AFTER WE HAVE COME TO JESUS, WHY DO WE STILL SIN?
Toward the end of his life the apostle Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).” It seems shocking to think of the apostle describing himself that way, and some would even call it false humility. But he was dead serious. So, the question we must ask is: “After we’ve come to Jesus, why do we still sin?”
When we first come to Christ, there is a pattern of growth in believers, especially those who come to Christ as adults. When we are first BORN AGAIN of the SPIRIT, there is an incredible sense of peace and well-being. We have just gone from darkness to light. There is a sort of “honeymoon period,” where the believer’s life seems easy. It is easy; we are Christ-conscious instead of self-conscious, and we discover new thoughts and habits becoming part of our lives. However, we also discover some other things. We find that there are still sins that we can’t seem to shake. That’s why the common questions are: “If I am a new creature in Christ, why do I still sin? Why do I still have temptations? Why do I still fall into sins that I want to be free from?”
The Bible teaches; “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor.5:17). ” But we need to understand not only what that means, but also what it doesn’t mean. In Christ the believer has been raised up with Christ to new LIFE; he has been given a new identity. He has received the indwelt Holy Spirit, who renews his mind according to God’s truth. His citizenship is now in heaven, and he has become an alien in this world; his spirit now cries “Abba, Father” as a beloved child of God. However, even though he has become a new man spiritually, he still lives in the old man’s body, indwelt by sin. He still has the old man’s thinking patterns, the old memories, and the old habits. He still lives in a world that stands diametrically opposed to the truth of God. He still tends to believe error until his mind has been renewed by truth from God’s word.
The truth regarding indwelling sin is rather strong medicine; it is not easy to take. Therefore, it is good at this point to remember that truth is not always pleasant to hear, but truth will set you free! One of the primary truths we must come to as believers, is the truth about ourselves. We will never be able to live the “Christian life” on our own. Our flesh does not improve over time; in fact, it gets worse as it receives more programming from the world. How long will this conflict take place within us? As long as we live in these unredeemed bodies! You and I will not be free from the influence of sin in our flesh until the Lord Jesus returns and gives us new bodies to go with the new identities we have received; but in the meantime, we can grow in grace! Growing in grace as you focus on what God is doing in your life.
This is why an understanding of the unconditional love and acceptance of God in Christ Jesus is absolutely essential for growing in grace. Apart from an assurance of His grace and acceptance, we could not bear up under this self-discovery that we are sinners.
One of the best answers to this conflict is found in Galatians 5:16: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Notice first what this verse does not say! It does not say, “If you clean up the flesh, you will become spiritual.” You could work your whole life long and never get the flesh cleaned up. You might be able to restrain your external behavior, but God is looking at your heart. Jesus said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matt. 15:19).” Therefore, it is an exercise in futility to dedicate oneself to “cleaning up the flesh” in the hopes of becoming spiritual. This is exactly what the Galatians were trying to do, and that is why Paul exclaimed, “Are you so foolish? After being with the Spirit, are you trying to attain your goal by human effort (Gal.3:3).” The attempt to attain spirituality through self-effort is dedication to an impossible task.
In Christ you are a new creation
Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3).”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
Being made into a new creation is like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Originally an earthbound crawling creature, a caterpillar weaves a cocoon and is totally immersed in it. Then a marvelous process takes place, called metamorphosis. Finally, a totally new creature; a butterfly emerges. Once ground-bound, the butterfly can now soar above the earth. It now can view life from the sky downward. In the same way, as a new creature in Christ you must begin to see yourself as God sees you.
If you were to see a butterfly, it would never occur to you to say, “Hey, everybody! Come look at this good-looking converted worm!” And it was “converted.” No, now it is a new creature, and you don’t think of it in terms of what it was. You see it as it is now, a butterfly.
In exactly the same way, God sees you as His new creature in Christ. Although you might not always act like a good butterfly; you might land on things you shouldn’t or forget you are butterfly and crawl around with your old worm buddies. But the truth of the matter is; you are never going to be a worm again!
This is why the usual word in the New Testament for a person in Christ is “saint,” meaning “holy one.” Paul for example, in nearly all his letters addressed them to the “saints.” Yet all the time I hear Christians referring to themselves as “just an old sinner saved by grace.” No! That’s like calling a butterfly a converted worm. We were sinners and we were saved by grace, but the Word of God calls us “saints” from the moment we become identified with Christ.
Our new identity is, “A child of the living God.” That’s who we are in Christ Jesus. Your identity is not determined by your behavior or what you may do but who you are in God’s eyes. When God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ in us. God took Christ’s perfect righteousness, and He gave it to us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
How could you or I stand up and declare that in the sight of God I am as righteous and acceptable as Jesus Christ? Is it because of what you or I do? No way! It is because of who you or I am in Christ. The Bible goes to great lengths to declare that righteousness is a free gift that a man receives by faith.
That is why Paul was able to say to us, that in Him you are complete. “For in Christ the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete (Col.2:9-10).”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….. (Romans 8:1-2).”
As long as we live in this world, sin lives in us, and is capable of coming to the surface, but that is not who we are. We are beloved, forgiven, acceptable children of God. And when we do blow it, we have the freedom to turn back to truth and walk in dependency upon the Spirit of God that lives in us. Isn’t that great news!
F/B – Signs Of Our Times
www.Understanding The Signs Of Our Times.com
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
Lian Muan Kim –
Koinonia Baptist Seminary, Yangon