Can A Christian Continue To Live A Life Of Sin?
Augustine, an early Christian theologian, had lived a very sinful life before coming to Christ. After his conversion, he was walking on the road when one of his former girlfriends met him on the street and called out to him, “Augustine, it is I.” Augustine kept walking. However, the lady kept following him, saying, “Augustine, Augustine, it is I.”
Augustine turned around and told her, “Yes, it is I, but not I.” As a follower of Christ, Augustine knew that he was a new person and hence could not live the way he lived in the past.
And this truth is what Romans 6:1-2 teaches all of us: “1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
In other words, true grace not only saves one from the penalty of sin but also breaks sin’s power and thus brings about a positive change in the direction of one’s life. Yes, there are many “who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality” [Jude 4]. They teach that it is possible for Christians to continue living in a pattern of unbroken sin. Their view of God’s grace is often labeled as “cheap grace” [otherwise known as “Easy Believism”]. It is the casual attitude that teaches and acts along these lines: “After all, nobody can be perfect. Everybody sins. If I sin, God will forgive! After all, I do live under grace.” Romans 6:1-2 deals a devastating blow to such sinful thinking!
Paul questions those who think along those lines in this manner in verse 1: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” In other words, Paul asks, “Is it okay for a Christian to keep on sinning so that grace may super-abound?” The very manner of his question requires a “No” answer—which is precisely what he says in the first part of verse 2: “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” It is a very strong negative in the original Greek. It has been translated as “God forbid,” “Of course not,” “By no means,” “No way,” “That’s unthinkable,” etc. Such a thought is inconceivable in the mind of Paul, and so should it be in the mind of every Christian. Why? The answer is given in the second half of this verse “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
The phrase “died to sin” is a key verse in all of the bible that teaches us a valuable truth about holy living. Does this phrase mean that after becoming Christians, we will be sinless? Not at all! The many verses that command us to confess/overcome our sin and pursue holiness prove that Christians occasionally do sin.
So, what does the phrase “died to sin” mean? The phrase refers to a past completed act. Notice “we…died” is in the past tense. At conversion, amongst other things, we were spiritually united with the death of Christ [see Rom 6:3-10]. And the death of Christ was not only for the penalty of sin but also to release us from the power of sin.
Therefore, through our union with his death, sin’s power over us has been broken. Hence, we are no longer under the dominion or lordship of sin [Rom 6:7]. Even though sin still tries to control the believer [notice it is the believer who has died to sin—sin has not died to the believer], unless the believer voluntarily yields to sin, sin cannot control him. The believer does have the power to say “No” to sin’s appeals. We do have a choice.
Titus 2:11-12 teaches us that the saving “grace of God” empowers us to “say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” And since a believer ought to increasingly love holiness and increasingly hate sin, a lifestyle of “continuing in sin” is impossible for the Christian.
Consider the air in a room. It looks fresh and clean, but when it is penetrated by the sunlight, we see that, in reality, it is full of dust and other impurities. In a similar way, as we draw nearer to God and are penetrated by his light, we can see more clearly our own impurities and begin to feel something of the same hatred for sin that God feels. Yet, many often try to minimize the presence of sin and make light of its effects.
A preacher, after preaching strongly on sin, was met by one of the church officers who said, “Pastor, we don’t want you to talk so plainly as you do about sin. Call it a mistake if you will, but do not speak so plainly about sin.” The pastor showed him a small bottle that was clearly marked “Rat Poison.” He said, “Suppose I remove this label and put on some milder label, such as ‘Peppermint Essence,’ don’t you see what might happen? The milder you make the label, the more dangerous you make the poison.”
He was right—Sin cannot be sugar-coated.
“Sin in the life of a Christian is different from sin in the life of someone else,” a lady once said to her pastor. “Yes,” he agreed, “it’s worse.”
Let’s face the fact. True believers cannot have the same casual attitude about sin that unbelievers have. They will constantly feel the weight of their own sin and will long to be rid of it as a result of the Holy Spirit working through the Word in their lives. They will long to be holy. There will be a change in their life.
The Bible says in 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” What Paul presents in Romans 6:1-2 is not the impossibility of a Christian to commit sin—but the impossibility of continuing in a lifestyle dominated by sin.
Just like Augustine, you and I were under sin’s power at one time, but we no longer are—if we truly are God’s children. God sets free those who come to him through Christ from the power of every sin. He sets us free not to do what we want to do—but to do what he wants us to do! He has given us all that is necessary to live a godly life [2 Pet 1:3]. The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God and our prayer to give us victory over sin [Eph 6:17]. We need to believe and yield to God’s truth and thus exhibit a holy life.
If you have never surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus, you need to immediately repent of your sins and trust in what Jesus did on the cross for sins and start following him as the Lord of your life. Then and only then you will have the power to overcome sin. May the Lord help you to do so!