Expectation vs. Reality
Have you ever had an idea of how something will turn out, but the reality is vastly different to your expectations? Perhaps you’ve tried to recreate an amazing recipe you saw on Pinterest, or a YouTube video of a DIY home improvement trick only to find it’s not as easy as the internet makes it look. You’re left with an unattractive mess and the sting of failure. Life as a Christian can sometimes feel this way. When we first become a Christian, we often feel profound excitement as our hearts fill with fire for God. Then time passes and our excitement wanes as we start falling back into the same sins with which we dealt before turning to Jesus. So, how should a Christian respond to this? What’s a biblical response to the reality of being both a follower of Jesus and lifelong sinner?
The Truth about Sin
Well, firstly we need to acknowledge the biblical truth that sin will always be present in our lives. John, a disciple of Jesus, writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1v8). Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically stop us from sinning, and we cannot hide from that fact. This does not mean John is giving permission for believers to carry on sinning, but he is saying that Christians should be quick to admit their temptation and interaction with sin.
So how do we deal with the reality that we continue to sin as Christians?
Well, John is certain that sin does not need to have the final word on the life of the Christian. John writes, “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” (1 John 1:7). His argument is that when sin comes into the light, Jesus can provide healing. He is encouraging his readers to expose their sin rather than hide it.
Living in the Light
There was another news story this week of a politician who attempted to cover up an extra-marital affair. This seems to be the popular problem for the rich and famous. They’re convinced that indiscretions should be hidden in the dark and secret corners of our lives. While it is true that there is no great value in broadcasting our sins to just anyone, what John is saying is that sin festers in the dark. It grows and becomes more damaging. In the light, however, Jesus provides comfort, forgiveness and restoration.
John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1 v 9). When we are left with the mess of a botched DIY creation it can be tempting to cover it up and pretend nothing went wrong. But John tells us that God is faithful, and we don’t need to cover up our sin because he will forgive us, if only we would confess that sin to him.
Pastor Timon Bengtson with Frances Early