DO WE HAVE TO SIN?
Copyright © 2002 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers
It appears the Christian churches generally agree that as long as we are in the world, we have to sin. This conclusion may be based on some of the Apostle Paul’s comments in Romans chapter seven. Let’s take another look at that passage and determine whether it really does prove Christians must sin as long as they are alive in the world.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:18-20)
I don’t believe we Gentiles understand Romans chapters
The Apostle Paul was a Jew. He had been taught from his earliest years that a person can gain righteousness only by observing the Law of Moses. At some point after Paul was converted to Christ, the Lord taught him that we no longer are to seek righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses. Now we can receive the same righteousness by placing our trust in the Lord Jesus and following the law of the Spirit of life, the law of the Holy Spirit.
You can imagine the incredible conflict present wherever Paul taught. His audience of Jews believed with all their might that a person can gain righteousness only by keeping the Law of Moses. Now Paul was telling them they can turn away from the Law and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some believed and some did not.
Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. (Acts 28:24)
If we are to interpret the books of Romans and Galatians correctly, we must realize that Paul is trying to move Jews, and others, from the righteousness of the Law of Moses to the righteousness of Christ.
Our problem as Gentiles is that our goal is not righteousness, but eternal residence in Heaven. We think Paul is saying that if we believe in Christ, we need not overly concern ourselves with godly conduct because we go to Heaven by grace. If that were true, it would make the new covenant different from the very Nature of God. It is a horrible, destructive mistake. In fact, salvation itself is the change from ungodly to godly behavior.
In Romans chapter six, Paul makes this clear. Paul states that now that we have been baptized in water we are to count ourselves crucified and risen with Christ. Having been crucified and risen with Christ, if we then choose to continue as the slave of sin, we will die spiritually. If we choose to be the slave of righteousness, we will live before God in righteousness and holiness.
Paul goes on to say that sin shall not have dominion over us, because we no longer are governed by the Law of Moses, but have been released into the law of the Spirit of life.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
“Sin shall not be your master.”
Sin shall not have the mastery over us. Sin shall not have power over us. How can a Christian scholar read this verse and insist that as long as we are in the world, we are obligated to sin?
The scholar’s reasoning must be: “since I no longer am bound by the Law of Moses, but under grace, sin cannot master me because God keeps forgiving me. I am still forced to sin, even though I don’t want to, but because of grace, God does not see my sin. On this basis, sin is not my master.” This does not make sense, but I can’t think of any other way a scholar can get around the plain statement of Paul.
Romans chapter six is a disclaimer. Paul is telling us that what he wrote in chapters
Paul had said that sin shall not be our master because we are no longer under the authority of the Law of Moses. We conclude from this statement that as long as we are under the Law of Moses, sin indeed can be our master.
In Romans chapter seven, Paul tells the Jews why being under the Law enables sin to be their master. In Romans chapter eight, Paul shows the Jews why they need not sin; why being under the grace of Christ makes it possible for them to rise up in victory over the sinful nature.
Paul makes it clear at the beginning of chapter seven that he is speaking to Jews, or at least to “those who know the law.”
Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? (Romans 7:1)
The verse above is our clue to the meaning of the seventh chapter. It is not addressed to Christian believers. It is part of Paul’s argument against those who were attempting to gain righteousness from the Law of Moses.
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:5,6)
When we are governed by the Law of Moses, the Law arouses sinful passions in us. The passions always have been present. But the Law identifies them and gives life to them. The identification and coming to life of our sinful passions results in guilt before God, and therefore spiritual death.
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. (Romans 7:7,8)
We see this identification and giving of life to sin in the case of Adam and Eve. They were living in the shameful condition of nakedness, but were oblivious to it. Nakedness was no problem. When they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the eternal moral law of God, they realized they were in a shameful condition. From this moment, nakedness became a major problem, whereas before, Adam and Eve gave no thought to their being naked. Nakedness sprang to life, as Paul would say, and Adam and Eve died.
This is what Paul meant when he stated that sin can exercise mastery over us when we are under the Law of Moses. Instead of delivering us from sin, the Law of Moses makes the sin more sinful. The result is guilt, and the consequent spiritual death.
