1 John 1:5-10 ESV
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
We are not Christians because our parents were Christians, if indeed they were. We are not Christians because we have attended church gatherings all our lives. We are not Christians because we have been physically baptized or because we went through catechism or because we joined membership with a local institutional church. And we are not Christians merely on the basis of a profession of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
John makes that abundantly clear in what he wrote here. A Christian is not one who is one in form or in profession only. A Christian is one who lives what the Scriptures teach under New Covenant teaching. We can’t just claim that we are in fellowship with God – with Christ. And we aren’t in fellowship with God just because we go through the motions of religious practice, or just because we read our Bibles and pray every day, if indeed we do.
And if we profess with our lips that we are in fellowship with God, and that we are Christians who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, but if what we practice is lying, cheating, stealing, sexual immorality, adultery, gossiping, unfaithfulness, hate, and slander, et al, then we are liars who do not live by the truth. For we can’t be in relationship with God – with Christ – and still live like we did before we believed in Jesus, or worse.
Now this is not teaching that we must live in sinless perfection (see 1 John 2:1-2). But it does teach us that the Christian life and practice is all about surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ, to do his will. It is all about walking in the light of the truth of the gospel in daily practice, in truth, in daily walks of obedience to our Lord, and in walks of holiness and righteousness in the forsaking and the putting to death of our sins, by the Spirit.
And then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. And we need to get this. For if we do not walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, then we are not in relationship with Jesus Christ. This is taught all throughout the New Testament. Jesus taught it. Paul taught it much! And John and the other apostles taught it, too. Faith in Jesus Christ includes repentance and walks of obedience to him.
Now, this is also not to say that a genuine follower of Christ can never sin or that he can never wander from his pure devotion to Christ. I believe we have plenty of evidence Scripturally that both are possible but that the wanderer then needs to repent of his wandering and return to following Jesus as his Lord and Savior. For our faith must be continuous and steadfast to the end if we are to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
Now, I know that what I just stated messes with some people’s theology. But I will include here plenty of Scriptures that you can look up where you can see that what I just said is the truth of what the Scriptures teach. For they do not teach once saved always saved. They teach our salvation as progressive sanctification which will not be complete until Jesus returns and he takes his bride to be with him for eternity.
But for us to be saved in the end and to have eternal life with God we must walk no longer according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit. Righteousness and godliness and obedience to our Lord must be what we practice and sin must not be our practice (our habit, addiction). For to love God is to obey him. So if we do not obey him in practice we do not know him and we will not have eternal life with him (1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:4-10).
Now, many people are taking 1 John 1:9 out of context and they are building a false doctrine around it. But we can’t just verbalize “I sinned” and then think that makes us good with God. Many people are caught in the sin, confess, sin, confess addictive lifestyle. And “confess” here is not a mere verbal acknowledgment of sin. It means to agree with God, to come to the same conclusion as him, and to align with him in his conclusion about our sin.
And if we align ourselves with God and if we are in full agreement with him regarding our sin, then we will arrive at the same conclusions as him. And his word teaches that if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, then we will not inherit eternal life with God. We will not be saved from our sins in the end, and heaven will not be our eternal destiny. We need to take this seriously!
So, if we want to be in true relationship with God – with Christ – and to be saved from our sins and to have the hope of heaven when we die, then we must repent of our sins, turn from them, and now walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). And we can’t do this in our own strength but only in the power and working of God’s Spirit in our lives in transforming us as we surrender our lives to him in submission to Christ.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.