What Is Sin? How Can We Be Free From Sin?
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- What Is Sin and What Sins Do We Have?
- Why Do People Whose Sins Are Forgiven Still Sin?
- How Can We Shake Off the Shackles of Sin?
In recent years, disasters across the globe have grown in scale. Earthquakes, pestilences, famines, floods, insect plagues have occurred frequently. A lot of brothers and sisters believe that the Lord has returned and they are longing to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. However, there are many who are feeling distressed because of living in sin. Especially when thinking of this Bible verse, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45), they become concerned about being abandoned by the Lord due to frequently sinning. Then why are we still always bound by sin despite having our sins forgiven through our faith in the Lord? How exactly can we escape the bondage of sin? Today, we will fellowship on these questions.
What Is Sin and What Sins Do We Have?
In order to resolve our problem of committing sins, we must first know what sin is and what sins we still have. At the mention of sin, we may very easily think of this verse recorded in the Bible, “Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Like homicide, arson, robbery, theft, idolatry, and so on, these are visible sins which consist of lawlessness. Besides these, there are invisible sins in our thoughts. For example, thesaid, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18–19). He also said, “That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). And the Bible also says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). From these verses we can know that be it behavioral sin or sin within our hearts, all the thoughts and actions that go against God’s words and the truth and that cause us to rebel against and resist God are called sin by God.
Comparing this to ourselves, we will find that we are actually full of sin. For example, once our family do things out of line with our views, we cannot help but get angry at them; when we see other people who are better than us, we feel jealous of them; in things that affect our personal interests, we can’t stop ourselves from lying and deceiving; when others say things that cause us to lose face, we start to feel prejudiced against them and are incapable of practicing tolerance or patience; during times of illness, natural or man-made disasters, tribulations and trials, we blame God for not protecting us. There are many such examples. In short, whether it is behavioral sin or sin in our thoughts, as long as we can still sin and rebel against God, we are unqualified to enter the heavenly kingdom. If we do not resolve these problems quickly, our sinning and resisting God will lead to death. Just as God says, “Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever” (John 8:34–35), “The soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Why Do People Whose Sins Are Forgiven Still Sin?
Why do we still sin involuntarily when we have accepted the Lord’s redemption and had our sins absolved? God has spoken very clearly about this. Let’s read God’s words together. God says, “At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins. Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.” “Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God.”
From God’s words we can understand that in the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption. When we receive the Lord’s salvation, we are absolved of our sins, are no longer subject to the condemnation and punishment of the Law, can pray directly to the Lord, and share in His abundant grace and truth. But the Lord never absolved us of our sinful nature. When the Lord Jesus appeared to carry out His work, He showed people the way of repentance according to their stature. For example, the Lord Jesus required us to confess and repent, love others as ourselves, forgive others seventy times seven times, bear our own cross and follow the Lord, and so on. These are a few rudimentary truths that help us have some change in our behavior. After practicing them, we can only have our external behavior somewhat changed. However, due to Satan’s corruption, our nature has become Satan’s nature and is becoming increasingly arrogant and conceited, crooked and crafty, selfish and contemptible, wicked and greedy, and so on. For example, we always want to compel others to do as we want, and when they act in a way that is at odds with our own ideas, we want to lose our temper—this is being under the control of an arrogant nature. In addition, dominated by our own crafty nature, we tell lies and deceive others in order to protect our own interests. And so on. From all this we can see that without resolving our sinful and corrupt nature, even though our sins have been forgiven, we still involuntarily sin and resist God and that relying on our own willpower and self-restraint is of no use. Just as Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). With this fellowship, I believe we now have some understanding of why we still commit sins despite having our sins forgiven. Then, I will share fellowship on the way to be free from sin.
How Can We Shake Off the Shackles of Sin?
We humans don’t have the ability to overcome sin nor can we resolve the issue of our sinfulness. Thus, the Lord Jesus promised us that He would return to work to purify and save us. Just as the Bible says, “Sowas once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). The Lord Jesus also said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). And also John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth.” From these verses it can be seen that the Lord will return to express many truths, use His words to judge our sins, and enable us to thoroughly cast off the bonds of sin and be cleansed and transformed. If we accept the Lord’s work of judgment when He returns, then we will have hope of resolving our sinful satanic nature.
So how will the returned Lord judge and cleanse people? God’s words say, “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.” “God has many means of perfecting man. He employs all manner of environments to deal with the corrupt disposition of man, and uses various things to lay man bare; in one regard, He deals with man, in another He lays man bare, and in another He reveals man, digging out and revealing the ‘mysteries’ in the depths of man’s heart, and showing man his nature by revealing many of his states. God perfects man through many methods—through revelation, through dealing with man, through man’s refinement, and chastisement—so that man may know that God is practical.”
These words help us understand that in the last days, God expresses a variety of aspects of the truth to do the work of judgment. God exposes our various corrupt dispositions hidden deep within our hearts and our states of disobeying and resisting Him, so that we are able to reflect on and acknowledge our God-resisting satanic nature and generate a heart of regret. Meanwhile, God also tells us His will and points out to us the ways of practice, such as how to be loyal to God, what true obedience to God is, how to revere God and shun evil, how to live out normal humanity, how to achieve a transformation in our life disposition through pursuit, who will be approved and saved by God, and who will be detested and eliminated by God, etc. All those who accept God’s work of judgment of the last days will have some understanding of the wisdom of God’s work, God’s righteous disposition, and God’s intention to save people, and thus develop a heart of reverence for God, start to hate their corruption, and have the resolution to practice the truth and satisfy God. Besides, while God expresses His words to judge us during His work of judgment in the last days, He also prepares a variety of circumstances and events that don’t fit with our notions to prune, deal with, try, and refine us. In these environments, our rebelliousness and defiance will be exposed. Through the revelation of God’s words and the facts, we will come to see ever more clearly the reality of our corruption by Satan, and realize that if we don’t forsake our flesh and practice the truth, we will end up being cursed by God and cast down to hell. Through repeated experiences of God’s work of judgment, whether we act sinfully or reveal the corrupt thoughts in our minds, we will no longer repent in word only and we will no longer rely on ourselves to restrain our behavior, but instead we will be able to, from our heart, truly hate ourselves and become willing to betray ourselves and allow God’s words to become the principles of our actions and words. This way, unbeknownst to us, our life dispositions will undergo a change and we will gradually break away from the depraved condition of sinning in the day and confessing at night, and have some true obedience toward God. From all this we can see that God’s judgment work of the last days through expressing the truth is very practical and is just what we corrupt human beings need and it is also God’s greatest salvation for us.
At this point in our fellowship, we can understand that without experiencing God’s judgment in the last days, we will never truly recognize the truth of our corruption or know God’s righteous disposition and develop a heart of reverence for God, and thus, we will never free ourselves from the bonds of sin. Only by undergoing God’s judgment and cleansing will we have the chance to throw off our corrupt dispositions, and finally be able to revere God and shun evil, become the people who love, obey, and worship God, and live out the likeness of a true human being to glorify and testify God. Only then will we be qualified to enter the heavenly kingdom and receive God’s blessings and promises. Now we know that when the Lord returns, He will express many truths and will use the truth to judge and cleanse us. So at this critical moment of receiving the Lord, we should humbly seek when we hear someone testify that the Lord has returned, has issued the truth and is doing the judgment work. The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). If we focus on hearing God’s voice, we will be able to recognize it from God’s words and welcome the Lord’s return. This way, we will have the opportunity to accept the judgment and purification of Christ of the last days, thoroughly cast off the bonds of sin, and become people who truly submit to and revere God.
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