Paul went on to say that the person under the Law wants to be righteous, and this is why he is seeking to obey the Law.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 6:18)
Can you see that Romans chapter seven is not stating that as long as the Christian is in the world, he is forced to sin against his will? The chapter is speaking of the individual who is seeking righteousness through the Law of Moses, showing that the Law does not furnish the righteousness he is seeking. Rather, the Law emphasizes the sin, bringing death rather than life. This is what Paul is telling the Jews, while he is seeking to prove to them the superiority of the new covenant.
How does Paul conclude his reasoning with the Jews?
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:24,25)
When Paul speaks of being rescued from the body of death, he is referring to the redemption of the mortal body, which will occur when the Lord returns. If we have been faithful in putting to death (through the Spirit) the deeds of our sinful nature, the Lord Jesus will remove all of the sinful nature from our resurrected flesh and bones and clothe us with a body fashioned from resurrection life. We then will have been redeemed totally, Satan no longer having any part in us.
Notice Paul’s statement above: “I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” This easily can be interpreted to mean Paul was resigned, while a Christian, to be a slave to his sinful nature.
But since in the sixth chapter, Paul had stated that sin shall not have the mastery over us, we know Paul is not saying the Christian is doomed to be defeated in the battle against sin. Rather, Paul is reflecting back on his words to the Jews, to those who know the Law of Moses. He is summarizing what he stated in chapter seven, which is: While we are governed by the Law of Moses, we serve that Law in our minds, but our sinful nature forces us to sin against our will. We know that this is the case, for Paul very clearly and definitely told us that as believers the Law of Moses no longer governs us. Therefore, when Paul says with his mind he is a slave to the Law of Moses, he is pointing back to his life as a Jew.
The key is chapter eight. If chapter eight were to continue with the thought that in our mind we desire to be a slave to the Law of Moses but our sinful nature forces us to sin, then the current teaching is correct: as long as the Christian is in the world he will fight a losing battle against the power that sin maintains over him. However, because chapter eight speaks of dominion over our sinful nature, we realize that chapter seven is not speaking of our life as a Christian, but of the plight of someone who is bound by the Law of Moses. We conclude, in this case, that current Christian teaching is incorrect. We who believe in Christ cannot be forced to sin against our will.
Paul continues his argument by telling the Jews that they can be without condemnation even though they have turned away from the Law. This is the first step in gaining the mastery over sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
The Jew can turn away from the Law and still be righteous. This, of course, is the major issue. You can imagine a Jew scratching his head and wondering whether it is possible to leave what he had trusted all his life, and still be without condemnation before the Lord.
Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
Here are two different laws. The law of sin and death refers to the interaction between our sinful nature and the Law of Moses, resulting in urge to sin and insufficient power to resist it.
The law of the Spirit of life is the Spirit of God. He is our law. He guides us in ministry and in gaining mastery over sin. The Spirit of God is the new-covenant counterpart of the Law of Moses. The law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death in two ways:
- By exposing the aspects of the sinful nature in our personality.
- By removing the life and fire from these aspects—these urges to sin. Due to the authority of the blood of the cross, the law of the Spirit of life actually possesses the authority and the power to kill the acts of the sinful nature. Therefore, we cannot be forced to sin.
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, (Romans 8:3)
The Law of Moses cannot enable us to live righteously because while it exposes our sinful nature, as does the Spirit of God, it has no authority or power to kill the acts of our sinful nature. To the Jew who is seeking righteousness, it is important to understand that the Law of Moses is powerless to help us live righteously.
The Lord Jesus Christ assumed the role of sinful man, and was offered on the cross as a sin-offering. Thus, the sin nature was condemned and crucified. This is God’s way of telling us that the sinful nature, which was not included when God created man, is to be demolished. The sinful nature was demolished legally on the cross, and is to be demolished actually as we cooperate with the Spirit of God.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
If we choose to live in the Spirit of God rather than in the desires of our sinful nature, God counts that we have fulfilled the Law of Moses perfectly. This is a key statement. The current teaching is that we are not under law but under grace, interpreted to mean the Law does not govern us, and grace forgives all our sins. But we are not adding the all important condition, that we must live in the Spirit of God if righteousness is to be ascribed to us.
