More On Besetting Sins

Q. I just started to read an article about homosexuals in the rapture. It stated there are sins that some people cannot stop committing. Is that Biblical?? Doesn’t this limit Jesus’ death on the cross? We are commanded to be perfect and holy, Matthew 5:48 and I Peter 1:16. Not that we will ever be perfect in this life but we must strive to live as Christ lived. How can we do this if there is a sin that we cannot stop committing? Why would God ever let us be in bondage to a sin we cannot stop committing. Wouldn’t this guarantee that I am lost forever?

A. The reality is just the opposite of your view. If it was possible for us to stop sinning, we could save ourselves and Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die for us. Colossians 2:13-15 says that He forgave all of our sins, and Hebrews 10:14 says that by His one sacrifice He has made us perfect forever. His death is not limited. On the contrary, it’s limitless.

It’s important to remember that Jesus began his sermon on sinning in Matt. 5 by saying that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees we couldn’t enter the kingdom of Heaven. Then He explained what being righteous really means, angry thoughts are as bad as murder, lustful thoughts are as bad as adultery, etc. He summarized it in verse 48 by saying in effect that we have to be as perfect as God is to make it on our own.

This was not a command to be perfect but an explanation of God’s standards. His purpose was to convince His listeners that they could never meet the standard, and that’s why they needed a savior. Then He went on to tell us not to worry about the things of this world but to seek His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), that we’re not to judge others but focus on our own problems, (Matt. 7:1-5), that whoever asks for salvation will receive it (Matt. 7:7-8), and so on. His death guarantees that you’ll be saved forever.

1 Peter 1:16 is another verse that has to be viewed in context. The word “therefore” that begins the paragraph in which verse 16 is contained is a signal that our efforts to be holy are meant to be a response to something. And sure enough when you go to the beginning of the passage (1 Peter 1: 3-5) you find it’s because you’ve already been given an inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade. Living a holy life, to the extent any of us can, is the way we express our gratitude for having been saved. But nowhere in the passage does it say that we can be sin free.

So it’s God’s righteousness, imputed to us by faith, that saves us, not ours. In gratitude for this we strive to live lives pleasing to Him. But everyone of us continues to sin in one way or another on a daily basis. Some of us have a tendency to think that our sins aren’t as bad as someone else’s, but to God it’s all the same. That’s why we need a Savior.

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