19 Kids and Counting was one of TLC’s most popular tv shows until it was officially cancelled on July 16th after Josh Duggar’s admission to immorality. Since that time, more immorality has come to light from different time periods in his life. These types of events quickly raise the question, “How could this sin occur in a family that teaches such high standards of morality and faith?” Famous for their faith in God, the family is now facing questions and accusations about sin. But why do Christians still sin? The answer to this question goes back to the beginning of time. When God first confronted Cain after rejecting his sacrifice, God showed him mercy. God didn’t condemn and punish him for the rejected sacrifice. Instead, God pointed him to what was right, but also gave him a warning about sin in his life. Genesis 4:7 says, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” God said that sin lies at the door, a word picture that comes from an animal lying at the door of its den waiting to pounce on its prey. Sin is ready to pounce, and it desires to conquer people. But Cain needed to rule over sin in his life. Sadly, Cain did not do so, and he killed Abel instead of repenting of his own problems.
But all people face this problem of sin. We may face different types of temptation. Something may be very tempting to one person that does not tempt another person at all. But we all face temptation, and sin can dominate in our lives. That is why God gave the law in the Old Testament: it showed the people their sin and need of a Savior. It showed them that they could not measure up to the standard of God’s holiness; they needed His help. That’s why Galatians 3:24 says, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The law taught us our need of Christ so that we could be justified (saved from sin and its eternal punishment along with receiving eternal life in heaven with God) through faith in Christ. The law showed us that we couldn’t earn God’s favor and that we need Christ.
But after we receive Christ, we as Christians should live differently (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:17-24). God has made us into something new, and we should live according to this new life. But we still struggle with sin, as we see every day. Paul details his own personal struggle with sin in Romans 7. Even after serving God faithfully for many years, he still struggled with temptation and sin. In his mind, he wanted to be faithful to God and live rightly. But in his flesh, he still faced the temptation for sin. That is why Romans 7:15 says, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Paul said that at times he did the things that he knew were wrong, and he did not always do the things that he knew were right. As a Christian, we can recognize this struggle in our own lives. We know what is right, and in our minds we want to do it. But our flesh and natural desires pull us the other way. They pull us toward the sin that we know is wrong. As God warned Cain, sin would have dominion over us. For the Christian, this sin does not take away salvation (Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 3:15). But it still is not the way that God wants us to live.
So what is the solution? Can we overcome sin in our own strength? The answer is no. We cannot defeat sin in our own strength. Just as we could not earn our righteousness and God’s favor by following the law, we cannot live rightly as Christians in our own strength. In fact, we fall most often when we think we can handle something in our own strength (Proverbs 16:18). Instead, we must depend on God to help us overcome temptation. Paul sums up his struggle in Romans 7:24, which says, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But then he gives the answer in Romans 7:25, which says, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” God is the One who can help us overcome sin. As James Montgomery Boice said, “If we would master sin, we must first be mastered by Him who mastered it. We must be the Master’s.” Jesus Christ is the One who lived a perfect life on earth, fulfilling the Old Testament Law (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26-27). He is the One who has mastered sin. So if we are to overcome temptation in our lives, then we must be controlled by God, as Paul says in the end of Romans 7. Romans 8:3-4 says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Christ conquered and condemned sin in the flesh, and now we should walk after the Spirit, not after the flesh. We must depend on the Holy Spirit, following His guidance, in order to live the way that God wants us to. As Christians, we will face temptation and sin for the rest of our lives. But God has also given us the Holy Spirit to help us through the temptation.