Sin, prayer and Christians
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Sin, Prayer and Christians
What happens when a Christian sins? The Apostle John writes a great deal about Christians and the issue of sin in their lives throughout his first letter to the churches. In the first chapter he addresses the issue of Christ followers who might deny that they have sin at all making themselves and Jesus out to be a liar. In fact, in the 9th verse he warns us to confess our sins with the understanding that forgiveness will follow.
In the second chapter he tells us that a big reason he is writing his letter is to keep his readers from sinning, but he continues with some good news for sinning Christians and that is that when we do sin, Jesus advocates for each of us and defends us with his blood. His sacrifice for the sins of the entire world bring the sinning Christian back into a right relationship with the Father.
In the center of that chapter John warns us to not love the world or the things of the world. He expresses a fierce caution against loving the world or the things of the world. He points out the danger of lust for things, fleshly pleasure and self (through prideful boasting).
Chapter two also warns further that there are people trying to lead the followers of Christ astray, or, into sin. When followers of Christ fall into repetitive sin, it damages the view the world has of Christ and his followers. John also tells us that what non-followers see in the followers of Christ has a major impact on what they think about him.
If knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior does not change the forgiven sinner’s life, then where is the value? John writes a great deal about the powerful change that occurs in the follower of Christ because of the new relationship he gives by making us children of God. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of us we have a new birth. We become literally begotten family members through the Spirit. Chapter 4 and verse 4 tells us
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
In spite of this we still find sin as an issue among the brothers and sisters in the church (i.e. the family of God). Verse 18 says that “…anyone born of God does not continue to sin…”
But this issue keeps coming at us. That is why prayer is so very important. We know that in 5:13 we are told that we can know we have eternal life. That’s a huge revelation! This is why, in the verses that follow, John assures us that we can have confidence when we approach God; that when we ask for anything according to his will, he hears us. In the verses that follow, he talks about praying for those members of God’s family who are having trouble with sin.
When we approach God in intercessory prayer on behalf of others, we tend to pray a lot about physical health. There is nothing wrong with that, but the Bible talks a lot more about praying for spiritual health. We need to pray for ourselves and others to overcome sin because spiritual health impacts eternal life much more than the physical.
The last sentence of John’s letter is a command to abstain from idols. The first commandment of the TEN was to have no other gods before the Lord. The second was similar in that God’s people were to not make unto themselves a graven image. In other words; “NO IDOLS!”
John was concerned about the spiritual health of the church of Jesus Christ. He saw this as a powerful battle. He knew that through prayer we could overcome the world through our faith; that we could defeat the struggle with sin and keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ pushing away any idols that would tempt us to put our trust in the wrong things. John talks a lot about love. I believe that if we love each other we will pray for the spiritual health of one another. When a Christian sins disaster follows. When a Christian prays, victory, overcoming power takes over and destroys sin and idols. It is difficult to sin when we are devoted to prayer. If we make prayer our lifestyle, sin will become extinct in our lives.
This Sunday morning, we will complete our series of messages from 1 John that we have titled, THE JESUS DIFFERENCE with part 12, “A Confident Prayer Life” based on 1 John 5:13-21. I hope you will come and join us for this powerful conclusion to a powerful book of the Bible.
Paying for you,