Do we care about having our sins forgiven?

During a time of his ministry where Jesus was actively healing lots of people, a paralytic was brought in. Of course, the expectation is that Jesus will heal the man and he will walk again. But what Jesus says catches him off guard.

So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” Matthew 9:1-2 NKJV

Here is a guy that has been paralyzed for who knows how long, being told of the amazing healing that Jesus is doing in others, probably excited and nervous, wanting to be healed but not completely sure if this is all true or not. And then Jesus says to him, “be happy! Your sins are forgiven.”

I wonder what that man’s thoughts are at that moment. The story goes on to tell us what those around Jesus are thinking, but not this man.

Was he excited? Or was he bummed that he couldn’t walk? Maybe this whole thing was a fraud, or maybe God just didn’t want to heal him.

We don’t know what he was thinking, and can’t really speculate, but I bet his response was completely dependent on this man’s view of his own sin. And this is where we can take a lesson and apply it to our own lives.

If this man saw sin as something that “everybody does,” a part of every day life that, yeah, maybe it sucks, but we just have to deal with it because “I’m only human” then he was likely disappointed at this news that Jesus shared. Sin can be seen as a bit of an ephemeral thing, something we know happens but don’t see the effects of so we don’t take it seriously. And since “everyone does it” we assume it’s a normal part of our daily lives and move on. In this case it is only our physical needs that we really care about. “Who cares about my sin! Just make me walk again, that’s what matters!”

On the other hand, if we see sin as God sees it–as a horrible act of disobedience that severs our relationship with our creator–then at that moment we would break down in joy. Our sin has been forgiven! That which should never be forgiven, that which can never be made up for, is gone! Who cares about physical healing, or if we will ever walk again, or have perfect health. Our relationship with God can be restored! Isn’t that an amazing thing?

You can tell a lot about a person’s spiritual health by how they treat sin. If sin is something they tolerate and are okay with, then something is wrong. The person is spiritually sick. But if sin is something that they hate, something they want no part of and are eager to give up, that person will be shown mercy from God.

He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. – Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

Yes, we are all sinners, and will continue to sin until we shed these bodies, but sin is not something we are to tolerate as believers. We have been set free and saved from sin, not so we can continue living in that filth, but so we can experience redemption and a restored relationship with God, our father. It isn’t just about being sorry we sinned, or sorry we got caught, but wanting to forsake sin completely!

Stand firm, act like men. Do all in … what?

Yesterday when reading the Bible I came across one of my favorite Bible verses. In 1 Corinthians Paul is trying to encourage the church and he says something that many men’s Bible studies have memorized.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (‭1 Corinthians ‭16‬:‭13‬ ESV)

This is an awesome verse. I can just see someone like William Wallace, a great warrior, standing in front of an army while waiting to be ambushed.

Face painted, looking fierce, walk back and forth in front of his army. Trying to encourage his men and give them the courage to stand through the night he starts to shout. “Be watchful,” he says, staring the men in the eyes as he passes by them in the chill night air. “Stand firm in faith,” he says, “act like men!” Then pulling out his claymore and pointing it towards the direction of the enemy army he yells “Be strong!”

You can hear the strength in his voice and all of the men shout, feeling fearless as they follow this warrior.

This is just such a great passage that really encourages men to stand apart, not to fall, and be warriors. Don’t fall into pornography, it’s a trap! Be watchful of your actions, of what your eyes wonder too. Watch what your family does and stand strong for them. Lead them. Because this is what a man is supposed to do!

And then I read the next verse and it kind of shattered this whole image of William Wallace.

Let all that you do be done in love. (‭1 Corinthians ‭16‬:‭14‬ ESV)

For some reason I just can’t see any strong warrior shouting this at the end of their battle cry. As men, we love to be strong, watchful, courageous. These are qualities we look up to in others and hope to have in ourselves.

But love? That doesn’t describe a warrior. You don’t see Navy SEALS talking about love. So why is Paul putting these statements together?

God obviously thinks that loving others is of supreme importance. Jesus tells us to love our enemie (Matthew 5:44) and tells us that loving God, and loving others, are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

Then God gives us the ultimate example of love in the cross, where God did not conquer evil, but gave His only Son to die in the place of those who are rebelling against Him. Why? As John 3:16 says, Because God so loved.

