Rules To Sin By
Text: 1st John 2:6-11
Proposition: Sin can be detected in three ways, three arguments expose it and in so doing expose us. Is it morally right, is it doctrinally correct, is it love truthfully?
Introduction: Have you ever been sitting by a lamp at night andseen the waythat insects are attracted to it? The moth circles and circles the light until finally it gets too close and the heat burns it. It’s why the phrase, ‘like a moth drawn to flame’ refers to a pattern of behaviour that’s attracted to something which leads to their downfall. They circle the attraction and circle it and are unhurt by it at first but they miss the insight that to go closer will eventually end poorly.
I think everyone has experienced the ‘moth syndrome’, the temptation to do something that though we know we shouldn’t yet we continue to pursue it. In fact that really is the pull of sin in this world, the flaunting promise that there is a ‘free lunch’; that all actions don’t have consequences and that somehow I’m exempt from the truth. That is, the rules apply to others but not to me. So if we are bound to want to sin, like a moth drawn to the light, what are the rules to sin by? As I read the words of 1st John what seems to be evident is that I can sin and get away with it only if I can pass three tests. So what are the three tests? They are: 1. Is it morally right? 2. Is it doctrinally pure? 3. Is it love truthfully? If what I seek to do is able to pass all three tests, then sin is either exposed for what it is or it is screened out by my submitting to the tests. So have a look at 1st John 2:6-11.
I. To Abide In Jesus Means To Walk as He Walked, Aim to be Morally Right. So when we think of Jesus’ actions, were they always moral? By that I mean were they always concerned with the distinction between right and wrong? In John 8 When Jesus saw the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees said the Law of Moses demanded she should be put to death by stoning, was His reaction morally right? You’ll remember His response to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” So what He was saying was it isn’t just about who’s right and who’s wrong in a situation but rather what is morally right. When asked about paying the Temple tax Jesus response was again morally right. He asks Peter, “From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter’s response was, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.” The intent here is that Christ the Son is free from a tax that was meant to serve God the Father. But here was His morally right response, “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook…”(Matt 17). What was morally right was to not offend those who were still learning even though He was within His rights. It’s been said that the Ten Commandments are the core of what is morally right. From abstaining from idolatry to not committing murder, theft, adultery, lying or coveting to honoring your father and mother there was a moral code set out that governments and civilizations have followed to this day. In fact the moral argument for the existence of God states that objective moral values do exist (in other words, some actions are morally wrong whether someone believes they are wrong or not), and therefore, an absolute and moral God also exists. The attempt to get rid of a moral God is in fact an attempt to get rid of moral values. It feigns a stance of being amoral when in reality it is immoral. The amoral thing doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong but immorality knows the difference and acts anyway. So did Jesus always do what was morally right? The answer is that He did not sin, He did what the Father had directed since the days of Genesis, He sometimes laid down His rights but He always did what was morally right. So the first rule that exposes sin is to ask if what we do is morally right, does it reflect the very morals of God the Father? John described this as walking in the light. You know what the right thing to do is as a Christian. If you are going to do what is morally right then sin is not an option.
II.To Abide In Jesus Means To Walk as He Walked, Aim For Pure Doctrine.
In verse 7 John reminds the church about the teaching or doctrine they have had in the Scripture. They have kept the Word, obeyed it, believed it, studied it and valued it. In fact when you read the Gospels you find the same truth whenever Jesus speaks. Of the 39 Books of the Old Testament Jesus quoted from 24 of them. He knew the content, He believed in the historical accuracy of them, He believed they were the inspired words of God without error. All the teaching or doctrine that He gave He affirmed was from the Word, He warned against subtracting or adding to it and cautioned people not to be ignorant of all it contains. And not to be overlooked, Jesus the Messiah never wrote any Scripture when He was on earth with the disciples. That’s an amazing truth when you consider that any human being when wanting to start a following writes all kinds of things they claim to be correct doctrine. Jesus didn’t, His doctrine was pure in that it was based in Scripture. The pre-incarnate Christ inspired the authors of Scripture in the Old Testament, He made provision for the Holy Spirit to inspire the writers of the New Testament yet He Himself did not write the word down. He trusted in the Word written down by men. He used Scripture from memory, He used it to cast out Satan, He used it as a higher evidence of truth than even His miracles evidenced. So if to abide in Jesus means to walk as He walked, how effective are you at screening your thoughts and actions through Scriptures’ truth? If what you do is able to pass the test of the doctrine or teaching of the Scripture then it will have challenged the sinful motivations of the heart exposing them and commanding them to be abandoned. You need to ask, ‘Is it doctrinally pure?’
III. To Abide In Jesus Means To Walk as He Walked, Aim to Love Truthfully.
In verse 8 John seems to contradict himself. Having just said that he gave no new commandment he now asserts, “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” What he is referring to is the new extension of the old command to love truthfully. The new extension of that is that now there exists in the world something that was not there before in the days of the Old Testament. That new thing is the church, so to the church he now commands that they love truthfully. It was true in Jesus, He loved the church and gave Himself for her. Then John notes that what was true in Jesus ought also to be true in us. Do you love the church, do you love it like you love God? It’s a trick question really, isn’t it, because God is in the church and if you love God then you are compelled to love the church indwelt by the Spirit of God. But how do you love people who sometimes let you down, who sometimes offend you or who sometimes completely overlook you? The church gives people many reasons not to love but the reality is that it is His church, His body, His design, His love. Do you remember that story in Luke 7 about the prostitute that burst into Simon the Pharisees house the day he was having Jesus as a guest for lunch? She falls to the feet of Jesus, she pours out this fragrant oil and weeping she wipes Jesus feet with her hair. Jesus knows what Simon is thinking, He hears the thought that says, ‘If this man really were a prophet he would know who it is that is touching him.’ So Jesus tells Simon a story. There were two men who both owed the same man some money. The first man owed almost two years worth of wages, the second man owed just two months worth of wages. Then the creditor forgave both men their debt. Jesus looks at Simon and asks the acid test question… which man do you think would love the creditor more, the one forgiven two years of debt or the one forgiven two months worth? Simon doesn’t hesitate, ‘The one with the greater debt, of course!’ Jesus agrees and then Jesus points to the woman at His feet. He recognizes her tears, her sacrifice of oil, her actions and posture. Then He makes this observation, “…to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”To love truthfully means to know how much you have been forgiven. In Christ you have been forgiven a debt you could never pay. The generosity of your love is not a statement about how great a person you are, it’s a statement about how great Jesus is. He who senses that they have only been forgiven a little will only love a little. It’s why John writes what he does in verse 11, “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” The thing is if you don’t get how much you are forgiven in Christ you are going to be blinded by something and you won’t be able to know which direction you are moving in. To love truthfully will shift the focus from you to Christ, it shifts from your generosity to His, from your glory to His. That way of love will expose your sin, it will guard you against the pull of sin.
When it comes right down to it there are no rules to sin by but there are three tests that will enable you to abide in Him, to walk as Jesus walked… Is it morally right? Is it doctrinally pure? Is it love truthfully?