Never Tell Someone to Stop Sinning
I will never again tell someone to stop sinning; I will however explain sin, declare the condemnation for sin, and proclaim the good news, that Christ blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, and therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no power in preaching behavior modification. The power of God is in the gospel, the greatest motivator to live rightly is faith. "We love, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19 NASB)
For me to say I will never again tell someone to stop sinning is scandalous to many. Just to read those words causes some to cringe. You cannot have victory over sin by stopping from sin; in fact the truth is you can’t stop sinning. The apostle John said; “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 NASB)
So if we cannot have victory over sin by stopping from sin; how then can we have victory over sin? “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25 NASB) The answer is through faith in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.
The passage in Romans 7:14-25 is bothersome to many. Typically this passage will be interpreted one of two ways:
1. Paul is talking about himself prior to conversion.
2. Paul is talking about himself as a believer continuing to struggle with sin.
The two natures that Paul is speaking about here is about one thing, which is faith! Where do you put your faith? Faith in Adam, which is your flesh (yourself), is death; faith in Christ, which is to trust in Him alone, is life. You cannot have victory over sin in Adam, you cannot have victory over sin by stopping from sin; you can have victory over sin through faith in Christ alone.
When you believed in Jesus as the Christ the Son of God, and believed Jesus, that through trusting in Him alone you have eternal life, you were at that moment born again. You have a new nature; you are literally a new creature. Physically the body you have is the same, but you have a new life, a new soul. Eternal life is not an extension of the old life, the old soul that you once had, eternal life is a new soul. “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (1 Corinthians 5:16-17 NASB)
You are a new creature, you are a new born babe in Christ, and as a new born baby you are learning to walk in this newness of life which is faith. Just as new born human babies do, when learning how to walk we fall down, in fact when you first begin to learn to walk in faith we fall down a great deal; but overtime as we mature in this new life of faith we fall down less and less. Not only do we begin to walk without falling, we learn how to run, and not only to run, but to mount up with wings like eagles; remember you are a new creature in Christ “the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
“Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:30 NASB)
In the aforementioned passage of Romans 7:14-25 Paul uses the example of Coveting, I will keep with that in this exposition; as a new creature in Christ you are dead to sin, sin has no authority over you. The problem is for many, instead of walking by faith they are walking in the oldness of the letter of the law. Paul said; “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
Let’s use an exaggerated example; your neighbor drives home in a brand new McLaren 12c, and you know that the price tag on this particular vehicle is $300k. You may be tempted to covet, after all it is a very nice vehicle, and besides where did he get the money for such a car? Temptation is not sin, but what you do with that temptation to sin is a different story all together; we will look at the two ways you could respond to this temptation to covet your neighbor’s car.
1. You see this new car your neighbor has; you have this temptation to covet. You know the law that says, “You shall not covet.” You do not want to disobey the law of God that says, “You shall not covet.” You agree that the law is good, so you tell yourself “I will not covet my neighbor’s car.” But the more you tell yourself this, the more you become focused on the objects of your coveting, and before you know it, “I am doing the very thing I hate.” How did this happen? You agree with the law that it is good, you do not want to covet, but you wind up doing the very thing you hate, coveting. Pay attention here; listen to what you said to yourself, “I will not covet my neighbor’s car.” I will not, your faith is in your flesh and your own abilities to resist sin. Adam’s nature is sinful, so if you are trusting in your flesh (yourself) to resist temptation, what is the outcome going to be? Sin!
2. You see this new car your neighbor has; you have this temptation to covet. You ignore the temptation; this is so contrary to how we deal with things in the flesh; “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11 NASB) As a new creature in Christ you are dead to sin, sin has no authority over you; all your sins are done away with in Christ so ignore this temptation and turn to Christ by faith. “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6 NASB) Ignore the temptation to covet and turn to Christ by faith thinking Him for the blessings He has given you; “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB)
The answer to having victory over sin is not, stop sinning. The answer to having victory over sin is not we and our abilities to resist sin. The answer to having victory over sin is found in Christ Jesus alone and that my friend is what the gospel is all about, it is good news. Never tell someone to stop sinning, but instead tell them to Repent (that is to change their mind) and believe in the gospel. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 7:24-8:1 NASB)
Mike Peek a slave of Jesus Christ