Why Do Christians Continue to Sin? (Pt 1)

Daily Devotional | Day 351

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2, NKJV).

In our current series, we will discuss an issue which touches the core of our Christian calling: Why do Christians continue to sin? While the question appears simple, there are many sides, layers and angles to it. Today’s presentation will be in the form of a preamble. Therefore, we will not examine any Scripture passages yet. Our purpose today is to lay out the nature of the problem we want to discuss. Then, in the subsequent presentations we will examine the Scriptures to find out what the Holy Spirit says about the matter.

As the title suggests, we have taken it for granted that Christians continue to sin. In other words, Christians do not cease from sin once and for all. We are not talking about an insignificant minority of Christians. The overwhelming majority of Christians continues to sin; some to a higher degree, others to a lower degree. That is, some Christians sin more frequently; others, less frequently. Some engage in more serious sins; others engage in less serious sins.

But the bottom line is, they all continue to sin. They sin, not once every few years; no, they sin on a fairly regular basis; this could be hourly, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The interval between one sin and the next is of no significance to this discussion. What concerns us is the fact that Christians continue to sin at all, even long after knowing Jesus. We do not need an expert to tell us what is happening. It is a fact, and we all know it. And the earlier we addressed this state of affairs, the better for us all.

We further must admit that this phenomenon (of non-cessation of sin) is not limited to a particular denomination or religious tradition. Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Calvinists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Mormons, Baptists, name them: they all deal with the problem of repeated sin. This is why we keep confessing our sins. We keep confessing because we keep sinning. If we repented and left the confessed sins in our past, we would not need more rounds of confession, would we? In fact, for most people, their only hope of staying right with God is to keep confessing until their last breath.

But the question is, why do we continue to sin in the first place? The following are some of the common responses to the question:

  1. No one can stop sinning. The Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
  2. If we could stop sinning, there would be no need for Jesus to die for us.
  3. Only Jesus is (or can be) sinless. No other person can live without sinning.
  4. No one is (or can be) perfect. Everyone is flawed. We all make mistakes (i.e. we all sin). It is just by the grace of God that we are saved.
  5. We all have a fallen (sinful) nature. As children of Adam, we will fall from time to time. What is important is to rise when we fall and to do the best we can.
  6. We are a work in progress.
  7. If you believe you can stop sinning, you are trusting in your works for salvation. Salvation is by grace alone and faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone.
  8. Jesus is our righteousness. We are righteous not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus did for usWhat we do does not affect our righteous standing with God.
  9. Even the great people in the Bible all sinned, but God loved them: Moses, David, Sampson, Abraham, Isaiah, Peter and Paul. No one is (or can be) free from sin.

In the next few days, we will scrutinize these issues under the light of the Scriptures. As we do so, our hope is to discover with certainty the main reasons why sin does not cease in the lives of many a Christian. In the meantime, take another look at today’s opening passage from Romans 6:1-2. Do not overthink it. Just look at it intently and ask yourself: What is Paul implying here? We will talk more about it as the series progresses. Until then, remain in the grace of the Lord. Amen.

For further study1 John 3:1-24

Operating in the Power of Your Supernatural Birth

Daily Devotional: Day 196

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his [Jesus’] name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

In life, it is natural to acquire the traits of those who gave birth to you. As a Christian – born of the Spirit, you acquire the traits of the Spirit. Today’s Scripture is about the supernatural power that comes with being born of God. The Bible is careful to point out that we are not born of blood, nor of the will of man. Instead, it says, we are born of God. Because we believed in Jesus and on His Name, God gave us power to become His children. Who you are born of says a lot about your dignity, your excellence, your nobility, your connections, your power, your privileges and your responsibilities.

 With this new birth comes the supernatural power which gives you victory over satan, sin, the world, fear and all the forces of darkness. You are imbued with the Spirit of God to walk on this earth as an offspring of Deity, a true child of God Almighty. You couldn’t wish for a greater power or a greater honor. Thus, you possess in your spirit the traits of your Heavenly Father.

