A Difference between Being in Sin and Sinning


Christians sin. Tonight I had the privilege of attempting to explain to my three young daughters (two of which were more interested in the stickers they get after Bible time) the difference between wrath being laid up for a person, and what we mean when we say, “Temporal judgments” for those in the faith. The Christian has not been appointed to wrath. It is the greatest cause of rejoicing, as is said in 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9, that there is no wrath laid up for the believer. This is because Jesus took that wrath upon Himself on the cross for them, 1 Peter 2:24. Yet, sadly, we still sin even as we live in redemptive, restored grace. We must understand the difference between being in sin and still sinning. And so, the Bible explains in detail how God deals with the elect in corrective measures as any Father does, Hebrews 12:3-11. God removes many graces from the lives of His own for a time as they sin. This is very instructive. Because of unrepentant sin in the area of lust, for example, I have had nearly every assurance stripped from me at times. I have walked the streets of Tampa, FL (where I used to live) in bitter tears because of pornography. Because of my sin, God removed all of the joy of my salvation for a time. Yet He preserved me. I was repentant. He kept me. If I could’ve lost my salvation I would’ve already. He judges my sins still, and punishes me for them now in this life, but not in eternity, and not even as a non-believer. This is what we mean by “Temporal judgment;” it is judgment for this life. It is temporary, and not eternal. It is God who keeps us as much as it is God who saves us. This is always through a living, repenting, rejoicing, persevering and active faith, 1 Peter 1:4-5. It is a faith that perseveres.

     The London Baptist Confession (LBCF) of 1689, in section 17.3 says, “And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.” The fact that God is more glorified to leave us in sin for the rest of this life than to instantly purify us is at first an un-settling idea. It is an other-worldly thought. However, when all of Scripture is brought to bear alongside the assurance of God’s work in us, it makes perfect sense that the cross should remain on our lips with each sin in our lives. It is the central point in history, why not the central point of each Christian’s day? God is not ignorant of the sins we’ll commit from any time yet He saved us nonetheless. That’s something to rejoice about.

     In short, He has delivered us from the penalty of sin now. One day He has promised to deliver us from the very presence of it!

     I recently recorded an audio message on the subject of the Perseverance of the Saints called, “A Good And Necessary Consequence from Scripture Called The Perseverance of the Saints.” I again find myself this week in great encouragement through God’s word in these truths. There is such a power in understanding what it means to be, “Preserved through faith” in Jesus Christ. 

     All of Scripture connects together in remarkable ways. I’m confident that in fifty years, if I’m still alive as I know it now, that I’ll be finding many new connections and depths still in God’s word. Perseverance is like the shower curtain rod around which a dozen other wonderful truths are hung. If this doctrine is lost so many go along with it. Perseverance is what saints do through their sin. 


     In three separate paragraphs, the doctrine of election, which is inextricably linked to perseverance, and the fact that it runs over and above what sin brings in the lives of Christians by the Fatherly hand of God is cited by the LBCF in the following passages: John 10:28-29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Psalms 89:31-32; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Malachi 3:6;  Romans 8:30; Romans 9:11, 16; Romans 5:9-10; John 14:19; Hebrews 6:17-18; 1 John 3:9; Jeremiah 32:40;  Matthew 26:70, 72, 74; Isaiah 64:5-9; Ephesians 4:30; Psalm 51:10-12; Psalm 32:3-4; 2 Samuel 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61-62. See the London Baptist Confession of Faith here to see which paragraphs each of these passages is listed under.


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