Daily Archives: September 29, 2023



“Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”
1 John 3:7-8 NLT

This business of sinning or not sinning is a line in the sand. It seems to be a big issue for John because he keeps coming back to it in his concern for his readers.

For John, the issue is not about our odd lapses into sin. No one this side of heaven can live a sinless life. We will always be capable of falling prey to our old sinful nature but, says John, God has made provision for forgiveness to deal with these unplanned departures from His will. He has provided in Jesus both a Saviour from sin and an Advocate when we fail.

However, John is not so much concerned about unplanned lapses as he is about those who claim to be believers but negate that claim. By living in habitual disobedience to God’s Word and will despite His provision of everything they need to grow in grace and holiness, they make a mockery of the cross.

The problem is that they have not grasped the fundamental truth of Jesus’ sacrificial death.

The Old Testament ritual of two goats on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is a prophetic picture of Jesus’ work on the cross. One goat was sacrificed to bear the sin of the people pressed onto it by the high priest, buying ritual forgiveness in its death. The second goat took the sin away by being driven into the wilderness.

Jesus not only carried people’s sin in Himself by His death, but He also took sin away, setting us free from sin’s power over us. We are no longer obligated to obey our old nature because Jesus broke its power over us. In one short sentence, John says it all. The devil deceives people into believing that he has the power over us. John says, “Not true!  Jesus broke his power by unmasking his deception.”

Paul’s explanation is somewhat more detailed, but he reaches the same conclusion as John.

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
Colossians 2:13-15 NLT

There is a powerful consequence to what Jesus accomplished by His death.

“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.”
Romans 6:3-7 NLT

Like Paul in Romans 6, John lays the foundation for God’s people to live lives free from habitual sin by reminding his readers of Jesus’s victory over the devil.

However, this mastery over sin forms part of a much bigger picture. It’s not just about not sinning because God doesn’t like it and because Jesus broke sin’s power over us. It’s about God’s goal for our lives.

“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Romans 8:29 NLT

Sin pollutes, destroys, and dehumanises us. To keep on sinning despite the lengths God the Father and the Son went to, to rescue us from its effects, is to short circuit God’s wonderful, amazing, indescribably marvellous plan for His children, that we are being transformed into the very likeness of Jesus. 

Sin may be pleasant for a while, but its eternal consequences are horrendous. On the other hand, mastery over sin may be uncomfortable for a while but its eternal benefits are beyond our imagination.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT

We alone can make that choice.