In this message, I will address various questions about the effect sin has on you: Does sin break your relationship with God? Does sin break your fellowship with God? What, if anything, must you do to get “right with God” after you sin? Does God get mad at you when you sin? Does sin stain your spirit? Should you confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you? Should you repent of your sins? Can you be cursed for breaking the New Covenant in the way you could be cursed for breaking the Old Covenant? Will you pay consequences for sinning? Does sin stop God from blessing you? Does sin stop God from using you? Does God even know if you’re sinning or does He just see the blood? You probably shouldn’t answer these questions unless you’re sure you know the right answer, since the vast majority of Christians would get most of the answers wrong – at least until they’ve heard this message, or one like it! We’ll deal with each question one at a time, but a general statement that resolves many of these issues is: As a believer, God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins.
Does sin break your relationship with God?
When I was young, I found all kinds of ways to get into trouble, and I would sometimes get sent to my room. I was still my parents’ child even though I was in my room. My relationship with them did not change. They never disowned me because of the things I did. God does not disown you, either. There is no such thing as God disowning a Christian over sin. Now some people are habitual sinners who shack up, carouse, get drunk, engage in homosexual activity, and do all kinds of other bad things, but 1 Corinthians 6:9 makes it clear that such people are not actually Christians in the first place. Paul warns you not to be deceived, as many such people try to pass themselves off as believers. God has not disowned them over sin; He never owned them to begin with!
I remember the first message I ever heard as a Christian. It was not only the first, but one of the worst. The preacher told us that if we were lukewarm instead of hot enough, Jesus would vomit us into hell! I ran scared for my first year as a believer, unsure I’d even make heaven because I didn’t know if I was “hot” enough! Unfortunately, the message was a misapplication of Revelation 3 where Jesus addressed the church at Laodicea. The message was for the church collectively, not individuals in the church. Jesus wasn’t standing at a sinner’s door knocking – He was knocking on the door of His own church! He wasn’t threatening to vomit individual believers into hell; He was basically saying He’d close down the church if they didn’t get it together. The minute we try to tie our works to our salvation, we get a mistaken Galatian-style gospel that Paul rebuked the Galatians for accepting. So if you’re sweating it because you’re afraid you’re not “hot” enough, stop it. You are saved by grace through faith, not works, including the work of being “hot.”
Christians also sometimes worry needlessly that they have overstepped some kind of “sin quota” and maybe they won’t make heaven. But you can’t sin your way out of salvation! If you’re faithless, God remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. The only way for God to deny you is if you deliberately deny Him. That is a far different thing from committing a sin in your everyday life. You didn’t get saved by accident, and you can’t lose your salvation by accident either! If you had deliberately rejected Jesus after receiving Him, you’d remember doing it! If you haven’t rejected Him, you’re still saved, no matter how many sins you’ve committed as a Christian.
Since God remains faithful even if you are faithless, sin does NOT destroy your relationship with God! As a believer, God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins! God said He would never fail you or forsake you, and He meant it. He never “catches the last train for the coast” and deserts you if you sin.
Unfortunately, there is a teaching that persists to this day in some Pentecostal circles that you actually lose your salvation every time you sin and have to get re-saved after confessing your latest new sins. This teaching is based on a warped reading of 1 John 1:9 that tries to make it say that you are only forgiven when you confess your sins, so if you have any unconfessed sins, you go to hell. That would send all of us to hell, since all of is commit sins that we may not even realize are sins until years later when we look back. We will cover 1 John 1:9 in detail later, since it comes up when we look at some of the other questions, and you’ll see what John was really saying – and NOT saying – in that verse.
Does sin break your fellowship with God?
