Still a Sinner but Forgiven by Christ :: by Nathele Graham

Christians have a special blessing; our sins are forgiven. Our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us that He has forgiven our sins. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we stopped sinning at the moment we accepted Christ for our salvation?

Some think that once a person accepts Christ they no longer sin, but that’s just not true. If you believe that then you don’t understand the nature of salvation through Christ.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

John used the word “we” so it is clear that he included himself with sinners. I don’t want to sin and I’d like to think I don’t sin, but then God’s Word convicts me. Every Christian needs to study Scripture in order to see their own sin and, with God’s help, remove that sin.

This is a process that takes a lifetime. John wrote this letter to Christians and therefore he is also addressing you and me. Sad to say that even we believers will continue to sin until we are called home. The difference between a believer and a non-believer is that, as believers, our sins are forgiven.

All of humanity sins but not everyone thinks they do. You might ask a non-believer if they sin and they will probably laugh at you and say no. Of course, they have no idea what sin is. Sin is what separates us from God and since they don’t believe in God they don’t believe there is sin. Christians should know better. We have God’s Word to show us what changes we need to make in our life in order to draw nearer to Christ.

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

John tells us God’s Word cannot be in someone who says they have never sinned, and we call Jesus a liar if we make that claim. Again John places himself in the middle of this assertion by using the words “we” and “us.” Paul also understood that the struggle between our flesh and our desire to follow Christ is a continuing battle.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:18-20).

That’s just a very complicated way of saying that I don’t want to sin, but sin living in me causes me to follow the flesh rather than Christ. Paul also knew about God’s grace.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

Christians sin, but we are justified by the grace of God.

When John wrote his first letter, it is clear that he didn’t want believers to sin. Knowing that we will all continue to sin, he wrote words of assurance regarding Christ’s love.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

John doesn’t tell us that it is all right to keep on sinning, but that when we sin our Lord will “stand up” for us. One day when we leave these earthly bodies we will feel tremendous relief from the burden of sin, but until then we struggle between the lust of the flesh and honoring God.

We need to fight sin in our life, but when we fail we have an advocate with the Father. Jesus Christ is our Advocate and we owe Him our love and honor.

God’s love is pure; Jesus loves us more than we can truly understand. He doesn’t look for ways to condemn us, but even though we fail in our Christian walk He continues to forgive us. Still He urges us to keep His commandments.

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9-11).

There is no joy in sin.

Jesus spoke these words to his closest followers and John was one of them. Did John fully understand what Jesus meant? Probably not right then. Much would happen between the time Jesus spoke those words and when John wrote his letters. It took time for John to be able to write about keeping Jesus’ commandments.

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

The Greek word tēreō is translated “keep” and “keepeth” in the above verses from the Gospel of John and John’s first letter. It means to “observe or give heed to” Jesus’ commandments. Jesus said that if we “observe or give heed to” His commandments we will abide in His love and have joy. There can be no joy from living sin-filled lifestyles, “living together” outside of a God ordained marriage, lying habitually, continually being angry, stealing, or doing any number of things that are not according to His commandments.

John wrote that if we say we know Jesus but have not “observed or given heed” to His commandments, then that person doesn’t know Jesus and there is no truth in him. John isn’t talking about losing salvation, but is this person truly saved? Once we become born-again there will be a change of heart. This change will reflect Christ as a definite part of our lives.

If you say you are a Christian but your lifestyle says different, you may be fooling yourself. We all have those times when sin gets in the way of our walk with Jesus, but if you don’t “observe or give heed to” His commandments you need to take a hard look at your life.

We can get discouraged. When we try not to sin but keep falling into the same sin over and over it can feel as if we aren’t really saved. After continuing to fail in our pursuit of perfection many people beat themselves up by thinking they’ve lost their salvation, or even think they were never really saved. Take heart, brethren. It isn’t your righteousness that saves you, but righteousness that is only found in Jesus Christ.

“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12).

What a wonderful promise. Your sins and mine are forgiven by Jesus Christ.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

The earliest texts of the book of Romans don’t include the last part of this verse, and most modern translations omit it. This verse simply says “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”Jesus Himself said it best when He told Nicodemus:

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

It’s our belief in Jesus that saves us, but if we choose not to believe in Him we condemn ourselves. If we choose to believe in Him, but choose not to follow Him, we lose our joy and we are miserable. Our redemption is why God had to die for His creation.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).

There was no other way for us to be redeemed from the sin in our life than for Him to take our sin and nail it to the cross. It wasn’t the nails that held Him there…it was His love. Born-again believers will grow to hate sin over time and be remorseful each time we fall back into temptation.

Neither the apostle John nor Paul advocated sin. On the contrary, they preached against it. Even though we remain slaves to sin we know that Jesus is our Advocate. The more we resist sinning the easier it is to walk to the far side of it and move closer to our Lord. For the believer who occasionally stumbles (that’s you and me), John wrote:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

This was written to born-again believers in Christ. Remember, we are still sinners, but are forgiven by Christ.

God bless you all,

Ron and Nathele Graham