Sin in the Life of the Believer
I John 2:2— “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
DO CHRISTIANS SIN?
Many Christians would have you think that they are righteous in and of themselves. They will tell you that since Jesus made them free from sin, they no longer possess a sin nature, or no longer walk after the flesh. Many would even go so far as to say that they no longer sin.
However, this does not reflect the reality of the Christian life. The smallest of sins are ugly, harmful, deceptive, destructive, and in total opposition towards God. Even so, we can find comfort in knowing that when we fail, it is not an indication that we have left Him, or that He has left us.
In I John 2:2, the apostle John makes a distinction that we would be wise to note—the distinction between the sins of the believer and the sins of the world. He’s not comparing the sins of each, but pointing out that both have sin, whether saved or lost. In the previous chapter, John even makes the statement that, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
WHAT CAN I DO?
So, we’ve stated the obvious: Christians fail. This should not come as a shock to true believers, at least if they’ve been paying any sort of attention to their hearts. The question then becomes, what can I do about it? This is the rub of the conversation, seeing as there are a million and one solutions offered by Christians, for Christians. In the midst of so many answers, we must push them aside in favor of the biblical answer (after all, it is the Word of God):
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).
Notice the contrast: our sins versus His faithfulness; our unrighteousness versus His righteousness. Because of Christ, our propitiation (the Cross, in a nutshell), He is able and willing to forgive us. To forgive literally means to “send away.” Consider a criminal who owes a great debt standing before the king. The king sends him away a free man who now owes nothing. What marvelous mercy is extended to us as transgressors! What grace is freely given! What love the Father has for us! What liberty the Cross affords!
However, note the condition. There is most certainly something required of us, and that is faith. The word confess literally means to “speak the same thing,” or “come to an agreement.” God sees sin for what it really is, but we rarely do. He knows that we presently come short of His glory, but we don’t easily recognize that.
Once you see your weakness—be it a subtle thing God reveals to your heart, or a massive, moral failure that needs no great wisdom to notice—then bring it to the One who already knows your heart. He’s waiting for you to recognize along with Him the weakness of your flesh, so that you can give up in your own strength and trust Him to take over the battle. He already won the war on your behalf at the Cross, so trust and hide in that, and He’ll win through you, every time.
“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:8-9).
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