Freedom From Sin

Formerly "The Sin Bug"

 

Mark Greenwood

 

 

There is such a concern for a ‘pure’ church among many leading Christians that works has been added to grace in order to sift out the tares from the wheat.  Now we are told that before we can even think about trusting in Jesus we must confess and forsake all sin (this is salvation by works).  This is not the pure gospel and neither will it produce a pure church but rather a hybrid church.

The Bible says: ‘And this is His commandment that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another’ (1 John 3:23).  Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29).  Ephe­sians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

When we believe on Jesus and put our trust in Him, God forgives all our sins and gives us eternal life.  Now that is not the be all and end all of our new life in Christ, it is just the beginning, It is a long journey that involves obedience to the Lord and dependence on the Lord every step of the way.

Before Christ died on the cross for our sins, the biggest problem in a person’s life was sin.  Sin kept us separated from God and out of heaven.  Since Christ’s death on the cross, what keeps us out of heaven is unbelief in Jesus. When we believe on Jesus our sins are forgiven and taken away.

The problem is of course that sins are enjoyable to our carnal nature; we get much pleasure from our sins.  It may just seem like innocent pleasure but if it is pleasure that keeps us from God then it is a sin.  I know someone, he has been dead many years now, he died of cancer at a relatively young age, he became a Christian about 9 months before he died.  He said to me just before he died "The only thing I regret is not coming to the Lord sooner."  He had enjoyed life but after he became a Christian he realised that his old life couldn't be compared to the new life he had in Christ Jesus.  Another man who didn't want to know God before he was dying with cancer now had a chance to think about life.  He said to me that he knew he was about to die, he accepted that, but what was life all about?  When he was dying of cancer he had a chance to reflect on his life, he had lived it to please himself, now he realised there was no purpose in it, unless of course he had missed the point, was there some purpose to life that he had missed? He wanted to know.  I explained it to him and some of his last words were, "it's all free, it's all free isn't it."  Yes salvation is all free, he had finally realised what life was all about, he died knowing Jesus.

Do we really want to receive His life now, to have our sins taken away now, to be made into a new person where all the old things have passed away and all things become new?  Jesus came to save us from our sins, if we really want to be saved then first we need to recognise that we have sinned and that we need a Saviour; that we cannot save ourselves.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who has died to pay the price of our sins and to free us now from the power of sin.  The Bible calls us to ‘repent’ which is to reconsider our think­ing, change the thoughts of our heart and ‘come to the knowledge the truth’ if we want to be free (see Acts 8:22, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 2:25).  The truth is that we have sinned and cannot save ourselves; salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ, not in our good works or in anything we have done but in believing in, and trusting in, Christ alone.

Many people say that ‘repent’ means to turn from sin and confess all sin.  The diction­ary definition means to be sorry or to grieve for sins committed. The problem is that where the word ‘repent’ is used in the Bible in the context of salvation it is a bad trans­lation of the original Greek word.  In fact,  A. T. Robertson (a famous professor in New Testament inter­pretation) quotes Broadus as saying it is the worst translation in the New Testament.  Rob­ertson says that the actual meaning of repent is ‘to change (think afterwards) their mental attitudes’.

In other words repentance means to change our mind and attitude with afterthought.  We need to remember that John the Baptist was calling the Jews to repentance.  The Jews were the elect of God, the 'called out ones’, the church of that day. The Jews were under the law; if they repented then their change in behaviour would prove it.  We are not under the law, so where repentance involves salvation, it is by believing and trusting Jesus, not by works.  However the fruit of repentance will be a changed life.

If we put our trust in Christ alone we will receive forgiveness of sins.  Another word that is sometimes used in the Bible is ‘remission’ of sins.  These two words ‘forgiveness’ and ‘re­mission’ are a translation of the same Greek word.  God forgives our sins and sends them away never to be remembered any­ more.

