6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. (1 John 3:6–7, NKJV)
Is John saying that Christians never commit a sin? If so, then he contradicts himself earlier in this epistle when he wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself with double talk. The key to understanding today’s passage is the word “practices” in verse 7. On the one hand, the apostle is describing one who practices sin as the course or habit of his life (verse 6), while on the other hand describing one who practices (has the habit of) righteousness (verse 7). God’s will is that “you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). God wants us to sin less and less. To deny sin’s reality is a lie. To practice sin is unrighteousness. When we confess our sins we are assured of forgiveness and cleansing because we have “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9; 2:1). By doing so we walk in the light – establish the habit of practicing righteousness – and are “righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 1:7-9; 3:7). As Jesus put it, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1, NKJV)
God called Noah and his family into the ark after Noah built the ark “according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). Why was Noah allowed to enter the ark and saved from the impending flood? God said, “Because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” Does God see your righteousness? Some would have you believe there is no righteousness ever to be seen in men and women by contorting Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” Was Noah’s righteousness like filthy rags? Obviously not. Nor was it self-righteousness as in the Pharisee who trusted in himself (Luke 18:9-14). His was “the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). This is the kind of righteousness we must practice to be born of God and righteous in His sight (1 John 2:29; 3:7). God counts righteous the person who exercises obedient faith. Without such faith, there is no grace from God. Otherwise, all would have been allowed into the ark and saved from the flood. But, only the righteous are saved. Just like Noah and his family obeyed God and were saved through water, baptism “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:20-21). When you believe and obey the gospel of Christ, you will be saved and righteous – like Noah (Romans 10:10; 6:16).
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (Romans 2:6–7, NKJV)
God’s judgments are just. The Old Testament law and prophets relied on this basic truth when they said, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20; see Deuteronomy 24:16). Despite this, many still believe men and women are born sinners (born with a sin nature), inheriting the guilt and depravity of Adam’s sin. Yet, today’s passage assures eternal life to those who continue doing what is good because they are seeking “glory, honor, and immortality.” What is the good we must patiently continue to do to receive eternal life? The apostle John said it is practicing righteousness: “My little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). The “doing good” that will be rewarded with eternal life is faithful obedience to God (Ephesians 2:10). Today’s question is this: Are you seeking heaven? If so, do you have faith that God will render to you according to your deeds? If so, then do the will of God and be blessed with eternal life. God will keep His word and deliver you a just judgment according to your deeds.
5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5–6, NKJV)
The mantra of this present age is not to judge any belief, any action, any person – ever. The charge that “you are judging me” is often designed to shut down investigation, not lead to insight and clarity. Why is it we do not want to be judged? One reason is because we do not wish to be held accountable for our words and deeds. Yet, it is better to be judged by divine truth, so we can correct ourselves now, than it is to ignore God’s judgments until that fateful day when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Hard hearts that refuse to repent prepare a person for God’s wrath instead of mercy when that day comes. It will be a day of wrath and just condemnation of sin (Romans 1:18). God has revealed His judgments to us – we have an open book to use in preparing for the day of judgment. The judgment of God is righteous. The judgment of God is real. The judgment of God is ready. He will give to each one a reward that corresponds with our deeds in this life. Are you treasuring up for an eternal day, or for eternal death? Don’t just say you are living for heaven – actually do it.
15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you?” (Psalm 50:15–17, NKJV)
The wicked, who defy God’s law and break His covenant, have no ground to stand upon and declare what God will or will not do. God is not a talisman or lucky charm to be called upon to conjure up blessings in a moment of crisis. Yet, too many people think of God this way. They have little time or use for God until a crisis occurs, and then they can be heard crying to God for help. God is not a fire-extinguisher on standby only when we have a problem that needs fixing. He commands and deserves our gratitude and faithful allegiance always. The Lord God hears and answers the cries of the righteous (1 Peter 3:10-12). Are you responsive to what God wants from you (His words of instruction)? If not, how can you expect Him to respond to your cries for help? What right do you have to say what God will or will not do, seeing you have rejected His word? Come back to God and obey His word. Then, He will hear and answer your prayers according to His will, not yours (1 John 5:14-15).
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” (James 2:1, NKJV)
Impartiality is a trait of God Himself; “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). We must resist and reject the temptation to show favoritism in our judgments and our treatment of others. We cannot hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and do otherwise. Partiality is motivated by appearance, which exposes its unjust nature (John 7:23-24). Partiality grants an undue advantage to one, while unjustly withholding that same advantage from another (see James 2:2-4). Impartiality is a mark of justice, while partiality is unjust. God was quite clear in His law to Israel to be impartial in their treatment of others: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15). Did you catch that? Neither poverty, riches, power or nobility were to inform and influence their judgments. Righteousness was to direct their judgments and their treatment of others. Judges were charged not to show partiality in judgment (Deuteronomy 1:17). Showing favoritism and bestowing benefits based on appearance rather than truth is not love for one’s neighbor. When we show partiality in judgment we “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4). Let us be just in all our dealings, without partiality.
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:29, NKJV)
The Bible says, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Yet, the Scriptures identify many people as righteous (Abel, Noah, Job, Daniel, Joseph, etc.). How is the possible? Nobody is righteous through law-keeping; that requires sinless perfection (and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23). The harmony is that these righteous ones were people of faith, and their faith was counted to them for righteousness (Romans 4:3, 5; Philippians 3:9). Note please, the Scripture does not say Christ’s righteousness was imputed to them. Scripture says the sinner’s “faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). We cannot earn righteousness through law-keeping – we are sinners (law breakers)! But, we can “hunger and thirst after righteousness, and be filled (Matthew 5:6). By faith, we can practice righteousness (1 John 2:29). We practice righteousness as we live by faith, following the teachings of the Righteous One. The sinner who is born of God is counted righteous by faith (Romans 1:17). To practice righteousness, be upright in heart and faithful to Jesus, and your faith will be counted for righteousness.