Thoughtlessly Ignored Scriptures
Now the general position of most Christian churches states that we are all sinners, that we will always have sin within us, and that even after we are born again, we will still continue to live in some kind of sin until Christ returns. This doctrine tends to breed a certain attitude in the church. As an example, have you ever heard “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace” before? This is the attitude that is commonly expressed in the church today because it is directly born from this teaching. I think we believe that this attitude displays a form of godly humility in some way, but honestly, we couldn’t be more wrong. Jesus died on the cross so that we could become much more than “just sinners”, so I want to unravel this doctrine further by exploring what the Bible says about sin more deeply.
As I’ve restated multiple times, the general teaching in the Christian church is that even after we have come to Christ, we still continue to sin. So I have to ask: did Paul miss something when he said in Romans 6:1–2 to not continue living in sin? Or was Jesus mistaken when He said to the woman who was about to be stoned to death by the Pharisees, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11)? Or was He mistaken when He said to the man healed by the pool of Bethesda to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14)? Or is it possible that Jesus actually meant it? You see, the “always a sinner” position of the church misses the entire picture of the teachings of Jesus and His sacrifice, and when we view our lives through that lens, we effectively render the crucifixion powerless to deliver us from sin in our minds. Romans chapter 6 does an extremely good job at explaining how much of an effect sin should have in the born-again life, and I think it is very clear: none. Paul says it over and over again in phrases like this:
- “…our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” Romans 6:6–7. When the church mandates that we will always be sinners and we can’t help but continue to live in sin, don’t you think that sounds like we are declaring that we are still slaves of sin?
- “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:11. Again the word “dead” is used here, which is not the typical doctrine I hear preached on Sundays.
- “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” Romans 6:12. Well, this verse refutes the idea that we will only be completely free from sin in heaven. Obviously, Paul believes sin shouldn’t reign in our bodies while we are mortal.
- “For sin shall not have dominion over you” Romans 6:14.
- “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” Romans 6:22.
Here are more verses scattered all over the New Testament about the absence of sin. These selected verses, by no means, encompass all of them but are just a handful that God highlighted to me:
- “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” 1 Corinthians 15:34.
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor” Galatians 2:17–18. This verse should concern any reader who believes they have accepted Christ but are still a sinner. Beware that it very clearly says, “If we, while seeking to be justified by Christ, are still found to be sinners, then we are rebuilding the things that were destroyed, making ourselves transgressors” (paraphrased for clarity).
- “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” Colossians 2:11. Just for the sake of making my point clearer, would it be logical to physically only partially circumcise a man’s flesh? Do you think that it is logical to believe we are partially circumcised to sin?
- “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” Colossians 2:15.
- “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” 2 Timothy 2:19.
- “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” Hebrews 10:26. If we stand on the belief that we are sinners saved by grace, then this verse tells us what we are committing to be: a willful sinner.
- “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.
- “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on a tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” 1 Peter 2:24.
- “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” 2 Peter 1:3–4. Are having a sinful nature and having a divine nature the same thing? Absolutely not. We can only have one or the other.
- “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” 2 Peter 3:14. I have two important points with this verse: 1) If a lamb can be “without spot” (i.e. blameless, see 1 Peter 1:19 as reference) then how much more can a person made in the image of God be spotless?, and 2) notice the verse says we should be diligent “to be found by Him” without spot and blameless. This disproves the idea that we will only be spotless (i.e. free from sin) after Christ returns or in heaven.
- “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” 1 John 5:18.
1 John 3:4–11 says it the most clearly. Many people don’t even know that these verses are in their Bible.
- “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” 1 John 3:4–11.
Generally speaking, at this point, I lose people. Immediately after showing biblically that we are not supposed to live in sin any longer, the common believer gets defensive and starts to defend—you guessed it—the sin in their life. Why do we do this? It’s simple. Because it’s a part of ourselves that we cannot control. No matter how hard we try, we cannot keep ourselves from sinning (which is the entire point of the Old Testament). So we do the natural, logical, yet carnally minded thing that we inherited from Adam: we defend ourselves. I think this alone shows that we are definitely not seeing the clear picture here.