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Christians, why do you want to stop sinning? This is an appropriate, vital question to ask ourselves. How would you answer? One of these?

I know it’s wrong. It’s against God’s law.

I don’t want to do something that is destructive to me and others.

I don’t want to do something foolish or stupid.

I’ll feel guilty afterwards.

These are all good answers in their way, but they are small stars within a constellation in which one star shines far brighter than all the others. Let’s begin by considering these interesting words from Jesus: “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).1

Have you ever had one of your friends demand this of you? No, of course not; otherwise you would not be friends. However, a rather large gulf exists between your friends and the Creator of the Universe. So, what does Jesus mean? Underlying the Savior’s words is this uncomfortable truth: We do not know how to be friends with Jesus. He must tell us how to do so. In other words, if we do what He commands, we will learn how to be friends with the King of all things. He will teach us, by the Holy Spirit. He will open our eyes to true, eternal friendship. To maintain that relationship, we must obey His commands. So, the reason we want to stop sinning is because we want to be friends with the Creator of all things.

Not a bad idea, wouldn’t you agree?

But let us look a little more into why Jesus said we should not sin. He also said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

So, we see that our primary motivator—our guiding star—for why we should not sin is because we love Jesus. If obeying God’s law becomes primary, if all we do is think upon law and act upon law, love takes a hike. We are in danger of becoming legalists and viewing negatively others who don’t keep God’s law as we presume we do. We are sinfully tempted to condemn believers for being lawbreakers and thus feel superior to them. It is wiser to view others—and ourselves—as Christians who are endeavoring to grow in their ability to become Jesus’ friends and loving Him. It is a long road, it seems, for us to come to the place where we love Him more than our sins.

A life-long road.

Let’s admit that none of us are very good at loving Jesus and keeping His commandments. We will fail. We will repent and find forgiveness and mercy. We will fail again. We will try again. However, our efforts must be more than repentance. We must ask Him for the love to love Him. We do not adequately possess it. If you think you do, then you are proud.

We should ask for the love to love others, too, lawbreakers that we are, and keep this parable in mind:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10–14).

Christians, let’s pray that both we and our fellow believers will desire friendship with Jesus and love Him more than we love our sins and thus keeping His commands.

It’s a wonderful journey, isn’t it? Friends with the God of all creation!

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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