Does Man Have to Sin?

By Johnie Edwards

It is often wondered if man has to sin. The discussion comes about when one looks at the temptation of Jesus. It is reasoned that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). A reading of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 will show that he was tempted through the same three avenues as we arc today: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16). Jesus did not give in to the temptations of the devil. He called Scripture to mind as he said, “It is written.” He resisted the devil and the devil fled from him (Jas. 4:7-8). There was nothing miraculous about Jesus not sinning on this occasion; he just did not give into the devil’s temptations.

What about us? Do we have to sin? The answer is no. We don’t have to sin. We can resist the devil (Jas. 4:7-8), just as Jesus did. There is a way of escape. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Often we are not willing to take the way of escape!

It is not a question of “Do we have to sin?” but “Do we sin?” How do we answer this question?

1. All have sinned. Every person who reaches the age of accountability before God is said to be a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin comes about when one commits sin and transgresses the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

2. Sin haspleasure. Moses chose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Man likes sins and the evil things a person wants becomes the problem. James said, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away from his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15).

3. Sinners by choice. We are free moral agents and can obey God or disobey. We are not born a sinner but become sinners by omitting doing what God says or committing acts of unrighteousness (1 Jn. 3:4; 5:17). We make the choice. Who is there among us that would say, “I have never sinned” or “I cannot sin”? John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . If we way that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8-10).

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, p. 1
January 3, 1991