You Don’t Have To Sin (Even When It Feels Like You Will Explode If You Don’t)

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

Comments

  1. says

    I fully agree with what you said about trusting feelings.. Too many times.. we are being told to dictate our lives by what we feel inside about God and not what is true about God… but what we know to be true should dictate how we feel and not the other way around.. What we know should break our hearts, convict us inside.. Now I am not advocating that as christians we should be in the habit of sinning… but Jesus raised the bar for us when we said even our thoughts are guilty of sin(obvious paraphrase). Even if i don't sin physically, I know my thoughts betray me.. and its why i need Jesus every hour..

    • Mark Altrogge says

      You are right Dominick, I once heard it put this way – that faith (in God's word) should be the engine and feelings are the caboose.

  2. says

    Amen.

    No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
    (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

  3. Dominick says

    Amen to all of it.. I struggle with sin and “most” of the time it is a battle of the mind.. (thanks to some unnamed pastrix for ruining that phrase) I am so tired of being told to listen for the whisper of God so you know what to do.. I want what God has said to inform what I must do.. (sorry brief rant)

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Yes Dominick, it’s much easier to read God’s clear and plain word than listen for some whisper in our minds. God’s word is clear and has all we need for life and godliness.

  4. Johanna Russell says

    This is so good! I often say, "Don't let your emotions rule over you or have dominion." We live in a society that says "if it feels good, do it!" What a destructive philosophy. I think instead of following your heart; it should be lead your heart. After all, what is leading our hearts? Something is leading it, but many don't take the time to ask what that "something" is. Thank you for that word Mark! I have to remind myself everyday that we are more than conquerors and truly, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!"

  5. says

    Good luck in trying not to sin. As St. Paul said in Romans 7, "we do what we ought not, and we don't do what we ought" (paraphrased)

    Sin is not like so much doggie-stuff that we either step into, or avoid. It is our condition. We actually need a Savior.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      I totally agree that we do need a Savior. He saves us from all our sins past present and future. But he also does break the power of our sin nature to enslave us to sin and gives us the power to conquer sin. I am not saying that we don't sin. I still sin. But the life of sanctification is a life of becoming more and more conformed to Christ. since Jesus saved me in 1974, I have seen him give me victory over numerous sins that once enslaved me. so yes, I still sin, and I still need to confess my sins and receive forgiveness for my sins, but I also have increasing victory over sins and do not commit all of the same sins I used to.

  6. Dominick says

    Amen.. It is very VERY encouraging to come across brothers like you.. My church has emphasizing hearing from God.. a “power of a whisper” study.. As things of that nature and it’s a blessing to interact with anyone that says “God’s Word is clear and enough”. Thanks again..

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hi Johanna, I am Mark and Stephen is my son and we both write posts. But the blog mainly belongs to him and he graciously lets me make contributions.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Since we are resurrected people, we don’t have to sin. No, that does not mean we are perfect or glorified. However, it does mean that through our regeneration and redemption in Christ, we do have the power to say “No!” to sin. Mark Altrogge outlines some of the biblical reasons why this is true in You Don’t Have to Sin (Even When It Feels Like You Will Explode If You Don’t).   [...]

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