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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 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. - 1 John 3:9-10

When I read this passage, I often wonder whether Christians in the U.S. take it seriously especially as it relates to Biblical commands about sex.  The data is not encouraging.  A 2012 survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 80% of young evangelicals (18-29) who are unmarried are having sex.  Other surveys come to similar conclusions.  The data can be really discouraging.

So how should we address this?  First, if we want to be children of God, we have to obey His commands.  We can’t continue in sin.  We have to pursue righteousness.  This includes areas that are culturally difficult such as sex.  On a recent trip to Croatia, I saw an amazing example of this obedience.  I spent a few days with some missionaries, Andrew and Danielle, who had an outreach to a Romani village.  The Romani are known throughout Europe as gypsies of Indian descent who likely migrated to Europe about 1,000 years ago.  There is heavy discrimination against the Romani, and they often live in poor conditions in houses that don’t have running water.

As Andrew began to teach the Romani in this village about the Bible, some started to respond and accept Jesus as their savior.  A few emerged as leaders.  When the leaders began to study the Bible, one of them, Yoska, came to Andrew and said he needed to get married to the woman with whom he lived and already had five children.  Andrew was shocked to learn that Yoska wasn’t married, since they had five children.  Andrew had not challenged Yoska about the Biblical ethic on sex; he assumed he was married.  Yoska came to this conclusion on his own after studying the Bible.

What was even more remarkable was how seriously Yoska took the biblical commands.  He decided to live separately from his longtime partner until the marriage had taken place.  Yoska asked the other Christian men in the village to hold him accountable to remaining pure until he was married.  I was blown away by this biblical obedience.  Yoska didn’t come from a culture that discussed sexual integrity.  He hadn’t even been taught about it by Andrew.  But once Yoska read about God’s design for sex, he immediately chose to follow it.  Imagine what it would look like if Christians in the U.S. had that kind of obedience.

The end of verse 10 says something else that is compelling.  It’s not just those who continue in sin who are not of God but also those who don’t love their brothers.  When we see others at our church who claim to be Christians but continue in unrepentant sin and we fail to challenge them, we are not loving our brothers.  The Bible is clear that they are not children of God.  We know the consequences.  If we love them, we have to explain this to them.  Of course, whenever we challenge people about a biblical command that conflicts with a cultural norm, there is a risk that they won’t like us.  They may ostracize us or even persecute us.  However, the risk to us is so small, while the reward to them of eternal life is enormous.  If we want to be children of God, we need to follow His commands but we also need to love our brothers by challenging them to do the same.  Let’s pray that God gives us the strength to do both.

Paul Horrocks
Leader in New York City Christian Union