All Christians are sinners. With God's help we’re trying to quit.

A Call to Christian Living –

Overcoming Sin

Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 26:26-28, Jesus, a Ransom for Many
1 John 1:8 – 2:2, Don’t Kid Yourself
1 John 3:4-9, Break With Sin
1 John 5:14-21, Pray for Us All
Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1-3; Philippians 3:7-16, Going On to Perfection

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Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 26:26-28, Jesus, a Ransom for Many (1/30/12)

Today’s Funny Bible Verse:  Note that in vs. 41, the other disciples are indignant at James and John.  Why?  Vss. 42-44 make it clear, I think, that they were indignant primarily because they hadn’t thought of it first.  How often we are offended at our brothers and sisters for doing exactly what we would have done!

This week we’re going to talk about the S word, the one that most of us are much too well-mannered to say in polite company:  Sin.

Actually, we aren’t going to talk so much about Sin as about the follow-up to sin.  Now, I’m positive that you remember every golden moment that we spent studying
Leviticus.  If you don’t remember all of it, however, I hope you do remember that one important follow-up to sin is the sacrifice of a living creature.  Jesus says that he is the living creature whose blood will be spilled out as the ransom for Sin.

1 John 1:8 – 2:2, Don’t Kid Yourself (1/31/12)

The first sin was disobedience, and the second sin was denial.  “It wasn’t my fault – the serpent made me do it” (Genesis 3:13).  “It wasn’t my fault – the woman made me do it, and besides that, you gave her to me, so really it’s all your fault” (Genesis 3:12)

John’s first important point is that we must not deceive ourselves:  we are sinners.  How often have you heard the middle sentence, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”?  Lots.  How often have you heard the first and third sentences, both of which say that we are sinful, and we deceive ourselves about it?  Not very often.  We’re so good at deceiving ourselves about sin that we don’t even talk about it!

Which brings us to John’s second important point:  whenever we sin, we must acknowledge it, so that Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for our sins can atone for them.

1 John 3:4-9, Break With Sin (2/1/12)

My sister was ironing a tee-shirt, and I must have made some rude comment about it.  She said, “I don’t do wrinkles.”  I responded, “I don’t do ironing.”  Now, just as she has the occasional wrinkle, I occasionally iron something.  There’s a difference in our minds, however, between having an occasional wrinkle or iron-in-hand and doing wrinkles or ironing. 

The word sin is both a noun and a verb in English, but the noun and verb in Greek are a little different.  Sometimes John uses the verb hamartano sin and sometimes he uses the verb poieo do along with the noun hamartia sin.  I suspect that in John’s mind, the one who “does sin [noun]” is different from the one who occasionally “sins [verb].”  So that’s how I’ve translated it – it may be a little awkward, but it’s faithful to the Greek, and I hope it pulls out the distinction between doing sin and doing a sin. 

We heard John say yesterday, “if anyone should sin…” so he understands that even saved Christians can commit sins.  However, Christians do not do sin!

1 John 5:14-21, Pray for Us All (2/2/12)

People sometimes worry about John’s statements, one of which we read yesterday, that Christians don’t sin.  Oh no!  Does that mean I’m not a Christian?  No, as I said yesterday, I (and others) interpret John to be saying that Christians don’t do sin—that is, our set policy is that we don’t get involved in committing any sins. 

Nevertheless, we occasionally commit a sin, and John knows this.  Otherwise, he would never tell us in 1 John 1 that we must stop kidding ourselves and confess our sins, and he would never tell us here to pray for each others’ sins.  Only if I commit the sin that leads to death are your prayers about my sin ineffective!  Wow!  Are you a powerful pray-er or what?

Meantime, I’ll try to stay away from the sin that leads to death, which most scholars take to be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; see Matthew 12:31.

Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1-3; Philippians 3:7-16, Going On to Perfection (2/3/12)

One standard for Christian behavior is that we don’t sin.  I don’t think I know anyone who meets this standard.  In the Methodist denominations, we strive to “go on to perfection.”  That is, we recognize that in this life, we are going to commit sins in spite of our best intentions, but every time we do, we confess and go back to trying to meet the standard. 

It’s important to remember that our salvation does not depend on our own righteousness or perfection:  it depends on the righteousness of Jesus, who uses his own righteousness to save us.  So when Jesus says, “Be perfect,” he’s giving us a goal for behavior, not a method of obtaining salvation.  Paul and the author of Hebrews say, “We aren’t perfect yet, but we’re working on it, and meantime we have salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”

More about Living the Christian Life
A Call to Christian Living
Christ-Centered Community
Charitable Giving
Christlike Compassion
Christ-Led Courage
Living So It Shows
Overcoming Sin
Sharing the Good News
Who Is Your Legacy?
Five Spiritual Disciplines
Christian Character
New Life and New Standards
Living in the World
Love One Another
Again, Love One Another
And as a Final Word, Love One Another

Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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