SDA Sabbath School Lesson

May 4 -  May 10

Children of God

Lesson 6

Read For This Week's Study: 1 John 3:1-10.

Memory Text:  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are" (1 John 3:1, NIV).

Key Thought:   God not only identifies us as His children, but also makes sure that this is what we truly are. As a result, true children of God will reflect the character of God.

Sabbath How Great a Love Sun Children of God Mon We Shall Be Like Him Tue Law and SinWed Destroying Demonic Deceptions Thur Like Father, Like Child Fri Further Study   Also see: Lesson Helps for study material used in this lesson. And don't miss: The Inside Story

Sabbath Afternoon May 3

How Great a Love!  To be loved when you do not consider yourself lovable - maybe that is what amazes us most about God. That "he first loved us" (1 John 4:19) seems so impossible that all too many deny it.

An elderly gentleman once asked a pastor: "How could God ever love me after all I've done?"

When the pastor pointed him to what the Bible says, he still couldn't believe it: "You don't know what I've done. God could never accept me. He could never love me."

"No, I don't know what you've done," the pastor admitted. "But God does. And He still loves you."

And this was the thought that won that sad and tired man.

God first loves us, then convinces us of His love. Then He seeks to share that perfect love that casts out fear - for how can you love someone you fear? This is not some wishy-washy love, but tough love- love strong enough, committed enough, to go to Calvary for you, to win you back as one of His children. Now what do you say?

Inside Story

Sunday May 4

Children of God - More Than a Name (1 John 3:1).

What makes us God's children? 1 John 3:1; John 1:12 (compare Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).

Committed believers are children not only in name, but also in actuality.  We really are God's children as we respond to God's love, repent, and are transformed by the work of the Spirit. Technical terms such as "imputed righteousness" and "imparted righteousness" may obscure the process, suggesting that the first is the identification and the second the actuality.  John does not differentiate righteousness; he simply says that God not only identifies us as His children but truly considers us such and treats us as such.

God's claim for His children goes much beyond the declaration "Not guilty" over a bunch of evident rebels.   Heaven is peopled, not with pardoned criminals, but with transformed children of God, totally accepted by Him.

"The plan of redemption is not merely a way of escape from the penalty of transgression, but through it the sinner is forgiven his sins, and will finally be received into heaven,-not as a forgiven culprit pardoned and released from captivity, yet looked upon with suspicion and not admitted to friendship and trust; but welcomed as a child, and taken back into fullest confidence."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Sept. 21, 1886.

If you're a child of God, why isn't your life better? Gal. 5:17, 18; 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:25.

Children of God retain fallen natures that, worked upon by Satan, struggle for the mastery.  Only by allowing "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" to set us "free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2, RSV) can we live as true children of God.

The preachers of the health-wealth gospel would have us believe that proof of our relationship to God must be demonstrated by obvious blessings of material wealth and miraculous healings.  Such a philosophy is not new.  The Pharisees thought along similar lines, and the comforters of Job expressed like ideas.  The truth is that being a Christian is no guarantee of business success or of complete health or of what this world defines as happiness.

For reflection: What are the responsibilities of being a child of God? List some.

Inside Story

Monday May 5

We Shall Be Like Him (1 John 3:2, 3).

What is the future for God's true children? 1 John 3:2 (compare Rom. 8:29; 2 Peter 1:4).

An eternity with our loving Lord!  Can you read these words of Scripture without becoming excited?  What exactly we will be has not been made known-but the marvelous truth is that "we shall be like him."

How?  What does this mean?  How can we be like God?  Peter tells us that we shall be "partakers of the divine nature."  As God's children, we become Godlike in character-identifying with His ways and accepting that right is right because God says it is.

And do not miss the essential clue:  "We shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.  Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure" (1 John 3:2, TEV, italics supplied).  See is the transforming word; it means not only visibility, but also illumination and understanding.  Once we begin to see God as He really is, we begin to be changed into His likeness-spiritually, morally, and behaviorally.  This process commences as we come closer to God.  We are to receive victory over sin and have the grace to reflect Jesus' character.  But our spiritual growth is to continue until Jesus comes.

According to John, what does this "blessed hope" do in the one who believes?  1 John 3:3.

True believers act to purify themselves by Christ's abundantly supplied power, so that they can reflect the nature and character of God.  Note especially that this is not a once-for-all act.  It is a continuing process.  The ongoing need and activity gives the lie to the concept that believers are divested of imperfect, fallen natures before Jesus comes.  This view implies that in this world we can reach a stage beyond which we no longer need to grow in holiness.  The Bible is emphatically consistent: even for those who have victory over sin, growth in spirituality will continue until Jesus comes.  Paul wrote that he had not yet arrived spiritually at the ultimate goal, but was still pressing on (Phil. 3:12-14).

