Welcome to Thursday’s Podcast. Our reading today is 1 John 3:4-10. Today we’ll focus on verse 9:
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
Since the lockdown started in March I’ve started running more and more.
When I hit 40 I felt it was time to do the whole “couch to 5K” thing. I did it – it was painful and embarrassing when I saw people I know, often struggling along Manchester Road – the flattest road I could find.
I did it on and off since hitting 40 but since lockdown I’ve taken it more seriously. Got some advice off friends – learned some tips: like when to push up the hills; make time up on the flats etc…
On Tuesday night I ran for 14 kilometres. I’m no Usain Bolt or even Liam Brennan. But that’s a personal best for me.
So, what happened? And how does it relate to this particular passage of scripture.
For those who know me will know that I’ve never been a skinny fella – or perhaps more significantly – that’s what I thought about myself. When I was a kid my Mom used to say it was puppy fat and I would grow out of it – just never happened.
Over the past few years I began to realise that I have a strange relationship with food – I would comfort eat when I felt stress. And if this chimes with you – after you’ve eaten those cookies because you had like zero self control you don’t feel good about yourself.
In fact, quite the reverse. Shame kicks in big time. As the old saying goes ‘Sin is what you do’ – Shame is who you are’ – well I’ll be honest I did feel shame about my body image.
If you know what I’m talking about – you’ll know it’s an awful place to get locked into a shame cycle. You eat too much – you feel bad so you eat again to make yourself better.
And if I’m honest, the reason I found the Couch to 5K so hard was that I would assess my performance after every run. If I stopped or got a bad stitch – my internal commentary wasn’t very positive. My aching muscles and lack of fitness screamed confirmed to me what I thought – you’re so unfit. I would ask myself – why am I doing this?
What I discovered was this: focusing on the negative – in my case weight loss – was not a motivator. It just compounded a sense of shame which wasn’t helping my self image.
So, what changed?
So, I began to stop focusing on how bad I was at running or how unfit I was – but took a long term view. Rather than judge my ability on one particular run – I changed my thinking to – this will be a very painful and unpleasant few months of running and this will be painful but it’s worth the pain.
I learned the fine art of displacement. I stopped assessing my performance. I displaced the voices – but focusing on the fact that I am made in God’s image and while I love chocolate cookies and they love me – there was a bigger battle to face – that I will not be that person anymore. I am a child of God. I am more than a conqueror and God can do it. I had to fight some pretty significant unhelpful internal voices.
What had changed was, I began to see that my own view of myself was incompatible with the truth is that I’m a child of God – that He is my Father and that I’m made in his image. That overwhelming feeling began to displace the habits and behaviours I had developed. I just sensed that God was giving me an opportunity to re think how I see food and exercise – from the perspective that I’m loved and accepted rather than I’m a bit of undisciplined, unfit mess!
It’s a personal journey – won’t be right for everyone – but here’s how I think it links into today’s passage.
When the Holy Spirit puts his finger on things in our lives that aren’t right – we’re to confess it and where there are repeating patterns we’re to repent. Someone once said this: “confession is ‘sorry I spilled the paint’. Repentance is ‘I need to stop spilling paint’.”
When we confess sin we are made right with God but it can be a temptation for Christians to remain in the place where we get a bit hung up on the fact that we have issues in our lives – even after they have confessed their sins and received forgiveness. The art of displacement is really helpful here. We displace the enemy’s power by focusing our attention – not on where we’re messing up – but on Him. We listen to Christian Radio in our house. Why? Because it helps us stay connected – focused – on Him. Worship is one of the major ways of displacing stuff in our lives – it takes the focus away from ourselves or our situation and points us back to Him – the same as immersing ourselves in the scriptures or prayer.
For John encourages the churches he so dearly loves to ‘remain in him’ – let the seed of the gospel do its work. If we remain in him – if we orient our lives to Him – then sin’s hold loses its power. Will we mess up? Of course – but we confess it quickly and choose Him again.
So, today I would say this – if you’re aware of your faults and your sins – confess them. Say sorry – talk to a trusted friend but make sure you look to Him. The Holy Spirit will sort us out – He’s very good at it and sometimes we need to trust Him to do his job – our job is to remain in the Lord. Looking to Him!
Help us Lord to remain in you – for you to be our source – our forgiveness and our hope.
BIBLE READING: 1 John 3:4-10 (NIV)
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.