October 19, 2017

Christian Sinners

By Daniel H. King

The title of this article sounds like an impossibility, rather similar to what one encounters in ideas like "square circles," "straight curves," "loud silences," "light shades of black," etc. And, of course, it is. But it is an impossibility which many Christians since the origin of the church have tried to make a reality.

One finds some scriptural support for the existence of the idea in Paul's argument in the Roman letter: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein," (6:1-2); in Galatians also Paul had to treat the problem: "But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor" (2:17-18).

By very definition, the child of God cannot persist in sin. Paul says that we have "died to sin" and so cannot continue to live as we once did. Becoming a Christian therefore demands, on the part of the one who is "converted" the determined decision to give up the practice of sin. If a person has not so decided, he should not make any pretense out of a confession of faith or of a baptism in water. To do this is to declare a clean break with sin. If one has not made such a decision then the profession of Christianity is, by definition, a farce and a facade. The practice of sin in the life is a constant admission that what one has professed is a lie; as Paul puts it: "I prove myself a transgressor."

Something else needs noticing here also, however. It is almost natural for such hypocrisy to reflect upon the One who instituted Christianity, whether deserved or not. In other words, Christ gets a black eye out of every such situation. Every "sinning Christian," i.e. every one who makes the profession but does not live the life, soils the reputation of Jesus Christ among the sons of men. "Is Christ a minister of sin?" wrote the Apostle. He is not and never has been -but it seems so to the unbelieving when they behold sin in the life of the Christian.

Some of the strongest language in the Bible is reserved for this problem. It is said, for instance, that the Son of God is "crucified afresh, and put to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6), t hat He has been "trodden under foot," the blood of His covenant has been counted "an unholy thing" and the "Spirit of grace" has been insulted (Heb. 10:29).

So, Christian, before you begin to take up anew the practice of sin, remember that you solemnly promised to give up sin when you named the name of Christ. There is no such thing as a "Christian sinner."

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 21, p. 643
November 1, 1984

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