Paul makes it clear that it doesn’t matter how faithful of a follower of God you are, or how awesome of a warrior you are, if you don’t have love and act out of love then you are nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (‭1 Corinthians ‭13‬:‭1-3‬ ESV)

Trying to live our daily lives interacting with so many people is tough. We get short with our spouses because, often times because of pride. We start to get frustrated or angry at our kids, neighbors, or coworkers. And yet these very people are our mission field. We are called to be Christ to them. To love them.

In every interaction, no matter how difficult it is, we are told to love them.

Be strong, Christian brother. Stay strong in faith. Be watchful and ever vigilant. Act like men, and let all that you do be done in love.

Removing my idols

The Lancer Evolution VIII is an absolute beautiful and powerful machine. This is the car I have wanted for a long time for a lot of useful reasons as well as a lot of personal fun reasons (I wanted to learn how to drift at the local race track). Every time I see one on the road I cannot help to stare and wish I had one.

Last summer i saw one for sale, used, for $24,000 which is not a bad price when the car is normally $32k for the base model. I could not get it though. I have blown and waisted my money and I have too many other bills to be able to afford a second car. So I was beating myself up over it. If I had just managed my money better I could get it, if I had not spent money on useless things I would have been able to get my dream car. It led me to a new resolve, to get out of debt and spend less money.  To help encourage me to do this I printed out the add for the car, with a picture of it along with the price, and I stuck it in my wallet.

This I used as a reminder and as motivation. It was right by my debit and credit card so I would see it anytime anytime I would spend money.   I would look at the picture and remember what I am saving up for which I was hoping would prevent me from blowing my money.

Last week while I was in prayer God brought that picture to my mind, and I was shown exactly how disgusting that act was. The car had become my idol. I was thinking about it every time I opened my wallet, I was sacrificing for it. The Lancer had evolved from just coveting (which is itself a sin) and it became an idol, like most things we covet tend to become.

That day while in prayer I took that image out of my wallet and ripped it to pieces, and with it my resolve to ever buy the car. How could I let a meaningless machine take such a high priority in my life? I have since filled that space in my wallet with a picture of Franco, a child I sponsor through Potter’s Field ministries. If ever there was a reason to save your money, that is it. Jesus told us to give to the poor (James 1:27), to store up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20), not to acquire nice things on earth!

Which would you rather be known for, having a nice car, or helping the poor? Living to impress others, or living for Jesus? Which way of living truly shows that you get it and that you actually follow Jesus? Feeding the hungry is feeding Jesus (Matthew 25:40), having a nice car serves nothing but yourself.

Did Jesus exist in the beginning with God?

I have been a follower of Jesus for years and have spent a lot of time reading His Word, so I sometimes forget that not everybody knows the basic beleifs of Christianity. I take it for granted that people just believe the stuff every Christian should know.

Take for example this simple question, “Did Jesus exist in the beginning with God?” Before anything was created, before time, did Jesus exist in the beginning? I asked sixteen professing believers I work with this question, and was shocked at how few knew the answer.  Twelve of those sixteen did not believe that Jesus existed in the beginning, and was just the first created thing.

Did Jesus exist in the beginning?

John 1:1-2 simply states this when it says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

And who was the Word? Just a few verses later John clearly tells us

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:14-15)

Who was it that became flesh to dwell among us, the only begotten of the Father (John 3:16)? Who was it that John bore witness to? It was Jesus. Jesus existed in the beginning with God, and not just existing with God, but Jesus was God in the beginning! (He is still God today of course. 🙂 )

Isaiah the prophet heard a message from God where God the Father said

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘ I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)

God is the First and the Last, nothing existed before God and nothing will exist after Him, He is it, the first and the last. In Revelation Jesus identifies himself as ” I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13) The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the greek alphabet, in English it would be the A and the Z. There are no letters before A, and none after Z. Jesus is the first and last, the beginning, and the end.

How is it that both God the Father and Jesus can be the first and the last? This is only possible because Jesus is God. Remember what John 1:1 said, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Both are God, both are one being, one diety, even though they are individual.

