Christians Do Not Sin

In a sermon on sin, a certain preacher announced that there are 789 varieties of sin catalogued in the Bible. Three days later, he received 94 letters from members of his congregation asking for a list of the 789 sins. Some of them may have been wondering which ones they had not committed. The fact is that such a list is preposterous. It also serves to emphasize the vague notion most people have of what sin really is.

In this study we look at a passage that deals with sin and the Christian’s response. The verse reads: “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” (1 John 3:4-9). This passage tells us those born of God do no sin. How is that possible

Our study today involves 1 John 3:4-9. Verse 4 tells us much about sin. John said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Linguists, who have studied the original language, tell us there is the definite article “the” before both words: sin and lawlessness. This indicates that John used the terms interchangeably. Sin is lawlessness and lawlessness is sin. Sin is a word translated from a Greek term, armatia. Lawlessness comes from the Greek word anomia. Sin, is a missing of the mark. Lawlessness is a disregard for God’s law.

All accountable people sin by committing wrong deeds and omitting the right things. Paul said, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). The appostle james tells us, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). To leave undone a clear duty is sin just the same as doing what God forbids. In the parables of Jesus, the thrust of his teaching dealt more directly with the sins of omission than of commission. Both are in the same class -- sin, missing the mark, breaking the law of God.

Sin is either an act of omission or commission. It is not an inherited trait, tendency, proneness, or propensity. The Calvinistic world holds tenaciously to the doctrine that all mortals are born inherently evil, tainted with the guilt of Adam’s sin, wholly inclined to evil and incapable of doing anything good. Calvinists teach all men are sinners, not through choice, but through heritage. The late Dr. John Murray, at the time a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote a book entitled “The Imputation of Adam’s Sin.” In it he argued that if man’s righteousness is the result of God imputing Christ’s personal righteousness to the sinner, the sinner is in sin because God imputed Adam’s sin to all men. This may be logical, but suffers from scriptural harmony and proof. John tells us plainly that sin is what we do; James says it includes what we do not do that we should do. Sin is never spoken of in the Bible as something men inherit.

Sin is a serious matter and one which is more the object of light hearted jokes than repentance. A few years ago a preacher wrote a short article entitled, “Laughing Our Way Into Hell,” in reality, most of us are. Sin is that which separates people from God. That wonderful voice of Isaiah continues ringing in the hearts of truly godly people. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Add to that Paul’s solemn statement: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). An eloquent man once observed, “The devil pays sinners in currency minted in the coffers of Hell.” That is one pay check no one wants. There is but one place to deposit it, one place to use it -- the infernal regions of everlasting punishment, banished from the presence of God and all that is good.

To show you how lightly sin is regarded, notice something extracted from the book, “Whatever Happened to Sin.” The book was written by Dr. Karl Menninger, M.D. back in 1973 and sold over a hundred twenty-five thousand copies. Dr. Menninger noted: “Congress voted some years ago to require the President to proclaim each year a national day of prayer, and Truman began it in 1952. The following year (1953) President Eisenhower made his first proclamation and in it he made a reference to SIN. He borrowed the words for his proclamation from a call issued in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, the country’s first Republican and most theological President.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”

“An article in Theology Today has this to say about Eisenhower’s use of the word ‘sin’:

“None of Eisenhower’s subsequent calls to prayer mentioned sin again. The word was not compatible with the Commander-in-Chief’s vision of a proud and confident people. ... Since 1953, no President has mentioned sin as a national failing. Neither Kennedy, Johnson, nor Nixon. To be sure, they have skirted the word. The Republicans referred to the problem of ‘pride’ and ‘self-righteousness.’ The Democrats referred to ‘short-comings.’ But none used the grand old sweeping concept of sin. I cannot imagine a modern President beating his breast on behalf of the Nation and praying ‘God be merciful to us sinners’ though experts agree this is one of the best ways to begin.”

