Sin in the Christian – What Does the Bible Say?

Do Christians sin? Do Christians sin willfully? What happens if a Christian sins wilfully? Are there different types of sin.

All these questions are really important.

I am fully aware that what I say in this article may be controversial to some, and not go far enough for others. But I think its very important that we are faithful to what the Scriptures say on this issue.

The Bible Contains Examples of Christians Who Sinned

Was the apostle Peter a Christians after the Day of Pentecost? Of course he was. No one would doubt that. Yet listen to what Paul said concerning one encounter with Peter.


11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you[b] compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
The Scripture is very plain here. The apostle Peter was not blameless in his conduct at one point. He had the fear of man, was playing the hypocrite, and was not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel.
We can be very sure that Peter repented of this sin, but the fact is that as a church leader, an apostle, an elder and a man who knew Jesus and was mightily used by God, Peter fell into certain kinds of sin. To sin is to miss the mark, and Peter missed the mark here.
God has legally provided for a total deliverance from sin and its power through the cross. However, this provision must be appropriated by faith in an ongoing way. Otherwise, there is the ever-present sin of falling short, of making leadership blunders, of doing the wrong thing in relationships, of suppressing some aspect of truth – even important truth.
I hope no one will deny that this is possible and indeed often happens in the lives of sincere Christians today.
Are All Sins the Same?
Some say that all sins are the same, but the Bible nowhere supports this proposition. The Bible DOES say that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23). All sin, whether small or great, is a departure from the will of God in some respect, and deserves death. But God's GRACE means that though we do  at times some kinds of sins, we can still have a true relationship with God and come to the Lord for cleansing and forgiveness. God does not cut off our relationship with Him for every failure to be perfect. However, some sins will damage the relationship with the Lord a lot more than others. For this reason, and for many others, I say that NOT ALL SINS ARE THE SAME.
We are not always aware of the Lord's perspective on our sins. Sometimes He will use a preaching message, or a prophecy, or a personal revelation to our hearts in times of study to show us what it is in us that is HIS number one priority to deal with.
It could be pride, or hardness of heart. These "root" sins open the door for others to dwell in us undetected, and other forms of deception can find root in us. For this reason, we need to never be far away from our next "spiritual detox" where we humble ourselves so we can get God's perspective on what needs to change next in our lives. We don't automatically have this perspective.
Some sins are like "roots" and others are like "leaves". The leaves indicate the presence of roots and trunks and everything else. But you can cut off leaves and they will grow back. In describing this, Jesus and John the Baptist both said, "The axe is laid to the ROOT of the tree." The real root it would seem is the Old Adamic nature. What this exactly IS, is a complex topic, perhaps beyond the exact grasp of our minds, but it is closely related to established sub-conscious thought patterns that manifest in terms of selfish thinking and behavior. God wants to deal with the ROOT and then chop up the old tree and dispose of it. This is a metaphor for the process of sanctification and to some extent also the process of deliverance from demons. It is shared in the hope that it is helpful, but the metaphor can't be pushed too far in any case.
Wilful Sin versus Sin that is Committed Unconsciously
There is an important distinction between the sins that are committed wilfully in response to specific temptation, and sins that are committed because of ignorance and flow out of our internal neural programming.
Some things we do out of a habit, but not maliciously. They are not deliberate sins,  but the failure to do certain things still is a falling short of the will of God.
For example: talking too much. For a lot of people, it hasn't sunk in yet that “Where words are many, sin is not absent.”  (Proverbs 10:19). It hasn't sunk in that God says "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19). This hasn't penetrated deeply enough into the hearts and minds of many Christians, with the result that we are often TOO free with our words, to quick to vent our feelings and frustrations, or to speak exaggerations or say things we may regret later. These kinds of sins can happen without even thinking about it. They don't happen because of a specific temptation necessarily. We need to grow in the fruit of the Spirit – self control – in order to master our tongue more and more.
Then there are conscious, wilful deliberate sins. I want to say that THESE SINS are the most spiritually perilous. Persist in this kind of sin, and you will go to hell. Read Hebrews 10:26-39 for confirmation of this fact. One of the dangers of yielding to this kind of sin is you don't know for sure after a while if God will not GIVE YOU OVER TO IT. The Spirit of God has striven with me many times concerning deliberate sins in the past, and brought me back to repentance. But what if He had not? Its a sobering thought – but I would have surely been lost eternally if He had never worked to bring me back.
I believe in the blood of Jesus covering our failures so we have access to God, but I think serious damage is done to the souls of men the world over when we somehow imply that this grace extends to the wilfully disobedient who when it gets down to it, do not wish to yield to God, but rather to serve their own lusts. Those lusts are generally the lust for bodily pleasure, the lust to accumulate many possessions, and the lust to be applauded by men or by yourself as some great one.
Real Christians need to deal ruthlessly with these three core sin areas – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes (greed) and the pride of life. Unwillingness to tackle these things through the power of the Holy Spirit will lead to spiritual death. It won't cut it with God to appeal to the blood of Christ or the grace of God on the final day when basically, you have no intention of really receiving Jesus as [actual] Lord or Master in your life.
I hope to elaborate on this important area in the future. My purpose is to encourage everyone to seek the Lord more diligently, to steer clear of wilful sin, but at the same time, not feel condemned and hopeless if and when you become conscious of your imperfections.
God gives us time to repent, and that is part of His grace also.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Michael Fackerell

Michael is the founder of Christian faith dot come, a site about Jesus. He came to save the lost. Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Leave a Reply (Choose Facebook or Standard)

Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonYouTube Icon