“…go and sin no more.”
– John 8:11
This command of Jesus seems to be an impossibility. How can anyone in this imperfect life “go and sin no more?” Is Jesus, therefore, setting us up for failure or pointing us to something else?
We are not sinners because we sin, but rather, we sin because we are sinners. This is due to the original sin of Adam, we were born into it. There are sins in the Bible that are clearly defined, yet there may not be an all exhaustive list for us to attempt to follow and avoid. Sin has been rightly described as “lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence.” If our hearts are never made right with God through Jesus as Lord and personal Savior, we will always lack these orthodoxies.
A seventeenth-century saint once wrote a prayer of reliance on Christ. He rightly prayed, “My Father, When though are angry towards me for my wrongs I try to pacify thee by abstaining from future sin; but teach me that I cannot satisfy thy law, that this effort is resting in my righteousness, that only Christ’s righteousness, ready-made, already finished, is fit for that purpose.” When the Lord chastises us, we cannot reform ourselves by trying to be better. God does not discipline us to push us away from Him, but rather to separate us from sin and be drawn into Him and reconciled.
The life of the Christian is a life of victory and not of defeat. Yet we struggle daily in a constant battle with the presence of sin. In the believer’s heart, sin no longer has dominion; it has been replaced by grace through faith in Jesus the Christ. Jesus does not set us up for failure, He points us to His grace. Right standing with God comes through Jesus alone.
“So deeply planted are the roots of human corruption, that even after we are born again, renewed, washed, sanctified, justified, and made living members of Christ, these roots remain alive in the bottom of our hearts, and, like the leprosy in the walls of the house, we never get rid of them until the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved.”
– J. C. Ryle