by Mike Ratliff
28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπʼ 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 NA28)
28 And now little children, abide in him that when his is manifested we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 Since you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Antinomianism is an attempt to claim to be Christian without Christ being Lord of a believer’s life. Christless Christianity is a man-made religiosity in the form of Christianity, but totally denying the power of our Saviour and Lord because those within are neither rooted nor grounded in Christ. This man-made religion offers only “feelings” and the forms of religiosity (dead works) in an attempt to assuage the consciences of those ensnared in it just as does Antiomianism. On the other hand, genuine Christianity can be put to the test and those who are in Christ can know if they are truly saved. This is called assurance. All false religions have people looking within to find that change within the inner person to see if that “salvation has really happened.” Only genuine Christianity looks at undeniable proof.
Carefully read 1 John 2:28-29 which I placed at the top of this post. What do those who are genuine Christians do that disingenuous Christians do not do? They abide or remain in Christ and in so doing their lives are patterned after the righteousness of Christ. The Greek verb μένετε (abide) is the Present, Imperative, Active case of μένω. That means that this is a command to do something involving continuous or repeated action. In other words, John is commanding believers to abide or remain in Christ as a way of life.
What about the parallel that “…everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him.”? The hope of Christ’s return not only sustains faith, but makes righteousness a habit. John does not mess around here. The word he used for “born,” γεγέννηται, the Perfect, Indicative, Passive case of γεννάω is the same verb he used in John 3:7 where Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again. According to 1 Peter 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:13-16, those truly born again partake of their heavenly Father’s righteous nature. Even though not perfect, they will display characteristics of God’s righteousness. What John is doing is looking from effect (righteous behavior) to cause (being truly born again) in order to affirm that righteous living is the proof of being born again (James 2:20, 26; 2 Peter 3:11).
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 ἐπʼ αὐτῷ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτόν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν. (1 John 3:1-3 NA28)
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 know him. 2 Beloved, we are children of God, now, and what we will be has not yet been manifested; but 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 that one is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
This is actually one of my favorite New Testament passages. In one of my personal email systems, I include it as a link in my outgoing email messages in the footer. Sadly, I have found that many professing Christians who have received those emails have seemed embarrassed by it or they act like its not there. Why is that? I watched a documentary about a former NBA basketball player from the Boston area who lost his career and almost lost his life and family because he became addicted to heroin. The documentary was about his fall then his struggles with recovery and his life now being clean and sober. When he was a junkie he always took his toiletries into the shower with him and did everything like shave, brush his teeth, et cetera, in the shower. However, after his recovery, his wife asked him why she now saw all those things in the bathroom next to the sink, but before they were always in the shower. He thought about it and then told her that when he was a junkie, he could not look at himself in the mirror because of the shame. Now he could.
I am convinced that this passage is incredibly convicting. All those who have the hope of seeing Christ face to face as their Lord and Saviour purify themselves even as our Lord is pure. What this means is that genuine believers live in the reality of Christ’s return and this makes a difference in their behavior. Since, on that day when he returns, believers will be like him, a desire should grow within them to become like him now. We see this in Philippians 3:12-14 as well. This calls for a purifying of sin that is a cooperative or synergistic work that God does with us in us (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22).
Christ’s work of redemption was complete on the cross. All in Christ are fully justified with his righteousness and perfect obedience to the law imputed to their account. However, we still sin. We are not humble. We are self-centered, et cetera. Therefore, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling until God takes us home or Christ comes for us, whichever comes first. We are both righteous in God’s eyes because of the work of Christ and yet we are still in the flesh, sinners saved by grace who must work to purify ourselves even as he is pure.
Those professing Christians who refuse to do this run after the world and so seek antinomianism and/or Christless Christianity thereby proving their disingenuousness.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Have you ever done anything on the difference between “in Christ” and “Christ in us”? I’ve been pondering that lately and something you said in this post reminded me of the question.
