Here is a brief letter of clarification regarding the issues of guilt, sin, and condemnation raised by many who desire to understand the power of grace and the Enemy’s strategy to debunk the Gospel of Grace.
Just a side note before I get into the body of this discussion. I see from the reading of Romans 3:8 that Paul was also accused of having promoted some sort of evil (sin), that good may come (grace might abound). He seems to have been charged with being too free in offering the merits of grace as opposed to works (law) that the religious sects had been embracing, and frequently got into trouble, sometimes imprisonment, for taking a firm stand on grace vs works (Rom. 11: 1-7) and forgiveness vs condemnation, (Rom. 7: 14-8:1).
Rom. 3:9 says all have been previously charged under sin. “As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one…” upon entering into this sinful, evil, unjust world the conclusion made when the law is applied to us is (v19) is “That every mouth may be stopped and that all the world may become guilty (accountable is the word used in some translations) for their sin before God.”
The effects of original sin (the sin connected with the Fall) and its outcome are that “All have sinned and been placed in the sin category as being lost, enslaved, held captive, in need of salvation and a Savior and redemption. None of us were able or can, save or justify or deliver ourselves by means of the law, good deeds, our own personal goodness, good works, merit or means.
Because we are lost and found guilty of sinning, however does not mean we are bad, as in the sense of vile, depraved, or undesirable, any more than your lost, kidnapped child made to look like you and created in the image of God, though lost, dirty, violated, sinned against, disobedient or kidnapped, is not still precious, and even more loved and longed for since their captivity. “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” Ps. 103:13 Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save that which was lost”.
However, to our shock and dismay, the law (mirror) used to convict us of sin (spots on our soul) cannot cleanse us from sin (wash our face). Ro. 3:23 says, “all have sinned (been tricked, deceived into doing things that have caused them (us) to “fall short of the glory of God. We have fallen from the glory of our original divine nature, made in the image of our heavenly Father, and adopted in its place the description of “a sinful human nature”.
This term is used to describe our second nature, the carnal man, the old man, Rom. 6:6, and though the evidence of our “sinful human nature” in describing man’s natural vulnerabilities and predispositions to sin (believe and act upon the lie) is evident in our lives, the exact wording of “sinful human nature” is not written in the scripture. (As a matter of shocking truth, Romans 6: 6 & 7 declare that those who have been crucified with Him should no longer be slaves of sin, but in our participation in Christ’s death, we are freed from sin and death). Obviously this is not what we experience in our life on the planet now, because we all still sin and all still must die, but from God’s perspective, we are free from the power of both. (And who would argue with how God sees things? Many, perhaps?!)
The god of this world has the technical control and takes advantage of us because we are living in his world. We are at his mercy, and technically his property, though stolen. That does not mean we do not have a free will that we will continue to operate, freely and foolishly and frequently, to try to steer through the swamp of life, (the snake pit).
We were born and placed, without our agreement, into a set of individual circumstances (chaos, dysfunctional families, predispositions, situations of vulnerability and varying degrees of lack and preexisting spiritual agreements). Sin abounds in the snake pit, like mud abounds in a mud puddle. The chances of not getting bit and dirty are zero. God, knowing this ahead of time, put a Rock (Christ Jesus) in the center of the pit that “whosoever will” can call upon Him and be saved. Salvation does not get rid of the Pit, or take us out of the Pit, it only puts us on the Rock of Salvation and safety, if we choose Jesus.
Living in the midst of the mud and the Enemy who slings it (through accusation and temptation) will continue to be the point of testing, cleansing and refinement of our desire and devotion and commitment to reciprocate (respond to) the Love of God as demonstrated through the death and resurrection of His Son who died to freely provide us with the grace and desire to receive the gift of salvation. (Salvation is a gift, it is freely given to whosoever asks or calls upon the name of the Lord, Ro.10:13) It cannot be earned or deserved or worked for. It is a gift.
We are saved not by being good enough to deserve it. We are not lost by being bad. We are lost by refusing to accept the free gift of salvation given by God through the Blood of His Son. The Devil’s counterfeit, look- a- like gospel makes the message all about getting rid of our “sin”. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about Grace and good news. Salvation is not the same thing as sanctification. Sanctification has to do with cleaning the house. Salvation has to do with buying the house. God bought us back when we accepted His Blood as payment for our ransom.
Okay, back to the question at hand, basically, “are believers guilty of sin”. Simple answer, yes. But do we understand the implications of making that agreement in just answering this question the way it was put to us? NO
When we sin after we are saved, which God knew we would do, (see I Jn. 1:8-10) written to believers , God instructed John as to what the believers, His children were to do when, not if, they got caught in sinning. In the Greek, by the way, “sinning’ is an adjective describing something we are doing, not who we are… unless you are using the devil’s definition of us as, “you are what you do”. WE are not (doings that be) instead we are beings that do stuff”. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sin, His is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
The question is not will we sin. We will sin after we are saved. The Lord told us. We will still be deceived and tricked and tempted. It’s going to happen. We will make a choice to bite the hook and take the bait and get caught, like Eve, who declared before God that she had been deceived by the serpent. (Notice God did not lecture her or even mention that it was her choice and now she was on her own. He immediately intervened and cursed the serpent and punished everyone involved, longer story for another discussion).
