Sin is always an injury. It is polluting in its nature and damning in its effects. When it is finished, it brings forth death (James 1:15).
Every awakened soul longs for deliverance from its dominion. No one can be rescued from its power and guilt, without often feeling a strong desire to have every sinful temper, which has brought him into bondage, completely destroyed. The prayer of his heart is, as Charles Wesley wrote, “Break off the yoke of inbred sin, and fully set my spirit free.”
Some passages look, at first view, as though the continuance of sin in the soul is unavoidable. The first to which we call attention is found in 1 Kings 8:46: “When they sin against you — for there is no one who does not sin.” In the original Hebrew the word that is translated “sin” is in the future tense.
“This tense,” says Bible scholar Moses Stuart, “designates all those shades of meaning, which we express in English by the auxiliaries may, can, must, might, could, should, would,” etc. Thus, Genesis 3:2: “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden.” The term “may eat” is, in the original, in the future tense. This teaches not that every man does actually and necessarily sin, but that everyone is liable to sin. There is a possibility but not a necessity that people should sin. They might sin, or they might not. It expresses a contingency that could not exist if sin were unavoidable. That they might not sin is clearly implied in the declaration that if they did, God would be angry with them and deliver them into the hands of their enemies, so that they should be carried into captivity.
Most of the above remarks will apply to Ecclesiastes 7:20: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” The word “sins” in the original is in the future tense and should also be rendered “may sin.” This passage teaches the doctrine that runs all through the Bible, that we are never secure from the danger of falling. In our best estate, when grace has done the most for us, we have great need to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).
Proverbs 20:9 states, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin.” This passage is intended to reprove the boasting of a self-righteous, conceited Pharisee, who not only claims a goodness he does not possess, but ascribes his fancied purity to himself. If we offer up in fervent desire, and a faith that will not be denied, the prayer of David, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10), who shall say that this prayer will not be answered? God alone is able to purify the soul. It is only by coming to Him in persistent prayer that we can obey the apostle’s direction, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
Job 9:20 states, “Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.” In this chapter, Job discusses the majesty and holiness of God. In v.15, he says, “Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” Before the infinite purity of God, he counted his righteousness as nothing, however, he might lift up his head in the presence of his fellow man. “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”
(Job 1:8). “Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one” (Job 14:4). This text refers to the natural depravity that belongs to everyone that is born into the world – to what is commonly termed original sin. It teaches that all are by nature depraved, not that this depravity cannot be removed by grace.
As a believer in Christ, “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
Are you at the present time saved from sin? You may have been once. That cannot help you now. It only makes your condition still more deplorable, if you are now under the dominion of sin. Seek deliverance at once. Give no quarters. Let every sin die. Salvation from sin can alone secure salvation in heaven.
B.T. ROBERTS is a founder of the Free Methodist Church. This article is condensed from an article Roberts wrote for the May 1860 issue of The Earnest Christian. Some language has been paraphrased for modern readability. Go to fmchr.ch/sinbtr for the original article.
1. Does the Bible teach that Christians still sin regularly?
2. What does it mean to be “saved from sin”?