle John eloquently wrote unto these dear saints how although it does not yet appear what we shall be we know that when the Lord Jesus appears we shall be like him for we shall see him as He is. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that although we don’t know the fulness of what we shall be and might not experience it in this life there is the hope that when the Lord Jesus appears we shall behold Him with wide open faces and shall be like Him.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which the apostle John wrote unto these dear saints and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that we have indeed been called to be transformed and conformed into the image, the nature and the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but there is a great need for the Lord Jesus Christ—his nature and his character—to be formed in us and that we indeed put on and be clothed with Him. The apostle John goes on to write how every man which has this hope of beholding the Lord Jesus and being like Him purifies themselves. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this particular for we become that which we behold. With this being said it is imperative for us to understand that if we want to be like Jesus and if we want to be as Jesus is we must needs behold Him. With this being said we must not only behold Him in this earthly and natural life but we must also behold Him when He comes and appears in His glory with all the holy angels. Oh this is very much like Elisha when the prophet Elijah asked him what he wished he would do for him. In response to this Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit which was upon Elijah—a request which the prophet declared would only be fulfilled if he saw him when he was taken from him. If Elisha wanted a double portion of the spirit which was on Elijah he needed to continue abiding with him as he would journey to the appointed place of his departure. Not only this but there was the need for Elisha to behold and look upon him when he ascended into heaven.

 

            This reality of Elisha looking upon and beholding Elijah as he was separated from him and taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire led by horses of fire is something we must needs understand for it speaks to the great need of our watching and beholding the Lord Jesus. The mantle of Elijah would indeed fall from his person upon his departure from this earth and it would be because Elisha had made the decision to walk with him and not leave his side that he would not only pick up the mantle of Elijah but would also receive a double portion of the spirit which was upon him. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with this for just as Elisha needed to walk with and be close to the prophet Elijah so also must we walk with and remain ever near to the Lord Jesus. The apostle John made it very clear that those who look upon and behold the Lord Jesus at his glorious appearing shall indeed become as He is. Oh what makes this even more astounding is when you think about the passage in the second epistle written unto the Corinthians I have already written about. It is in the third chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul we find him writing of Moses having stood in the presence of the living God and having beheld Him face to face that when he departed from His presence he shone with the radiance and reflection of the glory of the living God. As true as it is that we become what we behold we must also recognize and understand that we reflect that which we behold. Moses would spent forty days and forty nights atop the mountain of God in the presence of the living God and when he came down from the mountain his face would shine with the radiance of the glory of the living God.

 

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about and consider just how absolutely incredible this truth truly is. It is absolutely essential we recognize and understand that we become that which we behold—and not only do we become what we behold but we also reflect that which we behold. The apostle John wrote unto his readers and audience that it did not yet appear what they should and would be, however, there was this deep and abiding hope—namely, that when He shall appear we shall be like him. Not only this but the apostle John would also go on to write that every man that has this hope in him purifies himself even as the living and eternal God is pure. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to the truth that we have indeed been called to be those who not only look for the appearing of the Lord Jesus but are also those who are actually found waiting and watching that when he appears they might behold Him. It is when they witness and behold him they become like Him and are transformed and conformed into His nature and image. What this demonstrates within us is a deep and abiding sense of purity, righteousness and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God. The apostle John goes on to write that whosoever sins transgresses the law for sin is the transgression of the law. It was this very reason that the Lord Jesus was manifested in the earth—to take away our sins for in Him t here is no sin. Those who abide in the Lord Jesus Christ sin not and whosoever sins has. Not seen him nor has known Him. These words are such which we must lay hold of within our lives for the apostle John goes on to instruct them to let no man deceive them for he that does righteousness is righteous even as the living God is righteous. Oh what a strong and powerful contrast is found in this passage of Scripture between those who do righteousness and are righteous in the sight and presence of the living God and those who sin and are in fact children of the devil.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding that which the apostle John desired to declare unto these dear saints. The apostle John opened this chapter with the emphatic declaration of the manner of love the Father bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. It is because we are the sons of God the world does not know us because the world did not know Him. What makes this reality so incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that these words written by the apostle John had their root and their foundation in that which the Lord Jesus had spoken and that which He had heard with his own ears. This should not come as any surprise to us for at the very beginning of the epistle the apostle John spoke of that which he heard with his ears, that which he saw with his eyes, that which he looked upon and that which he touched and handled with his own hands. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the words which the apostle John wrote unto these dear saints were not of his own inspiration nor were they even his own words. If you read and study the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the Jews and the Pharisees which are recorded in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by this same apostle. It would be in the eighth chapter of this New Testament epistle we are brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and wonderful reality of the Lord Jesus confronting the Jews and the Pharisees concerning the reality of the kingdom, the truth of His coming unto them from the Father and their rejection of Him. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in this particular chapter:

 

            “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: For I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh, I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come” (John 8:12-20).

