WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The third chapter of the Book of First John is quite plain concerning righteousness and wickedness. I do not understand why more has not been made of this chapter, since it shows clearly that the current preaching of lawless “grace” is a destructive error.
The reason why we now are able to see clearly what this chapter is saying may be that we are approaching the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Kingdom of God results in the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom is not one of imputed, ascribed righteousness, but of actual righteousness of behavior. Perhaps that is why the third chapter of the Book of First John is being emphasized at this time.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (I John 3:1)
There is an uncrossable gulf between the Church and the world. The separation between the two commenced when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. It was after that, that Isaac and Jacob were born. “Israel” (Jacob) was set aside from the nations of the world as God’s priesthood, a special possession and treasure of God.
We who have received the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior no longer are of the world, though I am not certain this always is clear to us. But I believe we will find the separation to become increasingly clear as our nation and the remainder of the world sinks ever further into moral abominations.
We are children of God and are no more of the world than is our Lord Jesus. We have been called out of the world to be a royal priesthood, a special possession and treasure of God. As such, we have been commanded to purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
The verse above has sometimes been employed to prove that when Christ appears we suddenly shall be made righteous. The Scriptures do not admit to this belief. Those who will be like Christ when He appears are already in the present world becoming like Him inwardly. It is only those who, when He appears, will be changed into His image outwardly.
This hope, that people can by “grace” live according to their sinful nature in the present world and then be made like Christ when appears, is widespread. It is a destructive error, in that Christian people are not making the effort to obey Christ or His Apostles. They are under the delusion that they shall be transformed from sinners into saints by some miraculous intervention of God.
One reason for this delusion is the confusion between guilt and spiritual bondage. It often is preached that Christ will take away our sins the moment we make a profession of belief in Him. It is true that Christ removes the guilt of our sins the moment we place our faith in Him. But that is only half of the work of salvation.
We receive forgiveness from the guilt of our sins with a view toward the removal of our practice of sin. If we never cooperate with the Spirit of God in the removal of our practice of sin, then the purpose for the forgiveness of sins has been aborted.
What good does it do if God forgives our sins and then we do not learn to walk in righteousness and obedience to Him? Remember, the very creation of man was a reaction against the rebellion of the angels led by Satan. Man is God’s answer to that rebellion, but only as long as man is sternly is obedient to God. Otherwise, man joins the heavenly rebels.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This does not mean He takes away only the guilt of the sin while the world continues to practice wickedness. It signifies that the Lamb takes away the power of the sin that controls our lives.
The forgiveness of our sins accomplishes nothing unless it guides us into victory over the practice of our sins. Is the new Jerusalem going to be filled with sinning saints? Is the Lamb going to have a Bride who is holy and righteous by imputed righteousness?
We know neither of these statements is true. Yet imputed righteousness is preached over and over again without pointing toward the willingness of the Spirit of God to give us victory over each sin that we practice.
As I mentioned, the current blindness toward the third chapter of the Book of First John may be in the process of being healed as we move toward the coming of the righteous Kingdom of God to the earth.
We originally responded to Jesus when He offered to forgive the guilt of our sins. Now He is asking us to respond to Him as He offers to unwrap the graveclothes of our sinful bondages from us. We are unable to see or to move properly while bound in graveclothes, just as was true of Lazarus. We have been raised spiritually from death. Now it is time for the unwrapping.
The next few verses of the third chapter are quite interesting:
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (I John 3:3)
Of the people who espouse I John 1:2 as proving that we can live any way we want because we will be made like Jesus when He appears, I have never heard one person include verse three when they quoted one and two. Have you?
The same is true of people who quote Ephesians 2:8,9. I never once have heard anyone add Ephesians 2:10, not one time. Yet it is verse ten that tells us of the importance of righteous works.
Now, not adding verse three to First John 3:1,2, and not adding verse ten to Ephesians 2:8,9, suggests that these are not random omissions. I would say the omissions are demonic in their source, supporting people who maintain that we are saved by faith alone and our behavior is inconsequential.
One fact is certain: God will not have fellowship with people who are behaving unrighteously:
“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:17-19)
It is clear to me that Christian teaching, in many instances, is unscriptural when it comes to righteous behavior being a necessary fruit of salvation. I would say that Satan profits more from this error than does the Lord God of Heaven.
Is it not clear from the passage above that every person who has the hope of being like Jesus when He appears, purifies himself or herself just as Christ is pure? Have you ever heard that preached? Neither have I.
How do we purify ourselves?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a report card.
- When He shows you a problem area, tell the Lord about it.
- Then call the behavior sin. Name it to the Lord specifically.
- Denounce it as evil.
- Resist and renounce it with all your might, asking Christ to help you.
- Draw near to the Lord for renewed fellowship.
Be prepared to go through this procedure again, and again, and again…
Every time you gain victory over a temptation to sin you will be fed in the Spirit world with the body and blood of the Lord. As you keep going through this procedure, Christ, the Resurrection, will increase in you.
Then, when Christ appears from Heaven, you will be prepared for the transformation of your body.
There is no other path to being like Him when He appears. Lawless grace will not help you in the task of preparing yourself for the resurrection.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (I John 3:4)
John, a Jew, is referring to the Law of Moses, in particular, the Ten Commandments. The Law is a slave who brings us to the School of Christ. We are free from the condemnation of the Law only as long as we are following the Spirit of God each day.
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (I John 3:5)
In that the word “appeared” is in the past tense, we know John is speaking of the first coming of Christ. Jesus did not appear just to forgive our sins, but especially to take away our sins. This reminds us of the scapegoat of the Day of Atonement who took away the sins of Israel. This is removal, not forgiveness of guilt.
