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A Study in Contrasts


The use of contrasts can be a powerful artistic technique. By bringing together two sharply different colors or by juxtaposing two radically opposite images, the artist can jolt the viewer into paying attention, and a writer can alert a reader to key point.

The use of contrasts works in our text today as well. Yesterday’s focus on the life and identity of God’s children is reinforced but also contrasted with the life and identity of the “children of the devil” (v. 10). The two are radical opposites.

John emphasizes again the new nature of God’s children. Those who abide in Christ do not “keep on sinning” (v. 6). They do not “continue to sin;” in fact, they “cannot go on sinning” (v. 9). Scripture is clear: a life in Christ means a transformed life. This does not mean Christians are now perfect people who never sin; we’ve already seen the remedy for that sin described (1:9; 2:1–2). It does mean that the Christian life should be notable for its purity and resistance to sin.

In contrast, “children of the devil” have an entirely different ethos. They continue in sin unchecked. They do not “do what is right,” nor do they “love their brother and sister” (v. 10). Their lives embody the habits of sin, hatred, and disobedience rather than purity, confession, and love. Scripture makes the reason clear: “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (v. 8). They are simply imitating the one to whom they belong. Do not miss the point of the contrasts: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are” (v. 10).

Apply the Word

If you feel trapped by guilt over your sin, remember God’s promise to forgive is more powerful than the devil’s lies. Our identity as God’s children also means we have access to the joy of His forgiveness and the power of Jesus’ victory. Confess, repent, and rejoice—this is walking in the light as the child of God!

BY Julie Roys, Moody Radio Host of Up For Debate

Julie Roys is a speaker, freelance journalist and blogger at She also is the host of Up For Debate on the Moody Radio Network. Her book, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God's Surprising Vision for Womanhood is available at major bookstores.

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