Verse: 1 John 3:4-6 (ESV)
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
At first glance, this passage can feel like a condemnation, can’t it? A call to examine ourselves, and even question our salvation. But I would suggest that it is actually meant to be an encouragement. We know that John was writing to those who were already believers. And at the end of Chapter 2, he was specifically warning them (us) about false teachers, those who would suggest that followers of Christ were granted a license to sin as a result of the forgiveness they had received.
But John spends his letter constantly reminding believers what it means to be abiding in Christ: that we should walk in the way he did. Sandwiched between the talk of “lawlessness” and not having “seen him or known him”, John presents the Gospel in a single verse. Christ came; he came to take away our sin; he is able to take away our sin because he is sinless. What a beautiful and powerful message! But just as important, it’s not presented in this instance as an invitation, but as a reminder to the believer. “You know” these things, he says. Don’t be deceived by those who would lead you astray.
If you know Christ, the power of his righteousness is present in you, and it provides the strength you need to overcome temptation, to avoid sin, and to walk in the way Christ walked. If you don’t already know him, he wants to know you! You may think that your lawlessness is too much for him to overcome, or that you’ve been too sinful for too long to be redeemed. But as pastor and author Paul David Tripp has said, “The extent of the damage of sin is incalculable, but the restorative power of grace is immeasurable.” You’re never so far from God that he can’t reach you!
God, thank you for reminding us that to know Christ is to walk with him. Thank you for his perfect example of how to live, and for giving us the power and desire to follow that example. We know that we aren’t able to do it perfectly, so we also thank you for your forgiveness when we fail, and for how you have promised to always love us and never leave us, even in those failures. Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald