Welcome Valley Bible Studies

Lesson 10: 1 John 3:4-10

1 John 3:4
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Background Information
The word translated “committeth” in 1 John 3:4 is the same word that is translated “doeth” in 1 John 2:29. As in 1 John 2:29 it translates a present active participle, a verb-based form describing a continuous or repeated action.

The phrase “transgresseth also the law” carries the idea of breaking the law. Again, the Greek present tense allows us to understand that the action is continuous. We don’t use the word transgress much anymore. This biblical use basically suggests breaking God’s law, especially the law given through Moses in the Old Testament. Actually, the Greek phrase translated “transgresses also the law” carries the idea of doing lawlessness.

Related Scriptures
Romans 8:3-9

James 1:22-25 (The term “law of liberty” may be a way of describing the Christian experience rather than the Old Testament law.)

James 2:10-12

1. People have different definitions for sin depending on their preconceived beliefs, and sometimes depending on their desire to justify their own wrongdoing. There are several Bible verses that would give us a definition of sin. You will eventually want to put them all together for a thorough definition. In the meantime, 1 John 3:4 gives us part of the biblical definition of sin. How does this verse define sin?

2. Does this verse leave room for anyone to say that his or her sin is not a violation of God’s law?

3. Does this verse leave room for anyone to say that his or her violation of God’s law is not a sin?

4. What does each sin a person commits say about his or her respect for God’s law?

1 John 3:5-6
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Background Information
What we have been saying about the Greek present tense continues in 1 John 3:5-6. You will want to notice the tense changes in this verse. Since the English Bible reflects as much as is possible what is happening in the Greek, we’ll study those changes in English. The study questions will help.

In the “Related Scriptures” section you will see John 1:29. The John referred to in this verse isn’t the John whose book we’re studying, but John the Baptist, who was the prophet God sent to get people ready for the coming of Jesus.

Related Scriptures
John 1:29

John 8:34-36 (All we’ve learned about the word committeth applies to this text too.)

Romans 6:6-18

Galatians 2:11-16

1. Who was manifested to take away our sins?

2. Does the word “manifested” appear in present tense?

3. a) What does the tense of this verb suggest about Jesus’ first appearance on this earth? b) Is it still going on, or is it a completed action?

4. Does the person who lives in Jesus Christ live in sin also?

5. Who takes away the sin of one who finds life in Jesus?

6. Look at the word “hath” (has in modern English) in the phrase “whosoever sinneth hath not seen him”. a) Does this verse indicate that the sinner hasn’t known Jesus, in the sense of having never known Him, or does it say that the person used to know Him but no longer does? 

7. In Galatians 2, we find the Apostle Peter becoming guilty of an unrighteous act. Obviously, Peter had been saved and knew Jesus. He went on with the Lord after this act. Based on these facts, would you say that the words: “whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” applies to the righteous person who does something wrong or to the person who is consistently sinful?

1 John 3:7-8
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Background Information
As before, the words “doeth” (does) and “committeth” (commits) translate the same Greek word. (This is true of all of 1 John 3, by the way.)

Also as before, the present tenses of these two words suggest ongoing action, rather than one-time events. This will be true in the next two verses also.

Many Christians believe that the devil started out as a very special angel, but chose to lead a rebellion against God. While this doctrine is difficult to actually prove from Scripture, John 8:39-44 in the related Scriptures tends to support it. Also, it is believed that Isaiah 14 is ultimately talking about the fall of this angel and that he is the one called Lucifer in that chapter. Many Bible students also believe that the “king of Tyrus” in Ezekiel 28:11-19 ultimately refers to the devil as well. Whatever you believe about the devil’s history, we have to recognize 1) God created him, and God didn’t create him in a sinful condition; 2) He was responsible for the sinful state of the human race; 3) God is greater than he is and can protect us from him.

Related Scriptures
Genesis 3:9-15 (The curse is on both the physical snake and the devil who used it.)

Proverbs 20:11

John 8:39-44

Romans 10:3-13

Ephesians 5:2-13

1 Peter 2:9-25

1 John 2:4

1. Who sinned from the beginning?

2. In John 8:44, why did the devil not live in the truth?

3. a) Why does 1 John 3:7-8 say that Jesus was manifested? b) Why does 1 John 3:5 say Jesus was manifested? c) We are, of course, responsible for our own sins, yet somebody else influences us toward them. Who does the work of trying to get us to sin?

4. What solution does God offer for those who are unrighteous? (See Romans 10:3-13 if you are uncertain of the answer.)

1 John 3:9-10
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Related Scriptures
John 3:1-21

Romans 8:10-18

Galatians 5:17

1 Peter 1:23

Background Information
The Bible was written before people started talking about DNA and genetics. While it is reliable in scientific matters, it sometimes uses terminology that is unfamiliar to those of us who were born in a world very focused on scientific things. Such is the case with the word “seed.” The word refers to the seeds planted by farmers and also covers the use we sometimes give the word in describing human reproduction. Biblically, however, the term also includes one’s descendants. Here in 1 John 3, it describes a father’s genetic contribution to his children. In the sense it is used here, it is a way of saying that the spiritual equivalent of genes are inherited by God’s children, making believers part of his family. As with physical genes, the spiritual “genes” make us children of God and therefore empowered by the same force that empowered Jesus Christ. In the same way that we inherit certain traits from our earthly fathers, we inherit a tendency to do righteousness and avoid sin from our Heavenly Father.

People too often bring their own misconceptions to these verses and miss what they actually say entirely. Please! As you answer the questions below, answer them directly from the text, not from what you have previously thought or believed.

1. What does the present tense in these verses tell you about the nature of the action? (In these verses, the English present tense reflects the Greek present tense.)

2. Why doesn’t the child of God sin?

3. Leaving aside any assumptions you’re likely to make, what reason does the text give that the Christian doesn’t sin? (Find the words “for” and “because” if you’re uncertain.)

4. What kind of actions do a) God’s children do? b) the devil’s children?

5. Does this text indicate that refraining from sin makes one a child of God, or that being a child of God keeps one from sin?

6. Can someone whom God has saved stand to live a sinful life?

7. What does a life of sin tell you about a person’s spiritual condition?

8. What does 1 John 2:4 call the person who claims to be a Christian but lives a sinful life?

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