The world does not know genuine Christians because it does not know God

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 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 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

How is it 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? It 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 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, 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 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

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 Παιδία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν· 8 ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι ἀπʼ 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 (NA28)

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 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

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 which 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!

7 thoughts on “The world does not know genuine Christians because it does not know God

  1. Mike, so true that those who do not accept true biblical Christianity end up with moralistic legalism. They refuse to bow the knee in true repentance…their teachers tell them that they are not sinners but valuable to God. So much of the teaching is just people who are glib talkers teaching their own ideas. So then their followers they think they can, by their own power, get better and better by self improvement using the Bible as their guide. If they read their Bibles, they must merely pick and choose verses, because there are plenty of other verses about true Christianity that it is hard to believe they are reading the same Bible. The kicker though is that they look at us and think we are the judgmental, legalists when in fact we are the ones that know that it is only by God’s grace that we love Him and seek Him and His truth. We know that we cannot change ourselves in our own power but only through the sancifying work of the Spirit through the Word.

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  2. Julie’s comment rang true for me…. I want so badly to meet the people, that agree with and love writings such as this blog post, face to face. I long for fellowship with people that ARE actually led by the same Spirit.
    A friend emailed this blog post today and I am truly blessed by it. Since God changed me, I am the square peg in every situation. Encouraged by the reminder that we, meaning each true brethren, are all square pegs.


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