According to some in the Christian community, they no longer sin. Once they accept Christ as their Savior, they no longer commit any kind of sin. They just don’t do that. John Piper, Baptist pastor and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minnesota described an encounter with a lady who claimed that she could not sin because she was a child of God. So he asked her to describe those bad things that she does. They are mistakes, or character flaws. They are shortcomings, or imperfections. But they aren’t sin because, in her view, true followers of Jesus can’t sin. One of the problems that I have with people who “can’t sin” is that they are not only sure that they don’t sin, they’re pretty sure that I (and you) do sin and they aren’t shy about letting us know how terrible we are.
Oh, you’ve run into those people too, eh? They claim sinless perfection and then, venom dripping from their lips, make sure you realize what a filthy sinner you are. I know that because I’ve been told the same. Apparently, that vile behavior towards those of us common people, isn’t sin in their mind. Rather than live by grace, they miss the true joy of freedom in Jesus, to maintain a Pharisaical understanding of sinlessness. John the Apostle would have words with these holier than thou folks: “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 is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
To be fair, putting all that the Bible says about sin, sinners, and sinfulness together can sometimes be confusing. Those who claim sinless perfection understand part of a truth. That part of the truth is the understanding that sin represents the state of not knowing God; of not receiving His grace. That is separate from behavior. Once we come to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord on the basis of faith and God’s grace, that sinful condition is erased, we will never be separated from God. That isn’t what John is talking about here. He’s talking about the things that we do that grieve God’s heart. The times we lack compassion. The times we do things that we know are contrary to His will. Just as a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, a sin by any other name is still a sin. John reminds those who would claim “sinless perfection” that they are deceiving themselves and the truth is not in them. The good news is that for those who confess their sins, God forgives and purifies them.
Sin destroys fellowship. It destroys fellowship with God and others. John talked about people who claim to have fellowship with God and yet don’t let that affect their daily lives. If we do that, we’re lying, because fellowship with God should move us from a lifestyle of darkness to one of light. We still have “mistakes, character flaws, shortcomings, or imperfections,” or bad things we do that we call sin. They affect how we deal with God and how we deal with others. God has a plan to take care of those sins, those bad things we do: confess them to God – which means telling God that you know that you sinned and that it hurts Him and the people you have sinned against. Once we confess our sins to God, He forgives. He purifies us from all unrighteousness. I think one of the reasons many of us don’t confess our sins is that we think by hiding them from an omniscient God, He’ll never know about them. We believe that our sins are so bad that God couldn’t/wouldn’t forgive us. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we confess our sin, we’re telling God something He already knows and is eager to forgive. No matter what we’ve done, God is ready to forgive us when we fail Him by sinning. His grace is that great.
O Lord, I do sin against You and others in my daily life. Forgive me when I fail. Show me Your grace.