BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
In John 5:1-15, the Bible records Jesus’ healing of a man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years. But because the man was healed on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders objected to it, and told the man who was had been cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! It’s illegal to carry that sleeping mat!” (Verse 10 New Living Translation) What a doctrine! But that is not really my focus.
My focus is what Jesus told the healed man when he found him later in the Temple. Jesus told him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (verse 14 New King James Version). That suggests that the man’s sin(s) could have been responsible for the sickness which kept him in bondage for 38 years. Exodus 15:26 says, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (New King James Version). There are sicknesses caused by sin. So, Jesus warned the man that something worse could happen to him if he sinned again. Just imagine something worse than a 38-year sickness! Of course, no sickness is anything near the eternal suffering in hell awaiting sinners. You need to repent and forsake any sin that has brought sickness into your life. And, if you seem to be hale and hearty now, don’t continue in sin until you’re cast into a sickbed.
The woman caught in adultery
In the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8, Jesus told the woman a similar thing – “go and sin no more.” Verses 10-11 say, “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more’” (New King James Version).
Sin is not something to be treated with levity. It has been rightly said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.
Sin will cost you your soul. If you ask Samson, a man with an unrivalled physical strength, but also with an unfortunate moral weakness, he will tell you. The highpoint of his moral weakness was his involvement with Delilah, a woman from the Valley of Sorek, which led to his arrest and humiliation by his enemies. It ultimately resulted in the abrupt end of his life’s assignment, and, indeed, his premature death (Judges 16).
Sin is a serious thing. So serious that the sacrifice of blood of animals, as was the practice in the Old Testament, could not permanently atone for it and God had to send His Son, Jesus, to die for the sin of the world; Jesus the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is the sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world” (New Living Translation).
All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).The consequence of sin is huge. The Bible says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). And because all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), all was supposed to die. However, God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). He died on the cross to save you and me from our sins (Romans 5:8). Therefore, through Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of our sins (Luke 5:24). Have you received forgiveness for your sins through Christ Jesus? Are you born again?
The riches of His grace
“In whom [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 King James Version). Yes, the riches of his Grace! Have you confessed Jesus as your LORD and Saviour, but you’re still wallowing in sin? Saved by grace but ‘enjoying’ sin! Understand that grace is not a license to continue in sin. Anyone who has received forgiveness has been given another opportunity to live right, not by his own strength, but by depending on the power of the Person through whom he has received forgiveness. That Person is Jesus Christ.
It will be an abuse of grace to continue to sin on the pretext that Jesus has died for our sins. Paul asked this question: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1 New King James Version) His answer was unequivocal: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (verses 2-4).
Anyone who is truly born again does not continue to play with sin; salvation brings about a change of life. Enjoying the pleasure of sin casts a doubt on the genuineness of a believer’s salvation. John the Baptizer’s words are most appropriate here: “Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God” (Matthew 3:8 New Living Translation). Luke 3:8a says a similar thing.
Living a new life in Christ Jesus
Receiving the forgiveness of sin is not the end. Every forgiven sinner must turn over a new leaf. He must live a new life. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). You must stop fornication, adultery, anger, lying, backbiting, stealing, robbery, gossiping, etc. Stop sinning. It is true that grace has forgiven you, but you must stop sinning. That was what Jesus preached, and that is what preachers today must preach. More importantly, that is how Christians today should live.
John the apostle puts it this way: “Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:9 New Living Translation). Did you see that? True Christians don’t practice sin – they don’t make a habit of sinning. “We know that those who have become part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them” (1 John 5:18 New Living Translation). If they slip into sin, they quickly repent. They don’t enjoy sin – they feel sorrowful and repent. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation” (New Living Translation). They don’t sin and continue with their lives as if nothing is wrong. No.
