MUST WE SIN?
By Jeff Paton
A THEOLOGY OF SIN
In my experience, I have found that few Christians will put any effort whatsoever in searching the Scriptures for a Biblical answer on this subject. When asked whether we must sin or not, their answer is, “of course we do, we all sin!” But is an argument based upon personal experience a viable substitute for what God says on the subject?
Do we have the right to determine what is Scripturally true by the weight of our own feelings? In the Bible we read about those that carved idols out of wood or stone, and worshipped their own “creation” as if it were the “god” of truth. If we say that Biblical truth is to be determined by our own personal experiences, is this not the same as erecting our own doctrinal “god” who is the creation of our own hands? Instead of saying, “it must be true because this is my experience,” wouldn’t truth be better served if the Bible determined whether our experiences were true, than the other way around? Our concept of the holiness of God determines how we view sin. If God is all love and no justice, sin will not be much of a concern to the believer. But if God is holy, and He is just, He cannot have anything to do with the guilty sinner except for judgment. This is why the atonement of Christ was so necessary to humanity. The horrible suffering and death of Jesus upon the Cross, was because of your sin and mine. Why it becomes so easy for Christians to forget the depth and horribleness of sin, even after knowing the graphic detail of what Jesus has suffered, can only be explained by an astonishingly crass attitude of unbelief and ingratitude! To continue in sin is to have either a low view of what Christ has suffered, or it is tantamount to unbelief in the atonement of Christ!
By reflecting upon the love of God that is revealed to us in the sufferings of Christ, it makes me wonder why we placidly resign ourselves to sin instead of reeling in horror over the slightest occurrence of sin in us! The very sin that one commits is the very thing that put Jesus on the Cross! Sin, that horrible, soul-damning act, is the punctuation mark of unbelief! What is our attitude towards the very thing that has crucified our Lord? Can we love and cherish that which cost Jesus so dearly? Some may say that they dislike sin, yet preach that we cannot be alive without sinning. This, my friends, is a statement of faith and belief in one’s personal experience, and not Scripture! The question we should be asking is whether this belief reflects the God of Scripture, or whether it reflects an imaginary “god” of our own making. The only way to know is to seek and believe what God has to say about it! What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Does the atonement of Christ provide hope for freedom from sinning altogether? Or does the believer receive forgiveness of sins, and only get a partial deliverance from sin itself? What is promised in Scripture, and what is really necessary for the Christian? These questions are essential to ensure that we are worshiping and believing the One True God, and not some “god” of our own invention; one created in man’s own image. Faith in a false “god” will no more save our souls from the torments of hell, than Faith in Santa Claus will deliver you from your sins.
between Sin and the Atonement will be
specifically covered in another section of this series. What will be covered in
this section will be sufficient to answer the question whether a believer has to
sin or not. What we can infer from this is, what God reveals in Scripture
concerning sin and the believer will indicate what He accomplishes through the
atonement of Christ. We do not have to wander in ambiguity over what God wills,
and what God does in the believer concerning deliverance from sin.
We can see God’s will in His establishment of actual and practical
holiness in the believer. God is not cruel in leaving us clueless
about sin and the atonement. We will see that He is clear and unambiguous about
His purpose of holiness in the believer.
What is our concept of God? What is our attitude towards sin? How do the two relate? Do we have “God,” or a “god”? God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:7). “A pungent conviction of sin requires a high conception of God and a pure standard of morals.”1 It is sad to say, but some who claim to know God, still have sins they are not ready to forsake. The Scriptures will assure us that, “No man is justified by faith whose faith does not make him just.”2 The Scriptures tell us that there are those who believe in God, “but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness” (Isa. 59: 2-3). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded; Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up“ (James 4: 8-10). He doesn’t just leave us in our sin, merely changing our eternal destiny from hell to heaven; but He lifts us up! Change happens, but how much change?
It is vitally important to know whether we can live above sin or not, because if sin is unavoidable, it must be excusable; and if sin is avoidable, it is inexcusable. Certainly, God would not condemn anybody for not doing that which is impossible for him or her to do. In order to know whether we can live above sin or not, it would be helpful to find a Biblical understanding of what sin is, especially in the sense of the guilt that condemns an individual.
