What Does It Mean to Die to Sin?

“Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:2 NLT)

Sin is a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional issue that can easily be misunderstood and/or misrepresented. On some levels it’s very straightforward, but the plot thickens because God alone knows our heart and can know with certainty whether we’ve sinned or not, given the circumstances.

In my mind, as I understand Scripture, we don’t unintentionally or accidentally sin. In the Old Testament there were sins of ignorance or sins of which a person may not even be aware. For example, a person may not know that their shadow passed over the corpse of an animal. So, there were sacrifices that were made to cover all the sin bases.

When Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin, He made it possible for anyone willing to place their trust in Him to have their sin account emptied, wiped clean. Because of Jesus, we stand before God the Father in the robes of Christ’s righteousness, not in the rags of our sinfulness and shame.

Yet, the Bible often warns that sin continues to be an issue for believers. Paul asks the question in Romans 6:1: “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?” Then answers in verse 2: “Of course not!” Peter quotes from Isaiah 53, reminding us that: “He (Jesus) personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” (1 Peter 2:24) John also addresses this theme in 1 John 3:6: “Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know Him or understand who He is.” What’s my point?

Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

Sin is anything we do that violates God’s law, by doing something He says not to do, or not doing something He clearly says to do. Jesus summarized the Law with two commands: Love God and love others. This obviously can go in a lot of directions, so let me try to pull back the proverbial reigns and make some observations that, hopefully, will be helpful.

Being dead to anything implies being separated from it. Death in a spiritual sense means being separated from God and we know that sin separates us from God. Therefore sin = death! Anyone who goes into eternity without having a relationship with Jesus is going to die in their sin and be eternally separated from Him.

It basically boils down to where our heart is. Who owns our heart? Love is the motivation for good behavior. Indifference or hate moves us away from love, and results in behavior that violates our love for Jesus and dishonors His holy name. I believe the weight of Scripture and my personal experience leads me to believe that while it takes time to allow the Holy Spirit to give us victory over sin or, in other words, put sin to death in us, we should be moving in that direction. Am I saying that I’m sin free? No, but I am saying I’m a lot closer than I was 50+ years ago when I started my journey.

If I’m wrestling with the same sin patterns now that I struggled with five years ago, something’s wrong. We commonly hear the word “sin” in the Bible interpreted as “to miss the mark,” but it can also be translated as “to err or to be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor.”  Jesus didn’t die so we could continue to live in sin under the banner of grace.

If our lives aren’t continually moving in the direction of loving God and loving others, we need to do a heart check. The Holy Spirit of the Bible delivers from sin, overpowers evil, gives victory over addictions in whatever form they come. Yes, of course, you may stumble, but to expect we’re going to sin continually and as a matter of habit is to misunderstand the message of the Bible.

If our focus is on Jesus and we’re walking closely with Him, our mind isn’t on ways to be separated from Him, they’re going to be on ways to honor, serve, adore, and draw closer to Him.

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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