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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Someone told (hopefully with tongue in cheek) about a preacher who announced over the radio that there were 572 different sins mentioned in the Bible. He received numerous requests for the list from people who feared they might be missing something! We aren't missing much when it comes to ways to sin. Though the word and concept of "sin" is not taken nearly as seriously as it once was in our culture, there is plenty of sinning going on. As some wag noted, "Original sin is a misnomer, because every kind of sin has been practiced before." Sin is widely practiced today. In forms that range from pornography to prostitution, from pride to profanity, from adultery to abortion, from homosexuality to hatred, from greed to grudges, from slander to stealing, from divorce to drunkenness, sin is doing big business nationwide. We have re-named, euphemised, rationalized, normalized, legitimized, legalized, moralized, and sanitized sin — but it is still sin people are practicing. Behaviors and practices once considered sinful (homosexual sex, living together without marriage, and abortion on demand for example) have been baptized in the waters of relativistic thinking and raised to new life as "choices" and "alternatives" and "new morality." But a sinful practice is still a sinful practice even if millions of people engage in it.

Our's is not the first generation to practice sin. In 1st John 3:7-8a,10 the apostle John reveals that there were some in the church or at least around it in the first century were in the sinning business. Those verses say, "Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning" (New American Standard Bible). John has a litmus test for distinguishing sinners from saints. The proof, he says, is in the practice. Christians are not perfect people who never sin (1 John 1:840). Christians are people who practice righteousness. They practice at doing and being right in the eyes of a holy God who clearly defines right and wrong in His word. Football players practice football, but sometimes fall short of perfect performance. An occasional lapse in performance does not mean a player is not good or that he is off the team. He keeps practicing in order to correct the mistakes and failures. If he won't practice he is off the team, no matter how skilled he may be. So it is with those who are truly God's children. It's not that they are perfect or never fail or sin. But, unlike the devil's children, the practice of their life is aimed at being more like God. Is your practice making you more like God or more like the devil?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