Category Archives: sin

Children of God

1 John 2:28-3:10   And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Are you doing what you ought to be doing?  How are your actions speaking to other people about Christ?  Are they giving a good witness or repelling people from the gospel?

This part of John’s letter is a powerful thought about our obedience.  Not only is he saying that followers of Jesus should do good, he’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re not a follower of Christ.  You get that?  John’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re on the opposite team.  If you’re not for Christ you’re against Him.  There’s no middle ground.  If you continue to practice sin regularly, you’re not a Christian.  Ouch.

We all need to take this passage to heart and assess ourselves from the inside out.  Are we really practicing righteousness?  When we received Christ we were empowered to walk with God and obey Him in a way that was impossible before our salvation.  But are we doing it?  Are we walking the walk?

No one who is born of God (reborn, we would say) makes a practice of sinning.  Are you a child of God?  Are you acting like it?

Walking in the light

1 John 1:5-10  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

One of the things that can most negatively affect our relationship with God and with other people is unconfessed sin.  If we hold onto the idea that we’ve done nothing wrong when in reality we’ve offended God with our thoughts and actions, we’re putting a barrier between Him and ourselves.  The same is true when we act as though we’ve not wronged others.  We can’t have true fellowship when we’re walking in a lie.

But if we confess our sins to the Lord, He’s not standing by waiting to strike us down with lightning; He’s ready to forgive us and to cleanse us.  When we’ve been cleansed by God, we’re then enabled to walk in the light.  If we have fellowship with God, we can’t be in the darkness, so it’s also fair to say that if we’re walking in darkness we’re not in fellowship with God.

Where are you right now? Are you walking in the light?  Are your relationships reflective of God’s work in you?  Or are you in broken relationships with other people and a broken fellowship with God?  The good news is that at any time we can turn to Him and admit our sins.  He’ll wash us clean with the blood of Christ, just like He took a big eraser and wiped out all of our wrongdoing to give us a fresh start.  He wants to do that for us.  The Good News is for believers too.

Light is a gift

Ephesians 5:13-14 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,  for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

It’s no secret that more crime happens in the darkness of night. Those who wish to remain unseen work in the dark. To have light shined upon them would be to expose their deeds. This is true literally, but it’s also very true spiritually.

There’s darkness in our hearts because of sin. Because of our predisposed sinful nature, we move towards that darkness and embrace it; we’re not inclined to move towards the light. That would expose our hidden secrets. It’s painful when the lights get turned on after we’ve been in the dark for a long time.

The light is a gift, though. While it may be the last thing we desire, the light wakes us up. By exposing what’s in the darkness, it frees us to really live. If Christ lives in you, which He does if you’re His follower, then light is something to love, not something to avoid.

So wake up, o sleeper! You’ve been given a new life to live. Let the light shine and work in and through you.

When evil is the norm

Ephesians 5:11-12 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 

When we live in a world that surrounds us with evil and sinful deeds, how can we even recognize what’s right and wrong anymore? When wrong is called right, how can we escape the inevitable pull of the world into the darkness?

We’re called through this passage in God’s Word to not only refuse to take part in the sinful acts of the world, but to expose them. Just like shining a light into a dark room can cause the bugs to scatter, shedding the light of God’s Word on the evil of the day causes a reaction.

We’re not told specifically to call people out in a harsh way, but rather to lovingly shine the light of the gospel on the brokenness of the world we live in.  The grace of God in Jesus Christ should show through our actions as we refuse to embrace the darkness. Those who have their sin exposed should be left wanting to look to God, and we should be ready to tell them about Him (1 Peter 3:15).

Godless: Part 3

Romans 1:26-27 “That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

We, as Christians, sometimes live in glass houses, throwing stones. We want everyone to honor God and we want every person to respect the sanctity of marriage according to the Bible. We want laws passed and we want our nation to reflect our Christian faith. Don’t agree with us? We’re going to threaten you with the wrath of God and tell you that you’re going to burn in hell. There’s just one problem though. We live in a pretty godless nation that simply doesn’t believe in hell, let alone fear God’s wrath. Most importantly, they don’t know Christ.

It says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” Our body is a holy temple, but without Christ it’s more like an empty tomb. We hold people to a standard that is impossible to achieve without a life that is submitted to Christ. Bottom line is, without Christ, how can we expect anyone to honor God, let alone their bodies?

So, why do we get so hung up on this one issue? This could be the subject of a debate that could go on forever, but let me just give you one thing. I think what we see here is a reflection of our sinful nature and it’s painful. We don’t want to look at it. We would rather have a happy little life, in a happy little church, where our families and loved ones aren’t exposed to the sins of the world. That, my friends, is not the Gospel.

