Raising the Bar
God is Able to Keep You from Falling
Jude 1:24: (ESV) Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.
Jude points out that God wants us to reach a place in our lives where we no longer sin. When I teach on this subject, many Christians almost turn me off in disbelief. God is able to keep us from "stumbling"
or sinning. Once when I taught on this passage, a woman came to me after the service and asked, "Are you sure this is right? Have you ever known of anyone who came to a place where they did not sin?" That was a tough question to answer. I can't think of anyone I know who never sins, but I can't base my response on people and experiences. I must base them on the Word of God. God teaches us that this should be the goal of every believer's life, never to sin again. After setting one person free and
forgiving another, Jesus actually told each of them individually, "Go and sin no more" (John 5:14, 8:11). If it was impossible to stop sinning, Jesus would not have given them this instruction.
I do not teach nor believe that it is unnecessary for Christians to confess their sins. Quite the contrary, it is liberating to confess our sins (1 John 1:9) knowing they are forgiven and gone forever, never to be brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Yet, the purpose of forgiveness for the Christian is to bring us one step closer to never sinning again. According to this verse from Jude, we do not need a resurrection body to accomplish this goal, just an active obedience to the Word of God and a yielded attitude to the Holy Spirit.
When we as Christians sin, we get our eyes off Jesus and are taken in by the lusts and pressures of our flesh and the world around us. However, when our eyes are on the Lord, we can say NO. Two thirds of
the angels said NO when asked to follow Satan in a rebellion against God. In the wilderness, most of the children of Israel believed the report that there were "giants" in the land, but Joshua and Caleb said, "We are well able to take the land!" Joshua put his foot down and declared, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
An Advocate in Time of Need
After a thorough explanation of the importance of Christians confessing their sins, in 1 John 2, John continues on with a wonderful description of Jesus' ministry of Advocate to the Church. "My little children, I am uniting these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1 ESV).
Again, God's goal is that we do not sin on the road to holiness and sanctification but when we do sin Jesus is our Advocate. He brings our sins before the Father when we confess them. This is part of Jesus'
great High Priestly ministry for the church, His kingdom of priests.
How to Reach This Great Goal
The answer to the sin problem in the life of a Christian is not willpower or making a vow to God that we will never sin. The flesh cannot produce holiness. It comes from the power of the Holy Spirit and
the power of God's Word in our heart. This power must be acted on to see results. The answer to the sin problem is maturity. A child does not quit falling and stumbling as they learn to walk, by getting angry and vowing never to fall again. They quit falling by growing up. There must be a mechanism in life to get back up. For the believer, this is 1 John 1:9, confessing our sins to our Great High Priest, our Advocate Jesus. Then we must see ourselves as one step closer to never falling again, hearing Jesus say, "Go and sin no more."
The Word is given to us to bring us to a place of not sinning. As David proclaimed, "Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119: 11 NKJV). Peter put it this way: "Therefore,
brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things (promises in verses 3-9), you will never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10 NKJV).
God has promised it. Why do we have such a hard time believing it? Can we actually come to a place in our Christian life where we do not sin? YES. I did not say it, nor did you. God said it! It is only up to us to be obedient. God gives the power to bring it to pass. If we have the mindset, "Well, this sounds good but I know I will have sin in my life for as long as I live in this body," then we are saying the new nature is not greater than the old nature of the flesh. Either it is true or it is not. Greater is He who is in us than He that is in the world! Jesus not only came to save us from our sins, but also to save us from sinning.
Always In His Service,
Bishop James Swinson