How many times have we heard, after someone makes a mistake, or acts sinfully, “Well, he was ONLY HUMAN, after all”? Perhaps many times. But do we ever wonder why this is used as an excuse for a sinful action? Is there something IN US that MAKES us sin against our will?
There are a lot of clever excuses we can use to avoid doing what's right – or even actively doing what is wrong. We can say others around us “forced” us to do these things – and peer pressure can indeed be a strong factor.
We can say we couldn't avoid doing them – and if we put ourselves in situations in which sin is happening a lot, that can certainly influence us. And we can also say that we were born so flawed that we CANNOT do anything BUT sin and rebel against God – that we are “only human.”
This last excuse is perhaps the greatest lie to ever infect Christendom - and the vast majority of Christians today believe it.
If it’s true, just BEING among those pressuring us means that we will indeed cave in to sinful behavior every single time. But that’s not true. We CAN resist, and Jesus and the Bible teaches us that we can, and must, do so.
It's important to know exactly what "sin" is. John said he wrote his letter so that people "will not sin" (1 John 2:1.) That's not to say that we are going to immediately stop all sinning once we are exposed to the teachings of Jesus, but early Christians clearly expected new converts to make all effort to put behind them the sins they previously committed unthinkingly. This was true of stealing, lusting, cheating others, lying, and more.
If what's being called "sin" is inherited from our birth, it cannot properly be called "sin", because sin is an Act, not a Thing. If it is a compulsion from birth, causing us to be unable to resist sinful behavior, then we cannot morally be held guilty by God or even by any human judge, for acts we cannot avoid committing.
But if sin is a choice, and we can avoid it, we must. Turns out, just a few verses into the Bible, God told Adam's son that sin is a choice, and that he had the ability and responsibility to avoid it. (Gen. 4:7-8) That he chose falsely means he earned the punishment God warned him about. We learn from this that only an individual’s ACTS of sin are punishable, and we learn from another verse that we are not liable for the sins of anyone else, including Adam's (Ezek. 18:19-24.)
In the Genesis story, Adam's very own son had the ability to not sin. Sin, therefore, cannot be inherited and passed down through either a man's "seed" or a woman's womb to us. That false doctrine was created 400 years after Jesus's birth by a man named Augustine, who believed that physical sex between parents transmitted a "sin nature" to children.
We must trust God when He told Cain - and all humans that came after him - that we NEED NOT SIN, and instead, must work to not sin any longer, asking for God's forgiveness, which is granted freely upon repenting of our past behavior.
We are assured that God has given all people the ability to stop sinning (Deut. 30:11-14; 19) and that we have Jesus as our example that a human being need not sin, and that we in fact can obey God. Jesus’ example is a model upon which we can and must shape our actions.
We must trust Jesus when he said we must seek Godliness and that we could become Godly and complete – certainly not by ourselves without God or without God’s chosen example, but with God's ongoing help and with the example of Jesus always before us.
We are called to commit our lives in obedience to God's chosen Son, Jesus, the Anointed Son of God, and submit to humbly walk with him, relying, as he taught, on God's grace and forgiveness and growing into the Righteous Perfection that God knows we are capable of achieving.