In our journey through his letter John, one of the first followers of Jesus, has been clear about keeping away from sin. He says that walking in the light is far preferable to walking in the darkness. He says that those who follow Jesus have the benefit of experiencing the great favour of God that can keep us in the light while others, who have not experienced this grace, struggle in the dark to see. We would think that it is a black and white picture but, in his conclusion, John is very clear that being Christian does not provide immunity from sin:

For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal. 1 John 5:16-17 (The Message)

The impression that many people take, rightly or not, from much of the Christian church is that believing in Jesus makes them a superior kind of person. Many folk have the notion that people in church life will judge their lifestyle, experiences, and inadequacies as hindrances to being a proper Christian. Right or wrong in this impression the believer should never set themselves up as superior to others. John is clear, we are all capable of sin whether we have aren’t Christian at all or whether we have been a believer for a short or lengthy period of time. This is not to confuse us with those folk who choose to ignore the influences of the Christian heritage in society around, choose to live without regard for Jesus or his gospel. John is clear, those folk aren’t inviting the grace of God or engaging in the journey of faith to any extent. Their choice is clear and they are choosing to live without regard for the grace of God in Jesus Christ. What John is concerned with here is those folk, whether considering themselves Christian or simply searching for a better way to live in what they understand to be spiritual priorities in life, that they should not fall foul to the fatal sin. Fatal sin, or the sin that leads to eternal death, is one thing. Consistently denying our need for the grace of God in Jesus Christ and the reconciliation of our relationship with God through the his sacrificial love. John has said previously, ‘Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son.’ 1 John 5:9. Whoever loves God must also love those that God draws us together with in the journey. But whoever does not love God and so considers God of no regard too, sins fatally. What we do, whether it is sinning or righeous, has consequences for others and for ourselves. Therefore, in the sight of God we need to seek restoration to his light. The good news is that, for those caught in the fatal sin, reconciliation with God is one breath, one act, one word away. Saying sorry to God and seeking his way is something that begins with one breath of life, one act of repentance, one word of faith. We can do it now and we can have the strength to face all other sins with the knowledge that there is a better way but if we do sin there is one righteous life that has absorbed all our wrong in the sight of God and given us the freedom to turn to him and believe, choosing life.

Holy God, holy and righteous one, holy and living one, accept my breath of life, accept my act of repentance, accept my word of faith today. I believe in you and in the reconciling act of love in Jesus’ sacrifice. Clothe me to today with the righteousness of your love and let the knowledge of your light lead me in your ways. Let me not fall into fatal sin but confess my faith every day in my heart and life to the glory of your name. Amen.