The Tension of the Christian Walk
1 John 3:1-10
1See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The Apostle John takes on (or continues to discuss) the dichotomy in which the Christian lives every single day. We are both saint and sinner. The glory of God is here right now but not yet. It is a place of tension between two opposite poles that both have a strong pull on the human life.
John exhorts his own to see with the eyes of faith a reality present in the now, though hidden, which only the future and final arrival [the Second Coming] of the Son will reveal with the advent of the not yet. “We speak of a living hope,” observes Luther, “that is, a hope in which we may hope with certainty and be sure of eternal life. But this is still concealed. It is still covered with a cloth. One does not see it. At present it can be grasped only with the heart and through faith.” For faith is “the substance of things to come, not of things that appear (Heb. 11:1).” [Martin Luther. AE 30:11] Therefore, “now we know in part” (1 Cor 13:12), now we see confusedly and in the riddle of Jesus’ humanity.
Schuchard, B. G. (2012). 1–3 John. (pp. 320–321). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
No believer is ignorant of their own sin. We can get in touch with those iniquities quickly and often painfully. But the life that dwells on those sins in no kind of life whatsoever. And God does not call us to that constant reminder. He in fact, has forgotten our sins! For me, this passage must be centered around verse 3.
And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.
When God, the All-Wise and All-Knowing Father looks upon His Children He chooses to see purity through the blood of Jesus. Yes, we are constant sinners. Yes, we will not achieve perfection in the flesh. But that is not how God sees us. Because of Jesus He sees purity. Yes, that is a life lived in tension. That perfection is mine, but not yet. And here’s the fascinating thing; that person who will reside with Christ in eternity is the one the Father sees right now. For the Father that reality is right now!
So, what to do with that information? I believe it means that I live in that place as much as possible right here and now. I hope in the Lord Jesus as my Savior with all that I am and thus I am purified. The sin which seeks to control me has no place in my thinking. Yes, the pull from both poles is strong, but I will look only to the Father and let that rule my days before I join His presence. That is the Christian reality.