Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Sin doesn’t have to own you and if you’re in Christ victory over sin is already yours. The Holy Spirit guides you as you face temptation and provides a way out. But what about that friend of yours who has all the same tools you do but continues to live in bondage to sin?
The writer of Hebrews (apparently a pastor) calls on Christians to lift each other up, to encourage one another. Essentially, he’s saying to use teamwork to stay away from sin. Use the buddy system to achieve victory over the evil desires you encounter.
Friends are for a greater purpose than hanging out and having fun. A real friend can stand by your side and encourage you when you’re having difficulty with sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit gives you a way out and the friend helps you choose to follow it. You should do the same for them.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
So you know by now that sin is bad and that you should choose to stay away from it. But it isn’t always just that simple, is it? Sometimes the temptation to sin is great and just knowing that it’s wrong isn’t enough. It can be overwhelming.
But there’s good news! God is looking out for you. If you belong to Him, He’s on your side and He provides a way fro you to stay true to Him. The Holy Spirit working in you will not only nudge you to let you know when something is sin, He’ll point you to a way of escape from the temptation.
No matter how massive the temptation you’re facing, God has seen it before, Jesus has faced it before (Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit has dealt with it before. You’re not alone and you don’t have to face any sin or any temptation without help. The truth is, you have the greatest help ever available because God Himself is cheering for you to win. Find assurance in that.
1 John 1:8-9 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.
With many things in this life, we can expect to get out of them exactly what we put into them. If we treat people rudely, we’ll often find ourselves being treated rudely. If we disrespect, we’ll be disrespected. Acting out of pride usually leads to resistence, and humility leads to better things. This is especially true with God (James 4:6).
When we pretend that we don’t sin, no one is fooled. We can’t even truly fool ourselves into thinking we’re sinless let alone God. But when we put our pride aside and admit to our wrongs, God is quick to forgive because of Christ Jesus. There’s nothing to fear in confession before God. He’s a loving and just Father who actually wants to forgive us. He’s waiting for us to turn to Him.
The bad news is that you have sinned and there’s no way out of it. The good news is Jesus paid your way to God’s forgiveness by taking all of your sins onto Himself. You’re free to confess everything, with no fear of condemnation. Our Lord is able and willing to wipe it all away.
Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you,do not consent.
Who are your friends? Whose approval do you seek out? If your friends don’t encourage you to do the will of God, don’t listen to them. It can be quite a struggle to do the right thing sometimes because we all want to be liked, but likeability is not listed as a biblical virtue. Sometimes, as the saying goes, the right thing is not the popular thing.
All around us, we’re being enticed into sin. The TV ads try to sell us on it, the popular culture flaunts it, and sadly some churches even embrace it or excuse it. But there’s only one voice that we should be following, and it’s the one of Him who created us. God knows what’s best, even if we think sin will be fun for a while. He cares for us and has a plan for each one of us.
The truth is that sin only appears pleasing and in the end it leads to death and decay. Following the Lord is where we find true joy and true fulfillment.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
You know from Jesus’ own words that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). If you’re fully devoted to God, you can’t be devoted to this world. There are good things in the world, after all, God created it. But He created it for His glory and when we devote ourselves to the creation instead of the Creator, we find ourselves in sin.
There are a lot of tempting things all around us. Things that, if we allow ourselves to be distracted, can consume us. Possessions can possess us and desires can overtake us. There’s only one way to overcome the world and it’s to follow the One who overcomes the world (John 16:33). The One who created and sustains it can use us while we’re here on this earth, but only if we choose Him over all of this.
There are no regrets to be had if we pass up sin. The things here that seem so wonderful are fleeting, they’re dying. But when they’re all gone, the Lord will endure through all eternity. His love never fails.
1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When it comes to cleaning up our lives, many people get things backwards. If you think that you’ve got to clean up your act to become a Christian, you don’t understand how this thing works. You and I are incapable of getting ourselves cleaned up until after we give things over to Jesus.
All of the hurts, habits, and hangups that keep us from following after the Savior are exactly the things He came to heal us from. We don’t get ourselves into shape before going into the gym, we go to the gym to get into shape. Likewise, we don’t come to Jesus after we’ve saved ourselves. We go to Him for salvation.
If you’re struggling with something right now that’s keeping you from giving your life over to Christ, like I was before I took that step, look what God’s Word has to say about the subject. There’s no command to “get right” before coming to Him. There is, however, plenty to be said about giving ourselves over to Him so that He can be the one to cleanse us.
Don’t get it twisted. Jesus does the cleaning up. We’re not able to do it on our own, even if we try our hardest. God isn’t impressed with our efforts, He wants our repentance. What are you waiting for?
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?
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.
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
What’s more important; the things in your life or your relationship with God? Before you answer that, pause. It’s easy to jump at answering what we know we’re supposed to say, but take a moment. Think about what really matters in your life. How do you spend your money? Your time? What do you pursue? Now is your answer still the same?
It’s tempting to be overtaken by our flesh, to give into every craving we have for pleasure or entertainment, or material things. But those things won’t last and they don’t matter. They’ll be here one day and gone the next. These things rot and rust, they deteriorate and fail to satisfy. But God is eternal and He’s never going to leave us. Shouldn’t we put more into walking with Him than we do in walking in worldly desires?
John goes so far in God’s Word to say that if we love this world we don’t love God. Let that sink in. If you spend more time trying to gain pleasure out of this life than you do trying to walk in God’s will, then you really don’t love God. It sounds harsh, but put it in human terms. If I marry a woman and then spend most of my time trying to make myself happy through every means besides her, then do I really love her? If God is really our love, then we should be pleased by Him and not need all of the other things of this world. They won’t matter to us because all we’ll want is more of Him.
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).