1 John 3:4-6, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”
Now we embark in some verses that at times are confusing to true followers of Christ Jesus and yet, in no way should be. You must realize that the Apostle is writing in a flow from one sentence to another. It is so easy for us, even in expository teaching to take a Scripture and evolve it on its own when in essence it is a part of a continuing thought.
With that in mind understand that John is continuing on from the previous verse stating that Jesus IS pure, He doesn’t purify Himself for He already IS, but we MUST continually purify or “practice,” as I like to often say, at being pure. (See again 1 John 3:3). Again, the old cliché, “practice makes perfect” has a lot of truth behind it.
John is reiterating previous thoughts and again showing the opposite of verse 3, here in verse 4. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Sin, the “practice” of sin, as opposed to rejecting sin for the evil against God that it is, is the direct opposite of purifying oneself. John is telling his readers that if you are purifying yourself to be as Jesus Who IS already pure, then you will not commit, or as the word implies in the original, it means to continue in or continue to do, sin. One who is abiding in Christ, with Christ Jesus abiding in them does not CONTINUE to “practice” sin, for sin is lawlessness, meaning rejecting what you know to be just and true.
Now I don’t mean to complicate the issue but follow me along here; many say that if sin is as the Apostle states, lawlessness, against the law, as it were, we AS Christians, true disciples and followers of Christ are no longer UNDER the Law. That is absolutely true! We ARE no longer under the Law. But John isn’t speaking of THE Law, that was given to Israel from God, through Moses. Remember, there was and is a law that is written on our hearts and was long before the law was written down by Moses from God. There was a law in our hearts from the time of Adam until Moses wrote the Law on tablets of stone! Adam broke that law which led to mankind’s sinful state, when He rejected what God told him, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:17. Adam knew that God was His Creator just as deep in the hearts of all men, whether they confess it or not, we are “governed” by what we inherently KNOW is right and wrong!
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans; “(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them).” – Romans 2:13-15.
So without so much as a written Law, we ALL KNOW the law and we are without excuse when breaking that law, we ARE then lawless, for by breaking it, we are rejecting it. This is the law that the Apostle John is referring too. Not the Law for the Israelites for which law we were never under, but rather the insubordination or rejection of God’s will, and the rejection of His way so that we would pursue our own will. When we or anybody for that matter does that, continually, we are rejecting the Kingship and Sovereignty of God, Himself.
John continues on by telling us why we can’t keep on sinning by reminding us through inference that when we are abiding in Him, Christ Jesus and He in us, because there is NO sin whatsoever in Him, there can be no sin in us. This is NOT to say that we can’t be tempted, that we can’t slip and fall, temporarily, for we have already discussed that, BUT that as a PRACTICE, as a lifestyle, identified with Christ Jesus, we do NOT sin continually! We DO NOT practice sinning! To do this would demonstrate a complete denial of the very reason Jesus was “manifested” or in simpler terms “He appeared” to us, and that was “to take away our sins.”
He COULD take away our sins, because as John goes on to say, “in Him there is no sin.” Notice also that John states, there in NO SIN! He doesn’t say, in Him there WAS no sin; because as a matter of factual principle, there never was and never will be sin within Christ Jesus. This is the very reason why the Father sent Him as the PERFECT atonement for mankind’s sinfulness. For a Christian, a true disciple and follower of Christ Jesus, even in this day and age, to continue in a life of wanton sin would be to deny the very mission that He came, suffered, died and rose again to fulfill. It would be to deny the very reason of His Incarnation!
The Beloved Apostle is not the only one to express Jesus’ sinless humanity either:
1 Peter 2:21-22, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth.”
2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Again we see the purity of Christ, the sinlessness of Jesus. If we truly ARE followers of Him and are identified with His Name and anointing (remember Christ MEANS Anointed One), then we have to walk and practice purity AND righteousness or living a life without sin! We live in a time right now, when everyone proclaims to be a Christian if they “believe” in A god, whether it be the One, God Almighty or some other expression of Him. You can be RELIGIOUS, meaning you follow traditions of a church or denomination one or two days a week and live like the devil the rest of the time, but you are a “Christian!” You are being taught that God’s Grace excuses and justifies your sins and unrighteousness because you are forgiven and don’t need too, as the Apostle Paul describes it, STRIVE to be worthy, holy or pure. Yet, you are STILL a “Christian,” never learning the true meaning of Grace or understanding God’s justness because you repeated some Bible words and made a confession, forgetting that along with that comes a complete change of heart AND spirit, a demonstration of a changed life!
