1Jn 5:1-3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
This is a very important principle that we do not want to quickly skim over. As believers, we count it a privilege to submit to our Lord’s commands out of an appreciative, loving, heart realizing all He has done for us. This is a universal truth that applies to all who are saved.
But sad to say, throughout the ages there have been those who have attempted to pervert the grace and righteousness of Christ by using it as a cloak for disobeying their Savior. 1 Pet 2:15-17….
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
We see this same principle addressed in Jude 1:4 concerning the commission of lascivious acts using God’s grace as their excuse …
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a closer look at the error that teaches we can use God’s grace as the basis for allowing sin to dwell in the life of a believer.
John 14:26 Romans 6:1-23 1 Peter 1:22-23 1 Peter 2:15-17
1 John 4:1-3 1 John 5:1-3 Jude 1:4
The longest passage that deals with the subject of sin in the life of one who has been saved by God’s grace is found in Romans 6:1-23….
1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
We are told that God “forbids” (ie by no means, in no way, absolutely not) a Christian to live a lifestyle of sin motivated by the fact that God’s grace will continue to forgive and cover that sin. It only makes sense that this should be forbidden… Why? Because when saved we are now “dead” to sin. How can we then continue to habitually commit sin?
What does it mean to be “dead” to sin? It doesn’t mean “unable to sin” or else this section of scripture makes no sense. It is clear from these verses, it is possible for believers to commit sin and this is why we must be warned against allowing sin to dwell in our lives.
As believers, it is possible for us to commit sin, but we should no longer allow sin to rule and commune in our lives. Why? We have been freed from the bondage of sin and we have been given a new nature which allows us to now live for God. This is what it means to be “dead” to sin ( see more details in vs 6-11)
3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:
Our baptism was an outward, visible evidence of our death to sin and new life in Christ. If we begin to get confused about our relationship to sin and the service of the Lord just remember our baptism. We are dead to sin (buried in the water) and now alive to Christ (raised from the water).
6) 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.
7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here we can see the meaning of being dead to sin… it is like a crucifixion. Our old man (our sin nature that was received at our conception) loved sin, served sin and chose sin. We sinned due to bondage, desire and choice. This was our condition before the Lord saved us. When we were saved, the Lord crucified our flesh with the affections and lusts. (Gals 5:24) The result of this crucifixion of our old man is:
- we would “no longer serve sin”. We now have a new Master whom we serve…. The Lord Jesus Christ.
- we are told that we have been “freed from sin” We no longer under the bonds of sin, we are now the servant of our Lord.
- we are told that we now “live with Him” – Our life is now lived to follow His example and by doing so, please Him.
- we are told that death no longer has “dominion over him” We now can look forward to an eternity where we will possess glorified bodies and be in His presence eternally.
We are told that because of the above we are to … “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God”. Although, it is still possible for a Christian to sin, we are to not allow sin to dwell within us. We are dead to sin and alive to God!
12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13) Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.
Because the Lord has graciously intervened in our lives, we are to no longer allow sin to control our lives and dwell within our beings. We are not to submit to our fleshly lusts…. We have been freed from their bondage! We are to actively choose and submit to the Lord’s desires, laws and commands for our lives and not submit ourselves to sin.
We have been purchased by Christ, we are to glorify Him in our lives. (1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 Pet 1:16-23)
14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Is Paul teaching us that we no longer are to allow sin to have dominion over our being is because the law no longer has a role to play in our lives?
If we take these verses in context, we can clearly see that this is not Paul’s meaning. What then is meant by the phrase “ye are not under the law”. In verse 14 we read that To not be under the law is clearly linked to the concept of sin no longer having dominion over us (being dead to sin).
For those who are dead to sin, a result of being saved by God’s grace, they are:
- no longer under the penalty of the law (Christ has paid that penalty)
- they no longer must labor to keep the law as a necessity for salvation (Christ’s work has gain their salvation past, present and future.)
It is in these senses that the believer is no longer “under” (slaves to) the law.
