I often feel like Paul in Romans 7: I can't do the things I want to do, and I can't stop doing the things I don't want to do. Whether we like it or not, sin is a part of our lives. As much as we try to avoid it, it is always there. Like snakes in the woods, sin is something we are going to stumble into more often than we'd like. And, as we all know, the "bite" of sin is quite poisonous, and if we don't take measures to eradicate it from our systems, it can do us great harm.
But eradicating sin is no easy matter. Throughout church history, some Christians and denominations have tried to do it forcibly by making veritable incisions in the believer's life and "sucking" the poisonous blood from them. But like the similar method employed for snake bites, these aggressive countermeasures simply do not work. One cannot force sin from a person's life. Ultimately, the way to deal with sin is through the cross. That is to say, the blood of Jesus Christ is the only permanent way to cover sin and effectively handle it. But we all know this, don't we? Even the most novice Christian realizes that Christ's sacrifice is atoning and is the eternal answer to sin for those who believe and repent.
But did you know that Scripture gives us a more present antidote for sin--something that can alleviate the poison of sin in our lives...today? First Peter 4:8 says, "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins" (NLT). Yes, my friends, when we love (and that means true, AGAPE (unconditional) love) our fellowman, we apply the antidote for sin! When our hearts so boil over that we unselfishly embrace humanity and demonstrate God's unconditional love to others, we participate in His righteousness, grace, and mercy, and we swallow the divine antitoxin. I'm not saying that our love for others is what saves us, and I'm not proposing that love substitutes for repentance. What I am saying, though, is that sin cannot gain a foothold in the presence of God, so when we are acting like God through love, we do not participate in sin. That is, we can't sin when we're loving like God! It's a pretty simply formula: Sin + God's Love = Sinlessness. It's no wonder Jesus identified the Greatest Commandment as love!
Of course, we cannot always love unconditionally and, so, sin will remain with us for the time being. But, fortunately, God is with us as well, and through Him, we can continue to refine our love, perfect our obedience, and help others do the same. We may stumble upon a snake or two in our remaining time on this planet, but we always have our antidote close at hand.