“We are God’s children now. What we will be has not yet been revealed” in 1 John 3:1-7. To be named and known as children of God is evidence of the love of the Father. Obedience and righteousness are evidence that one abides in him. But what if your father is God? John says that in Christ we have become children of God. What does it mean for you and me to be children of God? Let us take a look at being a child of God:

Being a child of God produces a new lifestyle. When we become part of the family of God, we experience a transformation that produces a new lifestyle. We don’t yield to the “progressive theology” of today. Our new lifestyle priority is “purity” as revealed in verse 3. We live in a culture in which purity is not so much an asset as a liability! For example, a generation ago, the loss of one’s sexual innocence before marriage carried a stigma; today, many of our young people try to hide the fact of their innocence because their peers will look down on them for it. What a devastating indictment of a society, when purity is not honored but ridiculed! For the child of God, however, purity is priority to be sought. We want to be fashioned in the image of God, to share in his holiness and righteousness. That does not mean we will achieve such purity in this life but for the children of God, purity is the desire of their hearts. Sin no longer dominates in vv. 4-7. Before we knew Christ, we were controlled by sin. The apostle Paul says we were “slaves” to sin, it held us in bondage, and it dominated our lives. But Christ his freed us from bondage to sin, and we no longer allow sin to dominate our lives as it once did.

Does that mean Christians don’t sin anymore? Not at all. The difference is that once Christ has come to reside in your life, sin is now an unwelcome visitor. You are no longer “at home” in a sinful lifestyle. And as you grow in your Christian walk, through prayer, studying God’s Word, sharing your faith with others, then sin has less and less influence in your life. One of the ways we recognize the child of God is through a transformed lifestyle of love and respect for each other.

There is another important characteristic John reveals that being a child of God produces a new Hope. Have you attended the funeral of someone who is not a Christian? It is altogether different than the funeral of a child of God. For the non-Christian, the funeral service is really and ending, a ceremony marked by tragedy and loss. For the Christian, however, the funeral ought to be in some sense a celebration. For the child of God, death is not a tragic ending but an incredible beginning of an eternity with God. We do not know all that we would like to know about the future, but we know that it is filled with hope and expectancy. As John says, “What we will be has not yet been revealed.” but we do have the promise of something special. “What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (v. 2). We will one day have the privilege of seeing Almighty God in all his glory and power and we will have the even greater privilege of, in some way, sharing in that divine experience with the Father.

What a Blessing that will be!

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J.B. Morris leads the St. Andrews United Methodist Church.