WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXIX) 08/23/21

3:5 And you know that the Anointed One became a human so that He could take away our sins, and that there is no sin in Him, no missing of God’s will at any time in any way.

Because our predicament was so dangerous, an incredible rescue was required. We know this is why the Anointed One came to be a human: “His revelation was necessary so that He might take away sins.” Listen to John the Baptizer at the Jordan River, heralding to the top of his lungs, “Here is God’s Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world![1] By His bloody death on the cross, Jesus lifted, removed, and carried away our sins. The Son of God came to provide complete and everlasting forgiveness of sins to all who trust in Him.[2]

David Guzik (1961) explains what the Apostle John meant when he said that Jesus the Anointed One appeared on earth to carry away our sins. Jesus did this by having the penalty of our sin inflicted on Him. It immediately occurs when one comes by faith to Jesus for salvation. Jesus also accomplished this by neutralizing the power of sin. It is an ongoing work in the lives of those who follow Jesus. And Jesus achieved this by removing sin’s presence. It is a work to be completed when we pass into eternity and glorified with Jesus.[3]

David Legge (1969) says that to keep on sinning is not only a rejection of the Anointed One’s character, but the Apostle John tells us it is a denial of the Anointed One’s accomplishment on the cross. It is why the Anointed One came into the world, as John says here in verse five. John also states that the Anointed One came to take away our sins. Doesn’t the Scripture say that He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world?[4] So, the first time John the Baptizer lays eyes on Him, what does the Baptizer say? “Here He is, God’s Passover Lamb! He atones for all the world’s sins!”[5]

Now, I think it’s on a Friday, says Legge; we get our trash bins emptied, and you know what happens when the garbage truck comes by your house. In today’s terminology, the people who empty the garbage cans are “waste disposal technicians.” They gather up the rubbish, and then throw it into the back of the truck, and haul it off to the dump for you, and you never need to see it again. It’s terrific, they throw all your garbage into a crushing vehicle, and it disappears.

That is the sense here, notes Legge. The Anointed One lifted our sins out of the garbage bin of our lives and hauled them away forever. That is what the Lord Jesus did when He died on the cross and shed His precious blood. Here’s the wonderful thing: we don’t need to look for Him to return week after week to do the same thing. But better than that: when and where the Anointed One hauls off our moral trash, the devil can’t find it and carry it back.[6]

Douglas Sean O’Donnell (1972) says that several pastoral concerns arise from this text. Here we have a passage that has no precise, straightforward momentum and repeats its point in at least seven verses that sound similar. For the Apostle John, this is a “big idea.” The word “manifested” is vital to our text. John uses it five times, and four of those usages describe the two appearances of the Anointed One. The first appearance was the incarnation when the preexistent sinless Son of God “appeared [in order] to take away sins[7] That perspective – the self-disclosure of God in His Son to deal with humanities’ sin – stretches from the preexistence of the Anointed One reinforced by the verb “appeared” or “manifested,” which implies preexistence. The second appearance showed, His being from eternity is supported by the title “Son of God,” used for the first time in verse three,[8]  along with the phrase “in Him, there is no sin.[9] Thus, the Anointed One is“the Righteous One,”[10]the Pure One,[11] and “the Sinless One.”[12] [13]

3:6 So, anyone who lives in union with the Anointed One does not go on sinning. Anyone who continues sinning has never really understood who the Anointed One is and has never gotten to know Him personally.

EXPOSITION

This teaching did not come out of the Apostle John’s thinking but contained in the lectures he heard from Jesus the Messiah. The only way a Christian can be like Jesus is when Jesus’ Spirit lives within them. That way, it isn’t the believer’s responsibilty to go looking for the right thing to do, but the Anointed One accomplishes it through them because He is in charge of their heart, body, soul, mind, and spirit.[14]

So, it makes sense that whoever is still living in sin has never met the Anointed One and gotten to know Him on a personal basis, says John. That certainly harmonizes with what the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: there is no longer a veil over their eyes.[15] As His followers, our faces became mirrors that reflect the glory of the Lord to the world around us. We did not do this by our strength or means, but the Spirit of the Lord dwelling within us makes this happen as we become more and more like Him.[16] In fact, the more we become like Him, the brighter His glory is displayed in our faces. If God could light up the world by saying, “Let there be Light,” He can light up our lives by asking us through His Spirit to “Receive the Light,” who is His Son, the Anointed One.[17]

Now, as long as we stay in an unbreakable union with the Anointed One, our sinful tendencies will not have the power that persuades us to sin. However, if we sin, we no longer are protected by His love. Or it may mean that whoever remains in union with the Anointed One cannot deliberately and habitually sin. But then, would not John have written, “Those who abide in the Anointed One stays free from?” So, in what sense is it true that everyone that sins has not become acquainted with the Anointed One? Here are two explanations that offer us help.

(1) The Greek perfect tense expresses the present and permanent result of past action and is often equivalent to present tense. No doubt all would be easy if we had only to deal with the Greek verb, ginōskō, which means “he has known,” equivalent to “he knows.” The Apostle John simply means that whoever sins ceases to commune and know the Anointed One.

(2) Mankind’s sinning proves that their perception and knowledge have been imperfect, if not superficial, or even imaginary, just as Christians forsaking the Church proves that they never were sincere members.[18] This explanation is preferable. In verse two, we read that seeing God causes us to be more like God; similarly, seeing and knowing the Anointed One makes us look more like Jesus. Whoever is unlike the Anointed One, to that extent, has not seen nor come to know Him. For the best of us, it may be, we’ve only glimpsed the hem of His garment.[19]

Verse six says that a faithful Christian “does not sin.”  Verse nine says that they “cannot sin.”  However, in previous statements, the Apostle John says that Christians “do sin.”[20] These contrasting statements are challenging to resolve no matter what doctrinal position one holds. Verses six and eight seem to contradict each other. Some people believe that the phrase “does not sin” refers to sin as a habit.  The Greek present tense does not support this interpretation without backing from other words that may convey that meaning.  John’s point is simply that sin and God are incompatible.  The believer who “abides in Him” is a Christian in fellowship or filled with the Spirit. The phrases “whoever commits sin” and “whoever abides in Him” are in sharp contrast. Nevertheless, there is a clear difference between these opposites. Some are morally indifferent, and those who recognize the impact of sin on their fellowship with the Lord. So, the basic principle here is, the believer cannot sin while under the Holy Spirit’s control.

How, then, do we apply this to our everyday Christian living? As long as the Holy Spirit controls us, we cannot sin.  The only way we can sin is to grab the reigns of our lives away from the Holy Spirit. We chose to go independent from God somewhere along the line because relying on the Holy Spirit is codependency on God.


[1] John 1:29

[2] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., Kindle Edition.

[3] Guzik, David – Enduring Word, op. cit., p. 52

[4] 1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8

[5] John 1:29

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

[7] 1 John 1:5

[8] Ibid. 3:8 then in 4:15; 5:5, 10, 12, 13, 20

[9] Ibid. 3:5

[10] Ibid. 2:29

[11] Ibid. 3:3

[12] Ibid. 3:5

[13] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean, 1–3 John (Reformed Expository Commentaries), op. cit. Kindle Edition.

[14] John 15:4-7

[15] Isaiah 44:18; 2 Corinthians 3:14

[16] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[17] Ibid. 4:6

[18] 1 John 2:19

[19] Matthew 9:21

[20]See 1 John 1:6, 8, 10; 2:1, 2

About drbob76

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