These studies look at the overwhelming goodness of the Triune God. Depicted by Andrei Rublev's icon of The Holy Trinity.

1 John 3:4-10

4 Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. 10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother..

God has come in Christ not only to forgive us, but to make us truly right, whole, pure. As John has said, we are not only to be called the children of God but to be the children of God. This means Jesus will remove all sin from our lives, heal all the wounds, and straighten out all brokenness. Why is this? Because sin is to trust in someone or something besides God for our identity and our life. To sin is to turn from God, to close our hands to Him. It is the sin that we have done and others have done to us over all our years that twists and distorts us, crippling our ability to be filled to overflowing with the great love of God. Gary has a good illustration for sin that I know some of you have heard before: to sin is like putting water in the gas tank of your car. Your car was made to run on gas, water will wreck the engine. God made us to live in (run on) His love, to enjoy and fully participate in the love between the Father and the Son in the Spirit--as children, not just creatures. As God makes us whole, we can more and more enjoy that life in Him.

So John is telling his readers that as God's children our relationship with sin has changed. We have had that relationship undone in Christ, we now live in Him, not in seeking our life somewhere else. John is not saying that Christians will never sin again. He has already said in the first part of his letter that "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." And in the previous passage, he says that it "does not yet appear what we shall be." So John knows we are still becoming the children we now are in Christ. He is not now saying that we will never sin again. But he is saying that sin is not part of this new life in Christ, it is no longer a part of our identity. Sin is of the devil, it is anti-life and it is what God is destroying. My guess is that there was a group of people who were saying that sin is a natural part of us, something we will always have. It is okay to sin, it doesn't really do us any harm, they tell John's readers.

But John is saying no, sin is not a part of the life of Christ, it is what he came to take away (v.5) It is harmful to us, it has consequences, and it is no longer natural to us. The good news is that when God reveals an area in which we are not trusting Him, He is not condemning us or showing us the "truth of who we really are." He is showing us what He is doing away with. He is revealing not us but the sin in us that is our enemy. We never have to think we are our sin again!

But we will still sin. The healing, becoming process takes time. And when we turn from Jesus to trust in someone or something else we are not abiding in Him in that moment, and the sin is of the devil. It is something else that God will need to redeem and heal in our lives as we hand it over. And this He does gladly for His children for this is why He came to us (v. 8) We find, now that we are born of God, that we long more and more to be put right in all of our lives. When we sin, we need to turn it over to God in repentance trusting in His ability and desire to forgive and heal. John is saying here that to continue to trust in God as well as in yourself or others is impossible and shouldn't be hoped for. Sin is destructive to us and we shouldn't be fooled on where the desire to not trust or do harm or control others, etc. comes from.

In v. 7 John says "He who does right is righteous, as He is righteous." And we have seen several times in this letter what John means by doing right. To do right is to count on God to be your source of life, to be the only one who can tell you who you really are, and to make us all He created us to be, His very daughters and sons. We are made pure and right in this hope and obeying Him out of this hope, counting on Him to take all we give Him and transform it for our deepest joy and life.

He concludes this section by saying in v. 10 "whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother." To not do right is to refuse to count on God for one's life and identity, to hang on to all the deceit that we can give ourselves life by being in control, trusting in ourselves or others to tell us who we are and to give us meaning and worth. It makes sense that these two ways of living are not side by side but opposites.

I am so glad to remember again that I am not my sin. I do not have to despair that I will never really change. God is going to make me whole and His. I will not have any part of my life that will be left unredeemed and unhealed. I will not have any regrets left when I am presented before my Father. For God's love for me is so great that He will make me able to totally receive moment by moment His passionate wonderful love.

May this be a word of encouragement and hope to you.

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