1 John 3:4-10
Throughout it's history, the true Church has always maintained that there are certain core beliefs that are necessary marks of saving faith...
Acceptance of the Biblical gospel...
Living a life that is characterized by a worthy walk...
These have historically been seen as good indicators of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life... and when these are missing... a person's profession of faith is called into question.
However, in the last few decades, the Church has seen some changes... some of which aren't for the good...
More and more “evangelicals” have begun to downplay the importance of Biblical doctrine... even crucial doctrines such as the deity of Christ and justification by faith
Some are even arguing that a lost person can be “saved” without any knowledge of the gospel at all... that pagans will go to heaven just like Christians... if they simply live up to whatever belief system they have.
John, and all other Apostles, would have been appalled that any Christian could believe and teach such things...
Matter-of-fact, he would have called them by their proper titles... false prophets!
He, along with the rest of the NT writers agree that certain beliefs are critical to Christianity, which include...
Substitutionary work of Christ on the cross
Repentance from sin
Obedience to the Word
Desire to walk as Christ walked (or, to live righteously)
Love for the brethren
Hatred for the evils of this world and the flesh
John, and all of the NT writers agree that unless a person believes and practices these truths... they simply aren't saved... regardless of what they may proclaim or confess.
Bad theology damns... bad behavior reveals bad theology.
What John is teaching us in his letter is the difference between saving faith... and a non-saving one.
And his meaning in this particular passage isn't difficult to understand if we get an accurate understanding of his use of the Greek tenses of the verbs related to sin... they are all in the present tense.
What this means is that they indicate a continuous, habitual action. In other words... John is referring to “established” and “continual” patterns of sinful behavior... NOT “occasional” acts.
Believer's will sometimes sin... (Rom 7:14-25) – even willfully sometimes – but they cannot and will not sin habitually, persistently, and as a way of life Rom 6:4-14; Gal 5:24; Eph 2:10)
The Holy Spirit draws sinners to God. He regenerates them and gives them eternal life through their faith in Jesus.
They are recreated to obey the Word of God... follow Jesus... reject worldly temptations... and display the fruits of righteousness in their lives.
Any other practice or belief is simply counter to what the Bible teaches.
In the first verse of our passage, v.4... we see our first point...
I. Sin Is Incompatible With The Law Of God (3:4)
Two biblical definitions of sin are:
“Missing the mark” – hamartia
“Without righteousness” – adikia
Integral to both definitions is that sin is a transgression of God's law.
John, probably learned this principle years earlier when he heard Jesus say in Mat 7:21-23...
So, this description just doesn't allow for any exceptions or double standards... Anyone who habitually practices sin is living in sin... which is an ongoing condition of lawlessness...
Believer's, however, are no longer marked by a life of “lawlessness”. We've obeyed the command to “deny ourselves”, and to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus.
We've repented and have resolved to follow God's law as best we can... deny fleshly lusts... resist the devil and the world's enticements... and to submit to the authority and sovereignty of God.
Those who've done these things have been transformed from a life of slavery to sin... to slavery to God
II. Sin Is Incompatible With The Work Of Christ (3:5-8)
The main reason Jesus gave up everything and came to earth was so that He could take away our sins...
That being the case, it is therefore inconceivable for anyone who truly loves Christ and has been redeemed by His blood... to continue living in sin.
It's contradictory, because “light” can't have communion with “darkness” (2 Cor 6:14-16)
… And ignores the fact that believer's have been “set apart” from sin, for righteousness... (1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:7-9)
Jesus came, not only to pay our penalty for sin and provide forgiveness... but He also came to “take away our sins” altogether!
The word for “away” means to “remove by lifting away”... Just as the hardened film on top of a cup of hot chocolate can be lifted up and removed from the drink... so also our sins have been lifted and removed from us who have believed.
What remains has been “set apart” unto holiness.
Therefore, to continue to live sinfully is completely contrary to what Christ has done in breaking sins hold on us...
And this is not only a future hope, but a present reality, because at salvation, the believer undergoes a real cleansing of and separation from sin.
In v.6 where he writes, “whosoever sinneth”, he is again using the present tense... in other words... an habitual action of defiance and rebellion...
No one who is like this has either “seen Him” or “known Him”.
v.7 – Though Christians will sin... they don't practice sin, or live in sin... but they still “in the flesh”, and therefore, not yet perfect...
So, anyone who practices righteousness is righteous! Kind of a “duh” thing there, isn't it?! And as we saw from previous weeks, those who practice righteousness can easily recognize it in others.
v.8 – He links the one who practices sinful behavior, with the originator of sin... the devil
It's inconceivable that true believer's would continue in devil-like behavior, which includes things such as...
- Instigating sin and rebellion
- Tempting believer's
- Inspiring unbiblical ideologies and false religions
- Persecuting and accusing believer's
- Instigating the work of false teachers
- Wielding the power of death
III. Sin Is Incompatible With The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit (3:9-10)
The new birth epitomizes the work of the Holy Spirit... Jesus said in... (Joh 3:3-8)
When a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit implants within that person the principles of His divine life, which John pictures as “seed”.
In the same manner that human life begins from an implanted seed... which grows and develops into new physical life...
So also, spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit regenerates the new believer and implants the divine seed within us... (1 Pet 1:23-25)
Now this new birth is from seed that's imperishable, and it secures the believer's salvation for eternity...
We're born-again with seed that's imperishable... that imperishable seed is the living and abiding Word of God... giving us a salvation that's imperishable...
For that which is imperishable will not bear fruit that's perishable.
This new birth gives the believer the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2;16) so they can understand the thoughts of God.
Unregenerate people are spiritually dead and are therefore unable to respond to divine truth... So... until they are drawn by the Holy Spirit and accept Christ... they are the children of the devil (Joh 6:44, 65) ...and will continue doing the deeds of the devil. (Joh 8:44)