ch29 The Marks of a Christian (Study of 1 John)

ch29 The Marks of a Christian (Study of 1 John) is a study of what are the marks of a Christian throughout the book of 1st John.

The Marks of a Christian according to 1 John

By David Cox

v1 ©2008
You may freely reproduce this tract for non-profit purposes.

The Apostle John in his first epistle presents us with the marks of a true Christian. It is important that every Christian meditates on whether he himself is a true Christian, and if he is truly saved, and a part of the body of Christ. No member of a body can exists alone, apart from the rest of the body, without having exchange with the rest of the members of the body. The Christian must base his spiritual life in identification with this body of Christ, and with the work of God that makes up the body of Christ, and to function within that body.

To understand this, we need to study Matthew 25:31-46.  God is going to judge each person as being saved or not by how they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The point of this teaching is to make us understand that our love of Christ (which is absolutely necessary to be saved) manifests itself in our relationship with the rest of our Christian brethren.

John declares in his first epistle who are our brethren with whom we must do to show our true love of God. By establishing these marks God helps us not to fail in tricks and traps with deceivers or people seeking to take advantage of our love of Christ without them loving Christ.

1 John Chapter 1

Firstly, we see that all Christians have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship produces consequences (the marks) in each Christian without exception. They will always be there whether you read his epistle or not.

1:4 The Christian is full of joy. His salvation does not happen without a change of attitude, and a happiness and joy that will totally change his life. 1:5 There are two forces, light and darkness, and the Christian is marked in his character by light, and the absence of darkness. 1:6 The Christian “practices the truth.” His relationship with the truth is very distinct. He imposes truth in his life as his life’s mission, its goal, its joy. 1:7 Communion with God absolutely causes the person to seek, maintain, and advance this communion with other Christians. This is the purpose and matter in our reunions in the local church. This is the structure that God created for the church. 1:7 Moreover, communion with God causes the person to leave off sinning (1:9). Communion with Christ cleanses us (we walk in the light). (1:8-10) The Christian always recognizes the presence of sin in their life but is also constantly in battle against this sin, repenting of it and confessing it to God, leaving it.

1 John Chapter 2

2:1-2 The true Christian always seeks the remedy for their sins in Jesus Christ their Savior. 2:3-4 The mark of the child of God is his desire and the fulfilment in keeping the commandments of God. Perhaps it is difficult for him, but this is always his desire and goal, and this is what should happen more than not. And we can rapidly identify the false Christian by his antipathy or his opposition to keep the commandments of God. 2:5 The keeping of the commandments of God is a manifestation of his love for God. This love, and the desire to please God is a manifestation that he “abides in Christ.”

2:6 The true Christian will always “walk as Christ walked.” In other words, his life is molded after the model of Jesus Christ. As was Jesus, so is the true Christian. Jesus was meek, tender, and at the same time strong against the enemies of God and against sin, and the true Christian follows this example.

2:7-11 The rule imposed without exception is that the true child of God will always love his brother in Christ, as he loves Christ. In not loving his brother in Christ, or in hating him, or even ignoring him is equally to hate Christ. The lack of good relationships of love with others in the body of Christ is simply a manifestation that the person needs to be saved. There are people who do not see the need to attend a church with other brethren in Christ, much less participate, support, pray for them, fellowship with them, etcetera. These people are not saved. John says that “they are still in darkness” (2:9) and “they don’t know where they are going” and “darkness has blinded their eyes(2:11).

2:15-17 The true child of God has an antagonism with the world. He simply does not love the world nor its attractions. It is impossible that somebody loves God (is saved) and that at the same time love the world and its attractions.  Those who are saved are people who have seen the Savior, and they have given him their hearts and desires. The sight is focused on heaven, the heavenly. Now the child of God has the goal of fulfilling the will of God the Father and strives himself to do just that. 2:18-19 There are those who oppose Christ (called antichrists) doing another will that is not the will of God. Frequently, you will see these people in a church. This does not surprise the true Christian.

2:20 The child of God has the Holy Spirit that changes things drastically. He understands his obligations, and the Spirit gives him spiritual strength to fulfill these things. 2:22 The child of God identifies with Christ, confessing him by how he lives his life (he walks as Christ walked). 2:27 This Holy Spirit guides us and teaches us to encounter and live the truth in our lives. This life of identification with Christ by holy living gives us confidence on judgment day. 2:29If you know that He is just, know also that all that does righteousness is born of Him.” In other words, the life of the true Christian is marked by piety and righteousness like the life of Christ.