This means God has high expectations of you. He expects you to excel in displaying His character of love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, patience, boldness and righteousness. You need to get rid of the mindset of defeat, the mindset of failure, the mindset of insecurity, and put on the mindset of your divine Father. Your supernatural authority is based on the fact that you are born of the Most High God. You, therefore, need to stop thinking like a weakling. The forces of darkness must fear you.

Because you are born of the Spirit, be determined to appropriate the supernatural power of your supernatural birth. Be determined to walk according to the Father’s purposes for your life outlined in the Holy Scriptures. You need to stop talking yourself out of victory and start talking yourself into the victory of the sons of God. 

You are born of God to display on earth the excellencies of your FatherDon’t take this lightly. It is the highest honor a creature could hope for – to be born of God. First, God created you in His image and likeness. That was glorious enough. But He didn’t stop there. Through faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father has given you a new birth. You couldn’t wish for a better life and a better destiny.

This is why you should be diligent about how you conduct yourself, how you talk, how you dress, how you react to situations, how you behave, the choices you make, the friends you make, the entertainment you participate in, etc. You are created in Christ as an excellent being. You can’t afford to live like someone who isn’t born of God. 

In Christ Jesus, you are no ordinary creature. Change your thinking and your behavior, and conform them to the image of God’s children portrayed in the Scriptures. Embrace your supernatural origin. Experience the difference.

May the Lord grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17). Amen.

For further study: Colossians 1:1-29

Heart Purity in an Impure World

Daily Devotional: Day 186

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8, KJV).

Most people, even if they won’t admit it, care a lot about what others think of them: some to a greater degree, others to a lesser degree. It’s about appearance and perception. What we see on the outside is often the basis for how we evaluate people. Nothing is necessarily wrong with that. The only problem is that things are not always as they seem. Here is where the human heart becomes important. It is possible to appear one way on the outside, but have the very opposite in one’s heart. You can, for example, smile on the outside but be mad in your heart (cf. Psalm 62:4).

 Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day to first work on their heart. He once said, “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:26). He was speaking metaphorically. Jesus noticed, just like today, that some  people put on the appearance of being clean and pure, but their heart is full of filth. Jesus’s message was, and is, to first make one’s heart pure; then, the outside will be pure also.

Consequently, Christianity is a religion of heart purity. It concerns itself with transforming lives by first emphasizing a change of heart. When your heart becomes pure, your behavior will respond accordingly. But, if your heart isn’t transformed, your behavior will show the corresponding symptoms of impurity.

God is pure, and he is attracted to those who are pure in heart. In today’s Scripture reading, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” If your heart is pure, Jesus says you are blessed; you shall see God. This means, without heart purity, no one can see God or spend eternity with Him. As the Psalmist says, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart . . .” (Psalm 24:3-4). 

You can be pure of heart in this impure world. This will involve crucifying the ‘flesh’ and its lusts (Gal 5:24). For the sake of your soul, the sacrifice will be worth it. Heart purity is blessedness. Ask Jesus to help you walk with a pure heart – a heart that is free from lies, envy, deception, sexual immorality, addictions, vindictiveness, hate and corruption. 

May the Lord let His face shine on you today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

 For further study: Mark 7:14-23

Making a Strong Case for Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 152

“And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18: 4, NKJV).

IActs 18, Paul is in Corinth. Here he meets Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, and stays with them. During his stay in Corinth, which lasted eighteen months, Paul spent considerable time with Jews and Gentiles, hoping to bring them to a knowledge of Christ. Today’s passage tells us that Paul reasoned with them every sabbath and persuaded both Jews and Gentiles. I’d like us to focus today’s message on the importance of reasoning and persuasion when we present the Gospel to those who don’t believe in Jesus.  

