The first ten verses of the third chapter of the Apostle John’s epistle to the Church of God we find one of the most important passages in the Bible. Let us study these verses, along with several corresponding verses in order “HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCH.”
3:1: The world does not recognize God’s children for who they are. The Counterfeit Church rejects God’s people because they believe and obey His Word, thereby exposing the darkness which false Christians put forth as God’s light. John confirms this statement in 2:12 where he explains that Cain killed Abel for exposing his (Cain’s) works as evil. Jesus exposed the darkness of the religious leaders of His day who not only failed to recognize Him as God’s Son, but accused Him of being the son of Satan. As He promised, the world views His brethren the same way.
3:2: Here John refers to our future appearance when Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. At this time we do not know what our appearance will be like following His advent, “but we know that when He is revealed WE WILL BE (LOOK) LIKE HIM FOR WE WILL SEE HIM AS HE IS”–we will know what we look like by looking at Jesus. We get a glimpse of our future appearance in Revelation 1:12-15 where John describes the resurrected Jesus as being: “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace.”
Upon His return to earth His true saints will be born attain–changed from physical to spiritual bodily composition. See Born Again. To read about this event we turn to 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and the sound of a trumpet. And the dead IN CHRIST will rise first. Afterward, we who are alive will rise to meet Him in the air. From that time forward we will be with Him where He is.” The Holy Scriptures tell us that He will be in the Kingdom of God located in Jerusalem. See The Resurrections for a Biblical description of the three resurrections of mankind, who will be involved in each and the future status of each group. Also see The Kingdom of God for information about the Lord’s future home base in the Promised (Holy) Land.
3:3: Here we are given information concerning what man must do in order to join Jesus in God’s Kingdom. But before we go there let us be reminded that in this life we have only the HOPE of joining Him paradise. WE ARE NOT SAVED IN THIS LIFE, but have the hope of salvation (1 Thes. 5:8). John tells us how to be certain that our hope will result in eternal life: “everyone who has this hope (of being born again) PURIFIES HIMSELF EVEN AS HE (JESUS) IS PURE.” This is what God calls “works” which consist of OBEYING HIS WORDS. In 4:17 John tells us that in order to come boldly before Him on the Day of Judgment we must live in this world as He lives in heaven–IN A STATE OF HOLINESS.
3:4: In this verse the Lord, speaking through John’s writings, tells us in plain, simple language the singular WORK we must do in order to inherit eternal life–WE MUST KEEP SIN OUT OF OUR LIVES BY OBEYING HIS LAW (the Holy Bible which He summarizes in the Ten Commandments). In verse 4 we find God’s definition of sin: “To transgress (break) the Law is sin, for SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW.” The Almighty commands us to obey the Law, the same Law that was supposedly “nailed to the cross.” See The Royal Law.
In 3:5-10 John reveals the Lord’s attitude toward sin which, if believed, destroys the theory that sin is a normal part of Christian life due to Adam’s fall. Let us see what God says about that Satanic bit of theology upon which “sinners saved by grace” base their belief. Jesus came to take sin out of the lives of those who truly desire to be IN HIM (vs 5). Recall that only those who are IN HIM will enter God’s Kingdom (1 Thes. 4:16,17). Those who desire to be IN HIM must realize that “IN HIM THERE IS NO SIN” (vs 5). Therefore, “Whoever abides IN HIM DOES NOT SIN” (vs 6). Sinners, including those supposedly saved by grace, “have neither seen Him nor known Him” (vs 6). True God seekers must “PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ORDER TO BE RIGHTEOUS, JUST AS HE IS RIGHTEOUS” (vs 7). All sinners, including those in the church, are OF THE DEVIL and do his works. Sin is the “work” of the devil; righteousness is the “work” of God. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (sin) in those who seek to be IN HIM (vs 8). Whoever has been born of God (IN HIM, converted–not saved) DOES NOT SIN for there is NO SIN IN HIM (vs 5). Therefor, one cannot sin and be IN HIM. Sin, we are told in Isaiah 59:2, “separates us from God.” Contrary to church doctrine, one cannot be separated from God and in Him at the same time.
In verse nine we find a statement that has caused people to doubt God’s Word. Due to religious laziness and dependence on their leaders, they fail to study and live by “… every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). Therefore, verse nine is an enigma to them. In this verse we are told that not only does a true Christian not sin, but that he/she “CANNOT SIN.” To those who claim to carry Adam’s sin gene and therefore must sin, this is beyond reality. However, if we “Study to show your(our)self approved of God” (2 Tim. 2:15) we find that the English word “cannot” (meaning impossible) does not reflect what was written in the language of the New Testament (Greek). The Greek word “cannot” is a construction containing two words: “can” and “not.” The word “can” in Greek is “dynamia” from which we get the word “dynamite.” Dynamia means: to be able, to have ability, to have power. The word “not” in Greek is “ou” which means: no, never, under no circumstances. Correctly translated, “cannot” means that, though the saint can sin, he/she absolutely refuses to do so. This Truth is confirmed in 5:18: “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he keeps himself (from sinning) and the wicked one does not touch him.” Such a one “overcomes the world” through faith (5:4).
In verse 10 we find the apostle summarizing the previous nine verses by telling us how to distinguish between the children of God and the children of Satan: “WHOEVER DOES NOT PRACTICE (WORK) RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT (BORN) OF GOD.” Conversely, whoever practices righteousness is (born) of God and is qualifying for eternal life. Recall that in this life we have only the HOPE of salvation (1 Thes. 5:8). Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:22 that only those who endure to the end of life in a state of Christ-level righteousness (3:7) will be saved upon the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Father’s Kingdom on earth. L.J.