1a My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
John’s salutation of his readers, “My little children”, expresses God’s love for His people. Divine love that flowed through the exhortation of the apostle sought sanctity in the lives of His people; hence he tenderly commanded them not to commit sin.
Would God’s children be bent on pursuing sin, knowing that it would grieve their loving Father? His dear children should say, “Oh, I will not grieve my God, who is so kind and good to me. Oh, how could I again grieve my God who has forgiven my sins?” If every child of God is grateful for the immense love that God has bestowed on him, he will not want to defy and dishonour God with his sins. Sincere appreciation for divine love and mercy will be a powerful incentive in the heart of God’s children to forsake besetting sins in their lives.
So, under the full force of God’s love towards us, John exhorts us: “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” He has just mentioned in the previous chapter about the divine commitment to forgive us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The reason why he highlighted God’s unreserved commitment to pardon those who confess their sins, is not to encourage them to continue in their sins, but rather to persuade them not to live in sin again. Having been divinely forgiven, how can we callously live in sin still? Jesus died to rid us from all uncleanness, so we are indebted to please Him and not to vex His gracious heart.
This is not an exhortation to claim that Christians will be perfectly sinless, but to rouse them to decisive action against any propensity towards sin. They should not entertain sin within their hearts. They should not yield to temptations of sin. Their love for their holy God should kindle in them a strong aversion to sin. They must sturdily detest sins, which their God hates. Instead of succumbing to the downward pull of sin, they should yield to God’s loving call unto purity.
Beloved Christians, you should neither justify nor excuse your sins. You also should not feel proud of your sins. Rather, you must repent of your sins in shame and godly sorrow. Neither think of sin with pleasure nor recollect past sins to dwell on them. Instead, pray and deliberate on how to avoid sins, and then act on the plan to avoid or flee from them.