Do what is right: 1 John 3.1–10 (23 May 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Reflect

Daily reflection: 1 John 3.1–10

The mark of the believer, John says, is love – but it's also doing what is right. He goes so far as to say that 'None of those who are children of God continue to sin, for God's very nature is in them' (verse 9). Does he mean that Christians do not or cannot sin, and that if they do, they aren't really Christians? The idea of 'Christian perfectionism' has a long history in Christian thinking, back to the early Church Fathers. Closer to our own time, John Wesley taught a version of it. CH Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher, wasn't a fan: the story's told of how he was sitting next to a man at dinner who claimed to have been made perfect, whereupon Spurgeon poured a glass of water over his head, quickly proving the contrary.

When we read the rest of John's letter, we realise that he's deeply aware of the human tendency to do the wrong thing – but he's also deeply aware of the grace of God in forgiving us when we repent. Perhaps, then, when he says that 'all who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God's children' (verse 10), he means something different: not individual acts of wrongdoing, but a settled attitude of mind. We should grieve for our failings, but we shouldn't think they mean we aren't really Christians. John's clear, though, that our hearts are to be set on Christ, reflecting the nature of God in us (verse 8).

Pray

Pray

God, help me to keep my eyes on Christ and pattern myself on him. Forgive me when I fail to do what's right or love others as I should.

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