Sin in the life of a believer

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Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Prior to salvation my life was full of all manner of shocking sin. By God's grace I am saved and rescued from immense bondage, but find myself struggling with a curious phenomenon.

On paper, my sins in themselves and by reason of several diminutions are surely less heinous in the sight of God than formerly. Yet it seems that, if anything, they are much more offensive than the worst deeds of my prior life. As an unbeliever, I was simply acting according to nature; what else would one expect? Now, though, I have lived under his grace and experienced the blessings of salvation. Each sin, whether out of habit, ignorance, or just plain rebellion, is a wilful spurning of that grace, and with each passing year it would seem even the smallest sins become incomparably greater in magnitude by virtue of the magnitude of the grace which must be momentarily discarded in favor of sin.

I would be most interested in hearing how others handle this, if indeed anyone is able to relate to such a thought process.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
“Shall we defile the members of Christ? The sins of the saints are in this respect the more heinous because that body, even Christ, of which they are members, is defiled by their sins. Therefore, in regard to Christ the head, other saints their fellow members, and themselves, all who profess themselves to be of this body must be watchful over themselves, and cleanse themselves from all filthiness. Otherwise they give just occasion to think that they are not members of this body. If a lion’s foot, or bear’s paw were held out, and said to be the member of a man, would any believe it? Can we then think that lovers of this world, drunkards, profane, luxurious, unclean persons, and such like limbs of the devil, are members of Christ?”
- William Gouge
 

MountainPilgrim

Puritan Board Freshman
I have found that the more the Spirit sanctifies me, the more aware I am of the heinousness of the sin that so infects my entire being. Indeed, self-examination can prove to be a discouraging affair if viewed apart from grace. This is where I find the "Guilt, Grace, Gratitude" pattern to be so helpful and encouraging. In this cycle, the Guilt of sin does not drive the Believer into himself, but to the Grace of the Cross and the finished, complete work of Christ. This renewed focus on Grace then produces a Gratitude which spurs the Believer to good deeds, not out of obligation, but out of thankfulness and love for Christ. Then the Believer sins, and feels its weight and Guilt... and the cycle repeats.

I also find myself often returning to Romans 7, which I believe is one of the most apt descriptors of the struggles of the Christian life. But I do not stay there, for after the tension of Romans 7 comes the beauty of Romans 8 and the assurance of the Believer's position in Christ.

This has proven immensely encouraging to me, as it continuously returns my focus to Christ and His work, which is indeed the greatest and purest motivator for godliness in the Christian life.

Be encouraged, Brother, and know that our Triune God is as sovereign over your Sanctification as He is over your Justification.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I think this is very good that you are very mindful of even what we would call the smallest of sins. You are very right, when we take on a new nature and our minds are renewed, we view the world in a different way. Our consciences become very very sensitive, we desire to please God in everything and be conformed to his image, and when we think about all of the people and living things the Lord has created, we desire what is most best and loving towards them. So naturally, when we fail in any way at loving God or loving others, this severely hurts us and affects us, especially when we know the potential that we could live up to.

Just because we are in a state of grace, in my opinion does not mean that we should easily brush off the wrongs that we do, because we are covered. On a daily basis we should bring those things to God, we should confess them to him, and we should seek to make any wrongs we have done, right in the sight of others in this world. That means humbling ourselves, admitting to others that we have failed, and seeking restoration. I would also add, that we should really think about how others around us are affected by our sin, and because we love them and care about their well-being so much, this should cause us to really think about the words we say, the thoughts we think, and the actions we carry out. Every single thing we do in this life is going to make an impression on somebody else. Do we want that impression to make their character better or worse is something we really need to think about.

I have also found that we cannot be passive in the battle between right and wrong within ourselves. This is an area that we must put serious work into, where we must be determined, where we must use our willpower, and where we must seek God to help us overcome sin. I see too many people who are complacent with sin in their lives, and this is not how God would have us to live. God does give us grace, but we must be determined to apply any practical effort and strength that we can in overcoming sin. I wish you the best! Keep fighting the best you can. Have a great day!
 

Colin

Puritan Board Freshman
Fourfold salvation: saved from the penalty, power, presence and most importantly the pleasure of sin. -A.W. Pink
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
On paper, my sins in themselves and by reason of several diminutions are surely less heinous in the sight of God than formerly. Yet it seems that, if anything, they are much more offensive than the worst deeds of my prior life. As an unbeliever, I was simply acting according to nature; what else would one expect? Now, though, I have lived under his grace and experienced the blessings of salvation. Each sin, whether out of habit, ignorance, or just plain rebellion, is a wilful spurning of that grace, and with each passing year it would seem even the smallest sins become incomparably greater in magnitude by virtue of the magnitude of the grace which must be momentarily discarded in favor of sin

Hi JP,

Thanks so much for your honesty and willingness to share your heart.

Here's something I posted on November 30th, 2020, in a thread called, "What is the Biggest Burden in Your Life?"

It might give you some hope for the future of your Christian Life. Oh, you will never be free from sin in this life, as you well know. But if you struggle hard and hope only in the Lord for his help, there is hope that in time you will have some measure of relief and far greater joy in your salvation as you see at some sins vanish away. Please don't lose hope because I had to wait long and work hard to see any real victory.

Ed Walsh

Here's a link to the post I made.
 
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