January 14, 2019
By Elaine Friedrich
In partnership with Seedbed, Mt. Bethel brings you the Seedbed Daily Text: a study on 1 John.
1 John 2:1 kj21
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
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.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
John saw the possibility of life on another plane—of “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Do you believe it is possible?
Abba Father, I confess that, instead of believing in the possibility of the power of your love, I have readily settled for the predictability of sin. I confess that I have chosen to see sin more in the light of its impact on me than its injury to others. For these reasons I have come to tolerate sin as the inevitable destiny of my life. Come, Holy Spirit, and deliver me from this self-centered vision, which blinds me from seeing others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
What if we began to see sin less as our moral failure and more as our callous disregard of other people?
P.S. The Daily Text is written by John David “J.D.” Walt, who is the Sower in Chief of Seedbed, a twenty first century publishing, media, and movement platform. Learn more at Seedbed.com.