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Sin and the Child of God
4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:4-9)
Ideas to Consider
- Keep in mind who John is writing to and why (see week one).
- Why was Christ manifest? (vv 5, 8)
- What comes first, abiding or sinlessness? (v 6)
- What comes first? Being born of God or sinlessness? (v 9)
(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)
Reading these six verses in isolation can make a person a little uncomfortable. That’s why it is so important that we remember who John is writing to and why he is writing. He is writing to a church — a group of believers who, though not perfect and not sinless yet, are forgiven and made righteous because they have confessed their sins and are walking in the light (1 John 1:9, also see week two).
John is writing because of the false teachings and doctrines that were becoming prevalent at that time. One of the false ideas being taught was that as long as a person was not in open rebellion against God, their other little sins did not matter so much to God. John boldly states that all sin — whether “big” or “small” sin — is lawlessness. And lawlessness is open rebellion against God (v 4).
John goes on to remind the church of the gospel message. Christ was made known to them so that they would no longer sin (v 5). God sent His Son on a rescue mission to “destroy the works of the devil” and free them from bondage to sin (v 8).
The gospel reveals that sin — all sin — is a big deal to God. His children do not go on sinning. And those who do? They are not of God, but of the devil.
John is not claiming that we, as children of God, will never sin. He makes it clear in his letter that we need grace — we need forgiveness and an Advocate at the right hand of God. That said, God’s children to do not go on sinning once they realize that their actions are in contradiction with God’s law.
The NIV puts it this way:
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
Those who abide in Christ, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, and have tasted God’s love for them don’t want to sin. Period. They are never okay with being in open rebellion with their Lord and Savior.
Individuals who know they are sinning, but think it’s no big deal? They are in open rebellion with God. They are not born of Him.
Why is this important to understand? Because just like the church in John’s era, we deal with false teachers today. We need to be able to see if our teachers are point us to Christ or leading us away.
Lord in heaven, thank you for your word. Thank you for teaching us how to identify teachers who are truly your children and people who would deceive us. If there is sin in our lives that we have been okay with, please reveal it to us. Help us to understand that all sin is lawlessness. All sin that remains unconfessed after the Holy Spirit brings it to our attention become open rebellion against you. Thank you for your Spirit who leads us to confession. Thank you for your grace and lovingkindness, and your willingness to forgive and cleanse us. In the name of your Son. Amen.
- Is there any known sins in your life that you are ok with? If so, does this passage lead you to confess anything in prayer? (Remember 1 John 1:9)
- Why is important to understand that children of God do not want to sin?
- How does this passage help identify false teachers?
- What is the difference between a false teacher and someone immature in their faith? How can you keep from getting them confused?
FURTHER STUDY IDEAS
Here are a few study ideas to do between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one or two a day in order to keep you thinking about the passage all week long.
- Start or continue a double entry journal.
- Hand write the passage.
- Read Romans 6:1-2, and Romans 6:15. How do these apply to today’s passage?
- Do a word study for sin and lawlessness found in verse 4.
- Read this passage in several translations, including the New International Version (NIV)
- Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, write a post and share it in the next #QuietlyThroughThursday LINK UP.
- Read 1 John 1-5. Yes, ma’am, the whole thing.
Click the image to previous posts in the Quietly Through 1st John series.