Today's is a letter from the Apostle John, the last living apostle. Biblical scholars believe this was written 30 years after Paul's death, John is about 90. He wrote is because the apostle saw the church falling into all kinds of heresy and disarray. The early church and the Gospel had spread, church was maturing, believers were maturing. But sadly, John has to confront a problem among these mature believers. And it's something we can learn from because it affects us today also. Problem that Apostle John speaks about is pretending we're perfect and forgetting need for Jesus Christ.
John says it over and over in today's passage - we lie, we deceive ourselves, we walk in darkness. We do this by pretending we don't have sin, by pretending we're perfect. It was a common problem back then in the church, it's a common problem in today's church, in world. In fact, I sometimes think that technology exacerbates this problem. Many people notice the disconnect between our Facebook-self and real self. We post as if life is perfect outwardly, but our real/daily lives are full of struggles and depression.
I want to talk about the inauthentic dichotomy between outward perfect self vs real self. That is what Apostle John is speaking about here in today's passage. And I think perhaps one of the biggest things John is pointing out here is our viewpoint on sin. v8, 10 - John says we claim that we have no sin. The fact is, we know we're sinners but live an arrogant/prideful life as if we're without sin. This is the same thing as saying we have no sin, so that is why John is saying truth is not in us.
We all recognize this attitude in mature believers right? It's the same in the world. We become delusional with arrogance to think that we can justify ourselves. We think that if we live a decent, moral, responsible life then we can please God. We don't think about needing a savior, but if we do good, then that must count for something. We think can show ourselves as perfect before God. Where does this delusional attitude of ours come from?
When I think about it, what I really want to talk about today, is this alternative worldview of sin. This is how other societies and religions view what sin is, drastically different Christian worldview. One prevalent example is the Buddhist/Hinduism viewpoint on sin. Both of these major religions believe in the causality of Karma, past actions affect present and future. Both also call for us to strive for perfection, to reach ultimate human potential. So when you combine these two, how do you define sin in this case? In this case, sin is defined as doing actions, causing us to fall short of human potential of perfection. We're not reaching our perfection, so we're sinning. Everything we're doing morally bad, this sin is causing us to fall short of our potential.
Why is this a problem? What's wrong with teaching sin prevents us from being better people? The problem is when you define sin this way, you have a different worldview on sin. If sin is just preventing us from becoming perfect people, then I've got to do my best to fight it. I've got to do whatever is in my power to do to fight this sin. This singular desire to fight the sin manifests itself in many ways.
In fact, the focus of Christianity is not on striving to be a morally perfect person at all. Of course, the Bible teaches us about good moral behavior,but Good moral teachings are not the foundation of Christianity. They are there, but before we need a moral teacher, we need a Savior. Jesus is more that just a moral teacher, He died on the cross to save us from our sin.
Why do we need a savior? This goes back to the proper Christian worldview on sin. Where does sin come from? The fact is, that we are helpless against sin. Romans 5:12 - Through disobedience of Adam, sin entered the world through one man. Generations that followed him us, we have the Original Sin inside of us.
I have a whole different sermon on Original Sin, preached last year. In that Sermon, I explain God created with moral freewill to choose good or evil. When Adam disobeyed God, ate fruit knowledge, we began to define morality, good and evil ourselves. To choose to do good and evil and define ourselves good/evil without an absolute moral standard of God. Basically, Original Sin a moral defect inside of us that rebels against God. So what is sin? The Christian viewpoint doesn't define sin as a lack of perfection, need to fight sin. The Christian viewpoint on sin is that we are in a helpless condition of sin.
The greatest need that we have is that we need a savior, we need forgiveness. Rather than the action of sins that we can stop simply by not doing them, we need salvation from the condition of sin that we are in, we need forgiveness. The greatest need that we have is the savior Jesus Christ who walked the path of cross for us. We can try to fight sin and indeed the Bible teaches us this in many ways to avoid temptation, to seek the fruits of the spirit, to look at the core of our hearts rather than just outward actions. And we can try to fight sin with methods of meditation, martial arts, psychology, spiritual forces.
But all these things are like what Apostle John says - 1 John 1:6-7. Salvation is the primary need of the human condition. Romans 7:14-23 - Even Apostle Paul described this well, the inevitable lost battle against sin that I have. Only when Paul realized the inevitability of this lost battle, he concludes - v24-25. Our "battle" against sin is not a battle against the sin at all. Instead, it's a battle of faith, to submit completely in faith that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. That is by his cross and shed blood, we were made complete, restored relationship with God. We were forgiven by the complete grace of Jesus Christ.
When we accept Jesus into our lives, then our whole lives are under his salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:11 - We were washed, we were sanctified, we were justified. I gave this verse a few months ago when I preached about sanctification. Some Christians believe salvation of Jesus Christ is only the justification part. That sanctification is some battle we face against sin and we fight this battle for perfection. But what does the Bible teach us - we were sanctified. Sanctification, this is something even God gives us by grace. For those who have accepted Jesus as Lord/Savior, he sanctifies and guides our lives.
Hopefully today, we gained a proper biblical Christian viewpoint towards sin. That sin is not something were fighting against in our quest for human perfection. God created us perfect, but we fell and helpless in sin, only savior Jesus Christ can restore that. We need this forgiveness that only Jesus can give us. This year, as we look towards 2018, for our church we want Jesus to shine in SF. SF, more than other cities, I think we have people striving for perfection against sin. Let's share with them the truth about Jesus Christ as the only solution for the sin in us. In that way, I hope we can rely only on Jesus and his cross in our lives. That we can be a testimony to Jesus and his cross in our lives also.