This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
Jesus had been traveling and teaching for a while when Nicodemus approached him by cover of night. Nicodemus was a “ruler of the Jews” and for him to meet with Jesus would have been frowned upon by others in such positions of power. It was in this clandestine meeting by cover of dark that Jesus confronted Nicodemus’ misconceptions about the kingdom of God and laid out the path of rebirth and renewal. In the climax of their conversation, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again they cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus goes on to explain that he means someone needs to be “born of the Spirit” in order to enter the kingdom of God. For centuries, followers of Jesus have used the term “reborn” to describe conversion experiences. Implicit within this terminology, is that we are made new and have a different familial association – we are children of God.
In his letter of 1 John, John used the moniker ‘children of God’ to describe those who follow the way of Jesus. However, he didn’t use this term loosely. In fact, in 1 John 3:10 he wrote, “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.” He claimed that it’s obvious who the children of God are – those who practice righteousness. Becoming a child of God happens by the Spirit (John 3:5), but it is confirmed through our lives.
John challenged his readers to wrestle with the reality of the fruit of their lives. He’s not suggesting that they can live perfectly, he’s already dispelled that erroneous and dangerous myth (1 John 1:8). John’s point was that our new identity as children of God is not solely something to be enjoyed, but it’s a way of life that is to be practically embraced. Today, read through Romans 8:1-17. Take note of everything the passage says about you as a follower of Christ. Affirm it in prayer. If there are parts of this passage that aren’t true of your life, ask for the Lord to show you ways to more fully embrace your reality as a child of God.
By Ryan Paulson