If I am saved, why am I still struggling with sin?

Partial transcript of the video

The question I am asked most in private by my fellow Christians is how to overcome sin? How can one be more Christian in the sinning they commit daily and escape from their sinful desires so they do not anger God. I think the best thing to do is answer this in a general sense because I know plenty of people struggle with this. I want to point out that the question is misplaced. You cannot get yourself good so God will love you; you can only give yourself to God so he can make you good. You should know when you feel unworthy from sin that it is nothing out of the ordinary and you were not somehow less Christian because you sinned on a daily basis. St. Paul knew he was saved, yet confessed the same struggle when he says, “For I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.” (Romans 7:15-19)

Paul confesses the same feelings we all have in our own walk with Christ. Although we want to do good, we continue to stumble and sin despite hating ourselves for doing it. What we need to take away from this passage is that being a Christian doesn’t mean perfection in our daily actions, it is more about recognizing the sin in your life for what it is, not the idea that being a Christian means the absence of sin. For if we could rid ourselves of our own sin, there would be no need to be a Christian. The recognition of your sin is the reason you need Christ to begin with. Our Lord even said that is who he calls to follow him. “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) The fact that you realize you are a sinner is precisely the point and why you need Christ to begin with. He did not come for the perfect, happy, rich know-it-all saint who would never dare to sin, light up a cigarette or even go so far as to let out a curse word. Christ came for you, the lost sinner who knows he needs grace and knows he cannot obtain righteousness unless someone were to carry him there, sin and all. 

This idea of the perfect suit-and-tie Christian is precisely who we think Christ expects us to be and perhaps why Christians allow the guilt of sin to weigh them down, afraid that the terrible secret might get out that they are far from perfect and filled with many evil desires. It amazes me how many church-going Christians will confess they are a sinner in need of a savior on Sunday and the following Monday live as if they must achieve moral perfection on their own and that any minor slip-up means they have fallen from grace, as if being a Christian means we must be completely perfect and any mess-up means we are somehow not saved. But if the Bible is right, the offer of being a Christian is not extended to the perfect, it is extended to the sinner, the lost broken sinner who doesn’t know his left from his right and couldn’t possibly stand on his own two feet unless Christ picked him up and carried him before the Father, which is precisely who we are as humans. The simple act of recognizing you are one and needs saved will not automatically make you sinless nor does Christ expect you to be. What he expects is for you to trust him. He is our physician and no doctor expects his patients to live as if they don’t need his care. 

This is not a license to sin. Far from it. If we read St. Paul carefully, he clearly tells us in this passage that being a Christian means you recognize you are sinful and do not want to sin. You came to Christ to be healed not to continue to be ill. We desire to do what is good in any patient who wants to be healed will want to allow their doctor to heal them in a slow and steady recovery. Notice what Paul says in the very next chapter. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:10-11) Scripture is very clear that it is the Holy Spirit living inside of us that changes us. We do not make ourselves good for God so we can be a good Christian. Being a Christian is realizing it is the Holy Spirit who changes you.