As a pastor I’m often asked the same question, just with different words. The heart of the concern being raised is this, “Is is possible for a Christian to live in victory over sin?”
Now, surely if we were to read and heed the songs that we’ve sung since childhood, the answer would be a hearty “yes!” We love to bellow out the words to that great hymn (no matter what arrangement your style of worship dictates), “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!” And we even sing with greater gusto when we come to that victorious verse, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free!”
It’s something so simple to sing. Yet, it is something so hard to see realized in the midst of the daily battles of this present life. This is because every day we face a terrible trinity of evil in our fiercest foes: the world, the flesh and the devil. One pastor described this terrible trinity in this way. We face “the world with all of its allurements, the flesh with all of its subtelty and the devil with all of his experience.”
When one realizes that we face these formidable forces, the Christian is forced to say, “There’s no hope in daily defeating these fierce foes and living in victory over sin.” But wait a minute. The Bible teaches that we can live in victory over sin. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” He added, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul put it this way, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” John writes at the beginning of his first letter, “These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.”
So, if the answer to the question, “Can a Christian live in victory over sin?” is “no,” it must be a qualified “no.” The Christian can not live in daily, perfect victory over sin – but Christ can! As the words of a long forgotten song say, “On the victory side, on the victory side, with Christ within, the fight we’ll win on the victory side.” Who is the “we” in “we’ll?” It’s Jesus and me. What I can’t do, Jesus can- and He will win the war over sin within if I will simply let Him.
Now, to be clear, this is not some sort of sinless perfection. The Bible clearly states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” No, this is not sinless perfection, but it is perfect deliverance.
The great Methodist preacher of a past generation, W E Sangster stated it so well: “Any Christian can safely say at any time, I need not sin now.” Why? Because Christ is victorious over the world, the flesh and devil, and what I can’t do, He can!