1 John 3:4-10


Real Christianity #11 (Studies in 1 John)


As you know, we tend to bear physical resemblance to our parents.  We also tend to bear emotional and mental resemblance to our parents.  Most significantly we bear spiritual resemblance to our parents.


Please look at 1 John 3:10 - In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.


The first part of this verse makes a very interesting statement. This sentence tells us that the difference between the child of God and a child of the Devil is obvious!  This implies that there will be a family resemblance! You will either have the marks of being a child of God, or the marks of being a child of the Devil!   


A child of God is one who has been born into the Family of God.

A child of the devil is simply anyone who is not a child of God. There are many nice looking and well meaning people walking around who are the Devil’s children, simply because they have not trusted Christ.  You do nothing to become a child of the Devil.


You trust Christ as your Savior to become a Child of God. John 1:12-13


1 John 3:4-10 explains to us what the family resemblances are for the child of God and the child of the Devil. I have chosen mostly to emphasize the marks of the child of God, and to show you the family resemblance between the child of God and God Himself.   


In our text we have four marks or characteristics of a Child of God:




The greatest problem mankind has is sin.

It is sin which separates man from God.

In verse 5 you see that in Jesus, who is God, there is no sin. The moment Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, there was immediate separation between them and God.


Because God is righteous and holy, that is, separate from sin Himself, He can not tolerate sin. That’s why Ezekiel 18:4 says, The soul that sinneth, it shall die…


In order for God to make us His children, His true children that could carry His family resemblance, He had to deal with our sin.


1 John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.


Here is a definition of sin. It is transgression of the law, or lawlessness. Transgression of the law is rebellion against God.


There are other definitions of sin in the Bible, but this one says that the one who practices sin practices lawlessness. Transgression of the law is rebellion against God. 1 Samuel 15:22-23


Often our rebellion is inward and not outward. Often we appear to keep God’s laws on the outside, while on the inside we are rebelling against His rules. This also is sin. Matthew 23:28


1 John 3:5 - And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.


Sin had to be dealt with if we are to be children of God.

Here is how God dealt with the sin.

He, meaning the Lord Jesus, the very Son of God was manifested, or appeared, to take away sins.

1 Peter 2:24


If you are a child of God, your sins have been dealt with. Ephesians 1:7




1 John 3:6 - Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.


Christian, as you look at this verse, you could panic.


You might say, “Well, I sin. Does this mean that I am not saved?”


Obviously not! 1 John 1:8-10


The Christian does sin.

The Christian does fail God.

The Christian can commit sin.

But for us Christians, it is to be the exception and not the rule!


The Christian is one who abides in Christ.

He fellowships with Him, seeks to please Him, and seeks to live for Him. He talks to him and learns about Him. As He abides in Christ, He confesses and deals with sin in his life, and receives cleansing, so that he does not continue to practice sin.


The Christian should examine his life regularly for sin, using such Scriptures as Proverbs 6:16-19 as a guideline.


The child of God, as he abides in Christ, does not make sin his habitual practice.

Notice though, that the unsaved person, the child off the devil, continues to practice sin and has not seen or know God. If a person claims to be a child of God, and there is no change, there’s reason for suspicion.


If you claim to have trusted Jesus as your Savior and that alleged trust in Jesus has not changed your behavior, I’d be very concerned! 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 2:4-6




1 John 3:7 - Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.


John is talking here about practical righteousness or practicing righteousness.


The moment you were saved you became righteous in your standing or position before God.  That’s positional righteousness. Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21


Based on your faith in Christ, God views you as righteous.

That’s your position before God.


John is saying in verse 7 that the child of God will imitate his father. He will practice righteousness.


We often think of Christian living as not doing what is wrong.  It is more than that. 

The Christian life is doing what is right!


Matthew 23:23 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.


In this section of Matthew our Lord is pronouncing a series of woes upon the legalists of the day, the Pharisees.   


He tells them that they are very scrupulous to tithe even the smallest things like a patch of mint leaves, and let go the weightier matters of the law. These weightier matters of the law, I feel, describe practical righteousness.


The weightier matters of the law, according to our Lord Jesus are “judgment, mercy, and faith”.   


·        JUDGMENT


Judgment is treating God and man fairly, according to God’s righteous standards.


·        MERCY

If you read the Old Testament Law, you will find that there were provisions for mercy.


A poor man’s coat was not to be held as surety for a loan overnight.

The ends of a field were to be left unhavested so the poor could glean, thus having food.

There were cities of refuge for a man to flee, if he had accidentally taken a man’s life.


Today our Lord expects the righteous man to show mercy.



God calls upon the righteous man to walk in faith.

God calls upon the righteous man to be faithful.


Faithfulness is consistency motivated by our faith.


We cannot practice righteousness without the Lord’s help and empowerment.

If we are saved we will have a desire to walk righteously. We will show indications of practicing righteousness, even though we will slip on occasion.




1 John 3:9 - Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.


No one who is born of God practices sin!

There have been people who have gone astray for a time, but have come back.

They live in sin for awhile, but then the Lord gets hold of them, because they are children of God.


Why is it difficult for a child of God to practice sin?

Because the child of God has a new nature which he received when he trusted Jesus Christ as Savior.


When a person is born of God, he is saved as result of God planting His seed in Him, being born again.


As the seed of a human will produce a human being bearing similar characteristics; and as the seed of the horse, dog, or cat will produce a similar horse, dog or cat; so will the seed of God received at the new birth produce a nature that is new and like God’s nature.


The old nature is sinful based in Adam.

The new nature is righteous, based in Christ.

Our job is to let the new nature control us and not the old one. Romans 5:17