The “go to your room” analogy breaks down on this question. Preachers have taught that when you sin, you don’t lose your relationship with God, but you do lose fellowship with God, like the child sent to his room. Under the Old Covenant, sin put up a barrier between you and God. Under the New Covenant, sin is only a barrier if you haven’t been washed from your sins by being born again. Sin does not break your fellowship with God if you are a believer. If you’re having a struggle with sin, you need His help, and He doesn’t turn His back on you when you need His help. You do not have to pray Psalm 51 and ask God to put a right spirit in you (He did that when you were born again) and to take not His Holy Spirit from you (Jesus said that the Spirit would abide with you forever, which would include instances when you sin).
People get confused because it is true that broken fellowship with God IS part of the punishment for sin. What they overlook is the fact that Jesus bore the full punishment for sin in our place. That is why He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus bore separation from God over sin so that we would NOT have to bear separation from God for our sins. If we had to bear that consequence of sin, it would not be true that the punishment of our peace was upon Him – only part of that punishment would have been upon Him. (By the way, the word peace in that verse is the Hebrew word shalom, which includes healing, prosperity, and well-being in every area. It’s the same word used when God says that He takes pleasure in the prosperity [shalom] of His servant.) We need not bear the punishment Jesus already bore. God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. Your access with confidence to God is based on what Jesus did, not on your merits.
What, if anything, must you do to get “right with God” after you sin?
Absolutely nothing! You are right with God because you are a Christian. You are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). That does not change when you sin. God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. I find it very annoying when people on the Internet proclaim that the church in America needs to get right with God. The church in America is COMPLETELY right with God! If anyone isn’t right with God, he needs to get saved so that he will be right with God! By definition, you aren’t part of the church if you aren’t right with God, since the real church consists exclusively of born-again believers. It is actually insulting to Jesus to offer some kind of payment for your sins in an attempt to help purchase what He already purchased for you. It’s like having the Lord pay off a quadrillion dollar debt you owed and could not possibly pay back, only to have you approach Him and say, “Here’s a dollar toward my payment from my own wallet. I want to take some of the credit for this payoff.” If you think you have to “do something” to get right with God after you sin, you don’t understand grace, and you have bought into the ungodly human invention called “penance.” The Bible teaches repentance, not penance. You do not have to prove to God how sorry you are for your sin, so don’t waste your time. You’re already accepted in the Beloved. I remember what a thrill it was when my wife and I got FINANCIALLY debt-free, but every Christian is already SPIRITUALLY debt-free!
Does God get mad at you when you sin?
This may shock you, but God does not get mad at a Christian who sins. His wrath for your sins was fully poured out on Jesus. There is no wrath left over for you. Jesus fully paid your ransom by bearing the punishment for your sins, which included the wrath of God. God has not appointed you to wrath. God wants to encourage you not to sin and help you walk in the victory over sin that He has already provided for you.
This will probably shock you even more, but God is not mad about the sins the sinners are committing, either. Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world. The one sin Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convince the world of is the sin of not knowing Him. That is the only sin that can ultimately send anyone to hell – if you receive Jesus, that takes care of all the other sins.
Unfortunately, many preachers today are telling everyone that God is mad at America because of the various sins that are being committed here, and that if God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Some point to the fact that we have murdered over 53 million unborn babies and declare that their innocent blood is crying out for vengeance. This would be consistent with the Old Testament, particularly Genesis 4:10, where righteous Abel’s blood cried out from the ground for vengeance. However, it ignores Hebrews 12:24, where the blood of Jesus speaks of better things than the blood of Abel. Jesus shed his blood to pay the debt for every one of those 53 million abortions, including any parties who pressured the woman into getting one and the doctors who murdered the unborn babies. Jesus was punished for every homosexual act ever committed. Jesus’ blood cries out for mercy, not vengeance.
It’s time for people to revisit the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God COULD NOT judge those cities if even a single righteous person were left, since God does not punish the righteous along with the wicked. The angel basically told Lot, “Hurry up and get out, because I can’t do anything until you’re out of there!” Besides, God would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten righteous, and there are more than ten righteous in our church, let alone in this country! So it makes no sense to think that God is going to judge America with His beloved Church still in it!
