"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Logic in the Pulpit by Pastor John Samson | Main | Which Came First? by Pastor John Samson »

    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)

    Recommended Resources

    Keller On Preaching in a Post-modern City Part I ; Part II;


    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


    Posted by John on January 30, 2006 06:17 PM


    I was going to suggest The Mortification of Sin by John Owen, but it is listed in your link to "books which have a similar perspective." What I liked about Owen's thesis is His insistence that we DO NOT say way have repented and have peace with God about our recent sin until God DOES give us His peace about it. To Mortify the Sin within us means we must mature in Grace and learn to not allow sin to come to fruition in us by turning our focus on Christ whenever we are tempted. We must learn to walk by the Spirit so we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16-17.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    I am struggling very much with my sin. I can read and I can understand what to do and what not to do, accordingly. The problem is that my heart is miserably wicked and I do what I know not to do and don't do what I should do, knowing full well what I am doing - namely sinning. However, when I try to repent, I wonder if I'm simply going through the motions because I know what's right, but not yet really having been given the gift of repentance from God. So have I ever really repented and why can't I seem to do right? I'm not resting in God's grace and I seem to have very little joy. I need some help.

    I learned a bit of powerful perspective from Dr. John Piper and I commend it to you. He said that the biggest battle in life is not the battle with our sin. There is ofcourse the daily battle with sin (John Owen said "be killing sin or sin will be killing you" a paraphrase of romans 8:13) but its not the biggest one. The biggest battle in life is to see and savor Christ. The more we see His glory and His worth and His supremacy in all things, the less power sin will have in our lives. Sin shrinks when the glory of Christ is in view more and more clearly. The more we grow in grace, the more we will (by the spirit) put to death the deeds of the body....I believe that one of the crucial aspects of fighting sin in our lives is scripture memory!! Hide Gods word in your heart!! call it to memory and speak it out when you are faced with temptation, and believe that the holy spirit will flow through your trust in that word to kill the temptation.

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