Tag Archives: sin

Cleaning up

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?

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.

Do Not Love the World

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.

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).

The Walking Dead

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

What did you do to make yourself be born into the world? Most of us would not argue against the truth that we had nothing to do with our physical birth. It was as out of our control as anything can be. Why do so many of us, then, think that we had anything to do with our own spiritual birth?

When you’re dead, you’re just dead. There’s nothing that a dead thing can do to make itself come to life; that can only be done supernaturally. We were all once dead, even though we walked as someone who was living. We lived and breathed physical life, but spiritually we had no pulse. We could only follow the course of this world, led around by the rest of the walking dead. We were slaves to sin.

That is, until God made us alive. Yes, He made us alive together with Christ, that we might be His people. This is true if we’ve put our trust in Christ and we’ve been adopted into God’s family. Notice all the passive language. We’ve been made alive – passive. We’ve been adopted into the family of God – passive. We were chosen – again, passive.

The dead can’t raise themselves, physically or spiritually. We can no more choose to wake up from spiritual death than we can choose to be born from our mother’s womb. We have ever so much to be thankful for, and spiritual birth is among the greatest gifts we could ever receive. God’s grace is unfathomable.

Romans: We are not debtors to the flesh

Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

It may seem, as we read Romans 8, that Paul drones on a bit about the same thing.  You’re not dead in your sin anymore once you’re in Christ.  If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, you’re not dead any more, but alive in Christ. Flesh is death, Christ is life.

Yet, even as the chapter goes on, Paul digs in even more on the issue – it must be important.  The new life that begins with salvation means the end of the old life.  We often agree with that intellectually, but don’t embrace it in reality.  Paul probably faced the same thing with his original audience and he emphasized once again that in your new life you’re not a slave to sin.  It doesn’t own you anymore.

Christian, get it.  You don’t have to give in to all the things that call your name.  You don’t belong to them, you belong to the King of Kings.  Yes, of course we’ll all still sin because we’re flawed and broken.  But that doesn’t mean we have an excuse to live like we did before we became a new creation.  You don’t owe anything to your old life.  Leave it in the past and put on Christ.

 

Romans: Christ in you is life

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 There is a stark difference between those who have Christ living in them and those who do not.  There is only life in those who are in the Spirit.  While it may seem that people are alive because they’re walking around and doing things people do, inside those who don’t have Christ are dead.  They’re the walking dead.

Something spectacular happens when you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ.  God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).  Your body is just a vessel to hold the Spirit that lives in you and through you (2 Corinthians 4:7).  It’s not your power or mine that do great things; it’s the power of God working.

You see, we can’t live holy and sinless lives that would enable us to have such power.  That’s why it’s evident that it’s the righteousness of Christ that makes it possible.  It’s Him that lived a perfect life, and He is the one who purchased our ransom.  He is able to do far more than we could ever even think or begin to imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He does it through us, the living.

A Question of Why

Why? Isn’t that always the question? Often times it’s the one short little three letter word that defines for us our trials and adversity, our struggles and our pain. We ask it as we try to make some sort of semblance of sense out of everything we can’t figure out enough to actually make sense. We do it to the point where it’s not just a question anymore, but the answer as well.

How often have we found ourselves challenged, asking ‘Why’? “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God is so good and He loves us, they why would He let this happen?” At times, it’s the easiest and quickest word to roll off of our tongues in our hour of need, knowing we just don’t know and that what we need to know isn’t going to come simply or readily to us even for as much as we want it to.

But then life is difficult, it’s hard and it’s wrought with challenges. Just when we think we’ve gotten our head wrapped around it enough to actually do something, it throws a curve ball that knocks us off our game. Sometimes it’s small, and we’re able to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” as we move on from it. Other times it’s big and it’s encompassing and, for as much as we want it to, we can’t quite seem to do it, we can’t quite figure it out enough to do it. It leaves us with this hurt feeling as we wonder if it’s ever going to be the same. In those moments, “Why” is about the only thing that’s uncomplicated about the complicated to us.

The thing is it’s not always about the “Why”. After all, for as unclear as it may all be, for as convoluted as it perhaps seems to be, the “Why” is actually transparent, it’s not that complex at all. We live in a sinful world; one that, since the fall of man, has been marked with trials and temptations. (Genesis 3:1-19) As Peter reminds us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Is there a greater “Why” than this?

Even the most righteous, the most faithful, living in this mortal realm, need fear the old adversary, and they need to do so more than the unrighteous. After all, the greater question of “Why” is why would the Devil go after a soul he already has when the nature of man is to abide in fear and doubt? He knows this, and he doesn’t go after the weak alone, but the strong, hunting them, seeking to make them his own.

No, the question isn’t “Why?” regardless of how easy it comes. “Why” is often times the means by which uncertainty attacks that which we need to be the most certain of. “Why” is the easiest way to make the simple become complex, so complex that we can’t begin to understand it. “Why”, for as hard as it may be to let go of, is how comfort and peace is robbed from us as it sends us looking everywhere but where we need to for the answers.

It’s not “Why” that’s the most important thing, but rather “What” and “How”. “What am I supposed to learn?” “How is this going to make me a better person?” “What can I do differently?” “How can I use this to grow in faith and better understand God’s plan for me?” Regardless of the pain and the hardships we may face, these are the questions we not only have to ask but the ones that need to draw us closer and nearer to our Heavenly Father.

The promise of God is the promise that where we are so He is as well. He will never fail us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) His covenant with us is the covenant that stands by His blessed assurances to us in the faithfulness of His love and mercy. (Deuteronomy 4:31) So strong is He in that love and care He has for us, in the covenant He has made with us, He would give His only Son to die for us (John 3:16) even when we seemed like we were lost to sin, death and the Devil. How much more then does the wonders of His Word mean when He tells to us that, if we come to Him, in faith and hope, He will give us the knowledge that we so seek? (James 1:5-6)

Even when we stumble, even when we fall, even when the world seems unfair, unnecessarily so, our blessed Savior is there for us, to take the yoke of our burdens from us. (Matthew 11:28-30) Again, the “Why” is simple, it’s a matter then of “What are we meant to do with the freedom He has given us?” and “How can we use His good gifts to be the people He has intended for us to be?” We can only do that, we can only answer that by letting go of “Why”, understanding that it has already been answered for us, and we are not in control of it, all we can control is what we do with the blessed gifts and the wonderful promises God has given to us.

It’s only then that we can find the peace, the hope, and the comfort we so long for.