The Enemy tempts us to use our free will which he has already programmed and influenced through this present evil age and worldview set up by the god of this world, to influence and skew our choices. The Deceiver tricks us into making an agreement to use his solutions to the problem which he deliberately set up to test our love and allegiance to God. He is hoping we will reject the truth that the Holy Spirt brings, bearing witness to our spirit, and get us to sin.
To sin means we believe the lie that causes us to fall short of the glory of God and His truth. Sin is the fruit of believing the lie. The root of sin is the lie. The free will we exercise to believe the lie produces sin in our lives. Using the devil’s solution the problem he deliberately set up using our vulnerabilities and human weakness, which are many, against us, to coerce, intimidate, through the use of pain and fear and deprivation to get us to sin, is the Enemy’s method of operation.
Guilt, the feeling of feeling bad, leads us to make another choice, to either feel convicted or condemned. If we know the Word and the love of God, we will respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent, and cancel out our agreement with fear and the lie of having to do it ourselves. If we are not persuaded of the love and forgiveness of God, the devil will use our “feeling bad and guilty” to get us to not receive the forgiveness of God. Instead, we will feel condemned, separated and judged by God. This separates us from the love of God, just exactly what the Enemy wants to do.
The question often asked is, “Are you saying we are never guilty of sinning?” Yes we sin. Yes we believe the lies fear is using to tempt us to believe and act upon what the Enemy is tempting us to believe. We often will fall for the temptations to believe the lie, get offended, take matters into our own hands, etc. All have sinned, all get set up and tricked and tested. This is the Enemy’s golden opportunity to accuse and condemn us through the feelings of guilt, to keep us from repentance, confession of our sin and God’s forgiveness. Is this so difficult to understand? Is this not the same thing any good parent would do if their child messes up and gets deceived? To get them to see the error of their ways is it not the goal of any good parent? How is it so different in God’s relationship with His own Children?
The Accuser of the Brethren uses our sin as evidence to accuse us before the Court of God that we are deserving of punishment. Our sinning forms the basis of his argument against us in the court of Heaven. This is where he presses his charges against us to justify his petition before the Court to punish us. He wants us to believe it is God who punishes us. God permits the punishment if we do not humble ourselves and repent, or change our minds and cancel out our agreement with the lie that prompted the sin in the first place.
God says, if we confess our sin, admit to it, admit we have “sinned” because we believed what fear said instead of what God has promised, then we cancel out our agreement with the lie and come back into right standing and peace with God. The Devil is trying to make it all about our being “guilty” so he can use our admission of guilt against us. God just wants us to confess the sin and be forgiven and live in the freedom of knowing the truth!
The Enemy wants us to believe it is God who punishes us. God permits the punishment if we do not humble ourselves and repent. If we do not receive the revelation of truth here we will be tempted to see God as the One Who is unfair and harsh, the exactor of the law, when in truth it is just the opposite. The Enemy is the exactor of the law and the Lord is the righteous One full of compassion. It is His goodness that leads men to repentance. Therefore, we are in jeopardy of “judging God” in the matter of our guilt, if we fail to receive the forgiveness and release from the charges of guilt Satan is pressing upon us.
The one rule in the war between God and Satan for the souls of men is Romans 6:16, whom we yield ourselves servant to obey, that’s whose slave we become. It is all about whose report do you believe, God’s promises, or the Devil’s condemnation. In the midst of our fiery trials the bottom line is, do you believe God’s word to keep you and be faithful to complete the work he’s begun in you or are we going to believe yet another lie, to the insulting of God and the Cross by believing it I can fix this myself, through my own religious prescriptions of good works and penance, etc.
Guilt and our condemnation are the Devil’s end game to get us to give up, get discouraged, and go away from God, or at least live in the never ending state of confusion and condemnation that ultimately leads us to conclude that God is mad at me, and I’m a bad person because I’m always doing something wrong. This does not promote the love of God in our hearts. Guilt leads me to embrace the lies, I deserve to be punished, I don’t deserve good things, and I am bad, three things God does not want me to agree to, because if we do, God has no other choice but to permit his enemy to punish and hurt us.
Whom the Lord loves He chastens to develop character, to bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are trained thereby, Heb. 12:11. This is God’s goal for the testing and training of His children. Both God and Satan are always working in the same place at the same time to do the opposite thing. God’s work is to make us, the devil’s is to break us. God’s goal in our lives is to defeat and destroy us. The only way we can survive the accusations of the Evil One (Rev. 12:10) is by confession our sin and admitting we were deceived, (which makes the Enemy guilty), fell for the lie, did something we did not want to do (Rom. 7:20) and sinned.
Paul is very clear on the whole process of sin dwelling in him (this is Saint Paul, saved at the moment of this inspired writing of sacred scripture). He does not say he needs to feel guilty or admit to guilt. He does not even address guilt. He jumps over all the blaming, fault finding discussions we so readily engage in and reminds us that there is “now therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who are saved, who do not walk according to the flesh, (body and soul) software, but according to the Spirit, His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. (I Cor. 2:9-11)
The Holy Spirit has come to lead us into all truth, including the wisdom in understanding the difference between Satan’s condemnation and assignment of guilt, and the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin that is designed to lead us to repentance.
This is a very lengthy explanation to a very common human condition. Guilt and condemnation. Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them, (Mt. 7:15-20), the religious wolves who come in sheep’s clothing. What is the fruit of guilt and condemnation in a believer’s life? What is the fruit of conviction? Which one is of God?