John’s first letter helps answer the question of whether or not you are a child of God. He gives several characteristics of those walking with the Lord:
1) “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
2) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
3) “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
4) “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
5) “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
6) “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.”
Then John says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
In point 2 above, John said if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and make Him a liar. Then John says if we sin we are of the devil. Therefore, we have to look at point number 6. Do you see the word “practice”? Those who are in Christ are practicing righteousness as an ongoing way of life. No one is going to nail this perfectly. So yes, we are still sinners, but a genuine Christian, who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, will not continue in a lifestyle or prolonged pattern of sin without conviction, and conviction leads to repentance.
Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, and He rose three days later, defeating death and providing a way for our eternal salvation. Therefore, whoever puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ has their sins covered by His bloodshed and is deemed righteous. And those who are truly in Christ, the righteous, grieve their sin and repent out of love for their Savior.
John also says that the wicked will always try to kill the righteous. We saw this in the beginning of the story, when wicked Cain killed his righteous brother Abel, and the pattern continues and will continue until Jesus returns. But we also see throughout the story that what sets the righteous apart from the wicked is their love for one another, not just “in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.”
Tomorrow we finish John’s first letter and also read his next two letters, so keep reading! (1 John 1:1-4:6)