What if a believer doesn’t overcome a sin?

A reader has asked:

What are your thoughts on if a believer doesn’t ever overcome a sin? Or even desire to overcome it?

If the Spirit of Christ lives in us, it is impossible we should not desire to stop destructive habits.

Check out this verse from Romans:

You are not led by the sinful nature if the Spirit of Christ lives in you.

– Romans 8:9

However, the good news is the burden is not on us to overcome sin.

 

The gospel – the good news – is that Christ has overcome sin for us.

But now, at the end of the ages, Christ has appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

– Hebrews 9:26

Paul agrees, saying we ‘died with Christ’ and that:

Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

– Romans 6:7

Christ set us free. It has nothing to do with us, what we do or don’t do.

Christ did it. We are completely, utterly, free. God does not count our sins against us anymore.

God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.

– 2 Cor 5:19

Before God we stand perfect, holy and righteous before God, because of Christ. We didn’t earn this ourselves by our own actions. God gave us our salvation as a gift.

And this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.

– Eph 2:8

Our right standing before God doesn’t depend on what we do or don’t do. If it did, we would have a part to play in our own righteousness, holiness and redemption.

But we don’t. As the great theologian John Stott says in his master piece The Cross of Christ:

We regret the fact that we have no part to play in our own salvation, so we stumble at the stumbling block of the cross.

God knew we could not attain perfection through obeying the law, so He attained perfection for us and gave us His righteousness as a free gift.

If we are in Christ, we are free.

Utterly, completely, astonishingly free.

This is the good news. This is the gospel!

Paul shouted it from the rooftops:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

– Galatians 5:1

Even Jesus tells us

If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

– John 8:36

Yet people choose to not believe Paul, and not believe Jesus!

It’s as if people want to go back to the law.

It’s as if the gift is too great.

As if we can’t accept salvation as a free gift.

We want to do it ourselves.

This is pride.

This is why Jesus says anyone who has sinned much, loves much. For when we know that Christ has crucified our sin, past present and future, on the cross, all we can do is leap for joy and cry an ocean of tears,  overflowing with thankfulness.

We will never be punished for our sin ever again.

Christ suffered once for all.

It is, when you think about it, breathtaking.

It is actually too good to be true.

This is why so many people have a hard time accepting it.

It’s too good to be true.

But this is the gospel.

As we know, gospel means ‘good news’.

Yet this message – that God has reconciled us to Himself and doesn’t count our sins against us – shouldn’t be called ‘good news’.

That is the greatest understatement of all time!

The gospel of grace isn’t just good news – it’s too good to be true news!

There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death.

– Romans 8:2

If we are in Christ we are free from the law of sin.

We are under grace.

So, to sum up, in answer to the questions, our salvation, righteousness and holiness doesn’t depend on our desire to overcome sin, or our ability to overcome sin – it depends on Christ’s ability to crucify our sin on the cross – and as we know – He did it.

 

Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

It is finished.

Amen!

What do you think? Are you struggling to overcome sin? Or have you been set free from sin, once for all?

Steve Edwards

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27 thoughts on “What if a believer doesn’t overcome a sin?

  1. Thanks for your reply.

    You stated “If the Spirit of Christ lives in us, it is impossible we should not desire to stop destructive habits.”

    So if one doesn’t have desire to overcome sin they don’t have the Spirit?

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  2. This is all good to know, but a person who say they have received salvation and Jesus loves them and wants to live a life of homosexuality without any remorse, don’t have an understanding about salvation.
    The Holy Spirit will tell them this isn’t alright because the Holy Spirit can’t go against the creation and the will of God. Male and female was created to the joined together in marriage. In Gods eyes to men or too women can’t come together in a sexual act and become one . It is against creation. If a man or woman receives CHRIST as savior and tries to enjoys this lifestyle he or she will be most miserable and will leave that lifestyle.

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      • Steve, you wrote ” let God be God and let him judge ” but that goes against Pauls instructions on those in sexual sin.

        1 Corinthians 5:11-13 KJV

        But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

        Not suppose to keep company nor even eat with a brother who is in sexual sin.

        I think the message of grace gets misunderstood how it works in the believers life.

        Romans 6:22 KJV

        But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

        If ones life is not going in that direction grace is not at work.

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      • Rob, Paul is telling the church to approach the subject of a man who ‘claims to be a Christian’ but is living and sleeping with his step mother, which was unnacceptable in their society. To use this verse is to pull a verse out the hat and apply it to a completely different cultural and historical context. But the point is, they were in relationship with the person. Separation would have caused them to mourn and the purpose was for him to see the errors of his ways and to bring him back into the church. I am sure Paul would approach homosexuality in the 21st century with a 21st century philosophy.

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      • Here’s another one that goes against just letting God judge.

        1 Timothy 5:20 KJV

        Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

        Why didn’t Paul just let God judge them sinning elders? He taught to rebuke them before all that others may fear.

