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“We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.”—1 John 5:18 (NLT)
Practice makes perfect . . . Ever heard that? I’m sure you have. This expression implies that if you do something enough times, it will become natural and you’ll be good at it . . . you’ll be perfect at it.
I used to hate hearing that from my coaches, but when I read today’s verse, I actually find myself seeing the truth in this expression. The apostle John tells us, “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning.” Why? Because the more you practice something, the more natural it becomes. As God’s children, we cannot logically be practicing sinners, because we have a new nature.
Now, please understand, John isn’t saying that believers don’t sin ever. As theologian Albert Barnes points out, the apostle is saying that a believer who is found in Christ is not “habitually and characteristically a sinner . . . Though he may fall into sin.”
Be certain: Even as a Christ-follower, you will sin. John knows this. But what he’s warning us against here is the idea of being a practicing sinner who makes a lifestyle out of living in a certain sin—or number of sins.
As children of God, saved by grace through faith, sealed by the Holy Spirit, set free from the chains of sin and death, we are no longer to practice sin. We have been freed from the power of the prince of this world. You see, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 5:19–20 NIV).
So, with the understanding we have received from the Lord, we should be compelled to practice faith in Jesus, to “work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear” (Philippians 2:12 NLT).
If being practicing sinners makes us natural sinners, then practicing being a child of God—with a heart after God and His Word, our eyes fixed on Jesus—will make us more and more like Him. Forsake the practice of sin and embrace the practice of following after Christ.
DIG: Read 1 John 5.
DISCOVER: What does it mean to practice something? How are you being a practicing Christ-follower and child of God?
DISPLAY: Practice your faith! Engage in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, fasting, worship, silence/solitude, journaling, serving, and seek after the Lord’s heart and will. If you’ve fallen into a lifestyle of habitual sin, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, confess to a trusted believer or mentor, and ask for counsel and accountability as the Lord guides you to overcoming that which you’ve fallen into.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.