Resemble the Father, Abide in Christ

Do you look like your parents? For me, some may say I really look like my dad. He just smiles more often and I don’t. Hehe. It’s just amazing to see how a child can really resemble his or her father or mother. We have a resemblance to our earthly parents no matter who big or small it may be. But we should also consider our resemblance to our heavenly Father. We will learn a lot about this as we study 1 John chapter 3.

John starts chapter 3 with such astonishment. What did he say?

 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.

See! Look! Perceive! Behold that great love of God – this great love that gives us the privilege to be in a relationship with Him as his children.

Can you feel the passion and heavy emotion behind John’s writing in verse 1? This is a big deal! Why? Think about this the God of the univers, the God of wonders, the God who created everything that we see, the God who is beyond time, and the God who is beyond our imagination in his great love for us, adopted us to be his child!

And when we talk about this adoption, it is the accepting of a child as one’s own. It is the choice of God in eternity past to bestow upon a believer all of the rights and privileges due to one who is a son of God. Let’s look at Galatians.

Galatians 4:4-6

4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Based on this verse, what can you see? As a child what privileges do you have?

  1. There is a relationship – “Abba! Father” in verse 6
  2. You are freed, given rights as children – “You are no longer a slave, but a son” in verse 6
  3. You are made co-heir with Christ – “if a son, then an heir…” in verse 6

When we realize this truth, we respond just as how John would respond. Wow! Such a great love. And friends, such as you are! John was continuing to drive that truth. We might feel undeserving. We might feel we’re not worthy. We might feel unqualified. But this is not about who you are; this is just about who God is. That He loves you and chooses to call you his child.

So if you have believed in what the Lord has done for you – you are a Child of God! Such as you are! That’s why John 1:12-13 says.

John 1:12-13

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

That’s why we shouldn’t depend on emotion but only in our knowledge on who God is and where we have put our faith to – Jesus Christ. If we know that we are children of God, then it is within our duty to protect the name of our Father.

That’s why friends, we need to understand verse 1 first. We need to realize the love that the Father has for us that he called us his son, that we might want to please and honor him, out of his love for us.

That we are not pressured to merely live a holy life because we carry the name of our father but because we want to love Him back and please Him. And part of please Him is resembling Him in our lives, that others would see Him in us, and for others to experience His love through us.

Part of resembling our Father and wanting to honor and please Him is this:

  1. We will not Sin
  2. We will love Others

WE WILL NOT SIN (v4 -10)

 1 John 4-10

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Part of resembling the father is will be not sin but does this also mean what verse 5 says, “in Him there is no sin.” Does this mean we have no sin and will not sin anymore?

On the contrary, if we would look at chapter 1 verse 8, what did John say?

1 John 1:8

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us

John was taking to believers. So, was he contradicting himself when he said in chapter 3, verse 5 that in Him there is no sin?

No, we have to look at the next succeeding verses particularly verse 6 and verse 9.

  • Verse 6 – No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him
  • Verse 9 – No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

So what John was clearly saying here, as you would see in verse 6 – “sins” and verse 9 – “practices”, there is that action or the act of doing. He was saying that no one who belongs to God would continue on sinning and habitually practice sin in their lives.

It’s not that we won’t sin anymore. Yes, all of our sins are forgiven – past, present and future but because we are still in our flesh (earthly bodies) we can still fall into sin. But this time if we do, we choose to and not because we had no choice and was a slave to sin.

So if we want to resemble the Father, we will not to habitually practice sin, and the key to be victorious over sin is in verse 6.

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Let’s try to understand what abiding mean. Take note that this is a word that is commonly being repeated in 1 John.

John has constantly been using the word abide.

  • 1 John 2:5-6 - but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
  • 1 john 2:10 - The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
  • 1 john 2:24 – As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

Abiding means remaining. It is remaining in the truth of what God has said in his word. Because again, there was a problem during this time, right? False teachers were proclaiming:

  • Jesus wasn’t human
  • You have the license to do whatever you want with body because is was evil – leading to licentiousness

But if you abide and not stray away from the truth like what is said in 1 John 2:24 – As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning – you know that this is a far cry from the truth. Because the truth is:

  • Jesus was 100% man and 100% God
  • That despite this deity He still choose to die for the sins of mankind
  • That is his great love for us and because He first loved us. We begin to love Him back
  • And honor Him by living a holy life, the life that He has called us to live.

