4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:4-6
John again uses complete opposites to help teach us about the character of God. And in these verses 4-6, he specifically uses opposites to highlight what God isn’t. Verse 5 defines Jesus’ purpose in appearing as a man on earth—to take away sins. John adds to this that Jesus never sinned. This makes sense that the One who came to wipe out sin was so utterly against it that it had no hold on him. He was so utterly against sin that it was nonexistent in His own actions, though He was tempted just as we are.
And it is easy to remember that we are tempted every day. As Christians, we are surrounded by a world that provides easy access to rebellion against God and His ways. In fact, this is more accurately what “lawlessness” means in verse 4. When John explains that sin equals lawlessness, the background of this word does not have to do with disobeying the law of the Old Testament, but instead has to do with a rebellion against God, which is in essence the root of sin. Since the beginning, Satan chose to totally rebel against God and attempted to deceive humans to do the same.
However, John paints a clear picture that this particular kind of rebellion against God and knowing God is not a matter of degrees. It is not gray. One cannot rebel against God just a little. John stands firm on the fact that this is a black and white issue. The ideal Christian lifestyle that we will fully be able to live out in heaven is completely righteous. It is a life of fully knowing God without the slightest rebellion. It is a life that only those born of Jesus will be able to know. However, there are those who have seen the glory of God, and have fully denied His glory. These people have not truly seen or know God. These people have not accepted His grace but have chosen rebellion.
Question for reflection and discussion
Do you treat your sin as rebellion against God?
Dear God, help us remember that every sin is rebellion against you. Give us the grace to repent and obey you more fully every day. Amen.