There is no sin in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we say we are abiding in Him, then we must follow the Holy Spirit as He enables us to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6)
This verse should have become as familiar to Christian people as John 3:16. It if was, we would have sturdy disciples instead of the millions of worldly believers who imagine God does not see their sins.
How terribly, terribly incorrect the current teaching of lawless grace is. How terribly, terribly destructive has been its effect on millions of Christian churchgoers.
“No one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning.” Yes, but grace keeps us free from all guilt. This is the preaching of Satan.
“No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” Yes, but grace covers our sin so God does not see us. God sees us through Christ.
Can you see how misleading the current Christian teaching is? In my opinion this unscriptural teaching of lawless grace is the reason God’s judgment is about to fall on America. We have a nation of Christians who continue to sin, believing they are protected by grace.
Obviously, this is not what the Apostle Paul meant by grace, in that in several passages in the New Testament, he and the other Apostles warned us that if we sow to our sinful nature we are going to reap destruction.
If what I am writing is the truth, why is it that distinguished theologians, highly esteemed Bible scholars, are teaching the opposite? I do not know. If you find out the answer, please show me where I have misunderstood John.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:7)
By saying, “does what is right,” the Apostle John absolutely prevents anyone from saying he really is speaking of imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness means that God ascribes righteousness to us although we are practicing sin.
“Do not let anyone lead you astray”! What a monstrous joke! Practically our whole country of Christian preachers has led us astray! And because they have removed the foundation laid by John and the other Apostles, today’s preachers have departed into strange doctrines, such as the prosperity messages and speaking the creative word.
It is my opinion that if the Christian preachers had spent their time and energy explaining the righteous commandments of the New Testament, they would not have fallen into the “faith” and “prosperity” errors. When the Christian people are spending their time and energy on accumulating more money by using “faith,” and having all their other desires fulfilled, the people of the world do not have the light of good works to guide them. For this reason we are heading toward chaos.
These new errors speak of “faith.” But assuredly it is not the true faith that comes from God into the spirit of the believers, but is a faith worked up by the efforts of the soulish nature. The “name it and claim it” and associated doctrines are metaphysical practices. They are witchcraft.
“He who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous”; and Christ is not righteous by imputed righteousness!
He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 3:8)
All sin is rebellion against God’s moral Nature, and all sin is of the devil.
Does that mean that if I sin I am possessed by the devil? No. We all sin and at present we are purifying ourselves. As long as we are moving forward in the program of deliverance from sin, even though the sin is prompted by Satan, we are without condemnation.
But if we are not moving forward in the program of deliverance, we are continuing in the service of Satan. You can see from this the horrible result of telling people that although they sin, they are covered by the blood or covered by grace.
If they are continuing in the path of sin, rather than in the path of continual deliverance, they are not covered by the blood. It is those who are living in the light of God’s Presence and will who are kept clean through the blood of the Lamb; not those who are living a casual Christian life, waiting to go to Heaven.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth to forgive the works of the devil. He came rather to destroy the works of the devil. Right here is the greatest misunderstanding of the Christian Era.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)
When we first receive Christ, He has been conceived in us. The Seed of God has been planted and begins to germinate. It is a while before a substantial part of our personality has been born of God. That part which has been born of God will never continue to sin. As the body and blood of Christ are formed in us, deliverance from sin is formed in us. Is that wonderful or is that wonderful!
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (I John 3:10)
The above verse is sublimely simple. How do we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are? Simple! By their behavior.
Where does the current teaching of lawless grace fit in this picture. Again, the answer is simple. It just does not fit. There is no way to make it fit.
You know, the Bible used to be called “the Good Book.” Why? because it was thought to make people good.
But somehow, over the last two hundred years, or perhaps going back to the Protestant Reformation, theologians, using the process of human reasoning, which is not a good idea since the Scriptures were not given by the mind of man but by the Mind of the Spirit of God, constructed a theory that we are under a new dispensation.
The new dispensation includes the idea that God saves us (brings us to Heaven) by a sovereign act on His part, regardless of our behavior. This is how Paul’s teaching of “grace” is interpreted.
All the previous covenants of God insisted on righteous behavior. The new dispensation teaching ignores righteous behavior in favor of a “belief in Christ.” This really is Gnosticism, not Christianity.
We should have known Dispensational theory was not of God. The old covenant was abandoned because the people did not please God by their behavior. Does it make sense, then, that God gave us a new covenant under which it does not matter how we behave?
All that people intuitively understand about God repels such a covenant. There is no light of the world. There is no salt of the earth. The Christian churches are social gatherings in which people do not become new creations of righteous behavior.
How long will it be before we realize that the current lawless grace teaching, and its attendant errors, are not of God? We have been deceived. We do not have a scriptural leg to stand on, as we see in the third chapter of the Book of First John.
It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking, a reformation as desperately needed as was true in the days of the Protestant Reformers. There is no such thing as salvation by “faith alone,” as the Apostle James informed us.
The early Reformers were resisting the works of the Catholic Church, such as penances. The idea of faith without the Catholic works has evolved into faith without righteous behavior. Such an evolution of thought is understandable.
But now that the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth is at hand, and the return of our Lord, we absolutely must return to the Scriptural teaching of faith that results in righteous behavior and stern obedience to Christ and His Apostles.
America is approaching a period of fiery judgment because of the abortions, the sexual excesses, and the love of pleasure. You and I, and our children, will not be able to stand during the chaos that is approaching America unless we turn to the Lord Jesus with all our heart and learn to live by His Life. Living by the Life of the Lord Jesus always results in righteous behavior and obedience to God.
If we ask Christ sincerely, He will assist us in learning to live by His Life.
(“We Shall Be Like Him”, 3220-1)