On this side of eternity we will sin. I’m not saying we must sin. Sin is not necessary to human life but it is part of human life. On this side of eternity we will struggle with it. We will sin.
Indeed, there will be times in lives where we think we’re doing okay, where things seem to be going fine, and then we hear a sermon or see a passage in the Bible, or read an article, or hear an argument where we find ourselves convicted of sin. We wind up convicted of some specific thing that we thought was okay but now we see it is wrong.
Perhaps there is a specific sin that we keep slipping into, like a well-fitting sweater or comfy shoes. Or the sin we’ve committed a long time ago, before even thinking it was a sin, and now we see it for what it is. We’ve sinned.
In the blogging vogue, here are eleven things (to limit it to a readable number) to keep in mind in regards to sin.
Paul, in the early church, noted that there was a problem of meats offered to false gods and people participating in activity that could be misconstrued. But what to do if someone invites you over to a meal? Well, he says, If you want to eat, eat without asking where the meat came from so that you and your host’s conscience remain clear. Eat the meat to the glory of God but, if the problem point is brought to light, then don’t eat. Realize there is a space for being honestly ignorant. That being said that doesn’t absolve you from responsibility in all cases. Sometimes your ignorance is God’s grace protecting you. At other times it is part of your maturing as a believer. What’s important here is that once your ignorance is informed, you need to act. (1 Corinthians 10; Numbers 15:22-31; Leviticus 4 ; 2 Tim 3:7).
Paul—an apostle, a major contributor to the New Testament, and eventually a martyr—described himself as the chief sinner. John—the loved follower, took care of Jesus’ mom, also an apostle—eventually writes that if you say you don’t sin you’re a liar. Peter—an apostle, a follower of Christ, and eventually a martyr—denied Jesus and later in life had some major flubs. You are part of a family that sins; you’re not alone. (1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 1:8; Romans 5).
One of God’s gifts to mankind is the conscience: innate knowledge of right or wrong that clues people in to when they’ve done wrong. There is a problem. Keep sinning while ignoring your conscience and eventually your conscience is numb to sin. If your conscience is recoiling about something, if you feel convicted, it’s wise to take notice because we stand before our Lord as a servant before his master: use his gifts to honor him. (Romans 14)
Like the lawyer who had to be told the story of the Good Samaritan, we’re good at justifying ourselves. The danger with that route is that we get what we want; we justify ourselves in our own eyes at the expense of the truth. In so doing we deny dealing with the sin in favor of embracing it. So admit you sinned, not only to another but against the Lord himself. (Psalms 51; Luke 10:25-37)
Jesus didn’t sin; he was tempted. Jesus didn’t fail; he remained true. He alone had the right to do whatever he wanted and instead what he wanted was to remain obedient. He went to the cross while remaining completely, totally, and utterly faithful. He did that for the glory of God, and in our place. That means that God gets it. He knows what we are going through. (Philippians 2, Hebrews 4)
Scripture encourages us to confess our sins—not to every person on every corner, nor to a priest in a cubicle, but to the Father himself and to each other. We can boldly enter in to the very presence of God without fear of obliteration so that we can be honest before Him and tell him where we’ve done wrong. Sure he knows everything, but like the Dad who knows junior has done wrong, he wants us to come to him and say “I’m sorry. (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9)
This isn’t to say that God agrees with our sin but it is to say that we do have an advocate: Christ Himself. We’ve done wrong but Christ remains faithful. We’ve done wrong but the God who justifies us is the one who judges. We’ve done wrong but God remains on our side. We have sinned but God is the one working in us to perfect us: nothing will separate us from his love and plan. (John 2:1-2; Romans 8; Phil 4)
The reason we won’t be separated from God’s love is because Christ’s scourging has healed us while our debt was paid for in Christ’s body on the cross. The list of rules against us has been nailed to his cross so that the debt for our trespass is removed. So much so that Paul can say that we’ve died in Christ—our sin is paid for. (1 Pet 2:24; Romans 5; Colossians 2)
We’re not good enough. We never could be. The fact is that God has taken the very good of Christ and applied it on our behalf. We don’t stand on our own merit or righteousness but rather on the merit and righteousness of Christ which is credited on our behalf. This is a great thing because it means although we’ve majorly screwed up we are still declared righteous. (Romans 3)
Since we’ve been identified in Christ’s death we have also been identified in his resurrection. That means that our sinful self is swallowed up in Christ’s perfect and new life. Just like he got up from the dead and walked around, we can fail, have no threat of the condemnation of wrath, reject our sin, get up, and give life another go. (Romans 6, 8)
We aren’t free to willfully sin so that we get God’s forgiveness. We’re not free to shrug at sin as if it isn’t any big deal. Nor are we to happily embrace our failure and nonchalantly admit that we deserve hell. Scripture repeatedly encourages us to take drastic measure. Run from the sin. Plan to turn from it. Actively excise it from your life. Like the man forgiven at the pool of Bethesda, we find God’s grace exceeds our ability but we still receive the mandate to “go and sin no more” and to “keep his commandments”. And yet, in all of this, take comfort that God has poured out the Holy Spirit within you so that you can stand in the day of trial and trouble. (John 14; Romans 6; 1 John 2; John 5)
More can be said. The nature of blog lists is that they are fabulously limited. The point here is this: we are not perfect, we do sin, and we have a savior who saves to the uttermost. Lean into him.