Do “Spirit-controlled” Christians still sin? The short answer is yes, but not while they are “controlled” by the Holy Spirit. That’s precisely why the Apostle Paul prescribes in Ephesians 5:18 that we be “filled with the Spirit.” The verb tense Paul elects to use is that of a pursuit to be continuously filled, not simply a “one and done” filling.
Now why is that, exactly? As believers, having the Spirit of God within us does not mean we automatically surrender to his control. (Can I get a yeah, buddy on that?) Most certainly the “resource” is there, since we are walking, talking temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), but we often find ourselves leaning back to our old ways of doing things just as Paul described in Romans 7 when he confided to us that he shares our struggle of desiring to do good but acting differently as well as not wanting to but doing things which are not good or profitable (or spiritual). He concludes by expressing the frustration of this wretched situation. He acknowledges he has the power by virtue of the Spirit to make right choices, think right thoughts and do right things . . . . and yet he blows it just like you and me.
Let’s not skim over the truth that he has the capacity to choose rightly always, just as we do. It’s the taming of our “chooser” (our will) that is difficult. We must obey God, asking for his help to choose well. Paul knows as we know that though we have the Spirit, we do not always live according to the Spirit. This is not a hopeless situation, for as God recovers more of our heart, we move into closer alignment with Him and it becomes more natural to “live as Christ.”
Following the adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” has a positive side to it as long as the “Romans” are conforming in their ways to the principles God sets forth. However, in the culture of the world we live in, we are called to be present here but not adopt the patterns of its culture. “Do not be conformed to the world” says Roman 12:2. Don’t be squeezed into the mold of the world system. We have a choice!
John 15 says the “world” will hate us because we are no longer of the world and walking according to its customs. The “PC” world we live in today creates tremendous pressures for us. To be honest, it often takes supernatural guts today not to bend to fit, or at least not to appear so out of sync with the ethics and morals of the times. But we can do that. We do not have to compromise who we are at our essence in order to secure acceptance from a world whose standards we are at odds with, standards the Spirit wars against. And though we face pressures on many fronts we can represent God faithfully, authentically and graciously.
So, do Christians still sin? Will you and I still sin? It is true there was only One who was sinless, and we are called to imitate Him. In the process of our walk on this planet, we will not finish the course as “sinless,” but the process of God’s transforming work will see to it that we sin less. We can be grateful for the progress of God’s work in each of us. “He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) We can be certain God enjoys the satisfaction of His work in each of us, having patience in His process. Think About It.