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Am I really saved if I keep sinning?
In the same way that many Christians doubt their salvation, many find that they willfully repeat the same sins over and over again, so know that you are not alone in this struggle with sin. In the Bible, we gain a wonderful understanding of the unchanging and wonderful forgiveness and love that flows from Jesus Christ. In the New Testament the disciple Peter asked Jesus if we have to forgive someone who sins against us seven times. Not once, nor twice rather seven times. In answer to this question we read in Matthew 18:22 that, “Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” If Jesus expects us to forgive others numerous times then certainly our Heavenly Father will forgive us “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Certainly, throughout the Bible we learn that we are not saved by our works, good deeds or efforts rather as Ephesians 2:8 proclaims, “by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
In answering 'am I really saved if I still have doubts?' we discussed the importance of examining whether you have given your life to Jesus. If you have believed in Jesus Christ and given your life to him then amazingly that is enough. “Am I saved because I keep messing up?” is not the question you should be asking. The question to ask is “am I Saved?” and by believing in Jesus Christ, you can be confident the answer is a sure and certain yes. However, if this is true, if a Christian is saved and their sin doesn’t affect their salvation, you maybe wondering why doesn't every Christian live in sin, and then just ask for forgiveness each time?
The Bible is clear that God is first and foremost concerned with the state of our hearts and not only our actions. When talking about the religious leaders of the time Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Jesus recognised that these religious leaders looked good, went through all the motions and from the outside looked clean however their hearts were dirty. Pretending to be living for Jesus without heartfelt commitment, repentance and belief is hypocritical. However many Christians struggle with the opposite battle, that they have acknowledged their sin is wrong, turned to Jesus and have genuinely asked for his transforming power and salvation and yet still find themselves stuck in the pattern of sin. The apostle Paul writes about this struggle in the book of Romans. He discusses the inner battle between the mind which desires to live for God and the sinful nature which keeps sinning and going against God. Paul says in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Here we have perhaps one of the most influential Christians admitting he does not know what to do, he wants to live for Jesus but keeps sinning and doing the things he hates. Perhaps this reminds you of yourself? Paul was a sincere Christian. He trusted in the Lord God and yet still battled with sin in his life. If you have sincerely given your life to Jesus, know that the sin you commit does not mean that you are not saved and not a sincere Christian. Even the most famous Christians struggle with the very same struggle.
However, it is important to remember that it is not biblical for a person to sin habitually and live a lifestyle of sin as a believer. As Christians, we do sin, make mistakes and even mess up wilfully time and time again but we must not live a lifestyle of continuous, purposeful and unrepentant sin. The apostle Paul hated his sin and that was a sign of his genuine remorse and repentance. Do you hate your sin? God forgives His children when they sin if they come to Him in repentance and ask to be forgiven. 1 John 1:9 amazingly proclaims that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This is not a one-off thing, because of the infinite grace of God and the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross we can always be forgiven and cleansed from all our sins. In Micah 7:18-19, we read about God’s grace, forgiveness, compassion and how he will forgive again and again, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Let’s recap. If you are have given your life to Jesus then you can be sure you are saved. Sinning will not take away your salvation however a Christian should desire to live a life that is worthy and pleasing to God, if someone who claims to be a Christian purposely lives a lifestyle of sin then it is right to question if they have asked Jesus for forgiveness. While we are on this earth we are still sinful and will struggle with sin. If we turn to God and ask for forgiveness he will forgive us time and time again because his love, grace and mercy is unending. So why do many Christians feel guilty, ashamed and as if they cannot accept that God has & can forgive them for their sins they have committed? Satan does not want Christians to grow and live happy and peaceful lives in Christ. The devil often attempts to convince us that our sins aren’t forgiven, despite the promises of God’s Word. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” and yet satan often attempts to convince us that our sin is so bad we can’t be forgiven, we have committed it over and over again and therefore there is no forgiveness left and that we are surely not saved if we sin. It is important to remember that God not only forgives our sins but removes them completely. He does not just forget them for a short time or put them to the side but hurls them to the depths of the sea. If we ask God for forgiveness then we must give up our doubts, guilt, shame and rest on the promises of his word. All of this comes down to grace. When we sin, the Spirit will convict us of our sin through love and grace. We must remember that grace is not an excuse to sin, however, grace is how we are saved and how we live our lives day by day. God is a God of love, grace, mercy, kindness and forgiveness.