Genuine Children of God

by Mike Ratliff

28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι καὶ πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. (1 John 2:28,29 NA27)

28 And now little children, abide in him that when he is manifested, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28, 29 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In our post The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings, we looked at the oxymoron that some call atheistic Christianity. How is that people who profess faith as Christians and supposedly placed their faith in the Incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, actually display a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic religiosity that is centered in their own moral uprightness. We find this in Church leaders such as pastors and especially scholars at the seminary and denominational level, but, sadly, because of the former, highly prevalent in the pews. In 1 John 2:28-3:10, the Apostle John gives us “evidence” that is most definitely not “politically correct” that will enable us to determine those who really are the genuine children of God and those who aren’t. Of course, we should take a close examination of ourselves as we go through this passage. 

Start by reading 1 John 2:28,29, which I placed at the top of this post. Abiding is vital for believers. What is that? Is a continual, robust, maintaining of one’s personal relationship with Christ. That means prayer and living in His Word. It is through this that we are transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). In this, we will be kept from straying into doctrine or conduct of which we will be ashamed at his coming. Think of what it will be like at his coming. What if it was today or tomorrow? Would you have the confidence in how you are abiding in him to not be ashamed at his coming? Wouldn’t it be far better to abide in him as a way of life and, therefore, have confidence because of a clear conscience?

1 Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καὶ ἐσμέν. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. 2 ἀγαπητοί, νῦν τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσμεν, καὶ οὔπω ἐφανερώθη τί ἐσόμεθα. οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐὰν φανερωθῇ, ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα, ὅτι ὀψόμεθα αὐτὸν καθώς ἐστιν. 3 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν. (1 John 3:1-3 NA27)

1 See what sort of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and we are! Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet become manifest, however, we know that when he is manifested, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. 3 And everyone having this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Right away we see in v1 that there is a built-in antagonistic relationship between genuine Christians and the world. There can be no reconciliation. There can be no partnership. There can be no genuine Christian Bible scholar giving up the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy because that would make things go better in the church’s relationship with liberal scholars or whatever. No, just as the our Lord would not compromise, those who truly belong to him will not either. In v2 we have a peek of what awaits us when Christ returns. Because of this blessed hope, what do genuine Christians do that disingenuous Christians do not? They purify themselves, that is, they continue to work with God in their sanctification, becoming more and more set apart from the fleshly things of this world. On the other hand, the disingenuous Christians remain controlled by their flesh and attempt to look Christian through all sorts of flesh bound means such as legalism.

4 Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία. 5 καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη, ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ, καὶ ἁμαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. 6 πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν. 7 Τεκνία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν· 8 ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς ὁ διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει. εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου. 9 Πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται. 10 ἐν τούτῳ φανερά ἐστιν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὰ τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου· πᾶς ὁ μὴ ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ. (1 John 3:4-10 NA27)

4 Everyone practicing sin also does lawlessness and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that he was manifested that he might take away sins, and in him is no sin. 6 Everyone abiding in him does not keep on sinning. Everyone continuing in sin has not seen him, neither have they known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. The one practicing righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous. 8 The one practicing sin is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this cause the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Everyone having been born of God does not practice sin because God’s seed abides in him, and he is not able to continue in sin because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is manifest who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil, everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God nor is the one who does not love his brother.  (1 John 3:4-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

John has no problem pointing out that there are no gray areas here. Please notice he is not talking about how each of us do sin. That is why we have 1 John 1:9 that we might confess our sins and get right with God. No, this passage is talking about contrasting those whose life is patterned after either abiding in Christ or abiding in sin. Real children of God abide in Christ because they have the seed of God abides in them and so are unable to continue in sin. It does not say we NEVER sin, but that we cannot continue in it as the world does. This living as children of God is walking before God a certain way. John calls it “practicing righteousness.” That is the opposite of practicing sin. Genuine children of God are those whose lives are marked by walking in repentance and that is accomplished as they abide in Christ.

Examine yourselves my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

12 thoughts on “Genuine Children of God

  1. Mike,
    Pray for me, that I will always walk in repentance, and have no truck with the world…just abiding in Him…and being a true child of our Father…
    Have been much blessed by this and your last few posts.
    Keeping you in much prayer That He will continue to use you to bless many thro this ministry!

  2. Mike,

    This reminds me of the bible verses that speak of holiness. To be set apart. Without Holiness, no man will see God. If we’re living like the world, it doesn’t matter how much we say we are Christians because our deeds find us out. Jesus said ‘By their fruits…..’

    These Scriptures above are very convicting and very sobering to be honest with you. And this is exactly what I need to read because it’s encouraging and it keeps me wanting to press on toward that mark of the high calling, you know? I don’t know how anyone else feels about these Scriptures but they are reassuring to me because they are clear on who are the children or sons of God and who are not. Thank you for this piece. And thank God for His Peace through these verses. Again, nobody is perfect especially me but we are supposed to press on not just sit back and think God will do it all nomatter how we live. That’s not Scripture. And I’m not suggesting legalism either for I tried that and nearly committed suicide back then. No, abiding in Christ, that’s the answer. Keeping our eyes on Him. When tempted and tried or persecuted turn to Jesus or run to Him. That’s how I do it. The Scriptures keep me calm and really help me in this walk. It’s really true that the Scriptures are alive and active, sharper than any two edged sword…….

    Praise God for His Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. They settle the matter on how to live and how we can KNOW with assurance that we are the children of God.

