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1 John 3:4-9 - Turning Away From Sin and Its Enslavement

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Do we really love God?   Have we turned away from sin? Have we been born of God?

·         If we live in sin, if we are enslaved by the habits of sin, this is a clear sign we do not love God. But if we have turned away from sin, if the habits of sin have been broken by Christ and permanently conquered in our lives, this is a clear sign that we love God.

·         If we have been born of God, if we have partaken of the divine nature of God, then we love God. If we have not been born of God, if we have not partaken of the divine nature of God, then we do not love God.

When we love someone, we want to know and please him. We want his approval and acceptance; therefore, we do all we can to please him, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10 NKJV).

–      So it is with God. If we love Him, we want to know Him and please Him.

–      We want His approval and acceptance; therefore, we do all we can to please Him.

·         God is righteous; He is pure and holy. There is no sin in Him at all. Therefore,

Ø       the person who loves God lives a righteous life, a pure and holy life.

Ø       he does not live in sin; he does not practice sin.

Ø       he lives in righteousness and he practices righteousness. He does all he can to please Him whom he loves—the Lord God Himself.

The need for deliverance: Man is sinful (v.4)

Sin & Lawlessness

He practices sin (v.4a)

a)         Man is in slavery to sin (John 8:34)

(1)        (Acts 8:14-23) Simon was [“poisoned by bitterness” Heb.12:15] & “bound by iniquity”

(2)        The Prodigal Son was bound by sin (worldliness) to the point of wanting to eat pigs food (Lk.15:11-16)


Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 NKJV)

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV)

b)        The Works of the flesh (Gal.5:17-21)

"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, (Matthew 13:41 NKJV; cf. Matthew 7:22-23)

c)         The Method the Devil Uses—James 1:13-16

(1)        “drawn away” hunting term, trapping animals, draw them away from safety to traps.

(2)        “enticed” fishing term, lure, or bait

(a)         sin leads to more sin (Rom.6:19) & to death (Rom.6:23)

He transgresses the law (v.4b)

a)         Adam & Eve (Genesis 2:15-17)

b)        Cain & Abel (Genesis 4:1-8)

(1)        Cain’s anger lead to the death of his brother

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'   "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, `Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, `You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV)

c)         Joseph’s brothers sin (Genesis 37:3-20)

Joseph’s brothers have sown the seeds of hatred in their hearts, and those seeds had found fertile soil.  The brothers had watered the seed with jealousy and cultivated them with self-righteousness.  Now their seed began to bear their bitter fruit.

The provision for deliverance: (v.5, 8)

Jesus Dealt with the Sin (v.5)

He was manifested to take away our sins.

a)         “take away” – root word is “to lift.”

(1)        “The Lord laid on Him the iniquities . . .” (Is.53:4-6)

(2)        Not ours only, but the whole world (1Jn.2:2 cf. 4:9)

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 NKJV)

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10 NKJV)

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NKJV)     

He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26 NKJV)

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV)

b)        “in Him there is no sin” (1Jn.3:3; Heb.4:15) – Jesus was pure & sinless.

c)         How did He take away our sin?

(1)        By accepting the guilt for us (2Cor.5:21)

(2)        By taking the penalty for sin Himself (Rom.5:6)

The Work of the Devil (v.8a)

The person who practices sin is of the devil (v.8a)

a)         Jesus said, you are of your father the devil (Jn.8:44)

(1)        “the desires of your father you want to do”

(a)         Bar-Jesus desired to turn away people from the faith like Satan does (Acts 13:6-12)

(b)        “one of you is a devil” (Jn.6:67-71)

(1)         The Mental attack – Judas said, “Why such a waste?” (Jn.12:3-5)

(2)         The Moral attack – Satan put in Judas’ heart to betray Jesus (Jn.13:2)

(3)         The Will Attack – Satan entered Judas (Jn.13:27) to have Jesus betrayed & killed

(c)         Parable of the wheat & tares (Matt.13:24-30, 36-43)

Jesus Dealt with the Devil (v.8b)

The Son of God came to earth to destroy the works of the devil (v.8b)

a)         He want’s us to worship & serve him (Matt.4:8-10)

b)        He does not want you to know the power of sin has been broken!

c)         He wants control over our lives but “greater is He who is in me”!

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, (Colossians 1:13 NKJV)

To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18 NKJV)

(1)        The devil tempted Eve (Gen.3:1-6) & Christ (Matt.4:1-11) & he will tempt you (Lk.4:13)

(2)        He perverts God’s Word (Matt.4:6) & opposes God’s work (Zech.3:1-2)

(3)        He hinders God’s servants (1Thess.2:18) & the gospel (2Cor.4:3-4)

(4)        He snares the wicked (1Tim.3:6-7) & desires to control the nations of the earth (Rev.16:13-14)

(5)        He is described as an angel of light (2Cor.11:14) & fought with Michael (Jude 9)

(6)        He brought sin into the world (Gen.3:13) & now has the whole world lying in his lap (1Jn.5:18-19)

“Works” (erga) indicate they were specific deeds or acts.

