1 John 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
For once I have an almost violent reaction against the Japanese translation of this verse, and indeed of here through verse nine. However, since the Japanese agrees with how a lot of English translations render this passage, it’s important that I deal with the issue. It’s all a matter of Greek grammar, but the misunderstanding has caused a lot of damage in a lot of sensitive people down through the centuries. Greek has more tenses than either English or Japanese, and for once, the NIV renders it accurately, because what John used is the “continuing present” tense. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible, and in this particular case, it’s even the same book of the Bible. John himself wrote, from 1 John 1:8- 2:2, about how we all sin. Those who believe in Jesus have been saved from the penalty of sin and they are being saved from the power of sin, but one of the most attractive things about the hope of heaven is the prospect of being saved from the very presence of sin. Until we get there, we continue to trip up at times, so repentance must be an ongoing thing. If we don’t believe that forgiveness is real then we can have genuine difficulty letting go of what are called “besetting” sins, from older translations of Hebrews 12:1. Peter addressed that in 2 Peter 1:9. Back to this particular verse, it is true that while we are actively abiding in Christ we don’t sin, but unfortunately, on this earth we don’t do that 100%. That’s not an excuse; we should hate sin, and repent the moment we become aware that we have committed it. Paul dealt with that in Romans 6:1-2. A lifestyle of sin is certainly incompatible with salvation. However, some people have despaired of salvation because of the mis-translation of this passage in 1 John, and that is tragic.
I have had a distaste for legalism for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think that’s just from being rebellious! I am deeply aware of, and grateful for, God’s grace, and I desire that everyone believe and receive that grace. However, that is in no way to say I abandon righteousness and holiness. I am absolutely convinced that we can never clean ourselves up on our own sufficiently to be acceptable to God, since He is absolutely pure and holy, but the whole point of the Gospel is that Jesus died for such hopeless beings as we are, covering over our sins with His blood so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Our holiness is a response to and reflection of what He has done for us. The more we are conscious of His love and grace, the more we will reflect Him in our attitudes, words, and actions. I am still very much a work in progress, and as such I am to extend God’s grace to those around me, but never without speaking the truth in love. I am not to allow grace to be mistaken for approval, and that can be difficult at times. I don’t have sufficient wisdom for the task, so I’ve got to stay humble before my Lord and allow Him to speak and act through me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You did yesterday. I can’t change people, but you can! I pray that all of Your purposes for today may be fulfilled, in this church and in each of the churches of Omura. I don’t think any are meeting in person, but at least two are holding online services, including us. May Your Spirit have free rein in each service, each heart and life, so that the Body of Christ may be built up, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!