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?
How can so many Christians walk around saying things like “We sin all the time” when the Bible tells us we’re dead to sin? At least ten times in Romans six alone we are told we’re dead to sin therefore sin no longer has dominion over us. I don’t think I could ever improve on the clear words of scripture so here they are straight from the King James version of Romans six.
v.2 “We, that are dead to sin”
v.6 “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
v.7 “For he that is dead is freed from sin”
v.11 “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin…”
v.12 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…”
v.13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin…”
v.14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you…”
v.17 “You WERE servants of sin…”
v.18 “Being then made free from sin…”
v.22 “But now being made free from sin…”
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2 NASB
Grace is so good and so unmerited if you really teach it in its fullest some will think they are free to sin. The Apostle Paul taught grace and some must have responded with the idea that since grace was available it must mean they could just continue in sin. Of course the flesh always responds in this manner, but the spirit, on the other hand, doesn’t see it that way. Our spirit rejoices with the idea that God loves us so much.
Talking about addiction in Sunday school brought these verses to my mind. I told the class we have the choice to either believe what psychologists, therapists, counselors and twelve step programs tell us or we can believe the Bible. The world tells us over and over again you are an alcoholic and you will always be one. The Bible, on the other hand, tells us in Christ we are a new creature and the old is gone. So which one is it? This lady said, “My husband goes to twelve step meetings and they tell him he can’t have a drink because he’s and alcoholic.” This made me think of Romans six. I thought sure he had a drinking problem, but if he’s been set free from it in Christ he’s free! The answer to this is just like Paul said. “How shall we who died to sin (alcoholism, drugs, sex, food, gambling etc.) still live in it?”
I’ve noticed every time I tell someone I don’t consider myself an addict since being born-again they respond by saying, “Do you think you could have a drink then?” Isn’t it strange how we automatically think it is okay to sin now because of God’s grace? Let me just say drinking, in and of itself, isn’t a sin. What I’m saying is if I know I used to be enslaved to it why would I go back and want to indulge again?
What is it about alcohol in particular that we need to hang on to? God delivered me from cigarettes over five years ago, but I don’t walk around thinking of myself as a smoker. Every now and then a thought will come to me about smoking, but I don’t go and get a cigarette. Do you know why? Because I’m not a smoker anymore! It works the same way with all of the old mans sins. We really have been set free in Christ to walk in newness of life!
Let me end here with a little disclaimer. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am not against twelve step programs, counselors, psychologists etc. What I am against though is when someone believes them over believing God. I think God has gifted all of us in many ways to play our part. Ephesians 4:11-13 it says, “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” There is a growth that has to take place in each of us and we need others and their gifts to guide us along the way. Ultimately though God’s plan is that we all grow up and learn to hear and obey him. This doesn’t mean we never need help or encouragement from others but what it means is eventually we mature and turn to help others that are in need. God is our real teacher, counselor, father, friend, and savior or in twelve step terminology he’s our sponsor. He is all of these and more we can trust what he says.
Written by Louie
I received a rare personal phone call at work from the Chaplain of our local jail. He told me both ministers he had lined up to come in backed out on him, and he wanted to know if I would come in and fill the gap. I told him “sure.” I love it when someone asks me to do what I love to do the most.
After talking with the Chaplain of course I started thinking about what I could share with the guys in jail; then it came to me like a flash! I know I’ll tell them about Jesus Christ and what the cross is all about. Now that’s a wonderful idea isn’t it? So that’s what I did.
Around six o’clock there were about 20 guys sitting in rows in what is known as the vending room of the jail. The first thing I noticed was every one of the guys in the front row had their Bibles in their lap. This is a good sign because there are some nights when very few of them even have a Bible with them at all. So right away I told them to turn to Romans five.
As they were locating Romans five I started sharing with them about how God created Adam and placed him in the Garden. He told him not to eat of one of the trees and of course he did and immediately died. Well, that’s what God told him wasn’t it? “The day you eat of this Tree you will surely die.” Of course we know he lived on for years and years afterwards so what did God mean? He meant Adam would die spiritually. He would be cut off from God and dead in his spirit. This is what Ephesians 2 tells us isn’t it? “You were dead in trespasses and sins…” All of us were born of Adam and that means spiritually dead.
As we looked at Romans five I read to them “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—“ All of us then are born of “the one man” and are born sinners, dead in our spirits and separated from God. I went on to read “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” So we are either joined to Adam in his disobedience or Christ and his obedience. The big question is how do we get out of Adam and into Christ? How can someone that is joined to Adam, dead in sin and separated from God be joined to Christ?
Romans six tells us how God took us and placed us in Christ on the cross. He baptized us into Christ. I shared with the guys that baptism means to be joined or identified to something or someone. The term baptism comes from the ancient practice of dying cloth by dipping it in a dye. For instance if you took a white handkerchief and dipped it in purple dye it would come out a brand new cloth no longer white but forever purple. God placed, or baptized, us in Christ in his death, buried us and raised us a brand new creature in him. This is the method that God used to sever our relationship with Adam and join us to Christ the last Adam. “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…” The cross is the way out of darkness and into God’s glorious light.
When Adam sinned we all sinned. All of us are related to Adam and we were all born dead in our spirits so we needed to be resurrected. This is exactly what happened in our being baptized in Christ. When Christ was raised we were raised. God joined his Holy Spirit to our dead human spirit and we sprang back to life. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus “You must be born again.” We have to have the very life of God in us. “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” It really is as simple as that.
There is no way I could write all of what was said tonight but you get the gist of it. I ended by telling them God doesn’t want to fix up our old self. He doesn’t see that it’s worth fixing so instead he takes us out by crucifixion instead. The old man really is dead and gone; we are a new creature in Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I love it when I get a chance to share the Word of God with someone, so that’s what I did tonight. I know I probably talked too fast for most of them but we know the Holy Spirit is the only real teacher anyway, so I gave them something to get them going and now the Spirit will do what only he can do. I’m just thankful I get to be a part of God’s work and plan for those men’s lives.
Written by Louie