Can a Christian live without sinning?
The question came up in an after-birthday-party discussion with friends. Most would answer a definite no to this question, but I’m not sure the scriptures portray sin to be so powerful. Here are the objections to the thought of living a sinless life. If someone claims they are free from sin, they immediately are criticized as being prideful at best and a liar at worst. When someone defines themself as a meager recipient of grace or a woeful sinner, they are esteemed as a humble soul. Yes, we all were once sinners and are recipients of God’s grace. However, to minimize following Jesus to a life which primarily entails a battle against sin seems a little distorted. So the first question I ask those who feel we cannot live without sin is this. What happened at the cross? Did Jesus die to forgive our sins? If so, then how could He forgive sins before He died?
Numerous passages speak to the transaction which happened in the moment of Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:21, gives the most precise picture of what happened. He says, “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The exchange was not a forgiving of sins, but a change of identities. Jesus the righteous became sin, so we who are sinners could become righteous. Other passages speak to this theme, such as 1 Corinthians 1:30, Galatians 3:13, 1 John 3:5, and Romans 3:25. The infusing of God’s nature into human nature was made possible because of Jesus. If the Spirit of Jesus is now in the consciousness of the believer, should it be easy for one to live free of sin? Absolutely yes!
So why do believers struggle with sin? It goes back to misplaced faith in the power of sin. When we lack the revelation that sin no longer has dominion over us, we will sin. (Romans 6:14) If I believe I am going to fail, my faith will align my behavior to this belief. But if I believe I am righteous, as God’s word says I am, then I will live free from sin.
You and I can live without a constant consciousness of sin. We can live moment by moment in communication with the Holy Spirit, and this ongoing dialogue will keep us from focusing on the avoidance of sinful behavior. John says, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9) Think about that. God’s seed, the Holy Spirit, is always within the believer. One need only to bring their thoughts to Him and yield in obedience to Him to escape the snares of sin. The hardest part of this simple act is believing it works. Isaiah, in his poetic prediction of Jesus’ atoning work, begins with a pivotal question of, “Who has believed our report?” When you believe you are free from the nature of sin, you are taking the first step toward a life liberated from the oppression of guilt and shame.