The gospel taught by Christ is simple: that we are saved from our own sin by His actions. This gospel is deep and true, and it is the essence of what being a Christian is all about. Being saved from our own sin is an awesome promise. It is more than just being rescued in the midst of sin, although that is true, but that our sin nature is actually taken away from us by Him. 1 Jn 3 5But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. This is an incredible lifelong challenge, to live in such a way that Christ can do this for us.
The definition of sin is also simple. Ja 4:17 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. This definition shows that sin is intentional. Rather than the act (or omission) itself, it is the contrast between our knowledge and our actions that makes it sin. We are only responsible for the good that we ought to do, not for our accidental actions. In humility, each of the members of this Thursday morning Bible study individually acknowledges that we have sinned by this definition within the last week. As much as we might try not to sin, yet we have.
But the gospel promise of Christ is that we might never do so again. Over and over again, the Bible says it:
Jn 1:29 “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Rom 5:19 through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, all things have become new
Ps 119:11 Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee.
Rom 6 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin
…and in Jesus’ own words: Lk 24:46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and remission of sins will be preached in his name to all nations Although sometimes wrongly translated as “forgiveness,” the Greek word used for “remission” is “aphesis,” a form of freedom meaning “to send off” or “to send away.” Jesus told his disciples, and us, that our sins will be taken away.
But how can this be? How can this sin nature be gone from us? How can we not sin? Scripture gives us the answer to this as well. It happens in two stages.
First, there is our baptism, which our sins are forgiven. This act of washing is symbolic of a much deeper act, the repentance (changing of our mind and character) that leads to forgiveness. Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ 2 Cor 7 1Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Repentance calls the grace of Christ into us, removing from us all of our past sins. At that moment, we become pure and clean. Ps 103:2 2Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. This is a true miracle, that all we have done becomes washed in God’s sight. No matter how wicked our past life, we become justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6 9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? …. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Second and even more powerful, there is the life of Christ living in us. 2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit. With Christ in us (the hope of glory), we are gradually transformed more and more into the same Being. Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. If it is no longer I who lives, if it is Christ living in me, then I simply cannot sin – because Christ is without sin. If we are participating in the divine nature, how can we possibly still be sinners? 1 Jn 3:9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
These are amazing and awesome mysteries. To accept this truth in our own lives requires that we die to self, live as Christ, and believe what the promise says. Mk 11:24 24whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
So if I believe that Christ lives in me so fully as to take over my life, that Christ is so strong in me that I cannot sin, then I must choose every action, every word, and even every thought from that belief. Despite having sinned within this past week, I cannot say or think that I am a “sinner saved by grace.” Doing so negates my belief in the power of Christ in me. Rather, I must believe that I have already received this amazing grace … and the mystery is that it then becomes true.
So we look forward to the day when we get out of the way sufficiently that Christ lives fully in us. In that day, sin is no more in us. May that day be today.