1 John 3:2-3
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
So whenever I start dissecting a verse I look at all the verses that my commentary or concordance tie to it within the text. You can do this a number of ways. You can use Logos or Treasury of Scripture Knowledge or even a lot of translations have superscripts that do the work for you. This verse has a couple of themes that are substantial to our practical theology and this becomes very apparent as we look to the corollary verses.
Verse 2 gives us a maxim that we are God’s children now. Romans 8:15 and Ephesians 1:5 define what it means to call God your Father. Galatians 3:26 gives what I believe to be the bottom line for the credentials to be a child of God: “26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” To be a child of God you must be saved by faith. For those who haven’t studied 1 John in depth previously remember John is writing to those who believe in the name of the Son of God that they may know the proofs of their salvation (1 John 5:13), that they may know they have eternal life. So when John is defining what it means to be God’s children now it is in the context of him giving his audience proofs that they are realizing they have eternal life NOW. As a side note, Paul agrees in the Galatians 3:26 passage that they are only saved by faith alone as he would explain further in Ephesians 2:8-9.
So with our memory verse for the week we know how we are children of God but as John is explaining “what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him”, WHY? … “because we shall see him as he is”. This is where the corollary verses go nuts by defining the maxims that He has explained throughout Scripture of what it means to be like Him in our present day sanctification. Romans 8:29; 2Cor 3:18; 4:11; Phil 3:21; 2Pet 1:4 all define God’s guaranteed work in our sanctification process…before Glory. So bear in mind this is taking place before you see Him as He is because when you see Him as He is you will be in a glorified state. Romans 8:29 says that He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. Think that through for a minute (who for the joy sat before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. Heb 12:2). 2 Corinthians 3:18 says we are being transformed (present tense) into the same image…and this is from the Holy Spirit. We are literally being changed from one degree of glory to another presently. 2 Corinthians 4:11 states that: 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake.” Notice he says this happens, presently, because we are living. Why does this happen? Paul declares that is not only for Jesus sake but so the life of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Peter chimes in with the fact that we may become partakers of the divine nature because we have: “having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” This is what it means to be like Jesus right here, right now. If we are saved these realities are being revealed in our life because of God’s work in our lives. So we know that when He appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. In case we wanted to transfer this all to the future and didn’t look through the verses that ties this passage together with the rest of Scripture John restates that “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
So are we purifying ourselves as God is in the act of purifying us? I am encouraged daily in this midst of victory and defeat that God is Sovereign and my circumstances don’t define me other than to reflect that God is conforming me to my Lords image…may I add, usually through difficulty. May we reflect Him well to a dying world in need of His saving grace?