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The Penalty, the Power, & the Practice of Sin

Most everyone who is a Christian seems to understand that when Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins. As we come to Christ initially, realizing that “all have come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23) (because of Adam’s original sin,) and we repent for our sins and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, we are “justified,” just as if we had never sinned!


Our past sins are made as white as snow, they are remembered no more, and are cast from us as far as the East is from the West. At that point we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and the guilt and shame of our past sins we no longer have to bear or carry. Praise the Lord!


Many believers have concluded at that point that that is all there is to it. There are even some today who teach that what Jesus did at the cross included our past, present, and future sins. Why is this not feasible? Because at the point we decide to let Jesus into our hearts, we have not yet been delivered from the power and the practice of sin in our lives. We don’t know anyone who was, do you?


The Bible tells us that Jesus came not only to pay the penalty for our past sins, but also to “take away” our sins.


What exactly does that mean?


1 John 3:4-7 explains it like this– “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.”


V. 8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”


So we see from these verses that Jesus wants to take away our sins and tear down any and all works of the devil in each of our lives. For most people that can take a while! It doesn’t happen overnight.


You see, Jesus didn’t come into this world to simply pay the penalty for our past sins, and yet not do anything about the power of sin. He didn’t pay that huge price at the cross so that we could go on sinning and keep asking for forgiveness, day after day.


Even before He went to the cross, He gives us a foreshadow, a picture of this in the instance of the woman caught in adultery. After all her accusers walked away, He said to her in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” No one wants to feel condemned and so many focus on just the first part of that verse and yet many seem to miss the last part, “Go and sin no more.”


If it were not possible to “go and sin no more” why would Jesus have told her to “go and sin no more?”


Very few people can stop sinning in their own will power. We need power from on high to stop “practicing” our sins. That power is “grace.” And not just grace—but grace and truth. John 1:17 says this, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Both grace and truth (working together) are needed in order to tear down the devil’s works in our lives so that the power of habitual sin and demonic strongholds can be broken permanently off our lives. That is the process that begins in our lives at the very moment we make a decision to “follow Jesus.” The truth is, it’s not so much about “accepting Jesus into our hearts” as it is about “following Jesus.” We must make Him Lord of our lives, not just an occasional acquaintance.


So…we decide to follow Jesus. We repent of our past sins; we are “justified,” just as if we had never sinned, and we receive the “free gift” of righteousness Jesus gave us at the cross. The Book of Romans is clear. We are justified—not by any works which we have done—but by faith (and faith alone) in what Jesus has already done for us. That’s where our walk with Jesus begins.


Romans 5:1-2 puts it this way: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also wehave access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” We are now standing in His grace.


So what is grace? And what part does truth play? Where do we go from here?


We now enter into the “process of sanctification” that the Bible talks about in Hebrews 10:14. Jesus didn’t come and die on the cross just to pay the penalty of our past sins, but He came to sanctify us as well—so that the power of sin could be fully broken and the enemy’s works torn down—just as we would tear down a dilapidated old house that we no longer wanted to live in. Then a new house must be built in its place—a house the Holy Spirit desires to inhabit. The Good News is He doesn’t wait until the old house is torn down—He is on the scene and fully active in the process of both tearing down the old, and constructing the new.


Sanctification is only one part of the Holy Spirit’s function, but He is always a gentleman. He doesn’t just barge in and start the job without our permission. Just like a general contractor must get certain “permits” to do a construction or a rehab, the Holy Spirit needs to know this is something we voluntarily give Him permission to do in our lives! He needs both our participation and our cooperation to accomplish what He desires to do.


2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “He [Father God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” We are “becoming” the righteousness of God through Jesus. As we allow this process by cooperating with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, appropriating the blood of Jesus, and renewing our minds with the Word of God, we eventually stop practicing habitual sin.


This is essentially the work that Jesus came to accomplish—revealing and replacing the lies of the enemy with His truth, teaching us to walk in His righteousness, healing our broken hearts and sick bodies, and delivering us from evil strongholds and destructive, sinful habits.


Paul talks about sanctification in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 when he says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of the Lord.” Why did Paul say “sanctify you completely?” Why did he talk about “spirit, soul, and body?” Why didn’t he just say, “Hey, don’t concern yourself about sanctification – you’re already good to go?”


Paul is the one who told us in Hebrews 10:10 that Jesus had already sanctified us at the cross! But he fully understood the need for this process to be accomplished in every believer’s lifeexperientially. He understood that this was the will of God. He wrote in 1 Thess. 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”


The problem with believing that Jesus has already covered (and taken care of) all our sins—past, present, and future—is that it omits the need for going through the process of sanctification. It omits the need for us to die to sin and the ungodly lusts of our flesh. It omits the need for each of us to learn to walk throughout this life, led by the Holy Spirit, rather than our flesh. And, yet, the Bible talks about the need for all of those things—evicting the enemy, dying to the lusts of our flesh, and renewing our minds. Those are all crucial parts of the process of sanctification.


It’s not exactly fun going through this process, but the rewards at the other end will be worth it!


Romans 6: 6-7 tells us, “That our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.”


Some seem to think that Jesus can “take away” their sin without them


being willing to “turn away” from their sin.


