An interview about sin with the author of 1 John

Today is a public holiday in Italy—the feast of the Immaculate Conception. That is, the conception of Mary, not Jesus. So the timing of this post (adapted from “Sin” in 1 John) is either astute or in poor taste. You decide.

John, why did you write this letter?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin (2:1).

What is sin?

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness (3:4). All wrongdoing is sin (3:17a).

What happens if we sin?

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (2:1)

What if we say we have no sin or have not sinned?

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1:8). If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1:10).

What if we confess our sins?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1:9).

Why are our sins forgiven?

…your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake (2:12).

How can we be cleansed from our sin?

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1:7)

What is Jesus’ relationship to sin?

You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin (3:5). He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (2:2). In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (2:10).

What should we do when a brother commits a sin?

There is sin that does not lead to death (5:17b). If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death (5:16a).

What about a sin that leads to death?

There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that (5:16b).

Can a person who abides in Christ keep on sinning?

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (3:6). Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (3:8).

Who then, doesn’t make a practice of sinning?

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God (3:9). We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him (5:18).

Original here: “Sin” in 1 John. Only explicit references to sin have been considered. To categorise all of the concepts of “sin” in the book of 1 John, one would need to look at walking in darkness, loving the world, not keeping commandments, not practicing righteousness, idolatry, etc.

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