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What do we do about sin in our lives and the lives of others? The Apostle John gives four suggestions to help us answer this question (1 John 5:16-21).
John’s first suggestion, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin ... he shall ask God... (verse 16). We need to pray for ourselves and for others. This is in agreement with what Paul says in Galatians 6:1-2, “... if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness .... Bear one another's burdens ....” For the most part we pray for them and leave the rest to God.
James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”
The second suggestion John makes in verse 18 is to trust God to keep us safe from the world, the flesh and the devil. How do we do this? We pray! Pray for ourselves. Pray for others. We pray and trust God for safety and protection from evil. If we don’t daily walk with God, commune with God, talk to God, how can we expect him to protect us and keep us safe?
John’s third suggestion is to realize the world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19-20). The world is not the created world, but the system opposed to God’s purposes, the realm of sin organized against God, which is controlled by Satan. The atmosphere around us makes it hard to stay pure and keep our hearts true to God. Satan has many devices for leading a believer into sin.
To avoid sinning stay close to Christ. “Take the sword of the spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) and stay in the word of God. Don't play with sin for all sin opposes the law of God (1 John 3:4). Stay alert and be on guard (1 Thessalonians 5:5-7). 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to “Be careful – watch out – take a firm stand against.”
John's fourth suggestion in handling sin is to “keep yourselves from idols” (verse 21). An idol would be anything that might take God’s place in your heart. Warren Weirsbe in his commentary on verse 21 says, “Whatever controls our lives and calls the signals is our god.” Idols could be America's biggest sin problem.
What do we do about sin? John's suggestions might be summarized in these words: Pray for ourselves and others. Trust God to keep you safe. Watch out for the evil one. Avoid anything that would take God's place in your life.