(1 John 1:5-10; 2:3-11)
Lesson 1 -- first quarter 1998
December 7, 1997
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications
Do people actually say they have not sinned?!
Obedience: what's in it for me?
"I have not sinned." You would not say that, would you? After all, denying you have ever sinned would be rather silly as well as removed from reality. Nevertheless, I don't doubt there exist individuals who would dare claim sinlessness. But we agree that you and I wouldn't hold such an exalted view of our own righteousness. Right?
Has it ever occurred to you that 1 John 1:10 might refer to more than absolute sinlessness? Think about it for a few moments. I wouldn't say I have never sinned, but sometimes I find it so difficult to admit my sins. But he who refuses to acknowledge a certain sin declares openly, "I have not sinned."
My friend, when God says something is wrong, doing it is sin. All sin requires repentance and forgiveness. The ultimate "owning up to" sin is repentance, confession and seeking forgiveness. Oh, we may admit that we did something wrong, but if we don't follow through, we manifest an arrogant "I have not sinned" disposition.
An example should help clarify my point. Suppose you wrong someone. Maybe you gossiped about him or spoke unkindly to her or struck a sibling in anger or went somewhere against your parents' wishes. Even though you might acknowledge that what you did is wrong, if you don't apologize, you are declaring, "I have not sinned."
Don't be so haughty, proud and arrogant that you cannot apologize. Many people in the church today bear the heavy burden of having made God a liar...by refusing to humble themselves and sincerely seek forgiveness for wrongs done. Then they wonder why joy, peace, satisfaction and victory elude them. These result from cleansing and purity. In turn, cleansing and purity come into our lives as "we walk in the light" (v.7) and as "we confess our sins" (v.9).
"Do this. Do that. Submit. Obey. Follow orders. Live by the rules. I've had it with those in authority being so self-serving!" The spirit of the age reacts to obedience, declaring that submission benefits only those in authority. I hope you have never yielded to such sentiments.
The devil would entice us to disobedience with the lie that submission has no real benefits for us. He whispers, "Of course your mom wants you to obey her--it's to her advantage! Of course the government wants you to pay taxes--look who gets the money! Don't go along with their oppression. March to your own drummer. In fact, be your own drummer!" Thus the deceiver seduces millions. Later many discover that the freedom they sought brought no more personal benefits and fulfillment than a train gains by jumping free of the "inhibiting restraints" of the railroad tracks.
That unbelievers should be deceived this way is tragic enough. But what a shame when this deception plays itself out in many of our churches today! So look carefully again at today's text and see what the devil wants to deprive you of. Then lay claim to these benefits and blessings by renewing your commitment to obey. Obedience brings blessing and fulfillment. Never believe otherwise!
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