You haven’t been taught and so accept the fact that striving to be worthy, holy and pure doesn’t save you, but rather because you are “born-again” these would be attributes you WOULD practice attaining because you have been spiritually renewed! You are being taught a “Gospel” of convenience because discussing sin is so unpleasant and yet so necessary if we are to be able to teach on Hope, Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, Agape Love and so many other characteristics and Fruit of the Spirit we LOVE to hear about. Without the knowledge of sin, there is no reason for these other things, so many settle to hear the good, the sweet and ignore the reason why they are so precious!
We have been taught for so long that to teach or preach about sin and the consequences of sin is to make people sin-conscious which is such a bad thing. Just like the world system’s concepts of what is and isn’t “politically correct,” the mainstream churches have adopted their own PC topics and principles, all leading to a dry, apathetic powerless, religious organization that the Apostle Paul was inspired to address to his protégé Timothy, a very prophetic word indeed:
2 Timothy 3:
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2-5 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6-7 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8-9 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
I’ve said all this to make a point that the Apostle John makes in verse 6, where he is contrasting a TRUE believer, with one who is a believer pretty much in name only! It can definitely be stated that one who CONTINUES to PRACTICE sinning, without remorse or repentance is NOT a true follower of Christ for as the Apostle states, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” Notice also the Apostle Paul in verse 8-9 of his remarks to Timothy, he states that “those who are not true, will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest or made known to all!” Those who are NOT true will be KNOWN to true believers for the Lord, through the power and guidance of His Holy Spirit will not allow true Christians to be blind to the truth! Discernment is a gift that is given to protect the individual members and the Body of Christ as a whole, the TRUE Body of Christ, not some man-made organization used to harness and garner power and say over a congregation willing to abandon their God-given rights to walk IN the Holy Spirit and ABIDE in Christ Jesus!
Now understand something very important; do NOT twist my words or my context. I am NOT opposed to church or churches that allow the Holy Spirit to lead them and where Christ Jesus is the Head and those called into leadership follow that guideline. Christ Jesus IS the Great Shepherd, make no doubt and all we who have been called are underlings or under-shepherds with a grave responsibility to nurture, feed and care for HIS flock! If my words are echoes of the Great Shepherd, the sheep will hear me and if not, they WILL scatter and I WILL be responsible to the Master for the harm done! So it is with any church leader who is truly attempting to follow after Christ Jesus empowered and led by the Holy Spirit!
John finishes by making a statement that is or at the least should be an individual warning to each believer; “Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”
This is a continuation of his thought where he is contrasting the true believer with the one in name only; but he goes on a step further and here he IS talking about those who continually sin even after they say they have been born-again, or saved. There is an indication, there is something we can see, something we can use to determine truth from falsehood with the gift of discernment; if a person continues a lifestyle, continues to practice sinning, then they have never truly KNOWN Christ Jesus. They have never truly seen Him or understand His character and WHO He is. They have no intimate knowledge of Him and Who He is. Yes, they may have an educational knowledge or even an historical knowledge, but that is only knowing ABOUT Him as I would know about my grocer, of the schools my kids went too etc.
To truly KNOW Christ Jesus means to have communion with Him and you can only commune with Him if He abides in you and you abide in Him. You then have and develop an intimate knowledge of Him and you try to hide nothing of yourself from Him. It is much more than just a friendship that the disciples and followers had, because there is a oneness that develops in the spirit because of His and your abiding with one another! It is the difference of only BELIEVING in Him and actually KNOWING Him! Think about that difference!
I know it sounds like a cliché, but there is powerful truth in the statement that “to know Him is to love Him!” When you are abiding in one another there is a security, a peace and a power that is beyond comprehension. There is an intimacy beyond anything that can be naturally perceived. When you develop a love for Someone like that, the last thing you want to do is to offend or hurt them. This is what the Beloved Apostle is stating! When we truly are His and belong to Him, we no longer desire to do our own will, to do our own “thing” as it were and will do whatever to avoid hurting and offending Him. Those who do NOT have that abiding and intimate presence, may TRY and “be good,” but without that deep-seated Love and abiding presence motivating you, you are doomed to fail.
So remember, John is definitely bringing encouragement to those who CHOOSE to abide and then those who practice purifying themselves by rejecting unrighteousness and selfishness. Remember what we have discussed before, in the earlier chapters, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 2:1b. He is ever interceding for us and because we can abide in Him and He does abide in us, we have something so much better than mere conscience; we have someone Who loves us more than we can ever imagine fighting for us to be holy as He is holy and to be pure as He is pure!