Summary: Three ineffective ways to deal with sin and three effective ways to deal with sin.
John wrote this letter to counter the false teachings that crept into the churches. This morning, we will look at three ineffective ways to deal with our sin and three effective ways to deal with our sin. The passage we will look at is 1 John 1:5-10.
Because the word, sin, is not always familiar to everyone, let me begin by defining what sin is. The Apostle Paul would say that sin is falling short of the glory of God. Elizabeth has put it well, "Sin is doing what shames God. "Because God made us in His image, pure, good and loving, whenever we are impure, evil or unloving, we fall short of His glory and put our Maker to shame.
Sin separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 tells us, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. "In other words, if we don’t deal with our sin effectively while we are alive, we will be separated from God for all of eternity, and that’s hell.
This morning, John starts by saying that the sin that separates us from God and the sin that separates us from others is our own sin, because God has no sin at all. We read in verse 5, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."
Now that we know the trouble is with us, what are you going to do about it?
This week, I received an insightful email from one of my favorite research assistants, and the email reads:
"Man discovered weapons, invented hunting. Woman discovered hunting, invented furs. Man discovered colors, invented painting. Woman discovered painting, invented make-up. Man discovered agriculture, invented food. Woman discovered food, invented diet..."
I won’t go on, because you get the idea. We choose what we do with what we know. And this morning, we know that the sin in us separates us from God, and unless we deal with the sin effectively, we will be separated from God in this life and for all of eternity. Again, we will look at three common but ineffective ways to deal with sin, each followed by the correct way to deal with sin.
FIRST, people deal incorrectly with sin through compartmentalized obedience. We read this in verses 6-7. The false teachers of John’s time was teaching that if we know and believe in the right things, we will have a right relationship with God, regardless of the way we are living.
Many Christians can talk a good talk about morality and enter into deep conversation about God’s truths, but if their lives do not reflect their knowledge, their relationship with God is not right. James, the half-brother of Jesus, noted, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." Obviously, demons do not have a right relationship with God. Right beliefs without right behaviors do not foster right relationship.
If what we learn and affirm on Sunday morning does not transfer over to our obedience to God in our use of our body and mind, our work and finances, and our family and recreation from Monday through Saturday, we cannot claim to have a right relationship with God. Relationship involves our totality.
Jesus would remind us with these words, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)"
The solution to dealing with compartmentalized obedience is to allow the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse every compartment of our life, our mind, our mouth, our money, our relationships and our use of time. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross makes forgiveness of sin possible, and the forgiveness of sin makes right relationship with God and with one another possible.
FIRST, people deal incorrectly with sin through compartmentalized obedience. SECOND, people deal incorrectly with sin through perfectionism. We read this in verses 8-9. Another false teaching John faced was the teaching that once we have a right relationship with God, we will be free from sin.
Someone told of a church that believed in sinless perfection once you trusted Jesus Christ into your life and were baptized. A visitor to that church heard this teaching and asked to be baptized. He was tired of dealing with his habitual sin without any success. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of winter and the river was near frozen.
The man with much persistence got the Elders to baptize him in the river. After the man and two Elders came out of the freezing cold water, the man was so excited, he said, "I feel so good, I’m not even cold." One Elder turned to the other and said, "He’s lying, we have to do it again."