John’s love for the saints leads him to get even more personal in his letter today. Knowing we are God’s children, that we’ve been lavished with his great love, should motivate us toward purity. John knows from experience, though, that it can be an uphill battle if we lose focus. He begins to lay it out with these verses in chapter three today:
Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed so that he might take away sins, and there is no sin in him. Everyone who remains in him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen him or known him.1 John 3:4-6 CSB
John has already warned the believers about the antichrists, those who were not really a part of the Body of Christ because they did not remain in the Body. Yet, here he reminds them that anyone—believers included—is practicing lawlessness when they sin. What did Jesus tell his followers about the law? It can be summed up in two short sentences: Love God, love your neighbor.
Sin, no matter the act or word, takes action against these two principles. When I put something before my devotion to God, I’ve broken the first law. When I speak against my neighbor or do harm to him, I break the second.
Sin is saying no to God’s way for us.
That’s why it’s so important, as John points out, for us to remain in him. This letter could easily be made parallel to Jesus’s words in the fifteenth chapter of John’s gospel.
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.John 15:5-6
When we remain in Christ, focus on him, and draw strength and wisdom from him through his Word and Spirit, we can easily live by the Law Jesus summed up by those two commandments. When we pull away from Christ, seek to live by our own desires, and allow sin to have its sway, we wither on the vine and suffer the consequences.
Are you a child of God through faith in Christ? Live in that love by remaining in him. Let the Law of Love guide your words and deeds today and every day, to his glory.
Grace and Peace