Thursday, July 14, 2005

That You May Not Sin

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (1 John 2:1)
Here is a third reason the apostle John gives for writing his letter: That you may not sin.Now, John is not ignoring sin, as if sin did not matter. That was an error of the Gnostics, whose philosophy so separated the spirit from the body that they thought the acts of the body had no real consequence upon the soul.

Nor was he denying sin, as if it did not really exist. That, too, was a Gnostic error, for whom the solution to sin was not the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. To them, the problem was one of ignorantly supposing that sin had any reality at all, so their solution was the so-called “knowledge” that sin is not real. (The Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis. Hence the name Gnostics.)

No, John’s teaching is that sin is real, that it is universal, and that it has consequences which must be addressed. That is why he says,
  • If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
  • If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Even so, John says, “These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” This does not mean that it is impossible for the believer to fall into sin. For John declares God’s provision:
And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
What does John mean, then, when he says, “I write to you, so that you may not sin?” Was he describing a purpose for writing that could never be achieved? No, for he was writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and God would not set before us a purpose that could never actually be fulfilled, for He does not lie.

John’s purpose is simply this: Though it is possible for a believer to fall into sin, it is also possible for the believer to not sin. There is never a time in which we can excuse sin by saying, “Oh, it could not helped.”

As Paul tells us:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful [i.e., full and faith, and dependable], who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
It is always possible for us to walk in the light as He is in the light and pursue deeper fellowship with God. He will never lead us into sin, but always away from it. It is important to understand that it is not enough to run from sin. That tactic will always fail. What we must do is run to God and walk with Him. David was called a “man after God’s own heart” not because he was without sin — he broke all the commandments — but because, even when he found himself in sin, he ran to God and not from Him.

Even if we do sin, there is forgiveness with God, and He is faithful to cleanse us from sin, so that we may be increasingly free of its power in our lives. That is why Jesus came.

Dear friend, I write this to you so that you may be free from sin. But if you do find yourself in sin, even habitual sin, do not despair. For the purpose of God is to deliver you, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin, as well. One day, we shall even be delivered from the presence of sin.