1 John 3:4 – 10
Free from sin
(Part one of the “free” series.)
Sin is the main problem of humanity. Sin causes us to act selfishly. It causes war and strife of all sorts. The Bibles tells us that we physically and spiritually die because of sin. Sin is the root problem of everything bad in this world. It is the core problem of our existence.
How do we get free from sin?
The short answer is we can never be clear and free from sin. However, as John Wesley observed, “sin remains but does not reign.”
The answer lies in an old idea called “renewing grace.”
A. This section of the Bible is about a very WRONG idea.
1. There were people who wanted to lead believers the wrong way. [v 7a]
a. John says they have “never seen” Christ [v 6c]
b. John on the other hand has seen Jesus Christ.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” [1 John 1:1]
2. The WRONG way was the idea that sin didn’t matter.
a. FALSE teaching: It was not possible to be free from sin.
b. FALSE teaching: Since it was not possible to be free from sin then it was ok to indulge at will.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” [Romans 6:1 – 2]
B. Modern reaction: another equally WRONG idea developed.
1. The disguise was a misunderstanding of “Christian Perfection.”
a. The Greek word that is commonly translated “perfect” in the KJV and other translations is “telios” which means, “complete, mature, fulfilling purpose and function.”
b. PROBLEM is when we think of the English word “perfect” we think “free from any flaw; faultless.” [Oxford]
2. “Home brewed theology” of “sinlessness” developed.
a. This is close to blasphemy because ONLY Jesus was without sin.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]
b. Here’s how the reasoning goes: Sin separates us from God. One sin breaks the relationship. Therefore, one sin revokes salvation.
3. What does the Bible say about this?
a. First, if you “fall from grace” or “lose your salvation” it is a one way trip. You can not be “re-saved.”
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” [Hebrews 10:26 – 27]
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,  if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” [Hebrews 6:4 – 6]
b. Second, if we are saved by “grace” (undeserved favor) through “faith” (response) then nothing we do can add to or subtract to that...
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” [1 John 1:8 – 10]
***** Nobody is flawless, but everyone can be mature. *****
II. How so?
A. Jesus had two purposes:
1. [v 5] “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.”
a. Jesus died in our place... Took the penalty we deserve...
1.) Sounds harsh? It is. Remember we where helpless and without hope.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:6 – 9]
2.) Our struggle is simple: admitting we are powerless sinners.
b. The good news is this:
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:22 – 24]
1.) Yes we have ALL sinned.
2.) But God has provided unearned righteousness and free justification through Christ Jesus... He’s bought us back from the slavery of sin!
2. [v 8b] “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”
a. Fact is that sin is the chain the devil uses to keep us from God and salvation.
b. Jesus provided a way for that chain to be broken.
B. “No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin” MSG]
1. Sin and loving Jesus are mutually exclusive. (Like being married but still dating other people.)
2. Living deeply in Christ, there is a continual “renewing grace” we receive that keeps sin from regaining its controlling interest in our lives.
III. Oh really?
A. We don’t like the idea of “exclusive.”
1. It works this way (using the image painted for us by John Wesley in “Christian Perfection”)
a. Love causes us to be loyal to someone or something. In this case God.
b. Knowledge gives us an honest assessment of what is required. We are no longer acting in ignorance.
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” [v 9]
2. Notice the continual sense of sin.
a. Sin is NOT the habit. Sin is NOT the inclination of the heart.
b. In other words, we do not sin “deliberately and by design.” Sin is not by deliberate plan or purpose. Sin is not “presumptuous.”
c. When we do sin, we can be restrained and recovered (see 1 John 1:9).
B. Here’s the real issue: “Where do you live?”
1. [v 6] “Abide” (KJV), “live in Him” (NIV) carries the idea of a constant condition of habitually doing God’s will. “Stay one in their hearts with Him” (CEV)
2. This connection with Jesus breaks the power of sin and prevents sin from reigning.
a. “He does not sin” vs “He is obedient.”
b. There is a principle of “renewing grace” at work.
1.) Renewing grace means we cannot continue to be dominated by sin.
2.) Renewing grace constant brings light that shows us our shadows.
3.) Renewing grace gives us a strong distaste for sin. We cannot stand it in our lives.
4.) Renewing grace gives us disposes us towards repentance and breaks us free from the controlling power of sin.
IV. How do you break free from sin?
A. Understand this first:
1. Your struggles and strengths are different than others.
2. It all comes down to “where you live.”
B. Here’s what you do.
1. You MUST be a child of God.
“In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” [John 3:3]
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17]
2. You MUST continually yield to God’s renewing grace.
“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” [Romans 6:10 – 12]
3. You MUST replace doing wrong with doing right.
“Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” [v 10b]
“He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” [v 7b]