We once had a friend who told us that he had been able to stop sinning after becoming a follower of Jesus. He based his statement on the following words of John…
Those who are God’s children do not continue sinning, because the new life from God remains in them. They are not able to go on sinning, because they have become children of God.1 John 3:9 (NCV)
Many have been confused by that verse . . . either they believe, like our friend, that they no longer sin or they doubt their faith and salvation because they know they do.
Because I’m not fluent in the original Biblical languages, this is an example of a verse that has motivated me to read Scripture in many different translations.
When I read 1 John 3:9 in one of the more “literal” translations . . . I found the following:
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
There’s a difference between not sinning and not making it a regular intentional practice.
Psalm 26 finds us in a similar situation. David wrote…
Declare me innocent, O Lord,Psalm 26:1–3
for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.
For I am always aware of Your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to Your truth.
We know David wasn’t sinless but then he added…
I do not spend time with liarsPsalm 26:4
or go along with hypocrites.
In order for that to be possible, David would have had to avoid people altogether.
Let’s pause for a moment to look at a couple of things Paul wrote about sin…
Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Romans 3:22 and Romans 7:19
I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
One of our faith’s greatest preachers admitted that everyone sins and that he, himself, had been unable to stop sinning. So, what are you and I to take from David’s statements in Psalm 26?
We know David sinned but we also know that he loved the Lord. He wanted to live with integrity and he wanted to trust God without wavering.
Even though it was David’s desire to live his faith free of sin . . . he knew he was a sinner just like everyone else.
So, he ran to God and asked God to declare him innocent . . . not because he was perfect but because 1. He trusted God’s perfect and unfailing love. (v. 3) 2. He believed that God was able and willing to redeem him. (v. 11) 3. He relied on God’s promise to be gracious and merciful when he asked for forgiveness. (v.11)
Although you and I, like David and Paul, will not stop sinning this side of heaven. We can trust God’s grace, mercy, and love. And we can trust Him to declare us innocent when we leave our sins at the foot of the cross and place our faith in Jesus.
A Prayer to Make it Our Heart’s Desire to Stop Sinning
Oh, Father, I want to stop sinning. I want to obey Your commandments and follow Your will. But, like Paul, I don’t do the good things I want to do and I continue to think, say, and do the things that I don’t want to do . . . things You have said are sins. So, once again, I come to You asking for You to forgive me.
I believe that Jesus has taken the punishment for my sins upon Himself. I believe that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. I believe “there is salvation in no one else! [That You have] given no other name under heaven by which we are saved.” (Acts 4:12) I believe that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)
By the power of Your Spirit, teach me and help me remember Jesus’ commands each day. (John 14:26) When I am tempted to disobey, show me the way and give me the strength to trust and follow Your will. I love You, Lord, and it is my heart’s desire to live with integrity, to trust You without wavering, and to live according to Your truth.
I thank and praise to who You are and for all that You do for me with Your perfect unfailing love. Amen.
Before we go, let’s take a look at David’s words about not spending time with liars or going along with hypocrites.
The Life Application Bible Notes asks…
“Should we stay away from unbelievers?”
The answer is NO! It’s impossible for us to avoid sinners. I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. We’re all sinners. Jesus spent time with sinners because He wanted them to know the truth that would set them free.
If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:36)
So, let’s spend time together and love one another by encouraging one another to TRUST, LOVE, and OBEY the One who came to forgive us and set us free.
May God be with you and bless you as you make it your heart’s desire to obey Him.
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