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Practicing Righteousness or Practicing Sin
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By Pastor Mick Wolfe
February 4, 2019

The following is intended 1) to help us understand that as one follows Jesus, is empowered by the Holy Spirit and applies Biblical truth in a practical way, a Christian life will produce increased expressions of righteousness and 2) to help us understand the sense in which this is expressed in the third chapter of John’s first letter. To do so, I will insert expressions that capture an important grammatical element in the following passage. It is based on the present tense (indicating the action is currently and, consequently, continuously taking place), active voice (indicating the subject is performing the action, not being acted upon). The importance of this is that it distinguishes between a person’s dominant, consistent lifestyle and approach and that which is contrary to one’s dominant, consistent lifestyle and approach. It is also important to realize that one’s outward approach is a manifestation of one’s internal and ultimate commitment of heart.

1 Jn.2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices (is continually practicing) righteousness is born of Him.

1 Jn.3:1-10 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies (is continually purifying) himself, just as He is pure. (4) Everyone who practices (is continually practicing) sin also practices (is continually practicing) lawlessness; and 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 (is abiding / remaining) in Him sins (is continually sinning); no one who sins (is continually sinning) has seen Him or knows Him. (7) Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices (is continually practicing) righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; (8) the one who practices (is continually practicing) sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one who is born of God practices (is continually practicing) sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin (be continually sinning), because he is born of God. (10) By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice (is not continually practicing) righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

This is not instruction about how a sinner becomes saved but, rather, what a genuine convert, having come to repentance toward God and faith in Christ, will produce. Right relationship with Christ produces right external choices and behavior. We might say that producing the fruit of the Spirit is evidence that one is pardoned and filled with the Spirit.

Other pertinent passages are:

2 Co 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Pe.1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, (15) but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."

Heb 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

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