To know what sin is, it is best to eliminate what sin is not. Sin is not temptation, for Jesus was tempted, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Sin is not being less than God, for this would make God sinful in creating anything less than Himself. To make anything that is less than the absolute perfection of God to be sin, is to make nothing to be sin. It would make the existence of anything other than God to be sin. Sin by “imperfection” would demand that your next breath or heartbeat would condemn you to the eternal flames of hell! This would be absurdly unscriptural, and would make God the Author of sin, and to be worse than the devil! Yet this seems to be the prevailing attitude of what most people make sin out to be. No wonder most Christians throw their hands up in utter hopelessness to even try to live the Christian life!
There are two qualities that must exist in order for something to be a “sin” that condemns a person; knowledge of what is transgressed, (1 Jn. 3:4; Rom. 4:15), and willfulness or choice, (James 4:17; Gen. 2:17). Most definitions of sin involve “missing the mark.” This infers two things; one knows the target, and one has the ability to aim. Sin, rightfully defined, is a willful transgression of a known law of God. Sins of ignorance per se, are not sins in the sense of bringing condemnation upon an individual. We do not punish a child for murder if they think a gun is a toy, and they kill someone. If one knows that killing is wrong, and they choose to kill, it is a sin that brings guilt and condemnation. This should be sufficient information to define “sin” so we can know what the Bible is talking about when it refers to an act of sin.
For more on this subject see: What Is Sin?
The questions arises, to what extent are Christians free not to sin? When we get “Born-Again,” do we just sin a little less than unbelieving sinners? Do we still, “sin in word, thought, and deed, every moment of every day”? Is this the best we can hope for in Christ? This is what the majority of people will tell you. Does the consensus of other people’s experiences dictate what is true concerning spirituality? Unfortunately, most people base much of their spirituality on personal experience, and not upon Scripture.
But what if we are wrong about sin? What I am asking is, are we going to believe what God says about it? If God says a believer does not have to sin, would we stop sinning? What if God said continued sinning would lead us to eternal condemnation and hell? Would we refuse to repent and obey? Or would we deny God’s gracious warning and defiantly persist in sinning, refusing the truth in favor of a fantasy that “God just can’t be that way”? It is astonishing to see how many refuse to believe God in favor of their own “custom-made” god that allows them to have their sin and salvation too! It is extremely short-sighted to believe that God’s attitude towards them is favorable while they refuse to give up their open and obstinate rebellion! It really does not matter what a person believes what God would do, but it does matter what the Bible says He will do.
God’s judgment of sin is transparent and emphatic. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned… when a wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (Ezek. 18:24-28). We can refuse to believe it. We can revise it so it allows for the sin we refuse to repent of; but that does not change the fact of God’s attitude and future judgment for that sin. Many will dodge the obvious with all kinds of theological gymnastics, but their self-delusions will not excuse them at the Judgment. Contrary to what many believe, this does not change God’s mind about sin! Sin has its wages; it always damns, it always separates one from God. It cannot be hid or evaded. “Sin separates the soul from God is the clear teaching of the Bible throughout. In 2 John 8 and 9 we are exhorted to, “Look unto yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son.” “The writer of Hebrews makes crystal-clear the fact that sin separates the soul from the Savior…” “For if we sin [Greek, while we are sinning] willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries… how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10: 26-29). “As long as we are spurning that remedy we have no hope of recovery… but every backslider has the gracious promise of Isa. 55:7; “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” The important point to notice is that those who have received knowledge of the truth have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant may go back