We are on to chapter 3, which John opens with encouragement.
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NKJV)
John brings in this passage right after dealing with the issues related to the judgment seat. First he emphasizes how amazing it is that ‘we should be called children of God!’ I recently began watching movie where a poor man is working in a village. He was an illegitimate child and not well respected in the village. One day a man comes along who is a lord in the land and tells the young man he is his father. He immediately shifts from being the poor blacksmith to having a new identity. In the world’s eyes he is now important. Much more, at conversion we received a new identity from a much more important source, from whom we have a new nature.
John then brings home his point that no matter how things look now, when Jesus steps back into our world in all His glory we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He really is, the Lord of glory. Does this contradict what Paul taught about the judgment seat? No, just as all diamonds are diamonds, they still differ in the brilliance they reflect. Look below at what Paul tells us.
41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 (NKJV)
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45 (NKJV) 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 1 Corinthians 15:49 (NKJV)
In these excerpts from 1 Corinthians we see that while we will all bear Jesus image, just as the stars differ in degrees of glory, so also our resurrection bodies will also differ. We will all be diamonds, just with different degrees of brilliance. How do we respond to this? John said if we truly embrace this hope we will purify ourselves. How we do that?
This passage points to the reality Paul highlighted in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)
We can begin to be changed into His image here and now and the process that will be completed when He appears. If we fix our hope on Him and let this hope anchor our soul (Heb. 6:19) we will be changed here and now to a much greater degree and reflect more of His glory to those around, so that they in turn will be changed by Him. If we truly have our hope anchored in Him we will purify ourselves.
Our purification comes about not by self-effort but by looking to Him. It is not a matter of works we do to sanctify ourselves. Our sanctification grows out of our relationship with Him, it is a by-product, an end. The means is focused time spent in His presence. The result is we have strength in our inner being to choose and walk in right behaviour. So while we do need to purify ourselves, this purification comes about not through a great exertion of willpower, but through a great relationship with Jesus. Again, this comes about through intentional time spent in His presence.
Think about natural relationships. If we spend a lot of time with someone and get to know them we understand something of their habits and ways of acting. I have been married for over three decades. I recognize my wife’s footsteps. Someone else could walk around in my house and try to mimic my wife, I would recognize it wasn’t her.
When we learn to recognize His presence and the way He moves in our life, which we can always do as a believer, we can learn from Him at any time. I find when I am close to Him my thoughts are drawn to prayer and a sense of intimacy during the days. I have a song in my heart and find myself humming or quietly singing and often awaken with a worship song on my lips and running through my mind.
So, are we listening for His footsteps? Are we attuned to His presence? He is here and wants to be known.