Purifying Ourselves Even As We Are Pure – 1 John 3

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’ — 1 John 3:3

First John is a book of extreme statements such as:

  • ‘whosoever sinneth hath not seen [God], neither known [God]’ (3:6)
  • ‘He that committed sin is of the devil’ (3:8)
  • ‘Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin’ (3:9)
  • ‘no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him’ (3:15)

Initially, it appears that these statements are designed to identify who is a Christian and who is not. Obvious the one who sins is not saved and the one who does not sin is saved.

Yet, this conclusion is not so easy, because it would demand that Christians never sin after salvation and that is simply not consistent with passages of Scripture like Romans 7 and 1 John 1:8,10 which say…

  • ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ (1:8)
  • ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.’ (1:10)

So what are these absolute statements about teaching? It seems they are talking about the type of behaviour we will have if we have Christ abiding in us and are walking in close fellowship with Him. 

Any sin a Christian commits is clearly the type of behaviour the devil would want him to exhibit. If Christian is truly abiding in us and we are in Christ, then we cannot sin and can only live righteously and love others.

So, the challenge is to abide in Christ and to live out who we are. As 1 John 3:1 says, we are ‘the sons of God’ but it is not obvious to the world. Just as the world missed who Christ was, the world may miss who we are. Yet, that does not negate the reality of what it means to be a son of God. 

For those of us who are sons of God, we should then purify ourselves even as we are pure. We should live out our purity. We should let Christ abide in us so that we do not sin and so that we love our brothers the way we ought.

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