The epistle also shows us, through the “hina” clauses, the purposes of God in sending His Son into the world.
He Was Manifested That He Might Take Away Our Sins (3:5)
The words are so simple. Perhaps they are meant for praise rather than for exposition. Consider the Person as depicted in the word, “He.” John is quick to add, even in the same sentence, “and in Him is no sin,” for only through a Sinless Substitute could sins be taken away. Consider the gracious purposes of the Godhead that are contained in the word “that,” meaning “in order that.” Notice the problems and penalties associated with our sins and the actual putting away of those sins. This required the manifestation of this One who came, not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The word “airoo,” translated, “to take away,” is the word used in John 1:29 and carries the thought of lifting up, carrying, or bearing away. It reminds us of the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest was to take two goats. One was to be “for the Lord and the other for the goat of departure.” After the offering up of the first goat as a sin offering for the people, he would bring the live goat, and, having laid his hands on the head of that goat, and confessed over him the iniquities of the children of Israel, the High Priest would then send him away into the wilderness bearing away all the iniquities of the children of Israel (Lev 16). It was so at the Cross. Here was the true Sin-Bearer who could bear away the sin of the world. It is interesting that in Ch 3:5, forgiveness is based on the Cross, whereas in ch 1:9, where the believer’s communion is involved, forgiveness is based on confession.
He was Manifested That He Might Destroy the Works of the Devil (3:8)
Mr. Darby translates the verse, “that He might undo the works of the Devil.” What were these purposes and works that were to be undone? It would seem from the context that His purpose was to undo these works by creating a people in whom the seed of an implanted Divine nature would abide and who would therefore not habitually practice sin. There would therefore be a sharp line of demarcation between the children of God and the children of the Devil. It is similar to Paul’s thought when he wrote that the Lord Jesus gave Himself that “He might purify unto Himself a people for a possession, zealous of good works”(Tit 2:14).
Satan’s first work was deception. This began in the garden and continues today, for he is called the deceiver of the whole world (Rev 12:9). The Lord Jesus came as the Truth. Another work of the Devil is death. The writer to the Hebrews wrote that the Lord Jesus participated in flesh and blood that, “He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the Devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14 -15). He came as the Deliverer.
Satan’s work has brought distance, a separation from God. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid His face from you,” was the charge of Isaiah to Israel (59:2). The Savior has come in answer to the plight and prayer of Job when he said, “Neither is there any Daysman betwixt us that He might lay His hand upon us both” (9:33). He is that Daysman, the only One who could be the mediator.
Another result of Satan’s works is darkness for, “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should shine unto them.” The Lord Jesus announced, “I am the Light of the world.” John had said of Him that He was the True Light, who, coming into the world, sheds His light upon all men” (John 1:9). He is the Dispeller of the Darkness.
Satan’s work is also manifested in disease. When the Lord Jesus was about to heal the woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years and was bowed together, He asked, “And ought not this woman whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed on the Sabbath day” (Luke 13:10-16)? The Devil has been occupied in the work of destruction. This is seen in many ways, but often it is seen in the attempts of those who, under his oppression or in depression, try to destroy themselves (Mk 5:5). The Savior has come as the One stronger than all His foes to undo these works of the enemy. God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him (4:9). The sin in the Garden of Eden brought death to man according to the Word of God to Adam, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” (Gen 3:17). Adam ate and “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” The Savior found us in a three-fold state of death: first, spiritual death as separated from God by sin; secondly, physical death for we were in bodies that had become subject to death; and thirdly, in danger of the second death, eternal separation from God. He came as the great Life-Giver, saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” and, “I am the Bread of Life.” He offered spiritual life in the words, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He offered satisfaction to the woman at the well (John 4). He promised life for bodies subject to death, for He is the Resurrection and the Life. Victory has been promised for those who have already been redeemed with respect to their souls and who are now awaiting the adoption (placing as sons), that is, the redemption of the body, which will take place at His appearing (Rom 8:23). This victory over death which He has brought is finally seen in that the believer has been delivered from that final assize from which the lost are cast into the Lake of Fire, the second death. He promised eternal life with Him and that He would come again and receive His Own unto Himself that “where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-5). The context of 4:9-10 shows us a life granted because of love (4:9) and because of a life that was given (4:10). God, in His character as Love, desired the release of those in the bondage of death. In His character as Light, He could only do it on righteous grounds and so we read that He sent His Son, a propitiation for our sins. The mercy seat in the tabernacle was the propitiatory, the place where God would meet with man and commune with him from above the mercy seat (Ex 25:22). He sent Him as a Satisfaction for Sins (4:10) and as Savior of the World (4:14). What a transaction to have been translated out of a state of death and into a state of life! Thanks be to God that the Father sent the Son!