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Fighting for the Faith
Christians Should No Longer Sin!

“I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” “The church is a hospital for sinners.” “We’re all sinners, right?” “Nobody’s perfect.” Comforting Christian cliché’s that we’ve all probably heard quite often. Comforting because they insinuate that Christians will continue to sin even after they become Christians and that that’s OK. But is this the message and reality of the Christian life that Jesus and His apostles passed down to the faithful?

To begin, I’d first like to mention that in at least 59 places in the New Testament the Christians are referred to as “saints” and the Gentiles or non-Christians are the ones who are referred to as “sinners.” So, biblically speaking, it seems to be inaccurate to refer to Christians as “sinners” at all. The definition of saints is holy ones. Are Christians truly “saints” that are expected to be holy and live above sin or are they just sinners that happen to be saved by grace?

At this point, partially out of fear of being labeled a heretic, I will let Jesus and His apostles answer the above question so we can begin unraveling the actual truth about the Christian life and experience. Jesus in Matthew 5:48 (emphasis mine) seems to answer pretty clearly. He tells His disciples, “YOU therefore MUST BE PERFECT, AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.” Paul exhorted us many times. In one place he wrote “Let us cleanse ourselves from ALL filthiness of the flesh and spirit, PERFECTING HOLINESS in the fear of God.” (2Corinthians 7:1-Emphasis mine) He also wrote, “But sexual immorality and ALL impurity or covetousness MUST NOT EVEN BE NAMED AMONG YOU, as is proper among SAINTS.” (Ephesians 5:3- Emphasis mine) And finally he told the Corinthians, “Awake to righteousness, AND DO NOT SIN.” (1Corinthians 15:34- Emphasis mine).The writer to the Hebrews gave us this warning, “Pursue peace with all people and HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD.” (Hebrews 12:14-Emphasis mine) Peter concurred, “But AS HE who called you IS HOLY, YOU ALSO BE HOLY in ALL your conduct.” (1Peter 1:15-Emphasis mine) John preached the same message, “Little Children, I am writing these things to you SO THAT YOU MAY NOT SIN.” and later he explained, “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.” (1John 2:1; 3:6-9-Emphasis mine) We could go on and on. This emphasis is all over the New Testament. But hopefully you’re starting to get the picture.

Now I’ll take my turn and speak….. Christians are saints who through the power of God’s grace should no longer sin. This is the true gospel of grace. This is what Jesus and His apostles and what the New Testament teaches emphatically. This isn’t one or two scriptures taken out of context. This theme is found throughout almost every New Testament epistle. Jesus Christ, when speaking about one being a slave to sin said, “If the Son sets you free (from sin) you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Hallelujah! Jesus Christ has come to set you free from your sin. You, Christian, should sin no longer. But, now, if you do happen to sin, you do have an advocate with the Father to plead on your behalf but generally speaking, you should be holy as He is holy. This is the good news. Jesus has come to take away your sin and your sin nature. But why isn’t this being taught today?

In our introductory study to this series we looked at the many warnings we were given regarding the false teachers who were going to invade the churches and distort the gospel of Christ. We keyed in to Jude’s call to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. He warned that certain ungodly people had crept into the churches and were perverting the grace of our God into lasciviousness, or lewdness, or sensuality (Jude 3-4) depending on which Bible version you utilize. But all of these words point to the same thing. They each describe carnal, fleshly, sinful behavior. These men were teaching that the grace of God allows for sinful behavior. Messages of that context could go as follows: “God’s grace covers us so that it doesn’t matter what we do“, or, “Once we‘ve been saved we‘re guaranteed to remain saved no matter what”, or, “We’re saved by grace, salvation has nothing to do with our works or anything that we do.” Have you heard any teachings that sound at all like these. These teachings pervert the grace of God and they allow for sinful behavior. It does matter what we do. We’re called to live holy and told that without holiness we will not see the Lord. We are commanded to not sin and to put away all sinful behavior. We are also warned over and over again to not be deceived. If we, as Christians, participate in sinful behaviors WE WILL HAVE NO INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (Please read 1Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-6; Revelation 21:8) Dear Christian, do not be deceived by men spouting empty words. If you choose to continue sinning you will not go to heaven. The Bible nowhere teaches that once we have been saved we will go to heaven no matter what.

Let’s now take a look at how the grace of God has been perverted to allow the above teachings to take root. There is a common definition of grace that is put forth almost universally. Have you heard that grace means “God’s unmerited favor”? Does grace mean this in some contexts? Yes it does, but in some other contexts it means so much more. Let me put forth an example. In 1Peter 5:5-6 Peter writes, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves.” Is this type of grace unmerited? No, to receive this grace we need to humble ourselves. God’s unmerited favor does not fit in this context. Here’s another, in Titus 2:11-12 we read, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Now this could mean God’s unmerited favor but clearly it goes deeper than that. The grace that brings salvation also brings with it a power to train, teach, or instruct, once again, depending on the translation you’re using. The well-respected Vines Expository Dictionary recognizes this, as one of its definitions of grace is “the power to equip for ministry.” So this passage in Titus is describing a grace that brings salvation and power. Power to allow us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in the present age. This is the missing ingredient to today’s grace message. God’s grace saves us (this we’ve heard) and empowers us to live godly and above sin (this part has been lost). This is why we are required to live godly, holy lives because even this aspect is the work of God. His grace gives us this ability, this is not of ourselves, we will not have a reason to boast. This is the missing part of the gospel. God saves us from our sin and then gives us His power to live godly, holy lives so that we can shine as lights in this dark world and then our good works will glorify Him.

Are you convinced yet? Well, here are some very pertinent and disturbing warnings we haven’t looked at yet for people who might view this differently. Paul while writing Timothy about the last days warns that perilous times will come. He does not say might come, he says, will come. He then describes how people in the churches will be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers” etc. etc who will have a form of godliness, but who will deny its power. (2Timothy 3:1-5) This is a very accurate description of today‘s Christianity. Christians are filled with sinful behaviors (polls show that they live no different from non-Christians) but by their sin-filled lives they deny that God’s power will allow them to overcome sin. Hence, the cliché’s that started this article. How does Paul tell us to respond to churches or people that teach and model such things? He writes, “And from such people turn away!”

Let’s look at one last warning. Paul while writing to Timothy in an earlier letter writes that if someone does not teach the “doctrine which accords with godliness, (the need to live godly) he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wrangling of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” (1Timothy 6:3-5) Considering that Jesus and the apostles focused much on Christians bearing with one another and remaining unified, this need for Christians to live godly, holy, and upright must be pretty important for Paul to twice suggest that we separate from those who teach otherwise.

Now the dilemma, I personally have not come across one church here in the west that teaches that Christians should live godly and no longer sin. If you have, please share with us who and where they are because we would love to see that this critically important truth is still being taught. Sadly, we’re sure that even if a few do still exist, that 99% have fallen prey to the false message that is all pervasive today. So here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, for many of us. Are we lovers of truth as we discussed in a previous study, willing to receive the truth and contend for it as Jude exhorts us to, or are we too comfortable where we are at to potentially cause a stir? Paul twice says to turn away and avoid those who teach contrary to the doctrine which accords with godliness. As for me and my house we choose to glorify the Lord and will contend for the true faith which was once for all delivered to the “saints”. Where do you now stand?

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