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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