Believers in Jesus Christ don’t have to sin.
Oh but doesn’t it FEEL like we have to at times? Like when you’re tempted to lust. Or when somebody gets in your face and accuses you unjustly. Or when that guy behind you lays on his horn the second the light turns green? Or when your kids do something for the 875,000th time when you’ve told them not to?
How can any human being possibly not sin at times like these? Impure thoughts, rage, worry, envy and other temptations feel so strong they feel like they’re just, well….us. They feel so strong that we have no other choice but to give in to them. Or do we?
When Christ brings us into union with himself, he breaks our union with sin. He performs a spiritual circumcision, a “putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” (Co 2:11) – in other words, he breaks the enslaving power of our sinful nature. It still seeks to exert its desires, but now we’re free from the obligation of giving into those desires. We may FEEL like we have to sin, but we don’t.
We’re also buried with Christ (Co 2:12). We’re to count ourselves dead and buried to sin with Christ. To count ourselves dead to sin means we don’t have to obey its desires.
And with Christ, we’ve been raised to his new resurrection life (Co 2:12). Now the Holy Spirit lives in us, and we have his power to overcome sin, no matter how powerful a temptation feels.
Early on in my Christian life, someone shared this principle with me: Our feelings are a very poor barometer of the truth. God’s word is what is true, not our feelings, no matter how strong they are.
Our feelings might be the truth. But just because our feelings are intense doesn’t mean they’re the truth. Just because lust feels we must give in to it doesn’t mean we actually have to.
Imagine a slave who served a cruel master for years suddenly finds himself freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. One day as he’s walking down the road his blood runs cold when he hears his former owner scream, “Where do you think you’re going? Get back here!”
Feelings of terror and dread flood his soul. Trembling seizes him. His breathing becomes rapid and shallow and everything within him screams he has to obey his former owner.
Then he remembers the truth – he’s no longer a slave. He’s free! He says “I don’t have to obey you anymore – I’ve been freed. You can rage and threaten and squawk all you want but I don’t need to do a single thing you say.”
Remember – our feelings aren’t necessarily the truth. We don’t have to obey them. Jesus has broken the enslaving power of our old sin nature. And the Holy Spirit empowers us to obey God’s commands. (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36