But What If I Continue To Sin?
All believers in Christ continue to wrestle with sin after coming into salvation and the knowledge of God through Christ. The question oft arises, what happens to the believer who fails to immediately overcome particular areas of sin and has gone on to commit further sins?
This article is derived from counsel we offered to a distraught believer who approached us with this question. This counsel offers a foundational grid for anyone struggling with sin who wants to evaluate their true state of salvation before God, no matter what the sin.
Before you tell me anything about your situation, let me just share a few things in general which might be of some help, because these are things I would tell you anyway. And you may find they might be enough for you without you telling me anything further about what you have done.
One outstanding area of debate in Christian faith is, what is it that marks true salvation and what if any kind of sin is forgivable, under what conditions? To what degree can a believer be found in any kind of sin, under what conditions and still be considered a saved believer? Can a believer be saved and then lose salvation due to sin?
The Two Levels of Salvation
Two things have to be understood regarding the believer and subsequent sin. First, there are two levels of salvation. One is forgiveness for sins with cleansing through the blood of Jesus. The other is actual conversion of the inner man by the word of God into a new creation, called new birth.
A man can receive initial forgiveness and cleansing by the blood of Jesus without actually becoming converted into a new creation. The difference is that one who is initially cleansed by faith in Christ but not reborn may eventually revert to a life of continued willful sin1. But one who is born again, even though he will struggle with sin in certain areas and find himself lapsing through unconquered weakness, maintains an inward determination not to sin and perseveres in his faith until he finds what he needs in the Lord to overcome2.
Meanwhile, to the appearance, it can be quite difficult to tell the two kinds of sinning believer apart. For the one believer is still lost, while the other will finally prove that He is truly the Lord's newborn. If he has strayed, he will return3. The other can never return4.
Three Forces of Battle
The other thing that has to be understood is that there are three kinds of force involved regarding the process of sinning and successfully turning from it. One is the force of one's own natural life which tempts him to sin and yield to his lusts.
The second is the force of demonic oppression, obsession and possession that has taken root in the soul. This kind of force compels a man to sin beyond any will power to "just say no." Demonic force may be at work in the life of the born again believer as well as the merely forgiven believer. Where demonic force compels a man to sin, deliverance ministry is required to evict that force.
The third force is the force of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit that evicts the root of sin from the believer and indwells Him with the fullness of Christ's righteousness for power over all sin. Many people that have been born of the Spirit have never been saturated by the Spirit's indwelling for victorious power over sin, and therefore do not find victory over certain besetting sins.
Questions for Self Interrogation
Whatever it is you may have struggled with or continue to struggle with, you can evaluate through the grid of these two larger dimensions. You need to ask yourself what kind of commitment not to sin / backslide characterizes your heart:
- Are you a superficial believer who may have been forgiven and washed in the blood of Christ, but without a commitment to the dethroning and overcoming of sin in your life? Have you made only a superficial non-transparent surrender of all things in your life to Christ, but at heart are holding onto certain cherished idols or behaviors?
- OR are you a determined believer who hates sin even though you find yourself at war with it to where it still gets the better of you and you have not fully overcome it in your thoughts and bloodstream by the power of the Spirit? Have you made Christ lord of every area of your life by a determined unconditional surrender of all things? Where is your heart in relationship to the sin against which you struggle?
- And then you have to ask yourself if the backsliding struggle you face is one of nuisance temptation or forced compelling to where no matter how much you surrender the thing to the Lord, you just cannot overcome it and keep getting drawn back into it? If you find yourself so compelled, you need to consider that you require deliverance ministry for demonic eviction. Confession of sin and willpower to say no are just not enough.
- You also have to ask if you have only superficial experiences with the Holy Spirit without having been fully baptized in His abiding victorious power to prevent satan's further encroachments upon your soul.
The Spiritís Sufficiency to Reveal, Guide and Deliver
At all times, no matter where you are on this grid, the Holy Spirit is convicting you as the Spirit of Truth to illumine you to all truth necessary to the saving and perfecting of your soul. He is convicting you of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is showing you what pleases Him and what does not. He is showing you if you have more need of His loving infilling where you need to cry out for more of Him to gain victory. His power of internal revelation is sufficient to teach you all things regarding His holy will for you. He will unmistakably reveal what is what to the one who is transparently surrendered, having held nothing back in his life from the Lord's spotlight.
When He convinces, the Spirit shows you what must be done to change the situation. He shows you if you need deliverance ministry. He shows you if confession of sin is enough. He shows you if there is more you must do than confess to Him. He shows you if you must confess to another. He shows you if you must forgive another. He shows you if you must make restitution in an area. The Holy Spirit shows you all these elements required for dealing with sin.
Satan is also active with his voice. He is constantly accusing, bringing up thoughts of self-accusation, self-doubt, doubt of the Holy Spirit's sufficiency, second guessing of past issues and things that Jesus has already cleansed and forgiven and taken care of. Satan is ever instilling thoughts of fear and trouble and worry.
So the two powers are always at contest over your soul. But if you are truly the Lord's, His fundamental conviction is ultimately clear and convincing to the conscience, so that no man is ever with excuse regarding what he has done and how he lives now and what his Maker requires. As you read through what I have written, I would even expect the Holy Spirit to cause certain words to "jump out" at you and say, "See, this is what I have been telling you all along is at issue."
These are the thoughts I challenge you to run your issues through regarding the sinning against the Lord / backsliding you referenced. If they are not enough, please write out your situation and I will speak more to it as seems appropriate. But let's start here.....
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
1 2 Peter 2:1, 20-22
2 1 John 5:4, 13, 16-19
3 Luke 15:13-24
4 Hebrews 6:4-9
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 9, 2017