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!