Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. 1 John 3:4-8
One of my favorite verses is Galations 1:5, which I first encountered written on a notecard and taped onto a desk in my college roommate’s bedroom:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
How do we forget that? John says a similar idea here when he writes in verse five, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins.”
And yet, so many of us (myself included) keep on sinning.
The Gospel tells me the harshest truth: That the best parts of me aren’t actually me at all, but God in me. God is the one who has no sin. I am just the one who has the sin.
I lived with a wonderful family in Minnesota for a season, and they had three teenage daughters the summer I stayed with them. One day, the girls asked me why it was that I read my Bible every morning. I thought for a minute, then nodded, confident in the answer I had internally come up with.
“Because I turn into a monster by the afternoon if I don’t.” They looked suspicious.
“No, you wouldn’t!” one of them challenged, cocking her head to one side in suspicion, an annoyed expression on her face.
“Yes, I would,” I assured them, with wide-eyed truth.
It is not my force of will that keeps me from sinning, but checking in with Him, learning to keep my eyes on Him daily. If I want to take seriously the call of the Gospel to live in freedom, unbound by my sins, leaving them behind, John tells us again that the only way to do that is to abide in God.
To be with him, to abide in him is a daily, hourly habit. It is learning to hear his heartbeat, to march in step to His drum that keeps us from wandering away.
It's not marching to my own beat, and it's definitely not rewarding my good behavior that keeps me righteous- it's him alone. The problems for us reside then when we forget, and it is when we don’t check in with him that we play with fire and could easily be swept astray.
I pray that today, we would begin or continue the practice of making a daily habit out of checking in, aligning ourselves with his heartbeat. Would we be reminded and assured that this is what keeps us from sinning, and that our abiding in him results in the evidence that we are indeed his.