- The Unbeliever’s Solution
- The Believer’s Solution
What do we as believers in Jesus Christ do about the sins, those personal sins, we commit after we have believed in Him? Consider this a rhetorical question, though I offer the Scriptural solution in a few paragraphs.
Let’s establish a personal sin baseline for the necessity of this study! We all sin. Even after salvation, after we have believed in Jesus Christ, appropriating His grace gift, we all continue to sin. How do we know this? Some folks recognize that a personal trend of sin continues after salvation. They just look at them selves in the mirror and know that thoughts, acts and certain motivational trends they have do not stand up to personal or even Biblical standards.
But how do we really do that we sin after salvation? We can know this for certain by going to the Word of God! It is very clear about this issue. The apostle John was addressing believers when he wrote in 1 John 1:8, saying this:
If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth [Bible doctrine, what is taught in the Bible] is not in us. 1 John 1:8
Sin in this verse is a reference to personal sin, things which we do or think which are contrary to God’s will for our lives. Acts of sin are those things, thoughts, motives or actions, which fall short of God’s perfect and totally righteous personality:
All unrighteousness is sin… 1 John 5:17a
The fact is: we continue to sin after we believe in Christ Jesus.
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20
John wrote more on this subject when he continued writing in verse 10, saying this:
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10
These are strong words!
The Apostle Paul also indicated that believers sin. In his letters to the Corinthians he addressed them as “saints,” a synonym for believer. Once he established the fact that they were all believers, he dealt with their problem of personal sin.
Any sin is a serious matter when considering our relationship with the Lord. When we sin we lose our fellowship with God. We also lose the teaching and empowering ministries of God the Holy Spirit. By His empowering ministry we live the Christian way of life, fulfilling the Father’s plan for us and ultimately, glorify Him. The believer who has sinned also quenches and grieves God the Holy Spirit.
God disciplines the believer who constantly lives sinfully. He disciplines for one reason: to bring the errant believer back into the fold of spirituality, purpose, power and happiness. God wants every believer to recover from sin and to life a life that glorifies Him. You cannot glorify God in a state of sin.
Paul wrote to the Hebrew believer concerning God’s discipline:
…and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges [skins alive with a whip] every son whom He receives.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Hebrews 12:5-7
Have you ever fainted from severe punishment? According to this passage, God is not opposed to punishing us! Severe punishment potentially belongs to the sinful believer. Remember, though, that God always punishes from love! And He is always fair! The message from this message is clear! If you want to avoid divine discipline, avoid sinning. However, if you do sin (and you will), God punish you from His perfect love, for your benefit. The word, punish, does sound a bit harsh. It’s more akin to corrective action, but often believers who sin consistently require pretty harsh corrective action!
In light of that, we need to learn to recognize a sin for what it is. The more we grow spiritually, the better we come know the Scripture, the better we become at recognizing sins in our life. This is one area of life where ignorance is not bliss. If you are being punished for a sin, wouldn’t you like to know for what you are being punished? It is beyond the scope of this study to delineate sin. You should pick that up over a period of time, from many studies. However, once you know you have sinned, what do you do about one sin or ever a series of sins that you have committed?
Though up to this point, we have only discussed believers’ sins. Remember that every unbeliever also suffers from sin, as both a status of spiritual death and the resultant activity of personal sin. Every unbeliever will suffer eternal consequences because he has not received God’s solution for his sinful state. An unbeliever is not judged because of his personal sins but because of his sin of unbelief. He has been condemned to the Lake of Fire because of only one sin which he commits throughout his meaningless life. Again, the unbeliever is condemned because of failure to believe in Jesus Christ. The unbeliever’s faith in Jesus Christ frees him from that status of sin, spiritual death. God has designed a wonderful, fantastic solution for that problem! The good news is that for both those who have believed in Jesus Christ and for those who have not, God, in His love has designed fantastic solutions.
I want to ask two questions then answer them! First, what does the unbeliever do about his sinful condition? Second, what do believers do about personal sins after salvation?
The Unbeliever’s Solution to Sin
For the unbeliever, the issue is not personal sins though he may commit them by the dozens! The issue for every unbeliever is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Who is He? Jesus Christ is God the Son. Speaking about Jesus, the apostle John wrote that:
I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God. John 1:34
What has Jesus Christ accomplished to be worthy of our faith, obedience and adoration? He died as a substitute for each one of us. The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died [as a substitute] for us. Romans 5:8
God the Father sent His son to live among humanity for the purpose of providing our salvation. When Christ was nailed to that tree, hanging on that cross, He imputed to Him all of the sins of the world.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
What was inherently ours became His at His own choosing. God the Father imputed on Jesus’ body, while He hung on that Cross, every sin, from the first sin of Adam and the Eve in the Garden, to the last sin committed at the end of human history. The sins of the worst people in history, even every sin you and I have ever committed was imputed to Him. He did not deserve this imputation because He was absolutely perfect. He was the Sacrificial Lamb without spot or blemish as referred to in the Old Testament sacrifices. After having imputed those sins to Him, God the Father judged those sins on His body so that we would never be judged for them. Because Jesus Christ received the judgment for all of our sins, that condemnation will never be imputed to us and used as a basis for judgment against us. God gathered up all the sins in human history, imputed them to Christ and then judged them, so that He will never impute the punishment for personal sins to us.