Christ came so that we, who are abandoned to our sinful nature, might be redeemed. Every single one of us, separated from God, will give in to our shameful desires. Every single one of us without Christ’s renewing would burn with lust that would consume us.

This is every persons nature, whether Christian or pagan. Without Christ, we are abandoned to our own depravity. But Christ is patient and tolerant with us, being so kind that we might turn from our sin. When we submitted our lives to Christ, we had our sins covered by His wonderful grace and our hearts transformed by His mercy touch of love. We should want nothing more than to see every person on earth surrender their lives to Christ.

And this is the heart of the matter. I don’t want you to come away from this thinking that I’m trying to get you to accept alternative lifestyles or to compromise the scriptures. What I’m trying to say is that a world full of lost people are going to act like a world full of lost people. We have no power to overcome our weaknesses without the power of Christ living in us, how can we expect that from anyone else? Before our lives in Christ, we were all in the same boat as those we throw stones at. It’s like a convicted murder facing the death penalty, who received a reprieve undeservingly, turning to the next guy in line and telling him he deserves to burn for what he did.

We need to stop trying to make everyone act like Christians and start bringing them to the cross. We’ll never be able to change people on our own, no matter what laws we pass or how much we protest. The only way anyone is going to change is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. End of Story.

Godless: Part 2

Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” 

At some point in our life we have heard someone say “If there is a God, why does He allow such evil to take place in the world.” The truth is because that’s what’s in our hearts and that is what we seek. God longs for us to seek after Him the way He seeks after us. He longs for us to be like Him and to value the things He values. Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. But none of us do, not one of us. We seek out the lusts of our hearts. We are carnal, materialistic, power hungry, envious, creatures who worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. So why does God allow us to live this way? Because He gave us free will.

God created us in His image with our own will and He will not force His upon us. So when we choose things that God detests, when we put things He created over Him, He allows us too. God didn’t design us to be robots, and as much as He loves us, He gives us up to what our hearts desire.

The world has been tricked into thinking that we are gods and the masters of our own destiny. And it will hold on to this lie and continue to follow this path no matter how destructive it gets, denying Christ and the salvation that is available to all that believe. Why? Jesus said in John 3:19 “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

This was all our story at one point. We are a fallen race that doesn’t seek after God, but our own selfish desires. But God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. The world thinks that Christ came to condemn us for what we are, but those of us who walk with The Lord know that He came to save us from what we are. Sinners who are far from God and who deserve the prize of our endeavors, which is death. This is why it’s so important to let our light shine. Their might be somebody who spent their entire life believing a lie, huddled in darkness, who might see the light of Christ shining through our lives.

Leave behind sexual immorality

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 

Sex sells, so so the saying goes. Everywhere we look there is some sexual temptation being thrown in our faces. We, as Christ followers shouldn’t give in though; right?  Right? See, that’s just it. Many who name themselves among God’s people have bought into the lie that sexual sin isn’t so bad. The truth is — it kills.

Today in the American Church we’ve glossed over sexual immorality as though it’s just part of life, not really a sin. Sins are things like murder and cheating on your taxes. Sex is just sex, no matter who it’s with or whether it’s in a marital relationship or not. It’s a lie and we’ve bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

We even convince ourselves that Jesus never talked about sexual immorality or that the Bible never condemns certain things. Who are we fooling? It’s all right there in black and white. Sexual immorality is sin and it’s not to be part of the lives of believers. This is one thing that we must absolutely be free from because it kills our relationship with the Lord. It comes between us because, when you boil it down, sexual immorality is idolatry; it’s putting something else before God.

This isn’t intended to beat you down. If you find yourself in the midst of sexual sin the last thing you need is condemnation. The truth is that Jesus paid the price to win victory over your sin and even over your temptation to sin. You don’t have to feel condemnation and you don’t have to struggle against this sin. You just have to claim the victory that’s already yours in Jesus Christ.

Romans: Free in Christ

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross accomplished what you and I could never achieved for ourselves.  Under the Law, we could never reach the expectations of a holy God who requires perfection.  The Law is restrictive, Christ is freeing.

Though we had the Law, in being unable to keep it we earned death.  Because of our sinful nature, into which we were born, we never stood a chance at anything other than bondage and suffering.  But in His love, God made a way for us to know freedom and life.  In freeing us from the bondage of the Law, Jesus gave us true life and true freedom.

There is no reason to keep living as though we’re under the restraints of the Law.  This is not license to sin, but rather freedom to obey God.  True freedom is a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and in this freedom there is life, peace, joy, and real fellowship with God.  This abundant life is bought and paid for by Christ, our Redeemer, Savior, and friend.

