Abigail Van Buren, of Dear Abby fame, once wrote, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
I think, however, what we read in 1 John is that it is more of a Rehab Center, than just a hospital. We are recovering sin addicts. We are healing from a crippling disease called sin that we were born in to and that is an epidemic that has infected the entire world.
When we accept the gift of Christ, we immediately and fully justified, we are fully and completely saved from the disease of sin. But, sin has ravished our bodies our minds and our hearts from before the day we were born. We carry not only our own sin, but the sins of our parents and grandparents (to the third and fourth generations). Not only that, but we still live surrounded by sin, such as lust and pride.
The role of a Rehab Center is to build us back into what we were created to be. This is not done by a magic word or a pill or shot, it is something that takes time. It takes a trained coach to guide us in exercises. To push us, but also to give us exercise that is within what we can bear, but instead to build us up. There are times it may be painful, not because the coach is mad at us or dislikes us or even because we have done something wrong, it is just part of the process. That coach is the Holy Spirit.
When John writes, “anyone born of God does not continue to sin”, we might look at that and say, “but wait a minute, I sin every day. Does that mean I’m not born of God?” However, if a patient in rehab falls down, we don’t say that they failed. They are in rehab. It is expected that they might fall from time to time. But they get back up and they continue in rehab. They don’t continue to fall down, they continue to get up and they continue to be rehabilitated. In the same way, we don’t continue to sin, we continue to follow Jesus!
Our fully rehabilitated state is holiness. We were created to be holy, to be children of God and to be able to live and love in His direct presence. We are accepted and admitted the day we put our faith in Jesus, but the Holy Spirit works to rehabilitate us for the rest of our lives.
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
I see an overflowing of the Holy Spirit in my life and experience joy and peace.
Anyone who believes is born of God, loved by the father as a child. We love through love of other children and obeying his commands, overcoming the world – through the power of Jesus, the Son of God, who came by water and blood, testified by the spirit of truth (all testify together). All who believe accept this testimony. God has given us eternal life in His son. Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not does not have life.
Anyone born of God does not continue to sin (kept safe by Jesus and the Devil cannot harm them)
We are children of God and the world is under the control of the evil one
The Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we can know and be in Him who is True
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