154. How can we overcome sin?

1 John 1 verse 9 gives us instruction on how to be cleansed of sin: ‘If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ To overcome sin so we do not repeat the same sins over and over again requires the believer to rely in the grace of God that contains two vital aspects:

i) Unconditional and undeserved forgiveness by God

ii) God’s enabling power through the Holy Spirit

In addition to availing ourselves of the grace and mercy of God, we are told in James 4 verse 7: ‘So humble yourselves before God and resist the devil and he will flee from you.’ Temptation comes from the devil. To be tempted is not to sin. To give into temptation is to sin. We resist the devil in the power of Jesus name and though the blood of Jesus. The Blood of Jesus triumphed over death, and the devil knows that he is a defeated enemy when he hears the word’s: ‘Blood of Jesus’. The book of 2 Corinthians 10 verse 4 we read: ‘We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons to knock down strongholds of human reasoning and destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud argument that keeps people away from knowing the will of God. We capture their rebellious nature and teach them to obey Christ.’

There is no need for anyone to tolerate repetitive sin. God has made very provision for victory over sin through Christ. The Qur’an teaches that the main way back to Allâh is through genuine tawbah (repentance) which literally means ‘to return’. In the Qur’an in surah 39 Az-Zumar ayat 53-54 it states: ‘Say O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh: for Allâh forgives all sins for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you of a sudden while ye perceive not: Lest the soul should (then) say: Ah! Woe is me! In that I neglected (My Duty) towards Allâh, and was among those who mocked.’ In the Qur’an surah 4 An Nisa ayat 17-18 it states: ‘Allâh accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards, to them Allâh will turn in Mercy, for Allâh is full of knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says ‘now have I repented indeed’, nor of those who die rejecting Faith: for them have we prepared a punishment most grievous.’

Islâm does not accept any blood sacrifice for sin. The Islâmic understanding of forgiveness is that it is made on the basis of Divine Grace and repentance. According to Islâm, no sacrifice can add to Divine Grace nor replace the necessity of repentance. In the Islâmic theology, the animal sacrifices or blood are not directly linked to atonement; In surah 22 Al Hajj ayah 37: ‘It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah. It is your piety that reaches Him…’ On the other hand, the sacrifice is done to help the poor, and in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command. In many verses of the Qur’an, Allâh promises to forgive the sins of Muslims (those who believe and do good works).(Quran 47:2; Quran 29:7; Quran 14:23).

Prayer and good deeds can also make atonement for sins (Quran 11:114). Islâmic law (Sharia) specifies the atonement of any particular sin. Depending on the sin, the atonement can range from repentance and compensation of the sin if possible, feeding the poor, freeing slaves to even stoning to death or the cutting off of hands.

Some major sins are held to be legally punishable in an Islâmic for example: murder, theft, adultery, and apostasy. Most are left to Allâh to punish such as: backbiting, hypocrisy, arrogance, filial disrespect, lying.

The word al-Kaba’ir, which is in the plural, literally means ‘the great/major (sins)’. In the Qur’an the word is used to indicate an atrocity or a grave offense.

All Muslim scholars agree upon the categorization of the seven major sins which are considered kaba’ir. These sins are called the Pernicious Seven or the Deadly Seven Sins. However, there is considerable difference among scholars as to the other sins which are to be considered kaba’ir.

According to Sahih Bukhari the seven pernicious or deadly sins are (1):

‘Avoid the seven noxious things’- and after having said this, the prophet (saw) mentioned them:

i) associating anything with Allâh – refer to Surah 21 The Prophets ayat 22-29

ii) witchcraft iii) killing one whom Allâh has declared inviolate without a just case,

iv) consuming the property of an orphan,

v) devouring usury,

vi) turning back when the army advances, and

vii) false accusation of chaste women who are believers but indiscreet. 155. Will my sin cause me to be cast into hell?

The Bible teaches that the unrepentant sinner will go to hell. In the Old Testament the word for hell is ‘sheol’. Deuteronomy chapter 32 verses 21 – 22: ‘They have roused my jealousy by worshipping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles. For my anger blazes forth like fire, and burns to the depth of the grave (hell – sheol). It devours the earth and all its crops and ignites the foundations of the mountains.’

In the New Testament two words are used for hell – hades and gehenna. Hades literally means the unseen world; Gehenna literally means the Valley of Hinnom, the place of a great massacre. The words of Jesus use Gehenna eleven times. It is the final punishment of those who: call a brother a fool (Matt 5:22), for adultery (Matt 5:29-30), in a warning as to whom to fear (Matt 10:28), a hypocrite (Matt 23:15), a tongue on fire (James 3:6), those who refuse God’s forgiveness in Christ because of pride (2 Peter 2:4). Hades is the place of the state of the dead who have not accepted the sacrifice of Christ on their behalf for sin. Hades seems to be the same place as sheol in the Old Testament. In Revelation 20 verses 13 and 14 death and hades are cast into the lake of fire, doomed to utter destruction. When Christ returns and the great events of the end of the world take place all evil will be judged and cast into the lake of fire along with death and hades. No one will die in heaven. There will be no need for a holding place called hades anymore.

In 1 John 2 verse 4 it states: ‘If someone claims, ‘I know God’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.’ Jesus said in John 8 verses 44 and 54-59 these words: ‘You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies.’(verse 44): ‘Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, my glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, He is our God’; and you have not come to know Hi, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews therefore said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him: but he went and hid Himself, and went out of the temple. Jesus identifies liars as those who will go to hell and be with their father, the devil, the father of lies.’

1 John 1 verse 9 takes away the fear of death and hell. It states ‘If we confess our sins to Him (Christ), he is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.’

In Surah 21 Al Anbiya’ayah 98 states that unbelievers who worship false gods besides Allâh shall all be fuel for Hell. In surah 74 Al Muddaththir ayat 20 – 31 it tells the story of an uncle of Muhammed who was saying that Muhammed was doing nothing but magic and speaking the words of a mere mortal. For those sins The Qur’an says that this uncle will end up in Hell Fire.