Summary: Those who are in Christ are aware of the dangers and consequences of sin, and yet most today are unwilling to confront it. While we must work with compassion, we also have an obligation to address sin and deal with it in our lives.
Seeing Sin for What it Is
1 John 3: 4-10
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman used to tell of a Methodist preacher who often spoke on the subject of sin. He minced no words, but defined sin as “that abominable thing that God hates.” A leader in his congregation came to him on one occasion and urged him to cease using the ugly word. “Pastor,” he said, “We wish you would not speak so plainly about sin. Our young people, hearing you, will be more likely to indulge in sin. Call it something else, a “inhibition,” or “error” or a “mistake,” or even “a twist in our nature.”
“I understand what you mean,” the preacher remarked and going to his desk brought out a little bottle. “This bottle,” he said, “contains strychnine. You will see that the red label here reads “Poison.” Would you suggest that I change the label, and paste one on that says, “Wintergreen?” He made his point. You can call sin by other names, but none-the-less, it is still sin (i).
We would never think of letting our children play with poison or explosives, and yet many do not want preachers to deal with sin. Amidst our day of tolerance, there is little tolerance for those who treat sin from a biblical perspective. It is dangerous, destructive, and bears eternal consequence left to itself. We need to see sin exactly as it is!
John was not passive in dealing with sin. He boldly proclaims truth concerning sin. I want to examine these truths as we consider: Seeing Sin for What it Is.
I. The Tendency to Sin (4, 6b) – This passage clearly reveals the tendency we all have to sin. Being born into this life, inheriting the adamic nature, we all possess the tendency to sin. Notice:
A. The Significance of Sin (4) – Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. Our society has developed an “anything goes” mentality. “You only live once, so you might as well enjoy it.” “Everyone else is doing it, so what will it hurt.” Few see the significance of sin and the dangers associated with it. John declares that sin is a transgression of God’s law. It is utter rebellion against the holiness and expectations of God.
Sin is enmity with God. Those who dwell in sin have no fellowship with God. Those who remain in sin, never being pardoned of sin through the atonement of Christ, have no part or relationship with God. As believers we are not bound by the law. It is not the means of our salvation, but we cannot discredit the holy standard of God. One cannot embrace sin and be pleasing unto the Lord. Clearly sin bears great significance. It cannot be ignored.
B. The Consequence of Sin (6b) – whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. On the surface this verse seems hard to be received. Who among us lives above sin? Who among us can honestly say they commit no sin? We must understand the context in which John speaks. This has the idea of “continuing in sin; to go on sinning and sinning.” John speaks of those who live in sin, never having been born again in Christ. Those whose lives are dominated by sin, marked by a continual desire to please the flesh, have not encountered the Lord, nor are they known of Him.
That certainly blows a large hole in the argument of: “what can a little sin hurt?” Many see no real consequence of their sin, especially while they are young. They feel as if they are entitled to live a little and indulge themselves. Continuing in sin, with no desire for reconciliation to God through sanctification in Christ, confirms one is apart and separated from the Lord in their sin. 2 Cor.4:6 – For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
II. The Tragedy of Sin (8a, 10) – John also reveals the great tragedy of sin within the lives of mankind. Consider:
A. The Reality (8a) – He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. I assure you, those who demand tolerance do not like this truth, but that does not negate its relevance. Sin originates with the devil, and those who continually commit sin without any remorse or sense the need for repentance, are of the devil. The truth is we are either children of God or children of the devil. There is no middle ground. We are either saved and acceptable to God through Christ, or we remain in our sin, associated with Satan and his desires.