It’s not possible because He will never override our free will. Our will must be fully engaged in this process of sanctification. It’s already been accomplished at the cross, but sadly many have not yet experienced the peace of mind, the freedom, the healing and wholeness that has already been made available.


Here’s another piece of Good News!


Phil. 2:13 tells us, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Let us also be encouraged by Phil. 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”


He wants us to be “partakers of His divine nature” according to 2 Peter 1:4. He doesn’t want us to continue walking in the “fallen nature” that we inherited from Adam, when he sinned and brought all of mankind under the sin and the curse. The second “Adam,” Christ, came to redeem us out from under the curse and to restore all that was lost in the Garden of Eden, so that we can inherit His wonderful covenant promises—walking in His fullness here on this earth, and in the hereafter, inheriting the kingdom of heaven that He has prepared for those who love Him.


If we continue to think of ourselves as “just a sinner, saved by grace,” we may very well continue to sin. If we think of ourselves as clothed with the very righteousness of our Lord and Savior, we will act accordingly. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” according to Prov. 23:7. Jesus wants us to begin to see ourselves the way He sees us in the future. As we gaze into His face, we are changed into His image, from glory to glory. Adam and Eve were glorious creatures before they took on fear and shame and guilt and the sin nature. They were not created with a sin nature.


Some religious folk will tell you that you will always have that sin nature, but the Lord wants that “old man” to be replaced with the “new man,” re-created in His likeness, a new creation, all things having become new in our lives. (See 2 Cor. 5:17.) If all things have not yet become “new” in your spiritual life, ask the Lord today what He would like to do in your heart, in order that you might be fully transformed into His likeness. John tells us in 2 John 2:6 that, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” That is His ultimate goal for each one of us—that we think, and talk, and act just as Jesus did.


Some people get a bit overwhelmed just thinking about that and they can’t even wrap their minds around that thought. But the Good News is that we don’t have to do it in our strength. Stop trying! Stop striving! Stop following a bunch of legalistic rules! Just love the Lord with all your heart, submit to Him, and you will hear His still small voice, saying, “This is the way—walk in it.” Just YIELD to that voice.


The apostle Paul said in Gal. 3:3, “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” That word perfect there means “whole, complete.” He tells us a few verses later that we have been redeemed from having to live under the curse of the law—which was never able to make a person righteous. All who have been redeemed now have the Holy Spirit in them, leading and guiding them through each and every day, as they listen to and obey His voice.


Peter says that as our hearts obey Him, we are purified. This is the part the truth plays in the process. Remember I said earlier that grace and truth came in with Jesus?


The Amplified Bible puts it this way:


“Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts…” – 1 Peter 1:22


Jesus paid the full price so that we could obey the full gospel.


A lack of good, sound teaching in many churches today has allowed the people to heap up for themselves false teachers who tickle the ears of the people and tell them what they want to hear—rather than what they desperately need to hear to save their souls from hell. If “the way” that leads to “life” sounds too easy, it probably is. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:14, “Difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.” Not a popular message, but if Jesus said it, we need to find out what He meant by it.


His grace is there to pave the highway that we are to walk on. The problem is that many have taken pathways and detours that lead elsewhere, rather than the “high way.” We can’t keep living the “low life” and expect to find the road to the “high way.” We can’t get to that high place without Jesus and His truth and grace.


I (Pat) couldn’t get there by myself. It was only when I cried out to the Lord and said, “I can’t do this anymore,” that He rescued me from self -destruction! I knew what needed to change. I knew I was not where I needed to be. I couldn’t get there with just my “willpower.” I needed His power! I needed His love, His truth, and His grace to pull me out of the pit of despair and hopelessness I had dug for myself.


At that particular time in my life, I already knew that Jesus had paid the price to bear the penalty of my (past) sins. But I had not yet experienced the power from on high that could defeat the practice of sin—the repetitive patterns of sin and bad choices in my own life. I needed something more than justification! I needed sanctification and transformation. I needed a brand new life!


And as I cried out to the Lord, He answered my cry. He pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock—the rock of His salvation. That salvation included much more than the superficial “sinner’s prayer” I had been asked to repeat when I was nine years old. It included the healing, deliverance, and peace of mind that Jesus died on the cross to give you and me—all who decide to truly follow and obey Him!


I know many who have a wonderful testimony of healing and deliverance. But I long to see the entire church walking in freedom from the hurts and bondage of their past—free to move into their God-given purpose and destiny.


The name of our ministry is Free Indeed Ministries. We always tell people what the Amplified Bible says in John 8:36—that “Whom the Sons sets free is unquestionably free.” There is no question about it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you will always struggle with sin or addictions! Love righteousness and hate evil and you, too, can be “unquestionably” free…free to soar like an eagle and serve the most High God.


All of us have this treasure in us that God deposited in us as we were knit together—“ fearfully and wonderfully” in our mother’s womb. Then the enemy came in to our life to try and destroy that treasure that God had deposited in us. Know this—that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, wants to reclaim you, restore you, and renew you. Let Him fashion you today into His image by submitting to the process of sanctification. You will love the way you look when He gets finished! And others will love seeing His reflection in you.