Louie: The Bible is a radical book; Check out what it says in 1 John 3: “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives 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. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. NO ONE WHO IS BORN OF GOD PRACTICES SIN, BECAUSE HIS SEED ABIDES IN HIM; AND HE CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD.”
What are we to make of this kind of talk in a world that constantly declares, even as a born-again believer, we are still sinners, or we sin everyday?
Tom: It’s not individual acts of sin to which this refers. It’s the continual practice of sin. We all sin – ALL Christians – but someone who continually practices sin reveals the absence of the Spirit and true rebirth. Paul spoke of the sin “which so easily besets us” and the constant battle with sin in his letter to the Romans. Luckily, if you have been born again, your sin is covered in light of eternity. However, in this life, the continual practice of sin will damage your fellowship with God and if it goes too far, God may “turn such a one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that the soul will be saved in the Day of the Lord.”
Louie: I agree we all have the ability to commit sins; but I don’t believe Paul taught we had to live in a constant battle with sin as you say. Paul actually shares the revelation of victory with us at the end of Romans 7–“who will deliver me?” “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He then goes on in Romans 8 to tell us “there is now no condemnation…and Christ Himself fulfills the Law within us” 8:3-4…earlier in Romans 6 he said, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? I guess my question is how much sin can Christ keep us from?
Tom: You will be in a constant battle against sin until the day you die. Don’t let anyone – particularly any preacher – tell you otherwise. If they do, it’s not Biblical teaching. I’ve dealt with the “there is no more spiritual battle” teaching before. It’s false.
Louie: No one ever said there’s not a battle, but for the most part the battle is on the level of temptation not sin. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” We are called to walk in what Jesus Christ accomplished! He has won the battle against sin! According to the scripture we are told to “reckon ourselves dead to sin and stop presenting our members as instruments of unrighteousness.” “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” To me this means “sin is not my master” therefore I do not have to let sin into my life anymore. This is one of many radical things we are told in the scriptures. It’s up to us as individuals whether or not we believe and live in what it says. “HAVING BEEN FREED FROM SIN, YOU BECAME SLAVES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”–Romans 6:18
Tom: That’s the key. “For sin shall not be master over you.” We will always have a constant battle against temptation – and sometimes actually fall into sin and have to deal with it – but sin must never become our master. When sin becomes our master we lose fellowship – not relationship – with God. The point I wanted to emphasize is that we will never be free – in this life – from the reality of temptation and sin. In light of eternity, we have already been forgiven and our salvation ensured from the day we were born again. Sometimes Christians confuse the process of sanctification – or cleansing from sin. I have often run into the teaching -begun by the Kenneth Hagin-Kenneth Copeland error – that Christians no longer have to battle sin because we are no longer subject to it. That teaching is false but can be very deceptive when Christians do not understand the process of sanctification.
Louie: How much freedom from sin was purchased on the cross? 80%? ,90%?
Tom: Freedom from condemnation in eternity and the power to resist it in this life.
Louie: What about “NOW” there is no more condemnation?
Tom: Now we are no longer condemned by God because of sin because Christ has paid the price. Does not mean we don’t face trials and temptation in this life.
Louie: I agree. Some of this conversation, like most when it comes to Spirit stuff, is difficult because we are talking about eternal things while still living in the temporal realm. I think that’s why rather than divide the two up so much, we learn to see it’s really “both and” rather than “either or.” When talking about sanctification I think it’s a done deal and it’s also being worked out. We are walking in eternal promises of freedom while still traveling through a temporal, time-based existence. The question is how much of the freedom promised to us are we able to access now?