Deeper and wider, quicker, and more difficult, were the principles of forgiveness that Jesus brought to the table. Cleansed of our sins, and moving forward with a clear conscience, can a Christian continue to grow and grow until they finally outgrow their need for forgiveness?
1 John 3:4 – 9: Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abides in him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his nature remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Is the message noted in these scriptures a requirement for a born-again follower of Christ? Shall we believe that it is actually possible to attain to such heights as the sin-free (or stain-free) life suggests?
Paul’s Letter To The Romans 7:17-19: Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
If we read and find Paul’s message more agreeable with our own convictions, we’ll understand why we need to go to the Lord in prayer, and ask Him to forgive us for everything we need be forgiven for. I don’t see the need for bringing in particulars. That kind of prayer could last all day. Jesus kept it short when asked how we should pray. Matthew 6:16 – And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Jesus didn’t tell them every day to get out their list of 100 sins and check off the one’s that applied. No, He did not. This is what I mean by the daily grace of continuous forgiveness. We only need to ask for it. I find it easy to sympathize with Paul, who clearly understood.
I confess, because of this disparity in perspectives, I do have a bone to pick with the author of 1 John 3:4-9. He appears to say otherwise in Chapter 1. So much so, that it sounds to me like a different author.
1 John 1:8-10: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
If the same author was responsible for this letter to ‘children and friends’ (meaning no one in particular), and he sees this as a paradox inherent in the theology of religious discourse, then I’ll agree with him.
Paul seems to understand salvation as being an act of grace. Paul realized his sinful nature, and knew he would continue to sin as long as his Spirit housed itself in a body of flesh, blood, and bones. John seems to believe that salvation can only be redeemed, or proven to one’s self, by living a life free from sin. The proof is in the pudding for him, so to speak. To me, that means a sinner who claims to have been saved, baptized, and forgiven for a lifetime of wrongs is actually fooling themselves if they continue to sin after having been saved. So, the way I read it, John proclaimed that ever since he was saved, he no longer sinned. Not once. Not the tiniest one off the list below did he commit. How Bold! Or, how seemingly impossible! Keeping that in mind, allow me to bring this closer to home with a plausible example.
Paul hangs out with Jesus, who is perfectly sinless, and John, who by now is perfectly good. What a humbling experience that must have been. Imagine a sinner meeting up with the disciples, including Paul and John, when the personage of Jesus was absent. This sinner, who doesn’t like his (or her) life, nor the thought of death, wants to know all about it. Who best to inform the sinner? Paul would have been sympathetic and loving as he told the sinner about his own new perspective in life, thanks to Jesus. I don’t think he would have made a life with Christ sound like an impossible task. He would not have pulled out a list of 100 sins to avoid for the rest of their lives, I don’t believe. If there is a time and place for everything under the sun, then why would anyone attempt to bring out the worst in human nature, unless the author wanted to rub somebody’s nose in it?
Before you read this list (which doesn’t seem to be in any particular order of importance), let us also remember what James had to say,
James 2:10 – For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
List: 100 Sins (author unknown)
15. Witchcraft 16. Jealousy 17. Selfish Ambition
25. Grieving for Spirit 26. Quenching the Spirit
27. Pride in what is seen 28. Grumbling
29. Fault-finding 30. False Flattery
31. Pride of Possessions 32. Despise authority
33. Lording it over others 34. Haughty eyes
35. Insult for insult 36. Scoffing 37. Immodesty
41. Disobeying Parents 42. Judgment of Others
43. Dishonor Parents 44. Evil suspicions 45. Impatience
49. Perverseness 50. Meanness 51. Factions
57. Deceit 58. Bitterness 59. Greed 60. Foolish Talk
61. Coarse Joking 62. Empty Words
63. Their God as their Stomach
64. Their Glory is their Shame
65. Hollow Philosophy 66. Tradition for Truth
67. False Humility 68. Worship of Angels
69. Carnality 70. Rudeness 71. Easily Angered
73. Lukewarmness 74. Stinginess
75. Loving to have Preeminence
77. Shepherds who feed themselves
81. Disbelief 82. Praying to be seen
83. Not praying 84. Keeping Jesus Outside
85. Fornication 86. Uncleanness
87. Forgetting our cleansing 88. Denying our Lord
89. Seeking Justification by the Law
93. Loss of first Love 94. Love of Money