Sin No More

“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you.”


This is an easily misunderstood saying of Jesus. I know because I’ve wrestled in confusion over what it means to “sin no more”. It sounds almost like an impossible command.


Honestly, this brings up a lot of questions that I’m still trying to understand, but reading this statement of Jesus in context gives us a good start to understanding this whole “sin no more” business. In fact, it gives us a good start to understanding the gospel. So let’s dive in.


Jesus spoke this to a man He healed from a lifetime of paralysis.


So then, what’s this “worst thing” that Jesus is talking about. As we discovered on Cross Connection (catch the episode here), although some sins have negative health consequences, that’s probably not Jesus’ main focus. Rather, in John 5 Jesus points to a much more serious consequence than poor health: the resurrection of condemnation (cf. John 5:29).


When I read this, it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me realize how serious sin is. And I believe this is the right reaction. Jesus doesn’t want us to be comfortable with sin. He wants us to hate our sinfulness as much as the man hated his illness.


But now we must be very careful. We have sin. It’s a serious problem. We hate it. Now what?


Some would say, “stop sinning”. And so they try. I have. Wake up deciding that today I would “sin no more”, and not much later, I find my self exhausted, defeated, and depressed.


But Jesus presents another way.


He doesn’t command, “sin no more.”


Rather He declares, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more.”


I believe it is vitally important to understand this distinction.


If I am simply told to “sin no more”, I am being told to be someone that I am not. But Jesus knows our natural inclination to evil. Thus Jesus doesn’t command hypocrisy, but He declares, “You’ve been made well.”


Wellness refers to more than just our health. It’s our whole mental-physical-spiritual being. In calling us well, Jesus declares us as resurrected to a new kind of life.


Resurrection is actually the central message of John 5. It was hinted at in the story of Jesus telling the man who had been lying on the ground paralyzed to “get up”. But it becomes even more evident in the teaching of Jesus that follows. Here’s a brief outline:

Son does nothing of self, only as sees the Father (John 5:19-20)

Father and Son give life. Son judges. (John 5:21-23)

Son resurrects from death to life (John 5:24)

Son resurrects from death to life (John 5:25)

Father and Son have life. Son judges. (John 5:26-29)

Son does nothing of self, only as hears the Father. (John 5:30)

Notice the structure? In parallel motion, Jesus builds up to His central announcement, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; the those who hear will live” (John 5:25).


The resurrection is a literal future event (‘the hour is coming’), but Jesus announces that it is also a present reality for those who hear Jesus (“and now is”). In other words, “You’ve been made well.”


And now we can begin to see that “sin no more” is simply the outworking of “you’ve been made well”. Jesus is saying that you don’t have to keep living like someone dead in sin, rather you can live like yourself—someone raised from the dead.


Granted, we ought to recognize there’s a difference between having a cough and being paralyzed. Likewise, there’s a difference between having traces of sin remain in your life and having sin reign over your life. We still struggle with sin, but it is no longer the controlling force in our life.


However, just as a healthy man isn’t content to live with a cough, a person made well isn’t comfortable with any trace of sin. Both visit the Physician (see 1 John 2:1).


The words of Jesus have power. They are what pass us from death to life.


I’m convinced I can’t go a day without exposing myself to the Words of Christ. I need to hear from Him who I now am. I need to be reminded that I’ve been made well. I need to be told that I’m free to live like myself, my new self in Christ.

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