In contemporary society, besides the major heresies, e.g., Jehovah Witness, Mormon, and Unitarianism, which undermine Jesus Christ, the modern culture denies His deity and just regards Him as one of the most influential moral teachers in human history. These have a destructive impact to modern Church and Christian faith. Some churches preach everything except that Jesus is the Son of God, who has died on the Cross for our sin. Even in evangelical churches, there is an increasing number of “Christians” who come to church baptized and disappear. Even those who actively serve in churches are very often so pragmatic that they see Jesus Christ just like a plumber sees the basics of mechanics and fluid dynamics, which is only needed for passing the licensing exam and will be put aside after he is licensed to work with a technical manual. In such a situation, this passage is probably more relevant than ever. Two principles are identified below to apply to our ministry.
First, we must go back to the basics and remain in Christ. In this passage, John the apostle set a great example for us in holding to the fundamentals of faith—the revealed World in flesh. Everything taught, every method developed, every service and mission initiated/carried out must be rooted in and go through this foundation. When we lead nonbelievers to Christ, we must make sure to pass the very fundamentals to them so that they can be born again in Christ. We should observe in their behavior evidences of genuine repenting and solid trust. To do this, we are certainly not placing judgment over our friends, but taking “the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed” in them (Gal. 4:19). We need teach them to pray, to seek, and to obey God’s commandments in love and joy.
Second, we must live a Godly life in Christ. Whenever I work in flesh in my ministry, I found myself either dried up or burn out, unable to win the spiritual battles. This is clearly shown in the Pauline epistles dealing with dynamic formation of individual spiritual life. It is impossible for a person in flesh to obey God’s commands. Here John shows the other side of the truth. That is, a Christian remaining in Christ certainly cannot sin. A plumber works well with just a technical manual given by the chief engineer, because his work is subjected to human standard. But a Christian cannot do his/her ministry with an instruction given by a senior pastor or Christian leader, because we are subjected to an absolute standard set by God, which can only be fulfilled in Christ. Definitely, the sinful human nature would drag us out of Jesus. But we should not feel frustrated in this situation; instead, we must turn back immediately to the Lord Jesus, be cleansed, and say no to sin. May God keep his children standing firmly in faith, repenting heartily in His holiness, and praying fervently in communion, so that God’s purpose in our life is fulfilled in complete joy.