Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. – 1 John 3:6
I like hiking, but I do not love it. Scott McGaha, the same one who happens to write the occasional WMD, loves it. When I go, I totally trust him to lead me somewhere really great. I do love hanging out with him, burning a boatload of calories, and seeing the payoff of the unbelievably beautiful waterfalls in our area. The sound, the sight, and the feeling of accomplishment are more than worth it.
But, here’s the thing; I’m not willing to figure out how to get to these places. I’m not willing to explore, and I’m not willing to take a chance. I will only go if Scott has already done it, knows exactly where it is, and tells me that I will see a cool waterfall. Not to mention, he carries all of the real necessities in a pack that weighs about five times the rinky-dink thing I carry.
I’m just not that serious.
When I read verses like 1 John 3:6, or all of 1 John for that manner, I think, “John is serious about this stuff!” I look around at all of the people who call themselves Christian, including myself, and wonder if they take it serious. How little would it take for them to sin? John plainly says, “If you sin, you don’t know Him.”
Of course, in walks the American response: “But, but, but, everybody sins . . . nobody is perfect!”
John is obviously talking about false converters. People who say, “I know Him,” yet do not keep the most obvious of commandments, are liars (1 John 2:4). I had to come to a point, about five years after “conversion”, where I had to admit that I just wasn’t that serious about Christianity. One of my college friends, who made no claim to Christianity, flat out told me that even though I called myself a Christian, I cussed like him, drank alcohol, even though I wasn’t old enough, like him, and was sexually immoral, just like him.
What was I going to say? I had been put in my place with no response. But, my conscience was seriously ignited. When I thought about it, the only times I didn’t sin was when I had no access to my favorite sins. Soon after that, I became a committed Christian. Soon after that, God became real, like for-real real.
Our American version of Christianity stinks. We have come up with this “say a prayer” Christianity that is offered nowhere in Scripture. When you go all-in, it will cost you. God will come after the worldly things and sinful behaviors that you love. You will descend straight into the valley of testing that, to you, will be the valley of the shadow of death. There, if you hold firm to your faith, you will learn that He is with you. God Himself is with you! When you really grab a hold of that, you are ruined to sin. You have finally learned the greatest lesson in life: The Presence of God is ten thousand times better than any sin or pleasure that this world offers. You no longer have to keep His commands . . . you want to. This is precisely why John says, “If you sin; you don’t know Him.”
If have called yourself a Christian for years and years, and His love hasn’t changed you, you are no more a Christian than I am a hiker.