We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did. — 1 John 2:3-6 

In my upcoming book, We Know — A Study Of 1 John, I use the illustration in Chapter 2 of Dr. Karl Menninger, who published a best-selling book in 1930 which was instrumental in introducing the field of psychiatry to the American public. The title of the book was, The Human Mind. Forty-three years later, however, Dr. Menninger shocked that medical therapeutic community with another best-selling book, which debunked many of the psychiatric theories of that day. It was called, Whatever Became of Sin?

After many years of experience in his field, Dr. Menninger came to the conclusion, that mental health and moral health were identical and the reality of sin, which had all but disappeared from contemporary vocabulary, offered the best hope to the suffering, struggling and anxious world for treatment and prevention. One reviewer called his book, “a lay sermon . . . preached with warmth that offered an explanation of why men know what is good but do what is bad.” An excerpt from Dr. Menninger’s book best states his observations and his challenge:

“In all of the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of “sin,” a word once in everyone’s mind, but now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles—sin with an “I” in the middle? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented and repaired or atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal—or asleep? Wrong things are being done, we know: tares are being sown in the wheat field at night. But is no one responsible, no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings’ but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it?”

Today, almost 50 years later, in the midst of corporate scandals, insider trading, inflated resumes, an epidemic of pornography, terrorism, gay marriages and lifestyles, transgender confusion, escalating divorce rates, abortion by the millions, violent gangs, alcoholism, drug abuse and unprecedented addiction and rising crime rates, Karl Menninger’s words sound eerily prophetic.

Few people today pronounce our personal failures for what they really are, even in the church and families—but God’s Word calls it “sin,” which is the subject of much of 1 John. The apostle John presents his teaching in three parts. First, he tells us that the reason for his letter is that we may not sin. Second, if we do sin, Jesus is the atoning sacrifice and our advocate with the Father and third, our obedience to God’s Word will determine whether or not we will sin again. Take some time this week and read 1 John. I believe it will enlighten your heart and mind. Maranatha!

To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better

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