If you’ve been following this running commentary on 1 John, I’m sorry I was unable to post on Friday or Saturday. Friday I was out of town and could not get on a computer and Saturday we had a break-in at the church and my day was tied from early til late (and I choose not to post on Sunday). I thought, then, I would cover passages over the last few days since they all cover the same idea.
As I alluded to in the last post, freedom from habitual sin is possible through the Holy Spirit. What John goes on to say is that it is not only possible, it is imperative. In very strong terms, John equates habitual sin with spiritual anarchy…lawlessness. He points out that in Christ there is no sin and someone who continues in sin is not of Christ, but of the devil. Strong stuff.
It is important to differentiate unintentional sinning with habitual sinning because of our sin nature. We are prone towards sinning in our carnal or natural self (before Christ). Since we have been redeemed from our sin nature, there is freedom from the eternal consequences of sin, but our sin nature still exists as long as we are in this world. Thus, sinning is something we will always struggle with this side of Heaven. That is why Paul talks of a war within in Romans as we battle to overcome that sin nature through the power of the Holy Spirit.
If, however, there is no battle and I continue in the same sin over and over again (especially to the point where there is no conviction from it, which eventually happens), John argues that as evidence for a massive spiritual problem: the marks of a counterfeit disciple.
Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
We need to go back to 2 Corinthians 5:21 which states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Amazingly, in Christ, we actually become the righteousness of God. This means that righteousness is not just something that we do, it is who we are. If we are not living a righteous life (not talking about perfect, but Christ-centered; not merely adhering to a moral set of rules but heart-motivated lifestyle bent towards right and Truth), we are in serious need of submitting ourselves before the Father and asking Him to bring a spiritual over-haul and to rescue us from the penalty of spiritual anarchy.