Are We Sinless?
Over the years there have been numerous kinds of holiness movements that have had good intentions. Unfortunately, many have their promotion of holiness accompanied with the false teaching that we can achieve sinless perfection here on earth.
Are we sinless because we are forgiven, cleansed and given the Holy Spirit? Absolutely not. We are regenerated in our human spirit, given a new nature, but the old nature has not been removed.
What does the Bible say about sin and what is the biblical definition? The Bible says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). So any command by God that is not obeyed perfectly would be defined as sin. The apostle John makes it clear that, “All unrighteousness is sin” (I Jn. 5:17). So one would have to be perfectly righteous to not sin any longer. Paul also states, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23) which would include everything we do. And James makes a general statement about ones conscience and omission “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
With these basic guidelines (and there are more) we can understand what the Bible defines as sin and how we are to act to not be considered participating in sin.
Everyone has Sin, believers and non-believers alike. The Bible states: “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We have a fallen nature and for this reason we need to be born again or have a spiritual birth. Adam introduced sin. It resulted in both spiritual and physical death for him, spiritual first. Only Adam became a sinner by sinning. We die physically because of Adam’s sin passed on to all succeeding generations spiritually, genetically. We are all born with a built-in death warrant, which is our sin nature, because we have inherited this sin nature from Adam. We are born already spiritually dead (separated from God).
Rom 3:10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; v.12 “there is none who does good, no, not one.” Jesus said to the rich young ruler who approached him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Only God is intrinsically good, only God by His nature does good and does it all the time.It is only after we have a new nature that we can even do good! And it comes from our new nature not the old. As Paul makes clear “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).
There are now two definitions of people: unbelievers (sinners) and believers (saints). God’s children are now called “saints,” and He calls the unredeemed “sinners” Rom. 1:7 ‘To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” Rom. 5:8 “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Sinners are those who practice sin, this terminology is used to identify the ungodly, who live an ungodly life. Yet believers still sin, and it is because we still have a sinful nature. Many say we are no longer sinners and we are now saints, this becomes a problem of semantics. In the practical sense we are not sinners, but are still sinful. We have a positional change as well as a nature change. Sin is a nature that is in all mankind, NO man on earth does not have this fallen nature. They have been born with it and when we are born again we do not lose it, it is put aside as the ruling power over us.
The word Saint used for the believers show’s ones new position in Christ as they are set aside for his service, separate from the world (Rom.1:7; 1 Cor.1:2; Phil.4:21). Saints who are sinners saved by God’s grace have the new nature along with the old nature of sin in their body. In one way, when we identify sinners it means they have a lifestyle of sin, but this does not mean we who are saints are no longer called sinners. We still have sin in our members but since we practice holiness which no sinner can, we are not in the category of sinners per se. Yes we are saints (meaning to be set apart) but to lose this word and concept removes us from the reality that we ALL still sin.
Paul asks the rhetorical question. Is Christ therefore a minister of sin? No, he administrates holiness by his Spirit. When we yield to his Lordship, walk in faith by His Spirit we are fulfilling his commands (establish his laws and not transgress them).
Paul does talk about the old man we still have with us Eph.4:22; Col.3:9 and reminds us that our old man was crucified Rom. 6:6. The fact that we are to die to self, we are told to walk in the newness of life and obey from the heart implies that we have a choice in either fulfilling or failing in what we are asked to do. Which equals sin. In Romans 6 Paul speaking to believers states in verse 1. Do not continue in sin. V.2. Do not live in sin any longer. V.6. Do not serve sin. V. 12. Do not let sin reign in your body, do not obey your desires. V.13. Do not yield your body unto sin. V. 15. God forbid you should sin. V.16. The choice of sin, death is the result. V. 23. The wages of sin is death.
What is sanctification for, if we are already perfect and without sin? Sanctification is the process of working Christ’s nature in us daily to be more like him. This would not be necessary if we had sin removed, then we would already be like him. There are many heretical teachings that distort this and other key elements in the Scripture and teach this is a fulfilled promise to us already; it is NOT.
Gal. 3:22: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
If one looks at the children of God throughout history none have claimed a spiritual condition of sinlessness. Look at Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Job; Moses, David, Peter, John, or Paul. None of them claimed to be absolutely perfect and not guilty of any act of sin. Paul said he continued to do what he did not want to (Rom.7:15).
His solution to diminish sinning, 1 Cor. 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” If Paul were Sinless there would be no reason to bring his flesh into submission of the Spirit, it would already be submitted..