I Am

In the Old Testament God would refer to himself as simply “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). That in itself is an awesome statement, which I will cover in a future article. Jesus later when talking to the Jews told them “Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”” (John 8:58). Jesus is not only saying that he existed since before his physical birth on earth, but he is identifying himself as being God, as being the I Am. Jesus again identified himself as the I am when he was being arrested in the garden. The soldiers asked if Jesus was “Jesus of Nazareth” and Jesus replied in such away that the soldiers fell to the ground. “Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6)

Jesus is the Creator

When God is creating man He says “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” (Genesis 1:26). Who is God talking to here? Who is God refereing to by saying “Us” and “Our”? God is not a single being but three, completely seperate beings, three deities that are the same. The Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). This is an example of how Jesus did exist in the beginning.

Not only was Jesus with God in the beginning, before creation, but Jesus is the creator. John 1:3 says “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Jesus did not come to die for his Father’s creation, but his own. Isn’t this amazing? Jesus knew what he would have to go through, he knew all of the suffering he would face before he created us, yet he still choose to do so!

Why is this important?

The final question I want to look at is why is it important that Jesus existed in the beginning with God?
If Jesus did not exist in the beginning with God, then you must conclude that Jesus was not God and therefor could not live a perfect life and die for our sins, or you must conclude that God can make other gods. If God could make other gods then it makes God a lot less unique in the universe and we could claim that there are other gods to follow and Jesus isn’t the only way.

No, Jesus had to be God, part of the Trinity, One God.  As we read and study the Bible, and as we get to know Jesus closer, we cannot help but conclude that Jesus did indeed exist in the beginning with God.

Avoiding a Lukewarm Life part 2 – The Throne of God

In part 1 we showed how God said to the church of Laodicea that they are neither hot nor cold, they are lukewarm, and as a result he would vomit them out of his mouth. We discussed how God is disgusted by our lives when we choose the garbage of earth over Him. Now let us take time to focus on Heaven, and why it is so much better to follow God.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. – Revelation 3:19-21

God gives us these harsh words not to tear us down, but so we would be convicted and repent. And if we overcome, we will get to sit on the throne of God with God.

The Throne of God

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne – Revelation 4:2

John gets a glimpse of the throne of God and of God who sits on the throne. I cannot imagine how scared he must have been at the sheer awesome display of the throne room of God! I know Iwould freak out by it. Form a picture in our mind of what this scene must have looked like as we follow the apostle John.

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. – Revelation 4:3-4

Jasper and sardius are both red gems. John sees a being, God, sitting on the throne and the only way he can describe him is to say he is like gems we have on earth, surrounded by an emerald rainbow. Around the throne there are 24 thrones where the elders sit, clothed in white robes and crowns of gold on their heads.

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. – Revelation 4:5-6

While these twenty four elders are seated around the throne there is lightning and thunder flashing from the God’s throne. In front of the throne are seven lamps which are likely huge bonfires. These fires are not there for light, since if you are in the presence of God you do not need any light. And in front of this there is a sea, or an ocean, of glass like crystal.

And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
– Revelation 4:6-8

Around the throne there are four creatures that are full of eyes, each with six wings, shouting day and night “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almight!” This very instant these creatures are before the throne of Heaven shouting this. Creatures that if we would see them we would freak out! Imagine what would happen if one of these appeared right above you right now? But they are consumed with the presence of God because that is how Awesome God is!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “ You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” – Revelation 4:9-11

After the four beasts shout this the twenty four elders are so overwhelmed that they just bow to God, casting their crowns of gold to God singing their own song of praise. Do you think these elders are regretting being here? Are they grumbling feeling forced to do this? No, being in the presence of God has a way of making you not think about yourself because of the awesomeness of God.  And if you do think about yourself the only thought that occurs to you is how unclean you are!

When Daniel had a vision of the Lord he instantly fell weak and was speechless. When Jesus touched him telling him to speak is the only time he got the nerve up to speak, and what did he say?

My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.  For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me. – Daniel 10:16-17

Isaiah had a very similar experience, when he saw a vision of the Lord he became aware of how unrighteous he was before a Holy and perfect God.

Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts. – Isaiah 6:5

So you are standing here before the throne of God, feeling exactly how little and wretched you are compared to God and there are these four creatures with wings singing praises to God, and then the twenty four elders bow to God singing their own song, all while flashes like lightning and sounds like thunder are pouring out of the throne of God. You have these seven massive lamp stands and all of this has an ocean of glass and crystal.  Is that an amazing vision or what?

You are not thinking big enough!

