Why use adultery when golf will do? -CS Lewis, Screwtape letters
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Romans 6:1-2
You must die to sin, which is rebellion against God. That’s why Jesus said, multiple times, and even in His most merciful moments of forgiveness and healing, “go and sin no more.” Jesus says, you must be more righteous than the Pharisees to inherit the Kingdom (Matthew 5:20) And His followers were not confused as to what that meant (1 Peter 1:15-17). We are actually meant to live morally pure, righteous lives out of love for God.
When I was young, I used to think He said this to make us understand our need for the cross, after all, who could hope to live without sinning even one day. I didn’t think Jesus actually meant that I have the ability to live righteously. The pull of sin seemed so strong, that I never considered He actually meant that I could even somewhat consistently live a holy life. At that time, I was living under the condemnation of the law of sin and death and not under grace, yoyo-ing between bouts of indulging sin and bouts of feeling forgiven. But the grace of God means that all my sin and shortcomings were nailed to the cross with Yeshua and I walk free from sin, shame, and condemnation. With a worshipful and thankful heart, when I come to the cross, trusting the blood and person of Messiah, I enter into a way of holiness, become a wholehearted disciple of Rabbi Yeshua, knowing that I CAN and SHOULD choose to go and sin no more.
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
According to Paul, if you are not willing to die to sin, you cannot enter the Kingdom. Have you tried to fool yourself on this matter? If you have not decided to die to sin, stop here and do just that. Ask Yeshua to make you pure by His blood, and then DECIDE to go and sin no more, confident you can, because Jesus told you that you can. Impossible, yes, it seems so. But all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). But think of it this way: If it were impossible, Jesus would not have told us to do it. That would have just been cruel. He said, to numerous, habitual sinners, they could “go and sin no more.” Yeshua, the sinless Lamb of God, who loved His Father so much that He would not sin, knew He was about to defeat the power of sin and death forever on the cross on our behalf, and that you would be able to defeat sin and temptation by His Word. It is a decision of the will and living it out practically is a matter of determined love, that you will not hurt the one who died for you. Find scriptures that strengthen your heart and memorize them as your weapons against the enemy, as Jesus did when He fought Satan. (Matthew 4:1-11)
But, you still may say, even if I continue to sin, won’t God forgive me? Let me ask you a questions. Do you think God intended to give you His Son and His Spirit so that you could keep on sinning? Or as Paul writes in Romans 6:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:6-7
Am I saying you will have a moment in he future where you will finally be “holy” having rejected all sin and putting down all desire to sin? No. What I am saying is that, by trusting Yeshua, you are already holy and sanctified, or set apart, by His blood, which covers you like a robe and purifies you in an instant, and you are given, based on His merit, not yours, the signet ring of authority in the Holy Spirit. As pure, holy children of God, now we can walk righteously from a place of being completely loved and accepted, as a matter of identity, moral determination, and habit. We must expect that we will definitely be tempted, but you do not HAVE to sin. You can choose obedience to God even when it’s very difficult. Sometimes putting sin to death feels like grief. But it’s more like detoxing. You are in pain, but it is a healing pain. Your whole coping mechanism and defaults are being rewritten, recalibrated, and realigned with every act of choosing obedience. Your body will be used not as an instrument of sin, but of righteousness (Romans 6:13)
But, you may ask, why doesn’t God just kill the desire for sinful things? I feel that He has failed me by not giving me the strength to fight.
Don’t you know, He has given you everything you need for life and godliness by the power of God, for His glory and don’t you remember that you are not tempted by God but by your own desires allowed to run freely?
God is not trying to trick you, but He is allowing you to be tested expecting your victory!
Why does He not simply abolish temptation?
- He allows us to be tempted to prove our allegiance to the enemy and to ourselves.
- He allows us to experience victory over sin, which we are led into by our own sinful desires, because our desires are meant to align with God’s, but He will not force that to happen. Fighting against sin strengthens our will to follow Yeshua. And who are you to say that temptation will not exist in the Kingdom of God? We must learn and discipline our hearts to righteousness and loyalty to the way of God now…in this lifetime. It will not simply magically appear in us when we enter paradise.
- Because He desires our reliance. One day the desire to sin will be gone (for the most part) or at least greatly diminished as a result of your constant training in obedience and our endurance in yielding to the Holy Spirit. If you endure, the desires of your heart will be rewritten by the Holy Spirit, not on hearts of stone, but of soft flesh. You will be circumcized in your heart and completely His, in the new covenant of Jesus’ blood. And if you stumble, as we all will from time to time (1 John 1:10), you will not continue into habitual sinning (1 John 3:9), but you will recover quickly, and you will be forgiven instantly because of the mercy of God in Messiah. All who follow Yeshua must die to sin. And you can.
If you are a believer and have fallen into habitual sin (Hebrews 10:26-39), the Bible says you can expect God’s judgment. Because of the callousness that habitual sin creates, it will be hard to be restored to an experience of the love and power of God or even believe the power of the cross anymore after you have trampled the gift of grace God gave you. However, God WILL still forgive you if you repent. He is kind and merciful to the brokenhearted and contrite. If you are genuinely ready to repent, find someone who can walk you through returning to God and truly stop sinning. We are addictive creatures, but God breaks all addictions and fills every craving. He not only will forgive you, but He will fill you and satisfy you and give you His Spirit, the power to endure, to do the work of the Father, to fight apathy, and to choose His way at every instance of temptation. You must die to sin.
I also want to encourage you. The earlier you resist temptation, the easier it will be. Do not indulge sinful thoughts thinking you can reject the action later. Jesus said sin starts in the heart (Matthew 5:28). The more you work the spiritual muscle to fight sin, the easier it will be. The more you indulge your yearning for the presence of God, the easier it will be to see the poverty and cheapness of sin. The more you develop your ear for God’s voice, by spending time with Him in His word, the easier you will distinguish the other voices trying to lead you away. It will get much, much easier, almost to the point you feel immune to sin. Of course, you are not. Don’t be fooled. But you will be dead to it as long as you stand firm in your identity in Messiah. You are holy, pure, and righteous before God. Now live that out in love and joy!