Does a born-again Christian never commit sin again? In his book The Spirit-Filled Believers’s Handbook, bible teacher Derek Prince provided some good insights on this subject, that would be helpful to new believers who might be struggling with this issue.
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).
John here directly relates the victorious life of the overcoming Christian to the nature of the seed which produced that life within him – that is, God’s own seed – the incorruptible seed of God’s Word. Because the seed is incorruptible, the life it produces is also incorruptible; that is, absolutely pure and holy.
However, this Scripture does not assert that a born-again Christian can never commit sin. Within every born-again Christian a completely new nature has come into being. Paul calls this new nature “the new man” and contrasts it with “the old man” – the old, corrupt, depraved, fallen nature which dominates every person who has never been born again (see Eph. 4:22-24).
There is a complete contrast between these two: The “new man” is righteous and holy; the “old man” is depraved and corrupt. The “new man,” being born of God, cannot commit sin; the “old man,” being the product of man’s rebellion and fall, cannot help committing sin.
The kind of life which any born-again Christian leads is the outcome of the interplay within him of these two natures. So long as the “old man” is kept in subjection and the “new man” exercises his proper control, there is unsullied righteousness, victory and peace. But whenever the “old man” is allowed to reassert himself and regain his control, the inevitable consequence is failure, defeat and sin.
We may sum up the contrast in this way: The true Christian who has been born again of the incorruptible seed of God’s Word has within him the possibility of leading a life of complete victory over sin. The unregenerate man who has never been born again has no alternative but to commit sin. He is inevitably the slave of his own corrupt, fallen nature.
This sad story of a godly father who tries to hinder his wayward son from running a bar was narrated by the late RA Torrey in his book, Heaven or Hell.
God has put one other obstacle in the road as blockade in the path to hell: the cross of Christ. No man can get very far down the path of sin and ruin before he sees the cross looming before him. On that cross hangs a Man, the Son of Man, the Son of God. You see Him hanging with nails in His hands and feet, and a voice says, “It was for you. I bore this for you. I died for you.” In the pathway of every man and woman stands the cross with Christ upon it. If you choose to continue in sin, you will have to step over the cross and over the crucified form of the Son of God.
I heard of a godly old man who had a worthless son. That son was more anxious to make money than he was for honor or anything else. He decided to go into the liquor business.
Anyone who is willing to make money out of selling alcoholic beverages will profit from the tears of brokenhearted wives and the groans and sighs of an alcoholic’s sons and daughters.
The abuse of liquor is sending thousands of people every year to premature graves. It causes more sorrow, more ruined homes, more wretchedness than perhaps anything else on earth.
Every tavern owner, bartender, barmaid, and professed Christian who holds stocks in breweries or distilleries is a part of the crime.
Once I knew of a man who was going to open a tavern. His father was deeply grieved and tried to reason with his son. He said, “My boy, you bear an honorable name that has never been disgraced before. Don’t disgrace it by putting it up over a bar.”
But the son was so determined to get rich that he would not listen to his father.
The day came to open the bar. The father was one of the first on hand. He stepped up to every man who approached the door and told him of the miseries that come from alcohol. One after another, they turned away. The son looked out of the window to see why he was getting no customers. He saw his father outside, turning his customers away. He came outside and said, “Father, go home. You are ruining my business.”
He said, “I can’t help it, my boy. I won’t have my name dishonored by this business. If you are determined to go on with it, I will stand here and warn every man that comes to enter your door.
Finally, the son lost his temper. He struck his old father in the face. The father turned to him without any anger. He said, “My son, you can strike me if you will. You can kill me if you will, but no man will enter your bar unless he goes over my dead body.”
No man or woman will ever enter hell unless they go over the dead body of Jesus Christ. No man or woman can refuse Christ and persist in sin without trampling underfoot the One who was crucified on the cross of Calvary for us.
God has piled the obstacles high in His patient love. Don’t try to surmount them. Turn back. Turn away from the path of sin; turn toward the path of faith in .Jesus Christ. Turn now!
The following tragic story of a young girl who died of shame was narrated by the late RA Torrey in his book, Heaven or Hell.