To live in the Spirit of God means we are praying each day, meditating in the Scriptures, gathering with fervent Christians, seeking the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, presenting our body a living sacrifice, giving of our means, and serving in every manner possible to us. To live in the Spirit of God means we are denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord at all times. It means we are interacting with Jesus all through the day and much of the night.
When we are living in the Spirit of God, we can ignore the Law of Moses. It no longer applies to us. We are deriving our righteousness from another quarter.
Can you see at this point that Paul is not saying that he is still the slave of God in his mind but the slave of sin in his body? Rather Paul is advising us to turn away from the Law of Moses—which exposes sin but cannot stop it. Paul is pointing us toward the Spirit of God, telling us if we will live in the Spirit, the righteousness of the Law will be ascribed to us. This is not a struggle against sin, but a new way of living, the way of looking to Jesus for every decision of our life.
We have been set free from Moses that we might be married to another, to Christ. Union with Christ is a far, far stricter discipline than is true of being governed by the Law of Moses. But marriage to the Lamb is a triumphant discipline, not a losing battle against our sinful nature.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5)
If we are living in our sinful nature, not abiding in Christ, we always are thinking about how we can satisfy the appetites, lusts, and passions of our flesh, because our sinful nature resides in the members of our body, according to Paul.
Those who are obeying the law of the Spirit of life are always thinking about the desires of the Spirit. They have learned to listen to Jesus at all times, whether at rest, on the job, in church, or on a vacation. They always are in an attitude of prayer and listening to the Spirit of God.
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; (Romans 8:6)
It is a battle in America to keep our minds on the things of Christ. The world spirit comes to us through the media. We need to be careful that we are not conformed to the thinking of the world.
In the present hour (August, 2002), there is much turmoil in the world. How easy it is to become involved in the continuing problems confronting the nations. When we fret because of the abundance of evil, we lose the joy and peace the Lord wants us to have. Actually, while we are consumed with the events of the world, death is entering our spirit. But when we join with those who are zealous for the Lord, who are spending time in prayer, who come together on a regular basis, we have eternal life and peace in the midst of death and turmoil.
The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)
Remember, Paul is still endeavoring to move the Jews from Moses to Christ. At this point, he is telling them that their mind is the enemy of God. It will never obey God by itself. Our study of the Law may succeed only in strengthening our hostile mind. This certainly was the case as the Pharisees howled for the blood of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to do what is righteous and holy in God’s sight.
Paul is making an important point here. The Jews in time past and to the present have placed great emphasis on reasoning from the law and from the commentaries of learned rabbis. We know, however, that much study of the commentaries, whether Jewish or Christian, strengthens the mind but does not enable us to gain mastery over the sinful nature. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
Here is the crux of the matter. The problem is our sinful nature. The Law of Moses has no ability to deal with it. The Law condemns the actions of the sinful nature but cannot prevent them.
Those who sin, Jews or Christians, cannot please God.
The problem is that of living a righteous life, not of going to Heaven, which is the Gentile goal. We are not seeking righteousness so that we can go to Heaven, but so that we can be pleasing to God and have fellowship with Him. The desire to go to Heaven is to provide ourselves with a pleasing environment. The desire to please God and to have fellowship with Him involves our love for God, not with our love for ourselves.
The heart of the Gentile error, and the reason we do not interpret Paul correctly, is that we are not anxious to have fellowship with God. What we are looking for is somewhat similar to the goal of other religions—a place of material wealth and comfort, and an absence of pain and worry.
We do not want to be with Christ in the midst of the Consuming Fire. We are looking forward to mansions and diamonds. Because of this, we have invented a gospel that requires no change in our character. This does not solve God’s problem of the rebellion throughout His creation. We simply are not anxious to please God; we only want to escape Hell and go to Heaven.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)
It seems as though Paul is saying that if we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (and all true Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, although not all have pressed through to the freedom to speak in tongues), we automatically are not controlled by the sinful nature. Any knowledge of Christian people will demonstrate that while they have the Spirit of God, they still are controlled in large part by their sinful nature. So we know this is not what Paul meant.
