Derek, August 29 2018

Do Christians still sin? Is repentance still necessary?

The idea of brokenness and daily confession of sins can prove problematic for those who want to believe the nature to sin is completely non-existent once we become Christians. Those who believe it is so far removed that we don’t have to acknowledge its effects anymore.

There is a potential tension.

On one side:

On the other side:

Unfortunately, there are some who have gone so far away from this uncomfortable tension, as to embrace an all-grace, no repetance reality. I count myself in that camp up until recently.

The idea entices us — as we become convinced the sin nature doesn’t exist anymore and so we have no need to address sin. We are then led away from a lifestyle of brokenness and public repentance, and instead focus only on the public confession of our accomplishments in Christ. The positive attributes He has put inside of us.

We say we are not under the authority of sin anymore, which is true, but we are never free from the temptation of sin. And, as humans who do not always do what we want to do, we can allow sin to enter back into our lives. It comes in as a temptation, we choose to dwell upon it, it then becomes a seed which has taken root, and if not addressed, it reaches maturity inside of us as the fruit of evil begins to show itself.

“Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matt. 7:17 NKJV

This isn’t a matter of labels or titles or condemnation. Rather it’s a reminder that at any time we can choose to put ourselves back under the effects of sin if we fail to expose known sin to the light.

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19 NKJV

This can happen to both Christian and non-Christian (I understand this statement my raise some concerns for you). And while only God can do the exposing, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, we must choose to either openly confess and repent of the sin revealed, or we’ve now entered into agreement with the darkness.

Temptation > agreement > seed > takes root > manifest in maturity

Author Norman Grubb, in his book, “Continuous Revival”, explains it this way, “In John 3, we are distinctly told that men are not lost because of their sins (for they have already been atoned for) but they are lost for refusing the light.”

But what about the once and for all sacrifice?

This is sensitive ground because we can easily come across as trampling on the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, but that’s not the intent.

We can also be seen as discounting the role of grace and the Holy Spirit to create in us a new spirit, a new nature, as He equips us with the mind of Christ.

But, before taking up defense, consider…

There is a reason that we don’t experience:

Cups Running Over

Grubb makes this statement, “We are to recognize that cups running over is the normal daily experience of the believer walking with Jesus — not the abnormal or occasional, but the normal continuous experience.”

In our experience with God, He has given us this phrase, “Wake up hungry. Go to bed satisfied.” Satisfaction is the same idea as cups running over. Do we operate from the place of abundance/overflowing as we also wake up in the apparent tension of hunger?

Grubb goes on to list a few examples of lack:

Rather than call it sin, it is much more comfortable for us is to blame the problems above on environmental factors, on our personality type (this industry has been undergoing a huge revival as people seek to make sense of their flaws), or on the normal descriptors of life (tired, busy, etc.).

Concepts such as “boundaries” and “saying no” have risen in popularity as we operate more and more from a place of dryness and lack.

After reading Grubb’s book, considering the Scriptures and reading first hand accounts of the Second Great Awakening, I offer one potential reason we don’t yet experience fullness — while justification is complete, sanctification is still an on-going process and sin still exists, and when not brought to the light, it causes us to live in darkness.

This in no way diminishes grace, or speaks to a displeasure or unhappiness from God. God still sees you through the finished work of Christ. He calls you friends, son, daughter, beloved — and doesn’t cast broad generalities in your direction such as sinner, backslidder, disappointment. Anything contrary to this is condemnation and comes from a religious spirit. No exceptions.

We can and must enter boldly into the inner courts of His presence.

It is this once and for all sacrifice and the new spirit inside of us which gives us hope. Without these we would have no ability to confess in faith and be heard and made whole. Our sacrifices of a broken and contrite spirit would be of no effect.

But we must also awknowledge the sneaky, creeping, hiding sin which so easily entangles us.

“We were sinners and were saved. We glorified in saying so. But we still so often, ‘come short of the glory of God’ in daily life. No longer those old, deliberate, gross sins of fallen days, or old false attitudes of pure self-centeredness or pride; for if we are that, we are not saved. But we know too well we are still open to the assaults of Satan. The flesh still makes its appeal to us, and we respond, although our normal position in Christ is ‘not in the flesh but in the Spirit’(Romans 8:9).”

And unrepented sin, which has been exposed to us (only God can expose sin, this part is very important), still causes damage to our continuous, always-on, ever-flowing connection between God, Christ and the Spirit living within us.

Grubb states, “Sin is a revelation. It is God who graciously shows us sin, even as it is He who shows us the precious blood. Sin is only seen to be sin — against God — when He reveals it.”

The false illusion of time

The truth is, we’re on a journey with God and we insist on viewing it as happening on a timeline which is measured chronologically in minutes and years. But eternal God doesn’t operate within our view of time. He operates beyond the constraints of time, with the perspective of everything that’s already happened and everything that will ever happen.

We are in the middle of a journey that has already seen its end, yet is also brand new everyday.

We’re saved, yet continuously being saved. We have the fullness of Christ, yet walk more completely in Christ as we daily seek His face.

Our end is known, but tomorrow is promised to no man.

So, to strive for an end that’s already been decided is futile. Yet, to step aside today as you wait only for the end to reveal itself, is misguided.

To believe you have to earn your way into things which God is witholding from you is to discount the work of Calvary.

But to believe we’ve already reached fullness and that God has no mysteries left to reveal, is extremely arrogant.

And finally, to dismiss away the role of sin in this constant journey of sanctification is to live a life partially in the dark, not allowing the light to penetrate every area.

Author’s notes

In truth, I’m still working this concept out. I don’t have the exact right language to explain it, so in place of that, please accept this brilliant summary from Norman Grubb pulled out of his book, “Continuous Revival,”

This is not a life of introspection or morbid self-examination. We do not walk with sin, we walk with Jesus; but, as we walk in childlike faith and fellowship with Him step by step, moment by moment, then if the cups cease to run over, He who is light, with whom we are walking, will clearly show us what the sin is which is hindering — what its real name is in His sight, rather than the pseudonym, the excusing title, which we might find it more convenient to call it.

As I consider my own life, and the inroads made by sin, I know this principle to be true. I’m not defined or labeled by sin, my identity is secure in Christ, but sin unattended causes darkness, and left unattended for too long, reproduces sin-fruit.

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