ROBERT >> Good morning. Today we’re going to look at another question from 1 John to help us test our connection with God. Today we ask, Are you acting like a child of God or a child of the devil?

SINGING>> Blessed be the Lord God Almighty, who reigns for evermore.

ROBERT >> We’ve been looking at 10 questions for testing your connection with God from 1 John for several weeks now. And you remember this test is different from most tests because you have to get all the questions on this test right to stay connected. A wrong answer on any of the 10 questions from 1 John will break your connection with God.

Already we have discussed these six questions:

What do you think about Jesus?

Are you honest about your sin problem?

Do you keep the commandments of Christ?

Do you love your brother?

Do you love the devil’s world?

And, Are you for or against Christ?

What are you acting like this morning?

What do you act like in your daily life?

Who are you really?

Are you acting like a child of God or a child of the devil?

We want to take a look at 1 John 2:28 through 3:24. But I want you to notice in this passage how that John speaks of the children of God and the children of the devil. Chapter 3, verse 10. And how he also speaks of those who are born of Christ back in chapter 2, verse 29. Or born of God, as he says in chapter 3 and verse 9.

Now we know from the gospel of John that in order to become a child of God, one must be born again. He must be born of water and the Spirit, John 3:3-5.

That’s a spiritual rebirth that takes place in the waters of baptism. You might remember the commandment of Peter to, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

He was calling upon these folks to come to Christ so that they might be born again of water and the Spirit.

In Acts 22:16 the preacher told Saul of Tarsus to “arise and be baptized, and wash away his sin, calling on the name of the Lord.”

In Titus 3:5, we read about the washing of regeneration, or rebirth, and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. It’s that new birth that Jesus spoke of in John 3:5 of water and Spirit.

Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 1:22, saying, You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. That’s the new birth. But I want you to notice now here in this first epistle of John as he’s writing to Christians he doesn’t have in mind the new birth by which we became children of God, but rather the birthing of our actions now that we are Christians. In other words, he’s talking about who is fathering our action.

Is it God, or is it the devil?

Look with me in the gospel of John, in John 8:33. And I want you to see how in this chapter where John speaks of this same idea of who it is that’s really fathering the actions in our life.

Notice here he’s speaking with the religious leaders of his day, and it says here in verse 33 that, They answered Him,” We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, You will be made free?”

They said we’re children of Abraham. But notice what Jesus says in verse 37 through 47. “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father; and you do what you have seen with your father. They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. And Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father. And then they said to Him, We were not born of fornication; we have one father, God. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you’re not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources; for he is a liar, and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words, and therefore you do not hear because you are not of God.”

So are you a child of God or a child of the devil?

What are you acting like?

Who is fathering your actions?

Is it God or the devil?

Let’s notice a few things from 1 John chapter 2 and 3. Let’s notice first of all today that if you’re acting like a child of God, you practice righteousness. 1 John 2:29, the Bible says, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one who practices righteousness is born of Him. Righteousness is born of Jesus Christ. He’s the father of such actions.”

Do children of God ever do wrong?

Of course. But when we do, we are not acting like a child of God, but a child of the devil. And this is so simple, but some still don’t seem to get it. Not only that, but if we’re acting like a child of God, we’ll purify ourself. Look at chapter 3 and verse 3.

“And every one who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He, that is, Jesus Christ, is pure.”

God calls us to purity. He fathers pure thoughts and pure words and pure deeds. When they’re impure, they don’t come from one who’s acting like a child of God, but a child of the devil.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Matthew 5:8.

Hebrews 12:14 reminds us that there is a holiness without which no one shall see the Lord.

“And so keep yourself unspotted from the world,” James 1:17.

“Be holy as God is holy,” 1 Peter 1:15-16.

If you’re acting like a child of God, you do not and cannot sin. Look at chapter 3 verses 4 through 9.

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”

John uses the singular, sin, not the plural, sins. We commit sins. Sin is lawlessness, no respect for God’s law, despising sin when God’s law. This is what sin singular is. It is defiance, asserting our will against God’s will, an attitude of rebellion. It’s like the little girl that was standing up in the front seat of the car, and several times her father told her to sit down, but she refused to sit down until he threatened her with a spanking. Then she looked up and said, Daddy, I’m still standing up inside. That attitude of rebellion is sin.

John tells us that when we sin, we are acting like Jesus is not our savior, because he came to take away our sins, he came to destroy the works of the devil.

In John 1:29, when John looked and he saw Jesus coming, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.”

But we’ll never sin when we keep God’s seed, his word, in our hearts. There’s the key. God’s seed, his word, according to Luke 8:11.

“That incorruptible seed, the word of God, the glad tidings, the good news of the gospel” according to 1 Peter 1:22-25.

When we hide that in our hearts and let it live in our hearts, when we keep that word, we’ll never sin.

It’s like the Psalmist said in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

We are told in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.”

Let it live there, abide there. Keep it there.

James says in chapter 1 verse 21 and 22, “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls; and be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

If we’re acting like a child of God, then we’ll love our brother.

Look at chapter 3 verses 10 through 18. In verse 10 John says, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”

Now, John says that love and our relationships with our brother are on four different levels. He speaks first of all of murder, of outwardly acting against our brother.

Look at verse 11 and 12. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

Now, maybe you say I would never do that to my brother. But what about hatred?

What about evil thoughts towards him?

Look what John says in verse 13 through 15. “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

And so there is this first level of murder, outwardly acting against your brother, and this second level of hatred, these evil thoughts towards him.

