In his later years, the apostle John wrote, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9). But earlier in the same letter, he says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8). There is an important distinction we must make between the two types of sin John has in view.
As members of the human race, we have inherited a sinful nature. Until we are reunited with Jesus in glory, we will continue to struggle and will undoubtedly stumble from time to time. So if we say we are without sin, we are lying.
At the same time, we who have been born again have received a new nature. This means that our flesh – that sinful nature we inherited from Adam – now has a fight on its hands. As a result, those who follow Jesus no longer walk in sin unimpeded and without conviction from the Holy Spirit. We battle our sin and, with the Lord’s help, we overcome it.
There is a world of difference between occasionally disobeying and failing – we all do that – and continuous sin. When we fail, we who know Christ repent and turn to the Lord, and we are cleansed and move on. That’s why John can write, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
But habitual and continuous disobedience are a hindrance to the blessing of God, a hindrance that can block answers to prayer. It’s impossible to have fellowship with the Lord if we are living in outright disobedience.
In Malachi 3:7, the Lord says, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” The Israelites had wandered away from God in disobedience. They were robbing God by withholding their tithes. As a result, they were far from Him, and they were not experiencing His blessing. But God says, “Test me in this . . . and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10).
Don’t let anything hinder your prayer life. It’s too important! Examine yourself today to see if there is any habitual sin. Recommit your entire life to God, and remember this: obedience opens the doors of heaven. Obedience brings answers to prayer.
Prayer: Lord, I long to live in fellowship with You. Show me any habitual sins that I must put away by Your Spirit so that my prayers will not be hindered. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“[We] receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:22).