God loves the world so much that He gave His uniquely born Son so that who so ever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
There is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other person under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
If anyone within ear shot of this message has not, up to now, believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, if you believe what I have just said, which is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good News, then this your opportunity to do so!
This is your invitation from God to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. You can tell God the Father that you are believing in His Son, Jesus Christ at this very moment. You can form the words silently in your thinking. Tell God the Father that you believe in Christ. God has done all the work for our salvation; all we have to do is to believe!
At the moment any of us believed, we received the grace gift of eternal life from God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith and it is not of yourselves it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2: 8-9
…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
Jesus Christ was judged for our pre-salvation sins. So our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west. They are no longer an issue! Ever! It’s a wonderful solution isn’t it? Faith alone in Christ alone solves the problem of spiritual death and personal sin. At the moment you believe God gives you eternal life and 39 other grace gifts.
The Believer’s Solution to Sin
The Scripture says that we all sin after salvation. We established this a few minutes ago. Therefore, we must learn and use this solution to post-salvation sin. If we do not take care of our sins, that is, take responsibility for them, then we cannot live the fantastic spiritual life, which God has designed for each one of us. If we do not live this unique spiritual life, we will never glorify God and enjoy the countless blessings He has prepared for us. The procedure or mechanic God has designed for us to recover from personal sin is delineated in many passages of scripture, one of which the Apostle John wrote:
If we acknowledge, cite or name our sins, He is faithful and righteous, with the result that He forgives us our sins [known sins] and cleanses us from all unrighteousness [unknown sins]. 1John 1:9
What we do is this: As soon as we realize that we have sinned, we name that sin to God the Father. That is it! Do not feel sorry for it. Do not tell God that you’ll never do it again. Do not go telling any body about it. In the privacy of your priesthood, name your sin directly to God the Father and He will forgive you for it.
Let’s take a bit closer look at this verse. I want you to see where this sin solution comes from. There are a couple of words in the Greek that I want to talk about. Their meaning and implications are not always evident in the English Translation. The first word “if” in the Greek is EAN, the third class conditional particle. It considers the use of your volition. Maybe you will admit, name, acknowledge your sin, but then again, maybe you won’t. The second word, “acknowledge” is the Greek verb HOMOLOGEO means to name, cite, acknowledge, confess a crime in court, to make a legal statement. It was only used in legal language of the day. It means to make a true statement in a court of law. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the statement. It’s just a fact. If any of you have been on a jury lately, you understand this. The lawyers just give us the facts. Or as Joe Friday always said, “Just the facts ma’am!” We can draw some conclusions from this:
1. How you feel about your sins is of no consequence to God. God does not care how you feel about your sins, but the fact that you acknowledge the sin you committed, this God does care about. That sin you named had been judged on Christ, but it’s up to you to appropriate God’s forgiveness. You must name the sins to be forgiven. It is God’s attitude about the sin that counts, not how you feel about it. The sole is this: God judged that sin on Christ while He hung upon that Cross.
2. You name your sins on the basis of the grace work that Christ did on the cross. Forgiveness, then, is God’s work. Don’t add anything to it.
3. When we name our sins, we cite a courtroom case [the Cross], and the sin is automatically forgiven by God based on the work of Christ on the cross.
4. There us also an issue of privacy here. We name our sins to God in the privacy of our own soul, not to anyone else.
5. There is a place for reconciliation toward those whom your sin hurt, but only do this while you are filled and empowered by the Spirit.
King David after his series of sins with Bathsheba set the pattern for this acknowledgement of sin. He said:
I acknowledge my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord.” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5
The Greek word HAMARTIA means “sins” referring here to personal sins we commit after salvation. The solution to personal sin after salvation is acknowledging, naming those sins to God the Father. God the Father already judged our sins on the cross. Notice the parallel between dealing with pre-salvation sins and post salvation sins. In both cases, God has done all the work. All we do is to receive the grace benefits from His work. Just as nothing can be added to faith in Christ for salvation, nothing can be added to admitting our sins to God for recovery of fellowship. When you name your sins to God, you use the privacy of your priesthood. You do not name these sins to people. Acknowledging sins to God is totally apart from any human works such as penance, public confession, feeling sorry for your sins, or promising God to do better.
