I have Sinned—What Now?
Lots of Christians continue to live a life of guilt even after coming to faith in the Lord. This is unfortunate because grace is available for all of us. Christ has secured our forgiveness in His death and resurrection. I’m afraid that many believers simply let their sins go without any attention simply because they do not know what to do with them, or they feel guilty because they know that Christians are not supposed to sin.
We all know that Rom 3:23 teaches that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Yes, we all repented of our old lives when we became believers. But what about our sins and shortcomings afterbecoming Christians? We know that this does not please the Lord, so what should we do? 1 John 1:8, 10 clearly states that Christians are not perfect, we continue to sin even as we pursue holiness and purity. The apostle says that if we claim to have no sin, then we are only deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us; we’re making Christ out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. The Christian life is one of progressive sanctification, that is, we are moving toward holiness. Little by little we are fighting to do away with our sinful thoughts, speech, and deeds. John Newton, the pastor and famous hymn writer of “Amazing Grace” once exclaimed, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” This is progressive sanctification; this is the Christian life.
John goes on to say in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The first thing we must do when we have sinned is confess it to the Lord. We need to pray the prayer of the tax collector from Jesus’ parable about justification: “Have mercy on me a sinner.” When praying that prayer to the Lord, we need to specifically name our sin(s) to Him. We need to ask for cleansing and Spirit-given strength to fight that same sin in the future.
After confessing our sin to the Lord, we need to make peace with anyone we may have sinned against. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount to “Be reconciled to your brother or sister,” and James piggybacked on that teaching in saying that we ought to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. The New Testament commands us throughout to forgive one another and restore one another.
Lastly, for now, it should be said that we need to put a plan in place to defeat the sin(s) in our lives. We must submit to God, resist the devil, flee from the very appearance of evil, walk in the Spirit, pray that we not enter temptation, not be conformed to the world, be transformed in our minds, and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body. We also need to find support from other Christian friends.
Therefore, imperfection is expected, but growth toward perfection is demanded. Confess your sin to the Lord, reconcile with others, and plan to defeat your sin!