Scripture: 1 John 3:4
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
BREAKING GOD’S COMMANDMENT
What is sin? Sin is the act of breaking God’s commandment. There are dos and don”ts in God’s commandments. When we do what God commands us not to do, we sin. When we do not do what God commands us to do, we sin. James the apostle wrote, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
BEING IGNORANT, WEAK OR WICKED
When we sin, we are in one of the three spiritual states: Ignorant, weak, or wicked. When we sin in ignorance, it means we break God’s commandment but we are not aware of it. Paul the apostle wrote, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” (Romans 7:9) In this case, we break God’s commandment, but we do not think we break it. When we sin in weakness, it means we break God’s commandment while we are trying to keep it. Paul the apostle wrote, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19) In this case, we actually want to keep God’s commandment, but we do not have the strength to do so. When we sin in wickedness, it means we break God’s commandment willfully with wicked intention. It is written in the book of Hebrews, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:26) In this case, we break God’s commandment on purpose even after we have already experienced the severity of its consequences.
SIN AND DEATH
When we commit sin in ignorance, God will not immediately punish us. Instead He will convict us of the sin we have committed without being aware of it. Even though we do not think that what we have done is sin, death will still work in our lives because we have actually broken God’s commandment. When we commit sin in weakness, we realize that we sin because we have already known God’s commandment. God will not punish us as long as we repent of our sin immediately. Death will work in our lives until we truly repent. When we sin in wickedness, God will punish us because we openly rebel against His authority. Death will work in our lives in full force.
SIN NOT LEADING TO DEATH AND SIN LEADING TO DEATH
John the apostle wrote, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” (1 John 5:16) When we are still new believers, we often sin in ignorance because we still do not have much knowledge. When we have increased in knowledge, we are no longer ignorant. Nevertheless, we still often find ourselves weak when we are faced with certain temptations and we fall into sin. When we sin in ignorance or in weakness, our sin will not immediately lead to death. When we have grown up in knowledge and have found strength to overcome sin but then become proud, we will fall away and we will sin in wickedness. When we sin in wickedness, our sin will immediately lead to death.
THE ACT OF SIN AND THE SPIRITUAL STATE
The difference between sin which does not lead to death and sin which leads to death is not in the act of sin itself but in the spiritual state in which the act of sin is committed. Any sin which is committed in ignorance or in weakness will not lead to death, but any sin which is committed in wickedness will lead to death. He who commits sin not leading to death will still be able to find a place for repentance, but he who commits sin leading to death will no longer be able to find a place for repentance. He will be like Esau. It is written in the book of Hebrews, “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16-17)
THE WILLFUL SIN
The sin which leads to death is the sin which is committed when the heart that used to be gentle has become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). So, the person who commits this sin has received the knowledge of the truth but willfully goes against it. He makes himself an enemy of God and puts himself under His judgment and indignation. It is written in the book of Hebrews, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
THE FALLING AWAY
Paul the apostle wrote, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1) In the last days before the second coming of the Lord Jesus, there will be a falling away in the church. Many believers will draw back from their faith and commit sin leading to death (Hebrews 10:37-39) It will happen to them what is written in the book of Hebrews, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)