(1)        Evil works or deeds (Jn.3:19, Col.1:21; 1Jn.3:12), dead works (Heb.6:1)

(2)        Works which do not conform to God’s law inscribed in the human heart (2Pet.2:8)

(3)        Ungodly works that do not please God (Jude 1:15), moral darkness, sin (Rom.13:12)

(4)        Works of the flesh (Gal.5:19)

a)         Satans opposition to Christ p.98 & POSB point #2

How did Christ destroy the “works of the devil”?

a)         Satan’s power to charge men with sin is now “cast out.”

Men now have the power to escape the penalty of sin.  Christ took the sins of men upon Himself and paid the penalty for their sin. He died for the sins of the world.

“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness----by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NKJV)

Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33 NKJV)


b)        Satan’s power to cause death is now “cast out.”

Men no longer have to die. Christ died for man, became man’s substitute in death.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NKJV)

(1)        Jesus went into death, through death, and came out on the other side, conquering it.

"A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. (John 14:19 NKJV)

(2)        We have been released from bondage & the fear of death & actually look forward to it.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 NKJV)

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)

c)         Satan’s power to cause men to be separated from God is now cast out.

Men no longer have to go to hell. Christ was separated from God for man ( Matthew 27:46-49). Man can now live forever with God.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, (1 Peter 3:18 NKJV)

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11 NKJV)

d)        Satan’s power to enslave men with the habits of sin and shame is now “cast out.”

By His death, Christ made it possible for man to be freed from sin. The believer, cleansed by the blood of Christ, becomes a holy temple unto God, a temple fit for the presence and power of God’s Spirit. Man can now conquer the enslaving habits of sin by the power of God’s Spirit.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?   Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV)     

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.   For he who has died has been freed from sin.   Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (Romans 6:6-8 NKJV)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.   And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.   For sin shall not have dominion over you”(Romans 6:12-14 NKJV)

And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:18 NKJV)

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Romans 6:22 NKJV)

“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

e)         He conquered evil spirits & forces  by His Resurrection

           When Christ arose, He triumphed over Satan, openly showing that death is the work of Satan. Death is not to be the natural experience of man. Death was never the purpose of God; life is the purpose of God. The resurrection of Christ openly shows this.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15 NKJV)

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 NKJV)

The proof of deliverance (v.6-7)

Righteousness – Believers Duty

If we abide in Christ, we do not sin (v.6a), if we sin, we do not know Christ (v.6b)

a)         It is impossible to abide in Christ & to live a sinful lifestyle.

b)        One with a sinful lifestyle has never seen God, only the pure in heart see God (Matt.5:8).

c)         This does not refer to an occasional sin into which a believer may fall.

We can be deceived about the matter of sin and righteousness (v.7)

a)         One cannot practice righteousness unless he is righteous.

b)        It is possible for us to be deceived and to think that those who may do certain acts of righteousness are righteous—we must be on guard (Matt.22:29; 24:4-5, 11, 24; Lk.21:8; 2Tim.3:13; James 5:19; 1Jn.1:8; 2:26).

c)         Only Christ is righteous & for us to be righteous, we must receive the righteous One into our hearts and lives

The result of deliverance (v.9)

Being Freed from Living in Sin

“He does not commit sin” & “he cannot sin”

a)         Note: the verb to sin is in the present tense. To sin means to continue in sin; to constantly sin; to practice sin; to habitually sin; to live in sin.

b)        A.T. Robertson, the great Greek scholar, says this: “he cannot go on sinning.”

c)         Robertson adds, “Paul has precisely the same idea in Romans 6:1...‘shall we continue in sin’ “ (Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol.6, p.223).


The Amplified New Testament has the correct idea based upon the Greek:

     “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately and knowingly] habitually practices sin, for God’s nature sabides in him - His principle...remains permanently within him - and he cannot practices sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.”

For His seed remains in him

a)         New birth (Jn.3:3-5), New creation (2Cor.5:17), New man (Eph.4:24 cf. Col.3:10), Divine nature (2Pet.1:4),Word of God (1Pet.1:23).

b)        The Holy Spirit of God Himself:

(1)        helps the believer to conquer sin and to keep from sinning.

(2)        stirs the believer to love and focus upon Christ.

(3)        stirs the believer not to sin.

       William Barclay

a)       “The ideal is that in the new age sin is gone for ever.

b)      “Christians must try to make that true, and, with the help of Christ, they must struggle to avoid individual acts of sin, occasional lapses into that which is wrong, temporary departures from goodness.

c)       “In point of fact all men do have these lapses, and, when they have them, they must humbly confess them to God, who will always forgive the penitent and the contrite heart.

d)      “But, in spite of that, no Christian can possibly be a deliberate and a consistent sinner; no Christian can make sin the policy of his life; no Christian can live a life in which sin is dominant and decisive in all his actions. He may have lapses, but he cannot live in sin as the very atmosphere of his life.”

     Barclay continues:

     “John is not setting before us here a terrifying perfectionism, in which he is demanding a life which is totally and absolutely without sin; but he is demanding a life which is ever on the watch against sin, a life which ever fights the battle of goodness, a life which has never surrendered to sin, a life in which sin is not the permanent state, but only the temporary aberration, a life in which sin is not the normal accepted way, but the abnormal moment of defeat. John is not saying that the man who abides in God cannot sin; but he is saying that the man who abides in God cannot continue to be a consistent and deliberate sinner” (The Letters of John and Jude, p.96f).



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