What Paul means is, because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can choose to not to be controlled by the sinful nature. We are not obligated to be controlled by the sinful nature; we have the ability to overcome the sinful nature.
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
If we are a true Christian, Christ and the Spirit of God are dwelling in us. Our body remains dead because of the sinful nature that dwells in it. Our born-again spiritual nature is alive because righteousness has been ascribed to it. Eternal life always follows righteousness.
So our body is dead because of indwelling sin, but our spiritual nature is alive and hidden with Christ in God.
Can you see how Paul is leading the Jew toward the solution to the problem of sinful behavior? He is telling the Jew that his inward nature already has righteousness and eternal life, although the sinful nature remains resident in the members of his body.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
The Holy Spirit is living in us although we have a sinful nature in our body. The Holy Spirit in us is a guarantee that there is coming a time in the future when that same Holy Spirit will enter our body and make it alive.
But remember: such resurrection life always follows righteousness. So the presumption is that before eternal life can enter our dead body, the sinful nature must be destroyed out of our body.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)
Why do we not have an obligation to live according to our sinful nature? Because the day is coming when the sinful nature shall be removed. We Christians know that our sinful nature will be done away at some point. One common hope is that the sinful nature will be removed from us when we die physically. There is no scriptural basis for this hope. Another common hope is that the sinful nature will be removed by the coming of the Lord. There is a scriptural basis for this hope, but we are not clear as to how the process of removing our sinful nature will proceed.
We would hope that the Lord will wave His scepter and the sinful nature will just go away. But I don’t think this is how the removal of the sinful nature will take place. If this were the case, where would the parable of the talents fit into the picture? How about those servants of the Lord who are beaten with many stripes? No, I don’t believe it will be as simple as that.
I believe, rather, that there is coming a move of God after Pentecost, as symbolized by the Jewish feast of the Day of Atonement. I believe this move has begun and will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age often referred to as the Millennium. I believe the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is part of the Judgment Seat of Christ and it has begun with the living and the dead, as Peter says. I believe the removal of our sinful nature will happen piece by piece and not in one sudden deliverance.
I believe the removal of the sinful nature will involve our total cooperation; that we will need to confess our sins as they are shown to us by the Holy Spirit; that we will need to denounce them as sinful; that we will need to renounce them as having no lawful part in us.
I believe part of the program of the removal of the sinful nature from our personality will involve suffering, and our willingness to obey Christ sternly as we are placed in various prisons that are designed to destroy our self-centeredness, self-will, and self-love.
We know that such deliverance from the sinful nature will take place at the end of the age.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)
“Weed out of His kingdom.”
“Everything that causes sin.”
Everything that causes sin! Think of it! Everything that causes sin. It is the sinful nature that causes sin. The sinful nature will be removed from the Kingdom of God at the end of the age.
But I stated this program will continue through the Kingdom Age (Millennium). I think the entire period, from the time the removal of sin begins until the final resurrection, is termed “the end of the age.” The end of the age will conclude when the earth and sky flee from the Presence of Christ.
The messengers of God will remove all sin from the Kingdom. Then the messengers of God will remove all who continue to do evil, having refused the deliverance that was available. All sin and those who continue to practice sin shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, for the Lake of Fire retains authority over all sin—even the sin in Christians. However, we are in a probationary period in the present hour. If we consent to the removal of the sinful nature, then the Lake of Fire cannot possibly harm us.
There shall be no sin whatever in the Kingdom of God. None! Absolutely none! As Paul says, those who choose to continue in the sinful nature shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I stated my belief that the Day of Atonement has begun, the Day of actual, not merely legal, reconciliation to God.
The removal of the sin nature will take place in two stages, as I understand it.
• First, the fire and life will be removed from the acts of our sinful nature, as through the Spirit of God we confess them, denounce them, and renounce them.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
If we as a Christian continue to follow the impulses of our sinful nature, we will die spiritually; we will not receive a body of eternal life when Jesus appears. We will not be raised from the dead at that time and ascend to meet Him in the air.
