Why do we sin? The answer is simple: Because we are humans, and we are weak. So would God love us even more if we weren’t weak? Absolutely not. God is flattered when we as Christians follow Him, but what he gets a big kick out of is that we are following Him despite our weakness. If it were not for our weakness, the love we demonstrate when we follow Him wouldn’t be as emphatic. Furthermore, it says in II Corinthians that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Now we can approach our inherent weakness in two ways. We can either appease our weakness and relish in sin or we can give up our weakness to God and be cleansed of our sins. We may be ashamed of our weakness but we must never deny that it exists, for it can work for good or for bad. It can facilitate more sin, or it can facilitate humility. When we acknowledge our inherent weakness, we surrender to the Lord and become humble, and humility opens up more capacity in our spirit for God’s strength.
It has also been said that the more sin one has in his life, the more of an opportunity he has to repent and receive God’s grace. But with this notion comes the inevitable afterthought which Paul inquires of in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Paul is by no means saying that once we are dead to sin we are completely blameless before God. He goes on to say in 7:20: “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” What Paul is saying is that after coming to Christ Jesus we are bound to continue to sin, but we need not fear because it is not because we are yet slaves to sin, but that sin still resides within our mortal coils. We may still get coughs and sore throats from time to time, but we are ultimately in good
health and are cured of a fatal disease which once afflicted us.
But returning now to Paul’s inquiry: Because we are justified in Christ, does this mean that we can go on sinning whenever we want and still receive salvation? The answer is yes, but in doing so we are breaking the greatest commandment, the obedience of which draws us closest to the Lord. In Mark 12:28, one of the teachers of the law asks Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replies: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:30) We are not loving God if we continue to deliberately sin against him and “repent” at our convenience. If we obey this greatest commandment, then although we will continue sinning on accident from time to time, general obedience to God will be a natural byproduct of our love for him. Therefore, this greatest commandment should encompass all our thoughts and deeds and have an imposing presence in our consciences.
Proverbs 1:7 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This is because our fear of God will encourage us to avoid sinning so we will not be condemned. But if we only obey Him out of fear then we are not living in His light. Thus, we should obey Him out of love - because we want to make Him happy. When we pet our cats, we do not do so for fear of them biting and scratching us if we don’t, but because we want to demonstrate our love for them. In the same way, we should obey God out of love, not just fear. We will not be saved on account of how little we sin, but how much we love God and submit our lives to Him.
Imagine for a moment a boy in middle school who has a crush on a girl who doesn’t even know he exists. Now, imagine how flattered he would be if that girl, when passing him in the hallway, smiled at him, said “hi” to him and addressed him by name. In the same way, God has a mad crush on us humans, but many of us don’t even know him. Therefore, His ambition is not to make us fear Him so he can overpower us, but most of all, He wants us to know Him, acknowledge Him, and love Him back with all our hearts.
No matter how much we sin, we can always count on the Lord to forgive us. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out that God is literally offended when we doubt that He forgives us. There is no sin, no matter how great, that He won’t forgive us for, save for blasphemy, and to doubt that He doesn’t have enough love in His heart to forgive us would be an insult to Him. But if we take His grace for granted, however, and persist deliberately in our sinful patterns, we may not be exempting ourselves from receiving his redemption, but we are doing ourselves a monumental disservice by distancing ourselves from Him. We may be forgiven, but we will have to face the inexorable consequences of being distant from Him. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Being forgiven is one thing, but there is nothing more rewarding than being close to the Lord and filled with His holy spirit.
At times I have done things which I was not certain were sinful or not. I used this uncertainty to justify my behavior in case it was in fact sinful, but this attitude made me feel relativistic and distant from God. Ultimately, I decided not to give my behavior the benefit of the doubt and simply abstain. Furthermore, I made a promise to God that I wouldn’t do it, that way its sinfulness would be made clear to me. When I was uncertain that it was sinful, I could feel that Satan was trying to convince me that it wasn’t, and I honestly was not sure. So I felt that if I had promised God that I would not do it, regardless of whether the activity itself was sinful, engaging in it would without a doubt be sinful inasmuch as it would be repudiating a promise I made to God. Therefore, when it comes to activities which we are not certain are sinful or not, it is best to just refrain. Whether or not they are sinful, participation itself would be sinful, as God would see for Himself that we are risking our obedience to Him for the sake of participating in something we do not need to participate in.
We read in the Gospels about how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Now, He was not tempted like we are tempted, which is sporadically and usually mildly. He was subjected to direct and fierce temptation for over a month straight. There is no doubt that Satan put more effort into tempting Jesus than he has with any of us since the dawn of civilization. And there is no doubt that Jesus was, indeed, tempted. Many may dismiss this account on the basis of the fact that Jesus, being the Son of God, put his supernatural faculties to work, but had he done that, he would not have even been tempted and the story would be meaningless. Jesus, being 100 percent human, struggled like all of us, and overcame. The secret to his success does not need to be a secret, because we can confidently venture that Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation on account of his profound love for God the Father.
James 4:7 says: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This does not mean that if we resist temptation once we won’t be tempted again. But it means that the more of a pattern we make out of resisting it, the more Satan will sense that pattern and in reaction he will either begin to give up on us, or he will be more motivated to make us stumble. If he gives up on us, we may grow too accustomed to it and be unprepared for his return, but we can also use that freedom to prepare ourselves more. If he becomes more motivated to make us stumble, we can use his temptation as a tool to develop perseverance. James 1:12 says: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” The key word is “love.” The more we of it we have and render to God Almighty, the more he will coat us with the full armor of the Holy Spirit, that we may use it to stand strong and resolute as true soldiers of Christ
Christian Lee Hartsock, 18, is a screenwriter, videographer, political columnist. His columns have been run in various newspapers, publications and websites including World Magazine, American Daily, Newsmax, Political Vanguard, Renew America, The Berkeley Daily Planet, Conservative Voice, and others. A native of Oakland, California, Chris is currently a student at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film and Video Production. You can visit his website at ChristianHartsock.com and e-mail him at ChrisHartsock86@aol.com.