Q&A on Sin: In the Darkness, A Light Shines
Sin raises many questions in our minds, doesn't it? One of the most beautiful realities of the Christian worldview is that it not only recognizes the questions raised by the reality of sin and evil... it answers them. This post seeks to answer a few of these questions Biblically in response to a comment from my previous blog post. We will find that even in the darkness of sin, God’s light shines!
Question 1: At some point don’t we have to pay for our sins?
Sin is our biggest problem, isn’t it? From the first pages of the Bible to the end of Revelation, sin and rebellion is the central issue. And this is a big issue: “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). As is often pointed out, this is not only physical death but spiritual death (and it’s resulting judgment) as well. So, yes, our sins must be paid for (the wages must be paid)… but by whom? Let’s look at what the Bible says.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
And Romans 8:3 says: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
The good news of the Christian gospel is that the very thing that humanity failed to do throughout history — obey God and restore our broken relationship with Him — God did through Jesus Christ. Our sin debt was far too much for us to ever pay (Matt. 18:21-25). This is why Isaiah, looking forward to what Jesus would do, could say: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:5-6). He paid for our sin by taking it all on Himself — the One who never sinned.
All we have to offer God is sin and rebellion. Therefore Jesus, God Himself, came to take all our sins upon Himself… since we could never pay for them ourselves. He pays for our sins and gives us His righteousness when we accept this by faith. What a wonderful message this is!
Question 2: How can we stop repeating the same sin?
After accepting the gospel message, God provides in an amazing way — He actually comes to take up residence within us, through His Spirit. Though this can initially sound very mystical and maybe even spooky… it is not. It is the best gift we could ever receive. God tells us a number of ways that this gift of His Spirit affects us. I will mention two in relation to your question.
First, possessing the Spirit of God within us is the promise that God will one day fully redeem us — He will make everything right again (2 Th. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:1-5). There will be no more sin (Gal. 5:5)! We won’t fall anymore! He will give us new bodies and new life (Rom. 8:11)! And this sure future hope leads us to a life-changing present reality.
Second, possessing the Spirit of God gives us access to God’s supernatural power over sin… now! This is what Paul is talking about when he says: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16) and “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)”. The new life that Christ gives us through His Spirit is lived out in victory over sin. This is both the evidence and privilege of being a Christian — living a life of victory over sin!
The clear answer of the Scripture here is that we are personally powerless in this area (that is the whole reason we needed Christ’s redemption), so God provides for our need here too. But how does this practically work out in our lives? Let’s look...
Question 3: How can you be sure if we’re sinning?
I think this is another great question to follow up on the other two. Because the previous answer, even though clearly in Scripture, can sometimes be hard to wrap our minds around. So how do we know that we are living a life that “walk(s) in the Spirit” — that lives our lives in step with God’s plan for us? One important thought here is the close relationship between the Word of God and the Spirit of God. This is where it gets really practical.
We are told that God “breathed out” His Word, the Bible, through His Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21). Because the Bible comes from God, it is complete truth — truth that can “sanctify” us or make us holy (Jn. 17:17). This means that God’s Word is the only place that we can find His will for us — what is right and what is wrong. So God’s Word is what will reveal to us what is sin and what is pleasing to God.
Then, as we saw above, now His Spirit dwells in us. Jesus says that these words that God has given us through His Spirit are to “abide” in us; this is how we bear good fruit for Him (John 15:4-8). He actually even says that, spiritually, we “live” by them, just as we live physically by food (Matt. 4:4). It is like God prepares the spiritual meal we need to have the strength/energy to live the life He has called us to live, then He puts His Spirit inside us to “eat” this food and give us the strength/energy to obey. This is how we live out the good works (bear the “fruit”) that He has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10; Phil 1:11). When we are taking in God’s Word then, relying on God to give us the strength to obey it through His Spirit within us, we can live a life of victory.
So, in a real way, when we take in the Word of God that is breathed out by God’s Spirit, we nourish the new, spiritual life that God has created in us through His Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God’s mouth. All this means that when we take in God’s Word through reading, meditating, and remembering the Bible’s words, we are not only directed by God into what is right, but we are also supernaturally enabled to do it! We learn the truth and then are empowered to obey it. What a wonderful God we serve!
Jesus paid it all. The Holy Spirit gives us the victory over sin. And the Father has given us His truth in the Word. God has provided for our salvation from sin and our victory over it. The key to both is faith. When we believe what He says and then act in faith, He transforms us! After considering these wonderful truths we can rejoice that truly in our darkness a light has shined (Matt. 4:16)!