THE MAN WHO THREW THE STICK

Read:  I John 3:1-14

Reflect:  The man was terminally ill. The end was insight.  The pastor was asked to make a visit and try to ascertain the gentleman’s understanding of the Gospel.  The man’s response was, “When I was a child I went to camp and ‘I threw my stick into the fire’.” In other words, he had gone to a religious camp, experienced the week’s final campfire and thought that answering the altar call by symbolically throwing a stick in the fire was writing his name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  He believed that would then free him up to live his life however he wanted. That’s how the man left this life.  How wrong he was.

Having a genuine relationship with Jesus is far different than singing “Kumbaya” and continuing the rest of one’s life happily skipping along, without change.  Knowing God is so ground shaking to a believer’s life that they don’t settle for a life that only themselves and does not please God. John notes: “No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, because God’s seed [His principle of life, the essence of His righteous character] remains [permanently] in him [who is born again—who is reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose]; and he [who is born again] cannot habitually [live a life characterized by] sin, because he is born of God and longs to please Him.”(I John 3:9, AMP)

The “practice” in this section refers our behavior, thoughts, and attitudes.  How does our regular life make us like Jesus (Romans 8:29)?  This does not refer to living by an outer set of rules which are acceptable to society. If you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey him and be a good person, then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, but he is not your savior. You are serving as your own savior.” (“The Prodigal God” by Tim Keller) A true believer lives with an inner longing installed by the Holy Spirt to be like Jesus.

The life of a non-believer is just doing what comes naturally and excusing oneself for continuing on that road because, “That’s just who I am.”  In contrast, the believer proclaims: “It is Christ who lives in me” “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

Apply:  Did you have that one time “stick in the fire” campfire experience, thinking that feel-good moment meant you could go the rest of your life living as you wanted?  Presently when you sin, do you just excuse yourself, letting sin to continue to dominate your lifestyle? Or do you face it squarely in the face, humbly confess to your Lord and Savior, and do battle against it with the power the Holy Spirit offers? A relationship with Jesus is letting the Holy Spirit produce permanent change in your life. The “stick in the fire” doesn’t transfigure one’s life, only the fire of the Holy Spirit can produce true spiritual transformation.

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