When we believe on Jesus, God forgives us and removes our sins far from us (see Leviticus 16:21-22) but we have to receive that forgiveness by trusting that what He has said He will do (see Acts 10:43, Acts 26:18, 2 Corinthians 5:19, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, Colossians 2:13).

The Bible says: ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our trans­gres­sions from us’ (Psalm 103:12), and God ‘will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea’ (Mi­cah 7:19).  The LORD says,‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’ (Jeremiah 31:34).  Acts 3:19 says, ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blot­ted out’.  The word ‘blotted out’ means, according to Vine, ‘In the sense of removal, to wipe away, wipe off, obliterate’ (see also Isaiah 43:25).

All these words, remission, removed, blotted out are all saying the same thing that God has taken our sins away.  He did this when Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree (see Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 2:24).

God has taken our sins and put them on Jesus, Jesus has taken the punishment for our sins.  When we believe on Jesus He gives us (the sinner) His righteousness and declares us justified.  I’ll repeat that, God takes our sins and puts them on Jesus and takes His righteousness and puts it to our account.  It is by believing and receiving this truth along with the fact that Jesus is the Son of God that one is given eternal Life.  If we try to do anything to save ourselves it shows we do not understand this truth, therefore we need to repent and believe.

Man will always try to be independent of God, but God wants us to be absolutely de­pend­ent on Him like little children with their Father.

God has forgiven us of all our sins, past, present and future but we need to receive that forgiveness.

In 1 John 1:9 we read "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This seems a bit strange because Christ has already forgiven us of all our sins because of His death on the cross and His shed blood, so why now is John telling the Christians that if they confess their sins then God will forgive them?  The point of John's letter is fellowship with one another, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. When the Bible tells us that all our sins are forgiven, that is judicial, it is legally binding, we have been cleared of all charges against us because Jesus has paid the price of our sins.  The Father, being just, must justify us because all our sins have been legally removed.  So why, when we  now sin , do we have to confess our sins?  Because now it isn't to do with a court of law but it is to do with family.  When we now sin it affects our fellowship between us and our Father.  He already knows about our sin so when we acknowledge it to Him our fellowship is restored.  If we offend our brethren and go to them and put things right then we are restoring fellowship with our brethren.  If someone ask our forgiveness we should forgive them and fellowship is restored

Another major problem is when the devil accuses us of our sins and causes our weak conscience to condemn us.  This can only happen when we do not know fully what Christ has done for us by His shed blood (see Romans 7:25a).  We only really know the truth when the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.  We need to plead the blood on our conscience and confess relevant scripture.  Also remember, Jesus is also our advocate, counteracting the accusations of the devil with the blood of the Lamb (see 1 John 2:1-2).

 

The Difference between Sin and Sins

 

The title of this article is 'Freedom From Sin', not, 'Freedom From Sins', is there a difference between "sin" and "sins"? In the New Testament, in general (depending on the context of the passage), when it talks about sins (plural) it is talking about the sinful deeds of the flesh, the unrighteous acts that we perform, when it talks about sin (singular) it is that power in the flesh that causes us to commit acts of sins.

Let me explain.  If we read the book of Romans, up to chapter 5 verse 11 our sins (plural) are in view; these are our deeds or actions that fall short of God’s glory.  From verse 12 onward sin (sin­gular) is in view.  Sin is the lust that lives in the flesh and causes us to commit sins.  When Adam sinned he lost God and lust came in causing us to sin.  For the sake of clarity many call this the sinful nature.  In the book of Romans, Paul just calls it ‘sin’; he tells us that ‘sin’ ‘reigned’ as king (Romans 5:21).  In Galatians (5:16-21) Paul now talks about the ‘lust of the flesh’ and gives a whole list of the works which are manifested when lust is reign­ing, such as fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strifes, jeal­ousies, angers, conten­tions, disputes, schools of opinion, envy, murders, drunken­ness, rev­els, etc.  Paul tells us that "sin, getting a point of attack by the commandment, wrought in me every lust" (Romans 7:8, JND).

