Salvation Keeps Us from Committing Sins
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6)
Men’s outward lives are usually an expression of their inward state. Therefore, the condition of being free from sin will naturally exclude sin from the outward life. As certain as a pure fountain will send forth a pure stream, from a pure heart there will proceed a holy life. For “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” (Matthew 12:34) and all moral actions flow. Out of the heart, we are told, “are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
But do the Scriptures actually teach that salvation enables us to live without committing sin? There are a few texts in the Old and New Testaments which, when not rightly understood, seem to teach the contrary. One of these is in Solomon’s dedicatory prayer; a parenthesis reading as follows, “For there is no man that sinneth not.” (1 Kings 8:46) A very sensible translation of these words is found in the version of the Old Testament by Isaac Leeser, a Jew. It reads as follows: “If they sin against thee (for there is no man that may not sin).” Here is a beautiful consistency that is wanting in the Common version, which reads as follows: “If they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not).” In the use of the word if, a mere possibility of their sinning is expressed, while a probability remains that they may not sin. But the next clause virtually asserts that there is no if about it, that all men do sin. There is, therefore, a lameness in the translation that must be apparent to all. A direct disagreement between the two parts of the same verse. But as rendered by Leeser the verse is consistent with itself and with the Bible throughout. It does not teach that all men must and do commit sin; but all may sin. [It should also be noted that Solomon spoke this during the old covenant, before the perfect sacrifice of Christ was offered for us (Hebrews 10).]
While all intelligent volitional creatures of God may sin, there is no necessity for any child of God on earth to commit sin. But there are in Christ Jesus abundant supplies of grace whereby all may easily live free from sin.
We will not here take up other texts that are supposed to teach that we must all continue to be sinners in this life. But let us appeal to the Scriptures to find our privileges in Christ. While the Bible draws the true picture of human depravity, the universal sinfulness of our race, aside from the grace of God, it also teaches the all sufficiency of salvation to preserve us from the being and practice of sin. Anything less would not be salvation. “Thou shalt call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus means Savior. If He is not able to save and keep us from all sin He is not correctly named. We are told that Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68-69,72-75)
Salvation in Christ does not leave us to resume the life of sinning in a modified degree, as too many in error teach, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. Nay, the Lord has indeed “visited and redeemed his people”; “delivered us out of the hands of our enemies”; all inward foes that prone the heart to leave the God we love. And the result of this deliverance is that we may “serve [God] without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” And no person can live a life of sinning and holiness at the same time. Jesus has settled this question when he answered that “no man can serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24) And again, “He that committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34) Therefore he is not the servant of the Lord. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18) Therefore he whose life brings forth sin, is a sinner and not a Christian.
To the man that Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda He said, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14) Thirty and eight years this poor man had been bound by a great affliction. Would the Lord Jesus heal and forgive him, and then threaten him with a greater calamity in case he sinned again, if it were impossible to abstain from sinning? This was cruelty instead of a blessing.
To the woman Jesus pardoned of her many sins He said, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) Who but a cruel tyrant would exact of his subjects a thing impossible? But such is not the character of Him that issued the imperative prohibition, “Sin not.”
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says, “I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not… lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already.” (2 Corinthians 12:20-21)
To him, sin in the realm of professed Christianity was a shocking thing. Instead of expecting them to sin, his righteous soul was stirred with holy indignation because many of them had sinned. He bewailed the fact and threatened to come unto them with the scourge of sharp rebukes. He had surely taught them something better than the modern sinnership religion; hence his surprise that “many [had] sinned.” But these words also prove that even in that carnal congregation not all had been guilty of sinning. Therefore, none need to have been.
Hear this solemn blast from the trump of God: “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God; I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34) The man that sins is here represented as being asleep in sin, and ignorant of God; a condition in which it is a shame in the sight of God for any man to be, more especially if professing Christ. He, therefore, that sins is not a Christian; not even awake unto righteousness.
Jesus tells us, “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) Reader do you know why a just person needs no repentance? If not, let David inform you: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord…. They also do no iniquity; they walk in his ways.” (Psalm 119:1,3) The Apostle John also gives you a good reason for the same thing: “Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him neither known him.” (1 John 3:6) No wonder God’s children need no repentance; they do no iniquity; they “sin not.” This is a fact so fundamental in the divine life, that upon it the inspired apostle bases the chief distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil. “He that committeth sin is of the devil”; and “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God. In this, the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.” (1 John 3:8-10) Is not this plain Bible truth? The children of the devil sin. The children of God do not sin; and by these facts each class is made manifest to the eyes of all men. Here is the dividing line between the family of God and the kingdom of Satan. Which side are you on? God authorizes all men to classify you with the world if you commit sin. John repeats again in this epistle in the following positive terms: “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (1 John 5:18)
What can modern teachers—who confess they sin daily in word, thought, and deed—do with these scriptures? Some tell us that he that is born of God cannot avoid sinning because he is in this wicked world. But this saith the Lord: “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” (1 John 5:4) If, therefore, the world overcomes you, you are not born of God. Others tell us that he that is born of God does not sin habitually, or does not commit great, or mortal sins. But over against these theories stand the words of God: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.” Does not sin at all but “keepeth himself.” It is very humiliating for pampered members of the worldly sects to confess they are yet in the devil’s family. But in every attempt to deny that fact while they yet practice sin, the immutable word of God stares them in the face, contradicts their profession, and overthrows their dead hope. Dear reader, we pray you to soberly think of this matter. How can you rest at ease with the word of God directly against you? If it stands, you cannot stand when judged by it in the last day. If you sin, you know just where God classifies you.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” (1 John 2:1) What utter darkness and confusion to suppose John would write these young converts for the purpose of instructing them, in the grace of God, that they sin not, and in the same epistle say, as some imagine he does, “If any man saith he liveth and sinneth not, he is a liar,” etc. Thousands go on consoling themselves with this home-made scripture, living in sin, and yet hope to get to heaven. But salvation makes us free from sin, and puts an end to the business of sinning; and without this salvation your soul is lost forever.