Is It Possible to Live and Not Sin?
Sin is not just powerful, it is gripping. It's hard to get away from, and it's nearly impossible to avoid. There are pitfalls everywhere, and you don't have to be a "bad person" to get caught up in it.
The good news is, even though none of us deserve it, as Christians, God offers us a path to salvation. He gives us a way out of the sin of the world; a way beyond our natural inclination toward disobedience. That way is through Jesus Christ.
God tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." And, the good news is that if you truly have the desire to become new, in Christ, God will help you.
To serve Jesus means turning away from sin. It does not mean that you will never again be tempted by sin. Sin roams around everywhere, ducking and hiding in some places, and bouncing boldly up in your face in other places. Your becoming redeemed (being delivered from sin) is not going to do anything at all to the nature of sin. It will remain a constant in your life and mine, always there to tempt us; always asking to be allowed into our lives. But God is all powerful, and therefore more powerful than anything Satan has in his big old bag of tricks. If we ask Him, God will give you and me the strength to tell Satan to “get away” when he comes at us with old or with new and improved offers.
Redemption begins with being born again in the spirit, with overcoming the desires of flesh. You can only be born again in spirit. Your physical body is born once, and it will die once. Therefore, to be born again, you must be born through the spirit. The Bible teaches us about this in John 3:3-5, where it is written:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
When I was a little girl, my mother used to collect S & H Green Stamps. These were little green stamps that grocery stores used to give to people, based on the grocery bill total. The more money you spent in the store offering the stamps, the more stamps you’d get. I grew up in a household with five siblings, so in our home, there were often lots and lots of S & H Green Stamps packed away somewhere.
What were the stamps for? They were worthless, by themselves, but they could be redeemed for things of value. You could pick up little booklets at the grocery store (free of charge) that were made to hold the stamps, and once the stamps were pasted into them you could redeem the booklets for a lot of different things. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my mother and my siblings sometime, and we’d all be pasting the stamps into their proper places in the booklets, inside the little blank spaces they were designed to fit into.
The completed books of stamps were just like money, because they could be redeemed for the same kinds of things you could purchase with money. Each book of stamps had a monetary value. The S & H Green Stamp store, in those days--at in the rural countryside where we lived, was a catalog that came along with the whole deal. The catalog was filled with pictures and descriptions of all kinds of nice things you could redeem your stamp booklets for. A toaster might cost two books of stamps. A beautiful light fixture, four books. A set of cookware or a set of dishes might cost as much as ten books. And it went on and on like that. So even though the booklets themselves were guarded as though they were actually money, they were really not worth anything until they were redeemed. To redeem them, the stamp book owner selected something of real value, and then mailed the booklets in with the order form. Several weeks later, in the mail would come something or other, brand new--a set of dishes, smooth and shiny with no chips on them, or a window fan to help keep a non air-conditioned home cool on steamy hot summer days.
Who Can Redeem You?
Even though we are not books of stamps, we can be redeemed. We can be delivered from sin. But who can redeem you? Who can deliver you and me from sin? The church cannot redeem you. It can only teach you what you need to know to become redeemed. Even having your physical body baptized in water—by itself—cannot redeem you. Tithing and giving to others cannot redeem you. Your pastor cannot redeem you, or even himself. No earthly human is capable of redeeming another. There is only one path to redemption, and that path is paved with the blood of our one and only Redeemer, Jesus Christ. As the Bible tells us in John 5:24:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
God gives us the opportunity through His grace, to take our sin-stained book of stamps--our sins, transgressions and weaknesses--to the altar, to lay them down at His feet. He offers us the chance to receive, for our worthless stamps, the opportunity for everlasting life. And we get this privilege, not because of anything that we have done to deserve it, but because of what Jesus did for us.
Jesus' Sacrifice Was For Us
As He experienced human form, Jesus proved that even though the flesh is weak and prone to a multitude of temptations, that it is possible to live free from sin. God made Jesus mankind’s prototype for the way to live. But it is not possible for us to live sin-free, the way that Jesus did. That's why Jesus, unblemished by sin, died for our sins. And because He died for our salvation, He paved the way for our redemption. He paid the price, so that we could gain eternal life through Him.
God loves us so much that He came to earth to teach and show us how to transcend death, through Him, to gain everlasting life. This is explained in Hebrews 14-18, where we are taught:
“For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
Because Jesus lived, we know—without a doubt, that human flesh is too weak to conquer sin. But because He lived, there is another way beyond the flesh, for us to beat the devil at his own game, thereby gaining access to eternal life.
Ephesians 2:2-10 teaches:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
God came to earth and lived as a man called Jesus. And even though God could have created Jesus as He created the angels, without the seed of mankind, He did not. God chose the seed of Abraham, so that Jesus could be flesh and blood like us. Through Jesus, He provided for us a way of redemption out of sin, and into glory. But to get there, to get beyond sin and into glory, we have to accept that Jesus is the Son of God, and we have to believe that He was God in human form come to earth to give us the gift of everlasting life. He was our Heavenly Father, and He came to earth to voluntarily give His life so that human eyes could see the redemptive process.
Jesus endured a lot of cruelty while on earth. He went through many trials. He endured mean spirited, inhumane treatment and injustice. He was even accused of being under the power of Satan. He was taunted and spit on. When He thirsted for water on the cross at Calvary, He was given vinegar, instead of water. What He went through made it clear that Satan rules the earthly world. Don’t forget that evil was as active when Jesus lived as it is now.
Jesus Triumphed Over Sin and Death
Needless to say, Satan was not happy with the Son of God being in his domain for the purpose of triumphing over death. After all, death is the last trick in his trick bag. Therefore, he was trying to get Jesus to break just one of God’s laws. That’s all Satan needed to overturn God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Just one act of disobedience would allow him to prove that it is not possible, even for God come to earth in human form, to keep God’s laws. But Jesus triumphed over sin and over Satan. It was not a "photo finish" and there was no need for an "instant replay" to see it--Satan clearly lost the struggle, and Jesus won. And because Jesus lived, died, and triumphed over death, He became our Redeemer, and He proved Satan to be nothing more than a liar.
Jesus’ death signaled the end for Satan and his earthly kingdom. When He paid the debt of our sin, He gave us a way to redeem our worthless human stamps for the greatest gift of all—eternal life through Him. He came and He lived as a human sacrifice in order to save us, for God.
And where it concerns you having control over your own physical body, when Satan tries to come in, if you ask him to leave, he has no choice but to go away. The problem is, sometimes we don’t ask Satan to leave. We kind of like having him around, because he brings us stuff that feels good to our flesh. And if we’re living in the flesh, we like those things that keep flesh happy and satisfied.
Well then, you may wonder what good is redemption if we are still able to fall prey to the weaknesses of our flesh? The answer to this is that being vulnerable to sin does not mean we must fall prey to it. We all come to God as sinners. Becoming redeemed means we are acknowledging that we have no hope without Jesus. Becoming redeemed means we accept Him into our life as our Lord and Savior. It means we renounce sin and its hold on us and on our lives. It means we will live from day to day, from moment to moment, for God through Jesus Christ. It also means we know we must fight against sin from day to day, from moment to moment, for God, through Jesus Christ.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD