Thursday, April 25, 2024

2024.04.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 3:4–10

Read 1 John 3:4–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the one committing sin also commit (1 John 3:4)? Why is this true? Why was Jesus revealed (1 John 3:5)? Who knows this? What isn’t there any of in Him? What doesn’t the one abiding in Him do (1 John 3:6)? What two things hasn’t the sinning one done? How does the apostle address his readers in 1 John 3:7? What does he urge them not to let anyone do? What is the relation between one’s works and one’s status? From where do both come? Of whom is the one who sins (1 John 3:8)? How do the devil and sin relate to one another? Who has been manifested? For what purpose—to destroy what? Of Whom are some people now born (1 John 3:9)? What does such a man not do? Why—what abides (remains) in him? What can’t he do? Why—of Whom has he been born? Which two categories of men have been distinguished from one another (1 John 3:10)? How is this distinction revealed? What two things are always the case for someone who is a child of God?

What’s the big deal about sin? 1 John 3:4–10 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that sin is a big deal because it is opposed to God, opposed to Christ, and opposed to the new life and identity of the believer.

The nature of sin: lawlessness1 John 3:4. Sin is utterly heinous, because it is against God. It is against His existence, His deity, His glory, His claims upon us. And this glorious God has given us His Fatherly instruction, His law. This law is an expression of the applications to our lives of the implications of His character for us as His image-bearers. So sin is an utter rejection of the glorious God, and an utter rejection of His self-revelation to us. It clamps its hands over its ears, as it were, and refuses to receive God’s good and kind communication of Himself.

Christ as solution to sin (1): taking away our sins1 John 3:5-6. Jesus was manifested to take away our sins (1 John 3:5a) in the two ways that we heard about in 1 John 1:9. In our justification, Jesus Himself is counted as our righteousness, with His keeping the commandments of the law counted in our behalf, and with His offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice wiping away the guilt and penalty of our sin. So, He was manifested to forgive us our sins. But He was also manifested to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Not only does He instantly take away the penalty of our sin; He instantly takes away its power over us and progressively takes away its power within us and presence within us. Indeed, sin still feels powerful, but it is no longer our master. And He weakens it more and more, even as He makes us more and more holy. 

Jesus’s great work is to take away sins. It is the height of wickedness to tolerate sin or to teach that a Christian may do so. Since in Jesus there is no sin (end of 1 John 3:5), and since a Christian may aptly be described as one who abides in Jesus, how can a Christian go on in sin? Sinning never comes from seeing Him; sinning never comes from knowing Him (1 John 3:6). Though since the time that this book was written, false teachers have been telling saints that seeing and knowing Jesus permits them to go on sinning comfortably, the truth is exactly the opposite. Abiding in Christ makes sin most uncomfortable!

Christ as solution to sin (2): destroying the works of the devil1 John 3:7-8. The word for “practices” in 1 John 3:7 (and 1 John 3:10) is actually “works.” There were teachers at the time saying that those who were righteous with God in Jesus Christ could just go on working unrighteousness. But this was a lie, so the apostle says, “let no one deceive you.” If Jesus is righteous, then He produces a telltale sign in those whom He makes righteous: they work righteousness (1 John 3:7). 

But all believers began dead in sin (cf. Ephesians 2:1), walking according to the devil himself (cf. Ephesians 2:2), as children of wrath (cf. Ephesians 2:3). And even after we have that new seed within us, that new birth, that new nature, it is possible for us to live according to that which is passing away, that which remains from our former nature. Is it ok to go on sinning then? By no means! “He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8)! Whenever a believer sins, he acts according to that satanic nature with which he came into the world. He must not do so! Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (end of verse 8), to go on in is to fight against the cosmic mission of our God and Savior. 

God’s children opposed to sin1 John 3:9-10. Furthermore, going on in sin sets us against our new nature (1 John 3:9; cf. Galatians 5:16–17). We came into this new nature by being born of God. We cannot be born of God, then unborn of God. The new nature must persist and must win out until that which is from our former nature is defeated and eliminated. When we sin, we may know that it is coming not from our new and lasting nature in God, in Christ, but from our former and condemned nature whose days are numbered. So for every thought, we must determine: does that thought come from the spirit or from the flesh? For every word, we must determine: does that word come from my former nature or from my new nature from God? For every action, we must determine: does that action come from me as a child of God, or rather as I used to be, a child of the devil?

This is vitally important for us to distinguish, and if we find that we do not care to work righteousness, then this is very serious indeed. All of humanity are divided into two categories in 1 John 3:10: the children of God and the children of the devil. That song of old liberalism tells a diabolical lie when it says, “with God as our father, brothers all are we.” No, there are two fathers: the devil is the father of those who are still in the first Adam, and God is the Father of those who are in the second Adam. God is the Father of those who are in Christ. And verse 10 gives us the telltale sign of the one who is a child of the devil: he doesn’t work righteousness, and he doesn’t love his brother. Such a person cannot be a child of God. In the Son of God, there is no sin (1 John 3:5), so the children of God, who abide in the Son of God, also do not sin. Do they commit sins? Yes (cf. 1 John 1:8, 1 John 1:10), but only from what remains of their former, vanishing nature. It is not of their new nature, and they are at war with it.

How is it evident that you are at war with your sin? If you had to evaluate by whose side you seem to be on, do you seem to be a child of God or a child of the devil? What has Jesus done about the penalty of your sin? What is He doing about the power and presence of your sin? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for breaking Your holy law. Not only is our sin against You Yourself, but also against Your good and kind teaching to us of Your law. Forgive us for how we have been willing to think and say and do that which Christ came to destroy. Forgive us for having tolerated thoughts, emotions, and actions that belong to the children of the devil, rather than the children of God. Truly, our sin is a dreadful thing. But we thank You that if we are in Christ, it is because we have been born of You, and Your seed remains in us. Make us to work righteousness, and to love our brother, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP118A “Because He’s Good, O Thank the LORD” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

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