Dan Popp
Who are the children of God?
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By Dan Popp
January 24, 2016

The little letter of First John rebuts a lot of the nonsense coming from false teachers today. I'm thinking especially of the tripe that "We're all God's children." Christians know better. "All are God's children" is something God's non-children say.

1 John gives us seven tests of an authentic Christian. These are repeated, and woven together like a braid. According to "the Apostle Jesus loved," a real child of God is someone who:

Believes God's Word (1:1-3; 1:10; 2:7)

Prizes truth and rejects lies (2:20-21; 2:26; 4:1; 4:6; 5:20)

Loves Christians and is part of the community of faith (1:3; 2:9-11; 2:19; 3:11-12; 3:14-18; 3:23; 4:7-8; 4:11-12; 4:16-21)

Is hated by those who hate Christ (3:1; 3:12-13; 4:4-6; 5:19)

Practices righteousness (1:5-6; 2:3-6; 2:15-17; 2:28-29; 3:3-10; 3:21-24; 5:2-3)

Accepts the doctrine of Jesus' divinity-and-humanity (2:22-23; 3:23; 4:2-3; 4:14-15; 5:1; 5:5)

Has the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (3:24; 4:13; 5:10)

John seems to view our present situation like this: There are two camps: the world (the corrupt and fallen world system), and a small band of resisters holding on to truth, love, faith and righteousness. The Apostle explicitly rejects the idea that there's some kind of common ground, or that we're all saying the same thing about God in different ways. There is a real God and a real Christ, and all the others are fake gods and fake christs. The real children of the real God show the seven watermarks above.

Jesus Himself indicated that the devil has children, too. Spiritually, the father-son relationship isn't about origin, it's about sharing the same nature. You have either your original, broken nature you got as part of the world, or you've received a "new nature."

Back to 1 John:
    If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 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. 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. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

    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.

    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.
    (1 John 2:29-3:10, NAS95)
An unmistakable hallmark of God's offspring is righteousness. Not only do His children have the Holy Spirit internally urging us to holiness, but we have the external hope of seeing our Lord again, soon, and being made like Him. That will spur us to clean house, as it were, in preparation of His return.

This is contrasted to the lawlessness of members of the other family. At its black heart, lawlessness is setting aside God's law and replacing it with our own. It is putting oneself on the throne of God – like father, like son. Refusing to obey a clear command of God, and teaching others to do the same, is proof of infernal paternity.

I want to address the sixth "test" – believing in the dual nature of the Son. We can no more set aside God's doctrine than we can shelve His commands. The Spirit of Truth, I believe, leads Christians to revere the Bible and to accept (though we can't fully understand) that Jesus is both man and God.

Those who deny that Jesus is who He says He is – for example, those who teach that Jesus was a mere human prophet – do not "have the Son," and so do not have the Father. They must be children of the other father, the father of lies. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also." (1 John 2:22, 23)

Sadly, not all 7 billion of us are children of God. There is another father. The children of the false are at war with the children of the True. And we can know pretty easily which are which.

© Dan Popp

 

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