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  • Writer's pictureAlan and Jean McKinnell

Saint or Sinner? you can't be both!

1 John 3:1-7 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

3 1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

Our church follows the Lectionary of the Anglican Community. For those of you to whom all that is gobbledygook (it used to be to me), that means that all churches within the Anglican group of churches (headed by the Church of England) will read the same passages of scripture on a given Sunday as taken from the list given in a book known as 'The Lectionary.' Yesterday the readings included the above verses from the book of 1 John chapter 3 verses 1 to 7.

We can have up to four different scripture readings usually including an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament Reading and a reading from one of the Gospels. Whoever is preaching that Sunday has to preach and teach from these readings. Some try to bring in the three readings (excluding the Psalms) there is generally a theme, others will stick to the Gospel reading and may bring in references to the other readings.

I would be really interested to know how many churches / ministers included the above verses from 1 John in their sermon. It didn't get a mention in our church.

In traditional churches their is a tendency to never get by 1 John 1 v 10,

1 John 1:10 New King James Version

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

and for extra back up they may even bring in Romans 3 v 23.

Romans 3:23 New King James Version

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The great desire to still be referred to as a sinner after you have become a Christian is quite alarming, especially among the clergy, it is quite commonplace to completely ignore the past tense in 'have sinned', yes, we have all sinned, but once you become a Christian and you receive the forgiveness of sin through accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour acknowledging that Jesus has paid the price for our sins, then we are called to live a different life, we are new creations in Christ Jesus. We are called by Jesus to 'repent' repent means to not just say sorry for what you 'have' done but to stop doing what you were doing.

Mark 2:17 New King James Version

17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Instead of stopping at 1 John 1 : 10, we need to read the whole counsel of God in the letter written by John, including the following quite clear verses on how we as Born Again Christians should be living.

1 John 1:6-7

New King James Version

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 2:1-4

New King James Version

The Test of Knowing Christ

2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The Test of Knowing Him

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:6

New King James Version

6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 2:28-29

New King James Version

The Children of God

28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:2-10

New King James Version

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Sin and the Child of God

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

The Imperative of Love

10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:24

New King James Version

The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Our ability to sin or not sin is totally dependent on whether we remain in Jesus, and allow Jesus to remain in us by His Holy Spirit, not only are we required not to sin but we have been given the ability not to sin 'by the Spirit whom Jesus has given us' this is the Good News of the Gospels, we are new creations, we have been forgiven of our old sins and we need no longer live a life of sin, if we continue to sin, it is by our choice, and as we see in the Bible verses above, "4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar," but there is more Good News, if we recognise we have sinned then we can once again repent and be forgiven, "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". Sin cannot be the lifestyle of a Saint, being a 'sinner' is not the lifestyle of a Saint, the above verses tells us we cannot abide in Jesus and sin, it is not in our new nature, the Bible tells us that all sinners will have their place in the lake of fire, we are called to an eternal life with Jesus, if you are continuing to refer yourself as a sinner, it is time to stop it now, we are Saints. It has become unpopular for Christians to refer to themselves as Saints, but that is who we are, IN CHRIST JESUS!.

Revelation 14:12 New King James Version

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God

and as for those ministers who insist on encouraging Christians to call themselves sinners then the Bible tells us they will be judged more severely.

James 3:1 New King James Version

3 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

and that judgement includes when given an opportunity to teach the whole counsel of God, in a scripture such as 1 John 3, and totally ignoring it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New King James Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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