What Does God Do When a Believer Sins?

No matter what form of Christian ministry you find yourself laboring in (e.g. childrens, youth, adult, parenting), here is a question you will be asked:

“What happens when a forgiven believer in Jesus sins?”

Since the questions has everything do with our relationship with God, sin, and grace, your answer will dramatically affect how the questioner views the gospel of Jesus. Therefore, it’s a question to ponder deeply and prepare to answer succinctly.

John Bunyan on the Sins of God’s Children

As you do your thinking and prepare your answer, John Bunyan will serve you well:

Sin, after the Spirit of adoption (has) come, cannot dissolve the relation of father and son, of father and child . . . Now mark, you are no more a servant, that is, no more under the law of death and damnation, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7).

Suppose a child grievously transgresses against and offends his father, is their relationship therefore dissolved? Again, suppose the father should (discipline) the son for such offense, is the relationship between them therefore dissolved? Even more, suppose the child should now, through ignorance, cry, and say, “This man is now no more my father!” is he therefore now not his father? Does not everyone see the folly of such thinking?

Know, then, that your sin, after you have received the Spirit of adoption to cry unto God, “Father! Father!” is counted the sin of a child, not of a slave, and that all that happens to you for that sin, is but the discipline of a father. “What son is he whom the father disciplines not?” (Hebrews 12:1).

(Taken from The Fear of God, p. 47-48)

London Baptists on the Sins of God’s Children

Or, as the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith puts it:

God has granted that all those who are justified would receive the grace of adoption, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ.1 By this they are counted among the children of God and enjoy the freedom and privileges of that relationship.2 They inherit his name,3 receive the spirit of adoption,4 have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry “Abba, Father!”5 They are given compassion,6 protected,7 provided for,8 and (disciplined) by him as a father.9  Yet they are never cast off10 but are sealed for the day of redemption11 and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.12

(1Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4, 5. 2John 1:12; Romans 8:17. 32 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 3:12. 4Romans 8:15. 5Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18. 6Psalms 103:13. 7Proverbs 14:26. 81 Peter 5:7. 9Hebrews 12:6. 10Isaiah 54:8, 9; Lamentations 3:31. 11Ephesians 4:30. 12Hebrews 1:14; 6:12.)

There is definitely more that could be said, but these answers, and the Scriptures therein, will serve you well as you seek to help others live within the finished work of Christ and enjoy their blood bought adoption as sons & daughters of God.

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