Hell is a place of insatiable and tormenting desire. Remember what Jesus told us of the rich man in hell. The rich man said, “Send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
You will carry into the next world the desires that you build up here. Hell is the place where desires and passions exist in their highest potency, and where there is nothing to gratify them. Men and women who are living in sin and worldliness are developing passions and desires for which there is no gratification in hell. Happy are those people who set their affections on things above. Those who cultivate power, passions, and desires for which there is no gratification in the next world will spend eternity in severe torment.
Hell is a place of shame. Oh, the awful, heartbreaking agony of shame! It can cause depression, illness, and even death. A bank cashier was in a hurry to get rich, so he appropriated the funds of the bank and invested them, intending to pay them back. But his investment failed. For a long time, he managed to conceal his theft from the bank examiner. One day the embezzlement was discovered. The cashier had to acknowledge his crime. He was arrested, tried and sent to prison.
He had a beautiful wife and a lovely child, a sweet little girl. Some time after his arrest and imprisonment, the little child came home sobbing. “Oh,” she said, “Mother, I can never go back to that school again. Send for my books.”
Thinking it was some childish whim, the mother said, “Of course you will go back.”
“No,” the child insisted, “I can never go back. Send for my books.”
“Darling, what is the matter?”
She said, “Another little girl said to me today, ‘Your father is a thief.”‘
Oh, the cruel stab! The mother saw that her child could not go back to school. The wound was fatal. That fair blossom began to fade. A physician was called, but her illness surpassed all the capacities of his skill. The child grew weaker every day until they laid her on her bed. The physician said, “Madam, I am powerless in this case. The child’s heart has given way with the agony of the wound. Your child will probably die.”
The mother went in and said to her dying child, “Darling, is there anything you would like to have me do for you?”
“Oh yes, Mother, send for Father. Let him come home and lay his head down on the pillow beside mine as he used to do.”
But the father was behind iron bars. They spoke to the governor, and he said, “I have no power in the matter.” They spoke to the warden of the prison. He said, “I have no power in the matter.”
But hearts were touched by the girl’s condition. The judge and the governor made an arrangement so that the father was permitted to come home under a deputy-warden. He reached his home late at night and entered his house. The physician was waiting. He said, “I think you had better go in tonight, for I am afraid your child will not live until morning.”
The father went to the door and opened it. The child looked up quickly. “Oh,” she said, “I knew it was you, Father. I knew you would come. Come and lay your head beside mine on the pillow just as you used to do.”
The strong man went and laid his head on the pillow. The child lovingly patted his cheek and died. She was killed by shame. Hell is the place of shame, where everybody is dishonored.
Children’s magazines are no longer what they used to be!
If you flip open most children’s magazine these days, they are filled with tales of witchcraft and carnal fantasy, pandering to the young minds of this age.
However, back in the 70s, there used to be a secular children’s magazine called “Look and Learn” (which was published in the UK but sold in Singapore), that featured informative articles and even Christians-themed ones like the one featured below.
Keeper of the King’s Conscience
Although Latimer was fearless in his criticism of the King, his position remained secure – until the King died.
No chapter in England’s story pulsates with more human drama than the Tudor era. It was the first great age of the common man; when subjects reaped the highest rewards for intelligence rather than breeding. For some, too, it was an age of believing in principles; if necessary, in dying for them.
Sir Thomas More is best known for a combination of these twin qualities. He embodied the Tudor virtues of great wisdom and unshakable belief in the highest principles; his stirring martyrdom has tended to monopolise those virtues for himself.
But there were others besides More, many others. One such was Bishop Hugh Latimer who, in times when to say what he felt could cost a man his head, was fearlessly outspoken in parish pulpit and royal Court. A man of intelligence and principle – and ready, when the time came, to pay the price for it.
In the pulpit Latimer was electric. He spoke to men in a way that went straight to their hearts, warning them of their sins with simple, earnest words. He even called on his hearers by name-something so new that people flocked to hear him.
One day, his reputation reached the ears of the Bishop of Ely, who went to Latimer’s church to listen. Latimer used the occasion to describe what a Bishop ought to be, which was very unlike what everyone knew this Bishop to be.
Angrily the Bishop of Ely complained to Cardinal Wolsey, who sent for Latimer.
“What did you say to make him so cross?” Wolsey asked the preacher.
