WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXIII) 08/12/21

3:4 But those who keep on sinning are against God, for every sin is contrary to God’s will.

Every sin involves two issues: the will and the act. Confession of wrongdoing involves two subjects as well: identification and repentance. Identification is the process of knowing what misdeed violated the will of God. Repentance is the attitude that wants to do God’s instructions. A Christian in name only remains in a state of lawlessness until they acknowledge their offense. That means they are outside the “law of the Spirit of life in the Anointed One, Jesus” that freed them from the law of Moses. They are beyond the boundaries of the spiritual law.[1]  Sins such as jealousy, hatred, bitterness, and envy bar them from fellowship. As long as these sins remain unconfessed, they are in a state of lawlessness. The Holy Spirit no longer controls their life.

Imagine a backslidden follower of the Anointed One who removed themselves from the law of spirituality by their loose living. In that case, they can do nothing to get it back except throw themselves beneath the Cross and beg forgiveness. They did something to put out the fire in their spirit, but they can do nothing to get it burning again. It does not help the situation agonizing alone in grief, do good works as a way of repenting, or become overemotional to get it back. That violates the provision of God’s grace in the Anointed One and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Spirituality and immorality are mutually exclusive, just as light and darkness. Darkness is entirely incompatible with God’s light. There is no such thing as being partially spiritual because of the absoluteness of God’s character. Committing one sin is a revolt against the God of Light, in whom there is no darkness whatever.[2]

We must be willing to acknowledge what the Apostle Paul confessed: The moment I decide to do good, my sinful tendencies are there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty apparent that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me secretly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything, and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus the Anointed One can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but when pulled by the influence of sin, I do something entirely different.[3]

Instead, Paul clarifies for us in Galatians that the law of God was a schoolteacher to bring us to the Anointed One. God’s law was to instruct us, but only the Anointed One could save us, and so the law teaches us that we need a Savior and points us to the Anointed One. Now, if the law could save us in and of itself, keeping the Dos and Don’ts of the Final Covenant, why would it need to direct us to the Anointed One? It has to point us to the Anointed One because He is the only answer. God gave the law to show us our inherent sinfulness, to demonstrate to us that we couldn’t keep it, to illustrate how far short we fall from the glory of God, and to make us feel our need for a Savior. It’s like a magnifying glass that shows us more clearly our sinfulness.[4]

Matthew saw this from another view. He said that when the Angel spoke to Mary, he told her this son she was going to give birth to “should be named Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because He will save His people from their sins.”[5] So, it makes sense that only a person without sin can save another who is dying in sin.

And the Apostle Paul saw a parallel between what John the Apostle says here and the Anointed One’s relation to the Church. He wrote, “Husbands, love your wives the same as the Anointed One loved the Church and gave His life for it. The Holy One died to make the Church holy. He used the Good News to make the Church clean. Furthermore, He died to give the Church to Himself like a bride in all her beauty. Finally, He died so that the Church could be holy and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other thing wrong in it.”[6]

So, it was important for the Church always to seek forgiveness of any sin that might stain its holy garments. But, the writer of Hebrews laments that it would then be necessary for Him to die again and again. No! He came once and for all to cancel the power of sin forever by sacrificing Himself on our behalf.[7]

Even the confessing thief on the cross beside Jesus told the other one, “We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”[8] And when the captain of the Roman military unit handling the executions saw what had happened, he too was stricken with awe before God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”[9]

We must remember that earlier during Jesus’ ministry; He challenged His critics to prove that He was guilty of sin. “If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe me, He asked them?”[10] That’s why Jesus could tell His disciples, “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, for the evil prince of this world approaches. But he has no power over me.”[11] The devil only influences those whose sinful tendencies are active and uncontrolled.

It gave the Apostle Paul all the evidence he needed to tell the Corinthians, “God took the sinless Anointed One and poured into Himself our sins. Then, in exchange, the Anointed One poured God’s goodness into us!”[12]

Some may think that Jesus was popular in Galilee. But when we read the record, we find out that not even His older brothers did not accept Him as anything else but a visionary with big ideas.[13] And none of the disciples would have met and followed Him had He not called them. Even His second cousin, John the Baptizer, confessed that he didn’t know his cousin was the Messiah.[14]

The author of Hebrews puts it this way: “Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When He lived on earth, He was tempted in every way. He was tried in the same ways we are tempted, but He never sinned once.[15] The Apostle Peter emphasized this point in his first letter.[16] He died once for the sins of all us guilty sinners, although He was innocent of any sin at any time, that He might bring us safely home to God. But though His body died, His spirit lives on in us.[17]

So, Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. The Anointed One is holy, has no sin in Him. He is pure and not influenced by sinful temptations. And He is exalted in the heavens.[18] The writer then follows this up with these words, “So, the Anointed One was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And He will come a second time, but not to offer Himself for sin. He will come the second time to complete salvation for those who are waiting for Him.”[19]

Therefore, when the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he let him know that it may take some time before he would be able to come see him; yet he still trusted Timothy to know those in leadership should conduct themselves in the house of God. And even though it is true that the correct way to live a godly life is not an easy matter, all they have to do is look to the Anointed One to find the most outstanding example.[20] So, it is not a question of “What would Jesus have done,” but “Do what Jesus did.” And our Lord’s life was not accidentally holy; it was planned before the world was formed.[21] Otherwise, there would have been no reason for Him to come to take away our tendency to sin.

And even that was not easy. The prophet Isaiah made that clear when he described the pain and passion our Lord would endure just to die on the cross in our place.[22] But, as the prophet Hosea stated, it made it possible for any believer dealing with these sinful tendencies to come to the Lord and ask Him to take their desire to sin away. And don’t be worried; God will not greet you with an angry frown, but with grace and mercy. That will certainly give every believer a reason to praise Him.[23]


[1] Romans 8:2-4

[2] 1 John 1:5; See Psalm 119:34-35, 77

[3] Romans 7:22-25

[4] Legge, David, Preach the Word, 1,2,3 John, op. cit., Part 9

[5] Matthew 1:21 – The Complete Jewish Bible

[6] Ephesians 5:25-27

[7] Hebrews 9:26

[8] Luke 23:41

[9] Ibid. 23:47

[10] John 8:46

[11] Ibid. 14:30

[12] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[13] Ibid. 7:5

[14] Ibid. 1:31

[15] Hebrews 4:15 – Easy to read Version

[16] 1 Peter 2:22

[17] Ibid. 3:18

[18] Hebrews 7:26

[19] Ibid. 9:28

[20] 1 Timothy 3:15-16

[21] 1 Peter 1:20

[22] Isaiah 53:4-12

[23] Hosea 14:2

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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