By Steven Chan
1. The Bible declares that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and that the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23; 6:23).
2. For God so loved the world He planned for man to be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom 3:24-26).
3. When one believes God that His Son “Himself bore our sins in His own body” so that “we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Cor 5:21), repent from our sins, confessing Christ as Lord and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), then one has “died to sin” and “freed from sin” (1 Pet 2:24b; Rom 6:1-11).
4. However, it is important to realize that “having died to sin and freed from sin”, one should not “continue in sin”: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom 6:1-2). Our past sins have been forgiven. We need to make every effort not to “continue in sin”: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2).
But if we tried not to “continue in sin” but still stumble occasionally into sin, the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from our sins, if we “continue to walk in the light” of God’s Word and “confess our sins”: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7,9; Psa119:105).
5. We must make every effort to “not let sin to have dominion over us” and to “not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” (Rom 6:14, 12-13). Sin remains a problem in our lives. The Bible exhorts us: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1b). We still need to be aware of the danger of sin. We need to make the effort to “lay aside the weight of sin” – which the Bible warned “so easily entraps us” so that we may stumble and not complete the race of keeping our faith until the end (2 Tim 4:7-8)
6. The Bible warns of the danger of falling into temptation. In the model prayer, Jesus said that we are to pray thus: “do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13). In the Garden of Gethsemane just before He was betrayed, Jesus warned His disciples: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41).
James 1:14-15: ““But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
God has promised deliverance but we must the effort to bear with or resist such temptation and look to God for the way of escape: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:12-13; James 4:7)
The key is to “watch and pray”. But what are we to watch for?
7. We are to watch out for things that will stumble us:
A. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12). Watch out for our hearts that it may not become hardened by sin such that we no longer believe in God and His promises and warnings.
B. “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled… lest there be any fornicator or profane person… found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Heb 12:15-17). There are many possible sources of stumbling our faith.
Important to note that one can “fall short of the grace of God” – in other words, God’s grace would not be able to help you. That can happen when “any root of bitterness” springs up and cause trouble. We need to watch out for any “bitterness” in our hearts – bitterness caused by unkind words or actions by brethren or by others – bitterness caused by lack of appreciation for our efforts – bitterness caused by disappointments in our lives, etc.
Such “bitterness” in one person’s heart can lead to “many becoming defiled”! That’s a scary thought.
Similarly, there is danger posed by “any fornicator and profane person” in the church. If we allow such sins to prevail in the church without any effort to address them, then they would influence others to stumble as well because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor 5:6).
C. We need to also watch out for our desires: “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18)