Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3, verse 4.
A few weeks ago we watched a movie called “Lawless.” It was about bootleggers during Prohibition, and how both they and they legal authorities pursuing them flaunted the law to get what they wanted. I have to admit: it was enjoyable. There’s something about a shoot-em-up movie that’s just fun to watch; the good guys against the bad guys…except the ‘good guys’ weren’t really that good, and the ‘bad guys’ were the ones who were supposed to be doing good.
Then it hit me: that’s us. We are like lawless bootleggers.
It’s easy to point out some sins as being lawless. Murder, stealing, lying, cheating: people in all societies see these things lawless acts that go against the norms of society. Those who perpetrate them must be held accountable for society to function. But go beyond the obvious and ask yourself if ALL sin isn’t lawless. You don’t have to slaughter people in concentration camps to be lawless. The child who says ‘no’ in defiance has done a lawless thing. The man who gives his word and then decides to not follow through has done a lawless thing. The woman who holds a grudge against her friend has done a lawless thing. When I think against God’s will, I’m lawless. Do you see?
Implied in the second clause of verse 4 is “all.” ALL sin is lawless, even the seemingly innocuous ones. More, sin as a condition is lawlessness. It is more than just the act. When we do the sin, we are in a lawless state; the action says something about us. The choice or desire to commit the act comes from within. It comes from our hearts. If the sin itself is lawless, it is how we embrace doing the sin that is lawlessness. All sin is lawlessness whether we want to accept that or not.
It isn’t just bootleggers who break the law, and it isn’t just the really bad rats in the movies, or politicians in the White House, or just the people we see on the TV news. It’s us. We break the law. I break God’s laws a thousand times a day, and even that number is optimistic. Extrapolate that out to see that, if I broke God’s law a thousand times per day, because I’m 46, if God were accounting for my sins like an accountant, my tally would be at least 16,790,000. That’s 16 million reasons I should be damned. Tell me, do you think I have the wherewithal to pay for 16 million sins, to right 16 million ways in which I’ve wronged God or others?
Thank God I don’t have to. Thank God you don’t have to. Thank God He paid for them Himself. Thank God He made a lawless people like us clean again.
Thank you, Lord, for your redeeming love and forgiving mercy.