This morning I spent my devotion in 1 John 3. I was struck by the unequivocal, black and white nature of John’s statement: “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning…By this the children of God and the children of devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God…(3.8, 10).” If I practice sin, I’m a child of the devil?! My first inclination is to harmonize what John says with what he says elsewhere, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake (1.12).” As a result, I “escape” the exhortation, I soften the blow of John’s bold statement.
But upon reflection, I don’t think John wants us to harmonize. Sure, he wants us to read in context and rest in the cross but he doesn’t want us to stay stuck in 1.12…he wants us to keep reading. Although Christ has come to decisively defeat Satan, I’m still left with a choice. Will I follow Jesus or will I follow Satan? Will I pursue righteousness or sinfulness? Will I behave in such a way today that I am conformed to the image of the devil or the image of Christ? Practicing sin starts now and so does practicing righteousness.
So where might devilish behavior manifest itself? I don’t have to look far. The tendency to complain about the weather, instead of exalt God for his omnipotence over it and his character in it (extreme temperatures reveal the might of God), is one expression of subdued anger (add to this related sins of grumpiness, self-sulking, cutting remarks, etc.). Satan is the epitome of anger, dissent, accusation. He doesn’t trust God in less than desirable circumstances; he blames God. He longs to lull us into subtle sins, sins of complacency and complaint. He plots to conform us to his angry image, to make us like children of the devil.
What would it look like for me, for us, to trust God even in weather we don’t desire? In circumstances or situations that are uncomfortable or undesirable. How might a child of God respond to these things? Will be content or will we complain? Angry or awestruck at God’s awesome power. Oh, to not act like children of the devil but like children of God!