I find it is often helpful to have two or three different translations of the Bible available when studying as sometimes a word “jumps” out in one version and gives a special meaning to the scripture.
I have found this to be the case in verse 1. The Good News Bible says;
See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children – and so, in fact, we are.
The New International Version says this;
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.
Do you see the difference? the word lavished brings to mind how bountifully God loves us. The dictionary defines it as bestowing profusely, extravagantly. I’m sure those of you who are parents will say how much you love to give your children presents and will do all you can to give them what they want. When others say you give them too much, you don’t care because you are more interested in seeing your children happy. Gods love for us is so great that he even sings over us, he delights in us;
The Lord your God is with you; His power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you. (Zephaniah 3 v 17)
Our human minds can’t quite comprehend what we will be like in glory, but we do know that as his children; when Christ appears we shall be like him, and we will see him as he really is.
Those who belong to the earth are like the one (Adam) who was made of earth; those who are of heaven are like the one (Christ) who came from heaven. Just as we wear the likeness of the man who was made of earth. so we will wear the likeness of the Man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15 v 48-49)
Now onto sin (again!) – this seems to be a recurring theme throughout the various letters in the Bible. I guess we can take some comfort that if the Apostles and early Christians were struggling with it despite the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the miracles they saw then perhaps we are not quite a bad as we think and should not condemn ourselves for;
There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus (Romans 8 v1)
However this should not make us complacent – sin is still a problem and John writes that if we sin we are breaking God’s law and everyone who lives in union with Christ does not continue to sin. Even the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7 that he struggles with doing the things he should not do and then not doing the things he should. This he explains is caused by the conflict between our earthly body which wants to please itself and our soul which wants to please God.
I found it interesting to discover; remembering the days when I did Latin at school that the Latin word for Left is Sinister – from which we derive the word sin. In a nutshell – sin is whatever is not right.
If we are truly born of God our conscience will begin to direct us and lead us to make wiser choices and as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, we will learn to do what is right.
We are to love one another because we have been set free from the power of death.
We know that we have left death and come over to life; we know it because we love our brothers and sisters. Whoever does not love is still under the power of death (v14)
We know that this is why the world hates us, because we are now doing (or at least trying to do) what is right. Cain killed Abel because Abel did what was right and received God’s approval whereas Cain did not.
If we have the resources to help those in need then we must, we cannot claim that we love God if we ignore the needs of those around us – Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5 that even the unbelievers know how to look after the needy. Our love should be shown in our actions not just words.
So how do we know that we are in the truth?
God has given us our conscience and if our conscience tells us something is wrong we can approach God’s throne of Grace to ask for forgiveness – note; we saw that it is not God himself that condemns us if we are his – the Holy Spirit teaches us through our conscience to be obedient and therefore live in union with Christ.
Satan will try to condemn us but we know that he is a liar – we saw in 1 John 1 v 9 that if we confess our sins to God, he will forgive us and purify us.
Going back to verse one we saw how much God our Father loves us. As our heavenly Father he will teach us and guide us as did our earthly fathers. We all did thing wrong, that is how we learned to do what is right; but it did not alter their love for us. In the same way when we sin, God still loves us, but as Paul says in Romans 6 v 1
Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin – how can we go on living in it?
Quotes from The Good News Bible