I John 3 is our reading today. How much God loves us that he allows us to be called his children, "and we really are!" (vs 1). How do we truly know we are God's children? In this chapter, the apostle John gives us some great insights and clues:
1. We look forward to seeing his Second Coming, seeing him face to face (vs 2). It's not a far off "I hope so". It's an every day reality. If he came back today, we'd rejoice! For we know that when he comes we will be "like" him (not exactly like him but similar in our resurrection bodies--Jesus is God so we can't be exactly like him).
2. We desire to be pure and holy now, as Jesus is pure and holy, for when we see him we desire to be like him (vs 3).
3. There is no habitual, continual sin in us (vs 4). Yes, Christians do still sin. We saw in chapter one that if we say we have no sin we are lying! But the issue here is "continual/habitual sin", something we repeatedly do as "children of God." For Jesus came to take away these kinds of sin (vss 5-7). To keep on sinning shows we really belong to the Devil. Someone is our master: God or Satan. When we are children of God, we are totally committed to him as Father. Vs 8: "For the Son of Man came to destroy the works of the Devil." One of the major reasons for the Incarnation is to destroy sin inside us, to release us from the captivity of the evil one. Those born again, born into God's family, have as their greatest desire to obey God's laws, to be pure and holy. Those who love God as Father desire 1) to obey God's commands 2) will love other Christians (vss 9,10). If we don't do these tow things, it proves God is not our Father!
4. Vss 11,12: We must love one another in God's family. We can't be like Cain who hated his brother Abel because he was always trying to offer God his best and Cain didn't like it (see Genesis 4). This proved Cain belonged to the evil one as his father. Vs 13: When you stand for what's right, and as children of your heavenly Father, don't be surprised WHEN (not if) the world hates you. Vs 14: When we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, it proves we have gone from death to life, we've been born of the Spirit (vss 15,16).
5. A child of God is generous with money (vs 17). Here is a powerful verse: "But if anyone has enough money to live well, and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help--how can God's love be in that person?" As a child of God, we desire to help other Christians who are suffering. We don't just talk about being generous, we show it (vss 18-20).
6. A child of God prays confidently (vs 21ff). Our consciences are clear. We know we've been forgiven. Therefore, we know we can go before our Father in heaven and ask him anything, with BOLD confidence. Vs 22: "And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him". But (and there are two conditions for this kind of bold praying): 1) we must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ--that he is God's Son, the Savior of the world and 2) we must love one another just as we are commanded. When these two conditions are met, we can pray boldly, confidently and ask for anything expecting God's positive answer.
7. Finally, vs 24: a child of God simply knows Christ lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us. How do we know? We just know? We just know Jesus lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's as real as breathing. If you can't say you know this, you probably have not been born of the Spirit.
May all of us live today as God's children. That's who we are. If we know it. we'll live accordingly!