Danny, I have not done a study with that precise goal in mind. I have done studies of what it means for the Christian to abide in Christ and He in us (John 15). Here is an article that talks about this on a more theological level.
Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.
John 14; 20, 15; 4, 17; 23 speak to the He in us, us in Him doctrine. I see it as you can’t have one without the other.
On the other issue:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6; 9-11
Whenever you question a ‘believer’ in sin such as drunkeness, etc., you always get the “but we’re saved by grace! We’re not saved by works!” argument. I tell them I’m not talking about how we get saved, but how the fact that we got saved is manifest. And yes, we do need to repent of these things and the power is given to us through Christ. What do these cheap grace peddlers do with verses like this? Can’t you just hear them now, arguing with Paul even? Yet, that is what it says. Looks to me like those who continue in sin don’t go to heaven. We won’t be perfect of course, but let it not be named among us that people carry on in such sin and immorality. Now is the time to repent.
Over on the ‘Apostasy Watch’ site, under June 4, the first item (about Paul’s letter to the Galatians) is a really great article, you gotta check it out. It’s sarcastic humor, a real tickler that I think you will appreciate!
I would have added a comment but they were closed (about all the ‘good’ that place is doing in the community… etc. but examples are endless).
Mike, what if one reacts against one’s Presbyterian minister preaching “The Ten Commandments” and the preacher’s first instinct is then to say: “Antinomian”! Isn’t “Christ’s law” the standard? I truly believe the standard of the Ten Commandments isn’t high enough – as well as ill-taught and inapplicable in the New Testament, especially when it was the backbone of the Old, which is obsolete. Paul taught emphatically that we are to use the law lawfully. Saying or believing the “moral” carries over hence the 10 Commandments carry over, leaves you with the awkward 4th commandment which isn’t moral – unless you say everything coming from God is by definition “moral”…
Alex,”The Ten Commandments” are very much still intact and what is the “law” part of “Law and Gospel preaching.” Paul was emphatic that the Law was good and useful. Here is a post on this I did not long ago.
Oh, wow, I bloomin’ LOVE this. I love it as a Christian and an academic. My mother studied biblical Greek when I was a kid because she was studying ancient Greek plays and I’ve been fascinated by language study ever since. I also appreciate the topic of Christian authenticity. I recently started participating in Overeaters Anonymous and in O.A., as in all twelve step programs, I’m challenged to turn the total of my life to God and to actively undertake “fearless moral inventory” so I can be honest with God about the sin in my life so I can ask for His forgiveness and the power to stop doing those sins. I know God led me to O.A. because I needed extra it’s structure. Of course like all other twelve step programs, O.A. is not Christ centered, nor does it profess to be. However, those in the group don’t try to tell me not to seek Christ as my Higher Power.
I agree Mike, that Law and Gospel go together, but which Law is the question. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated several times, “but I say unto you”. e.g.,merely lusting after a woman IS adultery (Mat.5/28). The 10 Commandments never went this far. If we follow Jesus’ standard today and the 10 Commandments (along with the 613 others, as they are a package), then many would not be alive today because everyone has lusted, would stand guilty and be stoned! The OT was prescriptive and legally binding over the nation of Israel. Under the New Covenant, individuals are called and repent and because of their regenerate heart follow godly principles summarised by loving God and one’s neighbour via the guidance of the Holy Spirit by faith (Gal. 3/11)
Well of course Alex that is why all Christians are New Creations. We have the Holy Spirit within as our Comforter our παράκλητον and we also have a παράκλητον in Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. Study the Greek in 1 John. All those statements about the Christian’s sin are in Aorist, Subjuctive meaning a single act of sin not habitual sin. Genuine believers are no longer habitual sinners, that is, ruled by sin. Yes, we all still sin, but that is the exception, not the rule. Therefore, we have an Advocate παράκλητον. Our Advocate is our defense attorney so to speak in Heaven who pleads our case before the throne of grace. 1 John 2. It is His innocence and his sacrifice that removes our guilt. This is grace. We still preach the entire Law to sinners yet we also preach grace.