to willful sin, in which case they separate themselves from the redeeming grace of the Lord Jesus. To say this refers to those who are not real Christians is to handle the Word of God deceitfully”3 “One voluntary, known and willful transgression, unrepented of, and unforgiven, will prove enough to settle your destiny. The gravity of one sin is seen in that it has produced death on the entire race (Rom. 5:12).4 The attitude of a believer towards sin cannot ever be too serious or strict. We cannot ever find it to be too repulsive, dangerous, and utterly evil, even in its most subtle forms. We must evade it with all of our might in the grace that God gives us to defeat it. If one does not hate what God hates, how can they believe, or have unity with God? This I would say is impossible. “A real knockout blow, however, is handed a sinning religion in John’s Gospel, eighth chapter, verses thirty-four to thirty-six inclusive. Jesus answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever, but the Son abideth ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed .” If this is true, and you commit sin, you are not God’s children but servants of sin, for, “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom. 6:16). You cannot serve sin and righteousness, God and the devil, or heaven and hell, at the same time. The line must be drawn, discrimination made, and we must either be Christians and abstain from sin, or sinners and indulge in sin.”5 Jesus wishes to instill in us a healthy fear. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28). “No man can be neutral. “He that is not with me is against me,” says Jesus; and the very fact that thousands of people are indolent, idle, and indifferent, doing nothing for God, brands them as allies of Satan and children of hell.”6 It is always a persons right to decide what to do with the truth as revealed in Scripture. “Oh, but you say, I do not believe them… and upon what do you base your unbelief, that you are willing to risk the destiny of your immortal soul? Upon what ground do you fly into the face of the plain statements of God’s Word, and wrest the scriptures to your own destruction? As surely as the righteous is rewarded in heaven, just so surely is sin punished in hell.”7
We see where the wages of
sin will lead us, and we see that sin can still be a peril to those that wish to
spurn the grace of God. This fact implies that Christians can keep
from sinning, but what else does the Bible say about sin and the Christian? One
of the plainest statements to whether we can choose to sin or not is the promise
in 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, "No temptation has overtaken you but
such as is common to man: and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of
escape also, that you may be able to endure it." NASB.
We are promised
that God will not allow a temptation to be so strong that we cannot resist it.
Temptation is a test of character where we show forth where our hearts really
are. It will reveal whether we are in Christ or not. In this promise of God’s
help, we are without excuse if we fail. We have God’s word, His promise, that
never, ever, will anything come along that we cannot overcome by His grace!
The apostle John writes in his First Epistle, “My little
children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not.” (Gk, a singular act
of sin.) (2:1). “And if any
man sin” (not “when”). (2:1).., “He that saith, I know
him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in
him.” (2:4). “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is
none occasion of stumbling in him.” (2:10). “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither
known him.” (3:6). “He that
committeth sin is of the devil.” (3: 8). “Whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin;” (3:9). Notice that this does not speak of maturity,
advanced sanctification, education, etc., it speaks of the grace to not
sin occurring at the New-Birth. “Little children, let no man deceive
you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is
righteous.” (3:7). “For
whatsoever is born of God overcommeth the world: and this is the victory that
overcommeth the world, even our faith.” (5:4). “We know that whosoever is
born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the
wicked one toucheth him not.” (5:18). “If we say that we have fellowship
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1:6). John
says point blank that sinning, or walking in the darkness was incompatible with
being a Christian. He says so at least 5 times throughout his First Epistle.
