“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

(ESV 1 John 2:1)

If you are a Christian, you should rejoice that you are free from slavery to sin! You are free to walk in newness of life because of the love of Christ for you! Sin is a great evil and offensive against our Holy God, and a great and grave danger to our souls. Sin has an enslaving power to make us obey it and so it is wonderful news to find out that in Christ we are free not to sin!

We are called in Jesus Christ to realize that we are dead to sin and alive to God. This means that when Christ died on the cross, taking the wrath of God upon Himself for our sins, believers died with Him (Rom. 6:4-11). When Jesus was raised from the dead, we were also raised to newness of life. The Apostle Paul writes:

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

 (ESV Romans 6:11)

 The Apostle John is teaching the same liberating truth in 1 John 2:1.

“Dear Children, I write these things to you that you may not sin…”

(1 John 2:1b).

Notice how John addresses believers as his “dear children”. Like a loving father to a child, so the Apostle John writes to believers so that they may not sin.  But you say: “May not sin?! Certainly, the Bible does not teach perfectionism! Surely you are not saying that the Bible tells me that Christians are to be perfect, are you?!” No, the Bible does not teach perfectionism. In fact, the Apostle John has already addressed this false teaching and misunderstanding in chapter 1 of his letter:

“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.”

(ESV 1 John 1:8-10)

We must never say that we “have no sin” (1 John 1:8), or that we “have not sinned” (1:10). If we say that we have no sin or have not sinned, then we are liars and call God a liar. We have a need for the confession and forgiveness of sins, and to be cleansed from all unrighteousness as we walk by faith in this world (1:9). As long as we live in this world, believers will have a need to confess our sins to Jesus and to be forgiven, and Jesus is more than willing to receive our confession and to forgive us. God is faithful and just to forgive us. What great hope we have as Christians! But John goes on to teach in 1 John 2:1 that he writes his letter so that we “may not sin”. This means that it should be our spiritual aim and goal to seek not to sin against God.

 Because of God’s love for us in Christ, let us no longer make excuses for our sins, but let us hear the truth of God’s word and seek the spiritual goal of not sinning by His grace. I know you are thinking: “But pastor, I will sin, I just know it.” But is this the spiritual aim and goal God has commanded you in the Bible to live out by faith? Yes, indeed you will sin, John says “If anyone does sin…” and then provides all Christians a wonderful Savior to go to, but the point of the passage is that Jesus’ work for us is also to promote our resolve to seek not to sin. We still have the ability to sin as long as we are on this side of eternity, but we desire not to sin and offend our Great God and Heavenly Father!

How should believers live seeking not to sin?

Let us have a deep hatred for our sins. We must have a deep hatred for our sins. We should begin by understanding that all of our sins are first a great offense against a Holy and Just and Kind King and Merciful Father. We offend God when we sin; we grieve God when we sin; we hurt Him in His Holy heart (Gen. 6:5ff), and that is a good start for Christians to understand the Godward offense of our sins so that we will seek not to sin.

Sin was the reason Jesus came to save us. Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin, to release us from the dominion and rule of sin. Jesus says graciously: “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!” – -Free from sin! (John 8:31ff). In Christ, we are no longer slaves, but dear children (1 John 2:1a). As dear children, we realize that sin crushed our precious Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. “He was crushed for our iniquities” (‘iniquities’ are sins against God’s person and commandments, Isaiah 53:4ff). God crushed Jesus for our sins. “He who knew no sin became the sin-bearer for us that we might be made righteous in our union with Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Let us hate sin because it is crushed the perfect and holy, meek and gentle Jesus. This will help us seek not to sin.

Let us pray for a holy hatred for our sins against God. Sin is lawlessness. John writes:

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”

(ESV 1 John 3:4)

  Lawlessness is a complete disregard for God and His most Holy Law. Lawlessness is doing what we want to do rather than what God wants us to do. It is foolishness, and it leads to death. There is absolutely no good that comes from sin which is lawlessness. That is a promise from God Himself! The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Lawlessness describes those who will be rejected by Jesus Christ on the last day; it is the character of the anti-christ; it grows and increases into more lawlessness as it is practiced; it is the desperate situation from which God saved us by His grace the Bible teaches us (Matthew 7:23; 23:28; Romans 6:19; 2 Thess. 2; Titus 2:14).

Let us hate sin because it is lawlessness. This will help us seek not to sin.

When we see our sins, let us ask forgiveness from God and deep repentance. Let us see our Advocate before God, Jesus the Righteous One (1 John 2:1b). Where we lack righteousness, Jesus is sufficient as Savior-Advocate (one who pleads our case before God by His blood), to cleanse us. He is also able by His Spirit to keep us from sinning. Jesus’ death takes away our penalty for sin, but also grants us power over sin (1 John 1:7-9).

