Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.( I John 3:7-11)
The first epistle of John is a series of tests, the threefold tests of eternal life or the absence thereof. John wants to clear up the confusion engendered by counterfeit versions of christianity. Gnos`tics had redefined the knowledge of God, to the point that the real christians doubt`ed their own experience.
The Gnostics were so spiritual, they had constant dreams, revelations, ecstatic experiences, encounters with angels, etc. They seemingly enjoyed an exalted spirituality, far beyond the simple bible based fait`h of the ordinary christian. These people really seemed to know God in a deeper way!
The Apostle therefore, sets out to remind us of who the “only true God” really is, in three simple theological propositions. God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all…God is Love… and Jesus Christ has come (and remains) in the flesh. This is the “true God and eternal Life”.
Those who truly have known this God will manifest the Life that He gives them, for eternal Life becomes the fountain of true Righteousness, true Love and truth in doctrine, notably the doctrine of Christ himself.By these tests, of Righteousness, Love and Truth, we can “know that we have eternal Life”.
Why does John call us not to be deceived about Righteousness, telling us something as self-evident as this, that “He that doeth Righteousness is Righteous even as He is Righteous…”?
Because the gnostics had succeeded in spiritualizing righteousness. One of the beliefs of gnostics, ancient and modern, is that all that really matters is the spiritual, not the physical. Who you are “in Christ” was supposed to be more significant than what yu may or may not do with your body, because the physical is irrelevant.
Therefore the conclusion was drawn that physical acts of unrighteousness are meaningless, they cannot possibly affect your relationship with God. All that supposedly matters is who you are “in the Spirit” and whether or not you have the “Gnosis”.
This is the deception John was addressing in the first chapter;
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:( I John 1:6)
There were those who believed because of the teaching of the gnostics that the walk was unimportant, and who denied that sin existed in the believer, or that it could ever harm our relationship with God!
…if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.(I John 1:8)
This is a teaching that is very much with us today, the denial of original sin. Note that in verse 8 we claim to “have no sin” that is sin as a principle within us. Denial of original sin is self-deception, and evidence that the truth does not abide within.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.(I John 1:10)
In this case sin is a verb, the gnostics were saying they hadn’t sinned. This is rebellion against the light, calling God a liar and proof that the Word isn’t in us.
All of these are manifestations of the spiritualization of righteousness, which is deception. In our own time we have outrageous examples of this, for currently there is a charlatan healing evangelist named Todd Bentley.
This deceiver has been prophesied over by leaders of the so-called prophetic movement, as the next great move of God, all the while knowing that he would within two weeks leave his wife and children to marry his secretary, and to continue on with his much acclaimed and received “ministry”.
Such is the damage wrought by “Spiritualized righteousness”, evidently to Rick Joyner and the other deceivers who anointed and endorsed this adulterer, Bentley’s “anointing” and the “revelations he brings” are so vital to the cause of christ, that it doesn’t matter that Bentley trampled upon his own wife and took another.
This is the sort of confusion that John wrote to clear up. “He that sinneth is of the devil”, for the works of evil originate with the devil. Those who receive Todd Bentley knowing his immorality, demonstrate either that they themselves are devoid of eternal Life, or that they are in a state of utter spiritual confusion.
Those who sin blatantly and unashamedly are of the devil! It seems like a no brainer doesn’t it?
Those who have eternal Life, as a consequence of eternal Life, cannot sin with impunity, for eternal life will not allow it. Eternal life becomes within us the cause of the utter hatred of sin, all sin, indwelling and otherwise!
We don’t deny that we on occasion sin, , for John himself said “If any man sin, WE have an advocate with the Father…”. But the one who possess a share of the Life of God, who is light, and in whom no darkness can abide, hates and resists sin for the rest of his life.
The test of eternal Life is that it causes in us the hatred and resistance to sin. Tnose who do not have this, have no reason to believe that they have eternal Life.