All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 1 John 5, verse 17.
Just like yesterday, with this verse, it’s important to know that all sin can lead to spiritual death. The adultery that starts in the heart, the deception that starts with good intentions, the white lie told to a friend, the envy felt over someone else’s things: all of these are sin that, if unrepented, lead to spiritual death. It’s agonizing, you know, because that kind of death isn’t instantaneous. Instead, it’s a lifetime of slow decay and consistent denial. “The problem isn’t me. It’s A, B or C.” A lifetime of avoiding things for which we’re responsible is a lifetime that misses out on the greatest joy possible. It’s, then, a lifetime capped by the sad reality that, for those who deny Christ, there is no eternal peace. There is separation from God; punishment, and hell. We don’t want to think of that, but it’s true. It’s backed up by numerous statements in Scripture.
And we know, too, that some rebellion, some actions we choose can lead to instant death. The fool who tries to dodge traffic on a busy road but is mowed down by a truck; the little child who disobeys and sticks a knife into an electrical socket; the thrill-chaser who swings out over the chasm without checking the integrity of the rope: all acts of brazen defiance that can lead to immediate demise.
Perhaps, though, the verse isn’t talking about either of these. Instead, maybe we need to come at it from a different angle to understand what Jesus is telling us here. Here, perhaps He is saying that it is the un-repentance that makes the difference. Jesus atoned for ALL sin, both the immediately foolish and the long-term caustic. The difference is what we do with that information. We sin. Despite our best intentions, we sin. Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, your pastor: all bold heroes of faithful courage in our contemporary world. They’re also all damn dirty sinners, filthy through and through with disgusting sin that separates them from a Holy Christ.
Just like you. Just like me.
They still sinned; those alive still do. The difference is contrition before Jesus. The difference is how Jesus moves in the heart, moving us to repent and turn from these awful choices we make, and to convey real sorrow for them. Not abject humiliation, but genuine sorrow and a true desire to turn and make better choices. To follow Jesus and live a life led by Him. We’re still sinners, and even after initial repentance, we still make bad, sinful choices. But repentance through Christ leads to His better wisdom now, then life forever instead of death eternal. That’s a difference worth choosing.
Savior Jesus, I repent and turn from the things I’ve done, the things of which I’m ashamed. Forgive me, heal me, remake me, and lead me.