Have you ever wondered about sin and why we so often cannot escape it? It is commonly heard that we will never stop sinning, however, the gospel taught in the Bible tells us that we should cease from sin through faith in Jesus. This articles is not meant to make an argument for this fact. Ceasing from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit in us is one of the central themes of KindlingTruth, so there are other articles you can read if you’re interested in that.
Today, I’m thinking about myself. Today, I’m asking the Lord, “why can’t I stop sinning?” As someone who believes that Jesus came to forgive us and to heal us also, I often become frustrated by lingering sin. I’m sure most Christians feel this way also, even if they have been taught that they will always be a sinner. So, I want to share some simple thoughts that might help us get out of a place of stagnant growth.
First, what is the gospel?
To understand the concept of being freed from sin, we first have to understand the fullness of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. This is something I want to write about in-depth, but this is a long-going process because I want to do this well in order to show the fullness of the gospel in a clear way. For now, in very basic terms, the gospel of the kingdom of heaven is that by faith in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus we will be forgiven of our sins and freed from death. What is sin if not death?
Why is it called the gospel of the kingdom of heaven? That is because this faith leads us towards a change of heart so that we are no longer slaves to the kingdom of this world (the kingdom of sin and death), but instead, we are present-day living within the kingdom of heaven. With the Holy Spirit working in us, we have the power to overcome sin in a tangible way as the Lord conforms our inner-self to his image. Of course, it is also a promise to live forever in the kingdom of heaven to come, however, we have to be faithful servants of the kingdom during our present lives first. Many parables of the kingdom show this.
What about grace? The grace of the Lord is a gracious forgiveness, but, it is also the gracious giving of the laws of the kingdom which are written in our hearts. That is why legalistic Christianity does not always work so good. Grace is not an excuse for living in sin. It is freedom from it. Anyhow, I can see myself going off on this subject, so I will reign things back in. 🙂 For further reading, check out:
How do we enter the kingdom of heaven?
With an understanding that the gospel of the kingdom of heaven has a present-day application that promises freedom from the snares of this world and sin, what might be hindering our ability to lay hold of the kingdom? Think about that time Jesus was with his disciples and there were little children gathered around him. What did Jesus say?
Read Matthew 18 and Mark 10. Here are passages from both:
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mark 10: 13-15
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
We have to be converted, which means, to change. We have to change our minds about our sinful natures and know that if we continue therein without Jesus, we will die. Most Christians I think understand this.
We must be humble. That is very important. If we are proud and arrogant, too busy looking at the sins of others instead of our own, or start to see ourselves as something great in the kingdom, we are not humble. Why is humility so important? That’s something I plan to write about in depth later, but for now think about it. If we cannot see how much we need Jesus and how far separated from God our sin makes us, how will we receive him? Does God want prideful people in his kingdom? Consider the downfalls of Satan. Pride leads to rebellion, among other serious sins.
We should not go around offending the little ones who believe in Jesus. Being a Christian is a journey, and we are all in differing stages of growth. If we are too harsh, critical, self-righteous, or otherwise demeaning or oppressive towards believers who might be weaker in the faith, we are at risk of causing their faith to become frail or to fail. Another thought is this:
What about the little ones who believe that by faith they will be freed from all sin? Should we offend them? Most of Christianity today does. Will they enter the kingdom of heaven? Are they being freed from sin in a tangible way, or is their hard heats, lack of faith, pride, and the stumbling blocks they throw at the “little ones” getting in the way? Something to think about.
So, what can we learn from this about our failure to be freed from sin? What can I consider about myself? Do we have a child-like faith that understands that Jesus can and will free us from sin? Are we justifying our sin, or have we converted and repented? Are we truly humble before God, or are we puffed up in our knowledge, wordly wisdom and popularity, vanities, or other prideful tendencies? Are we hateful towards the brethren and risk harming their faith? Do we submit to God as obedient children?
If we are lacking in any of these areas, then there are things keeping us from entering the kingdom of heaven. There are things keeping us from being freed from sin because our hearts are not fully given over to the Lord, Jesus. I hope that makes sense.
What does it mean, you must be born again?
There is another important thing to consider. The only way we can enter the kingdom of heaven and be freed from sin in this present life is Jesus. Through him, we are “born again,” right? What does this mean? We have to be born of the Holy Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit that our natures are changed in the first place. Read John Chapter 3. Below is an excerpt. You can also learn about the Holy Spirit in John Chapters 14-16.