That’s why in verse 6 it says:

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

If you remain in the truth and abide, if you know Him and what He has done, you will not want to sin. There is a contrast here. Someone who practices sin in their lives is (1) not abiding, (2) has not seen Him and (3) does not know him. But one who does not sin (1) abides in him, (2) has seen him and (3) knows him.

Remain in the truth and to Him, as what abiding is. Get to know Him and see His heart. Then see and realize what pleases him, know and learn what He has done for you and realize how much he loves you. When all these truth sinks in your heart and mind, you come to love Him more and thus, you don’t want to sin.

Because the moment that you are so intimate with you’re father, you will realize He righteous and you would want to resemble the father and be righteous. That’s why verse 7 says:

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

But you need to abide friends; you need to stay close as a branch is to a vine, as John is trying to illustrate it.

John 14:4-5

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

 Vine

  • Has a roots
  • Source of life
  • Provides water and nutrients
  • Nourishes and sustains its branches
  • Branches are dependent on the vine

Branch

  • Attached to the vine
  • Responsible to produce the fruit
  • Cannot produce fruit on its own
  • You will hate sin when you realize honoring the Father is greater than going with that temporary pleasure

Friends, that’s why is critical for you to be consistent and disciplined in your quiet times with God. These are the moments that you abide so you may bear fruits of righteousness and not sin.

  • So are you abiding?
  • Are you constantly spending time with God?
  • When you look back in your Christian can you list down some of the changes (fruits) in your life that happened? As evidences that your have abide

The question is are we bearing any new fruit? Are we becoming more righteous and Christ-like? Abiding will lead to Christ-likeness, resembling the Father, but it will also lead to loving others – verse 10

 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

WE WILL LOVE OTHERS (v11-15)

1 John 3:11-2

11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

Cain is presented here, as an example of what God’s children should not be like! Evil was in Cain’s heart and he murdered his brother

 Genesis 4:8

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him

Why did Cain murder his brother? His brother’s (Abel) simple faith in God and his
inherent desire to please His Creator frustrated Cain and exposed his own black heart. When we consider Cain, we are obligated to say that he was not a loving man! How could he murder his own brother in anger and resentment? This should cause you and me to stop and think! How many times have you, murdered someone else (in effect) by hating them? Verse 15

 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him

In times that we are burning with hate towards a certain individual all that we need to do is to turn to Jesus in all sincerity and He will help us.

We must begin to resemble our Father. God is love – John said that. Our father is love. Love should overshadow us because we ourselves are loved. Verse 16.

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

 And this love is not only an emotion. It is a love that is seen and felt through actions. It’s easy to say, “I love you”, right? But to actually prove it? Actions and time will tell. That’s why in verse 18 it says:

 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

I know it’s not easy. Love with word or tongue is easy, but love in deed and truth is sometimes hard. You may say: “That’s easy! I love my family. I love my family at home and I love my family in the church. I can do that!”

And that’s something that we are always encouraging people to do! Toward your earthly family, you can show love to your parents by helping out with household chores, try contributing to the expenses and honor them by appreciating them and saying “I love you” to them. To your siblings, you can spend time with them, talk to them, pray with them and minister with them. Towards your spiritual family, you can encourage them in their walk and you try to be with them whenever they need help.

Loving the people who are close to you and who loves you back is easy. That why it says in Luke 6:32

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

But here is the challenge friends, the really test of love is this.

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Take note of verse 35 and 36, who are you to follow as an example? Who are you to resemble? Isn’t in your father?

Friends, you are to love your enemies. Do not avoid them. Do not slander them but love them. Kill them with kindness. The moment that they realize and see the change and they wonder why you are doing this, may they see that you resemble your Father and you love them because of the love that you have from Jesus Christ.

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But know this, John’s challenge to love “with actions and in truth” {v. 18) can leave any of us feeling as though we don’t measure up. John is quick to point out that, even if we feel condemned at times, we can be assured that “God is greater than our hearts” (v. 20).