“It is inexcusable ignorance for one to teach, as some do in these days, that no one can live without committing sin every day, or worse yet, that we must sin to keep humble… No man, who is called of God, and has the anointing of the Holy One upon him, will ever preach a sinning religion. The man who preaches a sinning religion has either never been called to the ministry or else is backslidden from his calling and is a traitor to his trust.”8 “The devil has no better representatives in this world than those who advocate a sinning religion; ministers of Satan are they, who pose as the ministers of righteousness, but whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor. 11: 14,15). It is mysterious, indeed, why anyone should contend that sin is a necessary element in making us humble.”9 “Sin never humbled any soul. Who has more sin that Satan? And who is prouder? Did sin make our first parents humble? If it did not, how do our brethren suppose its nature is altered for the better? Who was humbler than Christ? But was he indebted to sin for his humility?”10
Friends, will you believe the Scriptures? Will you believe that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to save us from our sins? (1 Jn. 3:8, Matt. 1:21). That he who sins is of the devil? (1 Jn. 3:9-10). That we are commanded, "Be ye holy, for I am holy"; not, try to be holy? (1 Peter 1:15,16). That John believed this when he wrote, "My little children, I write these things unto you that you may not sin. (Gk. One time!)? (1 Jn. 2:1). Will you believe the Bible when it says, "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."? (Romans 8:13). Do you see that even with inflation, "the wages of sin is death"? (Rom. 6:23). God said that sin always brings death when He told Adam and Eve, "In the day you eat thereof, ye shall surely die!" Or will you choose to be in poor company by siding with the devil, chanting his soul-damning lie, "Surely, you shall not die"? May I remind you, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16). “For sin shall not have dominion over you… (Rom. 6:14). Paul, writing to true believers, Born-Again Christians, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
It is encouraging to know that God is for us! His will is
always to complete His work of righteousness in and through us! We can do so
because "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should
boast." (Eph. 2:8-9). Verse 10 illuminates the context by saying, "For
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them." It is clear that the Christian is empowered to do good
works because Jesus is working them in and through them! Paul establishes that
it has been ordained by God that we are created in Christ Jesus unto
good works! We cannot do this on our own steam, but we can do
it because Christ is working in and though us! Good works will be
produced by the Christian because Christ is working in them to produce them! We
are his workmanship. “For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Knowing this, how
could we ever fail?
Jesus said in John
15:4-6, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am
the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth
forth much fruit: For without me ye can do nothing." Salvation
and fruit bearing are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other. If we
are saved, we must bear fruit because we are in the vine. If we do not produce
good works, it is only evidence that we are not one of His! The works we do are
accomplished from the fact that Christ is working them through us. He is the sap
and energy of our spiritual life. We have a part in this work, but since our
hearts have been changed to do them with a right motive through regeneration,
God generously gives us rewards for
what he produces through us. The continuance in faith, or the works that are a
product of this faith, is not in any way earning salvation through works. There
is no merit is casting ourselves upon the mercy of God as sinners who are
without any hope of earning our salvation.
So many false teachers today preach that “works” and “doing good” are somehow evil things. The “gospel” that they preach is not one of hope and victory over sin, but of defeatism and compromise. It is “another gospel” that has to lower the standard of holiness and salvation down to a unregenerate level so they can try to squeeze themselves into the Kingdom! “It is remarkable to see what extremes people will go in order to avoid the issue, and actually be saved from their sins.”11 To say that we remain carnal after the New-Birth is a denial that Jesus came to save us from our sins. (Matt.1:21). This modern powerless "gospel" is the reason why our churches are filled with people who are Christians in name only. John writes, "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil... In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." (1 Jn. 3:7-10). What part of God’s statement do those that deny it not get? This is “lottery ticket” Christianity! Just because they buy a lottery ticket, they think they are millionaires! But, they have not won! Just because someone professes to be a Christian is no guarantee that they are sure for heaven! When we are born-again we are a new nature, we have been changed. Those who are not changed, and do not adjust their living in accordance to the light that they receive, prove that they have never been born-again, or are at best, apostates. This may sound harsh and cruel, but letting someone slip into hell under our watch is grossly contrary to love!
There is no hope in a “gospel” that says God is too weak to change a person and that the atonement of Christ is a failure. “If a converted man can sin and retain the divine favor, then may not an unconverted man do the same? If not, God is making an unjust distinction, which is contrary to the Word of God (Col. 3:25). One of two things is certain, either God can or He cannot save us from our sins. If He can, then no man can be reconciled to Him until he is thus saved. If he cannot, then we can never be reconciled to Him at all, unless we are reconciled while we are yet in our sins. If this is true, then the whole thing culminates in the fact that the only difference between a sinner and a Christian is that the converted man is a Christian sinner, and the other just a common transgressor. What a travesty on the purpose and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If God cannot save us from all sin, then He has not all power, but if He can and will not, then He tolerates sin in us as a matter of His own choice; and He, instead of we, is responsible for our sins, and that He can save us and yet refuses to do so.”12 If God hates sin, sent Jesus to die for sins, and promises that we can be delivered from sin, yet cannot save us here and now from our sins, shouldn’t we wonder if He has the power at all to get us to heaven?
