Stop Sinning!!!...But if You Do...
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” – 1 John 2:1
What is the Primary Message of the Bible?
Depending on who you ask that question, you’ll get different answers. Of course, non-Christians will give answers like, ferry tails, myths, rules, etc. However, even in Christian circles you’ll get different answers. Some I’ve heard are:
- God loves you
- Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth
- God’s rule book
- Love everyone
- What other answers have you heard?
So, what is the primary message?
Some of the above overlap, but I think the end of the Gospel of John sums it up very well.
“…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31
Law and Gospel
One of the ways you can break down the Bible is by Law and Gospel. The way Lutherans do this is by defining everything that tells us what God does for us as Gospel. Everything that tells us what we have to do is Law.
When these two concepts get confused, the message that we are saved by grace not by our works gets confused and it usually ends up sounding like we are saved by our works. This is called legalism. You are saved by obeying God’s legal code, or…”I write this to you so that you will not sin.” However, that’s not the whole verse.
That’s a big word. It basically means that since we are saved by grace we can do whatever we want. Sin all you want! It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to pay any attention to God’s Law. However, why, then, does God give us the Law and why would John write something so we wouldn’t sin?
Falling Off the Horse
The truth is that neither legalism nor antinomianism is right. As they say,
“You can fall off a horse on either side.”
Our passage, today, rides the horse right in the middle. On the one hand, “Stop sinning!” [That’s Law] On the other hand, “When you do sin (and we both know you will), remember Jesus intercedes for you and saves you by His grace. [That’s Gospel]
The Law will never save us, but we don’t ignore it. We seek to obey God not to earn our salvation, but out of gratitude for the salvation we have already received, because we are now His children, and because we know His Law is good. However, as we learn His Law we also see our sin. So, we trust the Gospel for our salvation. After all, it is by believing that you have life in his name.
Teach me Your ways, change my heart, and transform my mind that I would not sin. When I do, Lord, intercede for me. Lead me to repentance to receive Your forgiveness.
In Christ’s Service,