But there’s also a third level.

Indifference. Just not caring about your brother. Verse 16 and verse 17, “by this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

I’m afraid that many of us are not showing the true, genuine love that John speaks of in verse 18. Deed and truth, acting sincerely for our brother’s good only.

Here’s what he writes. “ My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

If you’re acting like a child of God, you’ll love your brother. But you’ll also believe on Jesus.

Notice here as we go on into chapter 3, and look at verse 23. “ And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

Believing on Jesus, believing on the name of Jesus Christ, this involves three things. It involves, one, a conviction.

A conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, that is, your Lord and savior.

As Jesus said in John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I am He, that is, the one he claimed to be, you shall die in your sins.”

But it’s more than just a conviction. To truly believe on the Lord means to trust in him for your salvation.

As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “how that, By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”

Yes, we put our faith in what Jesus did for us at Calvary, trusting that sacrifice to pay for our sins. But still this faith is more than just a conviction and a trust, but obedience to him in order to be saved by him. If we truly believe on him, and trust him, then we’ll do what he said to do in order to be saved.

Hebrews 5:8-9, the Bible says that “Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him.”

Acting like a child of God, we’re going to believe on Jesus and we’re going to keep the commandments of God.

Read with me chapter 3 and verse 24. “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.”

Every child of God is expected to keep the commandments of God. Just like every child is expected to obey their parents.

In Ephesians 6:1 Paul said, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

How much more the children of God should they be expected to obey God?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:21,” Not every one who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”

And in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?”

Yes, if we’re acting like a child of God, we’ll keep the commandments of God. That’s what it looks like to be a child of God.

But I want you to think a little bit more this morning not only about what it looks like to be a child of God, but also what you have. Because you see, if you’re acting like a child of God, you have confidence at Christ’s coming.

In chapter 2 at verse 28 John said, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”

Oh, we know we’re all going to give account for our actions when Jesus returns. Each one of us shall give account of himself to God, Romans 14:12.

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, whether good or bad,” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.

I remember when I was a boy, and times my parents would leave me with a babysitter. I’d try to be a good boy because I didn’t want to get in trouble when they came home. If I’d been a good boy, I wasn’t worried, but I was looking forward to my parents’ return.

How much more then should we be good, should we strive to act as children of God upon God’s word so that we’re ready when Jesus comes again?

Titus 2:11-14 reminds us how “the grace of God bringing salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous of good works.”

John also tells us that we have hope. Not only do we have confidence at Christ’s coming, but we have hope if we’re acting like the children of God.

Here in chapter 3 he says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. And therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is, and every one who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He is pure.”

John reminds us of who we are and what we shall be. Consider God’s love, that we should be called the children of God. Consider the promise to be like Christ. These are great incentives to clean up our act to get ready to see Jesus.

Any of you ladies want to meet your boyfriend at the door for a date without being ready?

You say that he’s going to have to wait on you, that’s fine. But you know, Jesus is not going to wait on us.

He’ll come suddenly, he’ll come unexpectedly, and we need to be ready. If we’re acting like children of God, we pass from death to life.

Look at chapter 3 and verse 13 where he says, “Do not marvel, my brethren, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.’

Oh, we’ve all died spiritually because of our sins; but because of Christ we all have the gift of eternal life.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 6:23.

This is what happened when we were baptized into Christ. We were baptized into his death. We were buried with him by baptism into death. We were raised with him to walk in newness of life. Even so reckon yourselves dead to sin, but alive unto God,” Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-11.

‘Yes, in Christ we are a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

We also have an assured heart. You notice here in chapter 3 verse 19, By this we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before Him; for if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence towards God. Such assurance gives us peace.

If we’re honest, we know in our hearts whether or not we’re acting like a child of God or a child of the devil. John tells us that we can trust that God certainly knows. But we also, if we’re acting like a child of God, we have whatever we ask.

Let’s read it here in 1 John 3:22. “And whatever we ask, we receive from Him because we keep His commandment to do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

No, John’s not promising us our every pleasure.

James 4:3 says, “You have not because you ask amiss, that you may spend it in your pleasures.”

But yes, God will provide everything we need for accomplishing His will and His purposes.

Read 1 John 5:14-15. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.”

Finally John tells us we have the Spirit.

1 John 3:24 the Bible says, “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.”

And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. The Spirit of God is promised to all who are obedient to the gospel, Acts 2:38, Acts 5:32. And that Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, is the guarantee, our earnest payment, our down payment, on our heavenly home, Ephesians 1:13-14.

So what is your answer?

Are you acting like a child of God or a child of the devil?

You know, and God certainly knows. God help us to be his children in everything.

SINGING>> I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
cleansed by his blood.
Joint heirs of Jesus as we travel this sod,
for I’m part of the family,
the family of God.
You will notice we say brother and sister round here.
It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so near.
When one has a heartache,
we all share the tears,
and rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
cleansed by his blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
for I’m part of the family,
the family of God.
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
no longer an outcast, a new song I sing.
From rags unto riches,
from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here,
but praise God, I belong.
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
cleansed by his blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
for I’m part of the family,
the family of God.

ROBERT >> I hope that you found today’s lesson helpful. To help you in your continued study, we’d like to offer you a free copy of today’s lesson.

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SINGING>> The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord lift his countenance upon you,
and give you peace, and give you peace,
and give you peace, and give you peace;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you, and be gracious;
the Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.
Amen, amen, amen, amen.

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