1 John 3:7–8 (NIV)
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
I think I’m beginning to understand why John keeps repeating himself when he warns us to not let anyone lead us astray.
I think it must be pretty easy to be led astray. In fact, in light of these texts teaching us it is possible to live free from sin, I think we have all been led astray. We have been led to believe sin is inevitable. The popular bumper sticker says it best: “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” The basic ethic of the Christian when it comes to sin is to be forgiven, be grateful, and do your best to be better.
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
I’ll be honest: when I sin, my first thought isn’t that I am “of the devil.” My first thought is that I’m human. Sin is part of being human, right? But what if it’s not? (watch this video clearing up a common biblical misinterpretation) What if, in fact, sin actually dehumanizes us? What if being human means not sinning? From the first sin to the most recent one, they all degrade our humanity. Sin makes us less than we were created to be.
Don’t hear me wrong. We human beings are sinners, but because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have power over sin. We have power to not sin. Sin has lost its power. So, if sin has lost its power, maybe the problem is we have not taken up our power.
What if you got a letter in the mail today with the news that a distant relative had passed away and left you a million dollars? What would you do? You would figure out exactly what you had to do to claim your inheritance, wouldn’t you? Imagine just throwing the letter away and forgetting about it.
So, what if you got a letter today with news that you had inherited a power that could enable you to live at a new level of aliveness and creativity and power and love; a power that could free you from selfishness and sadness and addiction and every other way of life that brought grief? What would you do? I can’t speak for you, but I would do whatever I needed to do to claim that inheritance.
Here’s the good news. John sent you the letter with the news informing that you have inherited power that sets you free from sin—all the ways and patterns of life that rob you and others of life. Are you ready to claim that inheritance? Can you imagine just throwing that letter away and forgetting all about it? The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Sin has lost its power. Are you ready to take up your inheritance of his power to live the life you were created for?
Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us what it looks like to be a real human being—that it looks like a life that hits the bull’s-eye. Would you infuse me with your Spirit in such a way that I live above and beyond the power of sin, which has lost its power? Let me live in the fullness of the freedom of the children of God. Let me claim my inheritance. In your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.
Are you ready to take the “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” bumper sticker off of your life? What might this mean practically? How might you claim your inheritance?
For the Awakening,
Thanks to these wonderful devotions, the Zoom meetings, all of what Seedbed means and has meant, I want freedom from sin and from hurting other people more than anything. I’ve strived…and failed. I believe beholding and becoming is the way, but I still fail too often, even if it is less. I work every day with high-school moms. They don’t need any more hurts in their lives. Pray for me to be delivered from reactionary behaviors, brothers. I don’t want to hurt anyone, through poorly controlled reactions, ever again.
I can only speak for myself. I too, want to believe that as believers who’ve been given the gift the Holy Spirit, we possess the power to triumph over our sin nature. I have to confess that thus far, certain situations trigger a sinful response by default. I assume the reason that happens is because I’m unable to constantly keep my eyes focused on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. Looking back, I can see progress, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I do pray daily for my faith to be strengthened.
One of the reasons we Christian humans don’t live without sin is that when we start to believe that we have stopped sinning we accidently slip into the sin of pride and become modern religious Pharisees. That’s so easy to do and to not even realize that we are doing it. Yes, we have power over sin, but the devil deceives us into believing we are without sin long before we really are. Then we are eager to “cast the first stone” at those we see as still sinners. Paul who as a Pharisee thought he was holy, persecuted and tried to kill the Christians because he thought they were sinning against the Law. History shows that self-righteousness is perhaps a very dangerous sin. Because of that sin, the Pharisees had Jesus executed by Rome. After leaving the Pharisees to follow and obey the living Jesus, Paul saw the truth and wrote in Scripture: “I am the chief of sinners,” “O wretched man that I am,” and “I know that within me, that is within my flesh dwells no good thing.” I’ve never seen those biblical truths on a bumper sticker.
One more word from 1 John 1:8: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” Here’s an example: “Quenching the Spirit is a sin.” Unless we do every single thing that the Spirit tells us to without resisting Him in any way, we sin by quenching the Spirit. If we miss the mark (even once–even a tiny bit) we sin. Anywhere or anytime I’m not perfectly aligned with God’s will, I am sinning. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.
We are discussing the spiritual/heavenly warfare inside each human being—flesh verse spirit. Because of the fall of man, sin’s nature is ingrained in the very fiber of our body and soul. Case in point, lying is a natural trait that requires zero teaching. We know how to lie before we know it’s called lying. We are born unrighteous.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Charles Spurgeon says it best,
“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”
This condition mainly goes undetected because we call it the human nature; “Oh, we’re only human.” He’s just being a boy.”
Our sinful nature is a spiritual condition that resigns over the soul and body, aka, the flesh. The CEO of the sinful nature is Satan. He has a direct line to our sinfulness and he and his entourage influence, suggest, entice and tempt, sometimes possess our souls through the sinful nature. Could mental (1/3 of the soul; mind, will, and emotions) illness be spiritually explained as demonic oppression? Could mass killings, abusive parents, and war be demonically influenced to the extreme; possession? Thinking back to WWII and the atomic bomb, America cries victory by dropping it on Japan instead of the Axis dropping it on us. Satan cries victory simply because it was dropped.
Since we are born with this spiritual condition, a spiritual remedy is required, Jesus Christ. How? First, we must be born again.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
As our relationship grows in and through Christ, the flesh is desperate to survive. And the battle inside usually intensifies.
Can we become Holy as He is Holy? God says yes! But we must do our part. Submit to God until we are fully summited. Resist the devil and his tactics where you recognize firey arrows from miles away. Draw near to God until you can’t get any closer because you are in Him, and He is in you.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
To quote another bumper sticker (and song), I’m not “just a sinner saved by grace”. I’m a saint with the freedom to sin.