21.5 John – Rehab

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.

My Answers:

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


21.4 John – What is the opposite of sin?

We received some very good advice when our children were little.  The recommendation was, instead of telling them what not to do, tell them what to do instead.

Saying, “don’t touch that”, puts the focus on the negative.  Saying, put your hands here and here when you approach this, is a positive and puts the focus on what to do.

I use this approach every day.  It is a core part of my work and how I lead others.  It is a central part of my teaching.  It is a major influence in working with kids (of all ages).  I even use it with myself.

Above my bathroom mirror, I have a 3×5 card of “insteads” paraphrased from Og Mandino.  Things like, if I’m feeling depressed, sing; if I’m feeling sad, laugh; if I feel afraid, trust in God’s power; If I feel poor, give thanks for blessings…

So, what is the instead to sin?

John answers that in this letter.  The opposite of “to sin” is “to love”!

God is love.  Love God, Love Jesus, Love the Holy Spirit, Love each other, Love Jesus and the Spirit within us.  Love our brothers and sister and God in them.  Love the community of believers.

Yes, we walk in a world filled with lies and lusts and prides and false teaching.  But the focus of our walk is not on avoiding the darkness, it is staying in the light.  It is walking in love.  It is letting our Lord carry us when we don’t have the sight to see the path.  It is remaining, abiding, living in Christ and becoming holier, fixed, repaired, transformed, more and more every day.  It is praying and reading and speaking the Word.


My Answers:

Great love of God lavished on us, called children of God.  When Christ appears we shall be like him, purified as he is.  This helps because we do not have strength on our own to not sin or be cleansed of past sins, but Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection provides the only hope of purification, to be made holy as he is holy.  We are cleansed of sin by his work not ours.

Love one another because we have passed from death to life.  We know true love because, in love, Jesus laid down his life for us.  We in turn should be willing to lay down our lives (forgo personal gain) for our brothers and sisters and to keep God’s commands.

To (1) believe it and (2) to witness and profess it to others as the truth.

21.3 John – Keep Commands

I love that BSF took us from our study in John 15 to this letter in 1 John.  At the last supper, as we’ve been reading and studying, Jesus over and over again encouraged His disciples to “keep my commands.”

Keeping the commands of Jesus is challenging.  It is something that we all struggle with, not because we don’t want to, but because we are sinners.

As a writer/blogger, I know I often am prompted to write about the things that I’m struggling with and working through.  I think it is a way that the Holy Spirit works in me as I try to put these challenges and struggles into words. It is not that I have the answers, but that I have the questions.  And, I think this letter of John is, in a way, his blog post along the same lines.

He writes it to sons and to fathers and to fathers and to sons and to young men.  But, in part, I think he also writes it to himself.  What does it mean to keep Jesus’ commands?  How do you go about doing it?

First, and foremost, he explains we haven’t arrived yet, we are still on the journey.  If anyone says they haven’t sinned or don’t sin, they are a liar and they call God a liar.  We fall short of keeping the commands every single day.

Second, we cannot just throw up our hands and say “this is impossible” and go on not keeping the commands.  Instead, we are to “not sin”.  It isn’t a “try not to sin”, but just simply, don’t sin.

But, how? Here, John includes the most important part…  It is not on our own and not by our own efforts, but by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.  There is no quick and easy path.  No lies by false teachers that we can say some word or follow some practice.  It is purely by the purifying and sanctifying work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This takes us directly back to John 15.  The Father is the gardener, snipping off the sucker distractions in our life that take away time and energy from producing fruit.  But as we live and grow, these side branches, the lusts and prides, need to continue to be pruned back as our branches are trained as we mature.  We are nourished by the connection to Jesus and fed and supported by the Holy Spirit inside and out.

We don’t “try” to not sin.  We don’t “try” to be holy.  We just follow.  We just put our faith in God.  We just stay, remain, abide, walk, in the light, the love of God.  We don’t try, we do.  You don’t try to love God.  You love God and let that love grow every day.

It’s not easy and it is a struggle, but it is not a mystery and it is not impossible, not by our strength but because of “The Righteous One.”

My Answers:

We know we have come to know him if we keep his commands.   By observing whether or not we are keeping his commands.  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Lust of the flesh – sexual immorality, gluttony, desires only for self gratification
Lust of the eyes –  pornography, consumerism, constantly desiring more and different
Pride of life – self centeredness, self righteousness, self absorption, Existentialism: my will and my choice is paramount

False teachers are real and prevalent.   They try to lead others astray by calling the truth lies and lies the truth.  Hold to what is known.  hold to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, hold to the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the true Father.