Free From Sin

by Joe Crews

An Amazing Fact: While under the influence of a light hypnotic trance, a man who submitted to a scientific hypnosis experiment was ordered to pick up a glass from the table. Although he was a strong, athletic type, the man could not budge the glass from its position. His most strenuous exertions could not lift the glass that was light enough for any child to remove.

Why could he not do it? Because the scientists, after placing him in the trance, had told him that it was impossible to pick up the glass. Because his mind was convinced that it could not be done, his body was unable to carry out the command to lift it. What a dramatic demonstration of the fact that no person can really obey commandments he believes are impossible to perform!

Does God Require the Impossible?
It is probably safe to say that the majority of Christians today are resigned to falling short of the moral law. In fact, they are quite satisfied that God doesn't expect them to fulfill that law completely, either in the flesh or in the spirit.

 

The effect of such a teaching is exactly what one would expect-multitudes of emotionally happy but disobedient church members who feel that any concern about keeping the Ten Commandments is nitpicking and legalistic.

What a delusive strategy of Satan! As the inventor of the doctrine, the evil one is simply supporting his ancient accusation that God was asking too much. He accused God of being unfair by requiring something that is impossible.

Think about it for a moment, and the entire scheme begins to make a lot of diabolical sense. Satan knows that sin is the only thing that will keep anyone out of heaven. Since sin is the "transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4), he had to perfect a plan to make people look lightly upon breaking the law and also cause it to appear unobjectionable.

Unfortunately, it is possible to assemble Bible texts that seem to support the doctrine of spiritual imperfection. We are assured that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), that the carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7), and that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). But all the verses about failure, sin, and defeat are in reference to the unregenerate experience of a person. There are literally scores of other texts that describe an opposite experience of total victory and sinless living. In every case they are referring to the Spirit-filled life of a converted, committed child of God.

This distinction must always be recognized in the reading of the Scripture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation. His grace is stronger than all the concentrated forces of evil. Jesus came to save His people from their sins. In the sixth chapter of Romans, Paul utterly devastates the doctrine that a believer should keep on falling into sin.

It is true that provision is made for cleansing in case sin is committed, but God's perfect plan made it possible for man to overcome every sin and to live a life of perfect obedience through Christ. No secret meaning or hidden reservation can be found in the myriad of texts that describe the victorious experience of the born-again child of God. And just because one may not have grown into that fullness of faith which brings constant victory, he should not, therefore, deny the power of God to give such deliverance.

Total Victory Promised
The Spirit of God seemed to anticipate the struggle many would pass through in accepting the biblical assurances of total victory. Consequently the inspired writers were moved to use almost fanatical language in describing the possibilities for overcoming sin. Instead of saying we may be saved, the Bible says we can be saved "to the uttermost" (Hebrews 7:25). Instead of saying we may conquer, it assures that we can be "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37). Instead of being told that we can triumph, we are told that we may "always ... triumph" (2 Corinthians 2:14). Instead of promising whatever we might ask to help us in our spiritual battles, the Bible says He will give us "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). And the verse just prior to that one clearly guarantees that we may "be filled with all the fulness of God" (verse 19).

Admittedly, many of these promises are too vast for our human minds to comprehend fully, but surely they are intended to impress us with the magnitude of God's resources in our behalf. If the language sounds exaggerated, it is only because we are too feeble in faith and too weak in the flesh to believe that such purity and sanctification could ever be fulfilled in us. We tend to trust our feelings more quickly than the Word of God.

Is it important to believe the promises exactly as they read? Yes, because it is only through those promises that deliverance can be accomplished. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

The sequence of victory is plainly marked out in this fantastic text. By faith in the promise, we become a partaker of the divine nature, and through the power of that new nature in us we are able to escape the corruption of sin. In other words, everything depends on the surrender and commitment of one's self to the indwelling Spirit of Christ. "Without me," Jesus said, "ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Equally important is the inspired comment of Paul: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). That little expression "all things" is the key to victory for every one of us. It includes power over drugs, immorality, appetite, pride, and every act of sin that would rob us of eternal life.

All Things Available
The big point here is that when you get the power of Christ in your life, you have everything else you could ever desire. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). There is that term again-"all things." You will find it also in 2 Peter 1:3: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness ... "

When you put those texts together, an incredible picture emerges. By claiming the presence of Christ in your life, you also receive everything that Christ possesses. Paul described it this way: "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Here the "all things" are broken down into very particular, individualized experiences, and we begin to see that Peter was right in stating that God has given us all things that pertain to godliness.

Every child of Adam needs two things desperately-forgiveness for the past, and power for the future. Redemption includes both of them. The idea that this includes full deliverance from the guilt of sin, but only partial deliverance from the power of sin, is a perversion of the gospel. Jesus did not come to save us from the consequences of sin only, but to save us from the sin itself. Salvation is not a negative thing-not just the absence of something. He did not come just to take away something (our guilt), but to give us something (victory over sin).

After thoughtfully reading the entire sixth chapter of Romans, if you need more assurance that victory can be yours, read the following:

1 Corinthians 15:57-"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 John 5:4-"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

1 John 3:6-"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him."

Let us return for a moment to the analogy of the hypnotized man. He could not physically lift a small glass from the table because his mind was so fully convinced that it couldn't be done. Has Satan been able to immobilize the church through the power of his hypnotic, lying assertion that obedience is impossible? It certainly seems so.

The Overcomers
To deny the possibility of total victory over sin is to rob Jesus of the glory of His mission. He came, the Bible says, to destroy the works of the devil. Those works are the works of sin. If no one claimed His power to overcome sin completely, the devil's accusation would be confirmed. The requirements of God would be exposed as too difficult to obey.

