Christians sin. It’s hardly news. I’m sure every single one of my friends know that I’m a long way from being perfect. I know I’m a long way from being perfect. And I’m sure that there’s not a single true Christian anywhere in this world who would insist that they didn’t sin.
But why do we sin? After all, isn’t one of the cornerstones of our faith the fact that belief in Jesus Christ has saved us from sin? Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins and then was raised to life to prove that his victory over sin was so complete that the punishment for all sin (death) had no hold over him.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
Ephesians 1 v 3 – 10
In love God predestined all Christians to be his sons through Jesus Christ. How then can Christians throw this gift right back at God and sin? How can Christians who profess to love God break his commandments?
If we have been redeemed from our sins why then do we go on sinning?
Fortunately we are not left to our own devices to answer this question. In Romans 7 Paul deals with this very subject, why he, Paul, goes on sinning despite being a Christian (more, an apostle!)
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7 v 14 - 20
What Christian cannot read them and feel the heart breaking ache of recognition? I know exactly what Paul is talking about when he says: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” But surely this is ridiculous – if I want to do good and do not want to do evil why then do I do evil? Why do I knowingly sin? Well, Paul continues:
“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
Romans 7 v 21 – 25
Don’t mistake Paul he is not excusing his actions, he is not saying that the evil he does is not his fault. But what he is saying is that all Christians are in conflict. In our ‘inner being’ we delight in God’s law but in our ‘body’ the law of sin is at work. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that sin is literally our body’s fault. No, it serves as a picture of the divided state of a Christian’s heart. On the one hand Christians really do delight in God’s law but on the other we also sin.
What should our response be?
As Paul our response should be ‘What a wretched man I am’ and with that acknowledgement is that nevertheless we are still saved thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ. We get to Christ through repentance and faith and we soldier on in our Christian life through repentance and faith.
Never forget, Christians are always justified – that is always righteous in God’s sight thanks to the death of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. But Christians are always under going the process of sanctification – i.e. God turns the righteousness he sees into the reality everyone else sees. Justification is immediate; sanctification is the work of a life term and will only come into completeness after death.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8 v 1 - 2
This is the fact we need to cling to.
Christians sin because we are never fully free of the curse of sin. In this life we still retain our sinful self. But wonderfully this serves only to make God all the more glorious as he looks upon sinners and calls them sons. Jesus' death on the cross covers all sin - past, present and future! Don't get me wrong, I'm not making light of my sin (although I do) and I'm not using God's grace as an excuse to sin more . But the mind blowing truth is that despite my sin God still loves me!
Christians are saved through repentance and faith and they must continue in repentance and faith as well.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
1 John 1 v 8 – 10