Friday, January 20, 2012

John 15:22,24: Not Guilty of Sin

This past week our senior pastor preached on John 15:18-27. It was a very good, if sobering, sermon on how the world rejects and hates Jesus, and therefore rejects and hates Christians. This is, however, a comfort because it links us to Christ and shows us we are His. During the sermon though, there were a couple of verses that seemed a bit shocking.

From John 15:

[22] If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
[24] If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

At face value, it sounds as if Jesus is saying that before him, people were not guilty of sin. If that were true, much [Reformed, Evangelical] theology would have to be discarded. What is particularly interesting is it appears as if the ESV is trying to insert meaning into the text and soften what it actually says by adding the word 'guilty' to the verses. The NKJV for these verses say:

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ 
During the sermon, our pastor pointed out that claiming that people had no sin before Christ is taking those verses too far. He appealed to D.A. Carson and made a brief comment about how knowledge of Christ increases a person's responsibility and guilt if they reject Him. Not much more was said, and this is good because the sermon wasn't really about this passage. But the desire to investigate more wasn't satisfied by his appeal to [a very good] authority. For those interested in reading Carson's thoughts, find a copy of The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John.

Understanding the context of the passage helps to interpret the meaning of those difficult verses. The entire paragraph is speaking about persecuting, hating and rejecting Jesus. The other important piece of information is the link between the Father and the Son. Jesus demonstrates his Sonship by speaking the Word and doing the Father's works. Putting these together shows that Jesus is saying that they are persecuting, hating and rejecting the Father because they're doing those things to him, and he explicitly says this in verse 24.

So when the world hates Jesus, they are sinning because they are hating both Him and His Father. They would have no sin against Him or the Father if he hadn't come and spoken or done His works. So the sin spoken of is not sin in general. It's not saying the world was guiltless before Christ came. The world was guiltless of this particular sin--hating the Father and His Son--before Jesus came. And by this we see fulfillment of the Christological Psalm 69 (in particular, verse 4). They hated Jesus without a cause, and they bear sin because of the witness Jesus is of His Father.

1 comment:


    If the false doctrine of original sin is true how would Christian parents pass it on to their children?

    Ephesians 5:25-27...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. (NKJV)

    How would it be possible for the church to be holy without blemish and be able to pass the inherited guilt of Adam's sin to children of Christian parents?

    John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said , "Behold The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (NKJV)

    Does Jesus take away all sin except original sin? He did not die for original sin. Original sin inherited by men is not found in the Bible.

    If children of Christians inherit the sin of Adam then why do they not inherit the individual sins of their parents such as drunkenness, murder, adultery etc.? Why, because children do inherit any sin at all.

    Men are only guilty of the sins they themselves commit.

    Men die physically because of Adam's sin.
    Men die spiritually because of the their own sins.

    The doctrine of total depravity and original sin that is inherited from Adam is a fabrication of men.

    How would it be possible to inherit sin from a Christian who has been cleansed of all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ?