Sometimes people say that they (or someone they know) can continue to live in a way that the bible clearly identifies as sin because, well, nobody’s perfect, and everyone sins.
How should a Christian respond?
- Jesus gets to tell us what sin is. If we’re not willing to let Jesus define what is sin and what is not, we’re not his disciples. He tells us through his Spirit, by His word. In other words, we read the bible with prayer and the Spirit to find out what sin is. (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21, John 14:15)
- It is true that everyone sins. (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8). This is why Jesus died. But does this mean that Christians shouldn’t worry about keeping sin around in their lives? No. (Romans 3:5-8, 6:1)
- Christians don’t decide what to think about sin by looking at whether other people are sinning. They decide what to think about sin by reading the bible with the Spirit and prayer. (2 Corinthians 10:12, Psalm 119:9)
- So how does the bible tell us to think about sin? What is the believer’s relationship with sin?
- We confess it when it happens. (1 John 1:9)
- We can know that this leads to being cleansed and knowing we’re forgiven.
- When the Holy Spirit is working in us we want to not sin. (1 John 2:1)
- We know that “walking in darkness” and refusing to keep his commandments makes our life a lie. Walking openly (“in the light”) while we freely confessed our sin and turn away from it shows we really know God. (1 John 1:6-7, 2:4-5)
- The believer wants no relationship with sin at all! Jesus suffered God’s wrath for sin (1 John 2:2). He came to take it away (1 John 3:7).
In other words, when Christians discover sin in their lives, they don’t say, “oh well, everyone’s a sinner.” Instead, they do whatever they can to get it out of their lives. This is called repentance. (Romans 6:1-23)
What do Christians do with sin? They repent of it.
- What about when someone else we know is sinning? Are we supposed to be ok with it, since nobody’s perfect? Does the fact that other people are sinning make us indifferent to a friend’s sin? Again, a follower of Jesus will let Jesus answer this question for them by his word and Spirit. And what we find in the bible is something like this:
- We care about if others are in sin. Because we know sin dishonors God, and injures the one living in sin. (Psalm 32:10, Proverbs 6:27, Isaiah 57:21, John 8:34, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) We let the bible define what things are sin and what things are simply different convictions. This way we don’t become nitpickers. (Romans 14-15, 1 Corinthians 8-9)
- We make sure our lives are free of the sin we see in others lives. (Matthew 7:3-5)
- We actively talk to each other about the sinful patterns in their lives. (James 5:19-20, 1 John 5:16, Jude 20-23, Leviticus 19:17)
- We want every believer to turn away from things the bible clearly says dishonor God and harm them. (Hebrews 3:12-13, Ephesians 4:17-32)
So what do Christians do about sin? They repent of it. Then they become the kind of people that can help lead others to repentance too. In other words, they become “slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18)