“So, as a nation, we officially cease ‘sinning’ some twenty (now near fifty) years ago.” (Pages 16-17).

I am almost a-political. However, being a-political should never prevent anyone from the noble effort to solve basic social problems. Our basic social problem is not the economy, human rights, military stock-piles, foreign policy, the internal crime problem, the war on drugs, or even domestic tranquillity. Our problem is we have legislated sin our of our culture and out of our vocabularies. We joke about it. We do not realize just how deep it has eaten into the warp and woof of our entire national existence. Until we recognize it, and seek true remedy through collective and individual repentance, we will continue multiplying the problems we all hear so much about. Legislation and taxes will never relieve us -- only repentance; only a return to a sense of moral and spiritual stability that is based on God’s law will cure our ills.

Religion is not helping the situation with sin in this world. There are some religions that deny there is such a thing. As with Eisenhower’s precedent, some religious bodies simply ignore the reality of sin. In a book called, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” the official (so-called) “revelation” allegedly received by the late Mary Baker Glover Eddy, founder of Christian Science, the following appears. Read with me:

“If Christian Science dishonors human belief, it honors spiritual understanding; and the one Mind only is entitled to honor.

“The so-called laws of health are simply laws of moral belief. The premises being erroneous, the conclusions are wrong. Truth makes no laws to regulate sickness, sin, and death, for these are unknown to Truth and should not be recognized as reality.” (Pages 183-184).

How does the Christian Science practitioner handle sin? They simply deny its reality. You need not worry about crime, sin, death, disease, or anything negative -- it does not exist, per the Christian Science philosophy. This is quite the opposite of John’s words in this very passage. “Sin is” - - says John. “Sin is not” -- says Christian Science.

Others in religion recognize sin is real, condemn it with great strength and vigor, but contribute to the lack of seriousness with which the world generally regards sin. When prominent preachers are found to be shysters, common hucksters, charlatans, and frauds, the world can with good reason reject all that is said. A few years ago, a very prominent TV preacher gave an excellent series of sermons on national television on the sin of pornography. A few months later, he was photographed outside a motel with a known prostitute. The man admitted in tears that he paid the woman to remove her clothes before him in a private motel room. After what appears to have been repentance, the same man was arrested by police for a traffic infraction and found an prostitute with him in his car. This mades national news. What else can the world think when those who claim to be staunch foes of lawless live in league with the the devil. Words from Paul are appropriate. “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” (Rom. 2:21-22).

Sin cannot be dismissed because our nation’s highest officials refuse to recognize it as our basic problem, because some religious groups deny its reality, or because some preacher falls from grace. That will never relieve anyone of the burden incurred by the load Satan heaps upon those who transgress God’s law. John’s letter is written to deter the practice of sin. Earlier, John wrote: “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). To benefit from our Lord’s sacrifice all must, through faith, obey Him and live in him. Living in Christ is living in an all out effort to be free from sin. The best of Christians people sin, but do not have to live in sin. Those who live in Christ may sin, but those who confess their sins and pray to God are completely forgiven. That is why John adds, “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. practice righteousness is not of God,” The thought shifts to the practice of sin and the practice of righteousness. Practice is an on-going process. One who lives in sin loves and practices sin. One who lives in the Lord lovs and practices righteousness. Either, or both may at times act inconsistently with the general way of life they have chosen, but the two are poles apart. John tells us that the one who keeps on living in Christ does not keep on sinning. The one who lives in sin keeps on sinning.

Dear friend, we ought to become enemies of the Devil and sin -- we ought to take sin seriously -- never giving aid and comfort to the enemy. One of the great pulpiteers of the past, Charles Hadden Spurgeon, said:

“If I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? If I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin who drove the dagger into my brother’s heart, surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime. Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the incarnate God, can you love it?”

Jesus was manifested to take our sins away and condition upon our faith in Him and our full obedience to Him, we can enjoy freedom from the bondage of sin. I hope you will consider this lesson seriously.

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