The Believer and Sin

1 John 3:4-10

Four words for sin used in NT. John uses 3 of them in epistle, 2 in our text:

αμαρτια (217x) – failure, fault, missing the mark, falling short of the target (1 John 3:4-5, 8-9)

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. …manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. ….He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. ….Whoever has been born of God does not sin, …he cannot sin.

Man’s chief end – glorify God; by nature all fall short of the mark. Until conversion, not even aiming at the target!

ανομια (31x) – lawessness, lawless conduct, without law (1 John 3:4)

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

“Sin is man’s refusal to submit his mind, heart, and will to the authority of God. He does not want anyone other than himself to be lord of his life.” Beeke

αδικια (25x) – wrongdoing, injustice, unrighteousness, iniquity (1 John 1:9)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

not following straight-edge of God’s perfect righteousness

παραπτωμα (23x)- false step, slip, blunder, offense, fault, trespass (Matt. 6:14-15)

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

a failure to stay inside the lines, regarding God’s road as too narrow, choosing broad road instead

nearly 300x; almost as many NT references to sin as to second coming. God takes it seriously, expects us to also. Sadly not reflected in “Christian culture” – are way more books, movies, conferences about second coming than sin. Probably true in majority of churches as well. Host of consequences from wrong understanding of sin, not thinking of it as God does:

devalues work of Christ – what he had to overcome simply to make it to Calvary (temptation and obstacles and attacks on every side); greatness of penalty paid; importance of ongoing work as mediator

minimizes ministry of the Holy Spirit – convincing world of its sinfulness, leading believers out of error into truth, working as purifying agent

Not just a NT thing, either; God didn’t create sheep and goats just so people could kill them for sport. Every one of those OT sacrifices for sin pointed toward Lord Jesus. Every Passover lamb prefigured Lord Jesus. Sin is big deal to God because is opposed to beloved Son and the work he did and does. True believer, then, who has been ransomed from sin should have habits that reflect that truth.

A. sin is serious v.4, 8a

lawlessness on human level is big deal – see on nightly news:

aftermath of earthquake or flood or tornado, violence on streets in Tunisia or Libya or Egypt or Syria

something individuals, world leaders both see as problem – how can anything good be accomplished in midst of chaos

true also in more “ultimate” sense – when it’s God’s laws, not just man’s implementation of them that are disregarded

important to remember: those who are lawless are not ignorant of God’s law; know at least basics of what God requires, willfully refuse to comply, actively rebel against his laws

does what is sin because he is sinful – acts in a lawless way because he is a lawless person (4)

Jesus put it in gardening terms: no grapes on thornbush, no figs on a thistle; no ears of corn on squash vine, no wax beans on pepper plant

even if you don’t recognize leaves or blossoms, can identify plant by what it produces

true of people, also; if usual practice or habit of life is to defy or disregard God’s commands, don’t belong to him. Are displaying outwardly their true inward character

external actions verify parentage (8a)

Jesus made similar statements to his challengers who said “Abraham is our father.” (John 8:39)

went on to say: “You do the deeds of your father. …You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:41, 44)

didn’t require divine insight to figure out who called shots in their lives

God will not tolerate lawlessness indefinitely – 2 Thess. 2:8-9

the lawless one: poster child, hand-picked by Satan, equipped by him with power to do signs and lying wonders

the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming”

B. sin is opposed to Christ and his work v.5, 8b

Christ came to take away sin, not enable it (5)

became sin, did not remain sin

“he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us” 2 Cor. 5:21 he “himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree” 1 Pet. 2:24

Christ is example and teacher, but far more than that: he was sin-bearer – suffered its curse, received the punishment, paid the ransom (Matt. 20:28)

“He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.” Col. 2:14

set us free from sin

not to be lawless but law-abiding citizens of Christ’s kingdom

slaves to righteousness, slaves of God

what he enables is ability to resist, overcome sin

have access to power of Lord’s might, whole armor of God Eph. 6:10ff

can stand against wiles of the devil, effectively resist so he will flee James 4:7

Christ came to destroy Satan’s work, not promote it (8b)

Christ’s greatest opposer: Satan

not only our adversary, sworn enemy of Lord Jesus also

has one big purpose in view: be #1, by any means, at any cost

destroys life – spiritual and physical – promotes pleasures of sin, denies its consequences

destroys light – works as a deceiver

destroys love – substitutes lust in its place

destroys law-keeping – incites lawlessness by marketing it as freedom

what he promotes is resisting and conquering Satan through advance of the church

gift of eternal life promised in the Gospel

gift of Holy Spirit who leads in truth

gift of God’s love overflowing in love to one another

gift of freedom in service to God

C. a true Christian does not habitually sin v.6, 9

abiding and habitual sinning are incompatible (6a)

true Christian abides in, has fellowship with, Christ – the sinless one

abiding governs both attitude and action

view sin as God does, something foul and disgusting to be resisted / avoided

stay as far from sin as possible, confess and seek forgiveness when you stumble

abiding has obvious evidence (9)

the seed of our parentage produces “fruit” that looks like a Christian, one abiding in Christ

contrary to the new nature to stay stuck in old life, old ways, old attitudes

most “normal” people – skin crawl at idea of eating dog food; same response from Christian to idea of sinning

habitual sinning and knowing Christ are incompatible (6b)

regardless of anything else – profession of faith, baptism, church membership, acts of service…..

if life shows habitual disregard for God’s law, he is not:

one who has seen Christ for who he is – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29 one who knows Christ in intimate personal relationship

the one in outright flagrant continual rebellion has no basis on which to claim relationship

D. a true Christian is habitually righteous v.7, 10

does what is righteous because he is righteous

pleases God because he wants to please God

avoids displeasing God because

it pains him to do so – personal revulsion against sin, pain of causing Father’s displeasure

even though personal righteousness is imperfect, still results in righteous habits

will be accompanied by progress in holiness, desire for more holiness

will be increasing Christ-likeness, desire for more

what we are is obvious from what we do

we act according to our nature

not necessarily according to words – “actions speak louder than words” mom

our task: do our part to make it manifest / evident that we are children of God

to be an answer to Jesus’ prayer: “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21

We heard Thursday evening, prayer meeting:

Prayer and sinning cannot keep company with each other. One, or the other, must, of necessity, stop. Get men to pray, and they will quit sinning, because prayer creates a distaste for sinning, and so works upon the heart, that evil-doing becomes repugnant, and the entire nature lifted to a reverent contemplation of high and holy things. E M Bounds

I would add to that: Get men to study God’s Word, because meditating on word of God creates distaste for sinning, fuels a desire to devote life to God’s exclusive use. Prayer and meditation, a winning combination that meets God’s approval, draws us closer to him, equips us to live for him who loved us and gave himself for us.

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