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God is faithful - He always gives us enough grace so that we don't have to sin:

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

Yet we still sin:

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-20 ESV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 ESV)

If God gives us enough grace so that we don't have to sin, then why do we still sin?

Isn't God's grace supposed to be irresistible?

Note: I'm particularly intrigued by this question in light of Reformed doctrines such as irresistible grace.


Related: How do Reformed Calvinists interpret 1 Corinthians 10:13?

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  • If we say we have no sin when we have, we hide it. Sin can be committed by anyone. But who is born of God cannot commit bec it's impossible for his (godly) perspective and mindset.
    – Michael16
    May 15 at 2:32
  • @Michael16 - I'm not sure if I'm following you. Are you saying that born-again believers can or cannot commit sin? May 15 at 15:25
  • I have answered about that on a topic of the 1 John 3 or 5 verse explaining the meaning of "not able to sin" means would never sin, from a spiritual mind of the believer. However, he can sin in the practical logical technical sense if he lose down his spiritual guard.
    – Michael16
    May 15 at 15:26

1 Answer 1

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There are several matters here that should be teased out.

Sinless??

We find a few references to sinless existence:

  • 1 John 3:6 - No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him.
  • 1 Cor 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
  • 2 Peter 1:9, 10 - But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall.

Now, while God provides sufficient grace to prevent sin, that does not stop people sinning because of an effect to be discussed shortly.

  • 1 John 1:8, 10 - If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ... If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us.

Thus, while God provides sufficient grace, it is possible to resist that grace and the power of God as per the following:

  • Rom 11:17-21 discusses the warning that people who had been grafted into the “olive tree” of the Christian community could be broken off if they were unfaithful.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • 1 Cor 10:12 also contains a stern warning from Paul, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
  • 2 Cor 6:1, “As God’s fellow workers, then, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
  • Gal 1:6, I am amazed how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
  • Gal 5:4: "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace"
  • Acts 7:51 - You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit, just as your fathers did.
  • 1 Thess 5:19 - Do not quench the Spirit.
  • Eph 4:30 - And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
  • 1 Tim 6:10, For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • Heb 2:1-3, We must pay closer attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every transgression and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
  • Heb 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace …”
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”

Thus, the idea of irresistible grace is not taught in the Bible - the opposite is explicitly taught as shown above. However, it is certainly true that all who accept salvation have done so because of the prompting of God through the Holy Spirit. That is, • Salvation is entirely the initiative of God (to all people) and that man’s (positive) response is due to God’s prompting (Phil 2:13, John 6:44, Rom 2:4); repentance is also a gift (Rom 2:4, Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25).

So, if one accepts salvation, why do we not become immediately sinless? There are at least two reasons for this:

  1. the forgiven converted sinner loses his/her connection to God as noted in 1 John 3:6 - "No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning."
  2. the fact that we are depraved sinners (Rom 3:10-18) means that we have no real idea of the extent of the sin problem within us and just how much reform is required. That is, to be sinless would require as much knowledge of sin as divinity which would either overwhelm us if it were all revealed at once.

Thus, the converted sinner must be always

  • “reflecting the Lord’s glory and being transformed into His likeness” (2 Cor 3:18),
  • being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2), “follow after righteousness” (1 Tim 6:11),
  • walking in the “newness of life” (Rom 6:4),
  • “perfecting holiness” (2 Cor 7:1),
  • “partaking in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4),
  • “growing up into Christ” (Eph 4:15),
  • “pressing toward the mark” (Phil 3:12-15),
  • “being built up in Christ” (Col 2:7),
  • “becoming complete in all the will of God” (Col 4:12),
  • “fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12),
  • “growing in grace” (2 Peter 3:18),

plus many more. That is, one does not become instantly perfect - that event must wait until Jesus returns and we receive our glorified bodies and minds as per 1 Cor 15:39-50.

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