If we are sinless as some claim what about these passages?
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)
This cannot mean we are now sinless. Because it would contradict what he said earlier in chapter one about our sin and confessing it “If we say that WE HAVE NO SIN, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (besides we would not die). If we are to take this scripture “Whoever has been born of God does not sin,” to mean absolute holiness and used to refer to the doctrine of absolute perfection; it proves, not that some Christians MAY be perfect, but all of them are, none are excluded. So there is not a special group of over-comers. But this verse does not teach that it is impossible for the Christian to sin. What it does teach is that it is impossible to be begotten of God and go on sinning as we once did.
The new nature battles against the old to overcome it. He who is born again does not CONTINUALLY sin, or is not HABITUALLY a sinner as he was before he came to know Jesus. The born again believer has no compulsion to sin over and over as He once had, driven by his fallen nature. He who is born again will not continue in, or like their sin. If anyone continually and habitually sins and does not feel ill about it, it may prove that he has NEVER been spiritually renewed. If one likes to sin and finds little consequence from it, not being grieved by what they have done they probably need to question if the Holy Spirit has His convicting work in their life. When one is sinning habitually, willfully without feeling any remorse and it does not lead them to repentance but hardens them, this shows that he is under the influence of the one whose nature it has been to sin.
Everyone who has the new birth- has passed from death to life, is not habitually a sinner; but has the power of the indwelling spirit to overcome the temptation of sin.
The wages of sin (payment) is death and saints die just as sinners die. This proves we still have a sin nature along with the new nature.
James explains how sin is birthed. Jm.1:14-15 “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” The source of sin doesn’t come from the outside but from within. We are drawn away from our own desires (the Greek means to be lured into a trap). It is not a single act, but a process that begins in our heart. You can say the real source is spiritual heart disease, our fallen human nature. Sin has its roots in the heart and influences the intellect and will and finds expression through the body (Prov.4:3; Mt.15:19-20; Lk.6:45; Heb.3:12.) To say you have no sin is to claim you have not reacted to any temptation. It is a fact that the closer one comes to being in relationship with Jesus Christ the more they will see their sinfulness. To claim one is no longer a sinner in any fashion, and no longer sins, shows how far away they are from the Lord and his word.
The religious leaders thought they were righteous because they obeyed God’s law and yet we see Jesus acknowledge “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13) Are we not to have the same humble attitude even though we are saved? Of course we are, John says for us to confess our sin to be cleansed (1 Jn.1:9).
Are Saints Sinners?
The Bible itself does say that those who are saved are sinners in that we still sin. Gal. 2:16-17: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners.” Here Paul makes the case that there is only one way to be justified, by faith in Christ. Yet we are still sinners though we have right standing with God. The Bible makes this clear. Sin is still present with the believer, we are in transition to eliminate it once and for all.
Speaking to the church James calls believers sinners (4:8) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James makes this clear as he addresses the church, that if someone no longer tries to walk in holiness or turns from the teachings of Christ he is a sinner. James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, (he is addressing brethren) and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
For Paul says “Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.” (1 Tim 5:24-25) Obviously Paul is making a dichotomy of the believers works (both good and bad) cannot be determined until later. Then we will know those done by the spirit and they will be eternal and those done in sin that will be burned up (according to 1 Cor. 3:13-15)
In Rom. 7:15 Paul describes his and our condition. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.” Here Paul explains his own struggle with sin that is indicative of us all. He does what he does not want to do-sin. And what he wants to do he fails in. He goes on Rom. 7:17 “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” V.18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing. Notice what Paul says next-V.20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. V. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Paul says it is “ sin that dwells in me “ twice in this area of Scripture. He then brings it to a conclusion “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” The body of death is another way of explaining where sin resides
“Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness” In other words we are no longer under its dominion, for it to be master over us. It does not mean we are relieved of all sin. As someone once said: “those who claim to be sinless, go ask their wives they’ll tell you the truth.”
Rom. 8:21-25 “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” It is our hope but not a reality now, so we wait for the body of sin is delivered by the resurrection.
2 Cor. 5:2 “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven”
Only those who have the new nature know the harm from the old. We groan as we are on earth about our deliverance from the body of death, that brings sin.
1 Cor. 15:54-57: “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do we still die? Yes, of course, so this means sin is still present with us. The believer’s sin stops at death when the believer is then released from the body of sin.
To believe we are sinless is as much a lie as Satan telling Eve she will not die.
