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The Family Resemblance

I John 2:28 - 3:10

See what sort of love the Father has given to us:

that we should be called God's children — and indeed we are!
(I John 3:1)

I ran across some interesting material the other day with the answers to science test questions as rendered by
5th and 6th graders. For example, one described the law of gravity as saying, "no fair jumping up without
coming back down." One defined a monsoon as a French gentlemen.

A couple more. One youngster said, "When planets run around and around in circles, we say they are orbiting.
When people do it, we say they are crazy." One defined the spinal column as "a long bunch of bones. The
head sits on the top, and you sit on the bottom."

None of those have anything to do with the lesson, but this one jumped out at me because it surely does. One
youngster wrote, "Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should." In the
context of our lesson, this one really hits home: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be
called children of God; and that is what we are..." Is there any family resemblance? There SHOULD be.

When you talk about how important your faith is in your life, the world doesn’t get it. They want to
compartmentalize. Faith is what you practice for an hour on Sunday and it may pop up here and there during
the week. It’s more of a hobby or an area of interest than the overarching influence of your life. But we view our
faith not just an important element among all the pieces that make up our lives. It’s the one thing that defines
who we are.

You can’t choose your family. You’re stuck with them. But, it’s your family that does the most to shape you into
the person that you are. It’s all about genetics. I have my Grandma’s nose and lips, My Grandpa’s build, and
much of my personality comes from my Dad. Ok… and I can be a little scatterbrained… that was my Mom’s
legacy to me. those traits (among others) are what I have to offer as proof of the family that I belong to.

John wants us to understand our spiritual genetics. If you’re part of God’s family, there will be a family
resemblance. You’ll be a chip off the old block. There will be family traits that will be evidence that you’re in the

I. Abiding - the Secret to Confidence (2:28-29)

This idea of Abiding is such a beautiful concept to me. It really describes the Christian life more than anything.
Jesus used the picture of a vine to teach the idea of abiding. He said that the branches get their life from the
vine. They don’t have to do anything, but stay attached. Abiding is resting.

John says that the day is coming when the Lord will appear. He’ll be standing before us. It will be impossible to
avoid him. That thought sends a shiver down the spine of many Christians. It used to scare me. There was a
time when I wasn’t abiding in any stretch of the word. The last thing I wanted was for Jesus to come back. But,
I’m more confident now. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll see my Lord face to face. Not that I’m a great
Christian. I have my faults, for sure… But, I am abiding. I’m continuing in the faith.
It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re living in a close relationship to him. It’s not just about dreading his return,
but that confidence plays out in the way you live. You don’t have to go through life looking over your shoulder,
so to speak.

Verses 28 and 29 are sort of a bridge between the topic of false teachers and today’s topic of being children of
God. One of the big things John told us about the false teachers is that they went out from them, they showed
their true colors by leaving the fellowship… they didn’t abide. The opposite is true: when we continue walking
in the faith, we’re giving evidence that we do belong. When we abide in Him, we take on His characteristics;
we carry the family resemblance- righteousness. However you want to define the concept of abiding, part of
your definition must be a desire to do right, to live rightly.

II. All In The Family - Our Genetic Makeup (3:1-3)

A. Lavished Love
Remember how we said that John is so overwhelmed with the love of God? Here, he is just absolutely
bubbling over with the thought of how much God loves us. He says that we’ve been lavished; not just that
we‘re recipients of God‘s love, but it’s lavished upon us, we’re smothered in love!

Lavish: expended, bestowed, or occurring in profusion: lavish spending. to expend or give in great amounts
or without limit: to lavish gifts on a person.

I’m not sure we really appreciate that. God loves us so much that He is willing (even anxious) to make us a
part of His family. It’s a big deal to be a child of God.

Imagine: Bill Gates meets a little boy. The boy has no one. He’s been sleeping in the alley and eating out of
dumpsters. Bill felt compassion for him. He knew that the boy’s future was pretty bleak… and he knew that he
could help. He could make sure the boy had food to eat. He could fund the boy’s entire future, make sure that
he would always have a great life. Bill Gates has the resources. He could write a check for a few thousand
dollars without putting a dent in his bank account…and that would be enough… that would be wonderful! But,
what if Mr. Gates decided he wanted to do more? What if he decided to adopt the boy and make him a
member of the family and an heir to all that he has…billions of dollars? That’s more than charity, that’s more
than compassion… that’s Lavish Love!

That’s the kind of love the Father has lavished on us. He didn’t JUST forgive our sins, He didn’t JUST save us,
He didn’t JUST give us a bright future. He made us part of His family. We are NOW children of God. This isn’t
talking about the future in Eternity.

B. It’s OK to be Misunderstood
It’s a fact of life: if you’re trying to live a Christian life, you WILL be misunderstood. I hate that! It sucks to think
I’m bound to be painted as someone that I’m not: arrogant, bigoted, “holier than thou.” But it will (and does)
happen. Why would I expect anything different? They didn’t understand Jesus. Is there anyone in the world
that was ever more misunderstood than Him?

Yes, we are now children of God. But, we don’t look any different to the world. They don’t necessarily see the
family resemblance. But that’s ok. They misunderstand the Lord, too.
C. The Hope That Purifies
The world doesn’t recognize who we are, but unfortunately, we often fail to recognize ourselves. Too often, we
sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. Sometimes I have this inferiority complex, thinking I’ll never be able to
live up to the family name. But, the fact of the matter is: I’m a work in progress. There’s an old saying: “I’m not
what I used to be, and I’m not what I should be, but Praise God, I’m not what I’m going to be!”

So what am I going to be? I don’t completely know. It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve studied a little about what
Heaven will be like. I’ve read some books. But, I know… whatever I’ll be like… I know that I’ll be like Jesus.
That’s a good start in knowing my future. I’ll see him face to face, I’ll walk and talk with him. I’ll enjoy him
forever. I’ll be like him!

Really this is the whole point to what John has to say in this passage. Yes, you should carry the family
resemblance; your life should reflect God’s righteousness. That’s a tall order. But, there is hope. You see, you
have the proper genes. It’s a sure thing - You WILL be like Him… and as you mature, you’ll display the family
traits all the more… and eventually, it will be complete. Everyone who has that hope in Him purifies himself,
just as He is pure.

II. The Family Trait - Doing Right (3:4-10)

In the preceding section John has been stressing the importance of continuing in Christ, doing what is right,
and purifying oneself in anticipation of his coming. Now he deals more closely with the negative side of all this,
the need for believers to abstain from sin and the possibility of their doing so.

The world can be divided into two groups: those who practice righteousness and those who practice
lawlessness. The ones who display the family trait and the ones who don’t. John’s main message in this
section is simple: Don’t fool yourself. If you’re living a life of sin, you’re living a lie. Either you have the family
genes or you don’t.

John is not saying that we can obtain a state of sinless perfection. He’s already said “if we say we have no sin,
we’re deceiving ourselves” But, what characterizes your life. What direction are you traveling?

The family trait is traveling in the direction of righteousness. We carry the “righteousness” gene. We’ve been
cleansed from sin. You can’t say that you know God and that you’re a member of the family if you don’t have
the “righteousness gene.” I can tell you that I’m related to George Bush, but that claim can be tested. All you
have to do is swab my mouth or draw some blood. If I am related to President Bush, you’ll find the same DNA.
If you don’t find a match, then my claim is false. It’s just as easy to test “spiritual DNA” It’s either there or it’s

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