Why Don’t Christians Care That They Sin?
R.C. Sproul: “R.C. Sproul Jr. stated that the bigger question is that Christians don’t care about the fact that they are sinning. What is the answer to that question? Why don’t Christians care that they are sinning?” Obviously implied in this is why don’t they care enough?
Alistair Begg: I think the answer actually lies in the gospel. That an understanding of what has happened in the gospel—that if we don’t preach the gospel to ourselves all day, everyday, then we will fail in some arena. And one of the areas of failure is a fast slide into antinomianism. So people then, under the disguise of a super-abundant concept of the grace of God answer the question with which Romans 6 begins and answer it wrongly: Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Answer: yes. And so off they go.
You know, shall I take my body and join it to a prostitute? What kind of question is that? That’s a question for a Christian because the Christian has been united with Christ. The Christian is in union with Christ.
Now I’ve got the answer to my own question, I’m finally getting the answer. The reason is that the believer does not understand the notion of union with Christ. And when we don’t understand what it means to be united with Christ then all we’ll be left with is either legalism on the one hand, or lawlessness on the other hand. It is “Since then” you have been raised with Christ, you seek those things that are above. And it is because of who you are in Christ, because your nature has been changed, because your status has been changed, because you’ve been raised to the heavenly places that these things are not impossible, but they are now incongruent. And I think part of the problem is that people do not know who they are in Christ.
R.C. Sproul: I think also that there is a hidden premise in the question that can be very distorting when we ask the question, “Why don’t Christians care about their continuing sin? It is absolutely impossible for a person to be regenerate by the Holy Spirit and not care at all about sin.
In that sense, there’s no such thing as the “carnal Christian” who can receive Christ and be regenerate and have no repentance. That’s impossible, that’s as unbiblical as it gets. I think what’s implied in the question is why don’t we care to the degree we ought to care? We care, but we don’t care enough. It’s because our hearts are still less than fully sanctified, and God the Holy Spirit in his convicting power has not fully revealed to us the sinfulness of our sin—thank God.
Exhibit A is David after his ghastly act of adultery and proxy murder of Uriah. He was trying to cover it up and was at ease in Zion. He was a believing man and he was down in the dregs of evil and yet he doesn’t really show a whole lot of concern until God sends that prophet to him and tells him the story; and when the light dawns, when Nathan says, “Thou art the man!” Wow, David sees the evil of his sin, and writes Psalm 51. Psalm 51 could never have been written by a human being who did not care about his sin.
But here’s the blessing, if God revealed to me right now the full measure of the continuing sin in my life, it would destroy me. God is gracious and gentle in correcting us gradually. That’s one of the things that’s nice about progressive sanctification, because if He gave it all at one time, we’d be dead.