“No one who is born of God will continue to sin . . .” —1 John 3:9
We have many good things today because of people who invested their lives in making something that most people thought was an impossible reality. The twentieth century has offered many great scientific advancements, and the twenty-first century will continue to surprise us with even more innovations. Some of these discoveries or inventions include electricity, washing machines, cell phones, automatic car transmission, computers, television, hairdryers, refrigerators, blenders, stoves with ovens, and on and on. I cannot even begin to think what the lives of my grandmothers were like without these amenities! We owe much to those who were convinced and confident that they could achieve the impossible. Likewise, the life of a Christian is one defined by overcoming the humanly impossible through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Curiously still today, as in Wesley’s day, many Christians think it is impossible to live a victorious Christian life according to Scripture. Wesley touched on this theme in his sermon “The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God.” He began with the strong statement found in 1 John 3:9: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin.” This sermon causes us to reflect on our inability to accept a simple spiritual truth taught in God’s Word.
Wesley reminds us that we cannot escape the traps laid by the seduction of sin, but yes, we can avoid falling into temptation if we choose “to become united with the Lord.” For a Christian, the battle to overcome sin is an everyday reality. If our love for the Lord decays, if we separate ourselves from communion with God, the devil will have a better opportunity to cause us to be caught in his nets.
Those born of God have the great advantage of counting on the Holy Spirit, who serves as a traffic light that warns us of the risks ahead and preserves us when we are near a danger zone.
But if we do not listen to the Spirit, if we mute His voice, we will remain unprotected, and sinful desires will take control of our will.
As Wesley explained, “if we do not then love Him who first loved us; if we will not hearken to His voice; if we turn our eye away from Him, and will not attend to the light which He pours upon us; His Spirit will not always strive: He will gradually withdraw, and leave us to the darkness of our own hearts.” The possibility of sinning is real, but living without sin is possible when we depend on Him who has overcome the world (1 John 5:4). For Wesley, the key is to remain united to God through constant prayer, believing and loving God with all our heart and being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Mónica E. Mastronardi de Fernández, originally from Argentina, has been a global missionary in the Church of the Nazarene since 1995. She currently serves at the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas in San José, Costa Rica (SENDAS). Mónica is the author and editor of several books on discipleship and formation of lay leaders in the Mesoamerican Region.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.