Don't Fool Yourself - Part 1 of 3
1 John 1:8-10
Today we begin part one of a three part series on a little-understood, but vital aspect of walking with Christ: finding victory over sin.
One of the most famous verses in all the Bible—a passage of true hope for every believer—is 1 John 1:9. Some have called it the "Christian Bar of Soap." It's a rock-solid promise from the Savior who redeemed us to take our sins and forgive them forever.
But we often forget the purpose of this promise. Let me explain. First, we know that once we put our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary, Jesus nailed our sins to the cross and God replaced them with the unblemished righteousness of God.
Positionally we're sanctified. That is to say legally, in the eyes of God, we're not sinners anymore. We're perfect and our ticket is punched to eternity in Heaven.
However, practically, we still sin. How does that work? What it means is that while Jesus paid for every sin, past, present, and future in one big package, in the day-to-day of life, we continue to sin. The difference now is that we have the Holy Spirit present inside to convict us of sin and empower us to live out the life God intended. So we while we won't be sinless until Heaven, we should sin less.
Yet the struggle remains. Paul talked pretty candidly about the battle inside in Romans 7. He mused, I don't do the things I should do and I do the things I don't do. If Paul had this struggle, then the rest of us believers have it as well.
Which gets us to 1 John 1:9. Let's remember that John wrote this book as an aging apostle to the 2nd and 3rd generation of churches, specifically the church at Ephesus. They began in wonderful, wild conversion to Christianity. That first generation was passionate about God. But their children and their children's children experienced what all lifelong church people experience. They got stale in their faith and they got calloused to the creeping effects of sin in their own lives.
John had to tell them, "Love not the world." This was a warning he didn't have to issue to the first generation. They were rescued from the world and knew it's dangers and pitfalls. They wanted none of that.
But the 2nd generation and third generation—they seemed to need a fresh encounter with God. John's three small letters address one problem: their tolerance for sin. They were sniffing around the edges of the world. So John issued a strong warning.
John's final letter, written to every church, Revelation, indicates another. There was a large contingent in the church at Ephesus that got really proud of their rules, their standards, their holier-than-thou status. And while God commended them for their strong statement of faith, he blistered them for their lack of love. Ephesus is the only church he threatened to remove the coveted candlestick of blessing from. Even Laodicea, who was in bed with the world, didn't have this threat hanging over their head. Apparently, love, to God, is most important.
What does it say to believers today? 1) Recognize the danger of sin and 2) Keep your love for God fresh.
Daniel Darling is an author and pastor with a passion for young people. He is the author of Teen People of the Bible, a 100-day devotional for teens. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.