In 1 John the apostle John is teaching us that believing the right things about Jesus and His gospel, simply believing those facts to be true, does not prove that anyone is a Christian. But rather, genuine Christians also demonstrate a pattern of obedience to Christ in the way that they live: Christians deny sin and pursue righteousness.
Many people in our world today believe that Christianity teaches that you are simply required to be the best person you can possibly be. In other words, the heart of Christianity is that your good deeds must outweigh the bad ones. Such a belief completely misrepresents what Christianity actually teaches. The Christian faith involves a radical transformation that is characterized by righteous living and obedience to the word of God.
The Bible teaches that Christians have been adopted into the family of God as either a son or daughter. Theologians call this spiritual concept the doctrine of adoption. The truth is, God the Father has set His love upon a particular people and He has determined to adopt them into His family by His grace.
God is love. And God’s love consists of both words and deeds. He put His love on display by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for the sins everyone who would ever believe in Him. That is how deep and wide God’s love is for His family.
The Bible teaches that adoption is a legal declaration that takes place at the moment of salvation, when God places every Christian into His family. This means that we as Christians enjoy and experience the full rights and privileges of sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
The doctrine of adoption is more than a theological concept to be studied; it is a doctrine that comes with many privileges. The New Testament describes several privileges that we as Christians experience here in this life.
We, as Christians, embrace the doctrine of adoption because we understand that God Himself has brought us into His family. We were dead in trespasses and sins, but now we are alive in Christ. We are members of a new spiritual family, and we have new spiritual DNA. Now that we are part of God’s family, we must stand firm in Christ as we live for Him in an unbelieving world.
The biblical teaching on adoption has several key implications for the life of every true believer here on this earth. But adoption also has several key implications for every brother and sister in Christ in the life to come, in the new heaven and earth.
In 1 John 3 the apostle John teaches that the doctrines of adoption and glorification should motivate a believer to become more and more like Christ. This is known as the doctrine of sanctification.
There are many flawed views of sanctification in the evangelical world today. Sadly, these flawed views hinder true believers from becoming more like Christ. It is critical for us as Christians to understand the biblical process for sanctification, so we can spend the rest of our lives pursing Christlikeness.