When a person trusts in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he becomes a child of God. John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12 NKJ) What does that mean “become children of God”? Whether you are five or ninety-five, when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you become a spiritual child of God. Before that point, you have no real fellowship, or intimacy, with God. He is the eternal deity to the unbelieving person. Yet, as a child of God, how do you relate to Him?
First, begin by understanding you have an eternal relationship. When you trust in Jesus, you become a new spiritual creation. You may not have changed physically at all. You may not have had any kind of an experience. You may not have a sudden change of emotions, or a “warming” in your chest region, but you become a new spiritual creation in Christ. Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJ) The old way of living, the old way of dependence on the world and the old way of hoping has passed away. “All things have become new.” In other words, you are now a spiritual creation indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31a NKJ) Your relationship with God is eternal as John wrote, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NKJ) You have an eternal relationship, in which you can intimately know the God of the universe.
Secondly, in many ways He becomes your friend.Solomon wrote, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Pro. 18:24 NKJ) That Friend is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said as recorded in John,
· 13 “Greater love has no one than this, thanto lay down one’s life for his friends.
· 14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
· 15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15 NKJ)
Note what Jesus has said. First, true love lays down his life for friends. Parents would give up their lives for their children. Friends lay down their lives for friends. Jesus was willing to lay down His life for the entire world. He said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NKJ) Secondly, Jesus specifically called the disciples His friends. His intention was that “His friends,” the disciples, tell all other people, so that they all would become one in Him (John 17:20-23). Thirdly, friendship is based on obedience – “if you do whatever I command you.” The obedience Jesus highlighted is obedience-in-salvation faith and obedience-in-Christian-way-of-life faith. Disobedience would remove that status temporarily, but would not remove the child of God status.1 Fourthly, Jesus called all people servants, but now He calls his followers friends. That is because the disciples exercised salvation faith in Jesus and they continued to walk with Him in obedience. Judas Iscariot had left the group of disciples back in John 13. Fifthly, Jesus made known to His friends all the Father had revealed. Today, we have the completed Bible, so we can know everything we need to know for living the Christian way of life.
Now that you have an eternal relationship, in which He calls you a friend, what will you do with that? John recorded several succinct principles that every Christian should follow.
· 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
· 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
· 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
· 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
· 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
· 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 NKJ)
From this passage come seven principles for your spiritual growth. Read them slowly and then deliberately put them into practice.
First, God is light and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5).If you want to walk in the light, understand the truth, get out of confusion, discouragement and failure, then walk to the light of the Lord, which is found in Scripture. He is the source of all answers and He has revealed them in His Word.
Secondly, we fool ourselves when we think we are okay with God, if we have unconfessed sin in our lives (1 John 1:6).It is easy for people to deceive themselves thinking they are okay, when they are not. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9 NKJ) God gives the solution to sin in verse nine.
Thirdly, when we walk in the light, only then do we have true fellowship with other Christians (1 John 1:7). If there is sin in a person’s life, and he has not confessed it or repented from it, then he is in darkness and there is only proximity with other Christians at best, but no spiritual fellowship.
Fourthly, a Christian is cleansed by the blood of Jesus at salvation and that cleansing experientially continues in restoration to fellowship from sin. John uses language that Christians can understand as an on-going availability. Jesus died once for all. Salvation is not re-gained, but fellowship with God and other believers is restored.
Fifthly, a Christian who says he no longer has sin in his life is a liar (1 John 1:8). There is no truth in that person. The word “sin” is singular and refers to the sin nature or the flesh (cf. Rom. 8:4-5). Some have declared that the Christian no longer has “sin” in him. That is not true according to the Bible. Sin will be removed at death only (Rom. 7:23-24).
Sixthly, confession of sin cleanses from all sin and restores fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). The text says God is faithful to forgive and cleanse from “all” sin, that is, those that haven’t yet been understood as sin. Every Christian is in a process of growth and there are things he will do, either by thought, word or action that are sin that he is not yet aware are sin. In 1990, after being a Christian for 20 years and pastoring for two years, God revealed some mental attitude sins and verbal sins that I was not aware were sins prior to that time. Confession of sin in the context of 1 John 1:9 helps us understand restoration of fellowship with God.
Seventhly, a Christian who says he does not sin is a liar (1 John 1:10). Verse eight describes a Christian who denies having a sin nature. Verse ten describes a Christian who denies committing sins. Everyone sins.2 John calls a spade a spade by calling this person a liar.
What is your relationship with God? You have an eternal relationship with the One who calls you His friend. So how should you live? You should live in hot pursuit of knowing God as well as you can and put into practice the above seven principles. Live a holy life, seeking to know Him through His Word in dependence on the Holy Spirit.