The Greek word PISTOS means “faithful.” God always does exactly the same thing. How many of you took chemistry in high school or college? I remember the drama of taking a bit of magnesium metal out of kerosene, where it was stable and let it come into contact with air. There was a fiery explosion! It was something to see! You know what? Every time I did that, a fiery explosion resulted! Why? God is faithful. The same pattern exists here. Every time you name a sin you have committed, He forgives you. He is faithful. He would not be God if He were not faithful! That is how much you can depend upon his faithfulness!
The word DIKAIOS means “righteous.” God does the right thing every time He forgives us. “All unrighteousness” refers to sins of ignorance, unknown sins and other offenses to the character of God. The Greek word KATHARIZO means to “cleanse” or more accurately, to “purify.” This is purification or forgiveness of our unknown sins. By the way, you remain pure as the driven snow until you sin again. This isn’t like taking a bath or shower and you get dirty again in 5 minutes! The adjective PAS means “all” and ADIKIA means “wrongdoing,” a reference to unknown sins.
God righteously and justly forgives us of both our sins and known sins when we name them to Him! On what basis does He do this? How can He maintain His integrity while forgiving us our sins? He can do this because Jesus Christ was judged on the cross for every sin you and I have ever committed! He has done all the work, so it is blasphemy to add anything, anything at all, to the perfect work perfect God has done for us! Furthermore, when we are in a state of sin, there is nothing we can do to please God, except for naming our sins to Him. Period!
There is a parallel here: An unbeliever can do nothing to please God. He is in a state of spiritual death. The only thing an unbeliever can do to please God is to believe in the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. God has done all the work in judging our sins. There is nothing we can add! We commit a sin, name it to God. There is nothing we can add. This is God’s grace. This is God’s love!
Our verse again:,
“If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and righteous, with the result that He forgives us our sins [known sins] and purifies us from all unrighteousness [unknown sins].” 1 John 1:9
Not only are we immediately purified from all sin but God also brings to bear three other factor which relate to our spiritual lives. First, God restores us to fellowship with Him. Second the Spirit resumes His filling us in order to teach and empower us. Without His empowerment we do not have the strength to live the spiritual life. Thirdly, you recover from worldly influence, i.e., you stop grieving the Holy Spirit as per Ephesians 4:30, and you stop quenching the Holy Spirit as per 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
This is not an isolated concept taught only in one or two different passages but one taught many times in many ways. Each passage does not present the mechanic, the “how-to,” the way John presented it in 1 John 1:9. Yet, the Scripture teaches the concept of recovery from carnality many times. The following is a partial compilation of such passages.1. Self-judgment:
“But if we judge ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.” 1 Corinthians 11:31
a. Self judgment refers to introspection. If you have discovered that you have sinned upon this introspection, you come before the Father to name that sin.
b. Upon naming that sin, you have judged your self, sparing Him the trouble of disciplining you!
Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1.
a. Presenting your body as a sacrifice refers to making your body available to the Spirit for empowerment.
b. You are only acceptable to God when you are filled with the Spirit.
c. You can only serve and worship Him in the state of spirituality.
Be subject to the Father: “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:9
a. Generally, being subject to the Father refers to responding to His perfect authority.
b. His will for you involves your spirituality that you grow spiritually, fulfilling His plan for your life. This is impossible without obeying the mandate for spirituality.
Strengthen the hands that are weak: “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble.” Hebrews 12:12
a. If you remain in carnality for any duration of time at all, you are subject to weakness from one of two sources.
b. You will become weak from your own bad decisions or, if given enough time, from direct divine discipline.
c. You must implement the divine recovery solution to strengthen your hands and knees!
Make straight paths: “and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:13
a. Walking in straight paths refers to living the live God has planned for you. Again, this is impossible without appropriating divine power.
Arise from the dead: “Awake sleeper, arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you” Ephesians 5:14
Like five of the six categories of death presented in the Scripture, this death is not physical. The death in this passage refers to carnality, or the status of being in sin. When you name your sins to the Father, you awaken from carnality and back into fellowship with every member of the Trinity.
Lay aside the old man: “With reference to your former manner of life; you lay aside the old man, which is being corrupted in accordance to the lusts of deceit.” Ephesians 4:22
a. During your former life as an unbeliever, you lived under the authority of your old man, your inherited Adamic corruption.
b. When you believed in Jesus Christ, He positionally released you from that sin nature slave market.
c. To experience your new freedom, you must set aside the authority your corruption has over you.
d. You can only set this aside by the power God makes available to you through fellowship with Him.
So, now in conclusion, I hope I have communicated to you some very important information that has the most profound influence upon your relationship with God. That is your being in fellowship with Him.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus Christ said,
“Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
This is a picture of the fellowship we can have with our Lord. Confession of sin is the opening of the door to a marvelous spiritual life, which He has designed for us.