1 John 3:3
And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
Hope is a feeling that animates every human bosom; that forms the motive power to active exertion, is the soul of enterprise, and is one of the main springs that keep the world itself in motion. Is the morning of life fair and promising? Hope gives freshness to the scene, and buoyancy to the spectator. Is the meridian of life bright and prosperous? Hope casts its radiant glories over life's pathway, and infuses its sweet ingredients into life's enjoyments. In a word, hope is the great cordial of human life, the lightener of all our cares, "the sweetener of all our joys, and the soother of all our sorrows."
I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE.
1. The points of resemblance, or rather of agreement, it bears to hope in general, are the three following:(1) Like every other hope, "this hope" has reference to what is good. In this respect hope differs from fear, which is the dread of evil, present or prospective, real or imaginary.
(2) Like every other hope, this hope has reference to good, yet future in its realisation and enjoyment. In this respect hope differs from both faith and possession —
(a) It differs from faith, which credits things that are past as well as things that are future, threatened evils as well as promised blessings;
(b) It differs also from possession. "But hope that is seen is not hope" — that is, the thing hoped for, when realised, is no longer hope, but possession and enjoyment.
(3) Like every other hope, this hope has reference to what is attainable. And in this respect hope differs from desire. We may desire some future good, real or imaginary, which is far beyond the reach of attainment; but we cannot be said to hope for what is unattainable. And just in proportion as the possibility, and especially the probability of its attainment, seems great or small, certain or uncertain, will hope or expectation be strong or weak, lively or languid.
2. The points of contrast are chiefly two.
(1) That hope is a mere natural emotion, "springs eternal in the human breast," is produced by natural objects, and common to all natural men; this hope is a Christian grace, is produced by the Spirit of God, through faith in the gospel is fixed on the things of the spirit, and is common to all that are spiritual.
(2) The future and attainable good things, on which that hope is fixed are all earthly and material, "seen and temporal"; the future and certain good things on which this hope is fixed are all spiritual and heavenly, "unseen and eternal."
II. THE FOUNDATION OF THIS HOPE. In this the goodness of this hope consists, and appears still more manifest than in its nature. Christ, in His person, in His mission and mediation, and especially in His work of propitiation, finished on the Cross and accepted by the Father, is the true and only foundation of a sinner's hope. Jesus Christ, in His propitiatory work, is not merely the foundation, but the only foundation of a sinner's hope toward God. The mere mercy of God, apart from the mediation of Christ; their comparative goodness, as not being so bad as some other men; their descent from godly parents; their Christian profession; the soundness of their faith and the orthodoxy of their creed; their many prayers and their great charity — these are sonic of the countless foundations which deluded mortals have tried on which to build their hopes lot eternity. What are they, but the sandy foundation of the foolish builder? Not only must the foundation be revealed to faith, the revelation must be received by faith, in order to have this hope on Him. Every man must have faith in Christ before he can have this hope on Him. "Christ must be in him" before Christ can be to him "the hope of glory." And every man must "be in Christ" ere he can have or exercise this hope on Christ.
III. THE OBJECT OF THIS HOPE.
1. Perfect likeness to Christ. The many sons whom He has brought unto glory shall be perfectly like Him, not only in immortality, but also in moral excellence; not only in holiness, but also in happiness. Their minds, like His, shall be filled with heavenly light; their imaginations, like His, shall be filled with heavenly purity; their wills, like His, shall be filled with heavenly righteousness; their consciences, like His, shall be filled with heavenly peace; their hearts, like His, shall be filled with heavenly love; and their bodies, like His, shall be clothed with heavenly glory.
2. The full enjoyment of Christ. We shall see Him in all His glory, in the glory of His Father, and in the glory of all the holy angels with Him.
IV. THE INFLUENCE OF THIS HOPE. Every man having this hope on Christ is not only the subject of sanctification, but likewise the agent of its progressive advancement in his own soul and life.
1. This hope is a Christian grace; and, like every Christian grace, forms part of sanctification, and contributes to its increase and advancement to perfection. For it is influenced by means and by motives felt, by arguments adduced, by examples exhibited, by goodness experienced, and by promises given unto us.
2. This hope forms an essential element of their new nature; it is the constant attendant and efficient assistant in their spiritual life. What assistance does it give to them in its course? Is the Christian life compared to a race? This hope casts aside every incumbrance, braces every limb, strains every nerve, and puts forth every energy to reach the goal and gain the prize.
3. This hope furnishes the best counteractive of the adverse and conflicting influences of the world. It is the ship's best ballast during the voyage of life. It is its subject's best reminder of what he is, whither he is going, and how he is to occupy his Lord's talents till He comes.
4. This hope is the chief prompter to life's activities, in whatever state its possessor may be found. Forevery man that hath this hope knows, delights in, and seeks after, conformity to the will of God, which is our sanctification. He knows also that indolence and inaction are among the chief incentives to "the pleasures of sin," which are contrary to the will of God and inimical to our sanctification. But this hope which he has, is not the dead hope of the formalist, or the hypocrite, nor the dying hope of the worldling, but the lively hope of the sons of God. It makes them all alive to God's requirements, and lively in His service, in His House, in His cause, and in His kingdom in the world.
V. THE PATTERN OF EVERY MAN HAVING THIS HOPE. Christ is at once the foundation on which he builds his hope for eternity, and the pattern of purity he imitates in purifying himself. He has not yet attained, neither is he already perfect. But it is the present pursuit, the daily, habitual practice of every man having this hope: he purifieth himself, and he will continue to purify himself, as certainly as he will hope, to the end; when the purifying process will be perfected, and the conformity to the perfect pattern of purity will be complete.
1. A warning to sinners. You too have a hope. Granted. But your hope is not" this hope," yourselves being judges. It is of nature, not "through grace." Being a mere natural emotion, it is subject to incessant fluctuation and sudden extinction. Your hope, besides, exerts a baneful, corrupting influence over your whole spirit and soul and body. It blinds the mind to the truths, the promises, and blessings of the gospel of Christ; alienates the heart from the life of God; and by stimulating to the exclusive pursuit of the things of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the pleasures of sin, the whole faculties and feelings of the inner man become contracted, corrupted, and defiled. And if the influence of your hope be so baneful, what must be the end of it? The end of these things is death — to the body, and to the soul.
2. An incentive to saints. Having this hope on Christ, see that ye purify your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren. The Holy Spirit, by whom this hope is inspired, that dwelleth in you, is its best supporter and friend. Therefore "quench not the Spirit." Sin is the greatest enemy to this hope and to its purifying influence. Therefore, "stand in awe and sin not."
Parallel VersesKJV: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.