The Willful Sinner
Now the first positional belief about sin that God showed me is this: we are still sinners, and we will always be sinners until Christ returns, so let’s just continue sinning until Jesus fully frees us from sin in heaven.
Paul answers this approach very quickly and simply in Romans 6:1–2 where he says, “Do we continue to live in sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” This verse very clearly states that there is a common error in the way people think. This error (or deception) leads us to believe that the sinful life is somehow more gratifying and fulfilling than a free life, and since Christ’s sacrifice washes us clean of all our sins every day, then we don’t have anything to worry about. So let’s just believe in Jesus, have some fun with our sin, and God will just continue washing us clean, right? Wrong! This belief clearly doesn’t understand the concept of the renewed mind (Romans 12:2), which is what Paul is trying to explain. He goes as far as to say that we are dead to sin, so how could we live in it any longer? What Paul is telling us is that a transformation occurs (which is actually the same root word as metamorphosis [i.e., caterpillar –> butterfly]) and the renewed (or reborn) person has changed so drastically from their old nature that they simply do not live in sin any longer. Just as there is no resemblance of a caterpillar when you look at a butterfly, there should also be no resemblance of the old man in the new creation.
To the average Christian, the previous paragraph describes a rather obvious extreme that needs to be actively avoided. It addresses what we refer to as habitual sin or deliberate sin, which is correctly perceived by the church as a very dangerous form of sin. However, there is another form of sin called accidental sin or occasional sin, which is something that has largely been perceived as common and normal within the body of Christ. The unspoken understanding of our belief about sin within the church is this: as long as you are always trying your best to grow in the Lord and are not continuing to live in a knowingly blatant, habitual lifestyle of sin any longer, then you have reached the expectations that God has for you while you are on earth, even if you fall into unintentional sin regularly. This widespread view maintains that God will always continue disciplining you because you will never reach your final goal of perfection in this life, so as long as you remain humble and keep to that mentality, you will stay saved and God will continue giving you good instruction.
It is true that there is a distinct difference between willful sin and involuntary (or accidental) sin, which is clearly described in 1 John 5:16–17 (sin leading to death versus sin not leading to death), but I believe a major stumbling block arises when the church begins to accept that accidental or occasional sin as a common and inescapable everyday occurrence. I will elaborate on this more as we continue. Another obstacle for the growing Christian emerges when we readily yield to the impossibility of perfection in this life. I believe the reason that this can become an obstacle is because we have been trained to lower our eyes off the true prize that God bought for us down to a lesser trophy. Much of the body of Christ has been duped into not going for the gold medal that God wants us to strive for, and instead we have reluctantly settled for just hoping that we can finish the race.
On that note, I would like to shift the first position on sin and introduce the true subject of this book. As I said before, the first position of willfully continuing in sin is a rather obvious deception to any true follower of Christ, so it is not a good position on sin to take while in Christ at all, but is actually an identifier of a false convert. As you read the modified first position on sin below, please note the striking similarity to the old one, because they are actually very similar.
The false-convert position about sin: we are still sinners, and we will always be sinners until Christ returns, so let’s just continue sinning until Jesus fully frees us from sin in heaven.
The church’s current position about sin: we are still sinners, and we will always be sinners until Christ returns, but let’s try our best not to sin until Jesus fully frees us from sin in heaven.
Do you see how close our current position of sin is to what false converts believe about sin in their lives? Is this alarming to you at all? Because it should be! I sincerely hope that reading this small difference impacts you because it should begin to reveal some very enlightening truths about the church’s current doctrinal stance about sin. And now I will proceed with showing biblically the deep error of this innately harmful doctrine that has unfortunately dominated today’s church.