What's Your Practice?

I must admit that I enjoy hunting deer more than I do hunting turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I do turkey hunt some, but it seems as time goes on that I just don’t get as excited about turkey hunting as I do deer hunting. Could it be that I’m turning into one of those people who is only dedicated to hunting one certain animal?

We all know of people like that, don’t we? Those who dedicate themselves to concentrating their free time only on the type of activity that truly drives them. Let’s consider a man, for example, who loves to play golf. He doesn’t want to think about playing another game because his love for golf won’t allow him to practice anything else. He’s a “golf man.”

Let’s suppose this “golf man” begins to be influenced by tennis playing friends who keep telling him about how much fun tennis is. Finally, the temptation is so much that he gives in and starts playing tennis with his friends. He plays several times but realizes he is miserable because he is truly a golfer at heart, and he can’t wait to get his attention focused back on what he truly loves.

With that in mind, consider this passage of  Scripture: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:4-10).

There are those in the religious world who believe that a child of God can never commit one sin, and one of the passages they would use as their proof text is the passage quoted above. But if this passage is saying that the child of God is not able to commit one sin, then it comes into conflict with other passages of Scripture, primarily one from this same epistle: “If we say 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10). John is writing to Christians here, and from reading this, common sense tells us that the Christian is not incapable of ever committing a sin. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives us several examples of such among the apostles and early Christians (Acts 5:1-11; 8:9-24; Gal. 2:11-14).

In light of this we must conclude that the Scriptures do not teach that it is impossible for the child of God to sin. What is being taught in 1 John 3:4-10 is that the one who is truly a child of God will not make a practice of sinning. His practice will be walking in the light and practicing righteousness. He does so because the “seed” abides in him. Jesus taught that the “seed” is the word of God (Luke 8:11). David wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). If we treasure God’s word in our hearts, it will keep us from practicing sin.

Remembering our earlier illustration, let’s say that a Christian is one day bombarded with some temptation that is so strong that he allows himself to be given over to it and commits sin. However, if this one is truly a child of God with the seed of God’s word abiding in his heart, he will be miserable because he has sinned. He will not continue to practice sin but confess it before God, repent of it, and pray to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Acts 8:22). His love for God will not allow him to continue to practice unrighteousness.

I understand that there are some who equally love several diverse types of activity. Some love the pursuit of the turkey just as much as they do the deer.  Some love tennis as much as they do golf. It can be that way with things of the material nature, but when it comes to things of a spiritual nature, its either black or white. Jesus said you are either for me or against me (Matt. 12:30).  It’s either one way or the other (Matt. 7:13-14). There’s no doubt that our practice will prove whose child we truly are, and the treasure of our hearts will be revealed in the path that we pursue.  Considering all of this, let me ask you: “What’s your practice?”

—Jason Shackleford

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