Everyone Sins, But True Christians "Sin In The Light"—Learn Why This Is So Important
You Will Never Be Sinless While You Live On Earth
There are actually those who teach that once you become a Christian you will stop sinning and you will soon enter a state of sinless perfection. This is an incredibly unscriptural lie which has hurt many. You can see that it is not true because the Bible makes it quite plain that anyone who denies they're a sinner is a liar: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us... If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8, 10 NASB).
As a Christian it's important you understand that becoming a believer will never lead you towards becoming perfect. Unfortunately, when you look at other believers it might appear on the surface as though they are nearly perfect, having become more spiritual than where you might be at. Now certainly a believer can live a life which is more Spirit-filled, but the truth is, many of those you might look up to are also struggling with sin just as much as anyone else.
So embrace the reality that it is impossible to become "sinless." It is, however, possible that you can and should "sin less" than you did before you trusted Christ. That is definitely what all Christians should strive to achieve in their walk with the Lord. But you will never be perfect while on this earth, so stop beating yourself up about your constant failings.
The Difference Between Light and Darkness
First John chapter one has encouraged me to understand what's going on in my heart over the years. "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:5-7 NASB).
What an incredible biblical passage. You need to understand this so that you won't be confused about how things work in the spiritual world when it comes to your personal sin.
First, notice that God is Light and in him there is no darkness at all. He represents goodness and holiness (being set apart from evil) and that's what he wants to give us once he has invaded our lives when we're born again. And of course, we want to walk with him in light.
Now notice that evil and good are presented as two opposing concepts and spiritual experiences in this passage. God Word talks about the deeds of darkness and the deeds of light using the opposing symbols of dark and light to represent evil and righteousness. Those who live in darkness don't have the light of God's life shining in their hearts and they cannot come to the Lord while they are in darkness because they simply are unable to see the truth and are blinded by the darkness.
In the same sense, those who are in the light are able to see spiritual good AND evil much more clearly because the light of God's Word shines upon the deeds of darkness, and of course the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives also convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment (see John 16:8). Someone who is walking in the light can see the deeds of darkness much easier than those who are walking in the darkness because they have a much dimmer understanding of morality. Maybe you've noticed that there isn't much depth perception when you're in physical darkness. That same is true spiritually for those who are living in a world given to darkness and depravity. They have a difficult time seeing evil for what it really is.
Now let's say that someone calls himself a believer, and claims to have fellowship with the Lord, and maybe attends church regularly, but he secretly walks in some very dark sins. This passage proclaims that such a person is a liar. He isn't practicing the truth and therefore he isn't really a believer. If someone is involved in deeds of darkness and they don't see them as being "that bad" then verse six applies to their life.
True Christians don't habitually walk in the darkness. Darkness is a spiritual condition where one is given over to sin and depravity on a regular basis. Note that the passage says those in darkness lie. If someone's deeds are evil they will want to keep their behavior hidden. Not only will they lie to others about their sin, they will likely also lie to themselves, pretending that their behavior really isn't so bad. All of this means they are full of lies and are not true believers. (See also John 3:19).
So if you think you are a believer but you habitually engage in sorted sinful deeds, the passage claims you're living a lie; you're not in the truth. But what if you are a true Christian and you still sin? Verse seven answers that question: "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 NAS).
True Christians walk in light with Christ. We have fellowship with him and with one another, and then notice the all important final phrase: "and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." When you walk in the light with Christ, you still sin, but the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin.
Now these two verses present an interesting paradox. Those walking in the darkness and those walking in the light—both sin. But only the believer who is in the light is cleansed by the blood of Jesus. So what makes the difference?
The man who habitually walks in darkness has really not changed. He doesn't see sin as being so evil and he hasn't really changes his mind about it. Therefore, he is still under the curse of his sin and he will not experience God's forgiveness or cleansing.
But the man who habitually walks in the light does know good from evil. He agrees with the Lord about the depraved nature of his sin. Yes, he does occasionally fall to temptation, but he sees sin for what it is and he hates it. He endeavors to fellowship with the Lord and other Christians and he continues to fight any impure desires. This man receives God's cleansing on a daily, ongoing basis.
Whenever a Christian backslides and slips back into sin, he will often be miserable. I have found over the years that I'm not a very good sinner. Whenever I have attempted to follow some course of action that I know is wrong, I always have a powerful nagging sense that I'm not where I should be. I feel guilty and uneasy as if the sky is going to fall down on top of me. I don't make a very good sinner, because I sin "in the light."
If you are in the light, you see your sin much more clearly than anyone who is walking in darkness. On the surface you might even appear to be "one of them" but deep down in your heart of hearts you know that you belong to the Lord and so it is only a matter of time before you return to the fold. A friend of mine used to say, "the sheep will eventually return to the fold, and the pigs will eventually return to the sty." So true.
Non believers don't have much of a dislike for sin. Because Christ fully enthroned within their hearts, when they stop going to church and begin to do what Christians call "backsliding" by falling back into their former sinful activities, they actually feel pretty good about it. Why? Because in many ways, they have "come home". They don't really belong in the Church and they don't really enjoy being around believers because they would rather laugh with the sinners then cry with the saints, because as Billy Joel put it, they think that "Only the Good Die Young."
You can likely tell if you're really a true believer just by this. If you have a strong sense of guilt in the midst of your sin, and are miserable when you wallow in it, dreading how God feels about your behavior, you're more likely to be one of God's true sheep. But if you end up just loving that sin which you've jumped back into, you're probably just a goat not a sheep.
Are ALL Your Sins Forgiven?
Probably the most important verse in First John chapter one is verse nine. This is one that you should memorize if you haven't already. It says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NASB).
You need to understand this verse so you're not confused about what Christ did for you on the cross. Let me explain that when you repented of your sins and turned to Christ for salvation, he forgave ALL of your sins. The Bible tells us that he forgives our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God remembers our lawless acts and deeds no more (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). That's the way God forgives sin.
All means ALL. So that must also mean that he forgives the sins we have committed both in the past, up to the present and on strong>into the future.. If God's forgiveness doesn't include the sins we haven't yet committed—and we needed to confess them all one by one—then we would surely all go to hell. Because we don't even know all of the bad things we have done, said or even thought.
The Roman Catholic doctrine of the need for a confessional booth becomes an incredible tyranny. There is absolutely no way you could even remember all your sins, let alone begin list them all out to a priest. And if we are only absolved for what we have confessed (sin by sin) then we are simply all lost. Praise God that this is NOT what God's Word teaches.
First John 1:9 has been called the Christian's "bar of soap" because it instructs us to cleanse our hearts on a regular basis through our ongoing confession. That confession is between us an our High Priest Jesus Christ. We don't have to go through any human intermediary.
Now the word used for "confession" in this verse has in the Greek a continual action, process or habit of life. In other words, we are to keep on confessing each time we discover that we have sinned again. Now when we confess to the Lord, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins. The word for "forgiveness" in this verse indicates we have done nothing to deserve the forgiveness. And the action of this forgiveness in the Greek is very interesting. It is an action that is conceived of as a single action or act. In other words, we keep confessing but he forgives us just once. And that forgiveness happens when we trust Christ at the beginning of our Christian lives.
Also we should notice that the cleansing we receive from all our unrighteousness is again a single action. So when the Lord cleanses us it is not dependent so much upon our confession as it is upon our response to Christ when we trusted him for our salvation.
So use these verses to stay in the light and keep confessing your sins so that you can maintain a sense of cleansing and keep your life moving ahead towards fulfilling the Lord's Great Commission of winning your family and friends to Jesus.