Christian, Your Struggle With Sin Does Not Define You

 Photo by Alexa Mazzarello

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello

If you are a Christian, “sinner” is no longer your identity. You have been saved by grace through faith, and stand justified before a holy God (Eph. 2:8-9). This means that you are declared righteous in his sight because of the imputed righteousness of Christ (Rom. 5:17). We no longer bear the penalty for the sin we are guilty of, but have put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

But that doesn’t mean a Christian doesn’t still sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

In reality, a Christian must hold many truths in tension. Though we still struggle in our battle against sin in this life, we are righteous in God’s eyes. Though we stumble and fall headlong in our walk, we are not condemned (Rom. 8:34; Rom. 8:1). This is the gospel, good news for sinners who would otherwise face God’s just and righteous wrath.

But sometimes we forget the gospel. Instead, we begin to believe a different narrative about who we are. We sin and fall short every day, and if we’re not quick to remember God’s truth in those situations, our struggle with sin can feel all-consuming. Our issues with pride or anger or lust lead to hopelessness and despair. But God’s narrative offers hope to Christians in their battle with sin.

And sin no longer has dominion over us.

It is not our default anymore. It does not define us, though it used to. If you are in Christ, you have died with him, and have therefore been “set free from sin” (Rom. 6:7). You are a new creation. “The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

This doesn’t look like perfection. Only Jesus was able to pull that off, and because he lived a perfectly obedient life, it is credited to our account. When Jesus said, “It’s finished”, it really is. There is no more sacrifice for sin; Jesus paid it all, for all time.

When we sin, we don’t punish ourselves. We can’t make up for it with good works. No amount of sacrifice will make us look any better than we already do, because Christ is the person that stands in our place.

This is basic Christianity. It begins and ends with what Christ has accomplished for us through his death and resurrection. It is the power of God to those who are being saved. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech and wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

As Christians, we must not stray from this central truth and its practical application to our life. We are in need of the gospel every single day. And this is something that I’m still learning, how to preach this life-giving truth to myself when I fall short, as I inevitably do. But my shortcomings no longer define me, nor do they rule my heart. There is no penance for sin, only repentance and sanctification.

It is an amazing reality for those who have been saved.