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      • Steve, text doesn’t support your position.

        “If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, ”

        It’s a general instruction about them that habitually practice such things. He didn’t mention man sleeping with is step mother, he made a list of things. It wasn’t just against society but against the life of God as well. Plus, your position would prove habitual sin without regard would be a sign of no salvation.

        Ephesians 4:18-20 KJV

        Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;

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      • It isn’t a general instruction. Read the first verse of chapter 5:

        “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning?”

        You are just skimming over the part about going into mourning. Why? Mourning is a deep sadness or grieving.

        No grace preacher teaches that to continue in sexual sin is fine.

        Paul was dealing with a real situation in his culture and time, and we have to deal with real people in our culture and time.

        I think an important lesson from this is that we deal with real situations, and not hypothetical ones. What sin are you dealing with in your life? Deal with that, rather than hypothetical ones. If you are a church leader, and there is someone in your church who is living, as you believe, sinfully, pray to God and decide what to do.

        AS for the word ‘judge’. Paul uses the Greek word ‘kekrika’ which is also translated ‘decided.’ It is not the same word Jesus uses where he says:

        “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” (John 12:48)

        The word here for ‘will judge’ is ‘krinei’.

        God’s judgement and man’s judgement are very different. Paul’s is a decision. God’s judgement is judicial.

        Rob, we absolutely have to be aware of culture context, social context and the original language and its meanings.

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      • While I appreciate your input I will have to respectfully disagree. Yes, he starts off with a specific person but this leads to a general admonishment. Why else would he list drunkard, extortioners, Idolators, railer and covetous? So yes, he starts off specific but gives a general instruction on how to handle “those called to be a brother” who have habitual unrepentant sin.

        Yes, they should have mourned because it’s never pleasant to have to withdrawal from a member who is in these type sins. This is why they were to mourn, to have the person put away from them.

        1 Corinthians 5:2, 9-11 KJV

        And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

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      • Rob, I don’t disagree with any of your scriptures to turn away from wordly lusts and sexual sin – but it’s not about losing salvation – it’s about being healed and lights to the world.

        No one agrees it’s fine to continue in abhorrent sexual acts. But God is the great healer. What Paul is advising is a way to bring him to spiritual wholeness.

        How do we correlate love your enemies with excluding someone from church. It has to be about love. It has to be about relationship.

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      • You said it was referring to someone who “claims to be a christian”. Not sure if that what Paul meant . He did say if one is called a brother indicating this was a member. Provious text proves he was referring to one within:

        1 Corinthians 5:9-10 KJV

        I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. (Those without)

        What is the distinguish for them to know he was only claiming to be a Christian?

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      • 1 Corinthians 5:2, 13 KJV

        And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
        But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person1 Corinthians 5:2, 13 KJV

        And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

        The intent is was to put the wicked person away from them. While it doesn’t mention restoration, I would gather from other texts on the issue from Paul that if person comes to repentance they could be restored to fellowship. If not, they are to be left out for God to deal with.

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      • Rob Paul does mention spiritual restoration. The whole point of ‘handing him over to Satan’ was for the destruction of his flesh (sarkos) so that his spirit (pneuma) might be saved.

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    • The whole world were sinners before Christ came. Everyone failed to live up to God’s moral standards. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

      But when Christ came, he was the end of the law for all who believe. Everyone who puts their faith in Him is justified through that faith, by grace. (Romans 5:1).

      By faith. Not by our own righteous acts. For to God, even those are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6).

      By faith. Through grace.

      None of us deserve it. To God, we are all the same – sinners saved by grace.

      Like

  3. Romans 6:15-16 KJV

    What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

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    • EXactly, Rob. And why do you think Paul was writing this? Because he was accused of preaching licence to sin because he was preaching ‘no condemnation’ for those who are in Christ.

      So people protested: you are giving people licence to sin! To which Paul replied “shall we go on sinning so grace may increase?”

      The point is, if we do go on sinning, grace increases! But does that mean we should? No. Of course not. The whole point of grace is that we are free from condemnation and punishment, which frees us of the desire to sin.

      Once you know you can never be held acountable for your sin, because of Christ, sin loses its power and everything you do is a result of overflowing gratitude to Him.

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      • Do you have a real problem with a person living as a homosexual in your church, or is this just hypothetical? Paul was dealing with a real person and instructed the church to go into ‘mourning’ for him. Mourning and grieving comes from real, heart to heart relationship.

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      • It’s hypothetical, it can apply to any sexual sin. What I am seeing is accepting sexual sin by some on the grace moment. I have serious issue believing this is what grace leads to.

        This is what grace does:

        Titus 2:11-12 KJV

        For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

        Grace at work!

        Like

  4. Can you address the “rebuke them that sin before all” text? You mentioned to let God judge but would not they have to judge to rebuke them that sin?

    Like

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