I John 3:7-11
The Bible says in I John 3:7-11, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
In John chapter 3 we are told of the great love of God which is revealed through Christ. Christ died for our sins and he rose again from the grave. And because of Christ’s shed blood we can be sons of God. And we are told in verse 2 that those who are NOW the sons of God; that “it doeth not yet appear what we shall be”. But the ultimate end is to be transformed into the image of Christ. Also the verses in I John chapter 3 go on to explain some important details concerning the love of God, which is bestowed and manifested to us.
The first thing that the apostle John says in verse 7 is to not be deceived. The word deceive can carry with it many ideas. The basic idea is to stray from the truth. And the truth is that salvation is solely by grace through faith in Jesus. A person either has the righteousness of Christ through faith in Christ or a person does not have the righteousness of Christ at all. So what is it that John is warning us to not be deceived about? He is warning us not to be deceived about Salvation. He that doeth righteous is righteous; even as Christ is righteous.
Satan is the great deceiver of this world. His goal is to lead people astray from the truth. And what is the most important truth? Salvation through Jesus. Now, I John chapter 3 is talking about the great love which the father has bestowed upon us. Such great love, that we should be called the sons of God. God is love. And the devil is hate. And because the devil is hate; he hates God and he hates us. The devil does not want us to see the love of God. And how is the love of God manifested; though His Son Jesus. This then is where the deceiving of the devil comes in. Concerning the righteousness of Christ, Satan has 2 basic ways in which he is deceives people. He deceives the lost into thinking they are saved. He deceives the saved into thinking they are lost.
Now the other important truth to understand about the word “deceive” is that it carries with it the idea of an intentional and skillful trapping: in the same sense that a hunter might hunt and trap its prey. The traps that a hunter sets are intentional traps, and the purpose of those traps and the end result of those traps is to take the life of the animal. The deceiving which is being spoken of in verse 7 is a deceiving with words. If you listen to and then believe the wrong words, you may very well become trapped and ensnared in false and vain religious teachings which will doom your soul for eternity. And the trap themselves are snares. Once you are trapped and once you are deceived; it’s very hard to escape. False teachings are like quicksand that slowly sucks a person deeper and deeper, until that person is completely in darkness. The goal is to stay on the straight and narrow path. All it takes is accepting one little white lie or one little half truth. When your mind latches onto that false teaching of mislead liberalism or legalism, you will begin taking a crooked path and will no longer be walking the straight and narrow path. Remember there is only one straight and narrow path and that is Jesus Christ, He is the way the truth and the light and no man comes to the Father but by Him.
Now it is obvious in I John 3 that John is speaking to saved people, and in this chapter John explains the difference between a saved person and a lost person. I John 3:8-9 says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
Sin is of the devil and righteousness is of God. As we read these verses it’s not hard to see two distinct descriptions of what a man can be: righteous or sinful. For the true believer in Jesus there is the old man and the new man. When we come to trust Christ, we are given a new nature and a new life; old things are passed away and all things are become new. This, my friend, is the power of the resurrection. Therefore it is important to understand that when verse 9 says “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” this verse is speaking of the new man. The new man cannot sin because this new man is of God and God is holy. This does not mean that a Christian can never sin. A child of God still has the old man to struggle against, until that blessed day of hope when Christ returns. However, Jesus said by your fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Therefore those who are dead in trespasses and sins cannot possibly bring forth good fruit; their nature is entirely of the old man. Yes the lost can show great measures of natural human kindness and affection, but that’s far from the spiritual fruits of love which are bent only towards bringing glory to Christ.
We know that there is a new man, a new nature, which the children of God have. And we know that there is an old man, which is in all; for all have sinned. We also know that this new man comes from God; for it is in a sense the image of God re-given to man, who was made in the image of God. John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” The old man exists as a result of the devil’s work. When Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, all of mankind was affected. But of course Adam and Eve’s mistake does not undermine your own free will. It is up to you to choose to trust Jesus. But this is what is meant when John says that Jesus was sent to destroy the works of the devil. The work of the devil is to destroy. And that is exactly what the old man is; the destroyed man. But Jesus has destroyed that work by dying on the cross for the sins of all men and He is building a new kingdom through the new man.
When you understand the difference between the new man and the old man, you will have come a long ways toward understanding the difference between the saved and the lost and how it is that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin”.
