Friday, 17 April 2020
And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 1 John 3:5
John just stated that when one sins, he commits lawlessness, and that “sin is lawlessness.” This is the default state of all mankind, because all are in Adam, our first ancestor. In order to correct this, and to move us from a state of lawlessness to a state of being right with God, John now says, “And you know that He was manifested.”
The idea here is that Christ already existed in God, and that He came from God on a mission. Hence, the term “manifested.” It is the incarnation which was necessary for us to be made right with God. The way this was accomplished was that He was sent “to take away our sins.”
John is presenting this thought to support the idea that all of what occurred in Christ’s coming was to resolve the sin problem in our lives. As this is so, sin is deplorable to God and, therefore, we are to keep ourselves from sin, not bask in it and revel in it. As Christ came to take away our sins, and as a part of Christ’s mission was to suffer and die on the cross for our sins, then we should not only desire to live in a holy manner, but we should tirelessly strive to do so. The consequences of our actions are what necessitated His cross.
In saying that He came to “take away our sins,” John uses the plural, “sins.” This then speaks of everything included in the term. No sin is exempted from the sufficiency of what Christ has done. It tells us that Jesus didn’t just come in the flesh to atone for sin, but to remove the power of sin in our lives. Both are possible because of His sacrifice combined with His continued influence on our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
To understand what has occurred in the cross of Christ, God gave a foreshadowing of it in the Day of Atonement rituals which are found in Leviticus 16. A full analysis of this rite is found in three sermons, the first of which is at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KDwl9FXA28
In short, the main focus of the day is centered on two hairy goats, one is a sacrifice for sin, and the second is to expiate, or carry away the sin. Both of these animals (and everything else associated with the rites of that day) prefigure the Person and work of Christ.
The truth of what is found in that ritual is first seen in John’s concluding word of this verse, “and in Him there is no sin.” The Greek reads, “and sin in Him not there is.” He is absolutely and forever without sin. That is seen in the innocent goat which came to die in the place of the people. But, in dying for sin, it means that the sin of the people was placed upon it.
From there, the second goat pictured that sin being carried away, never to return again. This second goat became a sin-bearer. The thought of what these two goats did is explained by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21 –
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus Christ was made sin (the transfer to the sacrificial goat). He died in that capacity. But because He had no sin of His own, in His death, He carried away our sin (the scapegoat). The sin can never return because it died with Him. Speaking for believers, Paul says that through Christ, the embodiment of the law, “I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
The sin is removed in Christ’s death, it is carried away to the grave in death, and it is forever removed through the resurrection. In this, we can now live to God. It is made possible through Jesus because He was sinless, and He is forever sinless.
Life application: In Christ, these two actions can be simply described. The first action, atonement, takes away the penalty of our sin and is known as “justification.” In this action we are declared not guilty because the punishment has been meted out on our Substitute, Jesus.
The second action, taking away the power of sin in our lives, is known as “sanctification.” It is accomplished by Christ, and we are sanctified unto God. However, during this life, we can (and should) go through a process of personal sanctification where we conduct ourselves in a manner which is in accord with what Christ has done for us.
This aspect of our walk is, unfortunately, not pursued by many saved believers. We stand justified, but we fail to allow that justification to sink in and become a working part of who we are. It is as if what Jesus did in our atonement was “good enough,” and now we can play out our lives ever walking on the marginal line of mediocrity.
When John says, “In Him there is no sin,” it indicates that Jesus is sinless in the whole state of His eternal existence – past, present, and future. Because He is, we are expected to remove ourselves from the presence of sin to the maximum degree possible based on an ongoing process of sanctification. It is true that we can never become sinless in this life, but it is also true that sin no longer has mastery over us. We should live in the Spirit continuously and make every attempt to flee from sin as we live in the presence of God.
Think it through clearly – Jesus was “manifested” to the world for the very purpose of destroying the devil’s work and allowing us to have victory over what Satan did. Why then would we serve a lesser god – sin – which is no god at all? Instead, let us determine to have victory in Jesus and in the work which is already finished. To the glory of God!
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not pursuing holiness and righteousness to the fullest degree possible. Give us the wisdom and mental attitude that says, “Yes, I will live for Jesus; I will have victory over the sin in my life.” And by doing so, may You receive all the glory that You are due. Amen!