WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXXIV) 08/30/21

3:7 Oh, my dear children, don’t let anyone give you the wrong idea about this. The Anointed One dwelling in you always does what is right. So, in order for you to be more like the Anointed One, you must also do whatever is right.

EXPOSITION

Let’s remind ourselves what one of the big problems in the Apostolic congregations was. Many Jewish converts told the Gentile converts they needed to add obedience to the Law to enhance their salvation. Even though the apostles told them many times, it doesn’t work that way.[1] Others were bragging that their faith gave them freedom from the Law to live physically as they pleased because they were spiritually saved by faith,[2] not works. But as the Apostle Paul told the Galatians, you can’t ignore God’s Word and get away with it. What you sow in the flesh will be reaped in the flesh; what you sow in the spirit will be reaped in the spirit.[3]

Some even thought they could excuse their shortcomings simply by claiming they didn’t mean any harm, or it wasn’t against God but their neighbor.[4] Furthermore, even the Apostle James told his readers that they couldn’t excuse their worldly lifestyle simply by saying they believed in God. After all, even the demons believe there is a God.[5] And apparently, some thought they could buy their way into heaven.[6] Then those who believed they could work their way into heaven with charitable works. Of course, a person should be happy to help others, especially those in need.[7] But that should never be taken as merit or earned salvation. Oh yes, they unroll the scroll of the prophet Ezekiel and read to you that Sovereign LORD said that those who do these things would live.[8]

But the Apostle John no doubt remembered what the Lord said about this when He cautioned His disciples about pretending to do what was right. If they only did what was right just to convince others that they were righteous, they were no better than the Pharisees and Jewish Teachers. And neither one of them would enter the kingdom of heaven.[9] So, it’s no wonder that the Apostle Paul warned the Roman believers that God’s rewards were only for those who did what was right to bring Him honor and glory and punishes those who refuse to listen to His commandments.[10] And just like the Ephesians, they too were once in the darkness of not knowing God’s plan of salvation through grace and faith, but that He, the Light of the world, came down from heaven and revealed that plan to all who would listen. And those who then walk in that Light will do only that which is good and right.[11]

No wonder that the Apostle Paul told the Philippians that he constantly desired them to do those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.[12] Should anyone find living the holy life that God requires will be stressful and cause them much grief, the Apostle Peter wants to remind everyone that the Anointed One carried our sins in His body on the cross. He did this so that we would stop living for sin and live for what is right. “By His wounds, you were healed.”[13] And did not the Psalmist say that if you focus on what is good and oppose what is wrong, you prove that God chose you from among others and gave you more joy and honor than anyone else?[14]

Therefore, it is no longer a matter of choice but of compliance. Believers don’t live their lives the way they want, but the way God wants. So, we need to prepare our minds for service. And by exercising complete self-control, put all our hope in the grace that will be the Lord’s when Jesus the Anointed One returns. We did not understand how to prepare in the past, so we allowed our sinful tendencies to do all the wicked things we wanted to do. But now, we are God’s children, so we should obey Him and not live the way we did before. We need to be holy in everything we do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose us. As it says in the Scriptures, “Be holy because I am holy.”[15] [16]

The Apostle John repeats his declaration with emphasis and new considerations in his tender address, “My children, I am writing this so that you won’t sin. But if you do sin, Jesus the Anointed One always does the right thing, and He will speak to the Father for us.”[17] There are always people who attempt to reconcile being godly in their talk while ungodly in their living. In John’s day, some Gnostics taught that conduct was immaterial to one’s spiritual life, for no external acts could defile a believer. “These external acts,” says John, “prove the person’s spiritual character and origin. If they do what is right, thank God. However, if they do what is wrong, they have no one to thank but the devil.” The Greek adverb kathōs (“even as” KJV; “just as” NIV) introduces a fresh motive for self-purification by presenting a comparison. Note the difference between “even as” in verses three and seven. The Anointed One does what’s right, and this attribute is reproduced in us, so we can be just like Him.

Then, verses seven and eight strongly suggest that those who are antichrists misinterpret sin and uprightness. Maybe the antichrists taught that it was okay to continue to sin while claiming fellowship with God. So, by John calling out to his readers as “little children,” he directly applies what he said in verses five and six. They should let no one deceive them. The Greek indicates that John’s readers were to stop the deception that was already in process. It also indicates the severity of the satanic error to which they were susceptible.

After warning his readers about the “antichrists’” misconception about sin and righteousness, John now warns them about the importance of consistency in the faith.  Genuine virtue springs from One who is kind by nature.  Sin finds its origin in the Devil.[18] This word for “deceive” is the same word used 2:26.  The word means to “lead astray.”  Evidently, the antichrists led some of John’s readers astray from a correct view of God’s nature concerning His righteousness.

The genuine believer in fellowship reflects respectability beyond themselves.  He is far more than a mere profession.  He has the life of God in him.  Therefore, the life of God in the believer reflects itself in goodness produced by God.  There is a close connection between conduct and character.  Temperament is the foundation of life and deeds. John does not say that the practice of righteousness makes one righteous. Instead, the person with the right conduct is a person with the right Christian lifestyle.

A believer in fellowship always reflects the source from whom they derived their fairness – the Son of God.  He demonstrates the nature of the Anointed One. They behave like Him because He is from Him. The words “just as” can be expressed as “precisely as that Anointed One is righteous.”  These words do not indicate that believers exercise righteousness to the same extent as Jesus did but in the same manner as He did.  Being ethical in character always shows itself in virtuous conduct.  Natural decency springs from an honest attitude. Just as Jesus did not become righteous by doing, the believer does not become righteous by doing.  Jesus was eternally and unchangeably righteous, so He disclosed Himself as such in the world.  Believers reveal the justness they have in the Anointed One because of their life in union with Him.  There is a big difference between those who try to imagine the personality of the Anointed One and those who project in His image. As such, the believer’s conduct displays their relationship with God.

So, how do we apply this to our lives? Satan is ever on the hunt for gullible believers. Untaught Christians are particularly susceptible to deception from Satan when it comes to respectability. Every believer possesses two kinds of right standing before God.  First, Jesus declares the believer to be as righteous as He was at the moment of personal trust in the cross to forgive sin. That is judicial righteousness.  The second is by justification that flows out of our fellowship with the Lord. That is moral righteousness.[19]  The Holy Spirit yields the needed attitude. There is no way that a person can fellowship with God and not produce experiential goodness.[20]

Those who live righteously demonstrate that they are righteous. Such believers resemble the One with whom they have fellowship.  There is a type of self-righteousness that does not come from Jesus the Anointed One. It is simply a false front to deceive others into thinking that it is real. John says in effect, “Don’t let them fool you; it isn’t real.  They are phony, having no relationship with Jesus the Anointed One.” For someone to say, “I am a Christian,” and live like the Devil, is just kidding themselves.  This is self-deception.  No one would believe them.  Instead, people believe what they see, “What you are speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.”


[1] Romans 2:13

[2] 1 Corinthians 6:9

[3] Galatians 6:7-8

[4] Ephesians 5:6

[5] James 2:19

[6] Ibid. 5:1-3

[7] Psalm 106:3

[8] Ezekiel 18:5-9

[9] Matthew 5:20

[10] Romans 2:6-8

[11] Ephesians 5:8-9

[12] Philippians 1:11

[13] 1 Peter 2:24

[14] Psalm 45:7; cf. 71:1-7

[15] Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7

[16] 1 Peter 1:13-16

[17] 1 John 2:1

[18] John 8:44

[19] Philippians 1:9-11

[20] Galatians 5:25

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s