Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

No Pushover

Try to imagine what would happen if criminals were let off, in the hope that they would learn their lesson and straighten up.  How well do you suppose that would work?  “You better not steal, because if you do, we’ll haul you into court and pronounce you innocent!”  Dumb, right?   Dumb by human logic, but elegantly effective by God’s logic.

If you haven’t read it already, go back to the previous post (“Facing the Truth About Sin“).  John writes that when followers of Jesus sin and confess, God forgives them and purifies them.  But then he writes this:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. (1 John 2:1a)

God’s strategy to help you stop sinning is to reassure you that He will forgive you and fix you.  So you won’t miss the point, the rest of that verse says this:

But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1b)

How can that possibly work?  In human courts, leniency increases lawlessness.  But, there is a crucial difference:  In human leniency, nobody pays.  The underlying attitude is, “Oh, we’ll just pretend this didn’t happen.  You go home and try to behave…”   That’s not how it works in God’s court.   In God’s court, absolute justice is required, sin must be punished.  And Jesus pays.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 )

If you fully understand what verse 2 means, then you start to see why verse 1 would work.  When we understand how much it cost to forgive us with complete justice, we are less likely to do it again.

But there is another reason God’s system works.  Because Jesus has fully paid for our sin, when God purifies us (gives us a clean slate, so to speak) (1 John 1:9), He actually washes away the guilt.  Those who study addiction say that one of the most common triggers to compulsively repeating an addictive behavior is guilt.  For example, I’ve been told that people who are hopelessly in debt, wrestling with feeling guilty about it, commonly go out and buy a new car, hoping it will make them feel better.  The same pattern is observed in most addictions.  By paying for and taking on our guilt, Jesus breaks those chains.

The cross is the focal point of God’s Grace and His Truth.  In Truth you are guilty and justice demands a punishment; by Grace He forgives you and pays for you.

The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

God truly forgives but He is no pushover.

How You Walk

“Let’s eat Grandma!”  Put one comma in that disgusting sentence and it makes all the difference for Grandma: “Let’s eat, Grandma!”  What makes all the difference in 1 John is understanding the word, walk, in these verses:

If we claim to have fellowship with him (God) yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7)

John wrote this letter to tell about a special relationship he and others have with God, that he calls “koinonia,” or fellowship (See: Flood Muck and Koinonia).  John wants you to have that same fellowship with God, too.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

But how do you know if you have that fellowship or not?  John says you can tell by “your walk.”  He says, since God is light, since in God there is no darkness (See: Light Reading), the people who have this fellowship with Him do not “walk in darkness.”

But what does that mean, exactly?  Do you walk in darkness?  Are you a liar?  Have you been fooling yourself?  What does John mean by “walking?”

When John says “walk” he is talking about the regular direction and character of your life.  “Walking in darkness” means living a lifestyle at odds with the direction and character God intended for us humans when He designed us.  “Walking in the light” refers to a lifestyle that is harmonious with what God intended.  For example, one who walks in the light would tend to love those who treat him badly.  One who walks in the darkness would try to get revenge against them.


First, John is not saying that if you try real hard to be good, then you will earn a relationship with God!  Rather, he says that when you have a relationship with God (the one that comes when you trust Jesus Christ), you can tell it by the change in the direction and character of your life.  The “koinonia” relationship one has with God causes him to turn around, and heading toward the light and away from the darkness.

Secondly, “Walking in the light” It does not mean living a totally sinless life, but, rather, a lifestyle that tends to be harmonious with God’s design.  Do you see where he says “the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin”?  Doesn’t that mean we live a sinless life?  No way, and John is going to explain that further in the next verses.  Notice that John does not say the blood of Jesus purified us from all sin, but that it purifies us.  The form of the word he uses means that this purification happens in a continuous way, as we walk in the light but still sin.

You have seen offers online to clean viruses off your computer. But unless you get an antivirus program that continuously does that, keeping your computer clean every time it was attacked, it would quickly become hopelessly corrupted.  That’s how the blood of Christ works to purify us from sin when we “walk in the light.”

So, John wants us to ask, which direction are you walking?  Toward the light or away from it?   Don’t fool yourself or lie to others about this.  If you see that you are walking in the darkness, don’t try to turn yourself around.  Ask Jesus to do it, and trust Him.  You will soon see the difference.  You will see it in your “walk.”

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Flood Muck and Koinonia

After the flood hit Longmont Colorado,  houses down along the river had 3 to 4 feet of river muck inside and needed to be shoveled out.  Furniture needed to be removed, washed and dried or thrown on giant, growing piles of trash.  Drywall had to be cut away.  Incipient mold had to be treated. Homeowners saw all that needed to be done and despaired.  But then neighbors began to gather and spontaneous groups of volunteers showed up from churches across town.  They grabbed shovels, waded into the muck and began to work.  Others set up cleaning stations.  Food tables appeared and soon were loaded with sandwiches and fresh water.  After a long day of work, those workers, covered with mud, were smiling with exhaustion and satisfaction.Flood Workers

There is a special kind of relationship that is formed when people work together.  The Greeks had a word for it: koinonia.  That word shows up a lot in the Bible.  Most of the time it is translated into the English word, fellowship.  But fellowship is a pretty weak word.  Don’t think standing around chatting and sipping tea.  Think shoveling muck together, struggling, helping, working and laughing.

Now, imagine having a relationship like that with God!  John says Jesus makes that possible:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  (1 John 1:3)

Can you picture yourself sharing a smile of satisfaction with God at the end of the day?  John wants you to know about that.  More than knowing, he wants you to have that.  Chew on that…

Righteousness Ain’t No Church Lady

When jazz musicians use the term, righteous, they are describing music that is harmonious, in a groove, following the established principles or rules of music but using those rules to launch a new, delightful and creative line of music that is a real treat to the ear and soul of the listener.  Sadly, when the terms, righteous or righteousness, are applied to a Christian context, too often the associations made are more about the uptight “Church Lady” from Saturday Night Live.

Dana Carvey as The Church Lady

Dana Carvey as The Church Lady (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is nothing righteous about being a prude.  Religious, frowny-faced, so-called righteousness stems from the impossible attempt to be good enough for God.  As we have  discussed in the previous posts it is impossible for us humans to act in harmonious, righteous ways with God when we are disconnected from His Spirit.  You cannot harmonize with music you can’t hear.

But when God “lives with” a person (Isaiah 57:15), He establishes the connection with His Spirit.  He does so to “revive” him, to bring him to life in a new way, thus enabling him to live with the best and most beautiful kind of righteousness.   Righteousness does not come from human effort; it is a gift from God.  Here is how Paul explained it:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:21-22a

Paraphrased, this says that the ability and tendency to live in tune with God’s beautiful music comes from Him, the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) explained had to happen.  This harmonious and beautiful capacity, righteousness, comes as a gift to those who put their faith in Jesus.  Paul describes it later as “walking in the newness of life.”(Romans 6:5)

See dat?  This is the exact opposite of the commonly held notion of what happens to a person who trusts Jesus.  You don’t become an uptight, holier-than-thou, pinched-face church lady.  That’s not real righteousness.  Instead, you discover a new life from God that emerges from inside, with increasing righteousness – in the jazz sense of the word!

 (To read these posts in a logical order, click on the “New Here?” page above, or on THIS LINK)