Thursday, July 23, 2009

7-24- I John 3:4-6- Struggle against sin

(As sun drives away darkness so the reign of Christ drives away sin)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/24- I John 3:4-6

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Calvin abridged: 3:4- “Everyone who sins breaks the law”- The Apostle has already shown how ungrateful we must be to God, if we take for granted the honor of our adoption. He is declaring that all who sin are wicked and transgressors of the law. There are always those who flatter themselves saying, “We are just human beings. It is no wonder that we sin; but there is a great different between sin and iniquity.” The Apostle destroys this line of thinking by saying that sin is breaking the law. His purpose is to produce hatred and horror against sin. The Apostle does not make all sins equal, by saying all who sin are guilty of iniquity; but he means to teach us that sin arises from contempt of God, and that by sinning God’s law is violated. “Sin” does not mean to offend in some instances; nor does it mean every fault or wrong a person may commit. But he calls sin when men run into evil wholeheartedly. The faithful are not deemed guilty of iniquity, for as sin does not reign in them John says they do not sin. The perverse life of those who indulge themselves in the liberty of sinning, is hateful to God and cannot be overlooked by him, because it is against his Law. The faithful, however, desire to obey God hate their own vices, and strive to live according to the law.
3:5 “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”
Here he shows how much sin and faith differ from each other. For it is the office of Christ to take away sins, and he was sent for this purpose by the Father. He who believes in Christ takes part in his virtue and is cleansed from their sins. Here John is saying that Christ really and actually takes away sins, because through him our old man is crucified, and his spirit (by repentance) mortifies the flesh and its lusts. “And in him is no sin”- this is not speaking of the person of Christ but of the body of Christ (the Church). Wherever Christ’s grace spreads there is no more room for sin. Christ by his Spirit does not perfectly renew us at once, or in an instant, but he continues our renovation throughout life. As far as the kingdom of Christ is in the believer, sin is abolished in them. They are said to be righteous and to live righteously, because they sincerely aspire to righteousness. The faithful are said not to sin because they do not consent to sin, but struggle and groan against it. The faithful are said to abide in Christ because we are by faith united to him and made one with him.
3:6- “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” As the sun drives away darkness, so the reign of Christ drives away sin. The knowledge of Christ transforms us into his image. By seeing or knowing he means simply having faith in him.

Calvin draws a distinction between the act of sinning and the willingness to sin, and also subtly whether we even try to restrain ourselves or simply indulge ourselves in sin (whether sin reigns over us or not). As believers we at least see that we need to struggle against sin, and not just give into our natural nature. The evidence of this struggle is that we do not “continue” to sin (TNIV- IN Greek- “sin and keep on sinning”). This passage also infers the power of Christ over the addictiveness of sin. The Spirit enables us to break the bonds of slavery to sin. In our day, people say (as Billy Joel) “You’re only human” and don’t take the consequences of sin seriously in this life or for the next one. Being a Christian means you can find forgiveness and face your sins head on, breaking the power of sin by God’s grace.

Prayer: Father, forgive us when we take your love for granted. Help us so that sin will fade in our lives, and your light will shine more and more.

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