1 John 3:8

Monday, 20 April 2020

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

This is the clearest statement to be found concerning the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ. Many times in Scripture a reason is cited. A few to consider are –

“For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” John 9:39

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10              

“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15

“And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” 1 John 3:5

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9

Each of these shows there is a problem or that there is something lacking which requires correction, but 1 John 3:8 shows the source and cause of these things. The verse also shows us a truth which cannot be denied. One is either in Christ, or he belongs to the devil. There are no other options available to fallen man. As John says, “He who sins is of the devil.”

The Greek is far more emphatic – “The one practicing the sin is of the devil.” The verb is a present participle and it indicates the continuous nature of the state of the person. He has sinned (being born in sin), and he has never come to a point where he has stopped sinning. His life of sin continues on.

Paul has already shown that “all have sinned” in Romans 3:23, and that “the wages of sin is death” in Romans 6:2. Paul further states, “just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” As all have sinned because they are in Adam, and as the devil is the source of this occurring, all belong to him. It is man’s default position.

No person has met God’s standard of perfection, and all imperfection will be removed from His presence unless the defect is corrected. Jesus explains this, explicitly, in John 3:18 –

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John will explain his meaning, but first, after noting that the person “who sins is of the devil,” a thought which extends to all of humanity, he says, “for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” This doesn’t mean he was created as a being that sins, but that there is a point where fault was found in him. With that fault a part of his nature, Satan brought sin about in man, even since the beginning of man’s existence on earth, as is recorded in Genesis 3.

In bringing about the fall of man, man has been stuck – caught under the power of the devil – ever since. And it is, as John states, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested.” John clearly, and without ambiguity, states this primary reason for the manifestation of the “Son of God.”

This is the first time that the term “Son of God” is used in this epistle. Up to this point, Jesus has been spoken of as the Son in relation to the Father. Now John speaks of the Son in relation to God to show that, though all men are in Adam, and thus are born under the power of the devil and are “condemned already,” he shows that Jesus Christ is born of God. As sin travels from father to child, and as all humans have a father, all have sin. However, as Jesus’ Father is God, the sin did not transfer.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the picture made in circumcision. God instructed Abraham, and his descendants, to be circumcised in their foreskin in order to make a picture of Christ who would “cut” the sin nature found in man. In Christ, the picture is fulfilled. This all came about so “that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luó. It is the root of our word “loose.” Jesus’ ministry has loosed the bonds that man was held in by the power of the devil. Isaiah, speaking the word of the Lord to the people of Israel, indicates that this is what their actions and reliance on God were meant to do –

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6

Israel, as a type of Christ to come, was intended to be a light to the nations, but only Jesus – the true Israel and the true Light – was capable of making this desire a reality.

Man disobeyed God and the authority over man transferred to the devil. Jesus Christ, not being under that authority, fully obeyed God and remains in a perfect relationship with God. As He fulfilled the Law of Moses, the standard which God set for the people of the world, He thus embodies that law. Contained within that law is the provision for substitutionary atonement.

A man would transfer his sin to an innocent animal, and the animal would die in place of the man. At that time, God would forgive the offender and a propitious relationship would come about. As this is a part of the law, and as Christ embodies the law, Christ’s death can be a substitutionary atonement for any who come to Him.

This is how the power of the devil is destroyed. Man moves from Adam to Christ, and the power of the devil is destroyed in that man. He is brought into the family of God. However, this doesn’t explain how man can stay in that relationship. If he sins again, would he not fall again under the power of the devil? The answer is, “No.”

The New Covenant in Christ’s blood has no provision for the imputation of sin, only for rewards and loss of rewards. A person is “in Christ,” and he is covered by His righteousness. As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 –

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

God is no longer imputing sin to man. The rule of Christ never ceases in man because of this. This is why John states his first clause with a present participle – “The one practicing the sin is of the devil” (literal translation). Later, the man came to Christ, acknowledged he is a sinner (“Christ died for our sins” 1 Corinthians 15:3), and he is granted forgiveness. He is sealed with God’s guarantee of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14), and he is no longer imputed sin (2 Corinthians 5:19). The power of the devil is destroyed in the man, death no longer reigns, eternal life is granted, and reconciliation with God is realized forevermore.

Life application: In Christ, the yokes are broken, and the heavy burdens are removed. The devil’s power is destroyed, and man has a new, glorious, and eternal hope. Thank God for Jesus Christ!

Thank You, O God, for Jesus! Thank You that He loosed the works of the devil which had us bound with heavy chains. Now, in Christ we are free to live in Your presence, and we have the assurance of eternal life ahead of us. May we never forget the great and awesome work He accomplished so that we might be reconciled to you! Amen.








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