April 12, 2015
1 John 2:1-2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I still can’t get over this. John seems to think it is possible to “not sin.” In my years of following Jesus I don’t have a memory of anyone who actually believed that. I have met countless people who believe Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
So does it follow that since Jesus Christ atones for our sin (and that he will readily forgive us when we sin) we don’t need to worry about “not sinning.” I mean, of course, it would be “nice” to “not sin” but is it really essential? This is the same kind of question they were asking in the early days (and ever since). In Paul’s letter to the Roman Church he responds like this:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:1-4.
Go back and read that again. The writers of the New Testament make an extraordinary claim here. They contend we are “dead to sin.”
So, I ask you (and me), “Are we dead to sin?” This is the post-Easter question. We must reckon with the answer to this question and until we do we will be hopelessly compromised. When Paul says, “In the same way, count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” this is what he is talking about.
Most of us are good with the death and resurrection of Jesus being the atonement for our sins. When it comes to his death and resurrection being the power to “not sin,” it’s a different story. Why is that? It requires nothing of us to be “saved by grace through faith” except faith. But once we are “saved by grace through faith,” our faith must go to work. We must act on the grace we have received. We must, as Paul will say later, “Put sin to death.” Colossians 3:5.
So getting back to the big question, “Is it possible to ‘not sin'”? What if we flipped that question on its side and asked it like this: “Is it possible to love?”
I’m going to begin asking myself that question in the midst of my daily situations (when I’m on the verge of being infuriated). Is it possible, in this situation, to love? I think that’s the question the Holy Spirit waits to hear, ever ready not only with the answer but the creativity and the power to respond.
I think that question just might be a game changer.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.