Who Am I?
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. . . By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil. . . 1 John 3:6-10
There are those times in life when we must step back, take stock of our lives, and ask, Who Am I? Obviously for me, the disaster of my addiction, was one of those times. In the calamity, I had to weigh the actions of my life and consider some hard, painful facts. Yes, I’d believed in God my entire life, but I’d lived my way. What did the evidence say? If I’d been accused of being a Christian and put on trial for it, would there have been enough evidence to convict? Or would everyone simply have seen an addict who followed his self-destructive nature above all?
As Christians, we believe that because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, we’re restored to God and forgiven for all time. No matter what we do, we cannot make God unforgive us. Our quandary though, is that we think we can now simply live however we want, following ourselves, while still experiencing God’s love and mercy. Today’s passage though, provides a sobering warning to those of us who would try to sneak into heaven through this cheap version of grace. In the passage, John said that Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil (1 John 3:8). John had previously written that when we do stumble and sin, God always forgives us (1 John 2:1). We don’t have to live in fear when we fail. Here though, John described, not the inevitable struggles we all face in which we sometimes sin. Here, he addressed the one who has simply surrendered to the struggle and whose life is marked only by sin and failure.
We don’t save ourselves and we’re not saved by anything we do. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). And, when we fail, there is always forgiveness in Christ (1 John 2:1). The sobering warning here though, is that if our faith is real, it must produce some transformative evidence in our lives. In today’s passage, John described those who claimed faith but whose lives showed absolutely no evidence of real faith.
If this frightens us, it should. We should all ask who we truly are. We may claim faith, but does the evidence of our lives reveal an authentic faith? Or does all the evidence show that we’re pretenders who simply continue to follow ourselves?