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Sons in quicksand

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sermon for the second Sunday after Christmas

One thing that simple biology tells us very clearly is that we can only be the child of one father, genetically speaking. Of course, we could be a child by being adopted by someone who is not our genetic father, but whom we regard as our father with no less affection.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer and say “Our Father,” who are we talking to, God or the Devil?


Okay, that’s an alarming statement, but St John says:

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

Thus, if the Devil really is our father, then the Lord’s Prayer takes on a very sinister and upsetting turn.

Is it true that we know that we are not a child of God if we sin? We know that we sin perhaps daily, perhaps in the same way each time, but we repent, confess our sins and return to God, don’t we? Surely, the Blood of Christ washes our sins away so that we are regarded as sinless before God?

The key to understanding St John is to understand his language. When he talks of committing sin, he means a continual committing of sin. He says that if we really are the children of God then we must be seeking to stop sinning. It is very true that if we do sin then we do have an advocate in Heaven, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ, but if we are putting no effort into stopping sinning then all our praises of God are just lip-service. If we make put no effort to stop sinning then we make the Blood of Christ cheaper than water. St John is clear: we cannot go through life saying, “yes, I sinned, but God will clear up the mess.”


The saints of the New Testament are very clear about one thing. We are passing through the world. We are not to become worldly. The reason is so very clear. We are being given the opportunity to return to God and that this should be the focus of our life. Our intention should be purely on accepting God’s grace by which we become His children. This is our Hope Again, St John says:

“every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

We are not passive in our salvation because we have to turn to the Saviour and to grab His hand in order to be pulled from the mire of sin and the grasp of the Devil. We are to purify ourselves. What does this mean?

A glass of pure water contains only water, just water and nothing but water. A bar of pure gold contains only gold, just gold and nothing but gold. Being pure is about being focussed on one thing, and that is what we need to do in order to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because in being pure we are aware of Our Lord’s saving grace within us making that salvation happen.

The man who gets stuck in quicksand has all his attention focussed upon his rescuer. He calls to him, listens to him and reaches out to him and is thus pulled from a wet, dark and smothering death. He doesn’t concentrate on the quicksand which is swallowing him for that would lead to despair and also it would stop him from paying full attention to his rescuer. We do not save ourselves but, by striving to be purely devoted to Christ, we are making ourselves available to be saved and co-operating with the grace He gives us.


In purifying ourselves, we progress in ceasing to sin because we are focussed away from sin and on to the One Who saves us, redeems us and sanctifies us. Further, we become focussed on how much He is like us and we like Him because, in our purity, we shall see Him as He really is.

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