Latimer told him and Wolsey smiled. “If the Bishop of Ely cannot abide by such a doctrine, you shall preach it to his face,” he said. ” Let him say what he will.” He then gave Latimer permission to preach in any church in England.
Latimer was bound to make enemies, but after Wolsey’s fall, Henry the Eighth protected him by making him one of his chaplains. Even when Latimer fearlessly sermonised his criticism of the King’s way of life, Henry grinned and nodded his head cheerfully. He liked this fellow Latimer. Who had chosen to be the keeper of his conscience, above all, he liked his great learning, his soldierly bearing and his love of life.
Hugh Latimer, born in a Leicestershire farmhouse, could easily have been taken for a soldier of the King rather than the Cross. His father, a small but prosperous farmer, had ridden to battle for the King and when Hugh was seven he had helped to buckle on his father’s armour before a fight against the rebels at Blackheath.
Hugh learned to draw a bow in the true English way but his fondness for learning decided his father to send him to school.
There he shone; at 14 he went to Cambridge; before he was 20 he was preaching in that electric style that made his audience sit up and listen.
He was soon in trouble with his superiors, the Bishops. They summoned him before a Church court and sentenced him to prison. The King did not like this verdict and intervened, saying that Latimer could go back to his parish.
In Germany, the Reformation began. The reformers were against much that they thought was wrong in the beliefs and customs of the Roman Catholic Church. In England, the King was also attacking the Roman church and for his kind of Reformation Henry needed a man like Latimer.
The bishops liked Latimer no better when the King made him Bishop of Worcester, for he grew still plainer in telling them their faults. He attacked their love of ease and luxury – “I would rather feed many coarsely than a few deliciously,” he told them.
Then, in a sermon, he called them “strong thieves,” adding, “There is not enough hemp grown in the kingdom to hang all the thieves in England.” The bishops burned with rage as they listened to all this.
Henry vacillated: he did not like all the changes advocated by the Protestants, as the followers of the Reformation were called. When he thought they were going too far he allowed his bishops to draw up the chief beliefs of the Roman Catholic religion in six articles, which everyone was bound to agree to.
But not Latimer. He was against the six articles. He surrendered his bishopric and was put in the Tower for a time to cool his heels. Until the end of Henry’s reign he had to keep silent and could no more rebuke the sins of men.
When Henry died his son, Edward the Sixth reigned and Latimer was released. The government favoured the Protestants and Archbishop Cranmer could now make all the changes in the Church that he liked.
Back in the pulpit, Latimer drew the biggest congregations in London. He made his hearers feel their guilt so deeply that many of the officers of the court brought to him money which they had unjustly taken from the King and begged him to return it, which he did on condition that he was allowed to hide their names.
Edward the Sixth died in his teens and his sister Mary came to the throne. She was an ardent Roman Catholic and the Catholics in prison were set free and Protestants were put into the empty cells.
Among others, notice was sent to Latimer that he was to appear before the Queen’s Council. He might have managed to escape and leave England had he wished, but he was not a man to flee. At the Council’s order he was imprisoned in the Tower, where he spent more than a year before being transferred to a common jail in Oxford.
At last he was brought before three Catholic bishops who had been sent to Oxford to try him. Latimer, in the 65 years of his busy life, had not grown rich. He came out now before his judges in an old threadbare gown of Bristol frieze; on his head he wore a handkerchief with a night cap over it, and another cap over that with two broad flaps buttoned under his chin. Round his waist he wore a leather belt, to which a Testament was fastened, and his spectacles hung round his neck.
Next day Latimer and his fellow Bishop, Ridley, who had been imprisoned with him and shared his trial, were condemned to be burned as heretics.
On the day of the execution, before the watching crowd. Ridley came out first. He wore a black gown; he had dressed himself with care and trimmed his beard. He turned round to look up at the windows of the prison, hoping to see his friend Cranmer, who was also imprisoned there, but he could not see him. Instead, he saw Latimer coming along in his old frieze coat, with his cap on his head, just as he had been at his trial.
Ridley ran and embraced him saying. “Be of good heart, brother; God will either assuage the flame or strengthen us to abide it.” They knelt and prayed together; then both quickly got ready for death.
Ridley gave his cloak and tippet to his brother-in-law who was with him and to each of those who were standing near he gave some little remembrance. To one he gave a new groat, to others handkerchiefs, nutmegs, slices of ginger, his watch and other trifles. Everyone tried to get something, if it was only a rag. But Latimer had nothing to give: he took off his coat and stood clad in his long shroud.
