I love grace. I really do. I love to recognize how deep is the love of God for his people. I think, in many situations, we fail to realize just how marvelous it is that the Lord would actually choose us and love us, love with a genuine affection and not a begrudging forgiveness. God calls us his children and really loves us like a good Father loves his children.
But if we focus so much on grace that we forget that salvation is transformative, we have a problem. Salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Yet the call to salvation in Scripture is always both repent and believe. Salvation comes to us when we trust in Christ. But trusting in Christ includes a yielding to his lordship and repenting of sin.
Think of this paragraph from John.
1 John 1:5-10 – 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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 cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Look at the two sides of the coin that simply cannot be ignored. God is light. God has no darkness at all. So all who claim to belong to the Lord turn from sin, from darkness, and walk in light. That may sound all spiritual, but it really is not deep. God is good. If we are his, we will walk in goodness. God hates sin. If we are his, we will walk in righteousness and not in sin.
But, if we took that light and dark stuff as the only message, we would be overwhelmed. You are a sinner and so am I. Christians are still battling sin, and we do not always win in our day-to-day. So does that mean that, if my life has sin in it, if I ever fail, then I am not a true Christian? Praise God, no! Verse 8 reminds us that a claim to have reached sinlessness in ourselves would be us calling God a liar. But, what marks Christians is that we confess our sin, find cleansing in Jesus, and then strive to change and walk in the light as Christ is in the light.
What makes this passage so beautiful and so worth considering on any day is that it paints the picture of us rightly. It shows us grace and repentance side by side.
Are you a Christian? I hope that you are someone who has come to Jesus in faith and repentance to find salvation. If you are, then walk in righteousness. There is no such thing as a Christian who does not turn from sin and seek to obey Jesus. Living a life that obeys the commands of God is part of biblical Christianity. And any faith that pretends that we are not supposed to be changed and to live righteously is an antinomian religion, something wholly non-Christian.
But, before we let the burden of law and righteousness crush us, we also see that Christianity is a gracious, cleansing, loving thing. WE confess our sin. WE own our failing. We bring it to Jesus. And he cleanses us. That means both that we are forgiven and that we are helped by God to live more purely. We are sanctified by the Spirit of God so that we actually turn from sin and walk in the light.
So, dear friends, test your claim to faith. Are you walking in the light? Are you battling sin? Where there is sin, are you confessing it and bringing to Jesus? Are you being cleansed and led to repentance?