I. Awe [1a]
That’s exactly what you find in verse 1. At the beginning of this chapter John just marvels at the thought of being adopted into God’s family. He says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
Now, if you’ve ever been amazed at something. Perhaps there was a fantastic sunset. I remember a few years ago we were on vacation in Erie, PA. We were right on the lake, and we got to see the most dazzling sunset. The sky turned a myriad of colors. And I remember my wife just kept saying, “Look at that. Look at that.” She was just astounded by the beauty of it.
Here you have the same thing. John says, “See!” or “Behold!” or “Look at this!” It is the language of pure awe. And the way he phrases this backs this. When it says, “See what manner of love,” understand that the editors of your Bibles are helping to smooth out the language to make it more understandable. Literally it reads, “of what country of love is this.” John’s saying that this love is so awesome—being adopted into the family of God is so radically amazing—that he can’t even express it with normal everyday language.
If someone walked in here today and started speaking to you with a thick accent, what would you think? You’re going to say, “You are not from around here, are you?” That person would be from a whole other country. They are so different. They are so foreign to our everyday experience that we marvel a bit at them.
This is what John is doing here. God’s love is so different. Being adopted into his family is so amazingly profound that he says, “Look at it! It is out of this world!”
And this is the experience of every child of God. The thought that God would take a sinner like you—that he would take one of his greatest enemies, and bring you into his very own family, and lavish upon you all the rights and privileges that belong to an heir, this should cause you to stumble back with awe and say, “Look at that love!”
But not only will your adoption produce awe. It also produces alienation.
II. Alienation [1b]
Look at the second part of the verse. John says, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” I like what the ESV Study Bible says on this verse. It says, “There is a built-in friction between those who know and serve Christ and those who do not.”
Since you have come into the family of God, you have been excommunicated (or extracted) from the family of the devil. You are estranged because you know Christ and your faith radically alters your life. Your likes and dislikes are different.
It is odd sometimes too because people you used to fraternize with on a regular basis. You used to fraternize with the world, but all of a sudden you find yourself being somewhat distanced from people who were close friends.
During this time of year I hate going to play basketball in the mornings. Its not because I dislike basketball. I love playing. I look forward to it every time. But this time a year it takes forever to start a game. I want to start playing, but they love to shoot the breeze and talk about the playoffs. They talk about Lebron doing this and the Celtics doing that. This team will beat that team because of this guy who can do this move. They love talking about it. Me and another guy are just left standing there waiting for them to finish. It’s because we don’t know anything about professional basketball. And so for a few minutes we experience a bit of alienation from them. They know the NBA; we don’t. So until they are done sizing all the teams up, we find that we don’t have any real association.
That’s the way it is with you who know Christ. Once you become a member of his family you will find that you don’t always in.
I want you young people to understand this. There are going to be times when you find yourself in awkward situations. You will be with some people—maybe even some friends of yours, and you will feel like you are a complete oddball. They might even look at you strange, almost as if you are from another country. It may even come to the point where they treat you like you are from a completely different planet!
And there is some truth to that. Because when you love Christ you will be something of an alien. You are alienated because your life has been changed by your membership in God’s family.
And you need to understand that you shouldn’t change in order to fit in. That is not what you are to do. Never conform in order to be accepted. Just accept the fact that you are different. Be willing to be different. Be willing to endure the scorn that may accompany your differences. But above all know that your differences are due to the fact that you belong to God.
You are a member of God’s family. That produces awe. It produces alienation. But you’ll notice that our text says that it also produces anticipation.
III. Anticipation 
In verse 2 John talks about what is in store for us in the future. He says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
John is talking about the resurrection. He says, “Yes, we are God’s children now. But we have not yet experienced the fullness of this adoption.” At some point Christ is going to come again and it will be consummated. We will be resurrected—that’s what he’s talking about when he says, “What we will be has not yet appeared.” We are still waiting for the finalization, so to speak.
When my wife and I adopted our two children there was a probation period. We had to wait for 6 months before we could formally finalize our adoption. They were our children, but there was something that we were anticipating. It was that court date where we appeared before the judge. Once we did that the adoption was completed.
