Contrary to expectations, overcoming sin is not by leading a righteous life. In the first place, it cannot be done. Those who attempt to do so end up being narrow minded and condemning of others. The way to overcome sin is to accept that we are prone to sin. And that the opposite of sin is not righteousness or moral behavior but love.
It is by embracing love that we overcome sin. The opposite of sin is not a priggish uptight righteousness that forbids various kinds of behaviour but one that embraces the complexity and challenge of love. After all, the Bible itself is full of stories of adultery, incest, murder, and other atrocities that can hardly be called righteousness.
I think this is probably the greatest confusion with what Jesus taught. We keep trying to encapsulate it into various sets of rules that we can follow. And then try to figure out what rules apply when and whether or not people go to heaven if they are born before the times of Jesus. What nonsense. The problem has never been about following rules. It has always been about the lack of love we have for one another. Love cannot be confined nor defined by any set of rules. It is a capacity given to us, an option of responsiveness that we can choose to follow or not.
These are some of my favorite verses about the role of love in our lives:
Romans 5:3-5 ESV
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Colossians 3:12-15 ESV
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
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