For reflection:  What do you recognize that needs changing in you?  Are you willing to allow the Lord to change what needs to be changed?  When?

Inside Story

Tuesday May 6

Law and Sin (1 John 3:4-6).

How is sin defined? 1 John 3:4.

"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4, NIV).  Sin is an attitude and act of lawlessness, of being above or against law.  The concept is of beings who by their nature choose to act in a lawless fashion.  This "lawless" attitude is derived from Lucifer's rebellion against God and His just law.  (See Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 109.)

So how does God deal with our lawless attitude toward Him and His government?  1 John 3:5.

Jesus came to take away our sins (1 John 3:5), to win us to love and acceptance of Him so that He might forgive us and restore us to Himself.

"Jesus has said, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'. . . Christ draws the sinner by the exhibition of his love upon the cross, and this softens his heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition and repentance in the soul."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.

What is the result of God's salvation?  1 John 3:6.

The question is not whether John is speaking of one sin or habitual sin.  All sin is of the devil (1 John 4:8).  As long as we allow the Holy Spirit to retain charge of our minds, we are kept from sinning.  "Is it possible to be healed, while knowingly committing sin?-No; it is genuine faith that says, I know that I have committed sin, but that Jesus has pardoned my sin; and hereafter I will resist temptation in and through His might.  'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.'  He has an abiding principle in the soul, that enables him to overcome temptation.

" 'Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.'  God has power to keep the soul who is in Christ, when that soul is under temptation."-Sons and Daughters of God, p. 297.  You cannot give in to the desires of your sinful nature, and then say you are in union with Jesus.  John is not saying that Christians never sin, but sin must always be seen by Christians as separating them from God.  The commitment must be not to sin at all, "but if anybody does sin" (1 John 2:1, NIV), he or she has Christ as the heavenly Advocate.

Inside Story

Wednesday May 7

Destroying Demonic Deceptions (1 John 3:7, 8).

In what sense is the believer righteous as Jesus is?  1 John 3:7.

The person who does righteousness (1 John 3:7) is born of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:29).  Christ's righteousness is imputed in two senses:

1. His righteousness is legally counted for the believer (Rom. 4:6-8, 23-25).

2. His righteousness is also imputed in the sense of bestowed upon the believer without any earning work on his or her part (Rom. 4:11; 6:18; 8:9, 10).

"Through faith in His name He imputes unto us His righteousness, and it becomes a living principle in our life."- That I May Know Him, p. 302.

Whose side are you on when you do what is sinful?  1 John 3:8.

All sin is of the devil, whether one sin or habitual sin.  By sinning, we identify with Satan and his campaign of lies and deception; we show that we distrust God and do not rely on His changing, healing power.  We can choose to follow Satan or follow God-that is the heart of the issues in the great controversy.  And when we choose the devil's way, we show that we do not fully trust God, and in a sense, we damage Him and His reputation.  We are a spectacle to angels and to men" (1 Cor. 4:9).  When we sin, we "crucify ... the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).  As long as we choose to do this, Christ cannot change our hearts.

What is John's reason for Jesus' first coming?  1 John 3:8.

Jesus came to undo the damage done by Satan. He did this by

1 . paying the penalty for all human sin (1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21);

2. earning the right to restore the image of God in sinful human beings (John 14:18-21; 2 Cor. 3:18);

3. demonstrating how believers can live without sinning (1 Peter 2:21-23);

4. clearing up misconceptions about God, thus ending the rule of Satan's deceptions (1 John 4:8, 9).

"When Jesus died on Calvary, men and angels beheld the malignity of Satan, and the love of God for a fallen world."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, July 12, 1892.

Inside Story

Thursday May 8

Like Father, Like Child (1 John 3:9, 10).

What does John mean by saying that "no one born of God commits sin" (1 John 3:9, RSV)?

Many interpreters assert that, because the verb "commits" (RSV),"does" (Greek: poiei) is present tense, the text should be translated, "No one who has been born of God continues to sin."  In fact, the present tense in Greek does not always express continuous action.  ("The aoristic present presents the action as a simple event or as a present fact without any reference to its progress."-James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery, Syntax of New Testament Greek [Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979], p. 81. See Acts 16:18; Mark 2:5).

A single sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4); the person abiding in Him does not commit lawlessness (verse 6); any and all sin is of the devil (verse 8).  First John 3:9 means that as long as "God's nature abides" in us by the controlling presence of His Spirit, we do not wilfully break God's commandments.

How do we identify the children of God and the children of the devil?  1 John 3:10.

