Recently after worship someone asked if I could change a line in Robert Robinson’s hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Turns out she doesn’t sing the line, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.”
She said I’d never tell my wife that I’m “prone to wander”. And I guess she’s right! My wife would definitely not feel cherished if I sang at the top of my lungs, “Prone to wander, babe, I feel it! Prone to leave the wife I love.”
The problem is the confusion over verses like, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning” (1 John 5:18), and, “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 (1 John 3:9)”.
Regarding theses verses, John Piper says:
The idea of the Greek present tense [ἁμαρτάνει / ἁμαρτάνειν] which is being used is that those who are born again, and have the Spirit of God in them, cannot ever make peace with sin, settle in with sin, make sin a friend, be okay with sinning, just go on sinning as though no war needs to be made against it, and nothing will come of it if we do. The present tense says: No, you can’t do that, you can’t make a practice of sinning like that.
Piper also points out that both verses refer back to earlier verses, and in context mean that,
we don’t make peace with sin, settle into a pattern of sinning that will destroy us in the end, prove that we are not truly born of God and are not truly Christians.
walking in the light is not sinlessness. It is walking in a way that you have eyes to see in the light the ugliness of what you just did and you are sorry for it. You confess it. You keep short accounts with God and you move on.
So when it comes to singing “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it”, I don’t feel ashamed. I feel human. I feel honest. I feel like a Christian. I cherish my Savior and my salvation. I delight in the goodness of the gospel. I am not afraid to say I struggle. I feel strengthened for the fight against the flesh. And I sing freshly assured that the God who delivered me from the shame and guilt and wrath my sin deserves, will stand with me in times of temptation; he will not accuse or condemn me.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.