The Sin Problem
I recently received the following note from a brother:
"I am a relatively new believer (a little over a year, start: Oct. 2004), and while GRACE abounds, while CHRIST ATONED, while GOD CAN NOT BE ANYMORE PLEASED WITH HIS PEOPLE (IN CHRIST) THAN HE IS NOW, I am NOT comfortable with accepting that I will be a sinner until the Day of Glory. I can not cope with the fact that sin will be a part of my life until I die, and that this is somehow alright, because of CHRIST atonement, and the Father's wrath completely poured out on the SON. Everytime I sin, as a man, ESPECIALLY EVERY TIME I "SIN", I simply can not go to the Throne of Grace (Heb. 4), confess/repent, say Amen, and then have a heart that says, "alright, let's keep moving, can't stop, can't slow up, got to keep "Pressing Into the Kingdom (Edwards)." For me, its more like, "why keep fighting this foe, this foe you can't see, can't feel, can't touch, can't get a grasp on! Why keep fighting, to lose more times than you win! Why fight!"
I was wondering, if you might be able to recommend any specific articles on this site that deal with this. I know its a big task to ask for one, two, or three specific articles, but I am struggling here. I need to know, "how does the believer in CHRIST, accept his status of redeemed sinner, justified sinner, so that his hatred of his sin, does not result in his hatred of himself?" If you can help John, thanks. If not, then at minimum I praise GOD that you had a heart to listen to a stranger pour out his struggle, and did not reject him. Thanks again, Grace and Peace."
That is really an important question. Thank you for asking. The fact that sin concerns you so is good and reveals that the Holy Spirit is working the love of God in your heart. While we all know that it is God's revealed will that we obey His commands. What is less known is that He utilizes the rebellion in our life as a constant reminder of our need of Christ, even as a believer. It keeps us close to Jesus' side, reminding us that we can never separate the benefits from the benefactor. Our need of him does not end when we pray a prayer but continues on through the Christian's life and keeps us running to Christ for help. Jesus would have us always remember our dependence on Him and He leaves us with infirmities because they drive us back to Him and keep a check on pride. As we grow in grace, I believe, we do not become less conscious of sin, but more conscious of it. And we only grow in grace as we lose confidence in ourselves. Christ becomes more, we become less.
Sin reminds us that Jesus alone, not our ability to keep the commands, makes us right before God. It exalts His grace and patience with us and forces us to recognize that the Father is not overlooking our sin because of something we did but because of Christ and Christ alone. Too often, I think, Christians focus on their own spirituality but it is really those who forget about their spirituality and rather have their affections and eyes on Christ that more fully grasp the gospel. As we look at Him, and preach the gospel to ourselves every day, we are transformed into His likeness. When we are spending all our time taking our spiritual pulse wondering whether we have attained holiness, our eyes are turned in upon ourselves and we will then only exhaust ourselves on our own resources. As we look to Christ, however, the Spirit gives us the strength and feeds us from their spiritual nourishment of the root that we would to carry through to the end.
We can only approach the Lord's Throne if come as needy sinners. Having a need means that we recognize our sin. Those who think they are sinless, of course, do not need a Savior. " If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ' We see,' your sin remains. (John 9:41)
THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION Thomas Chalmers
Simul Iustus et PeccatorAt the same time righteous and a sinner
Gospel-Driven Sanctification By Jerry Bridges
How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself Every Day by Mark Mullery (pdf file)
Expelling Worldliness with a New Affection By Sinclair Ferguson
I would also highly recommend the book called The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
Here are several more books which have a similar perspective