1 John 3:4-6
He Appeared to Take Away Sins
In this short passage, we meet with both blessing and warning, and we must hear both. Yesterday, I spent much time explaining what the present tense in Greek means: continuous, ongoing action. Let us keep this in mind as we listen to the Spirit of God while reading these verses.
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness.” Herein is the essence of sin: lawlessness. Sin is the brazen declaration before God that we will have our own way rather than His—come what may. Sin is the setting aside of God’s word, will, and way for our own desire. We become a law unto ourselves—which is lawlessness.
John then adds, “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” So, the Apostle reminds us of the remedy for sin: Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death through his cross and resurrection. He has transferred believers from the realm of darkness into light and set us free from bondage to sin and death (Romans 8:2). This is all to say that the life of the Christian is to manifest this freedom from sin. Again, we weigh these words against Romans 7:7-25 where even Paul admits his weakness against sin. But there is sinning and then there is sinning. By “makes a practice of sinning,” John means the one who sins willfully, repeatedly, without remorse, without repentance, who makes excuses for his sin and justifies them as habitual or blames them on his childhood or other source of victimization. He claims he cannot help himself—which is to deny the Lord who saved him.
John has no patience with this, saying, “No one who keeps on sinning has either seen him of known him.” So, the grace is this: That though we sin, we have a Savior who appeared to take away our sins, who is our Advocate beside the Father interceding for us. But the warning is this: That willful, unrepentant, continuance in sin is a sign that one may be unregenerate (not saved). And we need to hear this warning. Christians are more often than not too easy on themselves; indeed, those who are hardest on themselves seem to me the most sincere of all. They will have none of the feel-good garbage of the false gospels of our day; they despise themselves, not for pity’s sake but for God’s sake. They hate their sin and the things of the world. They pray fervently, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” “I die every day,” Paul said (1 Corinthians 15:31). Arm yourselves with the same intention.