Why should we come to fear that which God says is good? Why does the thought of obedience strike fear in so many of these preachers and teachers? It really is not Phariseeism that worries them, but that their unscriptural religion would be exposed for what it is; a lie that is in concert with the devil! We do not need men’s opinions about righteousness; we need God’s opinion. I am not ashamed to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14). I do not append the word “legalism” to that which God calls holy. I believe that God, through inspiration, writes to Christians who were already justified, that they should “be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Men will call it legalism; God says it is our reasonable service. God demands that we “be” holy; man will say that we cannot do it. God has done everything possible so make us be holy. God says holiness is indispensable; Men will say holiness is good, but optional; Men preach security in sin; God warns us that security is achieved only by the removal of sin from us.
“Though we might use numerous other Scriptures to show God’s attitude toward sin, and His provision for our deliverance, we will close [with] a very blessed and appropriate benediction from Jude 24, 25, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,” Able to do what? To keep you from falling. Is he? Is He? Is He really able to keep us from falling, or is it all a mistake, or the product of fanatical imagination.”13 I have no doubt that He is able! “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight” (Col. 1:22). The hope of victorious living is not only possible in Christ, but inevitable for the true believer!
There is no such thing in the Scriptures as believers that are “less than overcomers”!
“Dear souls, face the issue. “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1). Are you clear in your experience today? If not, get right with God… No man, as long as he walks in the light, is condemned, but he that refuses light then condemnation is come (Jn. 3:19). “There is no condemnation” says Paul, “to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Why no condemnation? Because there is no guilt. Why no guilt? Because there is no known transgression. They are measuring up to their light.”14
How is your conscience today? Has your love for Christ
wavered and become dry? My friend, “Remember therefore from whence thou art
fallen, and repent, and do the first works;” (Rev. 2:5). “For they that are
after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the
Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace…, for if ye live after the flesh, ye
shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
shall live” (Rom. 8:6-7, 13). “Know ye not, that whom ye yield yourselves
servants to obey, his servants ye are who ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or
of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
My purpose in writing is not to condemn, but to alert and
to save. I wish to give a heavy heart to those whose soul’s are in danger. Not
that they should be sorrowful, but sorrowful
unto repentance and faith; to live in hope and victory! It is a shame that any
soul ends up in hell. However, it is an even greater tragedy when someone wants
to get to heaven and is fooled into trusting they are on their way when they are
not. They made an effort, but believed the doctrines of men instead of the Word
of God. Unfortunately, the carnal doctrine that sin is compatible with a
relationship with God affects the majority of those who call themselves
Christians. The lack of victory remains, because the believing public is
ignorant of the fact that they can succeed. My hope and prayer is that you may
find the blessing of victory over sin, and the resulting close fellowship with
God as you continue to walk in the light with Him. Look to Him, for He has given
you everything that you need to be pleasing to Him.
May you find the glorious blessing and purpose of God’s will for your life, happiness, and salvation in Him.
to righteousness, and sin not
1 Cor. 15:34
Little children, sin not 1 John 2:1
Shall we continue in sin? Romans 6:1, 2
Go, sin no more John 5:14; 1 John 8:11
Stand in awe, sin not Ps. 4:4
He that committeth sin is of the Devil 1 John 3:8
Whosoever is born of God doth not sin 1 John 5:18; 3:9
Jesus came to save from sin Matt. 1:21
Sanctification preserves the spirit, soul, and body 1 Thes. 5:23
Let not sin reign in your bodies Romans 6:12
Sin shall not reign Romans 6:14
The flesh cannot please God/ You are not in the flesh Romans 8:8, 9
Blessed are the pure in heart Matt. 5:8
A pure heart, a clean life Matt. 15:8
Pure heart, pure thoughts Mark 7:21, 22
Cleanse hands, purify hearts James 4:8
Cleanse filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness 2 Cor. 7:1
The blood of Christ purges Heb. 9:14
Put off the old man Eph. 4:20-24
Crucify the old man Romans 6:6
I am crucified with Christ Gal. 2:20
A fountain for sin and uncleanness Zech. 13:1
Cleansing from all sin 1 John 1:7, 9
This doctrine states that holiness is not merely the
reckoning of a believer as righteous, but the actual imparting of the nature of
God to the believer. It suggests that in regeneration, the nature of the
believer is changed from darkness to light. God’s intent is to have a Body of
believers for His own, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). “In whom ye also are
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of
the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11). “For ye
were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of
light. (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and
truth) (Eph. 5:8,9). “But now being made free from sin, and become servants of
God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom.
