Devotional: ‘Looking Like the Father’

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I suppose that one of the greatest compliments a parent can ever receive is to hear someone say that their child looks like them. Recently I have been given the pleasure of hearing that my new granddaughter looks like me. Why do children look like their ancestors? Why are family characteristics passed down from one generation to the next? It is because children receive their physical genetic makeup from their parents.

This is true physically and spiritually. Just as children genetically receive physical characteristics from their parents, so do believers genetically receive spiritual characteristics from their heavenly Father. Salvation is a spiritual new birth that is brought about when we are born-again by the Holy Spirit of God. (see John 3)

Concerning this matter, note what we read from the book of 1 John.

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin , because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. CSB

First let’s note what John is not saying. He is not saying that Christians can reach a state of spiritual perfection and never sin again. In the first chapter of this same letter John tells us that if we say we have no sin, we are lying. (see 1 Jn 1:8) It will not be until we are home in heaven that we will be completely finished with this old sinful nature and never sin again. Until that time comes, we will continue to struggle along the way. Yet the person who has been born-again by the Spirit will not be content to remain in their sin. When they sin, they will be convicted of their sin and desire forgiveness and cleansing. (see 1 John 1:9)

What then does John mean when he says that ‘whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin’? The tense of the verbs used in this passage indicates a continuous, habitual lifestyle of sin. It could be translated as – ‘whosoever is born of God does not continue to habitually sin…’ Why will a true believer not be content to habitually live in sin? It is because they have been born-again. A more literal translation would be – ‘they have been fathered by God.’

Physical children resemble their earthly parents because they have been given a physical genetic make-up from their parents. Spiritual children resemble God because they have been spiritual genetic make-up from their heavenly Father. John writes – “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Note – the reason the one who is born of God does not continue to live in sin is because the ‘seed’ of God remains in him. The Greek word that is translated as ‘seed’ is the word {sperma} and it refers to that which germinates life. Just as earthly fathers pass down to their children their physical make-up, so does our heavenly Father pass down to His children His spiritual make-up. This seed which comes from God and gives to us our new nature is the Holy Spirit. The person who has been fathered by God will not be content to continue to live in sin because the Holy Spirit now lives within them.

It is with this great spiritual truth in mind that the Apostle Paul writes –

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. CSB

What a blessing it must be to the Father when He finds His children developing and looking more like Him.

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