2012-06-06 - Can Christians Sin?
The Epistles of John ~ Part 40 ~ 1 John 2
In a number of churches, claiming to be Christian, the concept of sin is not welcome. "After all," some would say, "God is love. God is not judgmental, but accepts us for who we are." Within these churches, sin is redefined. People are allowed to accept their sin as alternate lifestyles. It no longer matters how people live. After all, "we wouldn't want to be seen as fundamentalists. We want to be seen as progressive." Consider what Burklo, on "The Center for Progressive Christianity" website states:
"Progressive Christianity empties itself, over and over, of any suggestion that our religion is better than others. Other spiritual or secular paths to the Divine may be as right for other people as ours appears to be for us. Humble religion doesn't focus on its walls, but rather on its openings. Progressive Christians try to keep our doors and windows open to inspirations that enter from beyond our communities of faith. Mystical spirituality keeps us open to progressive revelation, which strains our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hands to serve." 1
So why can't we all just get along? Scripture is twisted to support both aberrant theology and sinful lives. And, from this passage, one can assume this same problem existed in the early church. John was confronting this false teaching and its promoters.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who hold that Christians can no longer sin. "Because we are new creations, we don't sin." Of course we've already addressed this unscriptural teaching in earlier sessions.
Both positions represent extreme views. Most believers recognize that they do continue to sin. Unfortunately, with this understanding can come an attitude of acceptance. It becomes easy to believe that since sin is simply part of the human condition, it is not really that serious. Even when we understand its seriousness, we still, for practical purposes, minimize it.
We drive our cars by grace, not by law, as we speed down the freeway. We accept too much change in the grocery store. We don't lie, but "stretch" the truth. We don't act as if we realize sin is sin. Sometimes, we don't take it as seriously as we should. Consequently, we may be slow to recognize the sins of those who claim to speak for Christ. After all,
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matthew 7:1).
John addresses the problem in this section of his first epistle. He wants to make sure believers don't fall into the trap of accepting the teachings of false prophets, just because the prophets claim to speak for the Lord. How we live does matter. Works may not be the basis of salvation, but they are its fruit.
As we saw last time, John warned that the false prophets came in the spirit of antichrist. Now he discusses the distinctions between being children of God and children of the Devil.
To be continued.