If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10
When we try to avoid sin, we will be frustrated. It can’t be done. Nobody can avoid sinning no matter how hard they try.
What’s worse, when we try to live without sin we frustrate others as well as ourselves. Especially our loved ones. When you make your life about avoiding sin, you live with unrealistic expectations about yourself and others. “I can live without sinning, and so can you.” How unrealistic is that? You’re not perfect. Nobody is perfect. Inevitably, your expectations don’t pan about. Inevitably you or somebody else sins, and you react. You’re frustrated, or maybe even angry. Those reactions come from the flesh. By trying to avoid sin, you’ve set yourself up to sin!
That’s why grace is so freeing! Grace gives you the freedom to trust yourself and others. When you live in grace, you don’t have to work day and night to contain your behavior or control the behavior of others. When you understand that you can be honest and confess, and trust that you will be forgiven, you don’t have to make your life about avoiding sin. You can make your life about grace.
Grace transforms your relationships. When that happens, your life will change. You’ll lose your former life of unrealistic expectations and the divisive, painful reactions they provoked. You’ll experience something so much better. You’ll experience trust.
1 John talks a lot about this, but people misinterpret it. 1 John is read as if it says, “Do not sin, and if you do any of the things on this list, you’re going to hell.” But that’s not what it says! It says that if you live a life of sin, with an attitude of sin and a habit of sin, and if you live with hatred towards people and God, then hell is definitely a destination. But it is not telling you that must avoid sin. It says, “Listen, you’re going to sin. But you have to realize that when you live in Jesus you are made righteous and holy. Live in that. Confess and God will purify you.”
You can still have all kinds of issues when you live in grace. And think about it. If you could never sin, then the death of Jesus wouldn’t make sense. If His death didn’t save you from your sin, then it was pointless for Him to die. Jesus’s death was not pointless! Living in grace does not mean that you don’t sin. It means that you replace control with trust. Now you trust that you are forgiven. And that is freedom!