The Believer and Sin
After dealing with his sin with Bathsheba, David cried out to the Lord, “Cast me not away from thy presence and take not thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). This should be the cry of every Christian. When we stop feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit we are in a desperate situation.
Jesus said, “When He is come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment” (John 16:8). If He convicts the world, how much more His children when they drift into sin and/or worldly thinking? There are six definitions or categories that sin falls under. As born again children of God, we should feel deep conviction when we transgress any of these areas.
Basic Categories of Sin
- Missing the mark. When the King James Bible was translated archery was common. When the archer shot his arrow and missed the bullseye someone would yell “sin” signifying he had missed the mark. We’ve missed God’s mark for us. Our target is God’s perfection and holiness (Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15-16). We have all missed His mark for us (Romans 3:23). Problems start when we stop trying to hit the mark. The Bible makes it clear that without the pursuit of holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
- Sins of commission. 1 John 3:4 says, “Whosoever commits sin transgresses the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” This is purposely transgressing the law or Word of God. There are things God has clearly forbidden. If we do them, knowing He has said not to, we are sinning against Him. We all struggle with things and at times slip and fall. The problem is far too many Christians do things they know God has forbidden and don’t think twice about it. It doesn’t bother them at all. This should not be and is a dangerous place to be spiritually.
- Sins of omission. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin.” This is not doing what we know God has commanded us to do. There are many Christians who seldom fall into sins of commission (doing wrong things) and feel good about their right standing with God. On the other hand, they fail to do the things they know God has expressly told them to do. This is sin. Take time daily to ask God what He wants you to do and follow through with it (John 7:17, Matthew 25:29). Also, think of those things you know God has already said you should do that you are not doing. Confess them as sin and start doing them.
- Violation of personal convictions. In Romans 14:1 Paul deals with “disputable areas.” What may be sin for one person, another may have perfect liberty in. Paul says they are to be left up to personal conviction. If we violate our conscious in these disputable areas, we are sinning. We are to respect the convictions of others, and at the same time not look down on those who have liberty in their area of conviction (Romans 14:3-5). Romans 14:5 says, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” In disputable areas that are left up to conscious, we must ask God what is okay and what is not permissible for us. We must develop our own personal conviction in these disputable areas and abide by them.
- Failure to live by faith. Romans 1:17 says, “The just shall live by faith.” Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God. We are justified before God the same way (Romans 5:1). Romans 1:17 says “from faith to faith.” It’s one thing to be saved by faith, but another to live and walk by faith. Not living by faith is sin. Romans 14:23 says, “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Many people saved by faith in Jesus Christ have not gone on to live by faith. Hebrews 10:38 says, “Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God.” The entire chapter that follows talks about men and women who did great things for God by faith. They took great risks in spite of impossible odds and circumstances. Living by faith takes great courage and isn’t for the faint of heart. Study Hebrews 11 and see how the greats lived by faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you, unless of course, you fail the test?”
- Unbelief – Not Believing in Jesus.The primary reason for the coming of the Holy Spirit was to convict the world of sin, because they had not believed or trusted in Jesus. “When He is come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:8-9). The greatest sin is that of unbelief.
We came into the world as sinners because under the federal headship of Adam, the head of the human race, we inherited his Adamic or sin nature. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned? (Romans 5:12). We sin because we are sinners by our very nature. We are not sinners because we sin.
The only way to have our sins atoned for is by believing in or trusting in Jesus Christ and His finished work on our behalf – that He and His atoning blood is the only remedy for sin. Without Him we have no salvation and we are still in our sins. Not believing in Jesus, means we do not believe what God has said concerning His Son and therefore, we have no remedy for our sin. Therefore, the greatest sin is that of unbelief.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:9-11).
The State of the Heart
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? We are all born into this world with an utterly depraved and carnal nature. Paul said, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). Our spirit is dead to God because of sin. When we are born again, God’s Spirit unites with our human spirit and brings it to life, hence we are born again or born from above (John 3:3). “You hath he quickened – made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
When we are born again, we receive God’s divine nature, the Holy Spirit, and He dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:3-4), but we still live in the flesh and still have a carnal or sin nature, so the battle begins. “The flesh lusts – wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would” (Galatians 5:17). “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15).
That which we feed the most becomes the strongest. If we feed our flesh, it will dominate, but if we feed our spirit it will become the most dominant. This is why Peter said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Paul said, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Lester Sumrall used to say we must “feed our faith and starve our doubts.” The same applies to our spiritual and carnal man.
Jesus said what is displayed in our actions and speech begins in the heart. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Our outward actions and the philosophies by which we live begin in our thinking . This is why the Bible admonishes us “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7a).
We live in the world and if we are not careful it’s easy to be taken captive by the way the world thinks instead of having the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This is why the Bible cautions us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Let’s set our focus on being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
It’s easy when living in the world to be influenced by its philosophies rather than Christ’s. This is particularly easy to fall prey to when find ourselves spending less time in the Word of God, Christian influences such as Christian books and teachings and when we fall out of fellowship with other believers – church (Acts 2:41-42; Hebrews 10:24-25). Almost without exception, I have seen this happen after believers have fallen out of fellowship for a period of time.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind – affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).