How we treat sin is evidence toward if we are truly children of God.
One great confusion relating to salvation is how much an individual is responsible for and how much God is responsible for. This tension is present all throughout God’s Word. An example of this tension can be found in the following verses.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
1 John 3:9
Both verses proclaim a important truth. Philippians 1:6 explains the role that God plays in your salvation experience which is the beginning and the completion of your salvation. The dependence is all upon Him. He carries us to the finish line that we could never reach on our own. He takes responsibility over our souls.
But 1 John 3:9 brings up a presumed theological inconsistency for some Christians. In this passage we see the tension of God’s saving power in man and the outgrowth of the Spirit of God from the man that shows us, by what we do, if we are indeed born of God (saved). The most radical word in this verse is “cannot.” John is saying that it is impossible for you to continue practicing sin if you are truly a son of God.
Now we all know that we have sin in our lives saved and unsaved alike. For those who truly possess the Spirit of God we are in a different type of scenario with how we function with sin. One of the Spirit’s roles is to destroy sin. Practicing sin is something that is impossible for someone who has the Spirit of God. The habit, recurring, guiltless, consumption of sin is something that a true Christians cannot do due to the indwelling of the Spirit.
A friend explained how he digested this truth in light of a sinful past. While being saved at the age of five, he went through a rough patch in high school where he was involved in all sorts of sin. Yet through it all the Spirit was crushing him. There was a war in the depth of His soul that raged against him. It is evident today that the Spirit of God moved him into a place of purity that is only possible because of the work of the Spirit.
When “Christians” can be involved in the habitual practice of unrepentant sin without a Spiritual conviction in our chest, we have to ask our self if we have ever, “either seen or known him.”
1 John 3 is an opportunity for us to be honest with our self to see if we have ever truly experienced the greatness and magnitude of the grace of Jesus (read the chapter!). The extent of the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice will move us to hate sin. Grace is never an excuse to sin. Paul states, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” If we have a constant mentality to abuse the grace of Jesus instead of a conviction from the Spirit to destroy sin then we might be closer to the ways of Satan than we believe. After all, Satan himself convinced Eve that God was an “understanding” God when it came to wrongdoing.
"Grace is never an excuse to sin."
Let us not buy into the lie that we do not have to be righteous to be righteous. John puts it logically for us, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil..”
At the very least, the sins that are becoming an unconvicting habit should spark a spiritual concern. At the very greatest, it could be showing us a very scary truth found in Matthew, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”. If there is something heavy on your heart when hearing this find a pastor to help you walk through this biblically.
For those who have a Spirit lead desire to put to death sins, be encouraged! The book of Romans gives us insight into what God is doing in your life.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
R.C. Sproul spells it out for us by stating, “True believers will take it to heart and repent, turning from persistent sins that would otherwise lead them into final apostasy. But those without true faith will persist in unrepentant sin to their own condemnation.”
What is the Spirit doing in your life today? Do you see evidence of sin dying around you in your life? In response, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Caleb Rawls is the pastor at Pleasant Home Baptist Church located in Laurel Mississippi. He and his wife Taylor work lead the church to love God and reach out to their community with the good news. They also have a golden-doodle named Tiglath-Pilesar IIII.
Notes and References
Romans 8:13 | “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
1 John 6b
1 John 3:7-8a
Sproul. Sin That Leads to Death.Ligonier Ministires. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/sin-leads-death/