If God were going to judge some country, it would make more sense to start with one where idolatry and false religions are ruling, even determining the laws. You don’t see judgement of countries during this dispensation anyway. You saw it in the Old Covenant, and during the Tribulation period there will be judgement poured out on the earth, but we don’t live in either period today.
There is probably more silliness in the body of Christ regarding “praying for revival” than anything else. Christians are trying to cast demonic powers out of cities, fasting to move the hand of God (as if He’s holding back revival!), having wail-and-travail meetings based on Joel 2 in the Old Testament, thinking that someone has to pray 24/7 for God to be able to move so that Satan doesn’t sneak back into the area at 2am, packing stadiums to try to convince God to do what He’s already done (pouring out His spirit, for one frequent example) and many other foolish things. We’ve made it a matter of prayer while we sit in our ivory towers with the other saints praying while the sinners outside are going to hell. You are wasting your time praying “Spare Thy people Thy wrath, O God!” type prayers. God isn’t mad at the country in the first place, so any prayer designed to put God into a better mood is a complete waste of time. That’s Old Testament “mediatoral” prayer, but Jesus is the one mediator in the New Covenant, not you, so you have no business praying that way. By the way, I sometimes visit a city that has had 24/7 prayer for 3 decades, and they still tell me I’ll be killed if I go to the wrong section of town at night. If 30 years of 24/7 prayer hasn’t impacted that city any better than that, what makes you think it’s the answer in yours? You would think that you would just sense the power of God all over the city by now, but I can assure you that isn’t the case.
Although Jonathan Edwards preached what he knew when he preached his famous message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” one hopes that the church has learned some things since then. If Edwards were alive today, I would not let him preach that message in my church, as it does not really represent God’s heart toward sinners.
God does not get mad at you when you sin because He deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins.
Does sin stain your spirit?
Many Christians assume that spiritually they become “damaged goods” when they sin, but that is not true. When you receive Jesus, you are washed from your sins, and as a believer, His blood cleanses you from all unrighteousness – there isn’t any left. Your spirit was re-created in God’s image in true righteousness and holiness. There is nothing unrighteous about your spirit. You are so righteous, you ARE the righteousness of God in Christ! You can’t improve on perfect righteousness. You can grow in grace, you can grow in faith, you can grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, but you cannot grow in righteousness. You will not be one bit more righteous in heaven than you are right now.
There is no such thing as spiritual healing. (What many call spiritual healing is really emotional healing and they’re just using the wrong words.) Your spirit is already perfect and does not need healing. Many people make the mistake of saying that “by whose stripes you were healed” refers to “spiritual healing” when they read it in 1 Peter 2:24, but that can’t be true. Your spirit was not healed – you got a NEW spirit. God did not just patch up your old, dead-to-God sinful spirit; He replaced it with a new spirit. With all due respect to that old hymn, the sinner cannot scripturally cry “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit.” So that can’t be what Peter meant. Besides, the word d “healed” in that verse is related to the Greek word for physician and is used many places in the New Testament to refer to PHYSICAL healing. The healing Peter is referring to is physical, not spiritual. Jesus paid for your physical healing, but He paid for you to get a NEW spirit.
Should you confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you?
This may REALLY shock you, but it is not necessary to confess your sins to God as a Christian. In fact, the sinner does not even have to confess (or repent of) individual sins to be born again – what he needs to confess is Jesus as His Lord. There is no New Testament requirement that you confess your sins to God in order to be forgiven, or even confess them at all. You are already forgiven. God in Christ HAS forgiven you. John wrote to you to let you know that your sins are already forgiven. You do not need to engage in ANY action to secure God’s forgiveness for any sin because you already have forgiveness for it.
