Are we what we do or what God says?

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know you, because it did not know Him.” I John 3:1

When John uses the word “behold” (3:1a) it’s like holding up a flashing neon sign to get our attention. “Stop and take a look at this! Look with wonder at the amazing love that God has toward us in that we should be called His children.” It is an awesome privilege to be called God’s child. When we stop to ponder our new identity in Christ – that we are God’s children – it will take our breath away. When you believe in Christ, you are born of God and share in His divine nature (cf. John 1:12; I John 3:9; 5:1). At the core of your being you are God’s child no matter what you or others do, say, or think.

Many of us may believe the lie that says, “I am what I do.” We tell ourselves that what I do determines who I am. So if I sin, I must be a sinner. What Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), tries to do is deceive us to believe this lie. So when I sin, he whispers the lie that I am a sinner so I will perceive that sin is the normal and natural outgrowth of who I truly am at the core of my being. But listen to what God says: “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” (I John 5:18).

Our born again self (“whoever is born of God”), John tells us, “does not sin.” Sin can never be traced back to my new identity in Christ. At the core of my being, I am now God’s dearly beloved child through faith alone in Christ alone (I John 5:1; cf. John 1:12). I am defined by what God says about me, not by what I do. Satan cannot “touch” or defeat our born again nature (I John 5:18). This is important to remember especially after being humbled by our sinful failures. The evil one would like to trick us into thinking that we are not really God’s children after we have failed, thus leading us into more failures. But if we know and embrace the truth found in I John 3:1 and 5:18, we can avoid the devil’s deception, and rise from our confession of sin to the Lord (cf. I John 1:9) knowing we are the same inwardly holy children we were before we sinned.

God is righteous and we can now share in His righteousness. This new birth has changed who we are. We are now God’s child having been begotten by Him. The world does not understand this new nature because they have not experienced the new birth (I John 3:1b). John goes on to explain that the time is coming when this new nature will be the only nature we manifest (3:2) because our sinful nature will be taken away and we will receive a new glorified body like that of the Lord Jesus at the time of His return (Phil. 3:21). The certainty that we will be completely conformed (both spiritually and physically) into the image of Christ in the future motivates us to live holy lives for the Lord now (3:3).

Since I am what God says and not what I do, I no longer need to find my worth in the things I do but in my relationship with Jesus which can never be lost. Knowing this gives me the security and motivation to live for Him who loves me unconditionally and eternally.

Prayer: Father God, please replace the lie that says, “I am what I do,” with the truth that says, “I am what You say of me.” Thank You for the amazing way You have given Your love to me by declaring that at the core of my being I am Your dearly loved child no matter what I or others say, think, or do. Since I am Your child, I have all I need (Your nature, Your Spirit, and Your Word) to manifest Your righteous and loving nature. In Jesus’ name. Amen.