Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
Ecclesiastes 8:7 2
It disturbs me to hear a person who claims to be born again; to be a child of God; to be a follower of Jesus; and to be in dwelt by the Holy Spirit; say to all who care to listen that he is a sinner!
I believe that such a position is clearly contradictory. I understand the Scriptures to teach that a child of God is not a sinner, and that a sinner is not a child of God.
I must admit, of course, that in many cases my difference with a Christian who calls himself a sinner is largely one of semantics. If he is saying that he is human; that he is faulty and imperfect; that he often lacks understanding of the result of his actions; and that he often makes mistakes; I'm with him!
However, I find no suggestion in the Scriptures that God will hold us accountable for something over which we have no control, and surely things for which we are not responsible cannot be sin to us. Forgiveness for such things is not needed, and indeed, is not possible. I have no doubt that if a husband goes to his wife and says, "I forgive you for being a woman." she will not be overwhelmed with gratitude. More likely she will become very angry and retort, "And what's wrong with being a woman?"!
If, however, this selfproclaimed sinner is saying that he is living a life of disobedience and he finds no hope of deliverance, I contend that he has not really surrendered his life to God, he has misread the Scriptures, and that his life is an insult to God's grace and His power to save.
In my study of the Scriptures, I find far more passages which claim freedom from sin for the Christian than I find which suggest that we cannot be free from sin.
Whenever we find such a seeming contradiction, if we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we immediately begin searching to see which Scriptures we have misinterpreted because a contradiction in the Word of God is impossible.
It would seem reasonable also, to accept the preponderance of the evidence at face value, and to see whether the seeming evidence on the other side can be easily explained. Accordingly, I am going to list here a group of verses which I invite the serious student to consider carefully, and then I will take up in more detail some which seem to suggest the opposite. These are verses which strongly proclaim freedom from sin: John 5:14; John 8:11 and 3436; Romans 6 especially verses 1,2,6,7 and 1223; Romans 8:114; I Corinthians 15:34; Hebrews 12:1; I Peter 4:1,2; I John 1:7; I John 2:16; I John 3:310; and I John 5:18.
Now if we take the above verses at face value, we find relatively few verses which will give us difficulty on this subject.
Galatians 2:1720 (according to the context) obviously deals with professing Christians who decided that they must return to the law in order to be justified. But Paul said that in returning to the law (rebuilding what was destroyed) they became lawbreakers. If we must add the keeping of the law to our faith in Christ and at the same time find that the law does not justify us, then Christ seems to be promoting sin. Paul writes, "God forbid!"
Romans 3:23, and I John 1:8 and 10 simply make the statement that if anyone says he does not need a Savior because he has not sinned, he lies and tries to make God a liar.
The seventh chapter of Romans presents difficulty only if we contend that Paul is writing about the continuing and inevitable state of the Christian. But the context does not support this view. Chapter six presents freedom from sin over and over again, and chapter eight contrasts the victorious life, lived according to the Spirit, with the defeated life lived after the flesh (as in chapter seven).
Now let me make it clear that I do not know one person who would contend that the Christian cannot sin, but it seems to me that the idea that the Christian remains such a slave to sin that he cannot help sinning and should be called a sinner, ought to be obnoxious to every Christian!
Let's find a different word for the shortcomings we cannot help (not sin), live a life of true obedience to our Lord, and tell the world that we are redeemed and transformed by Christ not that we are sinners. We are former sinners now saved by grace!
This article was written by my father:
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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