My little children, these things I write 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
Some time ago, I found myself in a situation where I needed to claim the promise in the scripture above for myself. Here’s the story: On my way to a hair salon for a routine touch up, I decided to drive by a bookstore to pick up a book I had ordered. Picking it up would save me $12 in shipping costs. When I arrived at the store, I learned that I could only pick up the book after I received an email notifying me that my order had been processed. So, I drove on to the salon for my hair appointment. On the way, I remembered that I had seen a stylist at the salon use an iPod to access the internet. So, I decided I would request to use the salon’s internet access so I could check my email for the message from the bookstore. I reasoned that if the message had arrived, I would pick up the textbook on my way home; this would still help me save shipping costs.
On getting to the salon, I noticed a “Free Wifi” sign on the door of a nearby store. As I settled down to fix my hair, I told the stylist that I needed to check email on my iPod. She offered to help and proceeded to give me a password, which she said belonged to the nearby store. I took the password and used it but with some concern that accepting it may not be the right thing to do. I accessed my mailbox but did not find the message I expected.
Feelings of guilt
On my way home, I thought about the incident again and came to the conclusion that I should not have accepted the password. The nearby store provided Wi-Fi as an incentive to its customers not as a public facility. The fact that I did not get the password directly from them made using it wrong. Moreover, I was perturbed about the fact that I had not shown my stylist (who knew I was a Christian) a good example. I would have been a better example if I had gone to the nearby store and asked to use their Wi-Fi (and perhaps purchased some items from them).
Convicted of sin but knowing it was not intentional, I asked the Lord for forgiveness and for help with overcoming such unexpected traps in future. I hated the fact that I had missed the mark, but I accepted the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and moved on.
Someone once asked the question, “Why do you think God tells us not to sin?” Then he gave the answer, “because sin is contrary to God’s nature.” I agree. When God tells us not to sin, He is not merely setting standards that will make life difficult and unpleasant for us. Rather, He is steering us down the path that leads to being like Him.
There is no sin in God. No act of sin, no matter how small, is in line with His nature. Sin — whether lying, cheating, hating others, or outright murder — is contrary to His nature. Since God has adopted us as His children and is developing His nature in us, sin must be flushed out.
When this truth dawns on us, we begin to relate to compromise and sin differently. We discover that the issue isn’t whether or not we get caught but whether we are preventing God’s nature from forming within us. With this realization, we become more aggressive about dealing with sin in our lives. We embrace the scripture that says, “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him … and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God” (1 John 3:9 Amplified Bible). When we embrace the fact that we are being changed into God’s likeness, we no longer practice sin habitually.
Accepting God’s forgiveness
But we may sometimes slip and fall into unintentional sins, or sins committed ignorantly. When this happens, we need not hit ourselves over the head and slump into condemnation. Rather, we should immediately apply the provision of 1 John 2:1b: “… and if any man sins, we have Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” When we confess our sins to God, trusting in the atoning blood of Christ, He faithfully forgives us and cleanses us from the things within that make us susceptible to iniquity. When this happens, the sins that beset us cannot take root in our lives or derail our walk with God.
If we are doing our best to conform to God’s will, we need not yield our hearts to guilt and condemnation. Rather, we should remember that we are works-in-progress — God is not finished with us yet. We should also be assured that He is pleased with where we are on our journey with Him.
In closing I say to you, “My little children, these things I write 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).