John is really trying to make a point here. Yet, it is a simple one: You cannot be a child of God if you keep on sinning. To be a child of God is the penultimate love. But, we are children of God by way of gift, not by what we are, or by what we have done. It is only through the life and death of Jesus Christ that we are children of God. However, someone who continues to sin is, according to John, definitionally a child of the devil.
Is John’s point really all that simple? Do you ever have times when you think “I’m a good person. I go to church. I read my bible. I am a child of God”; but then, you are tested. You are not charged for a certain item in your grocery cart and you don’t realize it until you are home and you don’t take it back. Or, your credit card payment was in fact late but you call the company and talk them out of assessing the late charge. Or, you run a red light. Or your child has a heavy class load, is in after school athletics, active in Church and you get after him for getting a B on a test. Are these sins? If we do any of these things, are we then not children of God? Is there such a thing as a sinless human being? Are you still a child of God if you are 98% sinless? How about 76% sinless?
Sin is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “Transgression of a religious or moral law; an estrangement from God as a result of breaking God’s law; an offense, violation, fault or error”. Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. Then to love your neighbor as yourselves. These are the laws. So, if in your action, you either fail to love God, or you fail to love your neighbor as yourself, you have indeed sinned. There are no increments. A 1% sin is the same as a 100% sin. But the good news is that we can be renewed by having a contrite heart. Next time you are at the grocery store, pay for the item you took home. Pay the late fee for the credit card anyway. Tell your child you are sorry and support them in what they are trying to do. Don’t run that red light next time.
See. It really is pretty simple, isn’t it?