You've perhaps heard the phrase "I'm just a sinner saved by grace."
It's not true.
Either you are a sinner, or you have been saved by grace. It's not both/and here, it is either/or.
Scripture is full of passages which talk about the need to live in freedom from sin. It's not that we aren't tempted, or that we don't fall on occasion, but there is a big difference between a saint who falls and a sinner.
There are many people today who want to say that we will never really be free from the power of sin. And while sin is certainly powerful, and was a real part of my life before Christ, that is no longer the case. Sin is in the past. It has been forgiven and cleansed.
John tells us that one of the ways we will know whether or not we're a Christian is by our relationship to sin. Interesting, right? We love to talk about how we treat people (very important), and how much time we spend sharing the good news (also important), but John writes his first letter with this in mind.
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (I John 5:13)
Did you catch this? John is telling us how we can know we are Christians. That's important, right? Shouldn't we all want to know for sure if we're walking with Christ? John tells us.
"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." (1:6)
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1:9)
"And by this we know what we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (2:3-4)
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (2:15)
"You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." (3:5-6)
"Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." (3:7-8)
It goes on and on. I means, just read it. And that's only one book. But this lesson is found all through the Bible.
I don't write these things to discourage those who are struggling with sin. Actually, I think that's why we avoid this line of thinking so much in the church today. We're afraid of discouraging people.
But isn't that looking at it backwards? We encourage people to do hard things all the time. Achieve something! We say things like "If you aim low, you'll always reach your goal", and other such 'inspirational' things.
The same is true with Christianity. My goal, day in and day out, is to be more like Jesus.
I have set my aim high.