I John

I John 3:4-10 Two Seeds.

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (v. 4). This verse does not exhaust everything that the Scriptures teach us concerning sin, this is why John says ‘also’, because there also are other things that sin is. However, whatever else one might say that sin is, it is lawlessness. This is why the Westminster Standards define it this way. “Q. 14. What is sin? A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Paul, in referring specifically to ‘transgression’ said the same thing. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (v. 5). So here we see the connection between these verses and the previous verses. Our hope is not just that Jesus was manifested (Cf. 1:2), nor just that He will be revealed once again, but rather our hope is that “we shall be like Him” (3:2), and therefore this hope inspires us to purify ourselves “just as He is pure” (3:3).

“He was manifested to take away our sins” (Cf. Jn. 1:29). This is the nature of His anointing as Messiah in His threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King. He is able to take away our sin because “in Him there is no sin.” “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). So our hope is that “we shall be like Him,” and for this reason we seek to purify ourselves, “just as He is pure.” This is our goal, but while we remain in this world we are not there yet. This is how we need to understand verse 6, otherwise we have John and others contradicting themselves. “The new birth sets a person irrevocably against sin, and because the seed of new life “remains” in that person (v. 9; cf. John 10:28, 29), the defeat of corruption and death for him is inevitable. In this sense sin will be impossible (Rom. 6:8, 9). John addresses this absolute aspect of being born again and speaks accordingly. He is not denying that sin and death have influence until the very end (1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14)” (NKJV p. 1989).

Again, John made the point that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:9). Nevertheless, it is because there is forgiveness in Christ that we are cleansed “from all unrighteousness” (1:10). This is what it means to see Him, know Him, and abide in Him (v. 6). As noted earlier, the practice of righteousness is the fruit that shows that we abide in Him (v. 7). Similarly, those who have as the general course of their lives unrighteous practices, show that they are of the devil (v. 8). There are two seeds and two seeds only (Cf. Mt. 13:38). Jesus was not only “manifested to take away our sins” (v. 5), but also to “destroy the works of the devil” (v. 8). We show that we are God’s tekna or offspring, born again of the Spirit, if day by day over the course of our lives, we are more and more reflective of His image (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 3:3). “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (v. 10).

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