On Thursdays, I have been sharing a little bit about what I have been learning as I read through 1 John. You can catch up with these posts, starting with the most recent, here.
Last week, we began a section in 1 John that explores the idea of identity. John identifies that some are children of God and others are children of the devil. Key to identifying either has to do with their conduct and relationship to sin.
“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:4-6 NIV
John writes, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness.”
Sin is lawlessness.
John Stott writes, “Lawlessness is the essence, not the result of sin.”
The Greek nearly repeats itself here. The first phrase is something akin to “The one who sins (literally “misses the mark”) does what is lawless.” The second follows up simply, “Sin is lawlessness.”
I like the way the Common English Bible translates this verse. It gives a good picture using slightly different language: “Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion.”
This is the state of man apart from God. Rebellion. Sin is an act of rebellion against God.
John continues, “But you know that [Jesus] appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”
The sinless Jesus came to take away sin. The one who lives in Christ does not continue to sin. The word "lives" here is menō making another appearance. Abide.
When we do not abide, sin is the natural result. When we are not connected to God, we live separated from him, essentially in rebellion. In this state, we live as though we have neither seen Christ nor known him.
I am once again reminded of the importance to abide. When I abide I do not live in sin. Instead, I live obedient. I live in line with God’s will and purposes. I live surrendered. It is when I do not live in the flow of the Spirit, out of touch with God’s will and obedience that I sin. It is like I don’t even know Christ; because if I did know him, wouldn’t I realize that he requires my obedience? Wouldn’t I realize that he wants me to live each moment surrendered to his plans and purposes for my life?
This is the struggle.
It is a daily one.
Let’s ask him to abide with us?
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we abide with Christ. As we cling to him—learning to discern the Spirit’s voice and living in obedience to God—may we trust that just as Jesus came to take away our sin, so we live. We live in the goodness of His life and claim the present reality of what He promises to do in us.