Can Christians Still Sin?

I was talking with a person who recently professed to be a Christian. He was a bit concerned with a sermon that I preached regarding sex outside of marriage. That wasn’t the entire sermon - that was just the part that he was concerned about. He asked me, “So, you are saying that I can’t be a Christian unless I stop having premarital sex? I’m not going to stop that!” He was not only adamant that he wasn’t going to stop; he also stated that he did not believe God expects that of us.

There are so many opinions and teachings on the Bible that if one looks hard enough, anyone could find a religious belief that fits their lifestyle. That is why it is so important to seek God’s Word and not someone’s opinion or teaching. God’s Word is the final answer and it alone is how we will be judged.

The Bible says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25, NASB). The Apostle Paul is writing to the Galatians and saying that there are two ways to live, one is of the flesh and the other is of the Spirit. Once we have accepted Christ into our lives, we are saying that we believe in Christ and all that He says. Jesus loves all people, but He hates the sin. He wants us to live a pure life that is free from sin. Many people say that we are human and that we cannot live a sin-free life. Paul is not saying that we will never sin; he is saying that we are not to practice sin, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, NASB).

As Christians, when we make mistakes and sin we realize what an awful decision we have made. We realize that sin hurts our relationship with Christ and we repent. A person that practices sin, may ask for forgiveness, but not repent (turn away from the sin). We not only need to ask to be forgiven, but we need to make a conscious decision not to do it again. Dr. Ray L. Doane once told me, “I can be a Christian and live like I want to live.” Before you read too much into that here is what he was saying. When you become a Christian and grow closer to Christ, your desire is to do His will. The things that you once wanted to do are no longer important to you, but the things of Christ are all important. Now, because you are living in the Spirit your desires and wants are of Christ. A mature Christian no longer has a desire to sin; the desire is to live a life like Christ.  In Romans 6:11 Paul says, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Paul says that we can avoid the willingness to sin by walking in the Spirit, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, NASB). As we walk in the Spirit we find that we are empowered by the Spirit to turn from the sinful lusts of the flesh. This power is of God and one that we did not have previously to accepting Christ. People who have not accepted Christ in their life cannot understand how we as Christians do not want to participate in sin.

I will simplify my thoughts with a common saying from a bumper sticker, “God is my co-pilot”. As a new believer, this may be true. As we grow in our faith, we mature to a level of full trust in Christ and God is no longer the co-pilot. As a mature Christian who has grown in a relationship with Him, we turn our life completely over to Him and He becomes the pilot of our life. The bumper sticker should read, “God is my Pilot!” I listen to His direction and instruction for my life.