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What if I told you I thought you might be living in sin? Offended and defensive, you likely would protest, “What do you mean? I’ve been faithful to my spouse, I go to church nearly every week, and I even tithe.”

If our conversation continued, you probably would add that you don’t cheat on your taxes, lie about your neighbors, or take the Lord’s name in vain.

Congratulations on all the things you are doing right, and on all the evil things you’re abstaining from. But my question remains: Are you unknowingly living in sin?

Here’s what I mean…

God reminded me recently of this amazing statement by the apostle Paul: Everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Let that sink in for a moment. It means that even if we are trying to do the right things, we’re still “living in sin” if we’re not acting in faith and relying on God. Anything we do is sin—even if it is well-meaning—if it doesn’t proceed from an active trust relationship with the Lord.

“Sin” (Greek hamartia) basically means “to miss the mark.” And that is exactly what happens every time we trust in our own abilities and insights rather than on Christ living within us (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27).

You see, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Unless we’re relying on God, our attempts to be righteous will inevitably fall short, and we’ll end up with a frustrating and unfulfilling life (Romans 7).

So let me ask you again: Are you living in faith or in sin? If you are trying to live the Christian life in your own strength, you will surely fail (2 Corinthians 5:7, John 15:1-5). Positionally, you might be “the righteousness of God” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), but experientially you will be falling dreadfully short of His plan for your life.

Entire books have been written on what it means to walk by faith. But I’m convinced that genuine faith is much rarer than we commonly think. For example…

  • We’re unlikely to get much out of the Bible if we read it merely as a religious exercise, without adding faith and a life-giving relationship with the Holy Spirit.
  • Attending church because it’s the religious thing to do is much different than gathering with God’s people in expectation of life-changing miracles.
  • Paying our tithes out of obligation or fear is entirely different than sowing financial seeds into God’s kingdom with faith and expectancy.

Be honest: When was the last time you actually took a “risk” because you sensed God leading you to do something? If you’re constantly playing it safe in life, you might want to check and see if faith is having any role at all.

The rich young ruler thought he was an exceptionally holy guy (Mark 10:17-22). But despite his commendable religious deeds, it turned out that he was living in fear and unbelief—trusting in his wealth instead of in the promises of God.

I’m praying today that the Lord will expose our areas of fear and unbelief. May He show us the areas of our lives where we’re no longer operating in faith and dependence on Him. As the old hymn tells us, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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