May 11, 2022

May 11, 2022

Dear Friends,
 
Is it possible to have fellowship with God and live a sinful life? 
 
When the Apostle John wrote his first letter, he found himself addressing this issue head on.  Some in the church had found themselves confused by false teachers who had told them that they needed to worry about keeping their spirits pure, but that whatever they did with their bodies didn’t really count, since our bodies are material and matter is inherently evil.  That’s the heresy John was confronting when he wrote “If we say we have fellowship with God while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
 
But without missing a beat, John says “if we say we have no sin, we are liars.”
 
Confused yet?  Here’s what John is saying.  Real Christians will sin.  But they won’t walk in sin. 
 
Sin is a persistent reality for believers.  The Apostle Paul wrestled with sin.  “I do not understand my own actions,” he wrote.   “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).  And the writer of Hebrews has to remind faithful Christians to continue to lay aside the sins that so easily encumber us (Hebrews 12:1). 
 
And it’s possible for a true child of God to find himself or herself doing ongoing battle with a persistent, besetting sin pattern.  Are you familiar with that term?  Gavin Ortlund refers to them as “ ‘nagging sins’ — those entrenched, persistent, difficult-to-dislodge sins that continually entangle us in our efforts to follow Christ…  Most godly Christians, who have made true progress in their pursuit of holiness, can sing with feeling ‘prone to wander, Lord I feel it.’”
 
So people who have fellowship with God, who walk in the light, will have some remaining indwelling sin in their lives.   So what’s the difference between a sinner who walks in the light and a sinner who walks in darkness? 
 
Put another way, what’s the difference between sinning and walking in darkness?  What’s the difference between a sinner who has fellowship with God and walks in the light and a sinner who, as 1 John 1:6 says, is lying about his relationship with God and is not practicing the truth?
 
Let me give you four differences:
 
First, a sinner who walks in the light is regularly confessing his sin.A sinner who walks in darkness if perpetually excusing his sin.The person who is walking in the light agrees with God that what he’s doing is sinful, while the one who walks in darkness is forever justifying or excusing his behavior.
 
Second, the person who is walking in the light sees his sin for the sin that it is and hates it.  He is repelled by it.  Like Paul, he says “there are things I hate I end up doing.”  The one who walks in darkness doesn’t hate his sin.  Instead, he has found a way to become comfortable with it.
 
Here’s Gavin Ortlund again.  “If we do not feel the magnitude of our sin, if we are not gripped by its stench and grossness, if we pass over it lightly with glib affirmations of grace — we will probably never get around to the serious vigilance required for killing it. Truly subduing it requires properly grieving it.”
 
If you have a sin pattern in your life and someone says “what’s the deal with that?” And you say things like “Yeah, well, no one’s perfect, right?  I’m under grace.  Don’t want to be a legalist,” that’s an indication you’ve become comfortable with your sin.  You may be walking in darkness.
 
Third, a person who is walking in the light will fight against his sin. He’ll seek to mortify it – to put it to death. The one who walks in darkness is content to find a way to manage his sin.
 
A lot of people take a passive approach to sin.  They may confess it and hate it, but they don’t take any active steps to deal with it.  They don’t go to war against it.  They don’t try to kill it.
 
But you remember what Jesus said, right?  “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29–30).
 
In other words, don’t think you can manage your sin.  Deal with it.  Mortify it.
 
Finally, the one who walks in the light will run from sin.  The one who walks in darkness will walk toward sin. 
 
A true Christian will stay alert to the dangers and snares of sin, and will walk away.  He makes it his objective to walk in light, not in darkness.
 
This means that if substance abuse has been an issue for you, it’s not a good idea to say to yourself “I think I’ll go with my friends to the pub and have a beer so I can relate to them and win them to Christ.”  If gossip is an issue for you, you should think about the relationships where you find yourself engaging in gossip and think carefully about the patterns that have led you to gossip before.  If greed is an issue, notice what kindles greed in you and head in the other direction.
 
To sum up, John would say that people who claim to love God but who walk in darkness are people who: are likely to excuse or downplay or minimize their sins, have grown comfortable with their sin are passive about it, not working to put it to death walk toward it rather than walking away from it. These people, the Bible says, are lying about their relationship with God. They are not thinking or acting or living the way people who have been genuinely converted think and act and live.
 
But people who walk in the light and have fellowship with God are people who do battle with their ongoing sin. They are repelled by their sins. They confess their sins. They actively seek to put their sins to death. They walk away from, not toward sin. 
 
A final note here.  These categories are designed more for introspection and self-reflection than they are for evaluating the spiritual condition of others.  Romans 14:4 tells us that it’s not our job to pass judgment on the faith of others.  “To his own master, he stands or falls.” 

COMING UP!

 And it’s last call for the Men’s Breakfast. We’re buying the groceries tomorrow.  So if you’re planning to join us, now is the time to click here and register (remember, it’s free!  We just need to know you’re coming). 

men’s book study – BEGINS JUN 3

Also, men, if you’re planning to be part of the Friday morning GunLap group that will be starting up again in June and you haven’t requested your copy of the book Lies Men Believe yet, now’s the time to let Jim McMurry know you need a copy.

roots student ministry

By the way, the Buffalo float trip?  That’s open to everyone!  Cost, details and sign up are available here.   

three dates to put on your summer calendar. 

OUR SUMMERTIME PARKING LOT PICNICS!

These picnics are great activities for inviting others – especially families with kids who will love the inflatables and the fun!  Start thinking and praying now about who you’d like to invite.

It’s our first summer Backyard Bible Club!

 Speaking of kids, if you have elementary aged kids (or younger), make sure you block out the last week in June for a week full of fun and learning. 
If someone said to you “I’ve always been curious about the gospel.  What exactly is it?”  Would you know what to say?  How to explain it?  What Bible verses you’d share? 
 
In other words, how ready are you to give an explanation for the hope you have?  Do you know how to lead someone to Jesus?
 
Let’s talk about it this Sunday.

See you in church.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob
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May 4, 2022

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