1 John 3: 4 – 10 NLT
“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”
These are strong words! I don’t think it means that we must be perfect, sinless. In our human state, we have a tendency to sin. Earlier in 1 John, he talks about admitting our sin and asking for forgiveness. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1: 9) That verse was forever etched on my mind when I was 18 years old. I spent a summer working with Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization that works with children to introduce them to faith in God. The summer program meant we travelled to various places in Ontario and held club meetings in people’s backyards for one week. We told Bible stories and played games to keep the children wanting to return each of the five days. We were trained on how to lead someone to faith in Jesus. We had several verses about what sin is, why Jesus died and rose from the dead – but then we had to talk about living through life with a close relationship with God. That verse was 1 John 1: 9 – the assurance we can mess up and God will forgive. (By the way, one week I stayed with Chuck Congram’s parents – who knew I would meet Chuck later in life at LSA?)
What John is talking about in these verses is someone who claims to be a Christ follower, but deliberately continues to sin. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they don’t care. Think about a love relationship between a husband and wife. That most often means both people care for the other person and want to please them. If we know something really bugs the other person, we stop doing it. Suppose you were in a marriage when one of the partners said, I won’t be home for supper at least 5 nights of the week because I have some friends I’d rather be with. Would you call that a good marriage? The person prefers to be with other people? That is what John is talking about. How can we say we are Christ followers if we ignore what God wants, if we ignore God most of every day?
When we love God, we want to live in a way pleasing to him. We want to follow Jesus’ example. We want to do what is right. We are sorry when we realize we’ve done something wrong. Sometimes it takes the Holy Spirit a while to convince us to give something up. We hear that small voice in our spirit making us uncomfortable with our attitude or behaviour. We can be assured we can turn to him for forgiveness.
To close today, I want you to read what Paul says about the Holy Spirit guiding us to live the way God wants.
Galatians 5: 16 – 25 NLT
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. “
Our song for today is Be Thou My Vision. This hymn was thought to be originally written in the 6th century by an Irish Christian poet, Dallan Forgaill. Eleanor Hull translated it from that old Anglo-Saxon version in 1912, and an Irish folk song became its music.