Do Christians Sin?
THE ARTICLE on the
"Unpardonable Sin" (July 1971 -- TOMORROW'S
WORLD) brought a heavy and most gratifying response.
Thousands were helped -- many minds freed from doubts.
Consequently I want now to make plain a related truth.
I have written on this
subject before. But perhaps I can approach it in a
different manner, and explain more clearly.
Do Christians ever sin?
If one does, is he "lost"?
First let me ask -- and
answer the question, WHAT IS a Christian? Does joining a
church make one a Christian? Does saying, "I accept
the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour" make one a
Let's get the Bible
definition. In Romans 8:6-9 you will read: "For to
be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded
is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (fleshly mind)
is enmity (hostile) against God: for it is not subject to
the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that
are in the flesh (fleshly MINDED) cannot please God. But
ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that
the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not
the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
A Christian, then, is
one who has received, and in whose mind dwells the Holy
Spirit of God. Otherwise he is NOT Christ's -- NOT a
But how does one
receive the Spirit of God?
On the day the Church
of God was started, the Apostle Peter said, "Repent,
and be baptized ... in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Repent of what? Of sin.
And what is sin? "Sin is the transgression of the
law" (I John 3:4). What law? The law that the carnal
mind, hostile to God, is not subject to -- the Law of God
(Rom. 8:7). Again, we read of "the Holy Spirit, whom
God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32).
There are the two
CONDITIONS to receiving God's GIFT of the Holy Spirit:
REPENTANCE and FAITH. Being baptized is the outward
manifestation of the inner faith in Christ. Repentance is
not merely being sorry for something one has done -- or
even many such sins. It is a real repentance of what one
IS and HAS BEEN -- of his whole past attitude and life
apart from God. It is a total CHANGE of mind and heart
and direction of life. It is a CHANGE to a new WAY OF
LIFE. It is a turning from the SELF-centered way of
vanity, selfishness, greed, hostility to authority, envy,
jealousy and unconcern for the good and welfare of others
to the God-centered WAY of obedience, submission to
authority, love toward God MORE than love of self and of
love and concern for other humans equal to self-concern.
LOVE is the fulfilling
of God's Law (Rom. 13:10) -- but God's Law is a SPIRITUAL
law (Rom. 7:14) and can be fulfilled only by "the
love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Spirit" (Rom. 5:5).
The Holy Spirit will
open one's mind to UNDERSTAND God's instruction on how to
live, but it will not force one to live God's way -- it
will not pull or push one. Each Christian must take his
own initiative, though God's Spirit will give him help,
faith and power. But it is "as many as are LED BY
the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom.
So a Christian, then,
is one who has received God's Spirit, which is dwelling
in him, leading him, and he is following GOD'S WAY of
life. A Christian has forsaken his former habitual way of
life -- his selfish way unconcerned with God. Now he
lives in the habitual way of God's Word -- in the light
of the Word of God.
But suppose, like an
8-or 10-month-old baby trying to learn to walk, as he
"walks" this NEW WAY, he stumbles, "falls
down," as it were, and sins. Is he then condemned --
lost -- no longer a Christian?
I would like you, now,
to notice, and UNDERSTAND, what the Apostle John was
inspired to write for our admonition. It is in the first
letter (epistle) of John:
Speaking of Christ, in
his opening salutation, as "That which was from the
beginning ... which was with the Father, and was
manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard
declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship
with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and
with his Son Jesus Christ" (I John 1:1-3).
The true Christian has
been reconciled to God through Christ. And, having God's
Spirit, he enjoys actual FELLOWSHIP with the Father and
the Son Jesus Christ. And even his fellowship with
fellow-Christians is through God and Christ. He is joined
to them, as the different branches are joined to a grape
vine and joined together through and by the vine. Compare
Jesus' analogy in John 15:1-7. Christians, then, are
actually WALKING with Christ -- and two cannot walk
together except they be in agreement (Amos 3:3).
Now continue in I John:
"This then is the message which we have heard of
him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him
is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not (are
not doing) the truth" (verses 5-6). That is, He --
the living Christ -- is walking in the light -- as if on
a brilliantly lighted path. But if we are walking in
darkness, we are walking on a different path altogether,
where it is dark. Therefore we are not walking WITH Him
at all, and if we say we are, we are lying.
But suppose, while
walking with Him -- in the light -- one of us stumbles
and falls down. This is not a case of having turned away
from Him and the path He is treading, to a different and
darkened path. If we say, "Oh I'm sorry," would
He not give us a hand and help us get up and continue on
the lighted path with Him? Would He become angry and say,
"Get off my path -- go walk down a darkened
In still other words,
the true Christian has turned FROM his former life of
HABITUAL sin -- and from his former attitude of
selfishness, and self-seeking when he had no serious
intention of living God's way. But now he has turned from
his former way. His life, in general, now, is the
HABITUAL way of the Christian life.
But he is not perfect
the minute he is converted and receives God's Spirit. He
must GROW spiritually, in grace and the knowledge of
Christ, as Peter writes in II Peter 3:18. He is the
creature of habit, and all old former habits do not just
automatically leave him without any effort on his part to
overcome them. He must learn to OVERCOME sin. It is
inevitable that he may be caught off-guard and make a
mistake. So, continue in I John 1:
"But if we walk in
the light" -- that is, even though we may stumble
occasionally, it is now only the occasional slip -- not a
turning our back on God's WAY -- NOT a turning back to
the HABITUAL and constant way of sin.
Do you begin to
UNDERSTAND the difference? The true Christian INTENDS to
live God's WAY. He wants to live God's way. He TRIES to
live God's way. And, in general, it now actually is his
habitual NEW WAY of life. The occasional slip, or sin,
does not mean that in his mind and heart he has rejected
God and God's WAY. Continue:
"... As He is in
the light" -- if that is now our goal and purpose
and habitual way of life -- then "we have fellowship
one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us (us who are now Christians) from all sin. If
we -- (Christians) -- say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (verses 7-8).