A Question I Was Asked:



Can a New-Born Child of God Still Be Called "A Sinner"?








My question is: Is a reborn child of God still called a sinner? I know that we still doing some sins, but I reckon i can call myself a child of God despite still doing some sins, sins which I don't want to do.
Therefore I find my identity in Christ as a son of God and not in being called a sinner anymore.



UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, the truth is Christians are both: we are newborn children of God and yet, during this life, we remain sinners. John the Apostle said,

7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10).

So it is the blood of Christ which purifies is from sin, yet we must still confess those sins and acknowledge them. The concept that after coming to Christ we no longer sin in any way is not biblical (we will later look at two Scriptures which appear to say differently). If we claim to be sinless, we become liars. If truly converted, the responsibility of those sins (which could be called 'overcoming sins') is placed on Christ's shoulders in an act of exchange; He takes our sins, and we take His righteousness. It is Christ's righteousness which saves us - certainly not our own.


Perfectionism

'Perfectionism,' the teaching that believers should now be perfect, finds no support in the New Testament, nor among all the great Protestant writers. It only appears within Roman Catholicism (think of all of those Roman Catholicism-inspired pictures of the saints with halos over their heads), and in certain of the legalistic cults and sects. Roman Catholic doctrine has always insisted that the saints are saved by their own righteousness which is 'infused' into them directly from God, they hold no concept of coming under the grace of Christ and being saved by His righteousness - that is a Protestant understanding.

But now, one or two objections to the view which I have given here which some might raise. How about the following Scripture:

15. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16. for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16).

This must be our striving, this must be our goal. We should be moving forward spiritually. However, our understanding on this holiness is helped if we take in the fuller context surrounding those verses in 1 Peter:

13. Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16. for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17. Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19. but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:13-19).

The fuller context there shows that we are all in an overcoming and growing situation - nothing there at all to suggest that we will receive an infusion of 'pure righteousness' as in the Romanist concept.


What Did Paul Say About All This?

21. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23. but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25).

Paul was very clear that even after true conversion the carnality remains, with no sudden and dramatic "infusion of righteousness." He gives the solution in the very next two verses:

1. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2. because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2).

That's it! - we are now under grace, although we must avoid the teaching of 'cheap grace,' we do have a responsibility for good Christian behaviour and - make no mistake - holiness is our goal.


Another Possible Objection

Do not both 1 John 3:9 and 1 John 5:18 say that those born of God cannot sin? How can we understand that? Okay let us look at these:

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:9).

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. (1 John 5:18).

This might - initially - almost appear to back up the Catholic position, but it does not. This is why we always have to consider all Scriptures on any given biblical subject before drawing any doctrinal conclusions. There is no contradiction here at all. These verses can be adequately understood in two ways:

1. John is saying that the one who is born again does not habitually abide in sin. He may fall into it, maybe even too much, but he does not practice it as a lifestyle. We are, after all, led by the Holy Spirit, yet in times of weakness we can all temporarily 'quench' it. Yet we do get a degree of protection as John says.

2. Secondly, since the culpability of sin has been completely removed from us in Christ, there is a real sense that the born again child of God does not actually go on sinning!

Finally, we really have to remember that these words were written by the man who also wrote this:

8. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10).

So it becomes clear that the above is a consistent New Testament teaching.

Robin A. Brace. May 17th, 2016.

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