1 John 1: 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
If you have ever participated in, or watched, a cross-country running event you’ll typically see a group of runners start on a big field, sometimes as many as a hundred runners wide. After the gun sounds the runners sprint and a funnel soon forms because the course typically narrows within a few hundred yards to a path that only fits a few runners side by side. Thereafter the runners traverse a course usually confined on either side by trees, but also cones or tape where there is a crossing or the chance to wander off course. Race marshals are often placed throughout the course to ensure the runners stay on the path. They are typically quiet as long as the runners stay on course, but if someone strays, they become very vocal to get their attention and get them back so that that they will not be disqualified. Under normal conditions these runners don’t need any special instructions, they just follow the well marked course.
I thought of the above analogy after recently reading from one of my favorite devotionals, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. In his devotional “Discovering Divine Design”, he wrote: “We should be so one with God that we don’t need to ask continually for guidance. Sanctification means that we are made the children of God. A child’s life is normally obedient, until he chooses disobedience. But as soon as he chooses to disobey, an inherent inner conflict is produced. On the spiritual level, inner conflict is the warning of the Spirit of God.“
When we become born again Christians (John 3: 1-21), we are told that the Holy Spirit resides in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is the very spirit of God – pure, sinless, perfect. We, however, as long as we traverse this world, will be battling sin. “5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1: 5-8). When we sin, something becomes unsettled inside us because this sin is in conflict with the Holy Spirit who lives in us. When Jesus spoke to his disciples and told them about the coming Holy Spirit, he said: “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” (John 16:8)
In those times where we sin, we are the runner who has run off the course, and the Holy Spirit is the race marshal making us aware of our sin. The solution is very simple and concludes the 1 John scripture above. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1: 9-10). If we live a life of continual repentance, if we ask God to continue to sanctify us so we can become more like him, the Holy Spirit will be vibrant and will be a distinguishable voice in our ear. Where, however, we choose to ignore sin, the voice of the Holy Spirit will become quieter. God will allow us to run off course and experience all the world has to offer, but this is not a place where a true runner wants to race. Stay on course. Don’t run aimlessly, run to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27).