1 John 3:4-10
In our journey through the three epistles of John we have come to a place where the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (cf. John 20:2; 21:7, 20) provides us with a short theological essay on the subject of sin. (I mention this because some see love and sin as incongruent). Very briefly it runs as follows:
6. Christ came to destroy the work of the devil.
7. If you are a child of God you will do what is right (10)
8. If you are a child of the devil you won’t love your family (10)
What I notice in this list is that everything seems to hinge on action: if you break the law, if you continue to sin, if you do what is right, if you decide not to love brother and sister, etc. While you do nothing meritorious to become a believer, once you are, what you do on a continuing basis demonstrates your allegiance. It declares who you are.
This is important for at least two reasons: One is that in the Christian faith, belief is not simply an intellectual activity. Followers of the One who bore the humiliation and pain of crucifixion for our eternal welfare should certainly understand that faith in Christ calls for infinitely more than the intellectual assent. It is a call for action. We take up arms against sin in all its forms. We simply will not condone evil in any of its forms. Sin is our mortal enemy and as John wrote, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (v. 9). No way!
Sin is a serious problem. It is living a life diametrically opposed to the will of God. Faithfulness to that covenant relationship is a necessity not an option. We recognize that as sinners by birth we will sin, but what about living in sin after we have returned from our long journey into the far off land? We remind our selves that the Christian life is not simply a lot of rules that we have to follow. What are designated “laws” are not restrictions, but precautions about conduct that should we decide to do anyway will bring us significant hardship and sorrow. The warning of a bridge just around the corner that’s been destroyed, is not a restriction but an act of grace. Whether we speed on is our decision. True Christians pay attention to life’s warning signs.