April 27, 2023

If I Sin, Does That Mean I’m Not a Christian?

Nathan W. Bingham & Steven Lawson
If I Sin, Does That Mean I’m Not a Christian?

What does the Bible say about sin in the life of a Christian? Today, Steven Lawson stresses the importance of confession in our lives, encouraging us to remain steadfast in our pursuit of righteousness.


NATHAN. W. BINGHAM: I’m joined this week by Dr. Steven Lawson, the founder of OnePassion Ministries. He’s also a teaching fellow here at Ligonier. Dr. Lawson, 1 John 3:6 says that no one who abides in Christ keeps on sinning. So, if we sin, does that mean we’re not in Christ?

DR. STEVEN LAWSON: Every Christian will continue to sin. We never become sinlessly perfect in this life. It will not be until we go to heaven and enter into a glorified state where we become what we would call sinlessly perfect. When 1 John 3:6 says that no one who abides in him sins, it’s in the present tense verb, and the idea is an ongoing lifestyle of sin. It’s not speaking of the perfection of your life. It’s speaking of the direction of your life, that you are no longer pursuing sin as you once you became a Christian. You now have died to the ruling power of sin in your life. Sin is still present in your life; it’s just no longer president over your life. And that’s the difference: you’re under new management now. And you’re under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, we still continue to sin because we retain sinful flesh and a sinful nature within us. And so, just because someone sins does not mean that they’re no longer a Christian. In fact, 1 John even goes on to talk about confessing our sin and that one mark of a true believer is he’s known as a lifelong confessor of his sins, just like he’s a lifelong repenter of sins.

And so we, as Christians, will be continually confessing our sin. And it’s actually a mark that we’re truly saved because we’re not numb to our sins. We’re not oblivious to our sins. The Holy Spirit who indwells us convicts us of our sin, and our conscience has become heightened with a greater sensitivity to sin. And where we used to sin and enjoy it, the passing pleasure of sin, now, when we as a Christian sin, we feel awful about it. I mean, we feel guilty. We feel convicted, and it drives us to our knees to come before the throne of grace and to acknowledge our sin to the Lord, knowing that He will fully and freely forgive us of our sin.

But the fact of the matter is, yes, we still continue to sin. And if you study the Bible and you read from cover to cover, you see that the greatest of the saints continued to sin. I mean, Moses struck the rock in anger, and the Lord said, “You’re not going to enter the promised land.” David committed two horrible sins, adultery and then conspiring the murder of [Bathsheba’s] husband. Those were horrible sins. I mean, Solomon was an adulterer. Peter denied the Lord. Ananias and Sapphira lied through their teeth to God in church. The Corinthians, when they came to the Lord’s Table, they came in an unworthy manner, and the Lord made some of them sick, and others, they fell asleep. It’s a euphemism for death. God just struck them dead.

And so sure, Christians can continue to sin and will continue to sin. But the lesson for us is: we need to be quick to repent and quick to confess it and quick to humble ourselves beneath the mighty hand of God.