Do We Have To Sin?

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John says he writes this letter of I John “that you sin NOT” (See I John 2:1).  And goes on to say, “Whosoever abides in Him sins NOT” (See I John 3:6).  This does not mean a believer cannot, or will not sin.  It means a believer need not sin.  The apostle Paul presents this magnificent hope in I Corinthians 10:13 when he dogmatically affirms: “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.  But God is faithful, who will not suffer (permit) you to be tempted above that (which) you are able (to bear), but will with the temptation (at that exact moment in time, simultaneously) also make a way to escape (a GOD-made way of escape, hence a PERFECT way of escape) that you may be able to bear it (bear up under the temptation without sinning).”  Paul agrees with John that a believer need not sin.
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Then why is Paul, of all people, used as an example to prove that a believer cannot be completely delivered from committing sin in this life?  Again, as with John, it is due to a misunderstanding of what Paul wrote in Romans 7.  In the 7th chapter of Romans, beginning with verse 14, Paul wrote these words: “I am carnal, SOLD UNDER SIN, for that which I do, I allow not: for what I would (or should do) that do I not; but what I hate, that do I….Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I FIND NOT” (See Romans 7:14-18).
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Now do you really think this apostle is saying he doesn’t know how to get the victory over sin, because right before penning those words Paul had urged these Roman believers, “Reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin?”  (See Romans 6:11).  And again, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof” (verse 12).  He had just assured them, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (verse 14).  Does he then turn right around and confess that in his own life he found none of this to be true?  How absurd to even think so!
The KEY to a proper understanding of Paul’s clearly defeatist statements in Romans 7 is what Paul says in the 19th verse of Romans 6: “I speak after the manner of men (spiritually defeated men at that) because of the infirmity (weakness) of YOUR flesh.”  Notice, Paul is not speaking of any weakness in his own flesh, but of the weakness of these Roman believers.  Previously Paul had written the believers at Corinth, “I keep under (control) my body, and bring it into subjection (to the Spirit, thus to Jesus Christ and God’s Word)…”  (See I Corinthians 9:27).  Paul hadn’t lost the victory between the time he wrote the Corinthians and the Roman believers.  In writing, “I speak after the manner of men,” Paul was merely saying, “I am going to put myself in your shoes and address this problem from your viewpoint, your perspective, and show you the way to victory – Jesus Christ!
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Putting himself in the place of another in order to address THEIR problem was a tactic used by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.  (See I Corinthians 4:6).  It’s the tactic he uses in Romans 7.  Don’t be thrown by his use of the personal pronoun “I”.
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Approximately six years before writing the Romans, Paul wrote the Thessalonian believers, “You are witnesses, and God also (God Himself will attest to the truthfulness of what Paul is about to write), how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe” (I Thessalonians 2:10).  Did Paul, and his companions, live holy, just and blameless lives among the Thessalonians while being carnal and sold under sin among the Romans?  Of course not!
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Paul told the Galatian believers it pleased God to reveal His Son to them through Paul.  (See Galatians 1:15-16).  Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ” (See I Corinthians 11:1).  Also, in his defense to the believers in Galatia, Paul declared dogmatically, “Christ LIVES IN ME!” (See Galatians 2:20).
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How could Paul seriously and without hypocrisy exhort the Philippian believers to be “blameless, and harmless, and without rebuke” if he, himself, was ever giving in to the pulls of the flesh? (See Philippians 2:15)
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Paul wrote the Corinthians, “I know of nothing against myself” (See I Corinthians 4:4), or, as the New International Version words it, “My conscience is clear.”  Paul knew of NO SIN in his life.  In fact, he wrote that “a bishop (a pastor) must be BLAMELESS, JUST, HOLY” (See Titus 1:7-8).  He wrote similar words to Timothy.  (See I Timothy 3:1-7).  Are we to believe that Paul admitted to the Roman believers that he did not fit these qualifications himself?
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Paul exhorted the Thessalonian believers, and by extension you and me, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (utterly, completely, through-and-through), and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body (the total YOU) be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you (to this continuous walk of holiness), who also WILL DO IT” (See I Thessalonians 5:22-24).
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How could Paul be so sure the Living Lord Jesus Christ would bring these believers to such a continued walk of holiness?  He had done it for Paul, THAT’S WHY!  Let Him do it for you, friend.
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Christ’s Servant (Galatians 1:10),
Donald Wiley
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