1 John Chapter 3

3:1-3 The true child of God also is like his Father. “We will be like him(3:2)-

3:4-9 Every true Christian understands that sin is contrary to the will of God (the law), so “he does not sin” (3:6), nor does he constantly live a life of habitual sin. Although Chapter 1 establishes that we all sin, here the idea is that the child of God does not live seeking, enjoying, adding sin to his life. His life is marked by repentance of his sins, and the abandoning these sins. As God shows him what is sin in his life, the true Christian stops these sins little by little. He lives righteousness like Jesus is righteous. “He that practice sin is of the devil” (3:8). The person who constantly seeks and practices sin is not a child of God but of the devil. The child of God lives in victory over sin (in holiness and piety). His spiritual birth highly bothers the enjoyment of sin. He does sin, but he is upset and disturbed, unhappy in this sin, and eventually he stops sinning.

3:10-22 The mark of a child of God is that they do righteousness (which is what is correct in the eyes of God), and he does not sin, and moreover his life is marked with love that he constantly shows toward his brethren. The easiest mark to recognize is this profound love that he lives as a child of God regarding his brethren in Christ. The world lives in hate, bitterness, and hurting one another (3:15). Without this mark of love for his brother in Christ, it is impossible that he is saved.  1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. You can see love by the sacrifice of goods for the good of others (3:16-17). God gives us security and confidence that he is saved by this love sacrifice that he makes for his brethren (3:19). The child of God receives answers to his prayers from God because he keeps God’s commandments and does what is right before God (3:22).

1 John Chapter 4

4:1-3 The true Christian also identifies the false prophet that denies the spirit of love and sacrifice that Jesus showed us. 4:4-6 The Christian is a winner, who uses the power of the Holy Spirit to gain victory over his sins. The unsaved has an intimate relationship with the world, he and the world have the same spirit (4:5). But the child of God has intimate relationship with God, and God hears him, and he understands and knows how God wants things (4:6). Again, John repeats that the true Christian loves one another because God is love (4:8), so God’s children have this love attribute of God. Love is to sacrifice and to reach others even if they don’t respond in kind (4:10). This is how God loves, and thus we should also act this way (4:11). Love between brethren is exactly like God’s love (4:12).

Love is personal sacrifice of oneself so that the other person can live well, with benefits. This spirit of love without seeking personal gain is the very character of God and marks every Christian as belonging to God. This is the confidence in our judgment that we are children of God because we love as God loves (4:17). To hate is the opposite of love.

1 John Chapter 5

5:1-5 Faith or confidence in Jesus Christ is the mark that a person is born of God, and this faith absolutely must manifest itself toward those that are born again as well as towards Him who gave the person that new life. Love for the brethren is necessary as is love to the Savior. (5:10-14) The confidence and testimony of our salvation is in our own selves. Salvation is in God the Son, and the person who does not have and love Jesus does not have salvation. Faith or confidence in Jesus is salvation.

5:14-15 Moreover the child of God is distinguished in that he always prays to God, and his prayers are answered, because he always seeks the will of God first, and so then, everything he asks is or tries to be in the will of God.

5:16-19 When a Christian sees a brother sin, he intercedes for him in prayer to free him from this sin. In other words, the true Christian takes the role of intercessor before God for his brethren.

5:18-19 We repeat that no true Christian is going to make a practice of sin, because he has God living within him to keep him and take care of sin. The fight is on our side, and we see the divine in us winning the impossible in our lives.

5:20-21 The true Christian also understands these things and what is correct. He keeps himself from idolatry that tries to steal God’s importance and supremacy in the lives of God’s children.

Friend, if after reading this divine teaching of John, you doubt these marks because you do not have them, examine your own life. Perhaps you accepted the Lord without sincerity, just in word but not in truth. Every true Christian understands and knows these things, and this is a description of the true Christian’s spiritual life. We don’t see God talk of exceptions. Absolutely this is what we must live in our lives. We all sin, but the true Christian is 100% given to changing his life, abandoning his sins, and seeking to completely comply with the will of God.

ch29 The Marks of a Christian (Study of 1 John)


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