19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

He is pleased when He sees that we truly want to please Him. His compassion is greater than His condemnation, His hand of mercy holds back the arrows of His wrath. King David, for example, disobeyed God in obvious ways and yet was known as a man after God’s own heart! (1Samuel 13:14).

It may be hard to do at time. It may be hard to fight sin and love other people but this is his command? Verse 23.

23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

 Friends, abide. Abide in Christ that you may resemble the Father. Take note of the relationship that you have and soak yourself in with that reality. When life, seems to be tough and sin is just lurking around, remember you are his child. When it’s hard to love some people, remember the love that was showed to you in Christ. Just abide friends. Remain in his love. 1 John 3:16

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.

What is easier to say?

 

Jesus Heals the ParalyticWhat is easier to say “Your Sins are Forgiven” or “Get up and Walk?” For someone who has been paralyzed it’s easier to say “your sins are forgiven.” But to say is different than to do. Both statements are hard to do because both statements can only be done by the Lord.

It’s such a joy for me to be able to study Matthew 9:1-8 where Jesus heals the paralytic. When I read verse 5, I immediately said to myself: “well, it’s easier to say your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:5 – Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’?

 

It’s easy to say this because there is no visible output that we are expecting to see unlike the other statement which means that once you declare that, you need to see the person standup and walk again.

When Jesus first said, “your sins are forgiven” in verse 2, some of the scribes immediately thought this is outrageous.

Matthew 9:2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”

 

They knew only God can forgive sin. The sad part of about this is, they never acknowledge Jesus was God. So Jesus asked them what is easier to say “Your Sins are Forgiven” or “Get up and Walk?” He knew in their hearts that they did not believe He was God. So in order to show who He was, he said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up you bed and go home.” And so he did. Now, if Jesus was able to heal a man who wasn’t able to walk since his birth, wouldn’t he be able to forgive sin? Again, only God can forgive sin. But only God can also heal a paralytic.

Paralytic Getting Up

The result is in verse 8.

8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

 

They were awestruck. He has the authority to forgive sin. He has the authority over diseases and physical infirmities. They knew they were in the presence of God, and who wouldn’t be?

Living in light of Jesus’ Return

A lot will say time flies. I agree. I am in my late twenties and this is a season in my life where I see people getting engaged, married and starting a family. Some of my friends being new moms and new dads. That made me think, how would it feel actually to be a dad?

Baby Waiting for DaddyWhile thinking about this, I tried searching and saw a cute picture of what it would be like for your son or daughter actually to wait for you to come home.

 

It such a wonderful picture to ponder upon. If you would relate yourselves to this picture. How do you feel about Christ’s return? Do you have same Joy and Excitement? Do you anticipate the return of Jesus Christ? Are you living in light of Jesus’ Return?

When we look at 1 John 2:28 – 3:3 we would see that this should be our hope. His return is what we should joyfully hope for that we prepare for it.

 

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

3 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

 

When we look at these set of verses, we will see the return of Christ commonly being talked about. The word “appear,” appears in Chapter 2 verse 28 and Chapter 3, verse 2

When verse 3 said, “And everyone who has this hope” John was referring therefore to Christ appearing again or His return – the hope that should we anchor ourselves into, which produces Christ-likeness.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

 

Perhaps you’re thinking, why it is important for us to understand that this is the hope that we need to have to be able to go through the process of becoming more like him.

To become more like Him means to be unlike the world. To become more like him means to bear His image and not the image of the world.

When John wrote this letter one of his focus was to help believers understand how they would know if they are in the faith (in Him) and not the world. We would see this in the previous chapters of the book: Living in the Light (Chapter 1), not loving the world (Chapter 2) and the evidences:

  • Obedience (2:3-6)
  • Love for Fellow Believers (2:7-11)
  • Moral Likeness (1:5-7)
  • Not loving the word for “the world is passing away, and also its lusts” (2:17)

This is what separates you from the world. This is what bearing His image means. This is what a Child of God looks forward to – not the things of this world which passes away, but what is ahead for us upon his return.

That’s why if you would ponder upon that picture again do we bear the same hope and desire? Are we excited and expectant of his return?

