THE SERVANT GENERAL
OF GOD OR THE DEVIL?
Today’s reading: 1 John 3:7-10
There are no two ways for us. We are either children of God
or we are children of the devil. Now that is quite stark.
One could have thought of a relatively good person who did
not have a personal relationship with God but who did not
really do bad things, and never think of that person as being
a child of the devil. But Jesus gives only two options: you
are with me or you are against me; you gather or you scatter.
There are no fence-sitters. Those who are neither hot nor
cold he will spit out of his mouth (Rev 3:16).
The dichotomy begins to make sense when we realize that the
whole world is under the dominion of the devil. If we do not
make it a point to be with God, then, whether we have made
a conscious decision or not, we automatically belong to the
dominion of Satan. “We know that we belong to God, and
the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”
(1 Jn 5:19). There are only two options.
Whose children are we? Well, we look to how the fathers are.
God “is righteous” (1 Jn 3:7c) while “the
devil has sinned from the beginning” (1 Jn 3:8b). Like
father, like son, and now we have our criterion. “The
person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he
is righteous” (1 Jn 3:7), thus becoming a child of God.
On the other hand, “whoever sins belongs to the devil”
(1 Jn 3:8a). The two are total opposites. As “the children
of God and the children of the devil are made plain,”
(1 Jn 3:10a), then we are given only those two choices.
But if the whole world belongs to the evil one, then what
happens to us? Well, we have been set free by the saving action
of God. “Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy
the works of the devil.” (1 Jn 3:8c). Jesus crushed
the head of the serpent by his death and resurrection. We
have been liberated from Satan’s dominion. We have been
But we need to act on that salvation. Otherwise, we will go
back to Satan’s dominion and be enslaved once again.
How do we do that? We live pure. We avoid sin. We live righteous
Now here is a startling revelation. “No one who is begotten
by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him;
he cannot sin because he is begotten by God.” (1 Jn
3:9). That makes sense, doesn’t it? If God created us
to be like him, if Jesus has already demolished the dominion
of Satan over us, if God’s grace is abundant, if we
are His beloved children begotten by Him, if God’s seed
remains in us, we should not commit sin. No, that is not what
John says. We cannot sin!
But we know the reality: we do sin! Even John says that (see
1 John 1:8,10). That is why we need to repent. When we do,
we are forgiven and cleansed (1 Jn 1:9). Once we are cleansed,
we must resolve to live pure.
What John says that the child of God cannot sin is like a
stern lecture a father might give to his son. “In this
family we do not lie!” Or it might be a rousing exhortation
in community, as an elder might say, “In this community
we live out our covenant! We never fail to attend our meetings!”
Not sinning is God’s design for us, as it was for our
first parents in paradise, where they started out sinless.
Now Jesus has restored us to be God’s children. Now
we are once again to be like our God, to be made perfect as
the heavenly Father is perfect. Thus we must never lose sight
of the reality: “no one who fails to act in righteousness
belongs to God” (1 Jn 3:10b).
We do belong to God. Then let us live pure.