Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 NASB
How do you understand the term lawlessness?
There are two ways to understand lawlessness; John is either referring to unruly social or private behavior, or he is saying those who do not live according to the Torah (the law of Moses) are living in sin. If John refers to unruly social or personal behavior, we need to ask: on what standard do you judge someone as unruly? There are only two options, either on the teachings of the church or the acceptable behavior of society. Both standards have changed a lot in the last 80 years. Hence, what is considered unruly social or private behavior today fundamentally differs from what was regarded as unruly behavior 100 years ago in the church and our society. This leaves us with only one option; John refers to the Torah. (the law of Moses)
If John is referring to the Torah, then he is saying those who do not live by the law of Moses are living in sin.
Do you understand the consequences of what you just read? If you willingly. do anything the law of Moses says is illegal; you are living in sin, and we are not only talking about the moral law here.
Could you be one of those who are guilty of practicing lawlessness?
In 1. John 3:8 John is warning us, telling us those who practice lawlessness are of the devil. If you willingly do something the law of Moses says is illegal, John says you are of the devil.
Are you perhaps now beginning to see why Christians believe the Torah (the law of Moses) is too difficult for them? It is because the spirit of the antichrist (the lawless one) has deceived them. The antichrist does not mind it if you believe in Jesus as long as you are living in sin because he knows the Bible says; if you reject the law, Jesus will reject you. (Matt 7:21-23)
But what about grace?
If the Bible were written to believers in 2023, we would have no choice but to understand grace as an unmerited favor. But as we all know, the Bible was written long ago to people living in a culture and a society very different from ours. We then have to ask ourselves if our understanding of grace differs from what it used to be back when the Bible was written.
One of the first things we see is that grace in the Bible is not unmerited favor; instead, it is a merited favor given to us when we accept the terms of the covenant. What are the terms of the covenant? The Bible says when we accept the Torah and live by it, we accept the terms of the covenant, and Yehovah, our God, will grant us grace in return. (Matt 6:25-34, Deut 28:1-14)
The next thing we see is very important; salvation in the Bible differs from our understanding of what it means to be saved.
Salvation to us is being forgiven of our sins and making sure we make heaven when we die.
Salvation in the Bible is being rescued from the wrath of Yehovah by entering into a covenant with Him, accepting the law of Moses as the terms of the covenant. The result of this will be an eternity in heaven on earth in the new Jerusalem.
Are you now beginning to see why 1. John 3:4 is so essential?
What about you?
Are you saved, living in righteousness the way the Bible describes it?