Tuesday, March 12, 2013

1 John 1 in Light of the Gospel of John

The word "forgive" in the bible does not picture a meaning of "God was mad at you but you apologized so He decided to stop being mad at you & stop holding what you did against you." The word "forgive" actually means to "take away, carry off, remove the burden, to free, to deliver."

1 John 1:8 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." But look at the gospel of John, Jesus Himself talks about it being possible for people to "have no sin."

John 9:39-41 "Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains."

"Having none" is the opposite of "remains" in this verse. How do you stop something from remaining? You take it away. So Jesus makes those who were blind see. What do they see? Their sins taken away by Jesus to where they, in Jesus' own words, "have no sin." So Jesus says those who see by the miracle of sight (righteousness) that He gives "have no sin," yet those who see on their own (by self-righteousness) have "their sin remain." "Seeing" in reality means you have no sin because you saw Jesus, trusted Him, & He took your sin away (forgave you). But claiming to see while actually being blind, as the Pharisees did, means to "say you have no sin" by self-righteous practice or doctrine instead of by Jesus taking your sin away.

Remember John wrote the gospel of John & the letter of 1 John. He wrote down John 9 & knew what Jesus had said there when writing 1 John 1:8. So who then is 1 John 1:8 talking to? Those unsaved people who claim that they see on their own, they claim they "have no sin" apart from the work of Jesus. 1 John 1:9 then says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us (taking away) our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness." To confess sins isn't to recite & recount them but to agree that you (an unsaved person) have them unless God takes them away from you.

1 John 1:5b-10 is John recounting what he calls in 5a, "the gospel message we have heard from Jesus and announce to you." Because he was recounting it John was writing with inclusive language on how to be saved (using "we" & "us"). John wasn't writing this to Christians to get them to make commitments about confession but to give them confidence in the outcome (sins taken away & cleansed of all unrighteousness) of the only confession of sins they ever needed to make. This becomes even more evident when we look at the end of the letter (v5:13) where John says he wrote the letter so that those who trust in Jesus "may know that they have eternal life." What better way to help them know they have eternal life than to start off talking about how we receive eternal life in the first place?

In v2:21 John says he also wrote the letter "concerning those who are trying to deceive you." Those people (known as the Gnostics) were trying to say that there was no sin to be taken away from people in the first place. John also wrote chapter 1 so that if there was anyone among them who "does sin" v2:1 they can know how to take the cure so that they "may not sin" anymore by getting "born of God" into a Spirit & identity that v3:9 says "is not able to sin."

The gospel of John helps us interpret the letters of John. We can see him expounding upon what Jesus said as recorded in his gospel. Jesus said it is possible for people to "have no sin" if they trust Him to give them sight, to give them righteousness. Christian Jesus has taken your sins away "as far as east is from the west" so if we Christians "say we have no sin" it is because Jesus has taken it away from us (if it is away you don't have it anymore) & cleansed our spirits of all unrighteousness. If He cleansed it all that means there is no unrighteous desires left in our spirits to produce future sin so John says in V3:9, "your born of God spirit cannot produce sin, it is not able to sin." "Walk by the spirit & you won't carry out the unrighteous desires of the flesh. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. The flesh is no longer a part of who they are (Galatians 5:16,24).

"The flesh counts for nothing, what counts is the new creation, the spirit that gives life. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit & life. You have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, through the living & enduring word of God. You yourselves are My words, My letter, written on My heart. Clearly, you are a letter from Me. You are not written with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. You are not carved on tablets of stone but on the tablet of My own heart."
(John 6:63, Galatians 6:15, 1 Peter 1:23, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

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