Abiding in the Practice of His Presence

Oh boy, that title may sound a bit transcendental - not my angle at all! It is just, as I studied 1 John 3 this past week, practice (in the ESV) was on repeat, and both the seed and result of practicing the good, was His Presence.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. ~ 1 John 3:7 ~

As a matter of fact, the whole of this section was quite timely in light of the whole "He Gets Us" campaign. A bad (false) theology deceiving the masses in modern culture. Studying 1 John 3 this week, I felt supremely connected to the 1st Century believers as our modern trials seem to echo their own.

When we left chapter 2, we had learned more of the apostasy which likely inspired John’s letter to the believers. Commentators have suggested at least 40 occurrences of the word “know” throughout the whole of this short correspondence and we can all relate to the challenge of watching friends and/or loved ones fall for “another gospel” and tumble into a departure from the absolute Truth of Scripture. We may fear that we too might become victims of a well-disguised lie, our brethren in the early church likely felt the same… John was worried about this deception… so he wrote.

In chapter 3 this week we find some of the most actionable intel of the entire epistle: practice.

John leaves no doubt in the mind of believers as to what to (and not to) practice as well. In short: NOT sin! The false teachers of their time discounted the significance of sin and a need for obedience and an abiding relationship with God. They figured, all sin is a fundamental flaw of human nature in the physical realm and therefore inconsequential.

John countered with 3 fundamentals of his own:
… a need for obedience
… a need for loving others well
… a need for belief and a proper view of Christ

Inside this righteous call it is also worth noting that perfection isn’t instantaneous – practice makes perfect. In verses 4 – 10 he uses the word “practice” at least 6 times to explain what TO and NOT to “practice”. (Some translations use the term “commit”. Both have the connotation of angling to make something a habit).

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness: sin is lawlessness. ~ 1 John 3:4 ~

Habitual sin is not simply a feature of the fallen world – it is a characteristic to someone who is “dead” in this life. John even goes on to use Cain’s behavior as a metric for his point: God rejected Cain not because of his offering, but because of his heart; one may worship outwardly but it is all a scandal when inwardly is death and an altar of sin.

Jesus came to abolish that altar, to remove the curse of sin. Those who truly claim Him as Lord of their life know that holiness and sin cannot coexist – it is one or the other. Not both. Yes, “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God” and in a fallen world, it is impossible to go a day without even a marginal stumble. This is why we need the emphasis of “practice”

It isn’t that we stumble – it is what we do with the stumbling. Do we carelessly walk into sin without a care for its consequence? Do we choose to focus on or practice a sin or marginalize its error? Does it matter how a particular sin, or set of sins, obscures the character of God in us?


When we recognize a sin in our lives do we choose to pluck it out? Do we refocus and practice the things which bring light and glory to God? Do we deny sin its opportunity to get a foothold because we want only pure things gaining ground in our hearts?

Do we tear down the alter of idolatry and sin in our lives – or do we continue to add rocks on the pile and burn incense to what is death?

It all comes down to what we are practicing. But, perhaps, it is also a lack of understanding WHY a true born-again believer can’t and shouldn’t practice (repeat behavior) sinful things. One commentator breaks the scripture down this way:

There are 4 reasons a Christian can’t sin:
1 – sin is lawlessness (v3:4). It is more than just a transgression; it is an outright rebellion against God and rebellion is not love, it is hate.
2 – Sin is incompatible with the work of Christ (v3:5). He died to sanctify (make holy) the believer. Not just for the time of our last breath, but a sanctification process which begins right now THAT God and His holiness may be magnified in the believer's life.
3 – Christ came to destroy the works of Satan (v3:8). We ought not to be embracing things which Christ destroyed. Sin is dead - the believer is alive.
4 – Sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (v3:9). Remember, holiness cannot dwell in sinfulness. A HOLY Spirit cannot stand on unholy ground (think Moses and the burning bush).

The seed of salvation is planted when a believer first excepts Christ. It is then watered and grown each moment after as one practices the righteous things and makes room for the Holy Spirit to dwell and guide.

It may not always be easy to discern between truth and falsehood, genuine from artificial, true believers from false believers – however, John provides a powerful litmus test in his message for the believers in the early church... one which we can still use today. The more we follow God’s Word in 1 John, and throughout the Bible, the more we lay down the old self and pick up the new, the easier discernment will become. But we must practice righteousness to grow and unlock the tools and wisdom God has for us.

What are you practicing?

Our plan had been to study through 1 John and post 2-times a week throughout February here on the blog with pared graphics on social media. However, we hit some personal snags and posting has been scaled back. Abiding Love is a timeless study though, not just beneficial through 'the month of love', but applicable for all seasons of life. Be sure to click on the in-photo link above or visit our resources page to get your FREE copy!

Blessings as you abide,

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