The tech guy was baffled about why my computer was having so much trouble. Then he asked me how I shut it off. When I told him I just hit the power switch, he reacted with alarm and disbelief. “You kidding me? You don’t sign off and let the system power down?” “Nope, I just kill the switch.” Apparently, if you don’t let the computer shut itself off, it scrambles up the memory thingy. It has to do with how the computer is designed. Who knew? Not me. I never read the manufacturer’s instructions. But once I had been told what to do, and why, I stopped doing it wrong.
God’s creation is like that. Use it properly, according to the “Manufacturer’s” design and instructions, and it works well. But, ignore those instructions, violate it’s design, and it breaks. In the Bible, the short word for not operating according to the Manufacturer’s design and instructions, is “sin.” Sin isn’t doing something fun that embarrasses God, it’s doing something that fouls up His carefully designed creation. Sin hurts me; that’s why God warns me not to keep doing it. That is the message John was attempting to convey with these words:
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4 -NASB95)
That is quoted from the New American Standard Bible because the NIV, which I ordinarily use for quotes, leaves out the word, practices, and says “Everyone who sins.” The word, practices, is in the original language and leaving it out is misleading. John doesn’t mean anyone who happens to sin (which would include everyone) but rather, those who practice sin, who deliberately choose to ignore the Manufacturer’s instructions (who practice lawlessness).
Computers are complicated enough that they come with built-in warning systems to alert us when we are about to do something dumb. God’s creation is also complicated. It is not possible for us to avoid misusing it without some kind of built-in guide and warning system. That system is the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to connect us to His Spirit, to make it possible for us to live in harmony with the design and instruction of the Manufacturer.
(If that statement confuses you, you can view the posts about the Holy Spirit by selecting that category on the right. Or, read “Who Can Fix It?”)
That’s why John says:
But you know that he (Jesus) appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:5-6 )
Make sense? I hope so; this is one of the most misunderstood passages of 1 John.