Please remember, sin is defined in God’s Word as “a transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). For us to understand sin and to avoid sin, we must be familiar with the law of God and apply it to our lives. If we ignore His commands and simply live our lives in total disregard to His law, we will be allowing sin in our lives at every turn. We saw this clearly in part 2 of this study. So, clearly, based upon context, we are to avoid “transgressing the law” (sin) by living with a full knowledge and application of God’s commands for our lives.
16) 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?
17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19) I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20) For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21) What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death.
22) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Paul now emphasizes the need to watch our lives and to not allow sin to overtake us. Why? If we find ourselves allowing sin to dwell in our lives, habitually submitting to it, there is a good possibility we have never been saved. Remember, a part of our salvation was becoming “new creatures in Christ” (2 Cor 5:17). A part of this “newness” in Christ is a departure from the bondage of sin and the law. Willful submission to His desires is now a part of our new nature. This is the fruit we are to bear (Phil 1:9-11).
23) For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul, now in summary, clearly explains the radical difference between service to sin and salvation through Christ. The earned result of sin is death (both physical and spiritual). The unearned gift of salvation results in the receipt of eternal life through Christ and His work.
This is why it is so important for each one of us take sin our our lives very seriously. If sin is dwelling in our lives it is a sign we have never been saved. If this is the case, we are headed for spiritual death and separation from the Lord throughout eternity.
For every Christian sin should be abhorred and sickening. When we see it appear in our lives we should approach the throne with shame, humility and regret knowing that we have failed our Lord and it is for this very sin that He died on the cross.
Allow me to address one more misunderstanding that has recently come into existance. Please keep in mind that the importance of the commands and laws of God found in His Word cannot be minimized from the standpoint of the Holy Spirit’s leadership in the lives of Christians. In other words, we cannot say that all we need is the Spirit’s leadership apart from the Word of God to lead and guide us…
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Here we see that the Spirit simply teaches us and calls to our remembrance what Christ has already spoken to us in His Word. The Spirit does not work indenpendently apart from the Word. The Spirit always establishes and works within the confines of God’s Word.
1Pe 1:22-23 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
At our salvation, the Spirit is active applying God’s Word to our lives and bringing us into submission to that Word. It is this same Word that is then active in our lives developing a heart of love and obedience.
1Jn 4:1-3 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
Here we are told to be consistently “trying the spirits” to see whether they are testifying God’s truth or not. How do we do this? By comparing the message of these spirits with the doctrines God has revealed to us in His Word.
Likewise, how are we to “test” whether the Holy Spirit is leading us or if we are misinterpreting the urgings we are experiencing? Once again, we are to compare these urgings with the Word of God. The Spirit will NEVER lead us to go against the principles of the Word. If we are being led to go against God’s laws or desires for us it CANNOT be the Holy Spirit that is leading us. It is a VERY dangerous thing to follow inner “urgings” without testing them with the Scriptures beforehand.
In the preceding verses, we can see that the Holy Spirit ONLY leads a Christian based upon the content of God’s Word. The Spirit’s ministry is to hold up, accentuate and apply the Word for our lives. The Holy Spirit in no way REPLACES the need for the Word for our lives. To say that we no longer need His Word… we will just let the Spirit lead us, is truly a contradiction. The Spirit’s ministry to us is reliant on the laws, commands and desires of God found in His Word.
For those who have been made separate to His service by His wondrous grace….
Let us never fall into Satan’s trap and take sin in our life lightly. We are to never use the gracious eternal righteousness given to us by God as a covering for allowing sin to be taken lightly and continually be indwelling us.
For those who have yet to be separated from the bondage of sin ….
Keep in mind, to be able to serve the Lord and follow His dictates requires God’s intervention in your life. You are still under the bondage of sin and the law. You cannot make yourself pure and righteous, nor can you go good works to merit the receipt of Christ work on your behalf. As the Lord intervenes in your life, you must come before Christ humbly, understanding that you have sinned and those sins have displeased God and separated yourself from Him and willing to turn from your sins to His service.
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