You would like to live without committing sin if you could.
Thank you for your honest answer. I believe that you are very much like a great number of fellow Christians who genuinely want to live their lives to please God. I rejoice with you have found that the new birth enables you to live without committing sin. However, if you have not come to that place in your Christian experience I can empathize with you as one who has been there myself.
I believe that most Christians really would like to have victory over sin. Unfortunately, most are taught that it is not possible to live without committing sin in this life. We preachers have been taught that original sin has so corrupted human nature that it is impossible for people not to sin as long as they have their human bodies. We have been taught to preach to you that deliverance from sin is not possible until you die and that as long as you live in this world your sinful nature is going to rob you of victory over sin. God's salvation consists of the forgiveness of your sins and an infilling of the Holy Spirit that helps you to do your best, which, of course, will never be enough. While this teaching is offered in all sincerity, it seems that some Christians are never satisfied with the experience it produces. I was one of those people.
Jesus taught that people must be born again (John 3:7). The reason for this is that people are born into the world spiritually and morally depraved and it is inevitably that they sin. He said that which is born of the flesh is flesh (verse 6). The Apostle Paul enlarges on this statement to show us why are estranged from God and why they sin.
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
In other words, as long as a person is in that natural man, or fleshly, condition, he cannot discern, or comprehend, the things of God. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again." Jesus goes on to say in John 3:6 and 7, "And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" As long as people are in the "fleshly" condition they are spiritually dead in their sins and to escape that condition they must be born again of the Spirit. Being born of the Spirit translates people from a fleshly life to a spiritual life.
Consider Romans 8:1-9 where Paul contrasts the fleshly life and the spiritual life. You can plainly see that these conditions cannot coexist in the same life; they are mutually exclusive. The new birth does not leave us in the fleshly, carnal condition, but it causes us to become spiritual and to walk according to the Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
The fleshly, carnal mind is enmity against God, that is, it "does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to [it]." The new birth is a miracle that actually changes people so that they "are not in the flesh but in the Spirit."
The Apostle John wrote that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9). He also wrote in verse 8 that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." We preachers have been taught to interpret this statement in the sense that we are cleansed from all sin: past, present and future sins. If the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, how can it be that we continue to commit sin? Either we are cleansed from all sin or we are not. I know that verse 8 says that "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." People who deny the fact of deliverance from sin like to turn this verse on those of us who understand this truth and accuse us of being deceived. However, verse 8 is addressed to people that deny their sinfulness and their need for salvation. It cannot mean that a sinless condition is not possible because verse 7 says that the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. If a person has been cleansed from all sin, how much sin can he have?
Finally, there is the issue of temptation. Jesus lived a human life in a human body (without the native depravity) and He faced the same temptations as you and I, yet He endured and overcame the temptations without sin. He did not overcome temptation in the power of His "Godness," He overcame as a human in the same way as you and I can overcome temptation: through yielding to the Holy Spirit that indwelt Him.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Yes, all of us are tempted, but the temptation is not sin. The sin comes when we give in to the temptation. We have the promise that we can come to Christ in those times of temptation and He will have mercy on us and give us grace to help us overcome the temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God allows that temptation can be overcome if we will just submit to that "way of escape." So, see, it is a choice you get to make by virtue of the free will with which you were endowed by God. You choice is to allow the grace of God to strengthen you in the time of temptation so that you can go through and come out victorious. Thank God, it works.
Pastor D. F. Bayless
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