8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
No, I’m not a sinner. Yes, I am a sinner. But… I’m a sinner saved by grace. Now wait a minute; I’m saved. I do not sin anymore. If I sin, that proves the Holy Spirit is not in charge of me. And if the Holy Spirit is not in charge, then I am not saved. In fact, I am lost. If I am lost, then I am a sinner.
And so on. Circular reasoning?
The author of 1 John writes that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” He adds that “if we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar.”
If we claim to be sinless, “[God’s] Word is not in us.”
What we are to do is:
1) Recognize that we are sinners.
2) Confess our sins which we fall into each and every day.
3) Trust that God forgives these sins and make us righteous by His sacrifice.
21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and the other by a free woman. 23 But the one by the slave was born according to the impulse of the flesh, while the one by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things are illustrations, for the women represent the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery—this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
God does not change His mind, but He does create two separate covenants with mankind – the first covenant, often referred to as ‘old’ provides the Law and for a long time, mankind lives under this Law. The second covenant, often referred to as ‘new’ provides the Grace and from that point on, mankind lives under this Grace. Once Grace arrives, the Law is no longer needed. In fact, the Law is nailed to a tree and is essentially fulfilled in the Life and Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all!
Putting oneself back under the Law once under Grace is like going back into Slavery once Freedom is obtained. Who does that?
Paul wearies over the church at Galatia, even saying he remains in labor pains until Christ is formed in them. He wonders how it is that they’ve lost their joy, covering themselves with once-removed burdens. He wants to change his tone, but he is bewildered and hurt that they’ve returned to Slavery unnecessarily.
Don’t make this mistake. Our mother is not Hagar but Sarah; and she is Freedom.
The Word tells us that Satan is like a hungry lion prowling about looking for sinners to devour. Since we are all sinners, he looks to devour all of us. Here in Matthew, the Lord reassures us that Jesus – born of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit – makes us, that is, “His people safe from [our] sins.” And this is why Joseph is told in a dream to name his son, Jesus. Jesus’ name – Yeshua – means “to deliver, to rescue.”
I can’t think of anything better than God rescuing me from a prowling lion ready to devour me. And so, I am safe from my sins.
How about you?
“for that thing that is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall make his people safe from their sins.”
Exasperated, Paul wonders at the Galatians’ desire to place themselves back under the yoke of the Law. He worries over them as they fall victim to Judaizers who wish them circumcised, observant of certain days and specific customs. Paul says “it is always good to be enthusiastic about good;” but he also says he is “suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.” Paul strongly suggests to the church at Galatia that observing the Law does not and can not make them any more Christ-like!
15 What happened to this sense of being blessed you had? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them. 18 Now it is always good to be enthusiastic about good—and not just when I am with you. 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 20 I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you. 21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law?
Paul then tells them a story. He reminds the Galatians of the children of the free woman, Sarah and the slave woman, Hagar. Both children come from Abraham, but only one is the true heir.
Rid yourself of the yoke of slavery and take up the cloak of freedom in Christ.
I have a few questions:
- Who seeks God?
- For those who seek Him, what is required of us? What makes us acceptable to God?
- When we seek Him, is it miracles and signs we desire?
After Jesus feeds the 5,000 or perhaps it’s the time He feeds the 4,000, those who follow after Him ask similar questions:
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they ask.
29 Jesus replies, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”
30 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they ask. “What are You going to perform?
“I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” (John 6: 26-27)
The most straightforward and simple statement of Fanny J. Crosby’s “Blessed Assurance” is Paul’s statement to the church at Rome:
31 What (tis) then (oun) shall we say (legō) in response to (pros) these (houtos) things? If (ei ·ho) God (theos) is for (hyper) us (hēmeis,) who (tis) can be against (kata) us (hēmeis?) 32 He (pheidomai) who (hos) did (pheidomai) not (ou) spare (pheidomai·ho) his (idios) own Son (hyios,) but (alla) delivered (paradidōmi) him (autos) up (paradidōmi) for (hyper) us (hēmeis) all (pas,) how (pōs) will he (charizomai) not (ouchi) also (kai,) along with (syn) him (autos,) graciously give (charizomai) us (hēmeis ·ho) all (pas) things? 33 Who (tis) will bring a charge (enkaleō) against (kata) God’s (theos) elect (eklektos?) It is God (theos) who (ho) justifies (dikaioō).
And if there is any doubt, look at Paul’s delineation of “these things.” The things that he (and we) are responding to are:
1) The glorious freedom of the children of God
2) Our adoption into the family of God as His children
3) The Holy Spirit helping us in our weaknesses and interceding for us, knowing God’s will for us
4) God using all things together for our good, so that we are conformed to the image of our Creator
5) Finally our predestination, calling, justification and ultimate glorification
Therefore Paul says there is now no condemnation.
And Yahweh said to me again,
“Go, love a woman
who has a lover and is committing adultery,
just like the love of Yahweh for the children of Israel.
Out in the world at large are two seemingly opposing views of God: one view is that God is so holy that He hates sin and desires to destroy all those who commit sin; the other view is that God is so loving that He loves sinners and desires to save all who commit sin. These two views of God are correct. The paradox is in the story of Hosea asked by God to marry an adulterous woman to show forth both sides of the same coin – God’s holiness and God’s love.
God calls sin what it is; that is, sin. God clearly tells Hosea the woman is guilty and to marry her despite her guilt.
God also loves sinners. God clearly tells Hosea that He loves the children of Israel despite the fact they are as guilty as the adulterous woman.
If God doesn’t hate sin, why does He punish Jesus, His only Son? If God doesn’t love sinners, why does Jesus leave Heaven to come to earth for that punishment? Why does God bother to die on the Cross unless He loves sinners?
And so, God calls us to two sides of the same coin. He calls us to hate and avoid sin while simultaneously loving and approaching the sinner.
Since the author of Hebrews compares our walk with Christ as a race with clearly marked lanes and an easily identifiable finish line, I feel perfectly free to use the same analogy. (Paul often uses the same racing analogy, after all. And yes, that’s assuming he did not author the epistle to the Hebrews.) Here is what the author of Hebrews writes:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The “great cloud of witnesses” are the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel; they show off what real faith looks like! Since we have so many excellent examples of working faith, the author calls us to “throw off everything that hinders.” Whatever hinders our faith, we should dispense with. Then the author encourages us to throw off “the sin that so easily entangles.” Whatever sin remains in our day-to-day walk with Christ, we are to do our utmost to disentangle ourselves! Then, we are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Notice the author does not call upon us to cross into the running lanes of other racers. He does not command us to grab ahold of our neighbor and drag him or her along with us in our running lane. Each person runs his or her own race in a lane “marked out” especially for him or her. We aren’t able to give someone else our “perseverance.” We have to trust that God provides for each racer as need arises.
We see this in the history of Israel. Each individual saint stands or falls based upon his or her own perseverance and the power that God provides within each person’s situation. Each saint must disentangle himself or herself; each saint must throw off sins that entangle him or her; each saint must run his or her own race and reach the finish line alone (and yet, together with other members of the body of Christ Himself).
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”