I’m not preaching sinless perfection. I acknowledge that it’s possible for a Christian to sin, but his attitude to sin is different from the attitude of sinners. He doesn’t sin deliberately. Hebrews 10:26 says, “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins” (New Living Translation). And even if a Christian commits sin unintentionally, he doesn’t justify it or continue in it. He genuinely repents and seeks God’s help for victory over that sin. “If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1John 1:8-10 New Living Translation). Please, get it right; this scripture is not encouraging believers to sin but acknowledges human weakness. It is not an expression of believers’ helplessness – God’s help is available to him. That is why the apostle John offers some clarifications immediately in the next chapter. “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely” (1 John 2:1 New Living Translation).
Everyone who has accepted Jesus as his LORD and Saviour is called to live a victorious life over the devil and sin. We cannot be making excuses for our sins. We need to repent of our sins and live a life of holiness. “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23 New Living Translation).
Repent now before it’s too late
Jesus is calling you to repentance. The time of ignorance, God has overlooked; but He is calling everybody now unto repentance (Acts 17:30). We’ve been saved by grace, not by our works, lest anone should boast (Ephesians 2:9). However, grace is not a license to live a reckless life, while we erroneously accuse anyone, urging us to live in obedience to God’s word, of legalism. No, that’s not right.
It was grace that healed the man in John 5:1-15 and charged him to sin no more so that something worse would not happen to him.
It was grace that forgave the woman caught in adultery, even when she was already convicted by her accusers (John 8:1-11). That doesn’t mean grace encourages sin; rather, grace forgives sin.
Grace doesn’t encourage sin. That’s why Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “neither do I condemn you go and sin no more.” The woman wasn’t to continue in sin just because she had been forgiven. The same thing applies to everyone who claims to be a Christian. You can’t claim to be a Christian and be wallowing in sin. Hear what 1 John 3:6 says: “So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is” (New Living Translation).
Sin is a sugar-coated poison
After Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and Daniel interpreted it to him, Daniel told him, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, please listen to me. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper” (Daniel 4:27 New Living Translation). Did you see that phrase – Stop sinning? But did Nebuchadnezzar pay attention to this advice? No, he didn’t stop sinning. Twelve months later, the negative dream he had, came to pass. God’s judgment was fulfilled (verses 28-33). God’s warning comes before God’s judgment. You must stop sinning. “Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t even know God” (1 Corinthians 15:34 New Living Translation).
Hell is real, and heaven is real. Charles Spurgeon asks: “Is sin so luscious that you will burn in hell for ever for it?” Does it have such “a pleasingly rich, sweet taste” that anyone should want to go to hell because of it? This is the hell of which the Bible says the worm there never dies and the fire never goes out; for everyone will be purified with fire (Mark 9:48-49).
Sin may be appetizing, but it’s a sugar coated poison! Only fools take it! After the pleasure of sin, the pressure will follow later. That’s why it’s been said, “Sin wouldn’t be so attractive if the wages were paid immediately.” But the result of sin doesn’t always show immediately; thus, many are deceived that all is well. The truth, however, is that sin has negative consequences; the ultimate being eternity in hell – the wages of sin is death.
Andrew Murray has been quoted as saying, “One great power of sin is that it blinds men so that they do not recognize its true character.” Don’t be fooled by the attraction of sin. Sin is not good either for your spiritual or physical health. Run away from sin; don’t play with it. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better to enter heaven with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better to enter heaven with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It is better to enter the Kingdom of God half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, ‘where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out’” (Mark 9:43-48 New Living Translation). Choose to suffer for Christ than to get involved in sin. “For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning” (1 Peter 4:1b New Living Translation).
If you’ve received Jesus as your LORD and Savior, your sins have been forgiven, and Jesus is saying to you, “Go and sin no more.” There‘s no justification for sin. “No degree of temptation justifies any degree of sin” (Nathaniel Parker Willis). If you’ve not yet surrendered your life to Jesus, you should do that right now. Receive forgiveness of your sins and then go and sin no more. Without first giving your life to Jesus Christ, you’ll remain a slave to sin.
If you’re not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your LORD and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O LORD God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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