Do Christians sin?
As we entered the little church called l’Église de la Madeleine in Geneva, Switzerland, we noticed how spotlessly clean it was. Three rows of pews were set in perfect symmetry, and at the front, on the altar lay an opened Bible with a large candle burning next to it. Everything was perfectly in place.
As I wandered around, I noticed some wooden steps on the side, leading to a higher view of the sanctuary. I assumed it would probably be posted, “Do not enter”, but to my amazement, no such sign was in sight.
I turned around to see if the person in charge of the church was frowning at me, but he was so busy playing the organ that he didn’t even notice me. That’s when my curiosity got the better of me, and I began climbing the creaking steps. They led me to an opening near the ceiling of this lovely little church, and being intrigued, I encouraged my family to join me. We climbed higher and higher, until we arrived at what we assumed was the bell tower. Here we discovered an intriguing time piece, as well as a series of church bells.
But we also discovered something else in that bell tower: Dust and cobwebs! Everywhere! How could it be possible that such a clean church could be so dirty?
“I don’t think we are supposed to be here.” I whispered as we silently climbed back way down the stairs.
There are many who believe that Christians are an elite club, where everybody is perfect.
Unfortunately, none of us can ever reach such a stature, so why even try! In all reality, each believer is like that church in Geneva. Our focus is on the Bible and on God’s Holy Spirit, but we all have our cobwebs and grime.
The first impression is that Christians must be sparkling clean. Didn’t the apostle John declare: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6 NIV)?
But then, the apostle John followed up with: “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.” (1 John 1:7 NIV)
If we are all perfectly clean and walking solely in the light, why do we need Jesus to purify “us from all sin”? Is it possible that Christians have some hidden cobwebs as well?
The truth is clear: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10 NIV)
We are all sinners. The difference between believers and those who are not is faith: When we sin, and we will sin, we can count on Jesus to not only forgive our sins, but also “purify us from all unrighteousness.” In other words, sin will stop being a habit, it will stop being an addiction (See 1 John 3:6).
But for some reason or another, we do err at times, falling back, to our chagrin, into our former lives of sin. If we think we are unforgiveable, we can think again: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 NIV)
Jesus is willing to forgive “the whole world”, and all they have to do is come to Him! Isn’t He even more eager to forgive those of us who have a desire to follow Him?
The apostle Paul concluded: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith.” (Rom 4:16 NIV)
This is the difference between those who believe and those who don’t. Those who believe, believe in God’s promises of forgiveness and redemption.
Honestly though, although we don’t seem to perceive it, we are gradually changed into His likeness. Little by little it becomes easier to forgive and to love others. Even the unlovable! We are works of art, chiselled by the Master Himself!
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:17-18 NIV)
Yes we all have dirt and cobwebs in the hidden recesses of our hearts, but God is patiently cleaning us up!