For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.…
When our Lord shall come a second time, before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. That will not be the first time that He has acted as a separator. It is always so whenever He comes. Now He finds out His chosen and calls them apart, and on the other hand unbelievers are discovered. Between the two is a deep gulf. Other distinctions, riches and poverty, etc., sink into insignificance.
I. CONSIDER TO WHICH OF THE CLASSES WE BELONG.
1. What is meant by believing in Christ, for such is the preposition here.
(1) Some believe concerning Him that He is the Messiah, the Saviour of men. But orthodoxy is not synonymous with justification.
(2) It is a step further when we believe Him. Believing Him to be God's Christ, it follows as a matter of course that we accept His word as true; but this is not a state of salvation.
(3) Another form of faith is believing on Him, to lean upon Him, and take Him as the foundation of our hope. A form of saving faith.
(4) But believing in is something more. If I thoroughly believe in an advocate, I trust my case to him, and thus believe on him; but I also follow his rules to the letter, being fully convinced that they will lead to a right issue.
2. The connection of the text will help us to form a judgment as to whether we are believers in Jesus.
(1) Have you realized by a true exercise of faith verses 13 and 15?
(2) Do you, as having trusted in Jesus, come to the light (ver 21)? Is it your desire to know God's truth, God's will, God's law?
3. Are we unbelievers?
(1) Instead of looking to the brazen serpent, are you seeking another remedy?
(2) Do you shut your eyes to the one only light?
II. CONSIDER THE CONDITION OF THE BELIEVER. He is not condemned, because he does not offer himself for judgment. He says, "I plead guilty." Having done this, the believer sees the sentence laid upon the surety in whom he believes. This brings him peace. Then no more condemned, he seeks the light, and desires more and more to work in it.
III. CONSIDER THE CONDITION OF THE UNBELIEVER.
1. He offers himself for judgment. He has not believed in the Saviour, and confesses, "I do not require Him. I am willing to stand my trial." If you ask for judgment you shall have it. God declares you to be condemned already.
2. He gives personal evidence to his own condemnation. He rejects the testimony of God concerning Christ. Is not that enough to condemn him?
3. He rejects a most exalted person. When men rejected Moses they perished without mercy; but when a man despises the Only begotten, we need call no witnesses against him.
4. He gives evidence against himself, for every man who rejects the true light always goes on to reject other forms of light, God's Word and Spirit and his own conscience.
5. Consider the condemnation already pronounced.
(1) It is no matter of form.
(2) God has power at any moment to carry it into effect.
(3) There is no promise that He will not execute it this very day.
6. Consider the only way of escape — immediate faith.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.