I am taking a stab at what has become the 1 John 1:9 controversy, so be patient with me, I am still learning.
The warp and woof of cults and false doctrine is to make a square peg fit into a round hole so scripture must be interpreted by scripture not by what we want it to mean. OK?
John was writing this to two groups: the Gnostics and Catholics (code for true Christians not Roman papists). Many of the creeds were written due to Gnostic heresies. We are not talking about Agnostics but Gnostics. An Agnostic is one who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. The Gnostics believed in an elite knowledge that brought an individual a cosmic “awakening” not salvation from sin by Christ. But then again they are not sure how to define themselves! To understand Gnosticism, they say, “one needs something very much like a musical ear. Such a Gnostic “musical ear” is not come by easily. ”
Christians commit sin or sins. Big surprise. The Bible says so. But we confess our sin. We agree with God who have fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Gnostics don’t homologeo or say the same thing that God says about the existence of sin in humans and in the world. Gnostics reject the law entirely or as they say, For man, the universe is a vast prison. He is enslaved both by the physical laws of nature and by such moral laws as the Mosaic code.
The Bible says you are a liar if you don’t see that sin is real. In fact, the Bible says you call God a liar if you don’t think so. The Gnostics were such liars. They do not believe man is spiritually dead in sin (Eph. 2:1) but they are in a state of stupefaction and need an some sort of “awakening” from this “stupid” semi-conscious or unconscious state-to knowledge of the universe and transcendence. Gnostics see no need for salvation or regeneration like the Bible teaches (John 3:3-8). They have no need for anything like faith or good works. They say, What effects the awakening is not obedience, faith, or good works, but knowledge.
But what does the Bible says about sin? It is breaking the law of God. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6NIV).
Many who have rediscovered the gospel of grace face the false accusation of being antinomian or lawless. But those who study scripture realize that Christians do not mix the law and gospel for salvation. They understand like Luther, “The Law is for the proud and the Gospel for the brokenhearted.”
The law cannot save, no good works can satisfy God’s law which demands perfection. In fact the law crushes, “the sinner’s hopes of escaping God’s wrath through personal effort or even cooperation… first comes the law to proclaim judgment and death, then the gospel to proclaim justification and life.” (Bavnick).
©2014 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney
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