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An answer on my question regarding the comparative magnitude of sins suggested that we should not sin so as to avoid damnation, I believe the contributor may amend that answer but it is something we seem to often hear.

Is this why we should not sin? Not to do good and shun evil for its own sake? Or do the two in fact exactly equate? If we avoid sin with the aim of escaping damnation are we doing it just for our own personal gain?

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I didn't really mean that in my answer. I'd rather say we're damned either way without Christ. And if Christ has saved us, nothing can separate us from him (Romans 8:38-39). –  dancek Sep 5 '11 at 22:40
    
@dancek: Feel free to amend that answer if you haven't already. I'll generalize the question since obviously it comes up a lot. –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 22:48
    
This is the 'beginning of wisdom' not the end of it. –  Peter Turner Sep 6 '11 at 15:33
    
@hippietrail, I understand that on a site like this, with a broad range of ideas and beliefs, it may be difficult to accept a single answer as correct. If you do, however, find an answer to be correct or helpful to you, please consider accepting it :). Not only on this question, but on past and future questions as well. –  James Hill Sep 7 '11 at 11:23
    
@James: Indeed I have wondered about how accepting answers should work on this particular SE! Generally on all SE sites I let my questions percolate a little to help decide which to accept except of course in very clear instances where there is "one right answer". –  hippietrail Sep 7 '11 at 11:25
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2 Answers

Neither to avoid damnation nor to be good. "Good" in its truest form can only be applied to God.

Luke 18:19

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

I believe the answer to this question is relatively simple. The only sustainable motivation for not sinning is our love for God.

John 14:15

15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.

The Bible makes it very clear that God hates sin. When Christ took on Himself the sins of the world, both past, present and future, God turned His face away from His only son:

Matthew 27:46

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

In 1 John, we're told that anyone who truly knows God does not continue to sin but purifies themselves for the sake of their Savior:

1 John 3:3-6

3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Simply put: We refrain from sin, as the Spirit of God enables us, because we love God and desire to please Him and reflect His glory, not as an attempt to avoid damnation. If we could do anything to avoid Hell of our own power, there would be no need for Christ or the cross.

Christ paid the penalty for our sin out of love for His creation. Living holy, sinless lives (as the Spirit of God enables us), is the only acceptable response to His sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

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We should refrain from sin in order to express our faith in Jesus and our Love for God.

Galatians 5:6 NIV

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

2 John 1:6 NIV

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

John 14:15

15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.

Your obedience will stem from a fear of God and the potential of being subjected to His wrath.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Here's is the conclusion to this matter:

Hebrews 10:26-27 (NIV)

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

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