One of the many things that brings great pleasure in my life is when someone recognizes the resemblance between my son and me. I guess it’s just a father thing, but it gives me a good feeling to know that my son can be recognized as my son by merely looking at him. Of course, some would argue that’s not necessarily a good thing for him.
The Bible tells us that God’s children also have recognizable traits and features. Those who have experienced the new birth in Jesus Christ will demonstrate their relationship with the Heavenly Father by resembling Him.
How do we ‘know’ we’ve experienced the ‘new birth’ in Christ Jesus? We do this by allowing the Holy Spirit to give us assurance through daily growing to look more and more like Jesus, who is the perfect image of His Father.
John penned his first letter to believers with exactly this purpose… to give them assurance in their faith. He wrote this letter so they could rest in the promises of God (1 John 5:13).
But these words are sometimes harsh. Especially when we begin to weigh them against our own lives.
John says that those who are truly the children of God will:
Recognize their sin, confess, and repent (1:8-10),
Love God and keep His commandments (2:3-6),
Love others (2:7-17) (3:11-18) (4:7-12), [by the way, this isn’t simply saying, ‘I love you,’ it’s sacrificial giving to meet needs, just as ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son’…]
True believers will not love the world and the things of the world (2:15-17), and will overcome the world (5:4-5).
John says we should be able to look at our lives and see these characteristics if we are children of God the Father.
Notice what’s not in John’s list? He doesn’t mention a visible morality, intellectual knowledge, or even religious involvement. John doesn’t offer an emotional reaction to a sermon, walking an aisle, signing a card, or being dipped in a pool of water. While all of these may be positive reactions to Jesus’ call on our lives, none of them make John’s list of evidences of true faith.
As a matter of fact, everything John teaches about the security of salvation, along with Paul, Peter, James, and most importantly, Jesus, is written in the perfect tense. They are saying, don’t look to the past, look at the current evidence… right now! Are you living for Jesus right now? If not, Paul says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are of the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).”
John says we should walk just as He walked (1 John 2:6). Interestingly, we can’t do this on our own. My son could not determine his looks by his choice, and neither can the believer.
God is at work in His children’s lives transforming us into the image of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29). And the work God begins, He will complete!