6:22). Righteousness, holiness, perfection in love, and purity are all held out
as the normal life of the Christian. The constant exhortations to holiness
indicate that the righteousness that God requires is not merely one in some
mystical record book at justification, but one in practice in the believer’s
Paul tells us in Romans, “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). You will notice that the Bible never calls believers “sinners.” They are “saints,” “holy one’s,” they are changed from darkness to light! “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us..,” We “were” “still” or “yet” sinners, infers that we are “no longer” or “still” sinners if we are believers! The description of regenerate believers in Scripture, is consistently described as a definite and uncompromising break with sin!
The impartation of actual righteousness is the true
Biblical righteousness that God exhorts Christians to have!
The Bible, especially the King James Version, uses the term “imputed” or “imputation.” It means to "reckon" to "count," for it is an accounting term.
Many teachers who wish to hold onto a fictional righteousness like to use the archaic “impute” because they can easily pull off a theological bait-and-switch with the truth.
They like to put a meaning upon the word that the Scriptures cannot support. The idea is that our sins are imputed to Christ (a mystical transfer), and His righteousness is imputed to us (by mystical transfer). The popular statement is, “we have the imputed righteousness of Christ.“ It is implied that the pure righteousness of Christ is transferred to the believer, and God cannot see their sins. This is nothing more than a theological absurdity, for the Bible never says that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to anyone! A transfer of “merit or character" is the meaning many force upon it today. A transfer of someone else's merit, or demerit, is not only a logical impossibility, it is a Scriptural impossibility. This is baseless mysticism, pure and simple.
Most modern translations correctly use the terms “reckon” or to “count” in place of the ambiguous “impute” these teachers of mystical transfer like to use. We can be counted righteous as described in Romans 4:3, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Abraham's faith was "counted" for righteousness” (v. 5). Because of the atonement of Christ, we can be forgiven and accounted righteous. Not because there was any “mystical transfer” of Christ's righteousness to us, but because when He has forgiven us, no unrighteousness stands in the way. In the absence of any guilt upon us, we are counted righteous by faith!
For more information on the unscriptural error of mystical imputation, click here.
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1 Systematic Theology, S.J. Gamertsfelder, Evangelical Publishing House, Harrisburg, PA. 1938. Page 399.
A Right Conception Of Sin, Richard
S. Taylor, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO, 1945. Page 57.
3 Security: The False And The True, W.T. Purkiser, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO. 1956. Pages 13-16.
Must We Sin?,
Howard W. Sweeten, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO. Abridged
Edition, no date. Page 50.
5 ibid, page 64.
6 Must We Sin?, Howard W. Sweeten, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO. 1919. Page 14.
7 ibid, page 162-163.
8 Must We Sin?, Howard W. Sweeten, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas City, MO. Abridged Edition, no date. Page 46.
Must We Sin?, Howard W. Sweeten, Nazarene Publishing House, Kansas
Abridged Edition, no date. Page 47.
Works of John Fletcher, Rev.
John Fletcher, Schmul Publishers, Salem, OH. 1974.
11 ibid, page 47.
12 ibid, page 51.
13 ibid, page 63.
15 Steele's Answers, Dr. Daniel Steele, Schmul Publishers, Salem, OH. No Date. Page 25.
16. ibid. page 41.