Several years ago I was in a Bible study group that discussed the possibility of living with out committing sin. I don’t remember the final decision of the group, or if we even had one. But I do recall some of the discussions, and it has stayed with me over the years. Is it possible for a Christian to live with out sinning? Let’s take a look and see.
Someone once said that, “Sin is what you do that I don’t do.” Most Christians think they have a pretty good idea of what constitutes sin. Most of this is based on the teaching of their denomination. Some old time Pentecostals were raised with the teaching that if you went to a movie theater you were going to burn hell for that sin. I'm serious! This used to be the teaching. Or that playing cards was sin. I could go on. These two examples show that first we need to define sin. Movie theaters and cards are not, in and of themselves, sin. Many people received Jesus when they went to a theater to see “The Passion of the Christ.” Playing Old Maid with your grandchild is not, as far as I can tell, a sin. There are times when movies and cards could be sinful, but they are not the sin.
I am also going to say that this is not a discussion about perfection. Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) said “To err is human.” There is a difference between making a mistake and committing a sin. For example, Jesus was born as a human newborn baby. He learned to walk. Did He ever fall as He was learning? I wasn’t there so I'm not going to say one way or another. But that is part of being “fully human.” Smashing you finger with a hammer is not a sin; it is a mistake. How you react to that mistake may be a sin. I have found many places in the Bible where Jesus is described as being “without blemish,” “guileless,” “free from sin” and “perfect.” Sorry, I did find some translations that used this description for Jesus, but the original Greek word means either “complete” or “without guilt.” I am NOT trying to belittle Jesus’ Godhood. He is fully God. I am pointing out that He is also fully man. I am simply trying to point out that erring or making a mistake is not sin. Jesus never sinned, period. That is without question. Jesus, born of woman and the Holy Spirit, did not inherit Sin. Period. That is also without question.
So what is sin, and can we live without it?
Sin is a lack of obedience. There are a number of specific behaviors that are listed in the Bible as sin. The apostle Paul even goes so far as to say that people who practice these behaviors will not go to heaven. I'm not going to list them here because they all boil down to obedience.
We live in a world filled with sinfulness. We are tempted and tried on all sides. There are times when it is impossible not to see and hear things that we know are vile.
Is it possible to live in today’s modern, post-Christian world without compromising? Christians today can live without compromising. Like with the hammer and the smashed finger, it’s how you react to the temptation that causes it to be sin. Jesus was tempted. We know of three times Satan tried to get the Master to fall. How many more times though out His 33-plus years did He encounter something that could have led Him into sin? He grew up as a normal, human male.
Do you expect me to believe that He was never tempted? I will believe that He never fell into sin because of that temptation. Why? Because He said “I will not sin today.” Maybe not in those words, but it was a conscious choice He made each and every time sin presented itself. The apostle Paul said that he had to beat his body into submission on a daily basis. What was the temptation? We don’t know. But we do know that it was a strong and ongoing temptation.
Paul, whom many people call Super Apostle, dealt with temptation the same way Jesus dealt with temptation. He chose not to sin. Did he make mistakes? Did he occasionally stick his finger with a needle while he was sewing tents? I'm sure he did. After all, Paul was human just like you and me. Did he sin? You know, the Bible really doesn’t say. It’s my guess that after Paul was born again on that road between Jerusalem and Damascus he realized that there was so much at stake that he made a constant, steadfast effort to always say, “I will not sin today.”
I wish I could tell you that I succeed at this. I can say that I am better today than I was yesterday. I can also pray that I will be better at it tomorrow. I will also say that you will never know if it is possible to live with out sin unless you too say, “I will not sin today.” Try it, won't you?