On the other hand, we have the servants of the Devil, who are characterized by their course of unrepentant sin.  False teachers, who are very much in view in this context, can be identified by their ungodly mode of life.  They manifest no spirit of repentance, they show no humility; in short, they do not hunger and thirst after righteousness.  This proves that they, and indeed all who are outside of Christ, are of the Devil.  The Devil sinned from the beginning, and these follow in the footsteps of their spiritual father, hardening their hearts in rebellion against the authority of Almighty God.

The contrast continues to be drawn over and over by John, because he wants us to be in no doubt that there are clear and evident proofs of the new birth.  Continuance in a life of sin and rebellion proves that one is “of the Devil.”  It proves that he has not received the salvation of Christ, because the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the Devil.  The angel prophesied to Joseph that the Saviour Who would be born of Mary would “save His people from their sins.”  This certainly includes deliverance from the power of indwelling sin.  Paul put it this way to the Romans: “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”  We are not only justified in the court of heaven, we also come under a new power in our minds, so that our affections are turned away from sin and the follies of this earth, and are set upon the things which please God.  The tyrannical power which the Devil held over our will and affections has been shattered by the power of the Son of God, so that we are now Christ’s free men, at liberty to serve the God Who gave us life and salvation.  True liberty is that which strikes off the shackles of sin, and gives the sinner liberty to walk above the mudpit of this world, in the cleanness and purity of obedience to the law of God.