A Study of 1st John 3:2
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
We who believe God’s Gospel are at present the sons of God. This is not something for which we strive to attain. We are adopted, justified, sanctified, and sure to be glorified in Christ. This is our state before God. This cannot be changed or lost. We who are justified based on the imputed righteousness of Christ can never be brought back under condemnation or the wrath of God, and we can never be removed from God’s family. Our sins cannot condemn us. Even though we have a new principle of life and godliness imparted by the Holy Spirit, a principle of liberty and adoption, we are still at present sinners in our character and conduct.
We are not yet perfectly conformed to Christ in our character and conduct. Therefore we cannot fully imagine what we shall be when we are finally glorified and free from even the presence and influence of sin. Two things are certain:
(1) We will be glorified because our final glorification is conditioned on Christ alone; and (2) we will be like Christ in our character and conduct (Romans 8:29).
We might compare this with 1 John 4:17 — “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” Here John refers not to what we shall be but what we are at present.
Therefore, we can conclude without debate that he is not speaking of character and conduct here. Our character and conduct, although greatly influenced and dominated by the Holy Spirit in the impartation of spiritual life, can not be said to
be perfectly conformed to Christ (perfectly sinless).
John is speaking here of the believer’s state before God as one who is justified and sanctified (not guilty and not defiled by sin) as Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to him. All who are sons of God cannot be charged with sin because their sins have already been charged to Christ who satisfied law and justice for all the sons of God (Romans 4:6-8; Romans 8:33).