 

            “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? Because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him” (John 8:21-30).

 

            “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath. No place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication: we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you. If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets, and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? And the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:31-59).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it helps serve as the foundation and background for that which is found in the first epistle written by the apostle John. You cannot read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with the contrast between those who were children of the Father which was in heaven and those who were children of the devil. Jesus made it very clear with the words He spoke here in this passage of Scripture that there was a vast and fundamental difference between those who had His word and that word abode in Him and those who did not have His word. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus speaking unto them—not only concerning them knowing the truth and the truth making them free but also of Himself making them free. In all reality it is quite remarkable and astounding when you consider the words spoken by the Lord Jesus for not only did he speak of being children of the devil versus being children of the Father which was in heaven but He also spoke unto them concerning freedom. Jesus would declare unto them that He was not of this world and that because He was not of this world they would and could not receive Him. Moreover the Lord Jesus would declare unto the Jews that before Abraham was “I AM,” thus not only speaking of His eternal nature and divinity but also aligning Himself with the living God who spoke unto Moses out of the burning bush and declared “Tell them IAM THAT I AM” sent you.

 

            As you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will be brought face to face with the beautiful reality of those who are indeed of the Father and how they not only have the word of Christ abiding in them but they are also not of this world. When you consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus you will find him speaking of those who continue and abide in sin and iniquity and those who purify and cleanse themselves from all sin. The apostle John would declare that whosoever commits sin transgresses the law for sin is the transgression of the law. That which the apostle John sought to bring his readers and his audience into was the place where they would confess their sins that the Lord Jesus who is faithful and just would not only forgive them but cleanse them by and through the power of His blood. In this passage of Scripture the apostle John declare that the Lord Jesus was manifested to take away our sins—a reality which John the Baptist himself declared when he made the proclamation “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Interestingly enough it was the apostle John who recorded John the Baptist proclaiming these words—not once but twice in his gospel narrative. Now here we are in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John and we are brought face to face with the awesome reality that Jesus was manifested to take away the sins of the world. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which are found in this passage you will find the apostle John going on to further speak of the manifestation of the Lord Jesus in the earth when he declared his manifestation to destroy the works of the devil.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with two distinct purposes for the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are indeed two sides of the coin of the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ for on the one hand we find the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested that He might take away our sins while on the other hand He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. If you want to truly understand the purpose and reason for the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ you must needs recognize that He was not only manifested to take away the sins of the world but also to destroy the works of the devil. When we think about the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ and His ultimate death upon the cross we must needs recognize that all of this took place to indeed take away our sins, yes, but also to destroy the works of the devil. Much like the ten plagues which the living God sent upon the land and people of Egypt were intended on bringing about the deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage and slavery they were also designed to engage in warfare and conflict with the false gods which Egypt worshipped. The ten plagues served a dual purpose for they were in fact meant to bring Pharaoh into the place of submission and to the end of himself in the sight of the living God that he might release the people of God but they were also designed as means of engaging in warfare against the gods of Egypt thus rendering them completely and utterly powerless against and before the living God.

 

            What we find in the third chapter of this epistle written by the apostle John is a wonderful and beautiful picture of the manifestation of the Lord Jesus—not only to take away our sins and the sins of the world but to destroy the works of the devil. This is something we need to lay hold of within our hearts for we no longer have to be slaves to sin nor do we have to be slaves of the enemy and adversary who is the devil. Jesus came and was manifested that we might be delivered and set free from both sin and the terror of the devil within and upon our lives. That which is present in this passage is incredibly unique when you take the time to consider it within it we encounter the purpose and reason for the Lord Jesus being manifested in the midst of the earth—namely to take away our sins having known no sin Himself and destroying the works of the devil. Oh with this being said there is a clear and present picture in this passage of Scripture concerning the stark contrast between those who are the children of the living God and those who are the children of the devil. What’s more is the main and fundamental difference between those who are of the devil and those who are of the living God is indeed on the basis of whether they commit sin or abstain from sin. The apostle John goes on to write that whosoever is born of God does not commit sin for His seed remains in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God. This is something we have great need of recognizing and paying close attention to within our own hearts and lives for we know we are the sons of the living God simply by our pursuit of forsaking all manner and all form of sin—and not only forsaking sin but also deliberately and intentionally choosing not to love the world nor the things of this world.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words the apostle John wrote within this third chapter. In a chapter where the apostle John wonderfully and beautifully spoke unto them concerning the stark contrast between those who are children of God and are born of Him who do no sin and those who are children of the devil who in fact do and continue in sin we also find him writing and speaking of the witness and testimony of brotherly kindness, compassion, charity and hospitality. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture without encountering the beautiful reality of that relationship we are to have with and toward our brother. In fact if you begin reading with and from the eleventh verse you will find the apostle John writing unto them concerning the message which we heard from the beginning—namely that we ought to love one another. This love which we are to have one toward another ought not be as Cain who was of that wicked one and slew his brother because his own works were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Simply put the main and underlying reason Cain slew his brother was because his brother was righteous and accepted in the sight of the living God while he himself was not righteous and he was rejected in the sight of the living God.

