The Simple Reality of the Christian Life
1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
One of the most painful parts of pastoral ministry, at least for me, is the many people that I have ministered to who believe that they really believe. They believe that they are saved, and they base this belief on an event which took place sometime in their past. At some point they responded in some manner to a message that was presented in the name of the gospel but most likely was missing something. They walked an aisle at church, summer camp, or at some sort of evangelistic rally. Maybe they prayed the sinner’s prayer with a pastor or evangelist; or maybe they were baptized and thus joined a church and with all their heart they believe that they are saved. Yet their life bears no fruit, in fact their life may even be marked by the opposite of spiritual fruit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:19-21.
The scourge of the modern church is the false system of antominianism, the belief that once one is saved one can live anyway they want to. Yet Scripture is so clear that the life of a Christian is not supposed to be marked by unrepentant habitual sin. The Bible tells us that there are four effective reasons why the genuine Christian cannot continue in habitual sin:
1. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the law which they love. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Psalm 119:34 says, “Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with my heart.” Habitual, unrepented sin reveals the ultimate sense of rebellion – living as if there is no law or ignoring what laws do exist.
2. Genuine Christians cannot practice habitual sin because sin is incompatible with the work of Christ. 1 John 3:5 says, “You know that He appeared to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” You see Christ died to make Christians holy, to sanctify us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If a professing Christians is living in habitual and unrepentant sin that contradicts the work of Jesus Christ, which is the work of breaking the dominion of sin in a believer’s life.
3. Genuine Christians cannot habitually sin because Christ came to destroy the works of the arch-sinner Satan. 1 John 3:8 says, “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” The devil is still operating, but he has been defeated, and in Christ we escape the tyranny of Satan. The day will come when all of Satan’s activities will cease, and he will be sent to hell forever. Revelation 20:10 tells us, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
4. Genuine Christians cannot practice habitual unrepentant sin because sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has planted in the new believer a new nature. This is exactly what 1 John 3:9 is saying, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This new nature that we have been given shuns sin and exhibits the habitual character of righteousness which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
The church today is a mess, and this is because for so long, the gospel has not been clearly preached and the result is a people who are convinced they are saved contrary to all the evidence in their lives. The question becomes then: Am I really saved? Or am I enmeshed and enslaved to habitual unrepentant sin? Because according to God’s Word, we cannot claim salvation if we live contrary to God’s Word.