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Born of God

by David Johnson

IMG_0666    It is good to be together again as together we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is, “Born of God,” and the text is 1 John chapter three verses four through 10.  Listen to the Word of God.

Everyone who sins breaks the law. In fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.  And in him his no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him. He cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are.  Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the Word of God.

In the preceding passage to our text, 1 John chapter two verses 28 through 1 John 3:3, we have the apostle John’s admonition, his appeal to the Church that we should purify ourselves before and in expectation of the future second coming of Christ. So in our current passage, 1 John chapter three and verses four through 10, the apostle John makes the case that we in the Church should need to purify ourselves, that is, not continue to practice sin habitually, because of the first coming of Christ, his past appearing. He appeared to remove, to cover our sins and destroy the dominance of the devil in our lives. And so we should be sinning less and less, purifying ourselves. Holy living is a moral test that points back to genuine saving faith. Because we are genuinely saved through faith, we desire and have the power by the indwelling Holy Spirit to live holy lives.  Godly behavior does not save us. That would be earning it. But godly behavior is a proof, a verification of genuine saving faith.

Our passage today can be broken down into three basic reasons regarding Christians that should not habitually practice sin. First, sin is contrary to God’s law. Second, sin is contrary to the work of Christ in us or for us. Thirdly, sin is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit in us and for us.  So, first, sin for the Christian as a habitual lifestyle is contrary to God’s law.

In 1 John chapter three and verse four it says: Everyone who sins breaks the law. In fact, sin is lawlessness. There are two primary biblical definitions of sin. First, from the Greek meaning missing the mark and, secondly, without righteousness. The main meanings from the original Greek are that sin is a transgression or breaking of God’s law, of God’s moral, ethical commandments. Sin is lawlessness, rebellion toward God. That is, to think or talk or act in a habitual open rebellion to God denies the faith.  One cannot genuinely claim to be a Christian and be heaven bound and live habitually like one is hell bound instead.  Mere mental assent as belief in God that exists without really trusting God to live for him is a farce. It is a masquerade. It is not taking God as master, as Lord. It is not taking Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.


And that is a sham and shameful. Jesus Christ made this abundantly clear in Matthew chapter seven and verses 21 through 23 where it says: Not everyone who says to me: Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons or perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly: I never knew you.  Away from me you evil doers. Therefore, our lip service alone saves nobody.  Just an intellectual belief is not enough. A life lived by faith must be backed up, proven by holy living.  That is what saves through the faith that obeys. We are actually saved by the grace of God.

Christians no longer are marked by lawlessness. Yes, we have periods of being backslidden, but it is temporary, unless we completely abandon God, commit apostasy. Christians have a lifetime marked by holy living, obedient lifestyles.  We know God’s laws. We know his commandments, his moral and ethical standards and we strive, indeed, we struggle to keep them. And God knows that we are trying. And when we do miss the mark and are unrighteous, then we fess up and confess and repent of our sins knowing that we have offended our God. And we have godly sorrow for missing the mark, for falling short. And we continue to fall short of the glory of God.

Christians are no longer slaves, however, to sin, no longer slaves to Satan. We belong to God. We are family of God. Lawlessness and sin, according to God, is not just a personality problem, not just cultural relativeness, whatever society today accepts as ok, but defiant rebellion against God, against his law.

For example, as an illustration, little Judy was riding in third car with her father. She was standing up in the front seat. Her father commanded her to sit down and put on her seat belt, but Judy refused. Her father said: Sit down now or I will have to pull over and spank you. Put on your seat belt. So Judy finally obeyed.  But in a few minutes she defiantly told her father: I am still standing up on the inside.  That is a picture of rebellion. That is a mindset against God, an attitude that is against God.  That is lawlessness. That starts in our hearts and minds and wills against God.   This is the essence of sin.

Christians are not to live to sin.  Christians are to live for the Savior and struggle against sinning by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to sin less and less.

