Affixed to the walls of my clinic and sitting on shelves here and there are brochure racks. The racks are not empty but sport material on cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, misaligned eyes, diabetic eye disease, laser vision correction and many other eye-related things.
John’s epistle is like a rack filled with brochures that answer the question: why be good? Look at these “brochures” if you will:
- Bring the ways of eternity to the present (1 John 2:8) (Check this entry to how this ties in with Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon)
- Confidence from a meaningful relationship with God (1 John 2:24)
- Avoid shame with Jesus returns (1 John 2:28)
- A follower of Christ is in the family of God (1 John 3:2)
John begins writing another “brochure”
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:4-6–ESV)
The fourth verse emphasizes lawlessness doing so in a mode that his audience will recoil from or be jarred by. A difficulty I have in reading the New Testament works is that when I come across the word law I immediately reflex into a Jew-Gentile framework. The problem is that this letter seems far less directed to those themes, and for a few days, I simply dodged the sin and lawlessness tie-together.
When I was reviewing this lesson for class, however, that word lawlessness did its immediate dinging. I was again stuck with what it meant. I was not coming to immediate conclusions and so I prayed about it and there came to mind the word outlaw. Then my mind just as quickly jumped to the highwaymen of Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon book which I had just finished and which I referenced above.
See an outlaw does his own thing. He lacks control. He is lawless, spur-of-the-moment, ill-directed. In God’s kingdom, people exist with fences, rules, ways of interacting. Outlaw’s don’t adhere to these things. So, John is connecting sin to the life of an outlaw. See how this fits with the “brochures” above?
- Christians bring the ways of eternity to the present.
- There are ways and styles of life in the family of God.
- Relationship with God exists within certain boundaries.
So, sinful styles and practices are just like being an outlaw: ungoverned, brash, unconstrained, shameless. Interestingly Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus even puts sinful on the list of synonyms for ungoverned.
The Christian is to set aside all things which are not part of the family of God. Such a person is self-governed. We are to place ourselves under the management of God through the Holy Spirit. Live there and live lawful. It is not about Jew-Gentile relationships, but the human-God relationship which plays out in person-person relationships.