Does Sin Matter Anymore?
If we are Facebook friends, you may have scrolled past a meme I posted a few days ago. I'll post it here so you can appreciate it again:
Maybe my sense of humor is a little weird sometimes, but I thought it was funny and true all at the same time. It's so easy to read Romans 8:1 and believe that because Jesus paid for our sin, it's not a big deal for us anymore. In one sense that's true, but in another sense it's ridiculous. I'll do my best to explain.
Let's start by talking about why sin isn't a big deal.
Romans 8:1 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus."
Simply put, there is not a single sin that you have ever committed, or will ever commit that wasn't paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ if you are in Him. It's not possible for us to be condemned for our sin because Jesus took all of our condemnation. To say that our sin has any effect on our standing before God now is to say that the sacrifice of Jesus wasn't enough.
This is why in 1 John 1:9 we are told to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. John tells us that when we do that, we are cleansed from "all unrighteousness." God isn't intimidated or surprised by your sin. He knows the depths of our depravity, and yet He still sent His Son to pay the price that we should have paid so that He could offer us complete forgiveness and freedom. So no, your sin (in that sense) is not a big deal. To treat it as such cheapens grace and lacks trust in the atonement Christ provided for us.
At the very same time, Paul reminds us that not only has Jesus saved us from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin - we are supposed to live differently if we truly have been saved by grace.
Romans 6:1-2 - "What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"
Not only does it cheapen grace to believe that our sins aren't fully paid for, it also cheapens grace to live as though sin still has power over us. Forgiveness and grace don't offer us the freedom to live in sin, they give us the freedom to live in the Spirit. Remember that Christ's death and resurrection didn't just wipe the slate clean, they gave us a new heart with new desires and longings.
I believe that one of the most confusing and mis-interpreted passages in Scripture helps shed light on this for us:
Hebrews 6:4-8 - "For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away. This is because, to their own harm, they are re-crucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt. For the ground that drinks the rain that often falls on it and that produces vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and at the end will be burned."
It's not possible to have truly experienced grace and not produce the fruit of righteousness. The author of Hebrews isn't saying that you can be saved and lose your salvation. He's saying if your life isn't producing what grace has worked out in you, then you were never truly saved to begin with. It's impossible to experience grace and be the same - it just doesn't happen.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you don't have wayward Christians or those that live in sin for a time. True believers absolutely struggle with temptation and sin (see Romans 7). The mark of a true believer isn't freedom from the presence of sin (yet), but the power of sin. One day, we will be free from the very presence of sin, but until then we wage war against the flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
We have been saved by grace, the slate has been wiped clean, there is no condemnation, you are free. "For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love." (Galatians 5:13)
The grace of Jesus has been lavished upon you - live like it.