Now we have been redeemed and our sins have been dealt with on the cross; however in our flesh dwells sin.  Our bodies have not yet been redeemed, only our spirit, our bodies will be redeemed when Christ returns.

So here we have a problem, sin in the flesh.  Why has God left us this thorn in the side?  I believe it is that we might grow in God by learning how to overcome, live by faith, and gain the victory in our walk.  Basically it is by faith that sin is dealt with.  We have to believe what God says about our position in Christ.  In Romans 6:6 we read "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with (rendered inoperative), that we should no longer be slaves of sin."  What Paul is saying is that when Christ died on the cross, we (believers) were crucified with Him, therefore, our old man, who was from Adam, and who was in bondage to sin, is now dead and buried having been crucified with Christ.  As a consequence sin has no right over us whatsoever, we are free from sin because our old man is dead and buried.  This is something we need to know, it is important.  When we know this, that we have been crucified with Christ, then we can have confidence in reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (see Romans 6:6-14).  Christ has freed us from the power of sin  (Romans 6:22).  We need to recognise and believe what the Bible says.  We must rec­ognise that we are ‘dead’ with Christ and our ‘life is hid with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3).  It is the new man, the spirit within us that is quickened by the Holy Spirit and made alive to God, that is raised up with Christ, not our old man who is dead and buried, sin has no power over the spiritual man.

That is our posi­tion as far as sin is con­cerned.  However we are still both flesh and spirit, the Bible tells us to ‘walk’ ‘in the Spirit’ and we will not ‘fulfil the lust of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:16).  Now sin would prefer us to live a reli­gious life by the power of the flesh.  To be religious the flesh needs the law of God to rule over us, however the whole point of the law is to expose sin in our lives then bring us to the place where we realise we are not able to keep the law and we need a Saviour.  Sin loves us to keep under the law; you see, sin gets its ‘strength’ from ‘the law’ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57), ‘but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’, and this victory is our faith.

Faith says we are not under law but under grace; all our sins have been forgiven and re­moved from us, we are dead to sin and alive to God.  Christ has freed us from sin therefore we should mortify the deeds of the body through the Spirit.  Now we should give ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, offering the parts of our body as in­struments of righteousness for His service.  If we do commit sins now, then the blood of Jesus Christ is continually cleansing us from all sins that we commit.

Now a word of warning.  When we are resting in our position in Christ, our walk or conduct needs to be an expression of God’s life in us.  The good works we now do are the ones that God has prepared for us to walk in (see Ephesians 2:10).

The danger to any born again Christian is to listen to the mind of the flesh; the carnal mind is enmity to God.  We are in a conflict between flesh and spirit until Christ returns, therefore we need to mortify the deeds of the body.  The Bible says ‘Let not sin reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey it in the lusts thereof' (Romans 6:12).

If we live after the flesh we will die.  Don’t sow to the flesh.

We should be constantly watching and praying.  We should know that without Christ we can do nothing.  Without Christ we will fail.

Finally when sin is dealt with there is still the bigger matter of ‘self’ to deal with.  That monster that exalts itself, instead of abhorring itself, that boasts in its knowledge and achievements instead of the cross of Christ.

Deny self and take up the cross daily until Jesus returns.  It is natural to justify self, espe­cially when falsely accused, the problem is that this could easily result in exalting self.  In the Bible we read that Job kept himself from sinning until his friends came with accusations and then he naturally justified himself.  When God appeared to him he realised his insig­nificance in comparison to God’s righteousness and said he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes.

God will justify those who believe in Jesus Christ.  We must decrease and Christ must increase in our lives, keeping our eyes off self and onto Jesus Christ.

Above all keep hum­ble and contrite.

 

 



See also "Victory over the besetting sin" for practical advice.


 

Mark Greenwood

Formerly written as 'The Sin Bug' October 2014

Updated as 'Freedom from Sin' August 2020

Special thanks to Keith Cline for his work input and advice.