When was the last time you sinned? Don’t say, “Probably today,” or “Definitely sometime today,” or any other vague non-answer. Seriously, when was the last time you sinned?
If you are a Christian living the way you should to the best of your knowledge and ability, I believe that question will be difficult for you to answer, or at least it should be.
My dad asked me that question on Saturday during a discussion about a recent discussion on the Fellowship Hall. We had a user stating that a true Christian cannot sin, and we had other people stating what amounted to, Christians will sin and most likely will do so often.
But is that necessarily the case? What is sin, anyway?
“Sin is lawlessness,” says 1 John 3:4 (MKJV). We sin when we break God’s law, and I can show you that law very easily:
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40, NASB
Lying, stealing, adultery (even lust!), murder (even hate!), covetousness, and other sins are what we could call obvious sins, but what about sins of omission that aren’t specifically listed in the Bible but which are summed up not only in what Jesus said in the passage from Matthew, but also by James: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17, NASB).
Think of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Think of those you have seen who were in immediate need. If you know to do good, you should. You should let your love be an expressive love. When I fail to do that, I sin.
How far do we take that, though? If we define it strictly, we are constantly sinning; there is always something more we could be doing at any particular moment, if we really wanted to be strict about it. We’re not all gifted with Paul’s amazing perseverance for preaching, after all; to raise the bar that high for all of us would create an atmosphere of crushing failure within the church!
But God wants us to be holy. He beckons to us to be as He is. He asks us to be willingly to give our lives over to Him to be made holy. Yes, we will sin, but why talk about it as if it is something which will happen every few minutes? Imagine having a loving relationship with the Father knowing that you are in a right position with Him, and that your mistakes are fewer and farther between than ever before! Imagine the fruits of the Spirit that would be pouring forth from you! What joy that would bring to know that we aren’t upsetting our Father every few steps we make! What peace we would have knowing there is no impediments to our relationship with our Abba!
Let me address two popular verses on this subject quickly:
1 John 1:8, NASB: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This verse does not teach that we sin constantly, but it does teach that we will not be totally free from sin in this lifetime. Sin will happen, and if we say that it does not, we deceive ourselves.
1 John 2:1, NASB: “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” See that? Paul is writing to show us that we can live a life that is not characterized by sin! We can be “holy as God is holy” probably a majority of the time, if that is where our desires are. But if we sin (and we will), we have an Advocate with the Father. Our defense is being made by He who can never fail: Jesus Christ the Righteous.
Oh what a wonderful God that has delivered us from the power of sin! We are at liberty to live a life of righteousness!
Thanks, Dad, for helping me to realize this.