 

            The apostle John goes on to invite these dear saints to marvel not if the world hates them—a reality which the Lord Jesus emphatically declared and spoke unto them. What’s more is the Lord Jesus not only declared unto His disciples and followers the world would hate them once but He actually declared it unto on two different occasions. When He ordained and appointed the twelve disciples as apostles and sent them out two by two He would declare unto them that they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake. Additionally when He spoke unto them concerning the Last Days He would go on to once more declare unto them that they would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Here in the third chapter of the epistle written by the apostle John we find the apostle speaking unto the saints concerning the world hating them and how they ought not to marvel in that. This would immediately be followed by the apostle John going on to declare that we know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. Oh please pay close attention to the words which are found here for the apostle John transitions right now into one of the greatest witnesses and testimonies of the Christian—that one who is the son of God and who believes on the name of the Lord Jesus. It was the Lord Jesus who declared that men would know that we were His disciples if we love one another. Now here we have one of Jesus’ own apostles who heard those very words declaring unto the Ephesian congregation that we know we have passed from death to life if and because we love the brethren.

 

            That which we find in the final portion of the third chapter is something which we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives for we find the apostle John continuing this theme of loving one another and loving the brethren. The apostle John takes the words of Jesus concerning loving our brother to another level according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for he would declare that whoever does not love his brother abides in death. What’s more is the apostle John takes this even further and declares that whosoever hates his brother is a murderer and that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly unique and powerful these words truly are for not only does the apostle John declare that those who do not love their brothers are not the children of God but he also declares concerning those who do not love their brother as being those who abide in death and are murderers. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount towards the beginning of it when he spoke of those who hated their brother without cause: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thy bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and them come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say not thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:21-26).

 

            IN bringing this writing to a close I find it necessary to call and draw your attention—not only to the final words which are found in this chapter but also the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus. It is in the final verses of this chapter the apostle John lays things out all the more for the saints of God at Ephesus for he goes on to declare that we perceive the love of God because He laid down his life for us and as such and in response to this love we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Building upon this concept of laying down our lives for the brethren the apostle John goes on to declare that whosoever has this world’s good and sees his brother have need and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him the love of God cannot dwell in him. The apostle John would then go on to instruct them to love not in word, neither in tongue which are shallow, misleading and misguiding but in deed in truth. In the final few verses of this chapter the apostle John would go on to speak of the commandment we received from the Lord Jesus—namely that we should believe on the name of Jesus Christ and love one another. This is something we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth that we as the saints of God must needs be those who not only profess we love our brother but also those who are willing to demonstrate and show love toward our brother. The first and greatest commandment is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength and the second commandment is likened unto it—namely, loving our neighbor or our brother as ourselves.

 

            It is with all of this in mind I leave you with the words which James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus wrote in the second chapter of his epistle. This particular chapter would indeed begin with James writing of showing partiality and favoritism toward those who are present among us in our midst and how those who commit and give themselves to such things are those who cannot and do not fulfil the royal law of the living God which instructs and invites us to love one another even as we ourselves have been loved. Within this chapter we also find James writing unto the twelve tribes of Israel which were scattered concerning their faith and how faith without and apart from works is dead and abides alone. James would go on to declare unto his readers and his audience that they might show them their faith without works and he would show them his faith by works. At the very heart and center of the words which James wrote unto these saints and believers is the demonstration and manifestation of faith in the form of loving our neighbor and brother and laying down our lives for them. With this in mind I leave you with the words which James wrote unto these dear saints concerning faith which needs demonstration and manifestation and ought not be absent an outlet of love, charity, compassion and hospitality toward others:

 

            “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called The Friend of God. Ye see them how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

 

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