Question:

I was doing a little research on sin to try and understand it a little better. I have just read through the New Testament and I'm still unclear on some things. I read your article on line about sin, it was very informative and helped me greatly, however I have a question. It says in your article that someone that doesn't know the Lord and sins,can be taught, which I understand. It also says that if someone knows the word of God and sins, it is impossible to bring that person back to God. Don't we all sin? None of us are free from sin, right? So if I know God and sin, what does that mean for me? I'm struggling with this issue and any light you could shed on this for me would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

I'm assuming that you are referring to "A Sin Leading to Death," but it appears that I didn't come across clearly.

Yes, everyone sins, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Becoming a Christian doesn't prevent a person from sinning either. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). Thus the question isn't whether a person sins, but how they respond to their sins.

A person who never heard the Gospel taught would be unaware that sin even exists in his life other than in some vague way. People do have an innate sense of right and wrong, "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves" (Romans 2:14). Paul's point is that even with only a vague sense of right and wrong, people still manage to do things they know innately are wrong. There is strong hope for such people because they can be taught the truth and if they are honest of heart will respond to it.

A person who knows the Gospel will still make mistakes in his life and occasionally sin. But since he has chosen to follow the path of God, he won't let himself stay in sin. He'll do something about it. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

John later states that this is the difference between a child of God and a child of Satan. A child of God lives a life aimed at always doing what is right. On occasion he will slip up, but he will shortly return to his normal path of striving for righteousness. In contrast, the child of Satan basically does what is wrong either out of lack of knowledge or a lack of caring. It doesn't mean such a person is totally bad. On occasion even the worse person does what is right, but it doesn't last. He goes right back to sinning because that is his habit.

"No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (I John 3:9-10).

Don't make the mistake of reading this as saying that a child of God never sins -- otherwise you have John contradicting what he just said in chapter 1. It is clearer in the Greek. A child of God doesn't make a practice (or habit) of sin and he cannot remain in sin because he wants to follow God. A child of Satan does make a practice (or habit) of sin.

But there is a third class of people that we need to consider. There are people who had become Christians, but for a variety of reasons purposely choose to sin, even though they know full well that it is wrong. I don't mean a bad choice at a moment of weakness, but a deliberate defiance of God and righteousness.

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6).

The writer of Hebrews is talking to fellow Christians. He is telling us that when a person deliberately turns his back on what he knows is right, we as that person's brethren will not be able to bring him back because we have nothing that he is interested in having. This doesn't rule out the possibility that he might change his own mind later once he sees the misery of his choice, but Christians should not beat themselves up over the fact that they can't persuade such a person to come back to God.

Every sin can be forgiven, but to gain forgiveness, a person must be willing to repent; that is, to turn away from his sin. Not everyone is willing to do that. Sadly, I find this every where. People are willing to follow God to a point, but when it comes to some particular sin they cherish, well, that comes first in their life. They rather demand that God accept them with their sin than to make themselves acceptable to God by giving up their sin. John, too, tells us as Christians that when we run into such cases not to beat our heads against the brick wall of this person's stubborn will.

"If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death" (I John 5:16-17).

Thus, in answer to your question, if you know God and realize that you have sinned, the answer is simple: drop the sin and cling to God. It is sad how many people just can't bring themselves to do this and as a result walk down the path to death.