We Do Not Sin (?)

September 30, 2008

John makes a strong statement in 1 John 3:5-6 – “But you know that [Jesus Christ] appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”

We all agree that it is wrong for a follower of Christ to also be a follower of sin, but this statement is severe. Has it ever caused you to crumble, or to question your faith? That’s not entirely bad. It is good for us to take a sober account of our hearts and ask hard questions. And yet, we sin. We fail, and we look to God’s grace to lift us up again. John affirms this when he says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1:8)” and “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (2:1)” So how does he claim “we do not sin” in the next chapter?

Bill Mounce posted a good discussion of this text, and a thoughtful look at how Bible translation works. He concludes:

…sometimes a goal can be stated absolutely as a means of encouragement. A coach may tell his beleaguered team, “We do not lose!” A mother may discipline her daughter, “Good girls do not do that.” Really? A team never loses? Good girls never fail? Of course not. Sometimes the goal stated in absolute terms becomes the motivation for achieving that goal, no matter how imperfectly.

John was writing to people who believed it was okay for followers of Jesus to live in ongoing sin. As their apostle, their coach, their spiritual parent, John takes a deep breath and proclaims for all sinners to hear: “We do not sin.” “It is not in our character to walk in darkness.” “We have been made better than that by Christ.”

Praise God for Jesus Christ, the one who redeems us from our sin and who oversees our sanctification by His grace and empowers it by His Spirit! We do not sin – Jesus is better than that!

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