Most Christians consciously or unconsciously lean heavily on the catechism’s definition of sin: “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” By the law of God the catechism means the Ten Commandments. We know that we are free from the law viz. the Ten Commandments since we in Christ died to its ordinances and requirements. Having such knowledge we cannot longer attach sin to our failures to keep the commandments. This further connotes that we have to abstain from referring to sin in association with conduct and behavior. If we are to deal correctly with the question of sin in the context of the new dispensation our starting-point must be Paul’s definition: Everything which is not of faith is sin.
Effectively Paul has redefined sin in accordance with the new paradigm. The law of God then is transferred to mean “the truth of God in Jesus” From a straight forward legally definition we have moved unto a Christologically definition of sin which is more in harmony with Paul’s words. A pressing question now arises: What is the truth of God in Jesus? He is the Father’s son who anointed by the Holy Spirit became man to reconcile every man to God. In, through and by Him all things were created and are sustained. In Him the entire creation and everything not created viz. the Father and the Spirit are bound together in relationship. Every man is embraced by God in Him and included in the Triune fellowship through Him. Hence sin is a want of conformity unto or transgression to this glorious truth of God in Jesus.
Paul’s definition very distinctly captures what took place in the Garden of Eden. As one of God’s creatures man was given a prominent place in the creation because in man God saw Himself as in a mirror. Our Father granted us abundant provision and we were included in a relationship which trademark was joy, fellowship and adoration. In the midst of this abundance of every good thing man was deceived into believing that he would do better on his own. Sin is thus “to ignore and refuse to believe that we are included in Jesus’ own relationship with his Father. Then in our darkness we invent our own way of relationship, and then impose them on Jesus and his Father, the Holy Spirit and everyone else in the universe. Essentially sin is insisting that Jesus is wrong and that he needs to repent and believe in us. Sin is insisting that Jesus change his view of his Father, change his view of his relationship with us and with all creation, and come believe in us, and join us in our terrible confusion.” (C Baxter Kruger)
It is in this context that John’s words convey comfort and a clear and distinct meaning to every believer: “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” (1 John 3:6) and “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” (1 John 5:18) Why? Because the believer has embraced the truth of God in Jesus!