Would either man recant? “Do, and you shall live,” they were told. Both solemnly shook their heads.
Chains were put round their bodies, and a kind man hung round the neck of each a bag of powder to hasten the terrible work of the flames. Then the lighted torch was laid to the faggots.
As the flames began to crackle Latimer cried out, “Be of good comfort. Master Ridley; play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
Five months passed before Archbishop Cranmer suffered the same fate as his friends. In a moment of weakness he tried to save himself by recanting, and wrote confessing that the opinions he held were grievous errors.
But this was not enough to save his life after all, and he grew bitterly ashamed of his weakness. Before he died, he told the assembled people how he repented of what he had written and when he was tied to the stake, before the rest or his body was touched, he held his right hand in the flames. saying:
“This was the hand that wrote it, therefore it shall first suffer punishment.”
He neither stirred nor cried out while the hand was burned.
Great strength of character, steadfast belief in principles, these were the virtues of the great common men of Tudor times. They have, perhaps, passed down splendid standards for all of us to live by.
In an age where there is so much moral compromise (even amongst Christian circles!), may the Lord give us men like Bishop Hugh Latimer, who are not afraid to preach against sin — and as the article above puts it – men who have “great strength of character, steadfast belief in principles” and who will “pass down splendid standards for all of us to live by”.
Does your pastor teach that sin need not be taken seriously? Or that Christians can live as they please like the rest of the world?
Beware – you might be listening to the voice of a false teacher!
In her book Ruled by the Spirit, the late evangelical nun Basilea Schlink had this to say about true and false teachers:
Because true teaching is a gift of the Holy Spirit, true teachers are specially commissioned for their ministry. God has “appointed” them (1 Corinthians 12:28). They are then called by God to this particular office. Because of this, James warns: “Let not many of you become teachers… for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). For teachers can lead large numbers of people either to live or damnation. What is taught is believed and forms a basis for life. Teachers who have followed the precepts of Jesus will be great in the kingdom of heaven. Those who have taught that His commandments should be kept “shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars that for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). Conversely, those who falsify the teachings of God’s holiness and His laws, are small in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19). Indeed they will be judged in terms of James 3:1. The danger that such false teachings might intrude was great, even in the times of the apostles. For example, it was taught that sin need not be taken seriously, because it was already cancelled for sinners through the atoning death of Jesus (Romans 3:7, 8: 6:1). Or that the New Testament Church need no longer fear the wrath of God, but could practice worldliness (Ephesians 5:6), or that Jesus never required people to deny themselves for His sake. Thus the offense of the Cross was avoided, and it was no longer taught that the way of the Cross was the only one befitting to a Christian, for Jesus had said “whoever does not bear his own Cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” But, if Christians were no longer to follow the way of the Cross, they would no longer be “in Christ”, they would merely be a misrepresentation for Jesus. They would fall away from God, disgrace the Lord, and bring perdition and destruction upon themselves (Philippians 3:18, 19).
We live in a time when sin is no longer labelled as sin. Some Christians even go so far as to claim that sin can no longer be imputed in our day. However, according to the late Christian author Basilea Schlink, who was writing in her book Ruled by the Spirit, it is Satan who is behind this error, and his aim is so that sin may be given free reign:
We hear today so many views expressed in books and magazines calling upon us to forsake words like “God”, “sin”, “repentance” and “grace” out of love for our fellows. One must show understanding to people for whom God is dead. They say that this is real love. On the Christian side we are called upon to show indulgent understanding to those who live sinfully. Homosexuality, adultery, and so on are clearly labelled “sin” in the Bible. We are told, today, not only to tolerate them, but also to accept them because of their unusual character, even to the point of denying the existence of sin, because the coming of Jesus has disposed of sin and it can no longer be imputed. Large numbers of people accept this form of argument because they have become blind to the truth and have allowed themselves to be led into error…
It is Satan who is at the back of all this. He has only one aim, that sin may be given free rein, and that men may be ignorant of God’s judgment of wrath upon sin because it is no longer preached. Thus sin is no longer evaluated as sin, and men fall more and more under the destructive power of Satan.