Contrary to what some suppose, Christianity is a reasonable faith. Therefore, it is not acceptable to tell people to just believe in Jesus and they will be saved. Asking people to abandon their long-held beliefs and practices to follow Jesus is a big deal. People are where they are for a reason; we shouldn’t assume they are stupid. What we need to do is to be able to reason with people, make the effort to understand their point of view, their cultural and religious milieu, as well as their worldview, and meet them at that point; from there we can make the case for Jesus Christ. Learning to reason with non-Christians is as essential as reasoning with believers.

Paul reasoned with people of diverse cultural and religious background: Jews and Greeks. He made the effort to listen to them, understand where they stand, and why they believe what they believe. This is important, because you can’t any meaningful conversation with people if you fail to understand them. You don’t have to agree with them, but it is important to understand their position. Only then can you effectively present the Gospel in a manner that is persuasive and reasonable.

Christianity has a logic of its own, and it’s important to articulate this logic when we converse with those who don’t believe in Christ. We must rely on the Holy Spirit, but this does not mean we should ignore or downplay the value of reasoning. The Holy Spirit is not an unreasonable spirit. Relying on God’s wisdom, the message we present about Christ must be coherent and convincing.

Some Christians feel lost when they are asked tough questions about their own faith. Some even get angry for being asked questions about the very message they want people to believe. This shouldn’t happen. Let’s learn how to effectively engage with unbelievers. Let’s learn a thing or two from Paul’s playbook.

May grace, wisdom and peace be multiplied unto you today! Amen.

For further study: John 4:1-28

Faith in the Unseen Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 143

“Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him [Jesus], you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9, ESV).

Today’s devotional is meant to dovetail yesterday’s message. Recall that yesterday we learned something about how God doesn’t want us to make images and bow down to them. The Father’s desire is for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is spirit and invisible, and He wants us to worship Him that way until the Day we see Him face-to-face.

You also will notice that the Son of God became flesh (visible) to save us from our sins; but after His resurrection, He ascended – body and spirit –  to heaven and didn’t leave us any physical representation of Himself on earth. He promised, however, to be with His Church always, albeit in an invisible manner. He further sent us the Holy Spirit (Who is also invisible). All of this tells us that God wants our worship to be based, not on visible images or some physical representations of Deity, but based rather on faith in the unseen Presence of God. True worship requires this kind of faith –  living faith.

If we base our worship on what we can see, feel, touch and smell, we’re walking by our senses, not by faith. The Word of God says, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV, emphasis added). You probably recall the story of Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. He hardened his heart and insisted that until he could feel, touch and see the risen Christ, he wouldn’t believe He was risen from the dead. Later, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and He upbraided Thomas, saying, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NKJV, emphasis added). The blessing is for those who, without seeing, believe the word of faith. Feeling, seeing, touching, or smelling doesn’t require faith. If the Word of God proclaimed by believers is not enough for a person to have faith, but he demands to see, feel, touch and smell something before he believes, then Christianity isn’t for him.

Based on everything we’ve said so far, today’s opening Scripture makes sense. Look at it again. Peter describes the kind of faith which produces authentic worship. Writing to groups of predominantly Christian neophytes, he states that they have not seen Jesus, yet they love Him. He continues by saying, they do not see Jesus at the present time, yet they believe in Him and are filled with a joy so glorious and inexpressible. This is the meaning of living faith and the meaning of true worship. Therefore, if you need a man-made image or statue of Jesus to help you worship the Lord, you are practicing a different religion not Christianity.

The Father seeks worshipers who will worship Him is spirit and in truth, based on faith in His Word, not ‘faith’ in images and religious objects or articles produced by men. The Bible shows that one does not need to see Jesus (or contemplate any visible man-made images of Jesus) to believe in Him or love Him.  Our faith and our worship should, consequently, be based on an inner conviction produced by the living Word of God that is preached to us. And, when faith is alive, it will produce authentic worship and the fruit of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 14:17). Let’s worship the unseen Lord through living faith.

May the Lord bless and keep you today! Amen.

For further study: John 20:19-31