I John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
It is an amazing thing to be called a son of God. John wrote about this in John 1:12. What a wonderful fact that the Holy Creator God should adopt wicked sinners into His family. He provides the only way that wicked sinners can be cleansed and changed to become sons of God. That way is through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
True saints are different from the world. We have many reminders in God’s Word of this fact. It is such an amazing thing when a person is truly saved. The person will want to tell others and the change that is made will be obvious. The world cannot understand how a person can be changed so drastically in a moment of time. This change is not just a fleeting thing. It is a change that becomes more obvious over time. The true child of God grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will fall at times but he will not be cast down. He will need chastening at times, but he will benefit from the chastening. Sometimes the Lord will need to end a believers life because he does not want to yield to the chastening.
We know that the majority of the Jews did not know Jesus in His first coming. The Romans did not know Him either. King Herod wanted Him killed as a young boy. He grew up in a very simple home. After His baptism, He began to show the nation of Israel Who He truly was. Most of them rejected His deity. They liked the miracles. They liked the free food. They were amazed at His teaching. Yet, they were easily persuaded to demand His crucifixion. The Romans were puppets and the soldiers willingly did the bidding of the Jewish false teachers. One centurion came to realize that Jesus was the Son of God.
John reminded his readers that we should not be surprised if the world does not know us. They will not treat us any better than they treated Jesus Christ. Jesus stated:
John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
John will have more to say on this in I John 3. In verse 2 the saints are addressed as “beloved”. It is a blessing to be loved of the Lord. John reminds us that now we are the sons of God. At the moment of salvation we are the sons of God. We do not need to wait for this to happen. What we are now is not what we will be. As sons of God we will be changing. The true child of God needs to be growing in the Lord. We look forward to the ultimate change that will take place when we meet the Lord. At that time our changing will be completed. We will be like our Lord and Saviour. We will not become little gods, but we will be free from the bondage of sin. Sin will no longer have any hold on us. We will not be tempted to sin anymore.
The day is coming when the saints will see the Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples saw Him after His resurrection. Thomas would not believe that He was alive until Jesus showed Himself to him. Thomas missed out on blessings that can only be known by faith. We, those who are saved, do not doubt His resurrection and His ascension. We look forward to the day we can be in His presence for ever more. We will see Jesus as He is. The angel promised the disciples:
Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
John described Him in His glorified form in Revelation 1 and elsewhere in that book. We will know Him when we see Him. We will not wonder, as John the Baptist did for a time, if we need to look for another. God will give us that discernment to know Jesus when we see Him. We will not be deceived as the many who will be left to meet the antichrist. Many of them will believe that man is the Christ to their own detriment. Those who are saved will be taken out of this world just prior to the revelation of this man of sin.
In verse 3 we see that the reason we purify ourselves, is not because we want to please man. The true saints are motivated to purify themselves because they know they will meet their Saviour one day. He is without sin. He is holy. He is undefiled. His desire is to present His body, the church as a spotless body before His Father. The Bible warns that there will be some who will be saved though as by fire. Some will not receive rewards because they did not want to follow God faithfully. They will be ashamed at His appearing. God will wipe away all tears, but there will be a recognition of failure for those who want to resist His work of changing them after salvation.
At this point, John was directed to remind the saints of the positive aspects of salvation. He was reminding us of the fact that the greatest motivator for growth in the child of God is internal. Paul wrote that we need to exhort one another to love and good works as we see the day approaching. There will be outward encouragement, but the Holy Spirit is working in the heart of every saved person to move them to greater purity. Those who are truly saved can be encouraged by the facts. We should be excited about the gift of salvation God has given to us. We live in anticipation of Jesus’ soon return.