I guarantee that no matter what image you have in your mind right now, it is no where even close to as amazing as the real thing! God is that awesome, heaven is that awesome, and we get to be there. Not only be there, but be seated on the throne with God!

Is that a humbling thought or what? It is not our greatness that brings us that glory, but what Christ did. All of this, is available for those who overcome.

And to think, that you would rather focus on … on what? On tv? on a car? on a bigger house? On green pieces of paper that the government demands to take from you and you will spend your life working to get more of? Is it really worth it?

Is it any wonder why God wants to vomit you out of his mouth?

Or to vomit me out of his mouth?

The Apostle Paul was once stoned to death and dragged outside the city.  When the other apostles found him they all got up and Paul led the charge back into the city that just killed him (or nearly killed him)!  (Acts 14:19)  Why would Paul go back into a city where the people just executed him?  Because Paul knew that there is something worth living for besides this worthless life! It is possible that Paul had a vision of heaven (2 Corinthians 12) which would have fueled this further.  After you have seen the glory of God how can we focus on the things of this earth?

How would our lives be different if we had such a vision of heaven? How would our lives be different if we just believed what the Bible said about heaven so we did not need our own vision?

The Humanity of Christ

It is well known that Jesus came in the form of man, and He experienced life on earth, going through all of the problems we go through, all of the hurt we go through, and experienced pain, suffering, and loss just like the rest of us.  We all know this, but in the back of our minds is a thought that since Jesus is God made flesh, He really did not, or could not have gone through as much pain and suffering as we go through.

Great Loss

When thinking of how Jesus went through loss of personal relationships, two people come to mind.  First is Joseph, his father.  We do not know for sure what happened to Joseph, but we do know that Joseph was there when Jesus was twelve in the temple (Luke 2:28), then we never see him again in scripture. When Jesus was dying on the cross he tells John to take care of his mom, something Jesus would not have to do if his father was still alive (John 19:26-27).  This also shows that Jesus cared about his mom, he wanted her to be well taken care of, something any of us would want.

Another powerful passage in the Bible is when Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died.  Jesus got word that Lazarus was not feeling well and then after he died Jesus made his way to visit.  Seeing the women weeping over Lazarus and then seeing the grave himself was too much for Jesus, and “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  This simple verse showing that Jesus had compassion, felt pain, even though he knew Lazarus would not be dead for much longer, it was still painful to him.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Great Suffering

I think it is downright impossible for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  All to often I hear others, or even think in the back of my own mind, that what Jesus went through was bad but at least he knew the end result so it was not that bad.  How wrong can we get? Not only did Jesus get tortured and executed, but his status with God was, for the first time in all existance, severed from the Father (Mark 15:34).  Can you imagine what this would have been like? Do you think Jesus was anxious at all, or wished that he could avoid what was ahead?

Jesus did not want to go through with what was ahead and prayed for God to remove this trial from his only begotten son (John 22:42).  Jesus, “being in agony, prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (John 22:44)

Yes, Jesus was human, he had compassion, felt the pain of loss felt great anxiety. Jesus went through the pain that we went through, even more so.

So why did He do it?  Jesus prayed “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (John 22:42).  Do you not think that the loving father would take such trials from His only begotten son? But he did not, why?  Because it was the only way.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

“He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” (Hebrews 10:12)  Jesus died, do you really understand that? Jesus, our creator, was beaten, tortured, betrayed, and executed for you!

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

John Piper, in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ writes

Therefore, this man of indestructible joy was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This “great high priest” is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, becasue he was tested in every way as a man like us (Hebrews 4:14-15). He wept with those who wept (John 11:35) and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (Luke 10:27, 21). He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was weary (John 4:6), he was forsaken (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (Matthew 26:45), whipped (Matthew 27:26), mocked (Matthew 27:31), and crucified (Matthew 27:35).

Jesus can and did relate to us, he felt pain suffering and loss.  Why did he go through all of this pain and suffering?  Because only through Jesus can we be reconciled with God.  Jesus went through all of that, only for you, what do you do for him?

Do you have a burden for the lost?

I’m re-reading the Left Behind books right now and I came across an interesting quote that I think points to the heart of Christ. Something that shows how we should be longing for the unsaved to be saved.

The background of the quote is that Rayford Steel has recently found the truth of the Bible and is trying to reach out to other people, especially his daughter Chloe who has been resistant to the gospel. Here is what Ray felt in the book.