Let us resolve by God’s grace in Christ by His Spirit that we will not sin. But how can we achieve this? God has provided us some answers in His word. Here are a few ways to seek to do this, although we will fail at times. But what is your main aim, and spiritual goal? To be like Him; to seek not to sin.

Stay far from temptations. If you know something tempts you, or causes you to sin, seek to live far from it. Don’t go near it, even if it is lawful in and of itself. If it causes you to sin and stumble in your walk, then avoid it with all of your heart. If you are tempted to seek satisfaction in something or someone other than God, make sure you don’t fall into a temptation. This will help us seek not to sin.

Live in God’s grace and duty against sins. Go to worship, and hear preaching of God’s Word, take part in the administration of His sacraments; these are all means of God’s grace to communicate His love and power to you as you receive Christ by faith. Pray often all kinds of prayers for yourself and all people (Ephesians 6:18ff). This will help us seek not to sin.

Don’t doubt and distrust God (Romans 4:18-21). Has God ever let you down? Has God ever been unfaithful to you? No, and He never will let you down or be unfaithful to you in Christ. Trust God’s Word to you, believe His promises. Build yourself up in your most holy faith (Jude 24), seeking to believe what God says in true, particularly as He promises you that you may not sin. This will help us seek not to sin.

Be suspicious of carnal self-love. Watch your self-centeredness, and constant focus on yourself rather than on Christ. Be suspicious anytime you become self-aware and wonder why people are treating you in a certain way, or when you are too self-conscious about what others are saying, and you become overly defensive. Carnal self-love will focus you on yourself, rather than on Christ and your service to Him. This will help us seek not to sin.

Kill sin at the root. Know the master sin-roots. Master sins are ignorance of God’s word in general and God’s promises specifically. Unbelief, selfishness, pride, lust, hard-heartedness against God. All of these are master sin-roots that grow all kinds of dangerous and toxic weeds in your garden and the congregational garden of your local church. If you’re not constantly weeding your garden, then the weeds are constantly growing! This will help us seek not to sin.

Keep your conversation and thoughts above focused on Christ (Colossians 3:1-4). You have been raised with Christ, fix your mind on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:1). Watch your negative and cynical and pessimistic conversations and thoughts that you have that are veiled and subtle unbelief against God’s Word. Seek godly companions to talk about God’s goodness and grace. This will help us seek not to sin.

Be watchful and prayerful at all times (Matt. 26:41).  Apart from Christ you are dangerous; your heart is self-deceptive and evil by nature. You do not by nature know how to do anything but sin. You know this experientially in your own life, unless you have learned to self and to God (see 1 John 1:8ff). Remember the importance of asking God to search and know your heart, your thoughts, etc. (Psalm 139:23-24). This will help us seek not to sin.

God’s Word should be your only rule. This will help us seek not to sin.

Seek God’s will each day at the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Christ the Righteous One will grant you mercy and give you grace to help you in your time of need. This is a promise. Why would you not seek this Throne of Grace daily? Why would you not start each day at Christ’s feet? This will help us seek not to sin.

Go to Him now, confess your sins, your carelessness, your lack of watchfulness and prayer. Confess to Christ if you have not tried living for Him as dead to sin and alive to God. Confess to Jesus that you have not even tried to make it your spiritual aim not to sin if this be truth. This in itself is a blatant denial of God’s Word, and is usually fueled by one of the mother root-sins such as ignorance that God’s word teaches this, or unbelief that God would give you strength to live in this way. This will help us seek not to sin.

God requires perfect righteousness of all mankind. All mankind must be perfect if they are to ever hope in heaven and being a recipient of eternal life (Matt. 5:48). Because we are conceived and born in sin, we have no righteousness before God, and can never do anything in this life that is not actually tainted by sin (Psalm 51; Romans 3). Our only hope is to find the perfect righteousness that God demands of us and that we so desperately need in Jesus Christ alone. This is why Jesus alone is described as “The Righteous” or “The Righteous One” (1 John 2:1b). Only Jesus who was both God and man has attained a perfect righteousness.

Jesus died for sinners, and he died so that we might live for God. Jesus died for sinners so that we might be set free from slavery from sin and live unto God. The perfect righteousness that God requires of all mankind, God also provides for us in Jesus the Righteous One, and this is received by faith.

Now hate sin. Ask Christ to help you to hate it more. Jesus did not leave you in your sins. He did not allow sin in your life to continue to offend God Almighty, and to destroy your life and soul. He came so that you would have life in Him and to experience abundant life that is without the horrible rule and reign of sin over you, making you a slave with only death as your hope to be set free.

Jesus Christ has overcome sin; he has done for you what you could never do by His power and grace; because of His love for you!

And then go and seek not to sin.

But if (and when!) you do sin, you have an Advocate before the Father, Jesus the Righteous.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

(ESV 1 John 2:1)

Ponder the love of God for you in Christ.

 

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

 

 

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