Realistic about Sin

We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them.                                                                        1 John 5:18 NRS

We need to be realistic about sin. To be a human is to have the sin condition. None of us can say we are without sin. Likewise, none of us can say we have never sinned. But if we are real about those facts, let’s be real about another one: Christians do not sin! Several times John makes that point in 1 John. Most modern translations will say something like “Christians do not continue to sin.” This is fair; it reflects the Greek verb form which speaks of continuing action. This reflects the truth that John is not saying it is impossible for a Christian to sin. Rather, he is saying that a Christian has gotten out of the sin business, that a Christian makes no room for sin in his/her life.  A Christian says, “Father, I delight to do what pleases you; I’m not asking how far I can live from you and still make it into Heaven.”

The defeat of sin cost Jesus his life.  Will I make a place for it in my life?  Never!  Will I supinely say, “Well, I am just human, so I can’t help re-crucifying Jesus every day?” How could I? No, I want to know what pleases him, what glorifies him, what shows how holy he is. Now, to be sure, being human, sin is always a possibility for us. John knows that, so he tells us if we should sin, we have an advocate in Christ Jesus. Thank God! But that is an emergency position, not a permission to live filthy lives. Likewise, when Solomon says that there is no one who does not sin (1 Kgs 8:46) he is not saying that we all sin all the time. He is simply stating the fact, as John does, that everybody needs forgiveness.

A Christian is marked by a certain attitude toward the commands of God and that attitude is, “God, there will be no place for sin in my life. I expect not to sin.” This is not our work, but the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus’ death and resurrection has made available to us. We do not live above sin by trying really hard, but by surrendering our lives to him and allowing his wind to fill the sails of our tiny craft. Christians do not have to sin. That is not an onerous demand, but a glorious promise. Are you living there?

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