If we, as Christians and believers, are indwelt with the perfect and true Holy Spirit, the same spirit of Jesus, which is also the fullness of God, why do we still sin?

Galatians 4:4-7 ESV But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

This passage led me to a debate within myself that went like this:

  • Q: If we have the Spirit of Jesus in us, why do we sin?
  • A: We sin because we're in the flesh. (Romans 7)
  • Q: Then how come Jesus didn't sin while being in the flesh?
  • A: Because Jesus was God. Because Jesus had perfect faith. Because he was perfectly obedient. (Philippians 2)
  • Q: But if we're given the same Spirit that Jesus had upon believing, the same Spirit as God, why can't we do any of those things? Why do we still sin?
  • A: ???

A good answer will show how biblical sources would be utilized by the various Protestant denominations to address the questions listed above.

closed as primarily opinion-based by fredsbend, curiousdannii, El'endia Starman Jan 5 '15 at 20:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I think this is a misuse of the biblical-basis tag. As asked, this seems to be asking for personal exegesis, which makes it a truth question. Biblical basis questions properly ask, "What is the Biblical basis for this belief?" rather than asking, "What is the Bible's stance on this subject?" I think this question needs denominational scope to be answerable. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 2 '15 at 17:42
  • @Mr.Bultitude What is needed beyond this? A good answer will cite biblical sources in addressing the questions I have in the Q&A chunk above. – LCIII Jan 2 '15 at 18:16
  • I think Biblical basis should be abandoned for this question and you should ask what a specific denomination (Lutheran, Pentecostal, Baptist, etc.) would say to those questions. This invites people to consult specific commentaries or confessions, rather than their own exegetical brawn. I'm just one guy though -- I may not represent the opinion of the community-at-large. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 2 '15 at 18:27
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    There are some denominations which believe that Christians can achieve sinlessness in this life. They will obviously have different answers than other denominations which believe that is impossible. So I think this is too opinion based. – curiousdannii Jan 3 '15 at 23:26
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    The change to an overview question invalidates the current answers. It would be better to ask a new question than delete them I think. – curiousdannii Jul 23 '15 at 22:18

If I have the Spirit of Jesus in me, why do I still sin?

Jesus did not sin because he had a different father than the rest of us. His father was God.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Our physical connection to Adam means that sin reigns in our flesh.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Being freed from the compelling power of sin means that we have the possibility of living by the Spirit free from the influence of sin.

Romans 6:11-14 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Any of us who are honest can relate to the frustration of Paul as he reflects of the difficulty of trying to keep the law by the power of his flesh in Romans chapter seven.

Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

In chapter eight Paul shifts dramatically talking about the victory the Christian who walks by the power of the Spirit has.

Romans 8:4-5 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

There are many people who intensely deny that any Christian can demonstrate carnality (the flesh). They would say that any demonstration of sin indicates that a person is not a Christian. When pressed on this declaration, they often rephrase it as any demonstration of "gross sin".

There are Christians who fail to mature and become as fruitful as they could or as the Lord would have them.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

There are Christians who are overtaken by sin.

Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

There are Christians following the course of the world.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Satan has set the course of this world.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

He has designed the world to resonate with the flesh.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Jesus warned even his disciples about leaven (teachings) that were dangerous.

Matthew 16:11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Mark 8:15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

The three groups cited each had a worldly characteristic. The Pharisees believed that they had achieved their own righteousness. The Sadducees believed they had inherited their righteousness. The Herodians were not so much interested in righteousness but in political and economic power and influence. These are all influences that can enter the life of a Christian and spread like leaven until the Christian is spiritually immobilized and made ineffective.

It is difficult to reach a carnal Christian. He is both limited in his capacity to understand and is often disinterested in the things of the Lord.

The original question might be more accurately stated as "If I now have the Spirit of Jesus in me, why do I still sin as much as I do?"

Because our physical bodies still have their connection to Adam, we will have the influence of the flesh. This influence can be magnified by any of the following;

  1. Our entanglement with the world.
  2. Our habits and values developed from childhood.
  3. The teachings of our church.
  4. The imprint of the world we receive from TV, work, and school.
  5. The influence of those with whom we associate.
  6. Our comforts and conveniences.
  7. Our divided loyalties (Christ versus 401K, health care, savings account, good job, etc.)

Like the rich young ruler there is often much that we cannot let go of.

Luke 18:24-27 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

There is a point where the sinful influence of the flesh will no longer be felt.

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.


@timf gave a good, thoroughly biblical answer to your questions. Let me add just a few thoughts to his/her fine answer.

First, and perhaps most general, sanctification is a process which is worked out in the Christian's life in fits and starts. Think of a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with its ups and downs, ups and downs, and occasionally a dramatic spike up or a dramatic dip. That's what the Spirit-filled life is like.

The up's, of course, are the times of spiritual growth and power, times when we are walking in the Spirit and being filled by the Spirit. We may even experience a dramatic spike when we experience a spiritual breakthrough. I call that a "mountaintop experience." Like Jesus' inner circle in Matthew 17, however, we need to come down from the mountaintop and face life with all its challenges, trials, and temptations, albeit with renewed spiritual vigor.

On the other hand, the downs are times of defeat, when despite our having taken two steps forward we then take a step--or more--backwards. King David took a dozen steps backward when he allowed his lust to get the better of him and committed both adultery and murder by proxy.

Second, sin is sin. Whether our sin is major or relatively minor, it will hinder our spiritual progress. Of course the bigger the sin is, the worse the consequences will be for us, as in David's life when because of his and Bathsheba's sin God took the life of the child born of adultery (see 2 Samuel 12:1-25).

Contrast the following two verses from Paul's letters:

Galatians 5:16 NAS: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,"


Galatians 5:25 NAS: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

Our new life by the Spirit ("If we live by the Spirit") is not the same as our walk in the Spirit ("let us also walk by the Spirit"). They are two different things. The former describes our standing in Christ; the latter describes our state in Christ. Our standing in Christ is forever secure. Our state in Christ changes, sometimes from minute to minute!

Third, our growth in sanctification (or Christ-likeness, if you will) requires both a conscious act of the will and conscious effort on our part. Where God's "part" in this process begins and our "part" ends, or where God's part ends and our part begins can be summed up in Philippians 1, verses 12b-13:

". . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

In other words, Christians do not work for salvation, they work out their salvation. They are assured, however, that God will provide the power to "will and to work [in them] for His good pleasure." I suggest that the willing and the working begin with our faith and an act of our will.

Romans 6:11 NAS: "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus"(my italics).

The word consider, above, is key. Notice that the above verse does not say "since God destroyed the sin principle within us, we are now alive to God in Christ Jesus." No, the verse tells us to "consider" ourselves to be dead to sin. Big difference.

How could God possibly be both pleased and glorified if once he saved us he made us unable to sin? God's pleasure and glory are enhanced only when we, by an act of the will, surrender our spirit to God's Spirit in humble obedience. This surrender to God does not come automatically to us, since the sin principle (or "the flesh") within all of us is still alive and well; that is, until we consider it dead.

Fourth, and last, we need to take the apostle John's words to heart:

"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10 NASB Updated).

"Keeping short accounts with God" is crucial in this regard. Frequent and honest confession of sin, followed by true repentance, paves the way for further growth and progress. Allowing sin to go unchecked paves the way for defeat and discouragement. The good news, however, is,

"Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

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