August 19, 2020
The Truth About Sin
Ten percent of Americans say no such thing as sin exists. Another eight percent claim they are not sinners. That leaves eighty-two percent of us who believe and accept the fact it exists and we have sinned. For all have sinned (Rom 3:23). The OT uses twelve Hebrew words translated sin, and the NT gives another seven Greek words. Each term presents various aspects and nuances of sin, but all come down to the basic definition that sin is the breaking of a divine law. Of course, it requires a divine Lawgiver to have divine Laws. No one likes admitting they are a sinner. Most people don’t even want to talk about sin. However, living in victory over sin, requires that believers understand what sin is, how it affects their life, and how they can overcome it.
Technical theological theories and varied definitions of sin abound leaving no universal consensus as to what the nature of sin really is. The purpose of this SW is to provide a simple and practical view of living a victorious life over sin. I hear ministers say Christians will struggle every single day with sin. If they conquer one area, another sin immediately pop ups and keeps them in a never-ending struggle. Others believe they are compelled to sin every day in word, thought, and deed. My early training claimed the act of sanctification eradicated the sin nature making it impossible to sin. This only led to extreme guilt when I sinned. So what is the truth about sin?
First, sin is a condition we are born with giving us a natural inclination toward sin. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Ps 51:5 NIV). Second, sin is active bringing disobedience both physically and mentally. Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:28). Jesus is saying what takes place in one’s mind can be just as sinful as the physical act. A more deceptive aspect of sin—it is passive. Believers may feel that since they aren’t actively committing sin, they are OK. James addressed this. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins (James 4:17 NIV). Some call this the sin of omission. The major misunderstanding about sin relates to how is affects our daily life. Do we struggle for the rest of life? Are we in bondage with no hope of living beyond sin’s grip? Or can we live above sin as our new nature in Christ grows and strengthens?
Those who teach that we remain in bondage or always struggle focus on Romans chapter 7 to justify this belief. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Rom 7:19 NIV). Problem: they seek to prove their doctrine by isolating a chapter and a few verses. Romans 6, 7, 8 form one unit and we must interpret each verse in the context of the whole. Chapter 6 shows we can’t isolate chapter 7. If we separate these chapters, they appear to conflict. For sin shall not be master over you (Rom 6:14). For sin shall not have dominion over you (NKJV). Sin can’t tell you how to live (MSG).
Chapter 8 details the key for living a victorious life—walking in the Holy Spirit. Also in Galatians, So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16). Chapter 7 conveys the inability of the flesh and law to bring victory. Only by the constant empowerment of the Spirit can we live above sin. So, does this mean we will never sin? No, it simply means we are not a slave to sin and have the ability not to sin. I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. What happens if we fail? But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ the righteous One. (1 Jn 2:1 HCSB).
The best exposition on a believer’s relation to sin is this three-chapter unit in Romans. The first step towards a victorious Christian walk starts with knowledge. We must know the truth about sin. Knowing this, that our old self was crucified, with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with (rendered powerless) [literal meaning], so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (Rom 6:6). Note he doesn’t say it eliminates the sin nature; rather God takes its power away. Yet, without daily walking in the Holy Spirit, we can turn its power on so that it leads us into sin.
The second step is claiming this truth. Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (NKJV). Reckon comes from a bookkeeping term meaning to ‘credit our account book with a deposit.’ Satan tells us we are spiritually broke and a slave in bondage to sin. We must remind ourselves, “It’s in my account; I’m no longer in bondage.” Third, we must live it out by yielding our body—feet, hands, eyes, mouth, ears, mind—to God’s purpose and not yield it to unrighteousness. These three steps only work through the power of the Spirit.
Sustaining Word for the Week: The truth: know you are not in bondage to sin and can have a victorious life. If you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ.
You can find more about the Sustaining Word at www.sustainingword.org.
Written by Dr. Arnold Gause