I’ve mentioned before in this blog that once we have submitted our lives to Christ, we Christians begin a process called sanctification by which we are made perfect in Christ. Yesterday’s post pointed out that, as far as God is concerned, our perfection is already a done deal, even as we continue in the process. What all of this implies is that we Christians will from time to time stumble in sin. I’m sure you recall me using the phrase “stumble in sin” before. I use it to convey the sense of an unintentional or accidental act. This is opposed to sinning deliberately.
Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV
“ For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
Notice how the writer of Hebrews specifies “sinning deliberately”. To say that sin is not sin, is to sin deliberately. To know something is a sin and to deliberately pursue that sinful course is proof that you are not saved. Now this causes a problem for us doesn’t it? We’ve submitted our life to Christ. We know, for example, that anger with someone is the equivalent of murder. We know this because Jesus told us so (Matthew 5:21-22). Since you submitted your life to Christ, have you been angry with anyone? Yep, me too. I know being angry with others is a sin and yet I still get angry; I still sin. (Now let’s acknowledge, and not get sidetracked by, the fact that there is such a thing as righteous anger as Jesus demonstrated in chasing the money changers from the temple, but I’m not talking about that kind of anger.)
So I know anger is a sin and yet I still get angry. Does this mean I am not saved? Tough question isn’t it? Well, here is how I know that I am saved even though I continue to stumble in the sin of anger. I don’t deliberately get angry. I know that I should not get angry but I still have some maturing to do and so, every once in a while, I get angry. I don’t claim that anger isn’t a sin, and I don’t deliberately go searching for things to be angry about.
There is one additional sign that I am saved and my sin is not deliberate. I feel bad after I have sinned. After I’ve been angry, I feel bad about it. Do you know why I feel bad? I feel bad because God’s Holy Spirit resides within me and He convicts me of my sin and I become broken hearted over it. You see, only if one has truly submitted one’s life to Christ will one have the Holy Spirit residing within, and God’s Spirit will not turn a blind eye to sin in your life. When you stumble in sin it will hurt. What you need to be afraid of my brother is if you sin and it doesn’t hurt.
Now, for those of us who are saved but do continue to stumble, let me be clear that we must not become complacent and say that stumbling is okay. It is not okay. We must work with a will to claim the character we have in Christ. One way to do so is to follow the advice from today’s passage.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
“ And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Young and foolish; those two things seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. When I was younger and more foolish, I didn’t think I had to go to church. I would say “I don’t have to go to church to worship God.” This is, of course, true but irrelevant. I can worship God anywhere and frankly should worship Him everywhere, but while I could, I didn’t. Going to church, however, isn’t just about worshipping God. It is also about coming together in Christian fellowship where we can encourage each other in the Lord; where we can develop relationships that allow us hold each other accountable in the Lord. In fellowship we can “stir up on another to love and good works”. In fellowship we can encourage each other. We hurt ourselves when we skip active involvement in church.
Brothers, go to church. Encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ and be encouraged by them. Find a godly brother in Christ and develop an accountability relationship with him. Stir each other to love and good works.