Read Introduction to 1 John
“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
Verses 28 and 29 begin a section running through chapter three that deals with how the believer relates to God’s righteousness. A life characterized by sin is incompatible with a God of absolute righteousness.
2:28-3:3 deal with the motivation for righteousness – the Rapture. Those who anticipate the Rapture will meet the Lord with an attitude of courage. The reason for this courage is their walk with Him in time. They are confident of their fellowship with Him.
If you know that He is righteous,
John referred to the coming of the Lord Jesus in the Rapture in the previous verse. This is a reminder that Jesus is perfect righteous. The believer’s encounter with Him at that time will bring to light all shame and unrighteousness.
The word “righteous” occurs six times in 1 John: 1:9, 2:1, 2:29, 3:7 [2x], and 3:12. John also uses this term in his gospel 3 times: John 5:30; 7:24; 17:25.
you know that everyone who practices righteousness
Note the emphasis on the two words for “know” in this verse: “If you know…you know.” These are two different Greek words for know. The first word for “know” means to know inherently, “If you know inherently or are aware that He is righteous.”
The second Greek word means perceive, experientially know, “You discern or perceive that….” That is, “If you clearly understand that the Lord is absolute righteous, you will know by experience that those who reflect His righteousness are spiritually born of Him.”
The genuine believer consistently reflects God’s righteousness. One righteousness produces another righteousness of the same kind. God’s righteousness produces His righteousness in the believer. God’s righteousness is the source or cause of the believer’s righteousness.
is born of Him
Christians who walk in God’s righteousness demonstrate their relationship with the Father. It is the mark of regeneration. The fact that some Christians do not “practice righteousness” does not militate against the truth of this statement.
The idea of a spiritual birth occurs a number of times in 1 John: 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18 [twice]. People in the family of God will produce behavior like their Father. The child of God will behave like God.
Truly born again people behave like their Father who re-generated them.
How do we recognize a genuine believer? Is there a way to decipher whether someone truly belongs to the Lord Jesus? There are many religious phonies out there. Many people profess to know Jesus Christ who never had a genuine relationship with Him.
Many people do religious and right acts in society but never embraced Jesus as their Savior. Their conformity to the laws of society does not reflect that they belong to God at all. Their acts of righteousness are still unrighteous in God’s economy. Their righteousness is not the righteousness of an absolutely righteous God because it is a selfish, ego-oriented righteousness. This kind of righteousness may be helpful to human beings but its source comes from the sin capacity, from the self, from self-interest.
Ro 3: 10 “As it is written:
‘There is none righteous, no, not one…’”
There is a great distinction between God’s absolute righteousness and man’s relative righteousness. Truly born again believers reflect God’s absolute righteousness. This does not mean that they are absolutely righteous in their experience but that their relationship with the Father reflects righteousness beyond themselves.
Christians possess an absolute judicial righteousness. God declares them as righteous as He is righteous by faith.
Ro 3: 21 “But now the righteousness of God [ God’s righteousness] apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified [to declare righteous] freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness [God’s righteousness], because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”