Sin. It’s something most of us would rather not think about. For the unsaved person, sin is something that separates them from God, due to his perfect holiness. Yet for the Christian, their sin has been paid for. When God looks at them, he doesn’t see their sin, but instead righteousness.
How can that be? The answer is Jesus.
Jesus took the place of us on the cross. He paid the price of our sins with his very life and his holiness was accounted to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made it possible for us to be with him through the blood of his holy Son. Instead of condemnation, we receive grace. Instead of rightful punishment for our sins, God sees us as his sons and daughters. Indeed, this is the miracle of the Christian faith for all who believe.
But this brings up an important question. If our sin is already paid for, why should we stop sinning? In fact, doesn’t the vastness of our sin just make his grace more beautiful? Shall we sin that grace may abound?
Shall We Continue in Sin?
Paul demolished this dangerous line of thought in Romans 6. Christ died to free us from sin, not enable us to sin. When Jesus died, he was releasing us from our bondage to sin, because that is what sin is — slavery. Sin is what separates us from God. It’s damaging, and for the unredeemed, it is damning (Romans 6:23).
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7
So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul replies with a resounding “God forbid” (Romans 6:2). To desire to continue in sin shows a misunderstanding of this abundant grace and a contempt for Jesus’ sacrifice. Either we believe what God says is true or we don’t. Either we take him at his word when he equates sin to death, or we do not believe him at all (Ephesians 2:1).
What is the point of the Christian faith if we get to pick and choose what we want to believe? Do we think God is that small, insignificant or somehow uninformed? Do we trifle with the very thing that God sent his Son to save us for? Do we misuse the grace that he gifted us with in his death and resurrection? Surely not.
Sin and Grace
Grace is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and his salvation are gifts. Grace is not, however, a license to sin. Throughout the Bible, fathers of our faith are seen distressed, tormented by their sin.
Consider David after his adultery with Bathsheba or Peter after denying Christ (Psalms 51:17 and Matthew 26:75). They did not discount their sin as simply something atoned for. Just because the Christian’s sin is paid for by Jesus, sin is still damaging to the believer and their relationship with God.
When David tried to ignore his sin, his “bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalms 32:3). He did, however, find freedom in confession.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” – Psalms 32:5
A Christian who pursues sin despite claiming Christ as their Savior is living outside the blessing and fullness of the relationship that comes with an obedient life. We cannot equate grace with freedom to sin. Instead, we should be thankful that grace provides freedom from sin and its eternal consequences.
Doesn’t that kind of grace make you want to obey the one who set you free?
What Is Sanctification?
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:5-17
The Christian’s spiritual journey doesn’t begin and end at a one-time prayer of confession. When we truly see our need for God, his grace and Christ’s sacrifice for us, we will want to obey him. Why? Because we will overflow with love and gratitude that the God of all creation cares enough to save us from ourselves. And if we love him, we trust him when he calls us to higher things. This pursuit toward Christ, and refining of our faith, is sanctification. Sanctification is progressing toward Christlikeness. A Christian cannot pursue both Christlikeness and sin.
So Christians, remember his abounding grace toward you. Turn from sin and embrace your new life as a vessel of light. You are dead to sin, alive in Christ.
Now go live it.
***By Lizzie Hoover at Grand Canyon University: gcu.edu / Photo by Mike Waters at Joyful Toons