That’s analogous to what is being said here. We belong to the Lord. We are members of his family right now because of the shed blood of Christ and faith in him. But, in a sense, we are waiting for our adoption to be finalized. We know that there is a date where we will be called to appear before the Judge of all the Earth. He will come again in his flesh, just like he did 2000 years ago. And on that great day the finishing touches will be applied to our adoption: we will be resurrected and be given glorified bodies.
But it’s not just the resurrection that we anticipate; we also anticipate the relationship that accompanies it.
The verse goes on to say that “we will see him as he is.” In other words, Christ will no longer be at a distance. We will be able to look at him. Presently we are only able to see him with the eyes of faith. But then we will be able to be see him with the eyes he has given us. We will be able to enjoy his very presence!
Do you remember what it was like before you were married? Do you remember being apart from your beloved? It was tough, wasn’t it? You wrote letters. You talked on the phone. And every once in a while you got to see each other. That was different, wasn’t it? Seeing each other was a thousand times better than talking on the phone. Even now, with the advent of Skype and face to face calling over the internet, it does not compare with seeing each other in person. But you anticipated that meeting. You looked forward to it. You counted down the days. You couldn’t wait to see her or be near him.
That’s what every Christian feels in his heart. He anticipates that great day with great fervor. It’s just burning in you, and you cannot wait for that time.
I know that there are people who say that there is no such thing as a second coming of Christ. But that just shows that they are not true Christians. Every true Christian not only knows that it is true, but they have a deep yearning for it embedded in their hearts.
Once you are a member of God’s family you will find that it only produces awe or alienation or anticipation. But you will find that it also produces action!
IV. Action 
In verse three John says, “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
John is thus saying, “You become what you are.” Once you enter the family of God, your life will change. You don’t go on acting the way you did before you entered his family. Your life changes. You start living like you are one of God’s children. You purify yourself by purging the sin that characterizes your life.
It sounds like the basis for a Walt Disney movie, doesn’t it? You can see it can’t you? You have a little girl who grew up in a rough neighborhood. She didn’t have anyone teaching her her manners. So she’s a little rough around the edges to say the least. But then she becomes a part of royal family. She’s adopted by some regal king and brought into his house. When she enters that family she knows she’s not supposed to act the way that she did back at her old bungalow. She’s got to start living like a king’s daughter should. She’s got to purge her old lifestyle. She can no longer run around in dirty clothes. She can’t put her elbows on the table at dinner time and slump over her plate and hog it down. She’s got to be more refined now.
That’s the way it is when we are adopted into the family of God. Once we become a part of his household, we have to start living like the king’s children. We must seek to do away with the those habits that are not keeping with God’s law. We have to purify ourselves.
The logical question that I have to ask here is, "How is your adoption affecting you? Are you acting differently now that you are a member of God's family?" You fathers, can your children see in you the love of God that we spoke of earlier? Do they come to marvel at the affection that you show them? As a father your love for them ought to reflect the tender firmness that God has shown you.
You ladies, do you find that you are purifying your life? When your husband makes a bad decision, do you support him lovingly? Or is it a time for you to peck away at him? Wives shouldn't be like vultures who prey upon the the open wounds of the afflicted. The rolling of the eyes, the "I told you so's," the comments to friends about the latest failure all should be purged.
And young people. Do you find that your actions are reflecting your status as a child of heaven? Are you allowing yourself to be a ruffian, or are you seeking to be more refined in the way you life, as is characteristic of a child of royal stature?
Sometimes obedience to God's law can sound burdensome and legalistic. But when you see yourself in this light, it changes things. When you understand that you now belong to the most regal family in the world, you will understand that obedience is not a heavy yoke. It is one that is only befitting of your new status.
You all know that two of my three children are adopted. And you have witnessed over the years that there is no difference between them in my eyes. If you camped with us this weekend, you saw that I disciplined them with the same firmness. At night I took the same amount of care to tuck them in and make sure that they were comfortable in the tent.
This is exactly the way the Lord treats us when we come to trust in Christ. He bestows all his fatherly affection upon us. He tenderly looks after us with his special providence. This is a glorious thing. The blessings of which cannot be fully expressed in human terms. And thought it may make us to be outcasts (or aliens) in the world's eyes, we know that it is wonderful thing to be a member of this family. May God grant that it does change the way we act.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.