This or that way

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 John 3:7-24; Psalm 122:1-9

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
1 John 3:10 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

The Apostle John pulled no punches in his writing to the recipients of 1 John. He was exhorting them that there are only two ways to live – either be righteous in God or be in alliance with the devil to abide in sin. Those who choose to practice sinning will be of the devil. There is simply no in-between. Righteousness cannot be blended with sin just as light cannot be merged with darkness.

I often wonder how the recipients of John’s letter responded to such “strong” words; for in the modern world we are often easily sensitive and at times defensive to such exhortations. Yet we know that John was not writing because he had a personal axe to grind; he wrote because that is the truth and Christ has said that the truth shall set us free.

As predicted by the Apostle Paul, we live in a world where many believers shall increasingly choose what our flesh want to hear, say and do. So when we come across a rather “strong” or “hard” exhortation, we squirm in our seats and get all uncomfortable. So these preachers are sometimes told to “simplify”, be “sensitive” and even “tone down” the sermon content.

Question is, why shouldn’t preachers give messages that cause discomfort to our souls? After all, the Gospel is given not to massage our egos, but to challenge, convict and transform the innermost of our wretchedness.

So as like what the Apostle John said, there is no other way. Either we pursue righteousness, which can and will be excruciating for our flesh but the reward is Godliness. Or we can lean our souls to the devil and let him have his way. May the Lord help us to hear what He wants us to hear and receive with joy His Word that transforms.

May the Lord help us to choose the right way and be empowered to stay that way. Amen.

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