1 John 2:28-3:10 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Are you doing what you ought to be doing? How are your actions speaking to other people about Christ? Are they giving a good witness or repelling people from the gospel?
This part of John’s letter is a powerful thought about our obedience. Not only is he saying that followers of Jesus should do good, he’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re not a follower of Christ. You get that? John’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re on the opposite team. If you’re not for Christ you’re against Him. There’s no middle ground. If you continue to practice sin regularly, you’re not a Christian. Ouch.
We all need to take this passage to heart and assess ourselves from the inside out. Are we really practicing righteousness? When we received Christ we were empowered to walk with God and obey Him in a way that was impossible before our salvation. But are we doing it? Are we walking the walk?
No one who is born of God (reborn, we would say) makes a practice of sinning. Are you a child of God? Are you acting like it?
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
There are many difficult mandates given in the Bible, none more impossible than the command to be imitators of God. How could fallen, sinful human beings possibly imitate a holy, perfect God?
This may seem like a setup for failure, but that’s far from the truth. God knows very well that we can’t be perfect and He’s only asking us to pursue following His commands with His help, not on our own. Anything He’s asked us to do is something He’s equipped us to do.
It’s interesting how important the theme of love is in God’s Word. So many of the laws and rules boil down to loving the Lord and loving other people. It would seem that there is no better way to imitate God than to love. Maybe there’s not even anything God wants us to do more than He wants us to love. To do so is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice” to Him.
We don’t try to be like God in order to gain favor with Him, we follow in His footsteps because we already have favor with Him as His adopted children. We don’t love Him and other people because we want to earn our place with Him, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we’re responding to that epic love in the only way we can. We won’t do it perfectly like only He can, but we’ll be honoring Him by doing it.
Ephesians 3:1-6 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
There’s so much about God that we’ll never be able to understand in this life and much of that won’t even be revealed to us until such a time as we can better accept it. The Father does, however, from time to time, choose to reveal mysteries about himself.
When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus, he wrote to a people that had long heard of the coming of the Christ, of the Messiah. The Jews in that time were quite aware of the prophesies about the Sent One, but some of them missed Him when He came in the flesh. The invisible God dwelled in a physical body (Colossians 1:15), revealing all of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), but He went unnoticed by many.
Then God chose to do something unexpected. He revealed himself to those outside the “chosen people.” He made it possible for the so-called Gentiles to join into His family. For most of us today, this has personal significance. If you are not of Jewish lineage and you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and received His salvation and adoption as one of God’s own children, this means everything.
We’ve been brought in on a promise made to a people long ago. We’re now coheirs under that promise, able to receive all that is due to God’s people, to His children. We are now His family.
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Christian, what did you do to get into God’s family? Did you earn your way in? Buy your way in? How were you able to go from being dead and in sin to being alive and free from sin? No, you didn’t raise yourself from spiritual death. You didn’t earn your way to God. Your reconciliation to Him was purchased by one thing only. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What a beautiful thought that we’ve been brought into the family of God as His adopted children by no work of our own. Generally, we tend to reject the notion that we can get something for free. The saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular one. We’re skeptical that anything in this world can be free of charge.
But our acceptance into God’s family? That’s not something we could earn even if we tried our very hardest. The only way to get that is to through the blood of Christ. It’s not for sale. The choice is take it for free or don’t take it at all. It’s bought and paid for, earned by the One sinless person who ever lived becoming sin in our place.
We’re no longer strangers to God, no longer enemies. We’re now His children, loved by Him, protected by Him, and cared for by Him, not because we did anything to earn His love, but because He first loved us and chose us to be His. We were lost, not Him. We didn’t find God, He found us, and rescued us.
Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
What’s the foremost priority on God’s agenda? Honestly, you and I will probably never know the answer to that question, but consider the fact that before He created anything and brought a single thing into being, He predestined us to be adopted into His family. That’s pretty big.
In fact, that’s unfathomable. The Creator took you and me into consideration and decided that He’d like to adopt us before He even made time. Does that seem a little bit amazing to you? Now, people focus on the whole argument surrounding predestination, but I think they’re missing the real point. God wanted you in His family. He wanted me. He created a rescue plan for us and sent His Rescuer to redeem us and ransom us from this lost world so that we might be part of His kingdom.
Somehow, your adoption into God’s family as His own fits into His grand plan. It says so right in this letter to the Ephesians that God inspired Paul to write. “According to the purpose of His will,” you have been grafted in as one of God’s people. How does that change the way you live your life?
Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
There are few doctrines within Christianity that are more controversial than that of predestination, which Paul speaks on a lot in his letter to the Ephesians. Many Christians shy away from talking about the subject, but we need not fear discussion about something that God spoke about in His Word. As John Calvin is quoted as saying, “No doctrine is more useful, as long as it is handled properly.”
As Christ followers, there are certain things we need to know about our identity. I’ve mentioned the importance of knowing that we’ve been adopted into the family of God as a result of Jesus Christ’s completed work on the cross, but there’s more to it. You did not just choose to follow Christ, you were chosen in Him. That phrase “in Him” sometimes slips by us as we ready, but it’s vital to our understanding of who we are as God’s children.
Adoption, in earthly terms, implies that a family has chosen a child that will become one of them and take on their identity. The child does not choose the parents, the parents rather choose the child. God has revealed in His Word that we have not chosen Him, He has chosen us. He chose us “in Christ,” which means we were only capable of ever being adopted because of Christ. Does this mean we didn’t have a choice in the matter?
Well, we have plenty of time to get into that as we study the rest of Ephesians, but here’s a quote to get you thinking more:
“Those who do not believe are responsible for the fact that they do not believe and will perish as a result. But those who believe, believe by the grace and mercy of God and walk in the fear of God, living holy and blameless in Christ by love.”
– Heinrich Bullinger
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
What is the greatest news you’ve ever been given? Think really hard about it and give an honest answer to that question. Now think about why it is that this was such great news. Now, turn your attention for one moment to news that’s even better than the best news you can think of.
Because God loved the world He had created, He sent Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) to live a perfect, sinless life and to die a sinner’s death in our place. We deserved to be treated with the cruelty He receive. We earned the penalty that He paid. He took on our sin and gave us instead His own righteousness, granting us access to God. What news is this!
Not only are we forgiven by a just God, which is wonderful, but we are now His own children, adopted into His family. Not only is He our Father, but the language used in this text is so intensely beautiful as the writer describes God as our “Abba,” which means “daddy.” God isn’t a harsh, demanding father who is waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. We’re not under Him as slaves, but as His children. He’s our Daddy who loves us and cares about us. We can approach Him without fearing His response. What a perfect way to understand our relationship to our Creator and Redeemer.
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
There are two types of people in this world. There are those who are led by the Holy Spirit and there are those who are lost. There are no other options. When left to our own wisdom to guide ourselves, we get nowhere. Only by the Holy Spirit can we talk in the way God has for us.
To some, this may seem a ridiculous notion, pointing to the achievements of secular mankind who has not consulted God or been Spirit-led in their discoveries throughout the ages. It is an interesting observation, however, those who think that mankind has the potential to know all there is to know, thus disproving the existence of God, are disregarding the fact that God created all there is to discover. The achievements of man are of no eternal consequence.
But those led by the Spirit are children of God, adopted into His family. We have been the recipients of the greatest gift of all time: God himself. There is nothing of greater eternal significance. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this temporary life in regards to greatness because true greatness is only found in one place. It is God’s to give.