So I think we’ve all heard the term. It’s a label pretty closely resembling the Scarlet Letter. A sentence that gets passed upon unfortunate souls who we feel have strayed from the paths of righteousness: Living in Sin.
I don’t really know why more Christians are not concerned about this topic. I mean, the claim has been that if you’re, living in sin and die that way, you’ll go to hell. Others aren’t willing to say you’ll go to hell, but they’re also not willing to say with any certainty that you won’t. Then you have some folks who will tell you that as a Christian, you can’t lose your salvation at all—-comforting, right? I thought so too . . . Until I found out that there is often a fine print disclaimer on this one that basically says, “oh, by the way, if you sin too much, you probably never were saved to begin with . . . So you’re going to hell anyway.”
However one wishes to pronounce, “tomato” or, “potato”, the train of thought here is:
“living in sin” = “soul in jeopardy”
So, I think it’s time we stopped giving this subject the, under the rug treatment, and got some real answers.
The issue I ran into almost immediately when investigating this topic in the Bible is that some of the greatest dynasties we have erected—-doctrines that are fundamental to our Christianity, are largely Missing in Action:
The Bible really doesn’t mention or refer to a, “Hierarchy of Sin”–where some are worse than others.
Nor is there a, “Sin-O-Meter” which measures whether or not the number of sins exceed the, “allowed daily amount” by grace.
There’s also that weird Variety thing that no one has ever spoken out loud but sounds something like, “A variety of sins here and there is fine. We all do it. But when one sin is committed in a higher frequency than all the other average sins, well then I’m afraid you’ve crossed over into, living in sin.”——- In other words, diversity of sins won’t damn you but a concentration of any will.
So, apparently with this idea, you just need to make sure your vices are proportional to one another.
Then you have probably the most popular of these ideas; what I call the, “Heart Monitor.” This is where we convince ourselves that if we are sorry for our sin, or feel bad when we do it, that this is somehow different from a person who sins without feelings of remorse . . . Once again, this is seems to be an artifical distinction not actually made in Scripture.
So Then —What’s The Bible Really Say?
All of these concepts are actually quite difficult to find and extract application from in the Scriptures. I mean, sure, they are kind of . . . sort of———— ish in there. But they are certainly not as clearly outlined as most of us have been led to believe. And they are not anywhere close to being a measurable criteria for us to live by.
No, instead, it would seem that upon searching God’s Word what we find more than anything else is simply that sin is sin—- Either you do it or you don’t.
Some may point to Scriptures that talk about, practicing sin such as 1 John 3:9 as if this is the dividing line between believers and non believers. But then gloss over the other part of the same verse which says a born again person cannot sin—–period. Not just practice sin, but sin at all. Even if that part wasn’t in there (or you decided to avoid the versions that translate it that way), there’s another problem we run into with this. And that’s the fact that nearly every professing Christian on the planet says they sin multiple times each day. One minister I recently heard on the radio said we sin, “constantly.”
Yet . . . We’re suppose to believe this does not constitute practicing sin?
A little hard to swallow.
Now, some will wonder if we all violate this passage that speaks about practicing sin, then what does it mean? Why would God write such a thing to us? It’s not the subject, but God actually tells us why He said what He did—- Chapter 2 reads, “I write these things to you so that you won’t sin.” That kind of sounds like what Paul said in Romans 6, doesn’t it? He tells the believer they are dead to sin, and then says therefore, do not let it reign in your mortal body. He tells us to reckon and act, as if it’s true, because it is true. John tells us those who are born of God do not sin, then says he writes these things so we don’t sin. We are to act in line with the reality that those who are born of God, do not sin.
What’s it all About?
This being the case, where does the whole, living in sin, thing come from? As previously pointed out, the Hierarchy, Sin-O-Meter, Heart Monitor, and Variety doctrines are largely bunk.
I’ve noticed that as I progress in my Christian walk, I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding my sin——-Come on . . . You know what I mean. Us seasoned folk have learned to talk the talk and walk the walk— in front of the right people. In other words, sin tends to go underground and undercover over the life span of the average believer. We get so good at playing the game that we can be overly critical, judgmental, lustful, hateful and selfish—— inwardly, without skipping a beat (or should I say a, “Hallelujah”?) outwardly. As we become experts in this field, it seems we also become more aware of those who aren’t. 1 Corinthians mentions folks who compare themselves with and among themselves. So if you think about it, the only way the, “living in sin” thing really works is if we compare ourselves with another human being. I mean, we’ve already admitted to sinning, “constantly” and on a daily basis, so we certainly can’t compare ourselves to Christ and come away feeling like we’re not living in sin, can we? At least not without a couple hundred theological jumping jacks.
But when comparing ourselves to one another, it inevitably creates a lesser-of-two-evils type scenario. Then those who sin different from us, and aren’t quite the pros at hiding it that we are, will stand out. And let’s face it, there is a part of us that enjoys pointing these folks out. Just like looking at someone who is fatter than you (yes, I’m going there) makes you rationalize how fat you are, so this makes you feel better about your sin.
I have a feeling the Holy Ghost has been dealing with a lot of us about this. Maybe finally hearing it out loud will cause us to think twice before accusing others of what we ourselves are still guilty of on a, “daily” and, “constant” basis.