1 John 2:28-3:9: Why Be Holy?


  • So that we wont be ashamed on Judgement day
  • Because it is a self evident truth
  • As a response to immeasurable love
  • Because of our identity as children of God
  • Because one day we will be like Him
  • The contradictory nature of sin to Christian submission
  • The sin destroying purpose of Christ’s work
  • The radical effect of regeneration


Why be Holy? Holiness is our destiny, our identity, and it is a command. But this morning we will be looking at how the apostle John motivates his Church to be holy from the epistle of 1 John 2:28-3:9. In order to help us get into this text with some of the bigger ideas and context in mind let me tell you a little about the letter of 1 John. Think of this as a satellite photo of a country.

John was writing to a Church that had just suffered from the tragic situation of a Church split. Church splits can cause immense damage, and they split for various reasons. In this instance false teachers had come into the Church, they had deceived a number of the church, and had left with them, whether it was most of the Church or just a small contingent we are not told. So John is writing as a pastor to a hurting church trying to recover from a split. He writes to clarify the important things as the false teachers had muddied the water with their error, and he writes to encourage these hurting Christians who have had their confidence shaken after the split. The false teachers had taught that Jesus was not the God man, nor the sacrifice for their sins; they had caused disruptions in the relationships of the community; and they had promoted immorality in the Christian life. John tackles these three problems with a threefold emphasis; in his letter he talks about believing the truth about Jesus, being holy and loving each other to combat the effects of the false teachers in this Church. Today we will be looking at some of what John says about holiness.

That was the satellite photo of the country, now we are going to click on Google Maps and zoom in on the satellite photo of the city. Let’s have a look in chapter 2. Here we are focusing of the immediate context of the portion we are looking at. In chapter 2 we can see John touching on all three of the themes just mentioned, from 1:5 he is speaking about holiness, in 2:7 about love, in 2:15 not loving the world-holiness. And from 2:18-27 about believing the truth. For the third and most climactic time he talks about holiness to this little church seeking to get them to see why holiness matters.

Now lets pull out the road map of the city, and let me give you an idea of where we are headed. We are going to be looking at 2:28-3:9 to find 8 reasons why we should be holy. There are of course many more, but we will be limiting our message to what John says in this portion.