Monday, June 11, 2018
Not Sinless, but I Can Sin Less
In review of 1 John 1:8 it says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (NLT).
Today’s verse comes from 1 John 1:5-10. In it John tells us that God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. Therefore I'd be lying if I say I have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; I am not practicing the truth. But If I live in the light, as God is in the light, then I have fellowship with others, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses me from all sins.
If I claim I have no sin, I am only fooling myself and not living in the truth. But if I confess my sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all wickedness. If I claim I have not sinned, I am calling God a liar and showing this word has no place in my heart.
Light is related to the truth in that light exposes whatever exists, whether it is good or bad. In the dark, good and evil look alike; in the light, they can be clearly distinguished. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. If I want to have a relationship with God, I must put aside my sinful ways of living. To claim that I belong to him but then go out and live for myself is hypocrisy. Christ will expose and judge such deceit..
John is telling me that I cannot be a Christian and still live in evil and immorality. I can't love God and court sin at the same time.
Sin, by its very nature, brings death; that is a fact as certain as the law of gravity. Jesus did not die for his own sins; he had none. Instead, by a transaction that I may never fully understand, he died for the sins of the world. When I committed my life to Christ and identified with him, his death became mine. He has paid the penalty for my sins, and his blood has purified us. Just as Christ rose from the grave, I rise to a new life of fellowship with Him.
All are sinners by nature and by practice. At conversion all sins are forgiven, past, present and future. Yet even after becoming a Christian, I still sin and still need to confess. This kind of confession is not offered to gain God's acceptance but to remove the barrier to fellowship that our sin has put between us and him. If is difficult, however, for many people to admit their faults and shortcomings, even to God. It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses, and most of us would rather pretend that we are strong. But I need not fear revealing my sins to God, he knows them already. He will not push me away, no matter what I've done. Instead, he will draw me to himself.
Confession is supposed to free me to enjoy fellowship with Christ. It should ease my conscience and lighten my cares. Some don't understand how it works. They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over; then they wonder if they might have forgotten something. Other's believe that God forgives them when they confess, but if they dies with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost. These do not understand that God wants to forgive. He allowed his beloved Son to die just so he could offer me pardon. When I came to Christ, he forgave all the sins I have committed or ever will. I should confess so that I can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with him. True confession also involves a commitment not to continue in sin. I wouldn't be genuinely confessing my sins if I planned to commit them again and just wanted temporary forgiveness. I should pray for strength to defeat temptation the next time I face it.
So if God has forgiven me for my sins because of Christ's death, why confess my sins? In admitting my sins and receiving Christ's cleansing, I am: (1) agreeing with God that my sin truly is sin and that I am willing to turn from it, (2) ensuring that I don't conceal my sins from him and consequently from myself, and (3) recognizing my tendency to sin and relying on his power to overcome it.
I have parts of my life that simply doesn’t work. Nobody measures up to a standard of perfection. To pretend like I’ve got it all together when everybody knows we don’t is silly. In fact, the Bible calls it self-deception.
I will never be sinless on this planet, but it is possible to sin less. So why is it so hard to change stuff that I really don’t like?
1. Because I’ve done it my way for so long. Some of my sinful defense mechanisms were developed in childhood, perhaps in resistance to pain or as a way to cope with stress. Even though these mechanisms are ultimately self-defeating, they’re at least familiar to me. They give me a sense of comfort and control. Because I’ve employed them for a long time, I get locked up in my thinking and assume there is no other way to navigate my circumstances.
2. Because I identify with my defense mechanisms. I often confuse my identity with my defense mechanisms or bad habits. When Ie see them as a natural part of who I am, I treat them as unchangeable, and that just sets me up for perpetual failure. For instance, someone who frequently flies off the handle in anger might excuse that behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am.”
3. Because my defense mechanisms have a payoff. Whatever is rewarded gets repeated. My defense mechanisms may mask my pain, cover up a fear, give me an excuse to fail, or compensate for guilt — that might be my payoff. They often work in the short term. But in the long run, these patterns will destroy my relationships.
4. Because Satan discourages me. Once I start trying to change something in my life, Satan will begin saying, “Who do you think you are? You’re never going to change. You haven’t been able to change in the past. Why do you think you’re going to be able to change now? It’s hopeless. It’s not going to work.” Those thoughts and fears are being planted in my mind by the Devil himself.
These things keep me from changing the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that I know are unhealthy.
So, what will it take to alter those deep patterns in my life that I really don’t like?
The Bible says to throw these patterns away and let the Holy Spirit renew my way of doing things: “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God” (Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT).
If we claim we don’t sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not being realistic.
What this means to me:
If I claim to have no sin, I’m only kidding myself and not really living in the truth.
In summary, If I claim to have no sin or do not want to recognize it, I'd be lying. If I confess my sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me. I can't love God and court sin at the same time. It will take humility and honesty to recognize my weaknesses. God already knows my sin, so I should have no fear in revealing them to him. While I may never be sinless, It is possible to sin less. Ephesians 4:21-24 tells me I can by throwing away these patterns and letting the Holy Spirit renew my way of doing things.
This morning Father I thank you for all the things you have done and will do in my life. I know that the things I’m going through are all part of your plan for growing my character. I ask for your wisdom and guidance that that I can do your will and learn from this experience. I pray for extra strength today, as I’m feeling a bit down and tried. Please help me renew my energy and have a passion for the work I have to do. Please help me to respond rightly to people around me and communicate what our leadership has in mind. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!
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