Thoughts from The Bible

That You May Not Sin

by Sarah Wootten Corinth Missionary Baptist Church

If you looked through my wardrobe, it’s likely that you would make some wrong assumptions about me. For instance, I have an Auburn sweatshirt. If you saw me at the grocery store and greeted me with a loud “War Eagle,” I would probably stare at you in utter confusion. Why would you greet me like that? Or maybe you would find my plethora of 5k and marathon t-shirts. You might think that I’m a runner, but the reality is that I look for excuses to skip cardio day. I’ve never ran a 5k and certainly not a marathon. My clothing isn’t always an accurate indicator of me.
In John’s first letter, he repeatedly reminds us to obey God and not just say we believe in Him. One of the primary indicators that a person has truly come to know God is that his life has been changed. He walks in obedience to God’s commands, rather than continuing in sin. In fact, John has no problem calling someone a liar if one says he knows God, but disobeys God’s commands (1 John 2:4). That’s how serious this issue is.And it’s with these verses that some Christians may begin to despair. How many times have I begun a day praying “May the words of my mouth…be acceptable in Your sight,” and then went to bed that night regretting many of the words I spoke throughout the day, (Psalm 19:14, ESV)? How many times have you, if you’re a professing believer, made a commitment to stop a certain sin only to find yourself guilty again just hours later? John’s expectations seem so unattainable. You might begin to wonder if your battle with sin shows that you’re not truly Christian. And it’s in those moments when despair begins to creep in that you must remember the cross.

Last week, we briefly discussed that Jesus is the righteous advocate who bore the penalty for our sins (1 John 2:2). Too often, Christians have been inadvertently taught that we need the gospel only at an initial moment of salvation. And then after initial belief, we just need a set of moral rules to follow. This isn’t so. We need the gospel for the entirety of our Christian lives.
John is writing this letter to believers so that they may not sin (1 John 2:1). But John also knows that we will sin. He immediately follows up his statement with “But if anyone does sin,” and tells us about the marvelous work of Christ (1 John 2:1, ESV). We absolutely need to hear and trust in the gospel in order to be reconciled to God. But we also need to remember that Jesus’ death paid the penalty for ALL of our sins – past, present, and future. The Christian should be broken over their sin. But the Christian should also set his eyes on the gospel and remind himself of the forgiveness that can only be found through Jesus. The battle with sin in this life is real, but Jesus has already won the war. We can be confident that God forgives and cleanses the repentant from their sins because God is faithful (1 John 1:9).

As Christians, our spiritual growth takes work; it’s a process. The Apostle Peter explains that believers should put away their deceitful ways, slanderous words, envious hearts, etc. and grow up in their salvation, becoming a godly people (1 Peter 2:1-12). Or as Hebrews puts it, believers are often spiritual infants, but they are expected to mature (Hebrews 5:11-6:1). This is why John can rightfully say, “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments,” (1 John 2:3, ESV).
That being said, if I was truly an Auburn fan, I wouldn’t just wear the sweatshirt. I would watch the games and say “War Eagle” back to you in the grocery store. As I wrote about a few months ago, the Christian life is one of obedience. We can’t ignore God’s law and continue to live according to our sinful pleasures. No, the Christian humbly repents of sin, trusts in Jesus’ sacrifice, and strives to obey God. God has accomplished salvation for us; it is our joy to walk in obedience to Him.

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