Why Do Redeemed People Sin?

Surely one of the biggest and most difficult questions any believer can face up to is this: ‘Why do redeemed people sin?’ Throughout the Bible we see great men of God such as Job, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Peter, Paul and John all acknowledging their sin and corruption before God and their unworthiness to stand in his presence. If these people were so troubled by the problem of sin in their lives, how can there be any hope for us, who are so much spiritually weaker? In the light of 1 John 3:9, ‘Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin,’ how can we ever be sure we are Christians when sin is so powerful in our lives? Is there an answer to this distressing problem of sin in the lives of believers?

The first step in solving this problem is to acknowledge the source of this sin, our own wicked nature, and realise that although we are delivered from the dominion of sin, there is still sin present in our lives. This point is made by Paul in Romans 7, where he describes his own personal battle with sin. In verse 20 he refers to ‘sin that dwelleth in me’ and in verse 21 he admits that no good thing dwells in him. Furthermore, in 1 John 1:8 we read that ‘If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves.’ Therefore we MUST realise and fight against our sinful inclinations. Denying our sinfulness leads to a lack of repentance and a spiritual apathy that will never tackle the problem.


The answer to all sin is ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ. At a personal level this is appropriated through two things: repentance from sin and faith in Christ. These are seen both at conversion and throughout the Christian life as the sign of a regenerate heart. The first of these is repentance: a turning away from sinful ways and actions together with a genuine hatred of sin and desire to be reconciled to God. I believe that in order to be able to interpret 1 John 3:8-9 correctly a true understanding of this fact is necessary: God's children do sin, but those who sin without a battle in their hearts, without conviction of sin, and without repentance cannot be called ‘born of God’ (v9) but are ‘of the devil’ (v8). This ties in with what John writes in the rest of his letter, particularly when he explains in 1:9: ‘If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.’ True repentance involves conviction and confession of sin, accompanied by a commitment to turn away from it. It is the experience of every true child of God.


Hand in hand with repentance goes a trust in Christ, who is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1), whose blood cleanses us from sin (1:7), and who is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1:9).These two aspects of the Christian experience, repentance and faith, play a vital part in sustaining us in our battle with sin.


Finally, what is the answer to the distressing problem of sin in our lives? Very often in this life we will never forget our sins and our spiritual purity will continually be affected by the lasting mental and physical consequences of our sin. Comfort for the believer, however, comes in the knowledge that God is working all these things together for our good and his glory, even our disobedience, and he will one day deliver us from the power of and ability to sin. I find one of the most important messages of the book of Revelation to be not the detailed interpretation but the knowledge that I will one day be one of those glorious, pure and sinless multitudes in heaven, however disobedient I may be now. Look at 1 John 3:2-3: ‘Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.’ The hope of the sight of Jesus Christ, and the clouded view we have of him now, should be the driving force behind purifying ourselves of sin.


So what is the answer to sin in the lives of believers? Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance from sin and gaining the assurance that his power will ultimately change us to be like him, sinless, spotless, and pure.


Samuel Mackereth


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article! It is always a great encouragement to be reminded that we shall "be like Him" when we "see Him as He is". Isn't it amazing to think of this truth, and also to think how, as you mentioned, the Lord uses even our remaining sin itself for good to make us concious of our own weakness and draw us closer to Him in humble repentance. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Cor. 7:10)
    Although we certainly do not wish to promote an attitude of "sin, that grace may abound.." (Rom. 6:1)sometimes it takes a keen conciousness of our own desperately sinful nature to truly bring us to our knees before God, and, shaking us out of complacency, spur us on to greater godliness.

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