I have heard often from friends and those I’ve discipled these words uttered in deep disappointment—“I thought I was past that sin.” After being told this time and time again, and even after me saying this to myself and to God, I’ve come to realize that no matter how mature I’ve grown in Christ I’m never too far from the most disgusting and most “basic” of sins. John Bunyan would agree, as he has been credited with saying “There is enough evil in my best prayer to damn the whole world.”
Regardless of how mature or sanctified I may become, the sins I committed as a child in the faith are still a threat to me. I cannot think of any place in Scripture where it says something to the effect of “you are beyond that particular sin.” With a sinful nature present in this flesh any sin is possible at any time. Yes, we are exhorted to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Eph. 4:1). Elsewhere Paul writes similarly saying we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10).
But these texts and others that call for Christian maturity are written, in one sense, because there’s always the potential not to walk in that manner. Furthermore, if there is anything to the idea of walking in the light of Christ, moving closer toward him as I mature, I just become even more aware of how deeply corrupted I truly am. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from those much older than me in the faith is this very truth. So one mark of Christian maturity is how sensitive we are to our sinful nature and potential to sin. Mature Christians recognize that dependence on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the strongest temptations are of utmost necessity. Mature Christians never say, “I am past that sin.” Mature Christians say, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for me.” Thus I can know clearly that
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -1 Cor. 10:13
As I read the passage, the verse before this confirms what is meant by never being “past a sin.”
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
The point is clear here as Paul writes of the Israelites drinking from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (v. 4). Yet even in the wilderness, after God had rescued them from Egypt, witnessing all the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, they desired evil (v. 6). They were idolaters and engaged in sexual immorality (vv. 7-8). Judgment came—23,000 fell in a single day (v. 8). God had done so much for them in their rescue, yet they were not beyond any kind of sin. In some way, they drank of Christ but still engaged in all types of horrific sin! They were beyond nothing. These words, written for our instruction (v. 11) remind me that I too am beyond nothing. The command is clear:
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. -1 Cor. 10:14
It is all idolatry—the gluttony, the sloth, the lust, the pride—all idolatry, maybe of other gods, but certainly of self. We idolize humanity. We have sought to redefine all aspects of life ever since the Fall when we were overcome by temptation and redefined God’s only command. Since then nothing is off limits—entertainment, money, eating, sex, love, hate, etc.—all to exalt us to the level of deity. All to say, “I am past that sin.”
We must ask ourselves how we are walking each day. Are we seeking to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called, the calling that knows the depth of depravity, yet also the grace of God? Or are we walking in a manner worthy of puffed pride saying “I am past that sin” only soon to be defeated by it, wherein our defeat we are left devastated and perplexed, saying “I thought I was past that sin?”
By His Grace.