Commentary on "Living as Children of God"
Day 6: Thursday, August 13, 2009
Overview: “First John 3:6 and 9 contain strong and perplexing statements, asserting that no one who lives in Jesus and no one who is born by God sins. This sounds quite absolute. Christians have wrestled with these statements and have tried to find explanations. After all, what true Christians haven’t wrestled with the reality of sin in their lives?”
Problems: The statements in 1 John 3:6 and 9 are perplexing only if one insists that Christians are somehow supposed to get rid of all sin in their lives in order to be “safe to save”. They are not perplexing at all if understood in the context of how sin is treated in the New Covenant.
Previously in this lesson, I’ve written about forgiveness, real salvation and the nature of sin. Let’s put it all together.
Paraphrasing Paul, there are two of me. (There are not really two of me, but it helps to separate the two parts for purposes of this argument.) One of me is the new creation in Christ, completely saved, a child of God. The other is my flesh.
Sin lives in my flesh. My flesh has not been recreated or glorified. My flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. It will not go to heaven. It will be stripped off of me when I die or when Jesus returns, replaced by a new, spiritual body.
The part of me that is the new creation in Christ is perfect. It is indwelt by the very Holy Spirit of God, and we know that God cannot abide the presence of sin.
Since I’m stuck with both the sinful flesh and the holy spirit (note the lack of capital letters there), I fight a constant battle. Paul put it this way in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
It seems pretty clear that I have a choice in this matter. I can listen to the Spirit and do what He suggests, by faith always, or I can give in to the dictates of my flesh. Again from Galatians 5:16 – “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Since John is not talking about behavior as the be all and end all of holiness, he is talking about our spirits. Once I am a child of God, that part of me never sins. The battle between believing Jesus is who He claims to be and disbelief has been settled. In fact, that part of me cannot sin, because the Holy Spirit lives there and is in full control.
Is this any different than Paul saying that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, or Jesus saying that if we believe in Him we’ll never die? I don’t think so. If we don’t take these statements literally, in whom do we put our faith? Similarly, if we substitute a physical, behavior based system of rules and regulations for the Spirit, we absolutely cannot have any assurance of salvation.
Please make certain that you don’t understand me to say that I never sin. That’s simply not true. Far too often I respond in my flesh instead of responding to the Holy Spirit. As I explained previously, everything I do in the flesh, even the so called good stuff, is sin. It’s exactly the same with you.
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