Sin In A Christian’s Life – What’s It Mean?
Many of us believe God for our salvation from hell, but we don’t seem to have a deep friendship with God in everyday life. We may have, by faith in Christ’s work, been justified and made one of God’s children, but we still struggle with sin. Sometimes we obey God with a pure heart, but other times we live in open rebellion. What does this mean? Does it indicate we aren’t actually saved? Does it mean we’ve missed something in the gospel? After all, our lives don’t always line up, and shouldn’t we be fully surrendered to our Lord if we are Christians?
The reality of sin in a Christian’s life does not point to a false profession of faith. It indicates the fact that there is a difference between eternal positional truth and every day, conditional fellowship.
What Is Positional Truth?
Positional truth encompasses those facts which are eternally set in stone when it comes to my position before God. My standing before Him can never change. Once I place my faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, certain facts become true of me forever.
Examples of Positional Truth
We have only to run to the Word to find out what all this positional truth about us entails.
For example, when we become believers:
We are now adopted and become children of God (Ephesians 1:5; 1 John3:1).
We receive and are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; John 16:7-15).
We are immediately hidden “in Christ”, and become identified with his death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:2-4; Galatians ).
We become set apart as His people (1 Corinthians 1:2).
We become part of the Church (Ephesians 2:11-22).
And these are just a few examples of what becomes true of us at the moment of our salvation! Positional truth is unchanging and certain. It brings security and identity to our lives.
What Is Conditional Fellowship?
Conditional fellowship, on the other hand, can change from day to day. My intimacy, or friendship, with the Lord can fluctuate constantly. Sometimes I am walking by faith and keeping my eyes on him. Other times I am trying to live life in my own strength and I sin. Sometimes I am engaging in friendship with him, and other times I ignore and rebel against him. Like any human friendship, our connection can be either damaged or encouraged, depending on my attitude and actions.
The words “conditional fellowship” and “positional truth” may seem like big terms, but they are easily distinguishable in human relationships. I am my father’s daughter. Nothing either he or I can do, say, or desire can change the fact that I am genetically connected to him. It’s a set in stone reality. Our friendship, however, is a different story. We could be estranged. We could be best friends. We could see each other daily or only every couple of years. We could argue or we could enjoy each other’s company. I will always be his daughter, but our friendship may change and go through seasons throughout the years. That is conditional fellowship.
The Corinthian Example
When you understand the difference between positional truth and conditional fellowship, you can rest knowing that your daily actions do not reflect your standing with God. You can be secure and sure of how God views you in Christ, while still understanding that your friendship with God needs to grow and deepen in every day life. The believers in the book of 1 Corinthians are a great example of this important difference.
The Corinthians had major problems in their conditional fellowship with God. They were involved in all kinds of sin: backbiting, divisions, immorality, and drunkenness, just to name a few. They had some serious growing to do in their friendship with God. Their intimacy with Him and each other was greatly hindered because they were choosing to sin and ignore his holiness. Not only were they missing out on communing with God and experiencing a life of blessed victory with Him, they were also going to experience loss on judgement day because of their choices. Sure, they were going to go to heaven, and yes, they were God’s children, but they were not living up to who they were (1 Corinthians 4:10-15; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Because of positional truth and their identity in Christ, Paul had the chance to appeal to them and address their sinfulness on the basis of who they were. He didn’t question if they were in God’s family, but he did address them as disobedient children. With their standing before God in place, he could address the state of their lives.
The Danger of Not Understanding The Difference
There is danger in not understanding this difference between positional truth and conditional fellowship. If you are trying to determine what your standing before God is by looking at your daily friendship, you will live in fear and uncertainty. The fluctuating, failures, and sin that naturally come with being human and not yet fully sanctified will indicate that you and God are not “okay”. This will either drive you to “fix it”, or eventually lead you to discouragement and despair when you find that you fail at even that. You will depend on yourself to stay in God’s good graces, which always leads to futile self-effort and works. If you do not have the foundation of knowing you are justified, unconditionally loved, and secure in Christ, you will not have a rock on which to stand so that your friendship can grow.
Live In The Confidence Of Positional Truth
Knowing that you are fully accepted can give you confidence to work through sin issues in your friendship with the Lord. Don’t live in fear of how God sees you. Know who you are in Christ, and then, in dependence up on Him, you can start to address your failures.
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Anna Wishart is a graduate of Ethnos360 Bible Institute and continues to seek ways to be involved with missions through writing. She currently lives in Winchester, Virginia, and enjoys biking, art, friends, the mountain views, and attending Fellowship Bible Church.