Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sin is Lawlessness

Following on from yesterday's post we turn to 1 John 3:4 - and the surrounding verses - but verse 4 in particular. "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness." (NIV translation) The passage in general is not so much an encouragement not to sin but rather an explanation that Christians (children of God) do not sin. In verse 10 John goes on to say "Anyone who does not do right is not a child of God". Gulp.
But of particular interest is John's moving away from the idea of sin as 'transgression' or breaking the law, to one of 'lawlessness'. Sin is saying that there is no law, there is no right and wrong, it doesn't matter what you do. Along with the man of lawlessness from Thessalonians, sin is saying 'it doesn't matter'.
But in John's words it is as if God is saying, "I'm not too hung up on the details - but believe me, there is a right way and a wrong way and I'd like you to be looking for it and to be obedient to it."


Simon said...

You know that is exactly right and it probably has more to do with our inherent depravity than we realize. I realized this not only theologically but in experience. we do sinful thing because we are sinners. Not I am told that makes me a calvinist. Maybe so, but I believe the great John Wesley had the same sentiments.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Armnians (though not all of them/us) also believe in original sin and I guess thus total depravity. Yes, any sense of law takes away the ability to live for 'me first' which I think is the essential sinful desire.

Steven Jones said...

It's always struck me as a parent that I never had to teach my son how to be naughty - the struggle has always been to teach him how to be good! Difficult when the parent is facing the same struggles in his own life!

I suppose that this is the evidence of "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" in one of its most basic senses. Yet at the same time, even though both James and his parents blow it from time to time, we do sincerely desire to become more Christ-like as we grow in faith.

I guess therefore that my understanding of what you are saying about 1 John 3 is that John is not talking about the "honest mistake" or the times when the otherwise sincere and subsequently repentant Christian takes their eyes of Jesus at times, but a wilful, ongoing sense and belief that sin doesn't exist and that one's actions are of no consequence, and that whatever one does "doesn't matter".

I sometimes wonder if that is in fact the "unpardonable sin" that Jesus mentions in Mark 3: 28-29 and elsewhere? When the convicting actions of the Holy Spirit become so suppressed that one no longer acknowledges them?

More questions than answers, I know - that is the ongoing journey!

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Steven, yes I think that is what I am saying. Interesting thought about the unpardonable sin . . that would need some more unpacking. Yes, I need to think more about the convicting actions of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for that.