It’s easy to get really hopelessly discouraged when reading 1 John 3. I mean, a lot of the chapter is along the lines of, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (1 John 3:10 NIV) or, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” (1 John 3:9 NIV)
And when you read that, if you’re anything like me, you try to really quickly come up with a replacement for a certain number of four letter words, because you realize that you’re screwed. You just messed up again last night. You knew what you were doing was wrong, and you did it anyway. Again. After you told God you didn’t ever want it to separate you from Him again. Does this make me a Satan child? Because that’s freaking terrifying.
And I wish I had some amazingly well-written Theological explanation using about five books of the New and Old Testament as reference to bring peace to this matter, but I don’t have all the answers. All I know is this: In Psalm 51:17 it says that a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise. Which means that every time you come to repentance (again) and you truly mean it, it would be against God’s character to scorn your request for forgiveness. In fact, in James 1, it says that God “gives without reproach”, which means He gives gifts, such as forgiveness, without reminding us of how terrible we’ve been in the past. When he gives us forgiveness without reproach, he forgets the past. He doesn’t hold forgiveness over our heads and make us jump for it, taunting us by saying, “Well, if you really want it. I mean, we both know you’re gonna screw it up again, but if you reaaaally want it…” False. He died because He wanted to give it to you!
And his mercies are new everyday, as it says in Lamentations 3. Everyday is a new day. Which means you may have screwed up the day before and the day before and the day before with the same sin, but God still sees each day as a new opportunity for you to fight. He sees it as another chance for you to run to Him instead of your sin. And God would have never told us His mercies were new everyday if He didn’t know we were going to keep struggling. He knows we fail so easily. He knows we’re gonna mess up again. That’s why He’s always there, ready to take us back.
So as for 1 John 3, the whole child of Satan thing- if you keep sinning, without repentance, without caring, without second thought, knowing you’re being disobedient to the King of Kings and enjoying the pain you inflict upon Him, loving your desires too much to even consider letting God change you, over and over and over again, then yeah, you might just be a little Satan. But there’s a difference between that and continually bringing your sin to the cross. Because the thing is, your sin is a matter of your heart. It’s a much deeper issue than what it seems. And your heart can only be changed by the Holy Spirit, who, going back to 1 John 3, is the manifestation of God remaining in us as we remain in Him. And like it says in Romans 8, if we have the Spirit, we are indeed His child. That being said, we are His child if we have accepted Christ as our savior and have made Him our Lord. Period. And the Holy Spirit, who we receive as God’s children, is the one in us who changes our hearts. And as long as we’re sensitive to lay ourselves down everyday, and run straight to Him when we do mess up, because He knows we will, He’ll always be there with open arms to welcome His child. And eventually, you’ll see His love and grace are enough for you, and eventually, you won’t want that sin anymore, and eventually, it won’t be anything. And that’s what we have to put our hope in- the fact that we are still His child, and because of that, we are empowered by His Spirit to leave our sin behind and live the life Jesus died to give us.