When A Christian Sins

Does a Christian sin? Yes, he does! The Bible, as well as universal experience, bear abundant witness to this. Heb. 12:6-7 states: "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening God dealeth with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons." Paul writes in I Cor. 11:30-32: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep, for if we judge ourselves we should not be judged, but when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world." Paul, speaking of himself, showed he was capable of being lifted up with pride; hence there was given to him a thorn in the flesh - some physical affliction- 2 Cor. 12:7. John writes: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"- I John 1:8.

The hundreds of exhortations to believers in the New Testament to avoid sin, all tell the same tale. Such as: "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak": or: "let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men's matters". I Peter 4:15, etc., etc. Experience adds its solemn note, for every honest believer in Jesus will confess that he has sinned many times. The very holiest of men recorded in the Bible sinned at times.

But, some will say, does it not say in the Bible that "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God?"- I John 3:9. Yes, it does, but please note this verse says that this is true of every believer ; it is true of everyone who has been born of God. Now we all know that sinless perfection is not true of every Christian, yet this verse says it is true. What is the explanation? Simply this: Every believer is born of God and at his new birth he receives God's life and nature, and those, of course, are sinless. However, by natural birth the believer received a life and nature from his earthly human parents which are sinful. Hence, every Christian has within him his old sinful life and nature. The one he received by his natural birth; the other by his spiritual birth. Both exist in the same body, so that he is capable to do things that please God and also capable of sinning. It all depends on which life has the upper hand in his daily experience.

Yes, there is no question whatever but that a believer in Jesus can and does sin, What happens when he does sin?

"If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." I John 2:1. Rev. 12:10 shows that court is in session in God's presence 24 hours out of every 24. Satan is the accuser- the prosecuting attorney- charging the believer with sin when he commits it. Our Lord is our Advocate, the Lawyer for the defense. If I sin, the Lord can only plead guilty on my behalf, for I am guilty. He has no plea on my behalf, but He has a valid one on His side. He died for that sin long ago; when I accepted Him as my Saviour, all my sins were purged away in His precious blood. That's what Christ pleads for me in God's court. He says as it were: Yes, this brother is guilty, but his guilt was paid for long ago at the Cross. And so the case is thrown out of court.

But, I can hear some say, if that is so, then the believer can go ahead and sin all he likes, for nothing will happen to him. Wait a minute; you're wrong on two counts! One- the believer does not like to sin; he hates sin; two- if he sins and does not care, something will happen to him.

As already said, our Lord pleads the infinite worth of His precious blood. He does this, even if the believer himself is utterly unaware that he has sinned, Next, I believe the Spirit of God will convict that believer of his sin and as a result two things may happen. A- the sinning believer will confess his sin- I John 1:9 and so God will forgive him; B- he may be indifferent, out of communion with God and so takes a don't care attitude; in that case, the Father will deal with him in chastisement. No, it doesn't pay for a believer to be indifferent as to how he lives, for it may cost him dearly. A sample of this is seen in King David's history. When he became aware of his guilt he immediately said: "I have sinned against the Lord," and the prophet Nathan assured him that God had put away his sin, but he added these solemn words: "Nevertheless, the sword shall never depart from thy house." David suffered greatly all the rest of his life.

The passage in I Cor. II, quoted earlier, states that because of careless living some of the believers were weak, sickly and some had even been taken away by death. God deals with sin in the lives of His own children.

Again, a Christian may sin and often does (let's be honest with our selves) but he does not like to. As Romans 6:15 asks and answers the question: "Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid." A believer may fall into sin, but he does not wallow there, as a pig in the mud. The love of God has been shed abroad in his heart and love constrains him henceforth not to live unto himself but unto Him who died for him and rose again- 2 Cor. 5:14-15.

It has been well said that God deals with the sins of a sinner on a credit basis; with those of believers on a cash basis. All the sins of a sinner are put on the books and at the great judgment throne those books are opened and (since he has no Saviour) the sinner is condemned to eternal punishment. But God deals with a believer's sins on a cash basis- day by day. As said already, if the believer confesses honestly, God forgives; if he does not, God may lay His heavy hand of judgment on him, in sickness, loss of money, death, etc., etc. Here briefly is the difference:

In the sinner's case, the Lord Jesus is the Judge- John 5:22; in the believer's case, God the Father is Heb. 12:9; 1 Pet. 1:17; 1 John 2:1, etc.

The sinner's judgment is after death; raised to stand before the Great White Throne- Rev 20:12. The believer is judged all during his life down here (and not hereafter) in regard to his sins.

The sinner's judgment is by the Lord Jesus for punishment.

The believer's judgment is by the Father for restoration to communion with Him.

How can the believer escape this humbling discipline and often its pain and grief? I John 3:6 furnishes the answer. "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not." "Abiding" simply means to keep in close touch with God. To realize our dependence upon the grace and power of God. This dependence is expressed in prayer and in the reading of and meditation of God's Word. Let a believer feed and feast on God's Holy Word and live a life of prayerful reliance upon God's power and love, and he won't need the Father's chastening hand upon him; or at least very little.

To sum it all up briefly:

1. Yes, the believer can and does sin. It has been said God has only one Son without sin, but none without sorrow.

2. Christ maintains the believer's standing before God by ever pleading the infinite worth of His precious blood which purged us from our sins when we trusted in Him as our Saviour.

3. The believer should confess his sins when aware of them, and thus be restored to communion with the Father and the Son and His saints.

4. If he fails to do so, God may and probably will deal with him in often painful correction. But this discipline does not affect the believer's eternal security, for I Cor. 11:32 plainly states that this judging of the believer is done so he will not be condemned with the world.

5. As an unfailing prescription to prevent sin in a believer, he should practice constantly the presence of God in prayer, and cultivate a deep appreciation of the Word of God, and a faithful appropriation of it to his own heart and conscience. "With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord. the believer is changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord."


August Van Ryn