“Does Man Have to Sin?”

By Leslie E. Sloan

Sin is the universal problem of man. Ever since the transgression in the Garden of Eden, all men (with one exception) have become guilty before God through sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). And just like Satan’s deception through human reasoning then, men are induced to accept his lies now. Sin is man’s constant enemy and is ever before him. Sin is a sovereign in the life of a sinner, as he allows sin to reign in his mortal body (Rom. 6:12). One who is “sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14) is brought by sin into a state of wretchedness (Rom. 7:24). (Do you suppose that John Newton had this in mind when he penned the lyrics of the time-honored old hymn, “Amazing Grace”?) Ultimately, sin destroys everything worthwhile that man possesses, his soul in a devil’s hell. Now, is there any subject of greater significance to all of God’s creatures than this one? No.

In this article, I do not propose to waste your time or mine to discuss the senseless, unprofitable, and impractical question of whether man has to sin. I prefer a more sensible approach to the subject. The problem is not contained in that question, and no one is helped by the answer, either pro or con. If you want to help me, then deal with the problem of sin. Regardless of the interest and enthusiasm one may have for his position on this question, to argue such is simply being impractical. There is no practical application which may be made of the conclusion whether pro or con.

The apostles of Christ did not address or argue the question, but rather addressed the problem. And, beloved, this should be our approach to this question today. Our work as Christians, and especially preachers, is to help those who are in sin to be able to free themselves of slavery (Rom. 6:16-18).

Beloved, it is a waste of time and energy to discuss a question within a context of whether or not the problem had to exist. Reality demands that we not get “caught up” in such divisive questions.

If I am drowning in a pool of water somewhere, it doesn’t help my situation for my preaching brethren to stand by the pool and argue about whether I had to be in the water. To be of assistance, they should urgently implement a rescue operation  get me out of the water. To stand by and allow me to drown while they argue the question is, in effect, what brethren are doing today. While lost souls are drowning in the sea of sin, some are discussing whether they had to be there. If we want to help, then we need to urgently. Because the situation is urgent, implement a rescue operation that involves dealing with the problem of sin. The gospel is the remedy for this, and to rescue souls from the depths of sin, the gospel has to be proclaimed; nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

Interesting, too, is that you may question those who affirm that man doesn’t have to sin, and they readily admit sin in their lives (1 John 1:8-10). Well, why? This, to me, is inconsistent. I make no argument here either way, but simply point the reader to this aspect of the question. I would, however, in closing, like to encourage all my beloved brethren to be more zealous in dealing with real problems and less energetic in the direction of such questions as our subject. Brethren, this is badly needed for I fear that some have made a hobby of the question of our subject. And, to argue such questions, is in reality, a diversion from reality.

Guardian of Truth XLI: 24 p. 5
December 18, 1997