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Christianity—a license to sin?

Christianity can seem very lenient. But what comfort is that to someone who wants to stop sinning?

Many churches around the world are quick to assure you that it is impossible for us to overcome sin as Jesus did. But is this really what’s written in the Bible? Or does Christianity offer something more than forgiveness?

“Jesus died for you—He has done everything.” “You have forgiveness, no matter how much you sin.” “Once saved, always saved.”

These expressions, and many like them, are commonly used in Christian preaching. They can sound very attractive and hopeful, and even claim to have basis in the Scriptures. But it almost seems like this is just a license to sinTo commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought. (James 1:14-15)... More. What comfort is that to someone who wants to stop sinning? Someone who is sick of the way they react, their bad habits, and all the evil tendencies that they just can’t seem to shake? Is there nothing more to Christianity than this?

More than forgiveness

Forgiveness is something we all need, but not something we can take for granted, and certainly not something we deserve. Jesus says that, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12.

But a physician is able to heal the sick – to make them better. It’s clear we need a physician. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are not tempted to think impure thoughts, to be worried about what other people think, to be angry with someone who has wronged us, etc. But the intention isn’t that we keep giving in to temptation our whole lives. Jesus is the great physician and He has the power to heal us from our sin. Not only can He forgive us for sins we already have committed, but He can also show us the way to overcome the very root of sin, the lustsThe desires that we experience that go against God’s will. In other words, a desire for anything sinful. See James 1:14. Also called “sin in the flesh.” Although the expression “youthful lusts” is  often thought of in connection with sinful sexual desires, lusts include anything that go against what is good and right in God’s eyes. (2 Timothy 2:22.; Galatians... More in our nature that causes us to be tempted to sin.

This is possible because He came to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh, and yet He never once sinned. (Romans 8:3-4) This is also clearly written in Hebrews 4:15-16: “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“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 4:16. Because Jesus was tempted, yet did not sin, it is possible for us to come to Him with boldness to receive grace. This grace is so we too shall not commit sin in our... More, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The whole intention with Jesus taking on human nature and being tempted in all points as we are was that He could overcome the sin that dwelt in His own human nature. In this way he opened a way for us to follow Him into freedom from sin! He did not come just to do everything in our stead and leave us with the hope of forgiveness alone. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:  who committed no sin…” 1 Peter 2:20-22. The intention is clearly that we too overcome the power of sin as Jesus did! This is how He “heals” us from our sin.

Overcoming sin: Jesus also requires our co-operation

Just like a doctor will give you instructions, maybe medicines, or exercises to do, Jesus also requires our co-operation to heal us. It is written in 1 Peter 4:1-2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the fleshThe “flesh” is all of the sinful desires/temptations/lusts, etc. that dwell in human nature. It is the source of temptation, and nothing good dwells there. (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:24; Romans 8:5) Other phrases meaning the same as the flesh include: the body of sin, sinful human nature, fallen human nature, sinful nature, fallen nature The term “flesh” can... More, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” This is the “medicine” that Jesus gives us to be finished with sin. We have to suffer in the fleshThe Bible often mentions suffering. Though this can refer to outward, physical suffering, in the New Covenant it mostly applies to the suffering that occurs when you deny your own sinful lusts and desires and put them to death. It is an inner suffering that occurs because your lusts are not being satisfied, rather than a physical, outward one –... More!

This means that when we come into a situation where we are tempted to sin, we need to deny that desire and let our flesh with its sinful lusts and desiresThe desires that we experience that go against God’s will. In other words, a desire for anything sinful. See James 1:14. Also called “sin in the flesh.” Although the expression “youthful lusts” is  often thought of in connection with sinful sexual desires, lusts include anything that go against what is good and right in God’s eyes. (2 Timothy 2:22.; Galatians... More suffer and die.

Power to resist sin

Many people have tried this by sheer willpower, but they experience time and time again that, in the moment of temptation, they lack the strength to resist sin and end up giving in, whether in thought, word or deed. But when we come to this point and realize that sin is too strong for us to handle on our own, we can go “boldly to the throne of grace” like it’s written in Hebrews 4:16. There God is waiting, ready to answer our prayers.

The grace He gives us is that He sends us the Holy Spirit to help, guide, and strengthen us in the moment of temptation—the “time of need”. The Holy Spirit strengthens our resolve, so we are strong enough to suffer in the flesh and never let the temptation develop into sin. In fact, with the Holy Spirit to give us power, there is no temptation that we cannot overcome. No sin that can get power over us. As long as we are obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading, He will give us the victory every single time!

We will never leave the throne of grace empty-handed. Instead, we will get power to resist sin until it is destroyed. Bit by bit, temptation by temptation, sin loses its hold in our lives and we are set free. Christianity is not a license to sin, rather, it is the key to overcoming sin“Victory over sin” means that you do not commit conscious sin – that which you know would be sin at that time when you are tempted. It doesn’t mean that you are without sin, but that temptation is overcome before it can become sin. (Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Revelation 2:7)... More. This is a life of victory and it is completely possible for all those who hold fast their confession!

If you’ve felt a frustration with the “license to sin” gospel that is preached in many churches today then stand up, be done with those lies, and take up a battleAlmost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts you. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When you have decided to only do God’s will and are being led by the Spirit, a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit arises: there is... More against sin today!

 

 

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I am crucified with Christ
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