Sin

Slaves to Sin? Not Any Longer!

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.


In I John 5:18 we read, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

John says that the Christian do “not keep on sinning.” Earlier in this Epistle, he wrote in I John 1:10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” And then two chapters later, he wrote in I John 3:6, 9, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. … No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”

Here is the balanced explanation: Christians sin and they sin often, but they are not habitual sinners. In other words, they may occasionally meet with their sin but they will never live together in harmony with their sin. And when they do sin, they don’t remain in it. They deal with it. They confess it. They repent of it. The one who lives in sin, loves his sin, and can’t wait to sin again is not a believer.

Why is this the case? Because Jesus freed us from that bondage. His death canceled the power of sin over us. It means we are no longer enslaved to sin. How do we know that? John says the Christian sees “God protect him, and the evil one does not touch him.” It means the Devil can’t do anything of eternal value to you. No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28).

The Devil has no ability to fasten himself onto the Christian and destroy his life. He cannot steal his eternal birthright or remove his heritage. The Devil can tempt us to sin; he can deceive us unto thinking sin is good, he can even afflict us, but he cannot and will not and has no inkling of power to bring you back into bondage to him! That is tremendous news for all of us! He cannot hurt us because Our Protector is greater and stronger than our enemy! John Stott explains, “The devil does not touch the Christian because the Son keeps him, and so, because the Son keeps him, the Christian does not persist in sin.”[1]

Remember Paul in Romans 6? He is talking about our new slavery. We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to a different master he says. “17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. … 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. … 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Rom 6:17-18, 20, 22). We are not under sin’s dominion; this life we now have is a slavery to grace (Rom 6:14). John Piper writes,

 “Sin is such a powerful influence in our lives that we must be liberated by God’s power, not by our own willpower. But since we are sinners we must ask, ‘Is the power of God directed toward our liberation or our condemnation? That’s where the suffering of Christ comes in. When Christ dies to remove our condemnation, he opened, as it were, the value of heaven’s mighty mercy to flow on behalf of our liberation from the power of sin.”[2]

We are no longer slaves to sin. How about mentioning a word of thanks to God for that blessing?

[1] Letters of John, pg. 195

[2] The Passion of Jesus Christ, pg. 77

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What Losing Teaches Us About Repentance

The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The point is to recognize athletes who are using their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or to show how some athletes are wasting their days by not giving God the glory.

 

If you haven’t detected it already, I really don’t like losing. There was a day not too long ago in my spiritual journey when my teams losing on Saturdays would impact my emotional well-being on Sundays. I am not proud of those idolatrous years, but by God’s grace, I am not that man any more. But I distaste for losing not only remains but it has grown. I just don’t like to lose.

But here is the reality: everyone loses. In a marathon, there will be thousands of losers and only one winner. In a NCAA Basketball tournament, there will be sixty-three losers and one winner. All of us have lost and know what it means to lose.

So one question we could ask is this: if losing happens and we experience it so frequently, what can be gained from losing? In other words, how does losing make me a better person?

And to answer that question I have three answers (or lessons). And before I mention what those lessons might be, I ask you to consider this: losing is a lot like sin and learning lessons from our losing is a lot like repentance.

(ONE DISCLAIMER – This meditation is not a thorough dealing of repentance but perhaps gives some of the highlights along the way of moving from sin to repentance.)

LESSON #1 – When you lose, ask yourself, “What went wrong?” When a team fails to score more points than another team, it rarely is the case that the game was so evenly matched that either team could have won. Usually the losing team either gave the ball away too often or committed too many penalties, didn’t play hard enough, etc.

In the same vein, identifying the sin and the subtle compromises that led to that sin are critical to repentance. If you do not know your blind spots or where you are susceptible, you will sin likely again and soon! In Psalm 139, David prayed, “See if there is any wicked way in me” (vs. 24). He is saying, “If you find any sin, let me know about it.” He wants help in diagnosing the problem. Like losing (or sinning), David wants to know how he got to this dark place. Charles Spurgeon describes his petition this way:

“See whether there be in my heart, or in my life, any evil habit unknown to myself. If there be such an evil way, take me from it, take it from me. No matter how dear the wrong may have become, nor how deeply prejudiced I may have been in its favor, be pleased to deliver me therefrom altogether, effectually, and at once, that I may tolerate nothing which is contrary to thy mind. As I hate the wicked in their way, so would I hate every wicked way in myself.”

Find the problem that led to the sin (or loss).

LESSON #2 – When you lose, create a plan to get back on the winning track. Learn from your mistakes. Take the steps necessary to stop the losing.

Or you might spiritualize it this way: put on righteous deeds. Repentance is not just about putting off sin; it is putting on righteousness. It is finding the obedient behavior and thinking that needs to exist in our life in the place of the sin we have succumbed to.

If you think about it, this creating of a plan for righteousness to substitute for a path of unrighteousness (or losing) is how we got into the Christian life. It’s template began at conversion when we put off the old man and put on a new one – “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24).

LESSON #3 – When you lose, execute the win. To put it simply, stop losing and start winning. That may sound easier said than done, but in the spiritual life God gives us everything we need to win – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Cor 10:13).

What a powerful promise that we have form God that He always provides us a means to look at “loserdom” (or sin) in the face and say, “Not today, sucka! I am choosing God over you!” (Okay, that vocabulary may have been a little too “sportsy”, but that is the theme of this day’s blog.) God provides a way to escape each and every sin.

In conclusion, can losing be beneficial? Absolutely it can. Can we learn from our sin? Absolutely we can.

Don’t waste the moments to repent and grow from the losing in life.

Paul Tripp on the Deception of Sin

The Friday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is all about quotes. No commentary from me, no reflection, etc. Just a provocative or informative quote from a saint in church history.

“Sin lives in a costume; that’s why it’s so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn’t present itself as evil, which is part of its draw. You’ll never understand sin’s sleight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. … We’re all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good.”

– Paul Tripp in Whiter Than Snow (pg. 32)

Why Does Evil Happen?

The Thursday feature of the Worldly Saints blog will be sharing of a video clip that has either educated or equipped or provoked or entertained us in some way.

Perhaps the “Achilles heel” for non-Christians in embracing Christianity is the problem of evil. And so many Christians do not even know where to start by answering the simple question, “Why does God allow evil to happen?”

In the below sermon, John MacArthur answers that very question. Set aside about 42 minutes to listen to his explanation of the subject. It is worth your time.