The Assimilating Power of Christ

1 John 3:2  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
There is one very precious feature that is found in John's epistle, and indeed elsewhere in his writings, that we cannot see Christ really as He was and is without being wrought upon and formed according to Him. There is such an assimilating power in Christ that it is impossible to have to do with Him without feeling His constraining influence and becoming like Him. The Apostle even traces this through the main particulars of His life and glory. Thus knowing Him as the life, we have life ourselves. Again, He is the Son; and knowing Him thus, we too become sons of God. So in Rev. 1 If He is the King, if He is the Priest, as none other ever was or can be but Himself, He has made us kings, He has made us priests, and given us to be kings and priests as none can be, save those who are made so by Him.
But this is also true morally, because as He is our life, and we have even life eternal in Him; so also He is our righteousness, and we are righteous in Him and by Him, yea, made the righteousness of God in Him. And this is not only true as to the present, but as to the future. We have seen Him now by faith, and all the blessing comes by faith. But we shall see Him soon face to face, as well as now inwardly by the Holy Spirit, we shall be both outwardly and inwardly conformed to Him. Thus does the Apostle preserve this most precious thought everywhere, bringing it out and applying it to us in the most unexpectedly full manner.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." It never was so displayed before. It was predicted that it was to be, but it never was so brought out, till Himself, the Son of God, really and properly came. And we then become not only sons in title, but children (for such is the true force of it), as being really born of God. To be sons, glorious as it is, is not so intimate a thing as to be children, born of God. A person might have the title of a son without being of the family. But while we are and shall be owned as sons of God, we are children. "Therefore," he says, "the world knoweth us not." There we have the very same thought again. If it is nearness to God, there never was any one so near to God as He was; but now we are brought into the very same nearness, as He says, "Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17). Thus what is His becomes ours. But now, looking at the other side, the world does not know us. How comes this? For the most precious reason—because it knew Him not. Whatever was His portion, is our portion. If the world cast Him out, must I wonder if it cast us out also? If the world called Him every bad name, we must expect no better. Only let us take care that we do not deserve it. The Lord give us more and more faith, that we may know what it is to be outcast for Christ's sake! It was His portion from the manger to the cross.
Having given us these two portions, He distinguishes what is, from what shall be. "Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God." As he had before simply said, "that we should be called the sons [children] of God," there might have been a question whether it was really so or not. But now he adds, "Now are we the sons [children] of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." It does not appear to the world; it does perfectly appear to us. He is not speaking of what we know, but of what is to be manifested to the world. For we ought to know it now as perfectly as we shall in the glory. It rests upon God's Word, as it flows from His grace; and God's Word will not be plainer in heaven than it is upon earth. Nothing can make the Word of God plainer or surer. There may be the putting down of opposing influences, but "the word of God... liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:2323Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)). And this is the strength of our Christian health and well-being, the very spring that gives us power of separation unto God, that we wait for no signs, that we accept His Word and rejoice in it, and take it as our sure portion, not because we deserve such grace, but because Christ does; and Christ deserves it now as much as ever He will. And as it is nothing but the fruit of the grace of Christ, he says, "Beloved, now are we the sons [children] 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." And why? Because it is guaranteed by His infinite power? No; true as this may be, it is not the reason. "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." We see Him now as He was, and this constrains and conforms us into the likeness of what He was; surely then we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be like Him as He is. Yes, in spirit we see Him as He is now, and are even now changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.