Today’s AMI QT Devotional (P. Barry) was originally posted on March 4, 2014.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“I’m not perfect, just forgiven”—Is that right?
1 John 1:5-7 (ESV)
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 cleanses us from all sin.
Several years ago, I attended a creation vs. evolution debate in which the creationist convincingly demolished the arguments of the evolutionist. He was witty and well prepared. (He had hundreds of power-point slides to counter all arguments presented by the evolutionist.) While the creationist spoke confidently and passionately, he was also arrogantly dismissive of any opposing arguments. If the debate was judged on who landed more body blows, he would have won hands down. Of course, he didn’t change anyone’s opinion; debates like this rarely do. At the end, however, he shared the gospel and his own testimony, concluding it with this line: “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” Upon hearing it, I was profoundly moved for the first time that evening.
Since then, I’ve noticed more readily those words on many bumper stickers, yet now I ask myself, “Are those words true?” Are we merely forgiven? That is, can we be comfortable with sins in our lives because, after all, “we’re not perfect, just forgiven”? While John would agree that we are forgiven, I think he would have issues with the sentiment behind this statement. We cannot claim to be in fellowship with God who is light, if we are walking in darkness (implied in the phrase “not perfect”). To be in a relationship with God means to walk in his light.
So how do we do this? Let’s look at verse 7 carefully: “… if we walk in the light… we have fellowship with one another.” The acid test of our faith and fellowship with God is whether we have fellowship with one another. Praise God that Jesus’ blood does cover all our sin (verse 7), but we’re not just forgiven. We are also being perfected as we walk in the light together.
Have you been missing out on your church’s small group gathering? Why not consider participating? Do you go but never really talk? Then consider sharing even a small thing with someone.
Prayer: Father, I thank You that the blood of Jesus covers all my sin. I surrender my sin to You again and ask for Your forgiveness. I don’t want to be complacent about my sin. I don’t want to be complacent about lacking love. I ask that You fill my heart with Your light so that, together with my brothers and sisters, I would be able to walk in light. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 5
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Timothy 1:15-17: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Questions to Consider
- Why did the apostle Paul consider himself to be the worst of sinners? (Cf. Acts 7:58-8:3, 9:1)
2. What is reflected in us when we receive the mercy of Jesus Christ?
3. Why is this saying important for believers to accept and trust? How does remembering this truth affect how you live?
- Paul was a persecutor of the church, as we see from the passages in Acts. Then named Saul, Paul was a witness of Stephen’s stoning, “approving” of his execution. After Stephen was martyred, Paul was “ravaging” the church, putting many of them in prison. Acts 9:1 tells us that Paul was threatening murder against the church.
- The love and grace of Jesus Christ is what is reflected in us when we receive his mercy. Paul calls it “perfect patience,” which is a great way to describe what Jesus does for us: forgive sins. More than just being forgiven, when we receive this mercy (i.e., not getting the punishment that we deserve), God’s glory is magnified because it reveals the width and depth of God’s love.
- This is such an important truth to remember because it centers our faith and salvation on the love of Jesus Christ that came, not because we earned it or deserved it, but because of his grace and mercy. It gives us hope, because it reminds us that we cannot sink to a depth where the mercy of Jesus can’t reach us. Remembering this truth should move us, because it shows us how amazing God’s love is for us.
As you walk in the light, are you becoming more aware of your darkness? How is your fellowship with the Church? What does this say about your walk with Jesus? Take a moment to consider these questions and then pray accordingly.