Why Do I Still Fail?
1 John 1:8 If we say 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.
We all love the story of the one who used to be a desperate sinner but then came to Christ and sinned no more. I do not think we do it on purpose, but we all have this idea in our head that this is how it should work. Unfortunately, this is not the reality that any of us experience. We know the bible says, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17). We look at our lives however, and we do not feel like that new creation. We start to question ourselves.
Am I a new creation? If so, why do I still sin? Am I forgiven for all time? If so, why do I still have to ask forgiveness for sins? If I sin and then die before I can ask forgiveness, am I in trouble? I have wrestled with all of these questions as I think most of us have. Through my addiction, I became desperate for an answer.
I came to understand Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching that I was born once of the flesh and then born again in spirit, thus having both a flesh life and a spirit life. When I came to Christ, I was indeed born again and made new in my spirit life. I am saved for all eternity and nothing can remove that from me. If I sin tomorrow and then die, I am not lost. God, in his timelessness, sees me as eternally righteous and pure in my spirit life through Jesus’ death on the cross.
In my flesh life however, I am still attracted to that which is destructive to me. While I am on this earth, I will fail and I will cause destruction. Does this separate me from God? Not in the sense that I lose my salvation, but I do injure my temporal relationship with him when I quench and grieve his spirit in me. I injure myself when I follow my flesh nature. I injure those around me when I fail. So, I do need to confess my sins when I fail.
John insists that we all sin and that we all need to come to repentance, confessing our sins to God. He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins. He forgives us once for all and He grants us eternal life. However, we also need to continue to ask forgiveness for sins as we continue to sin. We are to daily deny self, crucify self and follow Christ (Luke 9:23), thus bringing our flesh life more and more in line with our spirit life. We will not do this perfectly in this life.
We may love the story that one sins no more when he or she comes to Christ, but it is not reality. We all continue to fail but the beautiful message of the gospel is that God continues to see us as righteous and He continues to forgive us.