Can a Christian sin? If you are a believer in Christ, you know the answer to this is a resounding and unfortunate “yes.” Yet Paul asks a convicting question in Romans 6:2: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Is Paul saying once God saves us, we will no longer sin? After all, if we are dead to sin, how can we then live in it?
Paul can’t be saying Christians never sin because one chapter later, he is lamenting, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15). If sin could still hamper a man like Paul, how much more will we still fall prey to sin?
Something else is going on then. If we are dead to sin, why then do we still indulge in it? The answer is while we have died spiritually to sin, our flesh is still alive, fallen, and riddled with sin. We will not be free from sin until these earthly bodies die and God gives us our new bodies in Heaven. As long as we walk this earth, we are going to struggle with sin. That’s the bad news. Take hope, there is good news as well!
The death and resurrection of Jesus defeated the power of sin for those who will put their faith in Him. The cross did not eliminate sin from the world, but it did eliminate the power of sin over the life of a believer. Sin can impact the lives of followers of Christ, but it cannot have dominion over them. Jesus has set us free from the power of sin. It no longer controls our lives.
This brings us to the uncomfortable reason Christians sin: it is because we want to and we choose to. A follower of Jesus has the power within themselves to reject any and every temptation of the evil one. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live holy and righteous lives. The decision is ours. Every time temptation presents itself, we will choose the devil or we will choose Jesus. It comes down to who we love more–Jesus with His infinite love, hope, and joy, or Satan with his empty promises, fleeting pleasures, and eternal consequences.
Being dead to sin means temptation, dishonesty, and selfishness no longer need to rule the day. Jesus has made certain sin has no power over us. The only way sin can touch us is if we choose to invite it in. A sinless life is sadly not possible for any human, but a life lived in victory over sin is not only possible but demanded by our God (Leviticus 11:44). We can lead holy lives because the sacrifice of Jesus has defeated sin, and the power of the Holy Spirit gives us all we need to fight back against it. Those who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, and mind are dead to sin. We are free. Isn’t it time we started living as if that were true?