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.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
If we have real faith in Jesus, repent from our sin, and ask to be filled with his Holy Spirit, then when the Lord deems the time is right he will give us his Spirit. I believe we can have differing experiences in this with some reflecting what we see in the book of Acts. However, I also know that any who sincerely believe that Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh has the Holy Spirit speaking to them.
In any case, there is always more we can seek from the Holy Spirit, and we need that seed of the divine nature within our hearts. This is a well of living water that will spring forth into life everlasting, causing us to bring forth fruit of the kingdom. If you’re a new believer or for some other reason are confused about this terminology, feel free to email me or comment below.
The take away here is this: We cannot enter the kingdom of heaven on our own. We cannot forgive ourselves and absolve the wages of sin which is death. We also cannot change our fleshly natures so that we cease from sin by our own ability. All things pertaining to the faith and our salvation are given from God, so if you have faith and struggle with sin, take comfort in this. You are the workmanship of God, and He will cause you to bring forth fruit for the kingdom of heaven.
Forgive and be Forgiven
As Christians, we know that forgiveness of our sins is fundamental. Without the sacrifice of Jesus, we would all be condemned to death because of our sin. However, there is something else here that I don’t hear many teach or talk about. If we want that forgiveness imputed to us fully, we too have to forgive. Why? Hypocrites do not enter the kingdom of heaven, and to be unforgiving is the greatest form of hypocrisy.
I’ve written about this in an article entitled, “The Unforgiving Branch.” Since this is a long article, I will not get into that here. I understand this might cause some confusion, however, so please read this article when you can, and if you still have questions, email me or comment below.
Do Not Be Discouraged
On another note, don’t be discouraged if you are not made free from sin right away. All things are controlled by God, and He will free us according to His perfect will and timing so that He is best glorified and His purposes for other people in your life are fulfilled. There are teachings in the Bible that speak of this. If we seek Jesus, we will find him. If we seek healing, we will get it. We have to be diligent and continue on throughout the course of our lives.
Being free from sin is not a single-moment event—and yet it is. The moment you sincerely submit your life to Jesus, you are free in his eyes. You are forgiven and redeemed. You have the righteousness of the Lord imputed to you so that you can approach God directly through the Son.
However, being made free from sin in a tangible way so we are fruitful for the kingdom of heaven is the lifelong pursuit of a Christian. I don’t expect any of us to be fully perfect until we are raised from the dead and enter into our spiritual bodies. Even so, the way we view sin, grace, and the sacrifice of Jesus is very important.
Real faith in Jesus means we believe in what his sacrifice brings and what Jesus stands for. Real faith brings forth fruit. The unfruitful are cut off from everlasting life regardless of how much God is honored with legalistic obedience or false professions of faith. Only the faith of Abraham is imputed. If that confuses you, comment below or email me.
Why do we struggle to stop sinning? First of all, do we believe that through the ability of Jesus in us we can? Do we understand that we are unable to fight sin alone, and our imputed righteousness means the battle is won and He who is in us is stronger than the world?
Do we want to be free? Do we see the severity of our sin and repent from it instead of taking advantage of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness by continuing in sin and acting like it is no big deal?
Are we humble? Do we love our brethren? Do we sincerely submit ourselves to the Lord? If we do these things and ask Jesus to heal our hearts so that we can turn from sin, he will send his Holy Spirit. He will lead us on a path of transformation. However, if along they way, we become hardened by pride, unforgivness, and unrepentant sin, we have to repent again or else we might find ourselves in a place of stagnant growth.
In any case, all things pertaining to our salvation are given by grace through faith. If we get down and discouraged because of sin, we have to remember that no sinner is too far gone for an all merciful God. God hates sin, but He loves righteousness. And as a righteous God, He is very patient with us and He will lead us onward and upward in the things of the kingdom of heaven.
What about myself? Do I have pride? Hatefulness that might cause others to stumble in the faith? Unforgiveness? Sadly, yes. These things are still in my heart, so I need to continue seeking Jesus to free me. With these dark things growing inside me, the fruits of the Spirit will not flourish as abundantly.
The great news is that Jesus can heal us from all dead things if we have even an ounce of faith, reverence for God, and willingness to submit to Him. So, if your heart is not fit for the kingdom of heaven because of pride, lack of faith, unforgivness, and the deceitfulness of sin, seek Jesus in this first. He alone can prepare our hearts to receive the healing freedom of salvation.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
What is keeping your heart from flourishing in the knowledge of the Lord, Jesus? Today is the day of salvation. Seek the Lord and be free indeed!
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