"death acceptance", "Hannah Whitall Smith", "putting sin to death?", "sinful man that I am", balance, belief, death, forgiveness, options, sinners who are going to Heaven, the Apostle Paul, The Christian's Secret of the Happy Life
Recently, a fellow posed this question, “How do we kill sin, or how do we put sin to death? The question is a serious one. Although it may lead to false expectations, at the same time, the question does touch a vital desire among many Christians. (I hope all experience it; I know that I do). That desire is to live without sinning.
But, there is the rub. I can speak for myself and say that I long from down deep in my soul to live a sinless life. But, up until now, such a life has not come my way. The guilt of sin is devastating; I sense the pain of having betrayed God, of having fallen short of what He wants from me, of having dishonored Him, of having (using categories that go way back to my childhood experiences in church and camp services) of “adding more nails to the cross that holds Jesus.”
Currently I am reading Hannah Whitall Smith’s The Christian’s Secret of the Happy Life, which I have on my Kindle. I read it the first time many years ago, and my memory of it was a good one. This time, my experience is one of saying to myself, “I am not any more righteous than I was after reading the book the first time. I haven’t progressed one iota.”
But, back to the question at the top of this article. The fellow suggested that we kill sin by “Just resting in Christ.” By that I think he means that we are to simply believe that what Jesus says about the death of sin is true. For example, we are to believe that Jesus’ death satisfied the moral demands / consequences of sin that the sinner die. I agree with the statement that we are to thus believe. But, what do we say to the person that senses that in spite of thus believing, sin is still happening? “Sinful man that I am” as Paul expresses it in Romans, was said by a man who believed in and was committed to the truth of Jesus’ death being, among other things, the satisfying of the moral demands for sin.
Does there not finally come a point when we simply have to accept the fact that we will be sinners until our death, and that in that sense we will not experience sin’s death until we die and go to Heaven? If that is the case, the original question needs to be restated to something like – “In light of our being sinners and of actually sinning until we die and go to Heaven, how do we live well (psychologically, spiritually, physically, socially) with that ongoing reality of sin?”
So, what follows is a series of rhetorical questions that lead to what I am thinking at this point in my Christian life.
- Is there a certain kind of “sin acceptance” that is somewhat comparable to “death acceptance”? . . . .
- Is there a point when we realize that sin is inescapable, but it is not the most important thing about us as God’s children? . . . .
- Is sin “a problem” because our scale of values is fouled up? . . . .
- Do we suffer because we don’t live psychologically with the reality that God’s forgiveness has more value than sin has? . . . .
- Can we get to the point of accepting our sinfulness as an ongoing reality and yet realizing that it is not going to keep us from Heaven, because Christ’s death and God’s forgiveness are more important than the sin of which we are guilty? . . . .
- Can we work with the analogy of living physically all our lives with destructive microbes being present in our body but not being of such importance that they rob us of life, and that the cause of our death may be something other than those microbes?
Your comments are welcome!!!