What the Scriptures Teach about Sin Addiction

1 John 3:4-10 ESV

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Sinning in Practice

In some translations this says, “Everyone who commits sin.” But the verb tense is active, so it should read “Everyone committing sin.” This has to do with doing sin actively, as a matter of practice. For, if we read this as everyone who sins, who commits any sin at any time, then it would have to read that if we ever sin once that it means that we are of the devil and that we are not born of God, which is not consistent with the rest of 1 John, and which is not consistent with the rest of the New Testament or the gospel.

But does this fit with other passages of Scripture? Yes! Jesus said that we are to take up our cross DAILY and follow him (walk in obedience to him step by step). Paul said the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who WALK not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and a WALK has to do with something that is day to day, one step at a time. And he said for us to WALK by the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. And he said we must no longer WALK as the ungodly do.

And John said that if we claim to have fellowship with God but we WALK in darkness (in sin) we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we WALK in the light as God is in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. And we read in Hebrews 10 that if we GO ON SINNING deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire. So this is all about either walking in sin, in practice, or walking in holiness, by faith.

And then we read this in Romans 6:16 (ESV): “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

The context is obviously that of something that is ongoing, that is continuing, for if we are slaves to something, we are not talking about a one-time thing here. For a slave is owned by another and is in servitude to another whom he is obligated to obey on a continuous basis, for as long as the terms of that enslavement continue to exist. But in this case it is one choosing to live as a slave and to come under the authority of another.

And we need to understand here that if we are slaves to sin, i.e. if we are addicted to sin, it leads to death, not to life eternal with God. For if we are living as slaves to sin, and sin is what we are practicing, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. For whatever we sow, that we will also reap. So, if we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction, but if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. For we are all going to be judged by our works.

[Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]

Jesus Died to Take Away Sins

Now, Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins and just to promise us heaven when we die. And taking away our sins is not just removing from us the punishment of sin. For when we believe in Jesus with genuine God-given faith (Eph 2:8-10), our old self is crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we will no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness.

Therefore, sin is to no longer reign (rule, have supremacy, be in control) over our lives like it was when we were enslaved (addicted) to sin, so that it makes us obey its passions. We are not to present our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness but as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin is to no longer have dominion (control, authority) over our lives. So, are we then to continue living in sin now that we are under grace? No Way!

For Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our bodies (with our lives). And Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

[Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15,21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Tit 2:11-14]

No One Who Abides in Him

Now, this is the crux of the matter. If we are abiding in Christ and Christ is abiding in us, we will not be those who are making sin our practice. We will not habitually and deliberately keep on repeating the same sins over again, in direct opposition to our Lord and to his commands, fully knowing that what we are doing is evil, that it is against the Lord, and that it is harming and hurting others, even those we are closest to.

And we will not be making excuses for why we continue in those sins, sometimes over many years, even making excuses to those we are sinning against and that we are hurting with our habitual and deliberate sins, which then just insults them and hurts them more. And we won’t be looking for loopholes to find a way that we can continue in habitual sin without guilt and without conscience so that we can ease our own feelings of guilt.

For, if we keep on sinning, in practice (in addiction), then we have not seen nor have we known God/Jesus. And, if we make sinning our practice (our addiction), then we are of the devil, and we are not born of God, and God’s seed does not abide in us. So, we are not saved from our sins, our sins are not forgiven, and heaven is not our eternal destiny. But if righteousness is what we practice, by the grace of God, in his power, then we are righteous, and we have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.

[1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Jn 1:6]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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