Every Christian should always live in three arenas, 1) what we are, 2) what we shall be, and 3) what we should be. What we are is God’s child (v. 1); what we shall be is conformed to the image of Christ when we get to heaven (v. 2); what we should be on the basis of these two are people who live pure lives (v. 3).
Though we are currently children of God (v.1), all of the implications of what that will mean for us when we get to heaven are not realized in this life (v.2): “It has not yet appeared what we shall be.” The present is the prophet of the future. Now we are limited to speak in the language of earth; on that day we will learn the vocabulary of heaven. With respect to our future state, John affirms both our ignorance and our knowledge. He affirms our ignorance, inasmuch as “it does not yet appear what we shall be;” he affirms our knowledge, since “when Christ shall appear, we shall be like Him.”
All our hearts questions are answered in the statement “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Richard Baxter said it well:
My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be like Him!
Knowing what we are (v.1) and what we shall be (v.2) leads us to realize what we should be (v.3): people who live pure lives, like Jesus.
Think of it this way. When a baseball player hits a home run, he cannot be put out. But he also has to run the bases, according to baseball rules. Though he is in no danger of being thrown or tagged or called out, he still has to run the bases. No one, on the field or in the bleachers, can throw him out!
When Jesus died on the cross, he knocked it over the fence! As a Christian, I am a son of God, but I still have to run the bases of the Christian life. I’m not in any danger of losing my salvation. He who began a good work in me will complete it at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). I’m saved, sanctified, and safe . . . for all eternity!
Such knowledge should motivate me to live daily for the glory of the resurrected Christ!