The book of Revelation identifies the crowning characteristic of the redeemed as obedience. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).

How significant it is that man's condition for remaining in Eden is also the condition for being restored to Eden. Anyone who believes obedience is unimportant should read again the dramatic story of Adam and Eve. A tiny, physical act of sin led to all the stark tragedy of the past 6,000 years. Those who are restored to that lost paradise will have demonstrated that they can be trusted with eternal life. Through faithful obedience in the face of death, they will have proven Satan's charges to be utterly false. Their steadfast loyalty will be an eternal guarantee of the security of God's restored dominion.

Right here we need to pause and consider an objection that is always brought against those who believe in total victory.

It goes something like this: If you believe it is possible to live without sinning, are you able to say that your own life is free from sin?

Although the question deserves an answer, it should be pointed out that the objection is not relevant to the issue. If the Bible establishes a truth, it should be received on the grounds of its inspired authority and not on the basis of the messenger's experience. If victory over all sin is possible through Christ, it is true whether the preacher has claimed it or not claimed it. Furthermore, the work of sanctification is a progressive, lifelong experience and can never be considered as finished in any given point of time. Even if one could be unconscious of any known sin, he could never boast of being sinless.

The claim might also be made that the doctrine of victory over sin is highly idealistic and too theologically complicated to be practical. But nothing could be further from the truth. Even a child can understand the simple faith-transaction of appropriating the promises of the Bible. There is not a habit or sin known to man that cannot be conquered through faith.

In the next few minutes you will be able to appreciate the beauty of this divine victory plan. You will learn how to stop smoking, cursing, overeating, gossiping, or committing any other sin. Let nothing distract you as you proceed to the next few paragraphs. It could be the turning point of your life and mean more than all the money in the world.

The Secret of Victory
At the very heart of victory are four simple scriptural steps that any believer may take in claiming God's power. Apply the formula to your own problem, and then take the four steps to glorious victory.

First: "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinth-ians 15:57). Allow your mind to savor the fantastic message of these words. Victory is a gift! We do not earn it by our efforts or deserve it because of any supposed goodness. The victory will be given to us freely by Christ. He is the only one who has ever gained the victory over Satan, and if we ever possess the victory, it must come as a gift from Him.

Mighty power is stored within the promise to be fulfilled for all who claim it in faith. So few are willing to believe that the promised blessing becomes theirs the very moment they believe it!

God is waiting to honor your faith and to "supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). These assurances are so open-ended and unlimited that our minds are staggered by them. Why have we been so reluctant to apply for the provisions of grace? Why is it so hard to believe that God means exactly what He says? He will keep every promise.

Our second text says, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11).

Is it a good thing to ask for victory over tobacco, or any other fleshly or moral evil? Of course it is! So you don't even have to ask if it is God's will! He has already told us in the Bible that it is His will to destroy the works of sin and the devil.

Here is the next question. How do we know we have the victory after we ask Him? Simply because He said we would have it. We know God does not lie. We can believe His promises.

Faith Makes It So
This brings us to the third text, found in Romans 6:11: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The word "reckon" means to believe or to consider it done. The very moment we ask, we should accept the fact of fulfillment, thank Him for the gift, and act with assurance that it has been done. No kind of "proof" feeling or sign should be demanded or expected. The self-fulfilling power in the promise is released in response to faith alone.

Do you remember how Peter walked on the water? He asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat onto the raging sea, and Jesus told Peter to come. But how long did Peter do the impossible by walking on the water? The Bible says, "When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me" (Matthew 14:30).

In spite of Christ's assurance that he could safely walk on the water, Peter began to doubt the word of the Master. That is when he began to sink. As long as he believed the promise of Jesus and acted in faith, he was safe. When he doubted, he sank.

Like Peter, our faith could weaken. We might need to be reminded of our total dependence upon His strength, but this does not diminish the beautiful plan of God to impart power and victory through "exceeding great and precious promises" of the Bible. Without faith by the receiver, not even God's promises can be appropriated. The limits are clearly defined in the words of Jesus, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29).

Now, what is the impossible thing as far as you are concerned? Whatever it is, Christ says, "Come to me. I will give you the victory." As long as you believe that you have been delivered, you will have the victory. It is as simple as that.

For some people the deliverance is so dramatic that they lose even the appetite for the sin. Tobacco addicts have sometimes been delivered from the craving, but this is not the usual way God does it. Usually the desire remains, but in the moment of temptation, the power to walk past the temptation springs forth from within. Faith accepts the fact of deliverance and constantly claims the victory, which is in the secure possession of the believer.

The final step to victory is described in our fourth text, Romans 13:14. "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." So strong is the confidence in the appropriated power of God that no consideration is given to falling under the power of that sin again. Under the old "trying" plan, provision was made to fail in most cases. Cigarettes were placed on a shelf, and the smoker said to himself, "I'm going to try never to smoke again, but if I don't make it, I know where they are." However, under the "trusting" plan, we have no reason to fear failure on the grounds of human weakness. Victory does not depend on our strength, but on God's power. We might fail, but He cannot fail. Cigarettes are thrown away. All plans that might involve any degree of compromise are abandoned.

There it is, friend, in all of its simplicity. It works! If you are willing to be delivered, it works. Nothing will help the one who is not willing to give up the sin. But if you want it, it is there. Victory, power, deliverance-just reach out in faith and it is yours. Believe it and claim it this very moment. God wants you to be free.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been condensed from the book Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning? written by Amazing Facts founder Joe Crews.

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