My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” 1 John 2:1
Sin is like cancer, it spreads quickly and if not carefully monitored, can become a silent killer. The Bible describes sin as being something always “crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:7) and something that “easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1). With these types of descriptions, it begs for our attention if we are to seek to kill it.
When John penned those words to his audience, he was seeking to ensure that they possessed the proper knowledge of doctrine , or teaching, that would safeguard and promote assurance of their salvation. Bad teaching can produce bad living and bad living produces bad fruit, and no bad tree will be left standing when the fire of judgment comes. (Matthew 7:19) Therefore, knowing our own hearts whilst knowing God’s love should bolster us to the command for us to put off the flesh and its evil desires. (Colossians 3:5 & Romans 8:13)
If you want to avoid the judgment of God and bear fruit of a godly life, then we need to heed the loving call of Scripture to know how we “may not sin”.
CALL SIN BY ITS NAME
When I would get in trouble as a young boy, my parents would always call me by my first and middle name. “Jarred Heath, get over here and clean this up, right now!” I always knew it was serious because they called me by my full name. Before I knew Christ, I could fly off the handle emotionally and become irate over any given subject or disagreement. Despite the detrimental effect that had on others, I could easily justify it by cloaking it under clever nicknames like “short-fused”, “passionate”, “opinionated”, or even excuse it away by saying I was just a little “irritable.” But if you were to pinpoint each moment that occurred, you would see what the Bible calls “pride”, “arrogance”, “fleshly”, “jealous”, “outbursts of anger.” If you are to get serious about killing sin, then call it by its full name.
Change your terminology of your own sin if you want to actually kill it. Don’t give yourself an opportunity to excuse it away. John spends much time elaborating on this in his letter.
LEARN TO UNDERSTAND ITS DESIRES
The easiest way to detect illness of any kind is to understand its symptoms. When I was learning how to fly a multi-engine airplane, I had to learn how to handle engine failure in one engine. I still remember it today, “identify. Verify. Feather. Secure.” I had to feel for the tug of a lost engine and verify it, then eliminate the threats that it imposed on the flight of the plane. Sin has to be handled in much the same way. Understand the biblical definition and expressions of sin and then begin to look out for them in your life.
Read Solomon in Ecclesiastes talk about the vanity of life in pursuing empty things. Read Paul’s testimony throughout Acts and listen how he described his sinful actions. Read about David dealing with King Saul persecuting him in 1 Samuel and look at the fallout of jealous anger driven by bitter envy. The more that you can recognize something evil, the better you can curb it within you, by God’s grace.
REMEMBER TO APPLY GRACE-EVEN WHEN IT HURTS
When you name sin by its name and understand its deceitful desires, but yet you choose it anyway, you should feel a godly sorrow. A sorrow that leads to a place of hatred of that sin and sorrow toward offending God with it. But don’t let sorrow be a seed that is never planted. Take hold of the precious nutrients that the blood-stained ground of the cross supplies. Notice that John says “and if anyone sins, we have and Advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Amen!
John is saying “I am writing to ensure that you know what sin is and how to avoid it at all costs, but if you fall into it, be sure that you have an advocate, a Helper who knows what it’s like to be tempted but yet without sin.” Isn’t this wonderful? We have hope despite our evil. We have grace to come and soothe our bitter pain that our sin brought to us. God, through His son has brought the healing balm that takes away the sting of sin: the fear of death and judgment.
What a wonderful Savior! Be sure that you can sing with a new zeal with the saints this coming Sunday!