My dear children,
I write this to you so that you will not sin.”
1 John 2:1 (NIV)
Over and over John tells his readers why he is writing to them. One of the great concerns he has—as a writer to those Christians—is the matter of personal holiness. This issue of sin—and its destructive force—is addressed many times by him in this short letter.
There is good reason for the apostle to have this concern. Elsewhere in the New Testament we read warnings concerning holiness such as:
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;
without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
In another passage we learn how God expects His people to live.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NIV)
“For God did not call us to be impure,
but to live a holy life.”
Anyone who goes through some religious ritual—and believes themselves a Christian—and yet wishes to live in sin, is like the man or woman who gets on the wrong train and is heading for the wrong destination. That person may think they are headed to eternal bliss but when the train stops at its destination they discover their error too late!
The whole point of being a Christian is to grow more and more into Jesus’ morally pure likeness. We have been redeemed from the consequences of our sin in order that we may go on putting them aside and taking holy behaviour into our daily living.
The General Electric Company had a building on a highway near where I live. Their company motto was posted on the side of the building for everyone to see. It read, “Progress is our most important product”.
As Christians we recognize that we shall not achieve perfection in this life. John says later in this letter, 1 John 3:2 (NIV)
“…we know that when Christ appears,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
So the perfection we crave is always a little ahead of us in this life. We make progress day by day, and when we see the Lord we gain that elusive perfection we have sought since our conversion.
So take heart if you are struggling with some specific temptation. Remember what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Be encouraged to pursue your calling as you look at the progress you have made. Unlike the General Electric Company, Progress is not our most important product. We constantly strive for perfection and shall not cease our efforts to attain it until we see the Lord Himself. (Philippians 3:12-14)