Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Habitual sin

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well! Because of vacation and kids camp, I took a week or so break from my blog. It was a needed break. I am back and excited about some things that God has spoken into my spirit man. Today, I want to share something with you that I read in Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." This is a very challenging and tough look at habitual sin. There are some things in the article that you may not agree with, but please read the following and allow it to "spur you on" in your pursuit of godliness!

A true child of God cannot continue to habitually live a lifestyle of sin! It is impossible! In fact, if someone claims to be a child of God but continues in a life of sin, it is more than likely that he was never genuinely born again in the first place. You see, the Bible makes it clear that it is simply impossible for a bona fide child of God to continue in a life of sin! Today I want to tell you the reason why this is impossible.

First John 3:6 says, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." Do you see the word "sinneth" used two times in this verse? In both cases, the Greek tense indicates continuous action, which means the verse could be more accurately translated, "He who abides in him does not go on continually, habitually sinning as a way of life; he who continually goes on routinely sinning as a way of life has not seen him, neither known him."

I realize this is a very strong statement, but this is precisely what John said to us in this verse. According to this verse, anyone who continues to live in habitual sin does not know Jesus. It could be that this individual has come close to the Kingdom of God and has even tasted the powers of it. But the fact that he has continued uninterrupted in the practice of sin shows that he has never become a real child of God. The fact that his life never changed demonstrates that his nature was never changed. This is exactly what John wrote in First John 3:6.

John then goes on to tell us, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9). The tense of the word translated "commit" again indicates continuing action, which means the verse could be translated, "Whosoever is born of God simply cannot go on continually sinning." And then John tells us why! John writes, "for his [God's] seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The word "seed" is the Greek word sperma — and yes, it is where we get the word sperm.

According to this phenomenal verse, God injected His own seed into you the day you gave your life to Christ! Just as the sperm of a human father carries the DNA of that father, God's seed — the Word of God — carries the life and nature of God within it. When that divine seed was implanted on the inside of you, it imparted the very nature of God Himself to your spirit.

Peter referred to this miraculous event when he wrote that you are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23). This means the day you got saved, that divine seed came rushing into your spirit, carrying the life and nature of God within it to give you a new nature. Just as a human seed produces a human life, God's divine seed immediately began to produce the life of God inside you.

In Genesis 1, God declared a spiritual law — that every living thing produces after its own kind (vv. 21,24,25): Humans produce humans; horses produce horses; plants produce plants, and so on. This principle is also true in the spiritual realm. The day that God's divine seed was planted in you, that seed transported the very nature of God Himself into your spirit, with the full expectation that His very life and nature would be reproduced on the inside of you. This is why your desires suddenly changed after you were born again. This is also why you felt so badly about sin that previously didn't bother you at all and why you became so driven to possess a holy life. You weren't the same anymore, because you had a new nature. The nature of God Himself had been planted in you!

This is the reason a genuinely born-again person cannot continue habitually in his past sinful patterns. His new nature will drive him to be different, to be holy, to be like God. His born-again spirit will grieve and sorrow if sins are committed, because such actions violate the new nature that has been implanted in his spirit. If a person continues in sin as though nothing happened inside him, then nothing is probably exactly what did happen! More than likely, he was never really born again, for if he had been born again, that new nature of God within him would not permit him to continue living habitually in sin.

What does this mean for you and me? If a person who claims to be born again continues uninterrupted in habitual sin, we can take it as a strong indicator that he has probably never really been born again. This person may have come close to the Kingdom of God; he may have even learned the lingo of the saints. But the fact that his actions are unchanged indicates that his nature has never been changed. If he had really been infused with the divine seed of God, that life- giving seed would have so changed him that he wouldn't be able to continue living as he had lived in the past.

This is why I say that people who claim to know the Lord but whose lives never reflect a change should question if they have ever really been born again. The great preacher, Charles Finney, once remarked that most people who attend church are probably not born again. When asked why he believed this, Finney remarked that it was impossible for true children of God to live in blatant sin as many believers do. Finney made this statement over 100 years ago. As I contemplate the amount of sin that is so prevalent in the Church today, it makes me wonder, How many people who attend church in our own day are not genuinely born again?

  • Could it be that many who claim to know the Lord really aren't born again but instead have only been "enlightened" by coming closer to the Kingdom of God?

  • If someone is really born of God, could he continue to blatantly live in sin, completely unchanged in his actions or attitudes?

  • Doesn't John tell us that it is impossible for a person to continue in habitual sin if God's nature genuinely resides in his heart?

  • Don't you think it is tragic that many people who come to church week after week, assuming they are saved, may not really be saved at all?

First John 3:9 plainly declares that an authentic child of God cannot routinely commit and live in uninterrupted sin. Because he has been "born of God," he is so inwardly changed that it affects him outwardly. He acts differently because he is different. Now God's seed resides in his spirit, and that seed is producing the life of God in him; therefore, he thinks, behaves, and acts like God's child.

On the other hand, if a person's life does not emulate God, perhaps it is an indication that he has never really received God's divine seed into his spirit. If he had been implanted with God's seed, that seed would have caused clear and visible changes in his life.You must remember that in regard to the works of the flesh, Paul said, "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). The word "do" is the Greek word prasso, which means to practice. The Greek expresses the idea of a person who performs these things as a matter of routine. These actions are his ritual, his norm, his pattern of life. It means the verse could be translated, "Those who put these things into practice and who do these things routinely shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."

  • Does your life reveal that your nature has been changed?

  • Or have you continued uninterrupted in your old attitudes and sinful actions since the time you thought you were saved?

  • Does your daily life demonstrate clear evidence of your salvation, or have you just learned the lingo of Christians and how to behave among believers?


Pastor Rusty


Larry Hall said...

Welcome back, Pastor. Your blogs were missed but I'm hoping you were able to unwind a little. Sometimes we don't realize just how much we need a rest until we've been unplugged for a while.

Anonymous said...

Rusty, thank you for your post. Although I am reading your words more than a year past the post date, I find them discussing a topic I have recently been struggling to understand fully. That topic is "sin after becoming a Christian". I to have read through the verses in 1 John, chapter 3 and have been studying the Greek words along with reading commentary regarding the meaning of the verses. I am not convinced that the tense that translates "sin" to mean continuous sin can be regarded to mean habitual sin. To me this seams like a stretch. Instead, could the verse truly mean that a Christian cannot continue to sin, period? This to may seem like a stretch, but what I mean is once a person becomes a believer they are freed from the law, and since they are no longer bound to the law and the judgment that it brings, a believer can no longer break that law (not that it matters to the believer anyway because they are now living by the spirit and only desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord!). My current study is leaning me towards interpreting the Bible to be saying that in fact once a person becomes a Christian and receives the Holy Spirit they cannot sin, period. I also am also not saying that a Christian would no longer do things that the law writes against but that they would now not be considered sin because Christ has freed us from the law. Please don’t misread my post by thinking that I am looking for a way to live a life of selfish desires and also try to label myself a Christian. Instead understand that I am reading my Bible as a student that wants to fully understand its teachings and truths. Thanks, Nathan.