1Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children. The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. 3And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.
The Character of God’s Children
4Anyone who indulges in sin lives in moral anarchy, for the definition of sin is breaking God’s law. 5And you know without a doubt that Jesus was revealed to eradicate sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in union with him will not sin. 6But the one who continues sinning hasn’t seen him with discernment or known him by intimate experience.
7Delightfully loved children, don’t let anyone divert you from this truth. The person who keeps doing what is right proves that he is righteous before God, even as the Messiah is righteous. 8But the one who indulges in a sinful life is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was revealed was to undo and destroy the works of the devil.
9Everyone who is truly God’s child will refuse to keep sinning because God’s seed remains within him, and he is unable to continue sinning because he has been fathered by God himself. 10Here is how God’s children can be clearly distinguished from the children of the Evil One. Anyone who does not demonstrate righteousness and show love to fellow believers is not living with God as his source.
Love One Another
11The beautiful message you’ve heard right from the start is that we should walk in self-sacrificing love toward one another. 12We should not be like Cain, who yielded to the Evil One and brutally murdered his own brother, Abel. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s righteous.
13So don’t be shocked, beloved brothers and sisters, if you experience the world’s hatred. 14Yet we can be assured that we have been translated from spiritual death into spiritual life because we love the family of believers. A loveless life remains spiritually dead. 15Everyone who keeps hating a fellow believer is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16This is how we have discovered love’s reality: Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Because of this great love, we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another. 17If anyone sees a fellow believer in need and has the means to help him, yet shows no pity and closes his heart against him, how is it even possible that God’s love lives in him?
18Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. 19We know that the truth lives within us because we demonstrate love in action, which will reassure our hearts in his presence.
20Whenever our hearts make us feel guilty and remind us of our failures, we know that God is much greater and more merciful than our conscience, and he knows everything there is to know about us. 21My delightfully loved friends, when our hearts don’t condemn us, we have a bold freedom to speak face-to-face with God. 22And whatever we ask of him we receive, because we keep his commands. And by our beautiful intentions we continue to do what brings pleasure to him.
23So these are his commands: that we continually place our trust in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we keep loving one another, just as he has commanded us. 24For all who obey his commands find their lives joined in union with him, and he lives and flourishes in them. We know and have proof that he constantly lives and flourishes in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.