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Read Introduction to 1 John


Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”


and sin is lawlessness

 “Lawlessness” is a stronger term than “sin” because it includes the idea of determined disregard of law.  Sin is more than a failure to measure up; it is a committed refusal to conform to God’s standards.  The operating principle of sin is equivalent to the refutation of the will of God.  It is an assertion against the absolute will of God. 


The operating principle of sin is rebellion against the nature of God. 


Sin at root is an issue of rebellion of the will against the nature of God.  It has an authority problem.  At heart, we are rebels.  Our sin is active rebellion against God’s will and a violation of His character. 

Sin equals lawlessness or anarchy against God’s will.  Anarchy is the idea that “I want my way no matter what anyone thinks about it.  I don’t care what God thinks about it.”  This is spiritual anarchy. 

Is 53:6,  “All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

The only true will in the universe is God’s will, yet we set up our puny will in opposition to His will.  Since God is absolute, we must come to God on God’s terms.  We cannot come on our terms.  We cannot bargain or dicker with God.  God is not fluid in His character.  He does not adjust His character to accommodate man because His character is infinite and absolute.  God will not bargain His standards away. 

Some people say, “It makes no difference how you come to God.  You can come to God through any religion as long as you are ‘sincere’”.  This idea deeply misunderstands the absolute nature of God, “We want our way, and we want God to bless our system of values.”  No, God only operates according to His way and His will.  He does not adjust to our program; we must adjust to His program and standards. 

Lawlessness is another way to describe carnality.  A carnal person is a believer dominated by his sin capacity.  He walks out of phase with God.  Sin characterizes the life of a lawless believer.  He decided to go negative toward God and His Word at some point. 

Every sin involves two issues: the will to sin and the act of sin.  Confession of sin involves two issues as well: identifying the sin and repentance from the sin.  Repentance is the attitude that wants to do the will of God. 

A carnal Christian remains in status quo lawlessness until he confesses his sin.  That means he is outside the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that makes him free.  He is outside the law of spirituality (Ro 8:2-4).  Sins such as jealousy, hatred, bitterness, and envy catapult him out of fellowship.  As long as these sins remain unconfessed, he is in a state of lawlessness.  The Holy Spirit no longer controls his life. 

If the carnal Christian does good, it is by operation bootstraps.  It is not a ‘good’ that comes from God.  He previously removed himself from the law of spirituality by his carnality.  He can do nothing to get it back except throw himself on the cross of Christ.  He did something to lose his spirituality, but he can do nothing to get it back.  He cannot agonize in the closet, do good works, and become maudlin or sentimental to get it back.  That violates the provision of God’s grace in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Spirituality and carnality are mutually exclusive, just as light and darkness are mutually exclusive.  God is completely incompatible with darkness.  There is no such thing as being partially spiritual because of the absoluteness of God’s character.  Committing one sin is a revolt against the God of light in whom is no darkness whatever (1:5). 

Ps 119:34-35, 77, 34 “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;

Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

35  Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,

For I delight in it.

77  Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;

For Your law is my delight.”

Ro 7:22-25, 22 “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”