Sin Does Matter
SIN DOES MATTER
1 John 3:4-10
I want you to notice vs. 7 again. John says, “Little children, let no one deceive you…”
- If you are like me you don’t like to be deceived or lied to…and that is especially true when it comes to spiritual matters and our eternal salvation.
- And John doesn’t want us to be lied to either.
- So, he writes the 6 verses that were read.
So, what is the deception; what is the lie?
Well, we must remember John’s purpose for writing this letter.
- John is writing to refute the teachings and influence of the Gnostics…individuals who believed they had special knowledge…and what they did is, as the “gospel of Christ”, spread throughout the different regions, the Gnostics synchronized their pagan beliefs and practices with the teaching of Christ and the apostles so they could continue to practice their ungodly practices.
The specific Gnostic teaching that John deals with here in this passage is the teaching that said, “Sin doesn’t matter.”
- The Libertines especially said that “The body and the spirit were completely separate and unrelated and therefore the body could do anything it wanted with no affect on the spirit.”
- So basically they said, “Eat, drink, and be merry because what you do in this fleshly body has no bearing on what happens to the spirit after you die.”
- You can live a sinful, rebellious, immoral life…and still have fellowship with God…and still go to heaven.
In other words you can be a fornicator, an idolater, an adulterer, effeminate, a homosexual, 10 a thief, covetous, a drunkard, a reviler, a swindler, be filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; one who gossips, 30 slanders, hates God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventor of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and still go to heaven.
The Gnostics said that “sin doesn’t matter” and that deception or lie is extremely prevalent today. And that is the lie that John refutes in this passage. Look starting in verse 4:
4 Everyone (There are not exceptions. People often want to exclude themselves or certain individuals from this teaching but John doesn’t exclude anyone.)
Everyone who practices sin…
- This is present tense…an on going practice.
- This isn’t talking about the Christian who is trying to walk in the light and stumbles.
- This is talking about “practice”…and everyone knows what it means to practice…if you have piano or baseball practice you do it over and over again…it speaks of repetition.
- This is talking about the individual who claims to be in fellowship with God and yet continues to live a life of sins.
And John says, “Everyone who does that, who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”
- “Lawlessness” is the refusal to be governed by law…
- And John says, “That is what sin is…sin is lawlessness…it is a refusal to be governed by God’s law.
- And John’s point is, if you refuse to be governed by God’s law and commands, there is not fellowship with God!
- Sin does matter!
Now verse 5: And you know that He (Jesus) appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
- If “sin doesn’t matter” why did Jesus “appear to take away sins?”
And notice the end of the verse where it says, “…and in Him there is no sin.”
- This verse is not saying that Jesus “had no sin”…that is true but that is not what John is saying here.
- See the word “IN”…that word is locative voice in the Greek…it speaks of location…the arena…and what John is saying is, “Those who are IN Him do not practice sin; they do not practice lawlessness.”
These Gnostics were saying, “Sin doesn’t matter. We practice sin and we have fellowship with God.”
- John says, “No you don’t!”
- An individual can claim fellowship all they want but as long as live a life of sin, as long as they practice lawlessness and refuse to obey God’s commands, they are still separated from God.
Now look at verse 6: No one (again, no exceptions) who abides(present tense – acts in accordance, obeys) in Him sins (present tense – practice.)
- You cannot have a “present practice of sin” and have a present abiding relationship with Jesus!
- “No one!”
And look at what John says next: …no one who sins(present tense…on going action) has seen Him or knows Him.
- People can claim they have fellowship with God.
- Preachers can even preach them into heaven.
- But the truth is, if a person “practices sin”…has an on going practice of lawlessness…there is no fellowship with God!
Vs. 7: Little children(these are new Christians…the most vulnerable to the Gnostic teachings), let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
- Christians are going to practice the same thing Christ practiced.
- And John says, “Let no one deceive you”…don’t let anyone drive you away from this conviction!
Vs. 7 “The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is”; how righteous is God?
- 100% pure and clean.
- We are not pure and perfect and never will be.
- But if we make righteousness our aim…then God imputes righteousness to us. .
- Our practice is not perfect but our status is.
- Some times we do not feel righteous…let your knowledge over ride your feelings.
8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
- Do you see who the man who practices sin has fellowship with?
- These Gnostics were telling these Christians that you could live a life of sin and still have fellowship with God. No you can’t!
- If you could…why did Christ come?
- Your practice identifies your fellowship.
9 No one who “is” (punctiliar present active) born of God (born in the past and stays born) practices sin,
- If you have a present standing birth in Christ there is one thing that is certain…you do not have a present standing practice of sin.
- You cannot have a “new birth” and practice sin.
- Anyone who has a “new birth” and starts practicing sin now belongs to Satan.
- If you have a “presently born again status with God” it is because you do not have a standing practice of sin.
Vs. 9…because His seed (Greek word “sperma”…used in Mk. 4:14 where Jesus taught the parable of the soils and referred to the “seed” as being the “Word.”)
…abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
- If God’s “seed” or word abides in you, you do not practice sin.
- And notice where John says, “He cannot sin”…He cannot practice sin because when you do the word that abides in you says, “Stop it!”
- If the word abides in you…if you are born of God…you cannot practice sin.
10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
These Gnostics said that “sin makes no difference.”
- They said that you could practice a life of sin and still have fellowship with God.
- John says, “No, you can’t.”
- It makes no difference who you are, if you are a Gnostic or if you call yourself a Christian…or if you are a Christian who has gone back to practicing sin…if you practice sin…there is no fellowship with God.
- Christianity requires a sanctified life.
But regardless of what John says here…people still believe today what these Gnostics taught…and sadly…many preachers teach this same thing.
- Listen some time when you go to a funeral.
- Preachers, and it is not only preachers, it is common for people to do this, they don’t want to hurt the family…don’t want to cause them to grieve…so instead of telling them the truth in a loving way…they tell the family that their family member who has died is in the “arms of God…or He is in heaven.”
In those situations I am saying that we shouldn’t be caring and sensitive.
- But at the same time we must be careful about giving people the idea that they can live a sinful life and still be in fellowship with God.
If sin doesn’t matter, then there is no need to evangelize.
If sin doesn’t matter, then there is no need for Christ.
If sin doesn’t matter, then there is no need to come to the assemblies.
If people would quit teaching the “man who practices sin” into heaven, do you think it would change or society?
- Do you think it would change some people?
The Gnostic teaching that John deals with here in these verses is very much alive today and sadly it is being spread by men who call themselves “Gospel Preachers.”
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023