Only sinful people sin, a perfect righteous man like Jesus could not. To say we have no sin disregards clear scriptures that tell the believers how to conduct themselves and not sin. It is not that we no longer sin but that we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom.6:16-18, 20).
Rom 6:13: “And do not present your members as instruments of
unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the
dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Eph. 4:22-2: “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.” Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Let him who stole steal no longer…”
Col.3:9-10: “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” Why tell the believer what not to do and to obey if we are already doing this?
Rom. 13:13-14: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
2 Cor. 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
We are asked to make ourselves clean which would not be a valid point if we are already sinless.
Again Paul makes it clear Rom 7:17-18: “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” This does not have Paul shirk his responsibility of sin, he does not deny it nor claim he is perfected- sinless.
Want to know if you are sinless? Look at the Law of God and all His commands, if you keep them all perfect all the time then you no longer sinning.
Rom. 6:12-14: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Why say this if we cannot sin or know sin?
1 Cor. 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” If Paul were Sinless there would be no reason to bring his flesh into submission of the Spirit.
Gal. 5:16-17 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Our war is within ourselves with the old nature trying to exercise its strength over the Spirit. Paul tells believers “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13) the only way to have victory over the flesh and our sinful nature is by walking in the spirit
Scripture teaches that the closer you get to the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart, the more aware you are of you sinfulness and sinful temptations that affect you. It is those who have drifted far away or have self deceived themselves into thinking that sin has nothing to do with their character, this what the Bible calls a lie.
If one insists to hold the position they are truly sinless, in the same manner Jesus was without sin, I must question if they are saved. For one to be saved they must admit they are in need of a savior because of their sin and it is Jesus through the writings of the apostles that tells us we still are sinners.
Scripture testifies every person needs the Savior. It is likely that the heretics whom the apostle John writes against in his epistles denied that they had any sin, thus denying any need for the Savior.
I Jn. 1:8 “If we say that we have NO SIN, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is NOT in us.”
9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If you don’t sin you don't need the blood to cleanse anymore. The confession of sins, Greek is homologeia which means “to say the same things as” God does about our sin. This is the only prerequisite for our complete forgiveness and cleansing. It should be obvious if you do not sin, then you do not need to confess. But John says to keep on confessing your sin to be cleansed. To NOT confess our sins shows we are not walking in the truth.
10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a .”
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him [God] out to be a liar and his word (which is truth) is not found in us. 1 Peter 1:23 we are not born again by his word
So lets summarize what John is stating:
Verse 8. Profession of sinlessness-self deception-not of truth-equals living a lie.
Verse 9. No confession of sin-Divine cleansing is denied -no removal of condemnation.
Verse 10. Denying we have sinned, means we are calling God a LIAR, and His truth does not reside in us.”
Renouncing sin is our greatest proof of our spiritual union with the Lord. The regenerate person cannot sin as he did before he was born of God, and as others do who are not born again. The more one grows closer to a holy God the more they see their creatureness and sinful nature compared His perfect one. If one claims they no longer sin they have not seen nor heard from God and are a LIAR. Denial of being a sinner is tantamount to calling God a LIAR, thus we have no revelation of the truth. John refutes the error that we have no sin nature, by using the word sin in the singular. It is not just the committal of sin but the principle of sin, sin in a general sense, sin of every description. There are those who profess to have become perfectly sanctified, and to live without any sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are truly deceived, self deception is a special kind of delusion brought on by ones own pride (James 3:2,5).
And John says prior in v.7 that we have no fellowship with the believers and his blood is not cleansing us of sin. This is quite serious. One must admit they are a sinner to be in reality as well as have a walk with Christ that is in truth. This is why when someone says they have sinlessness there is no fellowship with the believers or Christ.
All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; this means that if you claim to not have sin you have God’s glory, which for all intensive purposes makes you God. There is only one who has lived without sin- Jesus. If you are without sin then you are just as perfect as Jesus, in both thought and deed. Claiming to live without any sin shows that one is deceived in regard to himself and his relationship to the Lord God. Again this makes himself to be equal with God who alone exists is in a perfect state, having no sin.
We have the righteousness of Christ as a garment but we do not have only his new nature. He has not transformed us into being sinless, like he is, YET. I John 3:2 “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
God looks at us as being sinless through Christs’ righteousness and his sacrifice on the cross. We are positionally righteous but are in reality working out our sanctification. And that is how our life will be on earth.
You may get these sinless concepts from teachers and books, but not from the teachers or writers in 66 books of the Bible.