1 John 3:4-10 - Whoever Practices Righteousness Is Righteous

Last week we had our missions Sunday so we did not continue in 1 John. Our text this morning is 1 John 3:4-10 but it perhaps it would be best if we consider 1 John 3:1-3 to get back into the context.


See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (3:1-3)

There are several things that we should notice about1 John 3:1-3.

  1. John is calling believers to ‘see’ and to consider the love of God. He says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” John wants them to see, to take a good long look at, the love that God has given to us. Maybe we need this reminder too.

  • I grew up in a blended family. My dad married my stepmom when I was very young. As I got older I struggled to know if I should call her by her name, or ‘mom’, or ‘stepmom’. That was such a big question so one day I asked her what would be appropriate to call her. She was fine with whatever I felt comfortable saying. In all of this I neglected to appreciate the fact that she always treated me as a son. Similarly, we may struggle to grasp the wonder of our adoption into God’s family but He has called us His child and that should give us a great sense of comfort and wonder!

  1. And notice that this is a reality for John. John knows that believers are sons and daughters of God. He says, “...and so we are”. He also says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now…”. He does not say, ‘I think this is the case, ‘it will be true when everything is finalized’, ‘it will happen if everything falls into place’. Are you as confident as the apostle John?

  2. John does not have this confidence because of what he sees in himself. Rather, his confidence is in what God has done for the believer. John knows that he has been born again and His seed abides in Him (9). Our confidence is in God and not ourselves.

  3. John has confidence because he has experienced the love of God and he has seen what God has done. John knows we are not children of God because of our own merits and perfection. He says, “...what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, and we shall see Him as He is.

  4. Finally, John hopes in the return of Christ and this motivates him to purify himself. John says, “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.

  • Purification results from looking to Christ and hoping in His return. Often in considering our sanctification we tend to look more at ourselves than we do at Christ. Instead of beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus and being transformed, we look at ourselves and loose confidence and hope. We then doubt God’s ability to love us and question our relationship with Him.

  • Marvel at the fact that God has made us His children and called us His children.

  • Recognize that your union with Christ has separation you from the world.

  • Acknowledge that sanctification is a process and that you will not arrive at perfection until Jesus returns and you see Him as He is.

  • Look to Christ and hope in Him in your sanctification.


Now let us look at 1 John 3:4-10 and notice that this text builds upon many of these same themes.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.


John began this chapter by declaring that we are God’s children. Now he begins to describe the profound changes that this new relationship brings to a Christian’s life. When we read this text we begin to recognize that in the new birth a radical change occurs in the life of a believer concerning sin. A Christian does not go on sinning.