3 Dec 2003

Can a believer sin anymore?

Submitted by theshovel
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Okay, let me pick up where I left off with article What does it mean to be dead to sin?

Can a believer sin (miss) anymore? If so, how is it that we are dead to Sin? anonymous

Allow me to rephrase your two questions by joining them into one as the combination pretty much answers itself: If we are dead to sin how CAN we sin anymore? Ironically, this ends up being the very same question already posed by Paul:

How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:2

Of course, one can approach the question from two totally different angles, for while Paul posed it in view of the impossibility factor (by virtue of death) it is more often asked in view of what SEEMS to be an obvious observation (by virtue of living). In other words, in view of sin, we easily determine that many, if not all (even those who call themselves believers, especially our own selves) are still missing the mark. What we want to know is how we are able do what we’re not supposed to be able to do? Hey, I understand the confusion all too well. :)

Questions of this nature have been asked many times in many different ways in the attempt to solve the contradictions demanded by a totally baffling form of life — a life that has passed out of the realm of everything we knew, or thought we knew. Our problem hangs upon an inability to process the obvious answer according to the reasoning and judgment we learned according to this world. The most one can ascertain by such logic is that those who are dead are no longer subject to the former demands of the known world. Death makes its own case as to why.

That’s why there remains an insatiable quest to explore and speculate on what might lie beyond death. Of course, Paul’s demands regarding the finality of death also make the contradiction between our doctrinal and practical understandings even more contradictory and oppositional.

It doesn’t seem to be death that confuses us for its finality is too blasted inflexible, despite our many attempts to defy it. The confusion of the gospel issues from the absurdity of a co-experienced death and new life with Christ that just doesn’t seem to pan out according to what we see in the world around us. You know, if it’s supposed to be an actual death and resurrection it sure doesn’t offer any indications to the senses or to the computations of logic. Then again, maybe death still confuses us beyond our imagination, since our perception of it seems to be bound by what appears to be, or not to be.

So, did we really die with Christ, or is this merely a teaching that rests upon symbolism? Ah yes, now this distinction really explains quite a bit of Christian teaching on the subject. As I mentioned already, while we might talk about Christ having died FOR us, we pretty much gloss over this demand of the good news of having died WITH Christ — as if it were little more than a symbolic reference to how we OUGHT to think in order to better motivate a deeper devotion to God.

Heck, an experience involving a sudden encounter with water is so much easier to deal with. No wonder there are so many arguments based around it. :) Yeah, here we are yakking about rituals and ordinances, or symbolism and doctrinal viewpoints while the reality of having truly DIED with Christ escapes our notice! Just because we cannot go to the morgue or to a grave-site and verify the physical evidence of our own dead bodies, in the expected manner, WE did indeed die.

The truth of the matter is that we had already experienced death in another - the first man, Adam - so that our existence clearly reflected it in everything we thought, said and did. Geez, we hadn’t even noticed it, except in the extreme cases, because the world around us made us assume it was normal to exist in deadness.

In Adam we were dead IN sin (as well as, dead in our sins), while in Christ we were made dead TO (as in, toward) sin. The death we shared with Adam brought us into this world totally in relation to sin, but the death we shared with Christ removed us from its association. Both refer to a death that is as dead as dead can be. Morgue dead. Rotting-in-the-grave dead. Devoid-of-life dead.

Can a believer sin (miss) anymore?

Before I push on, let me address another issue lingering within the phrasing of this question (whether or not it had any bearing upon your thoughts in question). It has to do with our assumptions surrounding the mention of the word believer, as well as the accompanying concept inherent in our common religious designations. Now, I’m not against using the word, though I think it has become amazingly overused, misused and abused.

My consideration here has to do with how often the word believer (or variation thereof) gets thrown into the mix so that we are often asking another question altogether, such as: What is there in believing (or being a believer) that would cause one to sin or not sin?

Consider how Paul phrased his question: How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Notice how his question couldn’t be even remotely reworded, How shall we who BELIEVE still live in sin? Now, Paul obviously had no problem declaring the wonderful reality of the miraculous faith to which we have been called in Christ - because it is totally intertwined within the truth of the good news that he preached - but when it came to the sin question he did not pit it against (or ask it in relation to) our BELIEVING in Christ but against our DYING with him.

The truth is that our having died with Christ is an integral part of THE faith of Christ that has been declared. Unfortunately, we have fallen victim to the contemporary hocus-pocus that says faith in Christ is about what WE have done with Christ as opposed to it being the very essence of the good news of Christ … so essential that it is the very embodiment of our hope, who is Christ himself.

Can a believer sin (miss) anymore? If so…

There is a perspective that demands that to think otherwise is ludicrous. This is the viewpoint that is based upon the examination and judgment of sin, and it is called law. The law convinces us that even though we are supposedly saved from sin through Christ we are still sinners who are subject to the law of sin. It’s only reasonable, isn’t it? After all, why would we ever think that just because we believe in Christ we would not still have to deal with sin? Unless, of course, we really did share in Christ’s death and also have been raised to new life in him.

I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Romans 14:14

This always used to stump me because I would always do the “Yeah, but…” You know, as in KNOWING that Paul obviously wasn’t referring to those things that ARE unclean in themselves! Haha! So, how could it be that Paul could have ever been CONVINCED in the Lord Jesus that NOTHING is unclean in itself? What about all the evil stuff in the world? And yet the only exception he made had to do with the PERCEPTION of the one who regards something as unclean: …to HIM it is unclean.

Can a believer sin (miss) anymore? If so…

He who regards himself as a sinner, to HIMSELF he IS a sinner.

But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. Galatians 2:17-19

This rather potent statement of Paul’s to the saints in Galatia describes through different wording what he also addressed in Romans 6-8, especially chapter 7. Seeking to be justified in Christ was one of Paul’s summations of the other gospel, which is really not another to which the Galatian believers were giving ear. Seeking to be justified in Christ is nothing other than a Christianized version of living by law, and this is what happens when we give heed to another gospel.

Simply stated, if the life to which Christ has called us is in fact based upon a seeking of acceptance in Christ so that our continued following Him - whatever one believes this to be - only proves how unacceptable we are, then Christ would be nothing but a dealer or an enforcer of sin. But then, that is totally absurd since Christ is the one who did away with sin. If I rebuild another gospel that re-establishes a relationship with God through some form of legality, then I am the one proving myself to be a law-breaker, or sinner.

Notice how Paul continued his point:

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.

Exact same thing he told the Roman believers, for through death we were made alive to God. Now, why would I try to re-establish the thing that can only bring knowledge of sin when that thing is what killed me so that I could be delivered from it?

Can a believer sin (miss) anymore? If so…

I can’t disagree with someone else’s affirmation, because to them it IS the only truth that makes sense, and it can be verified by a written code and the violations thereof – only it’s ANOTHER gospel. After all, if one’s answer is yes it must be found in the law of sin and death. However, the good news of Christ declares the removal of all that offends, so that there is nothing to miss in Christ!!

Jim

New Testament: 

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