If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 ESV).
Currently, we are looking at the struggles that some believers in Jesus Christ have about “that one sin”. They continually fret about how they could ever do such a sin or keep doing it or whether God would ever forgive such a person. So far we have considered that such struggles come from the work of Satan and the spiritual forces of evil and from a failure to apply Biblical teaching about God’s grace. This brings us to a third cause.
The person with this condition may be struggling about actually trusting the Scriptures. Is their confidence in what God says or in what they think about sin, grace, and their reception of it? Some Christians act like prosecuting attorneys against themselves. They refuse to accept a clear promise of God about forgiveness (1 John 1:9) about themselves. In theory, they admit that the Lord will forgive their sins, but they fail to rest in confidence on God’s words. They tell themselves that God cannot forgive them when he has promised that he will. Beware of getting into an argument with God—telling him “no” when he says “yes”. Don’t do what Peter did in a different situation. Don’t argue against God’s words (Acts 10:13-16).
This is another instance in which you may need to stop praying and simply start believing. Merely saying words is not praying in faith. God does not answer people’s prayers because they ritually or franticly or repetitiously pray. Your prayer might be an evidence of unbelief instead of faith. Listen to what God says in his word, pray on that basis, and then act in conformity with God’s promise of forgiveness.
A fourth cause is this. The person who struggles over “that one sin” may be deficient in his or her understanding of Christ’s redemptive work. Earlier in this series, I presented the concept that we are not saved by the amount or clarity of our understanding. Praise God that that is true, or we would all be in serious difficulty! However, knowing, understanding, and by faith acting on the truth revealed in the Bible provides us with a great advantage amid our struggles.
Some people know that it is the sacrificial work of the Lord Jesus on Calvary’s cross that saves them, but they have not fully grasped the significance of what he accomplished. They know enough to be saved, but not enough to rejoice always. They know enough to rely on Christ, but not enough to rest on him. What this person must do is to become intimately acquainted with the truth of Christ’s saving work. Learn the meaning and significance of passages like 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:24-26; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Hebrews 9:11-15; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; etc. As you do, ask the Holy Spirit for his help. “Holy Spirit, help me know the power of God’s love for me expressed in these words!”
A person in this condition may feel unworthy to participate in the Lord’s Supper, but this remembrance of Christ’s death is the very thing that can help them. We need to know the Lord’s Table is not a ritual conduit of grace that works simply by participating in it. No, it is a remembrance of Christ and his saving work that points us afresh to our Lord, who is mighty to save. A woman was once weeping over her sinfulness and felt unworthy to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. Her minister wisely told her, “Take it; it’s for sinners!”
The Lord’s Supper is a proclamation that Christ paid for our sins fully and that now we have a new and better covenant with God. Yet some avoid “Communion Sunday” out of guilt and fear. Please do not make this mistake. Before you go to a meeting, boldly confess your sins and boldly receive God’s promised forgiveness. Then boldly go to worship with your brothers and sisters in the Lord and boldly remember the Savior with them.
We must see that our justification is not based on who we are or what we have done, but on the finished work of Christ. He secured our justification, our righteousness with God, by his saving work. So then, rejoice in what he did for you and find your access to God through him. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).
Grace and peace, David