1 John 3:5 In him is no sin.
An amazing thing about Jesus is that those who knew him best believed that he was sinless. John was closer to Jesus than anyone else (John 13:23), and could find no fault in him. Peter was also close to Jesus, and said, He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22).
Many leaders have an excellent public image, but their staff knows what they are really like. They fool some of the people most of the time, and most of the people some of the time, but it’s hard to fool those who are close. And yet, the closer people got to Jesus, the more perfect he seemed to them. He is the kind of Savior we need.
1 John 3:8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
Many sinners want to hear that God is forgiving, so they can sin without restraint. We like to sin; God likes to forgive; it’s a perfect match, they think. But if that is our attitude, we do not belong to Christ at all. We are of the devil.
Antinomianism teaches that we are saved by faith alone, so we can sin as much as we please. Legalism teaches that we are saved by faith plus obedience (Galatians 2:16). The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith in Christ alone (John 3:16), but that true faith makes us want to live for him.
Striding Edge is a trail in Britain that runs along a mountain ridge. The views are grand, but the trail is just a few feet wide, so hikers must be careful not to fall off either side. In our passion for obedience, we must be careful not add rules to the gospel. In our passion for freedom, we must be careful not ignore divine commands. We must avoid the opposing dangers of legalism and antinomianism. We are saved by faith in Christ alone, which makes us want to live for him.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other.
A little girl sat on her Father’s lap and told him how much she loved him. But when she gave him a hug, she looked over his shoulder and stuck out her tongue at her brother. That is normal family life, but according to the Bible, if we love God, we will also love our fellow believers. And if we prefer the company of unbelievers, we have not passed from death to life.
1 John 3:24 And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Even as an old man, John was mindful of the indwelling Spirit. When he got up in the morning, he sensed the Spirit within him. When he lay down at night, the Spirit was still with him. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16), wrote Paul. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9), wrote Paul again.
The indwelling Spirit provides a true awareness that we are God’s children. This will be stronger in some than others, and will vary throughout our lives, but the apostles spoke of the indwelling Spirit as the common experience of all believers. Christians throughout the ages have also spoke of the indwelling Spirit.
This experience cannot be manufactured, and it is not the same as feeling spiritual. The indwelling Spirit is the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and is unique to Christianity. It is a remarkable confirmation of the gospel that only believers can understand.
A little boy flew his kite so high that it disappeared behind a cloud. Someone asked how he knew it was still there, and he said, I can feel the pull. The upward pull of the Holy Spirit assures us that we belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Spirit enters into us the moment we believe, and remains throughout our lives. He is God himself, assuring us that we belong to God.
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
From eternity past the Father, Son and Spirit have lived in a relationship of pure and perfect love. This divine community is partially reflected in the basic human community of husband, wife and child. Families are never perfect, but a loving family reflects what it’s like to belong to God’s family.
A train accident left eleven people dead, and many others injured. As he lay dying, a man left a message to his wife and children saying how much he loved them. Since he did not have paper or pen, he wrote it in his blood. He probably said I love you many times before, but once he wrote it in blood, they could never forget it. God’s love should never be forgotten either because he wrote it in his own blood. This is how we know that God is love.
1 John 4:10 [God] loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Suppose you built the house of your dreams, and someone burned it down on purpose. Now suppose your dog was in the house and died. In order to be satisfied, you would want two things. First, you would want to be paid in full. Second, you would want the person who did it to suffer. That’s how it is with God.
Sin is more than a violation of God’s law. It is a violation of his person that makes him very angry. These are the problems Jesus solved on the cross for us. He paid for our sins with his life, and appeased God’s wrath by suffering. It would not have been enough for Jesus to die by stoning, stabbing or hanging. Those would have been too easy. He had to suffer on a cross for several hours before the wrath of God was satisfied. By paying for our sins with his life, and appeasing God’s wrath by suffering, Jesus became our atoning sacrifice.
Reflection and Review
If God is forgiving, why shouldn’t we sin?
How aware are you of the indwelling Spirit?
How do we know that God is love?