The idea of confessing sins to get God to forgive you is based on a misunderstanding of 1 John 1:9, which has to be one of the least understood and most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. The traditional take on this verse is, “Confess your sins to God and then He’ll forgive you.” This, of course, leads to the awful conclusion that if you don’t confess a sin, God doesn’t forgive it. That would put all of us on the fast track to hell, since none of us can confess every single sin we commit – since we aren’t even aware until later that some of the things we’re doing are sins. This leads to the previously-mentioned old Pentecostal lie that if you die with any unconfessed sin, you go to hell. What bondage!
If there is only one verse in the Bible that appears to you to say something, and there are many other verses in the Bible that contradict whatever you think it’s saying, you are misinterpreting that verse. If 1 John 1:9 meant what some people think it means, it would contradict all the other verses about your sins already being forgiven. So the traditional interpretation can’t be what it means.
Some people have tried to construct a theology of different kinds of forgiveness, saying that you have one kind but have to confess your sins to get another kind. But that feeble attempt to explain 1 John 1:9 falls flat, too and just confuses the real intent of the passage. To really understand 1 John 1:9, you have to read the surrounding verses:
1 John 1:8-10:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He 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.
John is contrasting the person who says “I have never sinned” with the person who agrees with God that he has sinned. The word confess here is the Greek word homologeo, which means to speak the same thing, i.e., to agree with or affirm. This has nothing to do with “going to confession” as many religious people do. It means that you agree that you have sinned instead of saying that you haven’t. The Gnostic cult of John’s day taught that you have never sinned, much as modern-day so-called Christian Scientists make the un-Christian claim that they have never sinned. John wrote this passage to refute that kind of doctrine, not to establish some alternate plan of salvation revealed nowhere else.
In fact, if you look carefully, you’ll see that John didn’t say anything would happen if you confess your sins to God. “To God” is not in the verse; it’s just the assumption people make. But the people in verse 8 and verse 10 are declaring to others that they haven’t sinned, not declaring it to God, so it makes sense to assume that the person in verse 9 is telling others that he has sinned. In other words, he is NOT doing as the cult people were doing, claiming to be sinless. It actually makes more sense, and is more consistent, to assume that verse 9 is the Christian’s confession to others. After all, in verse 10, John says that the person who says that he has not sinned makes God a liar. You would not be making God a liar if you lied to him directly! You would only “make Him a liar” by misrepresenting Him to SOMEONE ELSE. So this “confession of sins” is not a confession that you have sinned to God; it is admitting to others that you have sinned.
You can prove by examining the verse itself that 1 John 1:9 does NOT give the person who is already a Christian a plan to deal with his sins. John talked about the person being cleansed from all unrighteousness. That cannot happen to someone who already IS a born-again Christian, who already IS cleansed from all unrighteousness once and for all. He is already perfectly righteous! He does not have one iota of unrighteousness left in him that would need to be cleansed; the blood of Jesus has already taken care of that! If you really believe that 1 John 1:9 is the believer’s method of dealing with sins on an ongoing basis, you would reach the awful conclusion that you become unrighteous every time you sin, and need to be re-cleansed from unrighteousness every time. That is contrary to the rest of the New Testament. And to preach that you don’t get forgiven until you “fess up” is disproved by John himself 14 verses later where he asserts, “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.” John surely was not contradicting himself. A sinner who admits that he has sinned and thus needs a Savior (and receives Jesus as Lord) is saved and thus cleansed from all unrighteousness; God is faithful and just to do it since He already provided the necessary sacrifice though Christ. Once you’re a believer, you are already forgiven for all your sins, including the ones you haven’t committed yet, which were still taken care of by what Jesus did on the cross. God does not distinguish “future sins” and “past sins” when you’re saved; they were all future sins when Jesus died on the cross anyway. You do NOT have to do anything new to obtain God’s forgiveness for ANY sin you commit. Though sometimes without thinking we might say, “Lord, forgive me!” something better to say would be “Thank you that You forgave me already for that” or “Lord, I’m sorry I did that.”
Remember, God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. You are already right with God, so you do not have to do anything additional to get right with God or stay right with God after you sin.
Should you repent of your sins?
