WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXXII) 08/26/21

3:6 So if we stay close to Him, obedient to Him, we won’t be sinning either; but as for those who keep on sinning, they should realize this: They sin because they have never really met Him or become His.

Ernst Dryander (1843-1922) remarks that the Apostle John expresses the terrible nature of sin from three distinct points of view. He says, first of all: “Whoever sins breaks the law.” It means “lawlessness.” They are rebels against God’s holy command. The person that sins sever all connection with the living, holy God. There is no reason to stop now to consider the question of what sin is; we all have the unmistakable testimony of our conscience whether this is pure or impure, whether that is right and godly, or evil and corrupt. But the real questions are, “Do we recognize sins as wickedness? Do we regard wicked thoughts or the heart’s hidden, impure emotions as rebels against God and His Word?”

Of course, notes Dryander, there is a consensus among people that some sins, such as assault and murder, are undeniably wicked and should be punished. However, others, like theft or exceeding the speed limit, are regarded more leniently. People call them shortcomings or weaknesses, about which everyone is answerable to themselves alone and nobody else. John does not think so. Someone lying occurs every day in everyday life, which the world brushes away. Nevertheless, any transgression against God’s holy command is a sin. This envy, hatred, or malice, which is the normal state of many and therefore not regarded as wrong, is a declaration of war flung into the face of God’s commands.[1]

James Morgan (1859-1942) reminds us of all the Anointed One did here on earth to help us to never think about sinning. He points out that as soon as the Anointed One was born, He was given His name by God. It was Jesus (Greek iēsous meaning “Yahweh is Salvation”), “because He will save His people from their sins.” Thus, when His gospel began to be preached, Peter proclaimed its nature in these words, “When God raised His Son from the tomb, He sent Him to you first to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”[2]

And the Apostle Paul, noted Morgan, who had long preached it with power, and entered fully into its spirit, summed up its grand aim by saying, “God has shown us how kind He is by coming to save all people. He taught us to give up our wicked ways and worldly desires and live decent and honest lives in this world. Therefore, we are filled with hope as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed One, who sacrificed Himself to rescue us from everything evil and make our hearts pure. He wanted us to be His people and eager always to do the right thing.”[3]

Thus, constantly and forcibly, says Morgan, the purpose of our Lord’s mission is represented to be the destruction of sin. And what did He do to accomplish such a purpose? Morgan explains: “We estimate the importance of any object in the eyes of those who pursue it, by what they are willing to do or suffer, that they may gain it.” Let us use this standard to judge and what He estimated the value of salvation to be from sin. We will see that He esteemed it so costly that He willingly suffered and died for it.

Morgan then gives us six purposes for which our Savior was willing to endure to accomplish His mission:

  • For this purpose, He was born a human. He took our nature. The Son of God became the Son of man. “Though He was in the form of God, He chose not to cling to equality with God; But He poured Himself out to fill a brand-new vessel; a servant in form and a man indeed. The very likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself, obedient to death – a merciless death on the cross!”[4]
  • For this purpose, He lived as a human. He chose poverty, reproach, and the most harmful treatment because they were in accordance with the design of His mission. “He was hated and rejected; His life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at Him. We despised Him and said, He is a nobody!”[5] Jesus said, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call His own.”[6]
  • For this purpose, He died on our behalf. “He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross.”[7]The Lord decided to make His servant’s soul a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others.”[8]He poured out His soul until it brought Him death.”[9]An innocent person died for those who are guilty. The Anointed One did this to bring you to God.”[10]
  • For this purpose, He rose triumphantly from the grave. “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.”[11]
  • For this purpose, He appears for us at the right hand of God. “He is forever able to save the people He leads to God because He lives on to intercede to God for them.”[12]
  • For this purpose, He will come again in His glory and gather His people to Himself. “So, the Anointed One died only once to take away the sins of many people. But when He comes again, it will not be to take away sin. Instead, He will come to save everyone who is waiting for Him.[13] In a word, “You know that Jesus came to take away our sins because there is no sin in Him.”[14] It was the one grand aim of His glorious life.[15]

Harry Ironside (1876-1957) uses an instance in his life to illustrate how those born of God do not go on sinning. Years ago, when he went to California as a boy, the only oranges known then were the ones with seeds. But then, two of the Washington navel orange trees were brought to Riverside from Brazil and cultivated. Cuttings were taken from these parent trees at Riverside, and orange trees were budded with the Washington navel shoots, and their character was entirely changed. So, a man having a forty-acre orchard and not wanting to be left entirely without fruit would cut off the top half of his trees. Twenty acres would go on bearing the oranges with the seeds. He would cut under the bark of the lopped trees and put in the navel orange cuttings, and in a couple of years, all those trees would have new branches and would be loaded with oranges.

I might say to the owner, says Ironside, “What kind of oranges are these?” “Washington navel oranges,” he would reply. “Is that the only kind of oranges they bear? Don’t they sometimes bear oranges with seeds?” “Oh no,” he would say; “A budded tree does not produce seeded oranges.” But even as he speaks, I stoop down and see a little shoot under the branches coming out of the trunk of the tree, and say, “Look, what is that shoot?” He would snip it off or take out a knife and slice it away, saying, “That’s from below the graft. It must be pruned off.” You see, what is characteristic of the budded tree is that it bears the navel oranges, but if one does not watch, there will be a shoot of the old nature below the grafting. So likewise, as children of God, we cannot go on living in sin. If you ever find a Christian slipping into anything unclean or unholy, you know that this comes from below the graft[16] – it is the old nature manifesting itself![17]

Paul E. Kretzmann (1883-1965) states that our knowledge of the salvation of the Anointed One is living knowledge and living faith. We have fellowship with the Anointed One through this faith and know we are and remain in Him. Therefore, Christians do not sin; they refuse to serve sin to keep their hearts, minds, and thoughts away from sinful things. They refuse to yield their members to be servants of wrongdoing.[18]

On the other hand, notes Kretzmann, everyone who persists in sinning, is lawless, in opposition to God’s holy will, thereby gives evidence that they have never met nor gotten to know the Anointed One by faith. Therefore, if a person is in any way a willing servant of sin and still tries to persuade themselves and others that they are a Christian, they only deceive themselves. Note, these words of the Apostle John do not state, as the so-called perfectionists claim, that a Christian here on earth will reach a stage in which they are a sinless person. On the contrary because we still have our sinful nature to contend with, we Christians are prone to stumble and even fall. According to our spiritual personality, we are pure in the sight of God, for the sake of the Anointed One’s righteousness; according to our regenerated self, we do not sin and keep all our members in subjection in holiness. But our carnal self, the old Adam, transgresses the will of God in countless instances, thus imposing upon us the duty to wage constant warfare against it, as the Apostle Paul has so clearly pictured it.[19] [20]


[1] Dryander, E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John in the Form of Addresses, op. cit., pp. 102-103

[2] Acts of the Apostles 3:26

[3] Titus 1:11-14

[4] Philippians 2:6-8

[5] Isaiah 53:3

[6] Luke 9:58

[7] Hebrews 12:2

[8] Isaiah 53:10

[9] Ibid. 53:12

[10] 1 Peter 3:18

[11] Romans 4:25

[12] Hebrews 7:25

[13] Ibid. 9:28

[14] 1 John 3:5

[15] Morgan, J. (1865), An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 184-185

[16] See John 15:1-8; Romans 11:11-24

[17] Ironside, H. A. Addresses on the Epistles of John (Ironside Commentary Series Book 43), op. cit., p. 30

[18] Romans 6:1-14

[19] Ibid. 7:14-24

[20] Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary, 1 John, op. cit., p. 558

About drbob76

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