“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
So, I was having a conversation with an old friend the other day, and this issue about the fact that we are all awful sinners, and none of us is good, came up. It is actually something I have an issue with, because many people seem to misunderstand the power of God at work in our lives through the blood of Christ… The power by which those who are saved “cannot continue to sin” as John wrote (1 John 3:9).
For me, it seems as if this verse, and the other popular one – “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl 7:20) – have been used to justify why Christians will continue to sin and do things they ought to mature out of. We say, as long as we are in the flesh, we can’t help but sin. That the battle between the flesh and the spirit will continue until we die, and we just need to keep coming back for forgiveness.
Please don’t get me wrong. I understand that grace abounds even after we are saved, enough to cleanse us of future sins. I also understand that it is very possible and very likely that we will fall into some sin again, even after we have come to the knowledge of the truth. I also know that the one who thinks he stands ought to take heed of himself (1 Cor 10:12), because pride leads to destruction (Prov 16:18, Prov 18:12).
Yet, there is power in the blood! If indeed we have been born again, regenerated in our spirit, we will surely grow in the spirit to become mature men and women of God, who live uprightly before God. As babes, we may have still struggled with lying or thieving (if you can imagine that), foul speech and sexual sins. But as we abide in Christ, as we focus on Him, as we apply ourselves to ministry, these cannot still be the issues we are bringing to God…asking for His deliverance!
I am always surprised when I hear Christians, who have supposedly been walking with God for many years say “I sin everyday.” Like really??? You mean, you haven’t grown close enough to God by now to know Him and His ways?
Someone who is mindful of Christ always and drawing closer to Him may still falter, but these occurrences will be fewer and far between. They would likely be sins of the level of pride, hypocrisy, greed, lust, that deal more with their mentality, their thought-life, and may not actually manifest in the physical. Such are usually sensitive to the Spirit, so that when they sin in this way, it is a blow to any confidence they were putting in themselves and a realisation of their desperate dependency on God. The ‘small’ thing that will prick their conscience (e.g. looking with lust) might have gone unnoticed by those who are still dealing with pornagraphy or fornication.
Let’s look at the context of another verse, which says: “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psa 14:2-3). It was set in a time. The Psalmist was lamenting that the whole world was ridden with sin, and no one did what was right anymore. It isn’t a prophecy or an eternal truth that there will never be righteous people again or that there was never a righteous person in the past…
You know that Abraham was also called righteous? Before him, Noah was called righteous. Before him, we also know about Enoch, who was so upright, God took him and he didn’t taste death. I’m sure there are many more examples of people who it was written that they were blameless before God, and they lived uprightly!
So, please, let’s stop thinking there is a ceiling on our righteousness. Yes, we are not saved because of our own righteousness or worthiness, but because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and His worthiness to be a sacrifice without blemish on our behalf. But by His sacrifice, our spirits are renewed, and we are now able to IMITATE Him in righteousness.
If we walk with Christ, we cannot continue to sin, thinking that grace will abound (Rom 6:1-2). We know that those who continue to sin do not know God, and that the unrighteous cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. It is written: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9:10). Paul wasn’t talking to unbelievers here, he was talking to his saved Christian brothers and sisters!
Listen, Jesus wants us to be perfect. He says so right here: “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). If we look at ourselves and applaud ourselves that we are so good, we are missing the point, because we are still proud, looking inwardly. We must look to Christ, and we will see that we still have a long way to go in being as perfect as He is, but we can live with a clean conscience most days, knowing that we do not continue to sin…we do not gratify our flesh, but live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, Rom 13:14). And the Spirit will do Its work in us, if we will renew our minds on this issue…and decide to be perfect as our Father is perfect.
So help us God.
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