Living Above Sin
I’m wondering if you could help me out with scriptures and an explanation on how we as Christian can live a life above willful sin. I’m unsure how to witness to people who feel they have to sin.
You have raised a very important question. I¹m glad you asked! Let me divide my answer into sections:
- What do we mean by willful sin?
- Do people have to sin?
- What does it mean to live above willful sin?
- How does one live above willful sin?
Willful sin is any consciously chosen attitude, word, or action that violates either the word of God (Jam. 4:17; 1 John 3:4; 5:17) or our conscience (Rom. 14:23).
Do People Have to Sin? The Bible answers this question plainly. All unsaved men are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:20-22; Eph. 2:1) and cannot stop sinning (Rom. 7:15-23). In stark contrast to the bondage of the sinner, all men who trust in Christ are free from sin¹s control over them (Rom. 6:6-10). As Paul says, “being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22).
In addition to freedom from sin¹s control, 1 Cor. 10:13 promises that God never allows a Christian to be tempted beyond his capacity to resist the temptation through God¹s grace. Therefore, no Christian ever has to sin willfully.
What Does It Mean to Live above Willful Sin? First, it does not mean that a Christian cannot be tempted. There is no level of spiritual maturity that frees us from temptation, for Christ himself was tempted (Mat. 4). Nor does not mean that a Christian cannot choose to sin willfully. No orthodox theologian, Wesleyan or otherwise, has ever claimed that we can reach a level where we are unable to sin willfully.
Second, it does mean Christians do not have to sin willfully. Stated positively, it means that at every decision point in life a Christian can, because of God¹s grace, choose to do right. It means that Christians can live lives characterized by obedience to all the truth of God¹s word that they know. We can walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). We can live lives that are holy, just, and blameless (1 Thess. 2:10). The Bible directly affirms that Zacharias and Elizabeth lived this way (Luke 1:6). Paul testifies that this is the way he lived his life: (2 Cor. 1:12, NASB).
How Does A Christian Live Above Willful Sin? A Christian can live above willful sin only by total dependence upon God¹s grace. This kind of life is the product of:
- loving God totally, for love keeps His commands
- walking in the Spirit, for “If you are walking in the Spirit, you will never fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). (Logically, that means if you ever fulfill the lusts of the flesh, it must have been because you were not walking in the Spirit)
- not making provision for the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 13:14)
- resisting the devil¹s temptations (James 4:7; Jude 1:9)
- fleeing youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22a)
- pursuing “righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22b)
A life free from willful sin is the blood-bought privilege of every child of God. Praise the Lord! Let¹s be diligent to live up to our privileges in grace!