Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life. For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels. If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner. Both of these are good things, when used correctly. Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect. Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce terrible burns and even death. Even the "good stuff" in life is meant to be used in ways which have good effects - we have to "avoid" using the good stuff in ways it has ill-effects as much as we have to completely avoid the stuff we know from the get-go will produce only negative effects in our lives.
Everyone who has been born into God’s family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God’s children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can’t live a life of persistent sin. (I John 3:9 VOICE)
This passage makes it pretty plain - when we are born into God's family, the persistent lifestyle of sin becomes something we avoid. Easier said than done, but it is nonetheless the truth. The thing which presents the greatest challenge to many of us is the one thing which is good when used in the right way (like electricity), but can be harmful when used outside of the proper channels. If you think about it, all sin is really a use of something good, just outside of the proper channels in our lives. When we choose to not tell the truth, we are believing we are protecting ourselves or someone else by the lie. As I have said before, all lies contain elements of truth, they just stray outside of the channel of truth in some way. When we seek to fulfill sexual desire outside of the plan God has for us (the context of marriage), then we are taking something quite good and pursuing it outside of the channels of safety and protection God has established. What we don't recognize many times is this idea of using things which are really good in ways which will bring us harm because we are using them in ways which are outside of the limitations or boundaries God has designed.
Being born into God's family means there is this a change in the desire to live within the boundaries established by God. If what John says here holds true (and I believe all scripture is truth), then we have the "genetic make-up" to live within these boundaries. We have the "genes" of God himself within us - so we have the ability to live within the boundaries. On occasion, we don't always do the best job avoiding (moving away from something which can bring us harm) those things which pull us into sinful pursuits, do we? In fact, we kind of listen with our ears, but pursue something entirely "feeling oriented". It is like when mom told me bad things would happen if I stuck things in electrical outlets. I listened, but then I listened more to my feelings than I did to the voice of instruction or warning in my life. When we pursue sinful paths in life, we are listening, but we aren't following the warnings we receive. We are just "over-riding" those warnings - because we are allowing our feelings to direct us rather than our spirit. If you haven't realized it yet, our "genetic make-up" is really reflected in the place where God's Spirit connects with our spirit. In order to avoid sin, we must learn to respond to our "connected spirit", not our disconnected feelings.
The good news for each of us is this idea of persistence. We may not always avoid sin in our lives - we stumble on occasion. The truth is we will struggle with the "effort" it takes to consistently respond in obedience to what we know is right and true. Most people think this Christian walk is never about "working" - after all, scripture says our salvation is by grace, not by works. The truth is pretty clear, though - we have some part to play in avoiding sin and this will require some "effort" or "work" on our part. Just because we possess the genetic make-up of our parents doesn't mean we will pursue the same things they pursue in life, right? My father was an excellent salesman - good with people, making a connection quickly, and skilled at understanding the product he was selling. I am NOT a salesperson. I have his genetic make-up, but I don't like selling stuff. In fact, I would buy the kids' candy bars myself rather than make them go our door to door selling them for fundraisers! All of life is filled with choices - either to listen to the niggling of the voice of the Spirit of God within, or choosing to not avoid whatever we are being warned against and going after it with all the gusto feelings can muster.
The "work" part comes in sorting out the voices, then choosing which voice we will respond to at the moment of the temptation. Something we fail to recognize is this whole idea of having a plan to avoid temptation in the first place! When it is fully upon us, we don't do as well avoiding it as when it is at a distance and just a niggling feeling. Effort must be made to cultivate the responses (actions) our Christ-like "genetic make-up" desires, not the responses our Adam-like "genetic make-up" demands. We have been given a new nature at the point we said "yes" to Jesus and now we are in the process of making every effort to respond with consistency to that new nature within. Yep, there is work involved in avoiding sin - God doesn't do it all for us! He expects us to "work out" a little - turning away from those things which will do us harm and embracing those truths he teaches which will keep us from embracing harm. Just sayin!