John 3:16 is unarguably one of the most well-known verses in Scripture, and in that short verse we learn something about who God is, John tells us – "16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. We learn that our God is a God of love, but not only that, from this passage we also learn something about who we are to Him, and that is what we will have a short look at.
But before that, let us read another passage, in 1 John 3:1 we read – "1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
Often when I have heard sermons and lessons talking of this verse, one thing that is stated is that – John here asks us to behold the love of God, because to try and fully explain it, we would fail of truly giving justice to it. Truly that is so, for the Bible tells us – "3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable." Psalms 145:3, so also is the greatness of His love, often our conceptions of God’s love are but, as it were, the tail end of the truth.
Though sometimes, sadly, we all together misunderstand God’s character, and don’t discern His love as we should, and in this Christian walk, a right understanding of God’s character is essential to truly having a blessed experience in the Christian journey, why? Simply put – to the extent that we feel uncertain about the “love the Father hath bestowed on us” to that degree will we feel uncertain about our standing as the sons and daughters of God, which is something God does not desire for us.
That – doubting God’s love for us, is something that the Devil would want. Satan always seeks to first shake the foundations of our relationship with God, before presenting his temptations, Satan knows that his temptation will have more opportunity to prevail if he can achieve that; that is why David says "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?", to seek any other refuge other than in God, is to open up oneself to the attacks of the enemy, Psalms 11:1-3.
There are two ways that he seeks to do this; the first one is to make us doubt the truthfulness of God’s word, the second to make us doubt our standing with God. We need not journey far into the Bible to see an example of this. When the Devil, disguising himself as a serpent; the basis of his attack was – God is not telling you the whole truth, He is seeking to withhold great good from you, and mother Eve feel prey to his temptation after her trust in God was weakened. Does he not do the same today as well? When God warns us about sin and its consequences, through our actions we say – what’s the worst that could happen? Surely the results won’t be as server as God says?
That is the first case. The next is to make us doubt of standing with God. This he attempted when he met Jesus in the wilderness, before presenting his temptation the Devil said – “If thou be the Son of God…". “If” – an insinuation of doubt, wanting to cause Jesus to question the veracity of His believe to be God’s Son, surely, he says – if you can command these stones to be turned to bread then you will prove, not only to me, but to yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are God’s son; I mean its been 40 days that you have been in this wilderness, a loving Father surely would not have allowed His Son to suffer thus, so long.
In like manner he comes to us, specially in trying circumstances and whispers – are you sure God still considers you His child, I mean, why would He allow you to go through such by yourself? He thus causes us to desire manifestations of God’s love as a means of assuring ourselves of God’s love, of still having His guardian care. Now, I do not mean God does not show His love for us, or that it is wrong for us to desire to see tokens of it, but that should not be where our faith rests. We should be content to know simply – God loves me, because the Bible tells me so.
The Devil may come and whisper – you are too great a sinner, God can pardon others, but not you. But this is where we see the difference between God and the enemy of souls. While the Devil looks at your sins, God looks at your possibilities. The Bible teaches that the moment we accept Jesus, it is then that God declares us to be the sons of God (John 1:12); now that seems ok until you think of who else is referred to as a son of God, and that is Jesus Himself, and God said of Him – "17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17.
Can God say He is well pleased with us? In Jesus yes, we are accepted in His Son, and those words – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Embrace us with our shortcomings and weakness and many rooms of improvement. Here is the reality – God has faith in you, He knows what you can be, the possibilities he sees for you are more than you can hope or imagine; all He says is – abide in Me. God won’t give up on you, don’t give up on Him.
Also when you consider what God gave to save you, for now, forget the world, make it personal like Paul made the cross personal (Galatians 2:20). When God gave His Son to save you, what was He giving? Colossians 2:17 tells us, all things hold consist; when God gave His Son He gave everything, He left no reserves; so you are too expensive for God to let you go. Finally, know that you are beloved of God as you are, allow yourself to be loved.