And this is the great deception which the devil uses to lead believers to think they are not saved; by keeping them void of understanding the difference between the new man and the old man. However, if you know Christ as your Savior and therefore have experienced that great and endless power of the eternal resurrection, you have the only foundation needed to grow into an understanding of the difference between the new man and the old man. The new man does not sin because “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin”.
Now when we think of deception and of deceivers, we will often think of the devil and the world. But we must also think of ourselves. One of the reasons that the apostle Paul is talking about the old man and the new man is because the old man is also a deceiver. Sometimes the deceiving is not done by the devil or the false teachers of the world, but instead; we sometimes deceive ourselves. Every time we, of our own free will, choose to do something that is sinful; then we have deceived ourselves. Our old man has deceived us into thinking that it’s good and fun and acceptable. Of course the way to keep the old man from deceiving yourself is the same way that we should use to protect ourselves from other deceivers.
Now then, the other great deceit of the devil is to keep the lost “lost”. The Bible says in I John 3:9-10, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
If you spend enough time in Christian churches and organizations you will quickly learn just how true it is, when Jesus said there would always be tares among the wheat. Some of those tares are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But many others are there (as those in false religions) thinking they are righteous and on their way to heaven. How is it that a person who is guilty of hell, fire, and brimstone could possibly make the mistake of thinking they stand justified before God, when they do not? You would think it would be easier for a man to mistake himself for a dog or a frog on a log, than the former. But it’s just as John warned the believers in verse 7, such people have let themselves be deceived.
Verse 10 says that “whosever doeth not righteous is not born of God, neither he that loveth not his brother”. How does one “do righteous” if man is weak and sinful by nature. It’s simple; of himself man cannot “do righteous.” To “do righteous” you must first be saved. The phrase “to do righteous” implies works: the act of doing something. In context, it is the act of doing what God wants a person to do. A man once asked Jesus how he might work the works of God and this is what Jesus said to that man, “This is the work of God, that he believe on Him whom He hath sent.” And we know that “God sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
Thus for a
person to do righteous really only requires one thing; that you believe in
Jesus Christ. If you can do this one thing, believe in Jesus; then you will do
righteous. So how can one be sure that they are saved, if there are so many who
are deceived and even ones who Jesus Himself said will have called, “Lord,
Lord” and still not enter the
There is only one way to be sure and this is by what the Word of God says. The Word of God says that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. It’s that simple. However, there is a measuring stick which we can use to help us to judge. And that measuring stick is the actions of men. Look at what verse 11 says, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
It’s not hard to go into churches and religious organizations and find people who do not love their brothers: people who are quick to wrath, quick to speak evil or people who are prideful, divisive and bitter. Such things are not a sign of one who knows the power of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. This does not mean such a person is not saved. But if the qualities of the old man rule in a person’s life; if a person is living as if they are not saved then only God knows the true state of that individual. Certainly for a believer who lets his life be ruled by the old man, it will be very easy to be deceived into thinking he is not saved.
Thus there is a clear distinction in this passage between the old man and the new man. The new man does righteously and the old man does the works of the devil. And the warning the apostle John gave is to not be deceived.
In other words there are deceivers who will come your way. They have their trap of words they lay for people; to snare, to destroy their faith and their souls. But the choice is yours; what you choose to believe. Jesus used the same word deceive in Matthew when he spoke to the Sadducees and this is what he said. “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” The word err is the same word deceive. The Sadducees erred because they did not know the scriptures and they therefore missed out on the power of the resurrection.
Now then you have been warned and you know that the deceivers are coming your way. The goal of the deceivers is to keep you from being saved and to keep you from living for Christ. Their goal is to destroy through lies. They are coming. It may be today. If you are deceived, it is because you let them deceive you and because you did not heed the warning here in God’s Word.
You too will err, if you do not know the scriptures. Be warned, the false teachings are coming your way; the wolves in sheep’s clothing are coming to deceive you, but do not let them. Do not err by not knowing the scriptures because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The challenge is to study to show thyself approved. It is your responsibility and no one else’s to ensure that you learn God’s Word. If you don’t know God’s Word you will be deceived.
There is only one way to do righteous and that is to have the blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled on the altar of your soul, because Christ is righteous. If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, then you can pray to Him right now to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart and He will save you.
Copyright; 2005 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved