Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.
In today’s portion of John’s pastoral letter, he addresses the issue of sin. Firstly, he acknowledges that we all have a tendency to sin. In this discourse he raises two very different issues concerning sin. Firstly, he acknowledges two facts related to God. Initially, John acknowledges that God is without sin and then continues to state that true believers cannot sin. But then John develops his theme further by distinguishing how we react when we admit our wrong doings. Firstly, when we sin we also have the opportunity to seek forgiveness by acknowledging that sin before God and seeking forgiveness that is provided through Jesus’ sacrificial death at Calvary and subsequently his resurrection.
However, he also looks at sin in relation to human nature. There are occasions when we do not just sin in the sense of a one off wrong-doing but the continually committing the same kind of sin time and time again. If that was not bad enough, when the nature of that sinning takes over the very essence of the individual’s life, their thoughts and behaviour then that condition indicates that no matter how often we express regret for the continuance of the sinful thought or behaviour we are being at the very least insincere in our confession that John identifies with the work and influence of the devil. Today we are surrounded by all kinds of temptations but will we always resist? We frequently take shelter in our “comfort zones”, but is that approach helpful or not? Repentance is about changing direction, abandoning those areas of our lives or thoughts that are a barrier to our relationship with God.
Gracious God, ever loving and caring, so often we get things completely wrong. By your grace, enable us to be honest with ourselves and more especially with You. Give us the courage and will to be honest when we consider the ways we conduct our lives. This we ask through Jesus’ redeeming love. Amen
The Rev’d Colin Hunt, worshipping at Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex.
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