    My heart breaks because:

    There are many Christians that I know now that have a life just like the world. Not that I’m some perfect person because Lord knows I’m not. However, in living for Jesus there IS a separateness in our lifestyles, affections, interests, attitudes et al from that of the world. Two worlds apart or should be. Our Lord has called us out of darkness and this is what is so perplexing when seeing other Christians acting as though I did prior to my conversion or regeneration. The Lord is working on me more and more as my interests, habits, thoughts, emotions, attitude, actions, and whatever else can be named in life has changed so much that sometimes it really does feel like I should be on some other planet or that my birth was in the wrong century or something.

    It took me years to get it if you know what I mean. Maybe that’s where some of the others are that I’m seeing. They haven’t gotten it yet. I’ll pray for them. And pray some more. :)

    Yes, it’s true, we don’t continue in sin but this doesn’t happen overnight. At least it didn’t with me. Still, I feel so strongly pulled clearly to the side of the crowd rather than being in the midst. There is no like mindedness. And yes, everybody is on a different level of spirituality or growth I should say but there are people who have been Christians twice as long as myself living like the world and you know how the Bible tells us to talk to a sinning brother or sister, well, I do try but the reaction is volatile from them. Or they say words like “were in the age of Grace” and other such statements. Well, yes, that’s true but let’s not abuse God’s Grace as our excuse for living in sin thinking that somehow we are okay with Him because of His great Grace. The Scriptures are clear. There are lists of things we are to abstain from or we will not see the Kingdom of God. We cannot continue in sin as His seed remains in us. That changes everything about us. We do become new creations. To this I can attest. Not that I’m perfect but there is that desire to want to be! It’s frustrating to not be where I want to be if that makes sense to anyone else here. But as the Apostle says, we keep striving and striving doesn’t mean sit back and expect some miracle to just magically change us. It doesn’t work like that although sometimes there are miraculous changes in certain areas.

    Okay, if you want to delete half of this post I understand, it’s long winded again. Sorry Mike. And thank you so much for these verses and the teaching. If I’ve misunderstood these Scriptures or others please correct me. This is great. May God Bless you and this ministry.

  3. Hence the lie of John Wesley’s perfectionism doctrine – and the need for all the children of God to humbly confess our sins daily.The more one comprehends about our great God, the more we identify with Isaiah and John – when they saw, were undone, and fell down in fear and trembling and worship with a soul of thanksgiving for His mercies.

  4. Denise, my sister, all of us in Christ are on that narrow path of sanctification. Some are much further down it than others. Some progress much further faster than others. Some appear to, but aren’t at all. If you have read Pilgrim’s Progress then you know what I’m talking about. In any case, don’t worry about it. Just continue to apply John 15, Romans 12:1,2, and 1 John 1:9 daily and countless other passages that encourage and instruct us (i.e. living in the Word) and God will take us through this. We can’t do it for anyone else. However, some of us have been given the ministry and voice of instruction and exhortation and we must apply it and obey our Lord in doing it for the edification of the Body and his glory alone…hence this blog.

  5. Dear Mike,

    God is always exposing my weakness in the flesh (praise be to God for His mercy). One of my family members was being treated unjustly and I was so upset and angry. Then it occurred to me, what right do I have to be angry? Was not Christ the Lord of the universe spit at and beaten and He was absolutely with out reason of being punished, not so with us. So, we determined to genuinely pray for and love unconditionally those who were treating us badly. It was amazing! The situation was completely altered and no longer a problem (again all praise to God). The verse “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 just keeps coming to mind.

    No wonder it takes a life time for sanctification when God continues to reveal the depth of my sin. Yes, like Manfred mentioned Isaiah and John falling down undone in the light of our glorious King, I don’t want to be utterly ashamed at His coming.

    Only by His grace, charisse

  6. Mike,
    Thank you for those verses. I heard of a lady who lived in a country where they don’t have access to internet or tv and no Bibles. Well, she did have a short wave radio and would write down verses she heard from the preacher. That was her Bible. She took what she learned along with the Scirptures she wrote down and is teaching others in her village. Isn’t that incredible? That’s God’s Grace for sure. I think it was Angi who said something like she couldn’t imagine what it would be like or she’d shutter to think of not having the Scriptures. We have such an abundance here in America. We are truly blessed. I learn from the Scriptures and places like this blog and others. Praise God that people like you and others teach and have that ability to teach us. Scriptures can surely convict but then comes the blessing from following what our Lord says. I have read The Pilgrim’s progress and the DVD of it is great also. Thank you Mike for teaching like you do and may the Lord continue to bless your ministry. Also like Manfred and Charisse said, just reading of God’s holiness does make one tremble. This is a good thing to fear the Lord. These verses above like I said, do convict, but they also bring assurance if we obey. When you said “Don’t worry about it” I’m not sure what your referring to but if it was because I said I went to people to tell them the correct belief or doctrine because they were telling me that Michael the Archangel is Jesus. And these are Christian ladies. I had to say something. They still don’t believe me so it’s up to the Lord to show them. Thank you again for those verses to read.

  7. You are welcome Denise! No, you are right, I cannot image what that would be like. We are so blessed to have the Word. What I meant by “Don’t worry about it” was that you shouldn’t beat yourself up over you lack of perfection. We are all there. God is at work,

  8. This again is excellent Mike. What grieves me is the sheer number of “christians” that attempt to “win souls” by trying to build a flesh bridge to “nice folks” who claim not Christ. We can not sell Jesus, because nobody is buying Jesus! The Word alone, shared with the world draws to Him those who are His from the foundation of the earth. It again boils down to why we follow Him. Do we follow Him for what He can do for us?…or…Do we follow Him for Who He Is….and then we can forget not His benefits.
    The vast majority of churchianity preaches a jesus who will do for you, or serve you…This is the broad road to destruction that many enter in by.

Comments are closed.