Temptations

There is no greater challenge for the disciple than the internal conflicts that they can face, nor is there a greater stumbling block than the ones that we put up for ourselves. For as strong as the Devil may be, for as much as he comes to us “like a roaring lion” seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8), the truth is he needn’t do much considering his are but temptations but ours is the rebellious nature willing to take temptations and beyond to whatever next levels there may be.

But then, as the old saying goes, as our blessed Savior Himself reminds us, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41b)

Consider some of the greatest warnings of the Bible. They are not warnings against the Devil. After all, the old Adversary, he did his part in Eden to corrupt the nature of mankind. (Genesis 3) Even there he never quite tells Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of God. All he does is plant the idea in their head to question. Everything else is up to them as Eve partook and Adam watched to see the results.

If there is one thing the story of man’s fall to sin and temptation proves, it’s that even those who know of the presence of God, who have seen it first hand, have stood in His light and heard His voice calling to them, need nothing more than a gentle push and the worst of their nature comes out. Sometimes that push comes in the form of a want or a desire, sometimes it comes with a snide or hurtful comment, other times it comes from the best of intentions just gone terribly wrong.

The question for the disciple is, if it is such an easy snare about their feet, if it is such a simple trap to fall into, how do they guard themselves from it in their everyday life? How do we make the flesh stronger to match the nature of a spirit given to the love of Christ and the blessings of our Heavenly Father? How do we avoid the temptations that are there?

Quite simply put, we can’t. This side of Heaven, the imperfect side of Heaven given to the more base nature of the flesh, temptations are always going to be there. For as much as we may try to steer clear of them, as soon as we turn from one, another one is always going to be there staring us in the face. The true nature of Christian living, the true nature of faithful devotion to God isn’t the avoiding of temptation, it is not falling into temptation. It is meeting it head on with a heart and a will given over to God with the truest understanding that through Him who makes us more than conquerors (Romans 8:36), we have the power to overcome if we choose to use it.

This does not mean, as they may say, go out and look for trouble so you can exercise a Christian will and strength to demonstrate a power that you may have over temptation. The more we put ourselves in the line of fire, the more prone we are to be hit when we least expect it. What it does mean though is that just because we face temptations and inner conflicts does not mean we are any less the disciples that we should be, or any less on the road that God intended for us.

Faith is about understanding that even through the temptations of the flesh and the weaknesses of our nature God has a divine and holy plan for us, a wondrous design for our lives. Yes, it is true that there will be time when we don’t live up to it and other times when we do better. Yet we cannot live in those weaker times of our lives, and we cannot believe that just because temptations are present we are weaker than we should be, as it is a way of letting self-doubt in, and with it doubt about the nature of our salvation.

Pray and be vigilant. Look to the challenges that are there for what they truly are, a way of proving that you are led not of yourself but through the power of the Spirit to be a better and stronger person. Do not put yourself in a situation where you will be tested but do not shrink from the tests when they are unavoidable. This will tell you not only more about your own character but the character of your faith, showing you where you have been made strong and where you still need to pray for strength, knowing that if you come to God with a pure heart, desiring to do better and to be more, He will give you what you need.

In the end this is how we show ourselves to be the most faithful of His disciples, of Christ’s followers, as we meet the self-conflicts and challenges with the power of His might through the love that He has for us.

The role of obedience in fellowship

Fellowship

John 15:10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

In order to remain in fellowship with God, we must “abide” in Him, but how do we do this?  If we speak to God in prayer and hear from God in His Word, what do we do with we’ve said and heard?  How do we walk in this fellowship?

Sin separates us from God.  Any sin.  But it’s not about the wrong acts of sin, it’s about the broken relationship.  A perfect, holy God can’t tolerate sin and still be in fellowship with the sinner.  We have to be righteous, just as He is righteous (Matthew 5:48).  But a problem exists.  We’re not perfect and we can’t be!  So we come back to the question of how we can be in fellowship with God if the requirement is perfection.

First of all, just as sin is a broken relationship with God rather than wrong acts, righteousness is a right relationship with God rather than good acts.  We may not be capable of perfection, but we have been given the righteousness of Christ, who is perfect, if our lives are submitted to Him.  Only then do we have any ability to obey God.  You see, obeying doesn’t lead to righteousness.  Imputed righteousness (look that up, it’s a great word study) empowers us to obey.  Jesus’ work on the cross frees us that we might be able to obey God, because we love Him.  Obedience based on love can only lead to loving fellowship.