Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:38)
You’re probably familiar with the story of Peter denying Jesus three times and then the rooster crows. And probably you have heard that that is because Peter had not yet received the Holy Spirit to make him courageous and bold. And that, since we do have the Holy Spirit now, that means we rarely, if ever, betray Jesus or sin against him. Right?
Not really! Even now, when I walk in victory, I overestimate how well I can lay down my life to follow Jesus. I start to think of the ways I will never sin again. Unfortunately, in a sense it is inevitable that I sin today. That does not mean I plan to! But rather, in some way, I will miss all of God’s best for me today.
There are two extremes which are so easy to fall into. One is patting myself on the back for not sinning and walking in such victory. And the other extreme is feeling all beat up when I do sin.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
At first glance, these verses look like a contradiction. But not really. “Will not sin” refers to our old lifestyle before we knew Jesus where we sinned continually and never felt the need to repent. That is over with. We are free from that.
But that does not mean we never sin. So, happily, when I do sin I have an advocate: the Lord Jesus.
Keep in mind that our freedom from sin is a process. The key is to know that we are on the pilgrim’s path. Then we can avoid bouncing between the extremes of either being puffed up with overconfidence or wallowing in the muck of despondency and defeat.
Lord, we thank you that you grow us as we persevere in following you.