Once we commit our lives to Christ, our sins are forgiven. We who have been set free from the power of sin should no longer feel condemned. To continue to dwell on our past sin would nullify Christ’s work at the cross because God has already declared us righteous in His eyes.
If we continually allow sin consciousness to dominate our lives after we have believed in Christ, we will live in the shadow of our past and become victims of guilt and condemnation. This may drive us into bondage and even depression. We will not be able to live the fruitful and abundant life which Jesus promised (John 10:10) as we are still weighed down by our past sins.
Having said that, should believers banish (completely get rid of) sin consciousness in our lives?
All is well if believers remain sinless till the day we depart to our eternal home. However, in reality, we are sinful by nature and will fall into sin in the course of our spiritual pilgrimage.
However, if we sin, says the apostle John, our fellowship with God can be restored when we confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1: 9).
However, some teach that God has already forgiven all the past, present and future sins of believers and, as such, we should put the ‘sin issue’ behind us and banish ‘sin consciousness’ from our lives.
Some even say we no longer need to confess our sins. When God looks at us, all He is going to see is Christ’s blood, not our sins whether it is past, present or future. We merely rest in the "imputed righteousness of Christ".
The above argument that believers should banish sin consciousness from our lives is unrealistic as sin will rear its ugly head whether we like it or not.
If we deny the reality of sin in the lives of believers, we are not only deceived but make God a liar.“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).
Satan is most happy with believers who banish sin consciousness in their lives on account of the premise that God has already forgiven their past, present and future sins:
Satan rejoices when believers rest in a false sense of security that all is well, that all their sins have been dealt with once and for all at the point of conversion – that they can therefore afford to banish sin consciousness in their lives. This condition reminds me of the frog which finds great delight sitting in a basin of warm water. Finally, when water temperature reaches boiling point, it is too late to jump out of the water.
Referring to the ugliness of our sinful nature, Rev Dr John R. W. Stott states: “Indeed, an honest and humble acknowledgment of the hopeless evil of our flesh, even after the new birth, is the first step to holiness. To speak quite plainly, some of us are not leading holy lives for the simple reason that we have too high an opinion of ourselves.” John R. W. Stott, Men Made New (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), p. 74.
How do we know we have fallen into sin and need to seek forgiveness from God through confession? The answer is this: When the Holy Spirit convicts * us of sin and our conscience is pricked. The person of the Holy Spirit can be grieved or quenched.
What are the possible responses when believers sense they have sinned?
Confess our sins.
Harden our heart.
Believe that our past, present and future sins have already been forgiven, that the ‘sin issue’ is all behind us so we need not be sin conscious anymore. No need to do anything.
Notice, out of the three responses, only the first restores our relationship with God and frees us from His judgment.
Believers who banish sin consciousness from their lives have come under deception by Satan. When they sin and the Holy Spirit nudges them, they ignore the voice of conscience on account of their erroneous belief.
To recap, what is the answer to the question above, “Should we be sin conscious?”
By and large, we should be ‘victory conscious’ and ‘God conscious’, not sin conscious since we have been forgiven, delivered from the power of sin and empowered to live righteous lives.
Having said that, the other side of the coin is this: We must NOT banish sin consciousness from our lives. If we sin and the Holy Spirit convicts us that we have sinned, we should not ignore or suppress the voice of conscience but confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and repent (Acts 26:20). * *
* CONVICTION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The divine message to the lukewarm church at Laodicea was one of corrective discipline: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
The Spirit is calling for repentance here. The word for reprove (elegchō) is the same word usually translated as ‘convict’. It is the same word used in John 16:8: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
* * REPENTANCE AS TAUGHT BY PAUL
“First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).
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