Why Can’t I Stop Sinning?


You might be thinking “Why can’t I stop sinning?”

Most people think “why can’t I stop sinning?” after hearing that they need to stop sinning in order to please God.

This doctrine is false:

  • God does not require that you stop sinning in order to be saved (see part [1] below)
  • God does not require that you stop sinning in order to be obedient to Him as a Christian (see part [2] below)
  • Trying to not sin, by putting yourself under the Law, makes your behaviour even worse (see part [3] below)

[1] YOU DON’T NEED TO STOP SINNING TO BE SAVED OR STAY SAVED

God forgives sinners of their sin.

You do not need to become a saint to get your sin forgiven. The Bible actually says you can’t anyway (Romans 8: 7-8):

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:7-8

God justifies (declares righteous) the ungodly person that believes in Him (Romans 4:5):

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:5

An ungodly man is a sinner, so God forgives sinners of their sin. You don’t need to stop sinning to get your sin forgiven.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 3:2-25

All you need to do, to get your sin forgiven, is believe in what Jesus did for you on the cross (Romans 3:25)

Jesus died for your sins and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the gospel.

The Apostle Paul confirms that if you simply believe the gospel, then you will be saved (Romans 1:16)

Therefore, you don’t need to stop sinning to be saved

[2] YOU DON’T NEED TO STOP SINNING TO BE OBEDIENT TO GOD AS A CHRISTIAN

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law

1 John 3:4

God’s definition of sin is “breaking the Law” (1 John 3:4)

Therefore, sin is a breaking of whatever God has said is right & wrong (e.g. the 10 commandments)

If you are a Christian, you are not under the Law due to your spiritual death with Christ when you first believed (Rom 7:1-6, Col 3:3):

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:1-6

Since you are dead to the Law, you cannot break the Law

Consequently, if sin is breaking the Law and you are not under the Law, then legally you cannot sin before God

A more general definition of sin is that sin is when you disobey God. Although this definition is not stated in scripture, it is basically the definition of the Greek word for sin which is used in the Bible – which means to ‘miss the mark’.

If you’re under the Law (which you are not), then to disobey God is to break the Law. However, if you are under Grace (which you are according to Romans 6:14), then to disobey God is to disobey Grace.

Paul says this in Romans 6:16-18:

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18

His point is that to whoever you yield yourself to as their servant, your obedience is determined by who is your master.

Paul says that since you obeyed the doctrine of the gospel, you are therefore a servant of righteousness. This righteousness is the ‘gift of righteousness’ (Romans 5:17)

Consequently, as a Christian, the gift of righteousness is your master, and therefore you are “obedient to God” if you are obedient to the gift of righteousness

What this means is that you are obedient to God if you trust God that you are righteous before Him because of having the gift of righteousness, instead of trying to get your own self righteousness (Philippians 3:9)

This is the same point Paul makes when speaking to the Galatians, where he defines obedience as obedience to the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:16, 3:1)

So, if you’re a Christian thinking “why can’t I stop sinning”, it’s OK, you don’t need to stop sinning to be obedient to God. The obedience God requires is obedience to the gift of righteousness, not self-righteousness.

[3] TRYING NOT TO SIN, BY PUTTING YOURSELF UNDER THE LAW, MAKES YOUR BEHAVIOUR EVEN WORSE

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:56 that the Law is the power of sin:

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

1 Corinthians 15:56

This means that if you put yourself under the Law and try not to sin, then it will have the opposite effect

That is why Paul says that sin won’t reign in you if you keep away from the Law (Romans 6:14):

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:14

So if you are trying not to sin, but can’t stop, the best thing you can do is stop putting yourself under the Law and trust God that you are already righteous (Romans 5:1-2)

The Holy Spirit will then work his fruits in you (Romans 8:2, Galatians 5:23, Ephesians 2:13), according to God’s measure of grace for you (Ephesians 4:7)

SUMMARY OF ‘WHY CAN’T I STOP SINNING’

It doesn’t matter if you can’t stop sinning

You don’t need to try to stop sinning to be saved

You are righteous before God by your faith in Christ (Romans 5:1, 8:1)

You are obedient to God as a Christian, by standing on the righteousness of God (Romans 5:2, 6:16-18)


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