Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary. The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.
But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?
Very often, it’s ourselves.
That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.
LIE #1: As a Christian, I should live a perfect life.
We may not admit this out loud, because it sounds extreme. But we often think it. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)?
- Absolutely. But Jesus referred to God’s standard we should strive for. Jesus also understood the reality that we fail that standard. That’s why He died for our sins.
- What we really tell ourselves with this lie is: “If I’m not perfect, God is angry with me.” When we listen to the lie, we confuse our freedom from sin’s penalty with our freedom from sin’s presence.
I love Chuck Swindoll’s definition of the term, justification:
Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while he or she is still in a sinning state.
When we believe in Jesus, God doesn’t make us righteous. He declares us righteous. We’re still sinners who aren’t free from sin’s temptations. Our being made righteous won’t occur until our death or the Rapture—whichever comes first. (I’m pulling for the Rapture.)
LIE #2: I’ve tried to stop sinning, but I can’t. I must not be saved.
This lie takes the false assumption of LIE #1 a step further. Because you don’t live a perfect life like you should, that means you were never saved to begin with.
- But think about it. Just as we couldn’t save ourselves—we needed God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9)—so we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength.
- We still need God’s grace to provide the strength for obedience.
- The Apostle John reminds us that we lie if we say we have no sin—and that Jesus is our atoning sacrifice for that very reason (1 John 1:8; 2:1).
You cannot out-sin the grace of God. God the Father never abandons His children. (Tweet that.)
The truth is, your struggle against sin is a huge clue that the Spirit of God is working in your life. Because the New Testament constantly gives instruction to Christians struggling with sin, we understand that it is a normal experience.
- Scripture speaks not only to the temptations this world offers but it also reminds us of our ongoing vulnerability to those temptations (2 Corinthians 6:14).
- The same weaknesses that bound us to sin in the old life we bring with us into the new.
LIE #3: I’ll never stop my sin, so why try?
While it’s true you’ll never be free from temptation or from the pull in your heart towards sin, you can experience victory. (Unlike a circus elephant who doesn’t know any better.)
- Freedom of choice is part of who God made us to be as humans. God created Adam and Eve with the capacity to choose (Genesis 2:16-17). Begin to see temptation as a choice rather than as a compulsion to obey (Romans 6:12-14).
- God delivered us from sin’s slavery in order to obey Him, not so that we would submit ourselves again to sin’s shackles (Galatians 5:1). Freedom has a purpose: obedience.
LIE #4: My sin is too great. I’m really not sure God will forgive me.
Sometimes Christians struggling with sin blow it big-time. And because we knew better—and yet did it anyway—we fall for the lie that tells us we crossed a point of no return with God.
- Actually, this lie stems from our pride. There is no sin—NO SIN—too great for God’s forgiveness. Your sin is no exception. There may be life-long consequences, but God’s grace always offers forgiveness.
- The Lord has given you the promise that if you have believed in Jesus who died for your sins, God has already accepted you.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 8:1
Remember, you cannot out-sin the grace of God. God never abandons His children.
In my next post, I’ll share four strategies to help combat these four lies.
Question: What other lies do Christians struggling with sin believe? To leave a comment, just click here.