We may not have that attitude and joy because we have been exposed too much in the world. We might have invested too much of our time, effort and love for things that have no eternal value?

The child of God will look forward to His return – His Abba or Papa. That’s why verse 28 start this way.

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

 

Take note how verse 28 started. It mentioned “little children.” There is a relationship being mentioned here.

John is saying. You as a child of God should abide in Him because one thing is certain there will come a time where you will see your creator face to face and the last thing that you want to happen, in that glorious moment, is to be ashamed of the things that you have done.

We will all face the Lord someday upon His return, so be careful – abide. Abide that you will not give in to the temptation, lose your eternal focus and be drawn in by the world. Abide that you may not lose sight of what is ahead of you

What does Abiding mean? John has constantly been using the word abide.

  1. But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. - 1 John 2:5-6
  2. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. - 1 john 2:10
  3. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. - 1 john 2:24

Abiding means remaining. It is remaining in fellowship. Remaining in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and remaining in fellowship with God according to the truth. That’s why it says in Galatians 5:16.

  • Galatians 5:16 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
  • John 15:5 – I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

You need to abide. You need continuously to be connected. I see the connection as a cross – remaining connected vertically (God) and remain connected horizontally (believers).

In verse 29, John was again answering the concern how would you know if you are in the faith (in Him) and not the world;

29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

 

That’s why is important to understand why you are address as “little children” because as a child everything that you will be doing will reflect the Father that you have.

Since you are a child of God, you are, therefore, responsible for bearing his image, his righteousness in this fallen world. And the key to help you desire to stand in confidence when you face him and not be ashamed is to know that He is righteous.

What a joy it would be to be able to stand that day with confidence in your heart that you’ve run the race well and you’ve shown His righteousness in your life.

That the Lord was seen and not you. You became more like him, that “Marc” can no longer be seen.

So fix your hope on the return of Jesus. Desire to see him face to face with confidence. That is possible through abiding and remaining in fellowship with Him, but also understanding that He is righteous and you are to bear His image (His righteousness) in your life

And may all of these things be motivated out of love. That’s why John suddenly shifts his tone in Chapter 3 verse 1 and really focuses on your sonship.

3 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

 

See how great a love or behold what manner of love contains heavy emotions that John is saying: “what is this kind of love?”

  • This love is hard to comprehend
  • This love is out of this world
  • How can we be called a child of the creator of the universe
  • How can we be called a child of the God of everything
  • Such wonder is hard for me to comprehend

It’s really hard to grasp this love that the Lord has given you, when you understand your sinfulness but…but…such as we are.

That’s just it. You didn’t deserve this. You didn’t deserve to be called a child of God, but the Lord, in his great love, choose so.

And because you are a child of God. He will finish the work. Just like in Philippians 1:6 and in 1 John 3:2

  • Philippians 1:6 – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
  • 1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

This is part of your hope that when Christ returns for his Church. He shall conform every believer to His image. In view of His return; In view of the hope that we have, we should keep our lives pure, clean and righteous. Striving daily to become more like him and abide in Him

3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

 

But it starts first with the Hope that you need to anchor yourself into.

You may be enjoying life right now and everything looks great. Don’t lose what is ahead of you. Don’t hold on tightly to the things that you are enjoying right now in this world. Let the hope of seeing Him face to face, move you in love not to desire sin in your life. Serve the Lord so you may stand in confidence upon his return that you used your time, talents and treasure for his kingdom

Or you may be suffering in life right now and everything is problematic. Don’t lose sight of what is ahead of you. Don’t focus on your problem – it will be but a blink in the eye. You have eternity to look forward to. Let the hope of seeing Him face to face, move you to respond well in this situation. Despite the pain and problems, trust God and wait on Him. And even in your darkest hour, serve the Lord – He deserves it. Let is all be motivated out of love

If I’ll leave you with one thing to remember this is it: More like Him through Hoping in Him.

I know it’s easy to lose our focus that there is eternity to look forward to. Maybe you can help give suggestions how we can keep our focus on the hope that we have? Let’s desire to Live in light of Jesus’ return.

Note from the author: This is an transcript of my message during one of the Mid-year Fasting and Prayer Night Service in CCF Alabang.

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