CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Does God see us as sinless?
By Pastor Brian Warner
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When God looks at us, does He see us as pure, righteous sons and daughters, cleansed by Christ's blood? But how can an omniscient God not see our sin? God does see us as sinless in his eyes, in a forensic or legal manner. The Bible calls this concept Justification. Long before our judgment in heaven, God the great judge justifies us. It's as if the Great Judge's gavel drops, and he declares to the sinner: "You are innocent!" This is the first great forensic work of salvation. The second is when the Judge takes off the robes, comes down in front of the bench, throws his arms around you and legally adopts us as His children. Justification is a wonderful part of salvation. It describes the POSITION and STATUS that we have in Christ. We are no longer condemned (see Romans 8:1) and we are adopted (see Romans 8:15).
We are POSITIONALLY saved, but there is a PRACTICAL aspect of salvation that we must work out our entire life. Philippians 3:16 tells us, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." It's very important to understand we will fight sin and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit our entire life.
Just as a baby often stumbles and falls while learning to walk, so too a baby Christian will often fall, despite their deep desire not to. Just as we get encouraged and excited when a baby takes their first steps, so too should we be encouraging to young Christians. They should know that ONGOING forgiveness of sin is part of salvation, and is included in the deal! "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) As we mature in Christ, we walk longer and farther between episodes where our sinful nature takes back over and we fall. Christians should never use indwelling sin to justify a secret life of sin that is concurrent with their Christian life. God's grace as we learn to walk and be conformed to his image is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER to be a license to sin. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2) We must realize that a component of living an exciting life in Christ is our constant battle to mortify our old self, and get ever better at it. If sin overtakes us totally, it impedes our witness and our ability to serve God, because we have injured (not broken) our relationship with the God. Aspects of our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are damaged and need restoration. A major sin, or season of sin, calls for nothing but absolute repentance. However, in daily life, we must not let sin keep us from serving God. We must rely on God's forgiveness and the work of faith in our lives to live a forgiven and abundant life of purpose for the Kingdom of God.
With POSITIONAL sinlessness and PRACTICAL daily washing understood, let's look at four strategies that can help to daily keep sin in check. We need to daily say "NO" to sin and our old nature. We need to daily say "YES" to God.
1) SELF-EFFORT: There is an element of personal willpower and resolve in fighting sin. Most sin is "common" as Satan, the world system of ethics, and even our old sin nature make us vulnerable. Paul said, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) There is no sin too great to resist, and God will help you with a way of escape. Despite what you hear, one way of fighting sin is personal resolve and finding God's divine "escape hatch" for each situation of temptation.
2) SET UP BARRIERS: We must put up "barriers" and "hedges" in our life. The Bible tells us that EVERYONE has a sin that easily knocks them over. This is a called a "besetting" sin. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1). Here's how a besetting sin works: If your weakness is alcohol or drugs, Satan or his minions are not likely to put opportunities for anger in your path. However, if you are easily tempted by sex, don't be surprised to find TV ads, books, conversation and graphic internet sites surrounding you. Therefore, the prudent Christian will set up barriers and accountability in their life. In such cases, it is important to have internet filters, accountability partners, and even go without the very source of temptation. Barriers are needed for all such vices: Drugs, alcohol, anger and abuse, gossip, and so on. Please note that we easily climb over our own man-made walls, so this strategy alone is helpful, but we cannot shut down our internal sinful nature fully through external means.
3) JESUS AS PLEASURE SUPERIOR TO SIN: Another strategy has been made popular by understanding that we were Desiring God and Future Grace, by John Piper. Also, Pleasures Evermore, by Sam Storms is a must read. Allow me to briefly communicate their premise. The world system tells us — and even our own fallen hearts tell us — "You'll be happier with more material wealth, more abundance of stuff, and surplus of money. Sex and self-satisfaction can make you happier and more satisfied than Jesus can."
The key is daily finding our delight in JESUS. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). No matter where life trips us up, we need to listen to the promises of God superior pleasure in Jesus Christ himself.
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