But if we through the Spirit kill the actions of our sinful nature, we will make progress in eternal life. The fire and life will be removed from these sinful compulsions and we will gain the upper hand over them, not being forced to fulfill their demands.
This is the first stage of the removal of the sinful nature.
• The second stage is the actual removal of these elements in our personality that have been killed by the Spirit of God, and then our being clothed with immortality.
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
The salvation mentioned above is the final removal of the sin nature. If we have been faithful in the lesser, at His coming the Lord will entrust us with the greater, which is a sin-free personality and body.
The process of removing the sin nature will begin in the Christian Church with a warlike remnant, a Gideon’s army. From there it will expand to include the remaining members of the Bride of the Lamb.
When Jesus returns, His “Gideon’s army” will return with Him and, as I understand it, expand the destruction of the sin nature to the sheep nations left alive after the Battle of Armageddon, and to the remaining members of the Bride of the Lamb. By remaining members I am referring to the spiritually immature members of the elect.
Finally, the entire Wife of the Lamb will come down through the sky to be located forever on the new earth. The new Jerusalem will then serve forever as the moral light of the world, and the saved nations will be kept from sin by the oversight of the members of the royal priesthood.
God is going to put an end to sin for all time and eternity!
There is one fact we need to understand clearly. The Lord Jesus Christ is so powerful, so filled with the authority of God, that He can remove the sin nature from any person at any time with one word from His mouth. He also can remove all sickness from any individual at any time with one word from His mouth. In fact, with one word He can call back the dead from their places of interment. Since God has the power to abolish the sinful nature, sickness, and death without any help from us, why does God permit these to continue to afflict us as well as the rest of mankind?
Many times, unbelievers are heard to say that if there were a God, He would not permit such suffering to come upon people.
The answer to the question of why God permits suffering and sin to continue involves God’s goal for mankind. God is bringing all saved people to an eternity of joy. You know, there was perfect joy in the beginning, when God created mankind. However, the two people could not maintain Paradise. The same is true today. If God restored Paradise to the earth, people could not maintain it—even if the sinful nature were removed from them.
Something more is needed.
Paradise can be maintained only when there is a government that can ensure that all individuals will adhere to the will of God.
The government God is creating is termed the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God consists of people who have been tested and tried; who have had Christ formed in them; who have managed to serve God faithfully in the midst of much opposition. The only manner in which such rulers can be formed is in the midst of temptation, suffering, and confusion. This is what our present world consists of: temptation, suffering, and confusion.
Christ can remove our sinful nature and our sicknesses with a word. But the creation of the victorious personality requires obedience, pressure, and time.
As soon as God has a company of people who have managed to overcome everything Satan has brought against them, the Lord Jesus will return with them and restore Paradise to the earth. It is as simple and straightforward as this.
The iron rule of the Spirit could not be formed in our personality if God were to remove our sinful nature without a struggle on our part. Muscle can be built only by pushing against resistance.
Although it grieves God as deeply as did Calvary, He permits the works of the sinful nature to continue so that His rulers, kings, and priests will have had the opportunity to struggle against sin, and thereby develop the resistance to sin that will be required if mankind is to be brought to eternal joy.
Today, when warfare is changing from nation against nation to special-operation forces against special-operation forces, the men and women of these special forces are exposed to severe suffering as the necessary hardness is formed in their personality. Sometimes they are beaten, or chained and thrown into the water, or stoned and cursed under difficult circumstances. Their bodies, minds, and emotions are challenged and toughened against the day when they must push through to victory under difficult circumstances. The members of the special-operation forces are more skilled in ways of surviving and killing the enemy than is true of the regular armed forces.
King David had special forces. They were called “mighty men.”
This is true today. The Lord is developing special forces, a Gideon’s army. Their training is more severe than that required of the other members of the Body of Christ. When the Lord’s special forces have passed their examinations, God will empower Michael and his angels to cast down Satan from the heavens. The throwing of Satan to the earth marks the end of his control over the earth, and it will not be long after this that the Commander-in-Chief descends with His army and drives all sin and sinners from God’s creation.