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are:  Anyone who does not do what is right [Greek: "righteousness"] is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10, NIV).  We cannot identify ourselves as true children of God if we do not demonstrate in our own lives the qualities of God.  We must think and act in ways that correspond to God's way.

Not loving your brother demonstrates which father you have.  Jesus said to the Pharisees:  "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44, KJV).  You may say you are a follower of the true God, you may claim to be upholding all the doctrines, but if you demonstrate lack of love, you are not God's child.

The error is in believing you do not have to show Christian concern for anyone else, because you are saved by "knowledge."  No special information saves!  Being part of some inner group (including church membership) is no guarantee of redemption!  The saving process is based, not on knowledge or religious formulas, but on personal experience of God with the acceptance of God's healing forgiveness and rescue from sin, and this results in a transformed character that reflects God. No other way will do!

Inside Story

Friday May 9

For Further Study:  On the importance of overcoming sin, study:  Isa. 1:16; John 5:14; 8:11; Rom. 6:12; 1 Cor. 15:34.

Understanding sin - a comment on 1 John 3:8:  "If, then, the whole purpose of Christ's first appearing was to remove sins and to undo the works of the devil, Christians must not compromise with either sin or the devil, or they will find themselves fighting against Christ.  If the first step to holiness is to recognize the sinfulness of sin, both in its essence as lawlessness and in its diabolical origin, the second step is to see its absolute incompatibility with Christ in His sinless Person and saving work"'-- John R. W. Stott, Epistles of John (London: Tyndale Press, 1964), p. 125.

On becoming children of God:  "We can see in the cross of Calvary what it has cost the Son of God to bring salvation to a fallen race.  As the sacrifice in behalf of man was complete, so the restoration of man from the defilement of sin must be thorough and complete"--Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 135.

On the drawing power of the cross:  "He [God] would have us comprehend something of His love in giving His Son to die that He might counteract evil, remove the defiling stains of sin from the workmanship of God, and re-instate the lost, elevating and ennobling the soul to its original purity through Christ's imputed righteousness."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Nov. 8, 1892. (Italics supplied.)

Discussion Questions:
  1.  How do we reveal that we are part of God's family?

  2.  What is the promise for those who are children of God?

  3.  If Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, why isn't the war over?

  4.  If I'm not saved by being a church member, what is the point in joining?

Summary:  We are children of God, not just in name, but in reality because of God's saving grace.  The promise is that "we shall be like him" - and we look and long for that great day when Jesus returns.  Until then we need to live lives that show God our Father in the very best light, not choosing sin, but following the right because His will makes such good sense.

Inside Story

A Little Boy's Lunch

Maye Porter

In Bible times, Jesus used a little boy's lunch to feed more than 5,000 people.  The day of miracles is not over.  God still delights in answering the prayers of His followers, especially young people who put their trust in Him.

Early one Sabbath morning 9-year-old Edwin went with his classmates to help conduct a branch Sabbath School in a nearby village in Papua New Guinea.  The children and their sponsors left their school at 7:00 a.m., too early to prepare a breakfast of boiled sweet potatoes, so Edwin went without eating.  The boys and girls returned to the school just in time for their own Sabbath School and church service.  Edwin tried to concentrate on the preacher's sermon, but his stomach began to rumble. He was hungry!

On his way back to the dormitory after church, Edwin's stomach growled again.  How he wished he had saved a sweet potato from yesterday's dinner, but he had been hungry then, too, as growing boys often are, and had saved nothing, not even a piece of a potato.  It would take two hours to peel and boil a sweet potato for lunch, and Edwin was not sure he could wait that long to eat.  As he walked, he remembered that his Friend, Jesus, knew all about his growling stomach.  He stopped along the path, closed his eyes, and told God how hungry he was.  He did not ask God for food; he knew that Jesus would know what to do about his problem.

As Edwin began walking again he heard a bird singing in the tree overhead.  He stopped and watched the bird.  Then he saw a yellow leaf flutter down from the tree and land beside the path.  He walked over to pick up the leaf, and noticed a little bundle lying on the ground near where the leaf had fallen.  He bent down to examine the bundle and found two nicely-made sandwiches.  He looked around, but saw no one nearby who could own the lunch.

Edwin picked up the bundle and held it in his hands.  While his stomach growled for food, he closed his eyes and thanked Jesus for providing lunch for him.  Then he sat down and enjoyed the meal that Jesus had left for him.  As he ate, he thought of the verse that says, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).  Jesus knew Edwin's need, and He knows yours and mine, too.  We only need to ask Him.

Maye Porter is associate child-ministries director in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission.

Inside Story

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Last updated on May 5, 1997

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