If whatever we do independent of God is considered sin, how do we avoid sin? (see blog “What is the nature of sin?”) How should we live?
Firstly, realize today everything is locked up under sin. “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” (Gal. 3:22 – NIV) The word in Greek for “locked up” has been variously translated as “imprisoned” (ESV), “captured” (ISV), “shut up” (NASB), or “concluded” (KJV) indicating that everything we do, apart from God, is of sin. When Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he gained only the ‘knowledge’ of good and evil and not the ‘ability’ of doing the good. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Rom. 7:18) When we say we have the ability in the flesh, realize that is the very nature of sin. Knowing good and evil is in the realm of God. It is a divine attribute, not a fleshly attribute. When man took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he became like God. “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.’” (Gen. 3:22) Claiming we have the ability is saying we are like God, we can use our own abilities to live a righteous life, we are independent of God and can do things ourselves. So we begin to develop our own sets of what is good and what is evil resulting in human conflicts. We do what we want. That is what Satan did. He wanted to be like God and independent of him. Satan said in his heart (Isa. 14:13), “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isa. 14:13-14) When we say in our hearts that we have the ability to do what is right in our flesh, that is Satanic, that is sin. What we express from our own fleshly nature, apart from the divine nature, is of sin. Today, this is what the world teaches us to do. Our individualism, based on our own opinions, is highly valued. In fact, it has become our standard of morality that, as long as we don’t harm others, whatever we do is ‘moral’. We now hold in great value our own determinations, our own judgments, of what is good and evil. Our government is no longer of God, but of ourselves. We now say we have the ability to follow our knowledge of good and evil. That is why the “Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin” (Gal. 3:22 – NIV). “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19) So how do Christians separate themselves from sin? How are we going to be rescued out of the present evil age?
The only way is by believing in Christ. “The Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God the Father.” (Gal. 1:3-4) By believing in him, He has not only accomplished redemption for our sin(s), but the Lord Jesus Christ comes into our being as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) to give us the ability. He brings the very divine nature that not only has the ability to do what is right, but is the nature of righteousness, into us. The divine being was made sin, who knew no sin, so that when he lives his life out of us, who are of the flesh, his divine nature is expressed, giving us that ability to do the right. That is why, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Our expression of him becomes the evidence of the righteousness of God.
This is the highest calling. This is the highest purpose of man. We are the expression of the divine nature. We are to be transformed into the image of God. We are here to manifest and show to this world the invisible God. That is why we were created.
Today we have “reckon” (KJV) or “consider [ourselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:11) To “reckon” ourselves is purely a passive activity. Just consider yourselves dead to sin. Christ has died on the cross already. He has defeated sin and made it powerless and of no effect. So when we are in Christ, consider ourselves to be the same – dead to sin. The divine nature within us, Christ living within, provides this reality. It transforms us. “Consider [ourselves]…alive to God.” (Rom.6:11) It transfers us to the realm of the divine. Christ has brought us to God. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3:18-19) We, who have been imprisoned by sin, have through Christ, been put to death in the flesh and made alive in our spirits by his Spirit who is now living within us. We have been transferred into the kingdom of the Son – into the reality of what the Son has done – putting to death in the flesh and making alive in the spirit. “For he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (Col. 1:3) In this kingdom, God has finally found a dwelling place. It is in us. That is why we are the temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19), with Christ being the first temple (John 2:3). “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (Rev. 21:3-4) Our inability to do what is right, resulting in the punishment of death, is finally over. “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) We are finally alive in the Spirit. God has finally established his “tabernacle… among men” (Rev 21:3 – NASB; John 1:14 – YLT, Recovery Version) – his dwelling within men. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) God is making his home in us.
When God makes his home in us, we no longer live by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — we live by the tree of life. We now live by Christ who is dwelling inside of us. We gain the ability to follow our conscience by realizing the Christ that is in us. Our decision making is no longer independent of God, as we maintain, not only our conscience, but the peace of God within us. Maintaining this peace keeps open the communication between God and us, keeping us in constant fellowship with him, so that every moment by moment, the God of peace is guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is how we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phi. 2:12-13) When we let God make the decisions with us, we will finally have holiness. Holiness is an intrinsic state of our being that comes from God. It is thinking like God. When this happens we will behave like Christ. We forgive and forbear each other, so that our conflicts and differences are no longer important to us. Instead we solve our problems based on the wisdom of Christ. We are happy with what we have, and are contented in whatever situation we find ourselves in. (Phi. 4:11-13) We will try our best with the dear ones God has placed us with so they may be saved from themselves and from this world that is full of afflictions. This is how his church is being built. This is building the Body of Christ. We allow Christ to be the lead to head up all things in himself, unifying heaven and earth. That fulfills God’s original purpose for creating man. “Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to head up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph. 1:9-10) So in the fullness of time, Christ is all and in all. That is “Why?”