The Righteous Practice
John now presents a very important concept. First, to sin is to break God's
Law. The law encompasses at least all of the five books of Moses. But John
is probably referring to Christ's summary of the Law: love God, and love
one another. The punishment for violating the law is death.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Followers of Christ have no reason to fear God's judgment. Christ came to
take away sin.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming
a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree"
We know that Christ is without sin. John says that no one who lives in Christ
continues to sin. In fact, the presence of sin proves there is relationship
with God. Does John mean then that Christians never sin? Remember what John
said back in chapter 2:1.
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will
not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in
our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice
for our sins, ... ."
Since obviously John says Christians do sin, what does he mean by saying
we don't? Paul explains it he wrote in the book of Romans. The unrighteous
are slaves to sin.
"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone
to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you
are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to
righteousness?" (Romans 6:16).
While in specific situations they may not sin, their lives are typified by
sinful behavior. Paul continues,
"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves
to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were
entrusted" (Romans 6:17).
The believer may sin, but his life is no longer typified by sin. We can choose
not to sin. We will sin, but we are not slaves to sin, so for us sinning
is a choice. For the unrighteous, sinning is not a choice. John refers to
this distinction, when he says we no longer sin.
John also uses this argument to show the fallacy of the claim that how one
lives doesn't matter. Believers are to walk righteously before the Lord,
enjoy the blessings of God, and choose obedience to Him.