“No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.” – 1 John 3:6 NRSV
In 2073, when I’m 113 years old, I will commit my very last sin.
I’m going to walk out to the food replicator and order up a nice big plate of nachos. From the other room, my wife will call out, “What are you eating, dear? That had better be a health drink.”
“Of course dear,” I’ll say, as I sit down at the kitchen table and place one enormous chip filled with cheesy goopy stuff into my mouth.
And then I’ll just die. From old age.
Now on the one hand, that seems like a pretty good way to go. Eating some nachos, my wife nearby. It was a good life. But did you catch it? There, just before I kicked off this mortal coil, I broke a commandment. I lied.
I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Too bad I had to ruin that special moment by sinning.
Here’s the question: Did I die a Christian, or a sinner?
1 John 3:6, above, makes it pretty clear. You’re either in or you’re out. You’re either a sinner or an “abider”. Certainly there are Christians of various denominations that take this literally. I know some who claim that once you are a Christian it’s impossible to sin anymore. You aren’t just “saved”, you receive “Christian Perfection” all at once. My experience doesn’t bear that out. I see perfection as a goal for our lifelong spiritual journeys.
What about you? What do you think your last sin will be? Will it be a lie? Maybe you’ll steal something, or disrespect God or someone else? Is selfishness a sin? If it is, then you and I have some issues to face. Am I right?
Well, the good news (I don’t know that it’s exactly Good News) is that several other translations of the scripture read a little differently. Many translations say if you “keep sinning” you won’t abide with God. In other words, it’s not just a one time deal. If you make sin an ongoing part of your life, it becomes very difficult to remain part of the Body of Christ.
So that would mean you’re not booted out for every single transgression. Instead, it means that if sin is a pattern in your life, it’s very difficult for Christ to be the pattern of your life.
That puts some things into perspective for me. If I’ve got a good 71 years left in my life (one can hope!), what kind of a pattern do I want to follow? I may not live perfectly, but I want to live intentionally.
Interestingly enough, my very last sin may not have changed. After all, lying about nachos is more like a little white lie. And at 113, I say I deserve them.
It’s the ones between now and then that really matter.
Have a great week,