Sin is evil.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”                                                                 (1 John 1:6-7)

This week’s epistle reading is from John’s first letter. One of the aims that John has in this letter is that Christians not sin. To that end he distinguishes between a lifestyle that continually ignores or condones sin versus a life that hates and seeks to overcome it. Sin in one’s life often indicates that a person may not be saved if it is characteristic of that one’s whole lifestyle and if that person does not feel remorse or sorrow and does not see the need to seek God’s help and mercy. Those who are saved who sin are convicted by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, feel shame and guilt which leads to confession and repentance.

John asserts that there is no middle ground between darkness and light. The Christian cannot love the world and live according to its dictates and at the same time love God. When John speaks of the world, he does not mean the people of the world. We do not hate them. We are to hate the system of the world, the kingdom of Satan. He uses the fleshly desires, selfish pride and independence that characterize all human beings to tempt them to sin.

God’s definition of sin does not change because of man’s changing values. The Christian should have a different attitude, to seek to live according to the example of Jesus, to be humble, loving and unselfish.  Thus those who preach self-help, self-glorification, self-sufficiency and the pursuit of wealth preach another gospel. These are to be shunned and refuted. Only those who admit they are sinners and hate their sins come under the blood of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.

Count others better than yourself. 

  

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.                          (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV)

 

This week’s Epistle presents us one of the most dynamic passages in scripture, one which is directly connected to Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Here Paul testifies to the dual nature of Jesus Christ. When Jesus became incarnate, He did not surrender any of His divine attributes. Instead, He humbled Himself by taking on human limitations. He chose to allow them to prevent Him from fully exercising His divine powers. These limitations allowed Him to suffer the pain of crucifixion and death. He had to be fully human, to be one of us, in order to be our proper sin offering.

God in Christ became the servant of all. He sacrificed His glory to become a human being like us and die for our sins. In our self-centered world we might not like this idea of service to others at all, especially to people who we think are undeserving. We fear that they will use and manipulate us, that they will take advantage of us. We are afraid to lose what we think we need or what we think is our right and privilege: we want what everybody else has.

Yet as servants of God we lose this fear as we realize that we are not in control of our lives: the Lord is. He uses us as He sees fit. He calls us to obey Him totally and completely. Only by accepting this call, on our jobs, in our families and all our relationships and activities, will we find true peace and joy.