John is so concerned for these believers, knowing how easy it is to be led astray and deceived by those who pervert the cause of Christ. This work of the evil one has been going on since the beginning of time because the devil and his sin started it all. Listen to how this elderly disciple lays it out in his letter today:
Little children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother or sister.1 John 3:7-10 CSB
When deception begins, it’s sometimes hard to spot, because Satan often tricks us with an idea or act that seems good enough. Yet, good can quickly become evil when it turns our focus off Christ and onto self or another human being. I like how John lets us know something important.
Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.
His purpose was to undo all that sin had done and was doing in our world. He made the way for us to know righteousness—not of ourselves or from anything we had done, but through his sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. When we are born again through faith in Christ, his seed is planted in our hearts and minds. The guarantee of our salvation is stamped in us by his Spirit, breaking the bond of sin that led to death.
In Christ, an obvious distinction is made in our ownership.
Being marked by his Spirit, we no longer live in sin, letting it reign in our hearts and minds. Before Jesus came to this earth to complete his mission on our behalf, there was not a clear distinction. Man tried, through obedience to the law, to live for God, but failed to maintain the righteousness God required. The Law seemed to magnify our sins instead of wiping them out.
Only in Christ can one be distinguished from those still enslaved to sin. The way we are distinguished is manifested through our good works—our right living—our love for others. The world doesn’t have this and can’t keep it up on a steady basis. Without the Spirit, no one can. That’s why it’s easy to spot those who are from God and those who are from the devil. Easy-peasy, as far as John is concerned.
Are you easy to spot as a child of God? Why? Why not? If you don’t know what to do about it, ask the One who knows.
Grace and Peace