Absolutely yes! Sin has negative consequences. You live better when you have less sin in your life. Repenting literally means to change your mind. You are turning from sin and deciding that you are now against doing something that you once favored doing.
However, the purpose of repentance is to GET SIN OUT OF YOUR LIFE, not to get God to forgive you or change His dealings with you. God already deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. Sin hurts you in this life, but it does not change your relationship with God in any way whatsoever. The only way it can affect how you relate to God is if sin deceives into thinking that you don’t really need to spend any time with Him or read His Word, and even then, the problem will be your doing, not God’s.
While it is fashionable in some circles to say that you never need to repent as a Christian, it’s fashionably WRONG. Jesus commanded 4 churches out of 7 in Revelation 2 and 3 to repent (and dealt with a certain party in a fifth church). So it is unscriptural to assume that Jesus would never deal with you about repenting for anything when He dealt with these churches back then and told them to repent.
In passing, let’s remember that we don’t require the sinner to repent of his sins to be saved. That does not belong in any “sinner’s prayer,” e.g., “Dear Jesus, I repent of all my sins…” The old lyric, “O sinner seek the Lord, repent of all your sins” is not actually Biblical. The only sin the sinner needs to repent of is the sin of rejecting Christ; the other sins are dealt with automatically once he does stops that sin by receiving Christ instead of rejecting Him.
Can you be cursed for breaking the New Covenant in the way you could be cursed for breaking the Old Covenant?
No! The reason is that you CAN’T break the New Covenant. It’s eternal and unbreakable because it isn’t directly between you and God. God made the New Covenant with Jesus, as you can read in Galatians 3. It was made with Abraham’s “seed” in the singular, not the plural, and Jesus was the prophesied “seed” God told Abraham about. Neither God nor Jesus will ever break it. You get in on it because you “in Christ.” Since you are in Christ, everything in the covenant made by God the Father with Christ belongs to you. But it does not, never did, and never will, depend on your merits. Your sins cannot break the New Covenant! God deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. Jesus was cursed in your place (as Galatians 3 also points out) for breaking the Law, so God will not curse you for breaking the Law, either. You are blessed, not cursed, as a Christian. God will never curse or punish you for your sins because Jesus was cursed and punished already for those very sins.
Will you pay consequences for sinning?
You won’t pay any direct eternal consequences, because heaven has no record of your sins. You will not be embarrassed before the entire universe on Judgement Day for your sins, which God made a covenant to forget, so you can stop worrying about that. But you will pay consequences in this life, and these can spill over into eternity in terms of lost rewards for things sin prevented you from doing. Sin costs and kills! But it won’t be God punishing you for your sins, because He already punished Jesus. God doesn’t even get mad at you when you sin, because He deals with you according to your righteousness, not according to your sins. But sin still has consequences. If a male preacher gets a girlfriend on the side, his wife finds out, and there’s a big scandal, that preacher will likely never again be able to have the kind of ministry he could have had otherwise. It’s not that Jesus didn’t die for that sin – He did – but the public does not forget things like that. Proverbs warns about getting a reproach that will not be wiped away. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t wipe it away; it means that man won’t let you live it down. If you do something bad enough, it will dog you for the rest of your life even though God forgives you. Sin still costs you something in this life, and that’s why it’s so important to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It is also why you establish boundaries in your life to make sure that such things do not happen to you. The people who boast, “I’m above that – that could never happen to me!” are sitting ducks for Satan. The responsible ones say, “That COULD happen to me, so I have boundaries in my life to make sure it DOESN’T happen.” For example, I don’t counsel women alone or ever ride with just another woman in my car unless she’s my wife, mother or other close relative.
Jesus certainly did not teach that sin doesn’t hurt you. He told the man in John 5 to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” even though He had just healed the man.
Does sin stop God from blessing you?
Sin CAN’T stop God from blessing you because God has ALREADY blessed you (Ephesians 1:3). He has ALREADY given you all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Since everyone sins to some degree, if sin stopped God from blessing you, no one would be blessed, and we would be right back under than Old Testament Law arrangement where everything depends on your goodness.
