April 11, 2015
1 John 2:1
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
Is this possible? To not sin.
As I read John, I don’t think he means sinlessness or some kind of flawless perfection. I think he’s getting at what it means to be made perfect in love. Sin, for John, is disobedience to the singular command of Jesus. What is that command?
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12.
This means disobedience to Jesus can always be brought back to this one thing: The failure to “love each other as I have loved you.” Could it really be this simple? Sin is the failure to love other people in the way Jesus loves us.
To be made perfect in love means growing in the love of God for other people. I have typically thought of sin as doing something wrong. What if I thought instead of sin as doing harm to other people. It ceases to be so much about “my failure” and a lot more about “their pain.”
What if to “not sin” isn’t all about managing my behavior but rather is about consistently and progressively extending myself in love for other people?
John Wesley had a lot to say about this. In fact, 1 John was among his very favorite books in the Bible. In a letter he composed on the subject he put it like this,
Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God. The Refiner’s fire purges out all that is contrary to love, and that many times by a pleasing smart. Leave all this to Him that does all things well, and that loves you better than you do yourself. [Letters to Mr. Walter Churchey, of Brecon]
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
John saw the possibility of life on another plane– of “on earth as it is in heaven.” Do you believe it is possible?
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.