Second, sin is contrary to the work of Christ and, therefore, should not be practiced by Christians. Consider 1 John chapter three and verses five through eight. In verse five it says, in part: He appeared so that he might take away our sins.  That is the primary reason for Christ’s first coming to the earth. He came to save that which was lost. He came as Savior.  Therefore, it is contrary. It is inconsistent. It is incompatible for anyone claiming to wear the name of Christ to be a Christian and also to habitually sin. Unconfessed, unrepentant sin is not the way for the believer, for the Christian. That would be to utterly reject, ignore the sanctifying element of salvation in which we were all made saints positionally by the righteousness of Christ imparted to us through faith.  Therefore, our faith needs to be an obedient faith. Not only are we positionally saints, but we also need to be practically saints by the process of sanctification, seeking and striving and struggling by the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, to direct us to live holy lives, purifying ourselves even as he is pure.

As a result of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, Christians are set apart from sin unto holiness. Saints who do not allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies and we born again baptized believers are saints not by Rome, but saints by the Redeemer who has made us saints, sanctifying us by his blood on the cross and our faith in him and his work on the cross on our behalf.  Christ’s work on the cross destroyed sin’s dominion over believers, not just for future glorification, but also for present sanctification.  As believers, we strive to grow in godly behavior.

So in verse six it says: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. In the original Greek language—which is not as clear in our English translations—we need to understand that the Greek tenses used here, the verbs related to sin, are all in the present tense, indicating continuous, habitual action. So the apostle John is not here referring to occasional sin, but, instead, to established continual patterns of sin. Because as believers we all still sin, even willfully at times, but not as a way of life, completely disregarding God’s law, Christ’s work or completely disregarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us in the Christian’s life. Christ died for us so that we can live for him and live not as the world, but live as kingdom subjects under the lordship of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.

In verse eight it says: He who does what is sinful is of the devil. That is, as a way of life. There are only two basic categories of mankind. Either we belong to God, righteous in Christ Jesus, or we belong to the devil, unrighteous without Christ. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work at the first coming of Christ, which he did on the cross. And, of course, as God the Father exalted Christ to his right hand by raising him from the dead and, therefore, he validated, he accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to remit sin for the salvation of the world through faith in him. It is unthinkable that persevering Christians would continue in devil like behavior in rebellion in the works of the devil including his temptations, his false teachings, his persecuting and accusing of believers, perverting what Scripture reveals as unrighteous.

For example, in Isaiah chapter five and verse 20 it says, in part: To call evil good and good evil. This cannot be for the born again, baptized believer.

Thirdly, sin is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 John chapter three and verse nine it says: No one who is born of God will continue to sin. Being born of God is the key work of the Holy Spirit.  In the gospel of John chapter three and verse five Jesus answered: I tell you the truth. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that regenerates, that makes alien sinners alive spiritually in our spirits through faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross on our behalf.
In Ephesians chapter two and verse one it says: You were dead in your transgressions and sins.  In verse two: in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, that is, the devil. So the work of the Holy Spirit is to birth spiritual life in believers. The Holy Spirit also, of course, illuminates the minds of believers to understand spiritual realities. The Holy Spirit gives believers—as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and grow and mature—the mind of Christ, according to 1 Corinthians chapter two and verse 16.  That is, to have the mind of Christ to discern the truths of God in Scripture, because the Holy Spirit continues to guide, direct, intercede, counsels, help, encourages, convicts, anoints and imparts virtuous fruit and gifts of the Sprit, gifts of service to mention a few of the ministries of the Holy Spirit to impart to us to live godly lives.

Belief and behavior, godly belief, belief in God, receiving Jesus as personal Savior and godly behavior are the hallmarks of the born again believer.  The same power of the Holy Spirit to be born of God also energizes Christians in holy living. Christians strive to be led of the Holy Spirit, not to quench of grieve the Holy Spirit.

And, lastly, in 1 John chapter three and verse 10 it says, in part: Anyone who does not do what is right, is not a child of God. that is, who habitually, as a lifestyle continuously rebels against God.  Professing Christ is not enough.  We need to practice Christ likeness in his character and in his doctrine. Our old nature came from Adam after he sinned.  But our new nature comes from Christ who never sinned. Whom are we going to follow, the old Adam in us or the last Adam, even Jesus as our model, as our perfect example as we walk in his steps?


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4