Sin can lead you to ignore God, which would make you less likely to actually WALK in the blessing that He has already provided for you in Christ. But sin does not stop blessings from coming, because they’ve already been wired into your spiritual bank account, so to speak. Neither sin nor Satan can block your blessings because they already belong to you. Jesus did not say that Satan came to BLOCK your blessings; He said that Satan comes to STEAL. You can only steal something that is already someone else’s property. When a notorious robber was asked why he robbed banks, he said, “Because that’s where the money is.” A robber isn’t going to go somewhere where there isn’t anything to rob. Satan comes to steal from you because you have a lot of valuable things. He can’t really take them in the permanent sense since they’re yours by covenant, but he wants to stop you from enjoying the blessings God has given you.
In passing, I will mention that many Christians have been hoodwinked into praying “The Prayer of Jabez” with regard to blessings – “Oh, that You would bless me indeed!” – as if God hasn’t blessed you yet and you want Him to do so. God has ALREADY blessed you indeed as a believer, so while that was a perfectly good Old Covenant prayer for Jabez, it’s a rotten New Covenant prayer. Likewise, most Christians are asking God to heal them rather than appropriating the healing that He already credited to their accounts. You are wasting your time if you’re trying to change God, because he changes not (Malachi 3:6). Rather than asking God to do something to heal you, just receive the healing He already paid for you to have. You don’t have to change God’s mind; He made up His mind when He sent Jesus to bear your sicknesses and pains so that you would not have to bear them.
Does sin stop God from using you?
No. God doesn’t deal with you according to your sins, but according to your righteousness. It is a similar case to the one we just dealt with. If sin stopped God from using you, He couldn’t use anyone! The Corinthians walked out of love and yet walked in the power of God. Paul didn’t recommend that, but they were doing it. Sin can bring to the point where you don’t care if God uses you are not, but that is not God’s choice.
It used to irk me when I saw how powerfully God used certain preachers who were in serious sin. The Lord dealt with me about that and told me to be encouraged that if He could use them, He could use me too, since the manifestations of the Spirit are on a grace basis (hence their name grace gifts), not a works basis. Now, many preachers who got into sin did not last long or do well in the ministry. Sin will still send an invoice to your mailbox and you’ll have to pay it. So sinning and not caring about it is not the fast track to ministry success, but at least be relieved that God won’t leave you over a sin.
Does God even know if you’re sinning or does He just see the blood?
While the assumption that God doesn’t see your sin, but only the blood, might make for appealing song lyrics, it actually isn’t true. God DOES see your sin and He DOES know you’re sinning. However, he doesn’t deal with you according to your sins, but according to your righteousness. How could Jesus tell the churches in Revelation to repent if He didn’t know they were doing anything wrong? Hebrews 12 tells us that God corrects us for our sins. If He doesn’t see your sins or even know if you’re sinning, how can He possibly correct you? That makes no sense. Yes, God knows what you’re doing, but His correction is loving discipline to get you out of sin, not judgement and condemnation. God does not use sickness and other inventions of the devil to correct you, either. The Bible shows that God’s WORD is profitable for reproof and correction. God can correct you through His Word; He has not founded a new company with the name and slogan “GodSatanCo – Your Partners for Personal Perfection.” God does not use Satan to perfect you, and Satan has no interest in perfecting you – he’s out to destroy you. So Satan and God are not in agreement, and in fact have NEVER been in agreement ever since Satan fell. They do not work together for your good, as should be obvious due to John’s assertion that the Son of God was manifested to DESTROY (not “use for good”) the works of the devil.
If you’ve never realized that God deals with you as a Christian according to your righteousness, not according to your sins, this message should bring you many sighs of relief. I hope that this message will help you avoid false negative images of God’s attitude toward you and will encourage you to fellowship more with a loving heavenly Father who has nothing but the best in mind for you.