“Is That a Sin?” How to Live in Freedom

 

Is That a Sin

Being a Christian, I’ve stumbled across oh-so-many blog posts, websites, questions, etc. asking, “Is such-and-such a sin?” or “Is it okay for Christians to __?” and “Should I do xyz?”

 

And honestly, I’ve wondered quite a few of these questions myself.

 

But I’m not here to tell you what’s right and wrong. I want to address what we’re really asking.

 

When we ask, “Is consuming secular media wrong for a Christian?” we are focusing on the bondage of legalism, not freedom.

 

When we try to contemplate, “Is depression a sin?” we focus on our own struggles as opposed to what’s already been done for us.

 

When we tell people, “You’re a Christian, you shouldn’t get tattoos,” we bind people to a law that they do not have to follow anymore.

 

And that’s not right.

 

I’ve heard arguments for all sides of controversial topics. And I’ve come to this conclusion:

 

We have freedom in Christ.

 

There is no commandment in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not listen to pop music.” There is no verse that says, “You are unforgivable if you are ever depressed.” There is no passage that warns us, “Marking up your body with permanent ink-art will make you forfeit your salvation.”

 

Because you know what? We’re free from the bondage of the law. We’re free from condemnation. We have a new nature inside of us. Asking questions about the specifics of what sin is or is not really do not profit us.

 

Our sins have been totally, 100% forgiven. There is no way that we can will ourselves out of sinning enough to attain perfection. Heck no. Salvation is forgiveness by believing, and then an internal transformation – our desires change, our attitudes change, and our actions will change.

 

No longer will we want to know how much we can get away with (though I know that does creep up on us at times), but we will ask the question, “how much can we live for God?” And I don’t mean out of compulsion, I mean out of joy.

 

We shouldn’t spend hours puzzling over what is a sin and what’s okay to do. If it’s not a sin, cool. But if it is, well, it’s forgiven. That might seem like a terrible way to put it, but read these verses.

 

Galatians 5:1 says this:

 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

 

So the point isn’t for us to say, “Hey! We’re free! We can do whatever we want!” but to live according to our new nature.

 

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

 

Our sin nature doesn’t have to control us anymore. This is what it’s saying. We were slaves to sin, but now we are free from falling into those traps of condemnation. Now we can live life fully – not go back to that slavery of sinful patterns that we were rescued from, but living lives pleasing to God.

 

Galatians 5:13 says later,

 

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

 

We have been called to freedom. This means that God does not punish us for our deeds that we do now. We’re all going to struggle with something here on earth, because we’re undeniably human. But we can’t let our struggles take advantage of us, because God is greater than those struggles.

 

Going back to the string of questions we all ask, every Christian wants to know what’s okay to do and what’s not okay. I totally understand that, because the Bible’s not totally clear on those gray areas. But that’s why they are called gray areas.

 

We can’t focus on the what’s-a-sin-am-I-doing-this-wrong aspect of the Christian life. Like my Dad says, “If you’re looking for dirt in the ground, just dig deep and you will definitely find it.” If you’re trying to convict yourself of sin and you look hard enough, you will find it. And dirt ain’t pretty.

 

So you know what we do? We don’t abide by a list of “Christian Rules” in order to try to be perfect. Jesus is our holiness. And so we pursue the understanding of His incredible grace, and out of that flows grateful love and a life pleasing to God.

 

I’m not saying we can’t use common sense to try to figure out what we should and should not do for our own benefit. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look to the Bible for wisdom. But what I am saying is that we shouldn’t stress so much over trying not to sin, because we are free in Christ. And if we seek God in our freedom, wanting to live out His will for us, He will reveal it to us and empower us to carry it out.

 

*aj

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14 thoughts on ““Is That a Sin?” How to Live in Freedom

  1. Legalism is a slippery slope that is easy to fall down. But we don’t have to agonize over everything. If we’re convicted not to do something, we shouldn’t do it, obviously, but that doesn’t mean we live in fear of making a wrong step. We will make wrong steps. We’re human. Maybe making ourselves a strict set of rules to avoid sin will make us feel safe, like we’re doing something to avoid losing salvation, but that’s not how it works. When we do that, we forget grace. We forget that it’s GOD who saved us, not anything we could have done. Making mistakes will not cause us to forfeit our salvation. If that were true, it would imply that Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough, that His blood does not really cover our sins. Dos and Don’ts don’t save us. Jesus does. And if we’re truly saved, we’ll seek to avoid sin because we love God, and it’ll just be an ordinary part of the Christian life. It won’t be all consuming and taking our focus off of what God did for us. That’s really what legalism does. But that’s not what Christianity should be like. It should be seeking God and doing our best with His help, repenting when we make mistakes, accepting God’s grace and moving on, trying to do better next time.

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    • Absolutely. Conviction is important, because it can lead us in the right direction, but we can’t get obsessive over trying hard to not mess up. We do mess up, and thank God for grace to cover us. It’s a good thing we don’t have to get re-saved every time we sin! It’s all about having the right focus. 🙂

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  2. It’s so good to be reminded of this freedom in Jesus that he gave to us lovingly and freely as part of His grace. It causes me to want to love him and know Him more, as Paul points out, “I want to know Him (JESUS)” Philippians 3:10. Love you AJ, from the guy who you quoted today about dirt.

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  3. This is really interesting, because my pastor actually preached on grace/legalism today. He used two of the very verses you used here! 🙂

    I think you’re absolutely right that we can get too caught up in what’s a sin and what’s not. Another passage I think is relevant here is 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul talks about “gray areas.” He says that rather than focusing on what’s lawful and what’s not, we should follow our own consciences and consider whether we’re affecting someone else. Numerous times, Paul spoke about giving up his rights for the sake of others.

    I think like so many things, this is a delicate balance. Certainly we should not be focused on defining the letter of the law, but neither should we be careless/thoughtless about what might be sin just because we are under grace. And you said this really well, that if we focus on loving Christ, we will want to be more like him, and everything else will follow from that.

    Good post. It’s an interesting issue to consider today.

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    • I love it when messages coincide with blog posts. Kinda make you think about Bible truths a little more. 😀

      Ah, yes! I like that passage. I was going to get into a bit more of that – matters of conscience, because that’s really important – but I got to 900 words or so and it was 2am. (Note to self and others: do not watch movies on blog-nights and then start writing at midnight!) I’d like to explore more of obedience to the conscience (and the Holy Spirit, for that matter) soon, especially since we talked about it at youth group last Sunday.

      You’re totally right. It’s difficult to balance. With spiritual growth and true understanding of grace comes “holy living,” so to speak. When we understand the cost of God’s grace and our forgiveness, we won’t want to abuse it, and we’ll want to live purely. But also with understanding grace, we’ll have an overwhelming sense of freedom. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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      • Haha, I totally understand something being so long you just have to decide to end it somewhere. 🙂

        Annnnd in tonight’s service we hit it a bit again. Makes me wonder if God’s trying to speak to me about something. Hmm.

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      • …Actually, I might even write a post on this topic. Just to kind of think through it a bit more, and the other aspects of this, especially related to something a friend said to me recently that made me think.

        So thanks for bringing it up again, haha. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Legalistic grace? | To Dwell and Never Leave

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