Skip to content

1 John – Love Overcomes Sin

7 October, 2018

What do Star Wars, The Matrix, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Harry Potter all have in common?

They stole their storylines from the gospel.

Each of these movies climaxes with a love so powerful it conquers death. Why would these great writers borrow/lift/steal so blatantly from the gospel story?

Because the gospel is the greatest story ever known. There is no story greater, more moving, more appealing than that of the great love of God who sent His Son to die in our place, defeat death, and lead us into new life.

This is what the apostle John writes about in his first letter. We continue our walk through the books of the Bible (and are getting very near the end!).

1 John is difficult to date but was likely written sometime between 85 and 95AD when John was an old man. The theme of the book is The Love of God, specifically, how God’s love overcomes our sin.

  1. Our sin

John addresses the issue of sin throughout his letter, in ways that can initially seem confusing to the reader. In chapters 1 and 2, he states very clearly that we are all sinners, saying,

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8.

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 1:8

Yet John also says at several places in this letter that those who are in Christ, no longer sin.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
1 John 3:6

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 3:6

This raises a very sobering question: What does this mean for Christians who do sin – which we all do? The question was raised in our Monday night study group: does God get angry with us when we sin? Does God still get angry with us at times, like He did with Israel in the Old Testament?

Paul teaches us that when we sin, when we live in an unChristlike way, the Holy Spirit grieves. Isn’t that sad, to think that we can make the joy-giving Holy Spirit of God grieve by the way we live, by the words we speak and even by the thoughts we have?

And too often, Christians fall back, casually, carelessly, on grace. “God will forgive me this sin. God understands. God’s grace covers me,” they say. The apostle John says,
あまりにも頻繁にクリスチャンは何げなく不注意に恵みを当てにします。“神は私のこの罪を赦してくださる。分かってくださる。神の恵みが私をおおってくださる。” と言います。使途ヨハネはこう言いました。

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
1 John 3:6

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 3:6

We are saved by grace and grace alone, not by the good deeds we do, but we need to heed this warning by John, otherwise I worry that we are just perpetrators of grace abuse and crucifying Jesus all over again (as Paul says) by our wanton sin.

Now, when John says, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning” he’s not talking about sinless perfection, and certainly not salvation by good living. He’s explaining that the believer’s life is characterised not by sin but by doing what is right. Those who are born again, grow to hate sin, and delight in living righteously.

  1. God’s love

Understanding the gravity of our sin helps us to understand the enormity of God’s love. The whole second half of John’s letter is a rhapsody of God’s love, as shown in Jesus.

God is love.
1 John 4:16b

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 4:16b

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
1 John 3:16a

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 3:16a

People spend their whole lives searching for love and wondering what true love looks like, but here it is in clear language. Again,

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10

神は、かけがえのないご自分のひとり子をこの世に遣わし、そのひとり子の死によって、私たちに永遠のいのちを与えてくださいました。そのようにして、どんなに私たちを愛しておられるかを示されたのです。 10 神に対する私たちの愛ではなく、私たちに対する神の愛によって、私たちの罪へのなだめとして、神のひとり子が遣わされました。ここに真の愛があるのです。
ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 4:9-10

This is what John’s letter is all about: God’s love overcoming our sins through what we call ‘the work of the cross’: that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.

John continues immediately on from this to talk about what this love of God looks like in our lives in practical terms:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:11-12

愛する人たち。神がこれほどまでに愛してくださったのですから、私たちもまた、互いに愛し合おうではありませんか。 12 私たちは、だれも神を見たことがありません。しかし、互いに愛し合う時、神は私たちの心の中に住んでくださり、心の中にある神の愛を、なおいっそう強めてくださるのです。
ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 4:11-12

Can you imagine what the world would look like if we could love others with the same love that Jesus has for us. It’s a life-changing love. I’ve said before, the greatest problem the world has now is that people don’t know how much God loves them. If they could really know that, it would change everything.

I know there is sickness, and there is hardship, and there is hurt in people’s lives. But if people really knew how much God loved them; if they knew how much He has already provided for them – past and future, how He has already atoned for their sin when they confess Christ, how He has already prepared eternal life for those who love Jesus; if people really knew how much God loved them, they would be able to deal with the sickness and the hardship and the hurt easily, and they would be able to show others how to deal with it, too.

God is love. It is the great message of this letter and it is the great theme of the whole Bible.

  1. Our anointing

I want to finish today by looking at a few verses from 1 John 2 (20-21, 23).

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
1 John 2:20-21,23

しかし、あなたがたは違います。あなたがたは聖霊が与えられて、すでに真理を知る者となっています。 21 ですから私は、あなたがたに真理を知らせなくてはならないと考えて、この手紙を書いているわけではありません。本物と偽物との区別ができる者となるよう注意を促しているのです。神の子キリストを信じない人は、父なる神を自分の父とすることができません。しかし、信じる人は、父なる神を自分の父とできるのです。
ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 2:20-21,23

For you who [are] know and live in the truth of Christ, for you who acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah; for you who call Him Saviour and Lord, and have chosen to give up your life to follow Him, there is a Godly anointing on your life. That anointing is the Holy Spirit. When you believed in Jesus, repented of your sins, and first called on His Name, you received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This was your baptism. And as you continue to believe and repent and seek to be filled with the Spirit, you will be. (We heard a wonderful testimony of this earlier this morning.)

Communion is one of the outward signs of this anointing. Joy is an inward sign of it. Prayer releases the anointing. This morning, thank God for the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life. Pray in the anointing of the Spirit. Ask for a fresh filling of the Spirit. And may the love of God consume you and change your life.