After taking us as far as Romans 8:13, the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the coming redemption of the world at the hands of the sons of God. In order to amplify this thought a bit, let us consider for a moment one of the major Bible allegories—the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.
The beginning of the exodus was the Passover blood. The Passover blood was a protection while the angel of death passed over the land of Egypt. The sins of the Israelites were not mentioned at this point.
When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, fifty days later, God did four things for them: He gave them His holy law, defining sin; He gave Moses instructions for the building of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; He specified the animal sacrifices that were to be used to make an atonement for sin; and He instituted a marching order to prepare them for the march to Canaan.
Mount Sinai represents Pentecost. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is our Law; He builds the Body of Christ; He directs the application of the blood of the atonement made on the cross; now He is directing us and disciplining us because of the warfare that is ahead.
The goal is to remove sin from the creation.
The first area of conquest of the Israelites involved their own sin. God dealt with the sins of the Israelites by means of the Law of Moses and the blood of animals. The Law and the blood atonement may be thought of as the means of gaining victory over the enemy within their own personalities.
The second area of conquest was external, the land of Canaan. The Israelites were to bring the Ark of the Covenant, that is, the Ark of the Ten Commandments, into the midst of the demon-worshiping tribes of Canaan and cleanse the land by means of warfare.
So it is today among us Christians. The first area of conquest is internal. The sin in the Christians must be dealt with by the Spirit of God. When a firstfruits of the Church has overcome sin through the Spirit, the Lord Jesus will return. Then the area of conquest will be external. All that is sinful in the world will be removed by the Spirit of God working through the godly remnant who have followed the Lord Jesus Christ to this point.
This is the meaning of the following:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)
The reason we suffer in the present hour is that we may be prepared to descend with Christ and bring the Glory of God into our sin-darkened world. The physical creation is not aware of the coming of the sons of God. The creation has been subjected to frustration and corruption by the Lord God, in the hope that one day He may be able to redeem it from its bondage to decay.
This is the answer to those who question why God permits suffering to continue.
The creation writhes in pain, in the travail of birth. We who are the first to have the Spirit of God also groan inwardly. Why do we groan? We groan as we wait for the total removal of our sinful nature. God will adopt us as sons when our mortal body has been redeemed completely from the power of Satan.
Through the Seed of Abraham, the Spirit of God will return to the creation. The Spirit of God left the material creation because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve. Thus the first two people died and all of nature with them. But the Spirit of God will return at the hands of Christ and those who belong to Him, and then the physical realm will come to life.
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Genesis 3:14)
What then is the answer to our question of “Do we have to sin?”
Under the Law of Moses, we found no deliverance from sin. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, we can follow the Spirit of God as He enables us to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to gain the upper hand over sin.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
If we are willing to sow to the Spirit of God, to refuse to obey the impulses of our sinful nature, we will reap eternal life. But if we yield to the impulses of our sinful nature, then out from that nature we will reap corruption in the Day of Resurrection—even if we confess that Jesus is Lord.
It seems that we are in a new day. We know from Church history that God moves from one point to another as seasons of refreshing come from Heaven. One aspect of redemption is emphasized to one generation, and another aspect to another generation.
I would venture that we now are entering a dispensation of grace during which the Holy Spirit is ready to help us overcome the sinful nature. The promise of not being mastered by sin has always been in Romans chapter six. Yet it seems there is a special emphasis today on victory over sin.
Try it and see. I’m sure if this article has fallen into your hands, you have already noticed that the Spirit is calling some element of your behavior to your attention. If so:
- Announce clearly that you are practicing this behavior.
- Denounce the behavior as sin.
- Renounce it as being unworthy of the Kingdom of God. You want nothing to do with it. It belongs in the Lake of Fire.
- Continue to press forward into Christ as you pursue your discipleship.
I think you will be amazed and pleased at the authority and power that are now available to whoever desires to be rid of these nasty little bondages that Paul terms “the sinful nature.”
The Lion of Judah has prevailed. The seals are being opened. The jubilee of release is here now. Make certain that you do not miss the day of your visitation.
(“Do We Have to Sin?”, 3659-1, proofed 20230802)