If anyone should see his brother sinning a sin not leading to death, he should ask, and he will grant life to him, to those who sin not leading to death. (There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should ask about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. (John 5)
Whoever said, “He’s so heavenly minded he ain’t no earthly good.” probably had John the Revelator in mind. Words fail John. He’s a philosopher and high thinker and poet and his lofty concepts often seem strangled by the limits of language. They don’t dance for him on the page the way they must in his mind where the meanings shine and nuances wax and wane. Something seems lost in translation. The written word can come at us divorced from the emotions of the writer. Like a text from your brother, “Was that sarcasm, or is he really happy for me? What does he mean?”
“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5)
What does he mean??
If John was high minded, Jesus, especially as John relates him, is nigh on inscrutable. Is he saying this man’s sin led to his lameness? “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9) Neither, says Jesus, not because the man or his parents were sinless. That’s preposterous. Not because it isn’t true that disease and plague and pain and suffering and even Death itself didn’t enter the world because of sin, all creation knows that to be true and groans as it waits under a curse of death for the Revelation. But he says “neither” because that’s not important to what he wants to do. It’s the wrong emphasis. No, no, no, he could have said. You’re looking from the bottom up. You’re looking at newtonian religion. Every sin has an equal and opposite curse. So you must be righteous to get blessing. That viewpoint has no life in it! It is all focused on you! All on your many, many grievous sins. Like Pharisees trying to actually DO the Law and only making it more and more tangled and unbearably heavy with more laws till no one can bear it and we are all crushed beneath it like the lame man or chuck it entirely like the adulteress! It is as if Jesus is boiling it all down as he did to Martha.
Sinner, Sinner, “you are anxious and troubled about many things! But few things are necessary, or only one thing…”
Yes, there are countless myriad sins. Our hearts are idol factories, sin wells, the deeper you go, the deeper it goes. It just keeps getting darker. Crack the lid off this septic tank of your soul and the stench will overwhelm you, knock you out and drown you when you fall and your corpse will sink forever. But when it comes right down to it, there is only one sin that really matters to Jesus.
Do you believe in him or not?
Here even the word belief fails us! This is not just cognitive recognition of a historical person named Jesus. It’s not even just the intellectual assent that he was the Son of God. If it must start there, then so be it, but let it never stop there! Let it never stop at all! If sin is bottomless, Grace, the gift of belief and faith and trust and joy and adoption into God the Father through Christ is limitless! The higher you look the higher it goes! Infinity! Do you believe in him? Then believe him! Do you believe him? Then put your trust in him! Do you put your trust in him? Then love him! Do you love him? Then obey him! Do you obey him? Then love his! He is the fount of living water that never fails, he is the light that never fades, he is the gift that never stops giving, Clark! His jellies are new every morning! As soon as you start writing about him, you gain an appreciation for John’s plight! For Paul's run on doxologies! For David’s psalms! We could literally sing of His love forever!
Sin no longer. This path leads only to death. Not the death of the body, every body dies, who cares about that? Quit being so near sighted! Fear the one who can throw body and soul into hell! Fear the second death! Sin no longer! Flee the path that leads only to the second death! Flee living for nothing! Flee living as if you could keep the Law? Flee trying to be perfect! Quit fleeing from the Father who loves you and wants you in his family and in his home! Accept the perfection laid down for you! Accept the righteousness laid down for you! Accept the Lamb bled out for you! Accept the ransom paid for you! The free gift given to you! See, I have healed you! See, I have died in your place to save you from certain death, not from anything so temporary as disease or an angry unforgiving mob, these things are just parables, shadows and foretastes of the Wrath of a Holy and Perfectly Just God! See, I love you, have loved you and want to love you forever!
Believe in me!