Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (1 Peter 4:1-3 ESV)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
Jesus did not die for our sins just to leave us in them. He paid the sin debt for all those who would trust in him for forgiveness, and believe in his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead. A holy and just God would neither be holy or just if he did not require justice and payment for sin. Every single human being who has ever lived, except for Jesus, was born in sin, and is broken as a result of sin. Whatever transgression you can think of, Jesus took that sin on himself, and willfully paid the penalty for it. In light of this fact, why would we use the grace of God to stay in willful disobedience to God’s commands?
If we are truly born of the Spirit, we will hate it when we miss the mark, and ask for forgiveness daily. We shouldn’t seek to justify our rebellion to God’s word, or the rebellion of others in the name of compassion. Jesus’ way of showing compassion is loving us despite our sin, and showing us a way out of our wrong choices. Unlike some of the religious folks of his day, and ours, He showed kindness to the woman caught in adultery, but he also told her, “to go, and from now on, sin no more.” (John 8:11 ESV) which is something many Christians are afraid to do today for fear of offending someone. The kindest thing you could do for me, is to bring correction to me, if you see that I have wandered from the truth.
Turning from our sin requires the power of God’s Spirit at work in us. Human beings do not possess enough will power to stop sinning. But to “cease from sin” requires denial of the kind of self-gratification that is clearly outside of God’s will for our lives. If we have truly chose to follow Jesus, we have chosen to deny ourselves, and to take up our own cross, and to follow him. This is clearly not the “American way, ” but it’s the Jesus way. We can’t live in sinless perfection in this life, but God requires us to repent (turn from our sin ) when we do transgress. To seek to justify our sin instead of confessing it, and turning from it, is to refuse to follow Jesus on the narrow way. So let us love one another with a heart of mercy and compassion as we seek to live out our faith.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)