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On Sin Again

We say to ourselves and to others, “I am a sinner saved by grace.” This is often spoken with a weary tone in our voice and a stoop of the shoulders. We say it almost as an announcement of the futility of life and our struggle with sin. There is no triumph in those words no matter how true they may be.They almost become an excuse for the lack of joy and freedom in our lives.

John says, “Confess your sins to one another.” We seldom do. We hide our sins because we are genuinely ashamed of them.  God calls us to be perfect as our Father is perfect and we weep. We have no choice but to weep because we know that we cannot produce such perfection. Our shame and our weeping are part of God’s grace. Without Him in our lives, we would neither weep nor be ashamed. We would go on sinning oblivious to the harm we produce.

How many disciplines would it take to remove all your sin? What techniques does God make available to you to become more like Him? Is an imitation of Christ what God truly wants from us? Is your flesh doomed forever to be your enemy, the villain in your life forever dragging you to those dark places you do not want to go? How in the world can Jesus heal a person and then tell them to go and sin no more? Does he ask too much? Is he being unrealistic?

How many would argue that God gave us the Ten Commandments to keep us from sinning? I have heard it urged that Jesus is our savior and our Lord and now we must obey Him and obey his word. It is as though God has lain down a template for us to follow as we grow in Christ. However, as hard as we try we repeatedly fail. The more we keep the law and the principles of Scripture the more lust burns in our hearts and minds and we slowly learn that the law, God’s Moral Law, or our understanding of the precepts in Scripture, do nothing but excite the very sin it is to guard against.

OH, there are those who do grow in the Lord. Their lives reflect very real changes. They wonderfully give up drugs, smoking, and alcohol. They treat their spouses better and their neighbors. God is good. He has given them grace. Nevertheless, if you ask them, no matter how great the change, they will say that they are still sinners saved by grace. The sin still clings.

The fact is that no man but Christ has lived in the flesh without sin, none. Christians do have an advantage. They have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them counseling, guiding, and teaching them. A Spirit that comes against the darkness and brings light and power to do God’s will. We take to heart the admonition to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh whatever that might mean. We search for its meaning in Scripture, and we define it and we put a hedge around it and we make it into another set of principles to follow. Then we find that sin clings like dirty rags all the more.

We mature over time. Living erodes the rebellion in us. We see too often the hurt we cause and we try harder not to repeat that behavior. Wisdom happens and we are grateful for it. We learn to pick up our cross and endure in a world gone mad. We define different ways to die to self. We give more, we volunteer more, and we go to Church more. We align ourselves with the right causes in ways that are potentially and often realistically dangerous to our livelihood and well-being. We tithe. We test the Lord as He encourages us to do and we give of our fortune. And the sin clings as it always has.

Where is our sanctification? Is it an illusion, a mere hope that lies around the corner that never quite comes? Is it a false promise, or is it real? Why do we not see it?

All these questions have no worldly answer. The only answer is Christ and Christ alone. The problem is that that answer is not satisfying to our earthly minds. It means nothing tangible, nothing real in our way of behavior. It is too mystical to mean anything to us. Yet, that is the only answer God has given us for our sinful ways, the only answer.

Confess your sins. Yes indeed. Speak out your transgressions quickly and often. Get them behind you. Make atonement for the hurt they have caused and move on. Confess your sins so that you do not dwell in them. Nevertheless, dwell we do with a vengence. I am a sinner saved by grace you see as we go about the business of sanctifying ourselves.

The truth is that we are not in the sanctification business, the Lord is. We cannot do the work only He can do. The flesh is a neutral thing, neither good nor evil. It is a vessel made to contain spirit. We are directed by either God’s spirit, or Satin’s spirit in this world. Either we are adopted sons of God or we are sons of perdition. Those are the choices. The influence of Satin’s spirit has been dethroned in the Christian’s life. He has no power over you. John puts it this way:

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.8 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.9 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.

Take these verses to heart. Jesus took away our sins. We are reborn into Him. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. My sinning is fading away because I abide in Christ. John is an either or kind of person. It is this way or it is that way with no in between. You are of Christ or you are of the world. You live a righteous life because of Christ in you or you do not have Christ in you. You were once of Satin and practiced his deceit but now you are no longer of Satin and you no longer practice his deceit. John states it boldly, “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.” God planted in you. You have been born of Him. We abide in that.

Abiding in Christ is a state of being not something I create by hard work. We have God’s DNA in us; we are born of Him. We have Christ in us. We are vessels made to contain His Spirit and that is the reality of our life in Him. It is where we live; were we abide. God designed us to be this way and He is restoring us to that original design.

Sin at its heart is rebellion against God. Our rebellion died when we died to the world and were reborn in Christ. We have come to hate our sin. It is no longer a friend or ally. It hurts us deeply when we act against God and His purpose in our lives.

The flesh is not evil, but it is powerfully programmed. It has developed some deep and stubborn ruts that seem to drag us repeatedly down the wrong path. Our old habits haunt us and they seem to have a power over us that are constantly present. It is a dying power, a fading power. It is not who we really are. The truth is that we cannot fix  what is broken. Set a rule, a hedge, a goal to eradicate some of our entrenched behavior and you will unleash its full furry. The law excites sin. The sin is excited and we begin to live in that defeat with no joy and no hope. The world and its ways have no answer for our fleshly ruts and out of control desires. The world can only hand us a brush and some whitewash encouraging us to make it all look better on the outside while the inside is all decay and rot. The world and its law offer no hope.

But we know the truth and the truth shall set us free. We “know that he appeared to take away sins…” We know that “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.” We know that we have “Christ in us the hope of glory.” Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Every time we say, “I am a sinner saved by grace” we should also confirm that, “Christ has set us free.” We need to live in the reality of what God is doing in our very being. I do not see any progress. Why is my struggle so hard? There is so little change in my life?

Do not claim to be able to do what God is doing in you. This is not a walk by sight; it is a walk of faith. Faith is receptivity to God’s activity in your life. Be ready to receive what he has for you in each moment of your life. He will provide what you need. He is at work deep within you to bring Glory to Him. Our doing is not the key. Our God given receptivity is the key. Do not look to yourself, look to Christ. Phil 2:13…” for it is God who works in you, both to will and to
work for his good pleasure. “Phil 1:6 … I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

The answer to our sin problem is Christ and Christ alone.


Categories: Law, Life, Sin
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