I cannot lose her, he thought, and he believed he would trade his own salvation for hers if that was what it took.

With that commitment, he sensed God speaking to him, impressing upon him that tat was precisely the burden required for winning people, for leading them to Christ. That was the attitude of Jesus himself, being willing to take on himself the punishment of men and women so they could live.

I confess that my burden for the lost is not that deep; but it should be. Every single person is going to die and will one day face God, either with or without Christ. How selfish can we be as Christians to enjoy living our life for God, praising God and singing songs, but failing to do what God really wants done, reaching out to the lost and giving them the gospel.

Pray that God will put this burden on your heart so you will want to reach out and share the gospel no matter how uncomfortable it may be or no matter what it may cost you.

Jesus died for every single person, and are we going to be selfish enough to squelch what Jesus did by not sharing it?

May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering….

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

About a month ago I said winter was officially here, well after that it went back to warm days. finally last night it snowed again, not much, but it was there. So we have a snowy thanksgiving… Somewhat.

Today we will be doing what every family does on thanksgiving, cooking turkey, mashed potatoes, and more.

As we get ready for our feast remember that none of it is possible without God providing it for it. Especially be thankful for our salvation that we did not deserve to receive when Jesus paid the ultimate price. If you are thankful that your sins are no longer counted against you then take a few minutes today to spend some one-on-one time with God. The word of God is living and active (Heb. 4:12) and it is our link to God, so take just a little bit of time with the One that has done the most for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and praise be to God!

What is Hindering Us?

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.”

and

2 Peter 1:3 “As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!”

The verse in Hebrews really spoke to me…showing me that it is imperative for our spiritual growth that we shed off all things which are hindering us (we MUST put aside those sins which our blocking our path to God and we must sacrifice even our own desires if our desires are what is hindering us).

And the verse in 2 Peter shows me that all we need for living a godly life is found in Jesus. He has the power to make us godly people…we only need to shed off those things which hinder us and draw upon Christ’s strength and power and we will be spiritually successful in all we do.

We are not to just lay aside the sin; we also are to lay aside the weight. We Christians need to periodically ask ourselves this question about the uncertain areas of our lives: Is it a wing or is it a weight?
Does it speed us on our way in our spiritual walk, in the race we run? Or is it a weight–something that is slowing us down?

Reflections on 1 John 3

Some verses that stuck out to me during my Bible time.

1 John 3:4-5 (NLT) Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God. 5And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him. 6So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.

There is a difference between committing a sin and continuing to sin. Even the most faithful believers commit sins at times, but they do not cherish a particular sin and choose to commit it. A believer who commits a sin repents, confesses, and finds forgiveness. A person who continues to sin, by contrast, is not sorry for what he or she is doing. Thus, this person never confesses and never recieves forgiveness. Such a person is in opposition to God, no matter what religious claims he or she makes.

Because Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself for our sins, we can be completely forgiven. We can look back to his death for us and know that we need never suffer eternal death (1 Peter 1:18-20).

1 John 3:8-9 But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil. 9Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God.

We all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give satan a foothold in our lives, so we must deal with our areas of vulnerability. If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, these verses are not directed at us, even if at the time we seem to keep on sinning. John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it. Three things can be used to find vicotry over prevailing sin: 1) seek the power of the Holy Spirit and plug into God’s Word; 2) stay away from tempting situations; 3) seek the help of the body of Christ–be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.

“They can’t keep on sinning” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law. All believers still sin, but they are working to gain victory over sin.

1 John 3:12-13 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was right. 13So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

Cain killed his brother, Abel, when God accepted Abel’s offering and not his (Genesis 4:1-16). Abel’s offering showed that Cain was not giving his best to God, and Cain’s jealous anger drove him to murder. People who are morally upright expose and shame those who aren’t. If we live for God, the world will often hate us, because we make them painfully aware of their immoral way of living.

1 John 3:19-20 It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, 20even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Many people feel guilty because they think they are not doing enough to show proper love for Christ. Their consciences bother them. John has these people in mind in these verses. How can we escape the gnawing accusations of our consciences? Not by ignoring them or rationalizing our behavior but by setting our heart on God’s love for us. When we feel guilty, we should remind ourselves that God knows our motives as well as our actions. His voice of assurance is stronger than the accusing voice of our conscience. If we are in Christ, He will not condemn us (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:14-15).