Our Current Understanding of the Christian-Sin Relationship
In the life of every follower of Christ, the reconciliation of remaining in sin while we occupy our earthly bodies is a troublesome position to understand. To most of us, the idea of not sinning feels, at best, like an uphill battle, but at our worst points, it can physically, mentally, and spiritually feel like trying to hold on to the edge of a cliff. In the minds of most believers, our daily cross we are meant to bear is putting to death our sinful passions and desires every day, and yet times still come when we slip up or get deceived and fall into sin once again. Many of us admit these occurrences are daily, and furthermore, many pastors and teachers accede that sins and screwups are a part of the normal Christian life daily. If we are totally honest with ourselves, we would admit that the trends are cyclic; the same old sins always manage to creep back into our lives during difficult times, and in our hearts, there is an intuitive awareness that we are not completely free from that sin.
The world understands this about Christians, and the church is currently surrounded by a world unbothered by their own sin and pointing an accusatory finger at the church and stating, “You’re no different from us.” Well, the world will always believe what it wants to believe about Christians, but the true shame of this situation is that the common retort of many of our churches has been to strategically accede this worldly claim by tagging a welcome message to the accusation such as “Yes, we are all messed up. Join us and let’s do life together,” or more astutely stated “Even though we are all messed-up people, join us and we’ll all struggle to beat sin together.” I understand that the heart of these messages is to communicate to nonbelievers that it’s okay to come to church with a messed-up life, but the obvious implication is that things don’t seem to change much after you receive Christ, and life is more manageable when we all go through our messed-up lives together as a team. I realize that I am making a generalization, but it is something that I have found alarmingly consistent throughout many churches, and it is a point that God has moved me to address in this book.
Since God has revealed to me the inerrant flaws in our present doctrine on sin, it doesn’t seem that simple or appropriate to answer the world that way, and it actually comes off as misleading because it is nothing but a paradox. Logically, the following question that we should be asking is this: If we are no different from the rest of the world, then what do we even have to offer it? If our sinful lives continue to be incomplete and we continually slip and fall into sin after beginning to follow Jesus, then are we giving anything more to the world other than group therapy? After we accept Christ and the God of the universe enters our physical bodies and the Holy Spirit of God makes His home in us, do we truly remain messed-up human beings with an unending sin problem until the next life?
The reason that I pose these questions is because the root of them dwells in our doctrinal position of sin. As ridiculous as some of my previous questions might sound, we must face the fact that they are not very far-off from a legitimately relevant question that many Christians struggle to answer: If I have truly been transformed by Christ into a new creation, then why do I continue to sin?
This question has burned in some of the most esteemed minds of the Christian church since the earliest stages of Christianity and continues to be a question that perplexes most of us today. As we continue, I want to remind the reader to remember that no matter what the church believes at any point in history, the word of God will always stand firm and remain the sole, unwavering foundation of observable truth, whether our interpretations are correct about a matter of doctrine or not. Considering my own personal struggle to answer this question, I used James 1:5 and asked God for wisdom on this subject, and in faith, I expected it to be given to me liberally. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, and I knew that He had the revelation that I needed to grow closer to Him and gain a deeper understanding of His will for my life. Well, God did as He said He would, and He taught me what I wanted to know. So I would like to share with you what I learned from the Lord about our current doctrine on sin, the true renewed identity of a transformed Christian, and the faith that God expects us to have in order to permanently overcome sin and the temptations from the world.
The Lord showed me two polar positions that are perceived by today’s church, and He explained to me that the majority of believers settle on a balanced approach between these two positions. However, do not be surprised when you find out through reading this book that God does not want His people to maintain a balanced approach on our freedom from sin. Instead, He entirely prefers an imbalanced approach, an approach that is fully submerged into His truth rather than one that is still testing the waters. You will also find through reading this book that true freedom only comes to those who have given their whole hearts to God’s truth; they have placed all their faith in Him and His Word, and they have truly dived headfirst into the pool with no notion of turning back. The Bible tells us that any who doubt (or waver among multiple options) should expect to receive nothing from the Lord, because these people are unstable in all their ways (James 1:6–8)! Don’t be surprised at this, because this is God’s perfect design for faith, and I hope that the words in this book help both encourage and guide you toward that faith in Him that He has always expected us to have. For it is by grace through faith that we have been saved, and even that did not come from us; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).