So you’re saying it’s impossible to sin?

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this exact phrase come at me as an accusation despite me never having said it in my life.

Many people when they read my stuff totally misunderstand me and accuse me of saying all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

The most common accusation that I seem to come across is this – When I say in light of what Christ has done that we no longer have a sinful nature, and now have a pure and righteous nature. I must be claiming to never sin myself and stating that if someone is truly a Christian then they cannot sin any longer.

This is most definitely not what I’m saying.

Let me break down for you what I believe on this topic.

Some recommended reading

First of all if people read what I am saying and not what I am not saying they would find a lot of clarity.

In light of that I’d highly recommend that you read my article addressing Romans 7 followed by my article which addresses 1 John 1v8 which are the two main passages that people use to argue that we still have a sinful nature. This will give you some great understanding on the context of these passages and shed the light of the gospel on these historically very misunderstood and abused scriptures.

You can find lots more great articles that will only grow your understanding of where I am coming from on this website. I can’t guarantee that you’ll agree with me when you read them but they should at least result in you knowing where I am coming from.

So back to the question

“So if we are righteous then how on earth can we possibly still sin?” I hear you all ask.

Let me start with a story, it began in a garden that God created. He put two people in there, the Bible tells us that He called both the garden and the world/universe that contained it, “very good”. Not only that though, He then went on to say that those two people were “very good”. (Gen 1:31)

What’s my point? Adam and Eve were “very good”, God didn’t screw up when He made them, He made them perfectly. Nobody would begin to suggest that God created Adam and Eve with a sinful nature. Rather they were pure and had a righteous nature.

Can you see where I’m going here?

Adam and Eve were perfect, with a righteous nature. (Gen 1:31)
Adam and Eve sinned. (Gen 3)

And again I say… Adam and Eve sinned.

A big spanner in the theological works

Wait, you mean that perfect people can sin?
Of course they can.

God gave Adam and Eve a free will, and we still have one now! The difference is that as 1 John 2:1 says, we now have an advocate for if we mess up. His name is Jesus.

You see Jesus has NOT given us a second chance, He has made us utterly new creations (2 Cor 5:17). We are perfect and righteous.

Now I will say this, we are still figuring out how to walk out in that perfection. But that is not something we are to try to change ourselves, rather it is something we do by focusing on our beliefs (see “4 Ways to Radically Renew Your mind“). (Romans 12:2, Romans 4:16, Romans 5:2, Eph 2:8)

I’m not going to labour this point and I’m certainly not going to repeat myself, I’ve lots and lots of resources on here that say the same thing. I just want to make sure everyone knows where I stand on this issue, as it seems despite me never saying it people still think I am saying it is impossible for believers to sin.

This is what I am saying:

I am not saying it’s impossible for a Christian to sin. I am saying it’s possible for them to stop.

I’ll leave you with another great resource, if you are wondering, “well, why do I still sin?” then the article “Why Do I Sin?” may well be interesting to you.

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13 Comments

    • Hey Brian! Thanks so much, I just copied and pasted the question without even thinking… haha

      Usually my wife reads over my posts as I’m terrible at spotting grammar/spelling. 

      Good spot :) 

  1. Hi Phil,

    Sorry, me again!

    Just as you were talking about perfect people being able to sin, i.e. Adam and Eve, it reminded me of Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”

    Though Jesus is fully God, he was (and still is) also fully man and for Jesus to be a representative he had to “do” life as one of use to be our substitute. It would be odd for Jesus to be tempted and it be impossible for him to sin, how would he be able to sympathise?

    Would you say that the 1st Adam was perfect with a righteous nature but sinned so all reap the nature of the sin man and the 2nd Adam (Jesus) was perfect, nailed it (excuse the pun, not intended) by staying perfect and thus we now reap the nature of this perfect man?!

    To summarise, 2 perfect Adams: 1st one sinned, the 2nd stayed perfect and showed us how to do it?

    Have I understood you right? Does the perfect Jesus bit fit in here or have I missed that?

    All joy buddy

    Gary

    • That’s pretty much what I’m saying yes Gary.

      It was always possible for Jesus to sin, but praise be to God He didn’t! (I don’t think God was overly worried ;) )

      This is a REALLY good book on the subject – http://amzn.to/wwREDA – it’s called “Jesus and the Undoing of Adam”. Well worth checking out, it’s small and a quick read but really meaty!

  2. Though there may be those that misquote you or question what you say, there are many that agree. Oh the freedom to live in the abundance of grace.

  3. Hi Phil, I have a slightly different take on the Adam and eve thing. I think God created Adam and Eve and giving them a limited-free will in order to learn. From the beginning, I think He foresaw that Adam and Eve were going to sin and that was within His will as he wanted Adam and Eve to learn what agape love is all about. From the beginning, He knew they would fall away, they were made perfect, as he saw a long term plan for man to learn what love was and he actually predestined a means for men’s salvation from the beginning through Jesus Christ. I agree that the law was given in order that men know that they are sinners and that they needed God. When a person repents and seek god, God reveal his Agape love to the person as the holy spirit joins with the person to give a ‘born again’ experience. I think a person with a born again experience would have a changed of mind and have decided to follow god, coupled with the revelation of the unconditional love of god, it is impossible for the Spirit of the person to want to do wrong, hence my interpretation of 1 john 3:9 where the book says one born of god cannot sin. Having that said, I think true christians can still make mistake as in the flesh of the person, might influence the person towards selfish desires and insecurities. The constant battle between the spirit(mind) and the flesh as mentioned by Paul in Romans 7:18. I know the book of Romans is a tricky book to handle and interpret. Well this is my take on the Bible, but hey, who can be 100% sure what we believe is right. So I am open to opinion of others.

    • Hey Edward,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I actually like that interpretation of God’s plan for Adam and Eve – while it is debatable that He wanted them to sin it’s without a shadow of a doubt that he knew it would happen :)

      As for Romans 7 I do disagree on that a bit, you should check out my article on Romans 7 here you might find it interesting – phildrysdale.wpengine.com/2011/11/romans-7-did-paul-struggle-with-a-sinful-nature/

      Love you bro!

  4. Pingback: On Sin and Righteousness | kirstylou42

  5. One first know what sin is to understand why neither Jesus nor one who puts their trust in Him can sin and why Paul said “all things are lawful for me”.

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