I agree with what you have said about Christianity and religion, and I go with the part that it is God reaching down to us. The part that is complex to me is, when it was said God(Jesus) paid the price for our sins. True. But it also makes it seem like no matter what sins we do because the sins have been paid for we all get to go to heaven since the prince has been paid, and we can continue to knowingly sin. Explain please.
Thanks for the comment. It is a good question. I think the major piece of understanding that you are missing is that becoming a follower of Jesus (a Christian) isn’t just assuming a title or making a decision. It isn’t even mentally agreeing with some ideas about God. Becoming a Christian isn’t just a transaction. Have faith, get salvation . . . transaction over. Christianity is about a relationship between you and God that is based in love.
Becoming a Christian is an encounter with God where you are changed from the inside out. Paul says that when this happens you become a “new creation, the old has gone and the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Your heart is changed. The bible says that God removes your old heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ez 36:26). Jesus even compares it to being born a second time (John 3:3). You are so changed that it is like the birth of a new person. Your character and identity are forever changed.
When a person becomes a follower of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit literally comes into them and begins to change their heart. As a result, the person gets new desires. The bible says God writes His law on their hearts (Heb 8:10). They can see and understand God in a way that they never could before. The veil of sin is lifted from their eyes (2 Cor 3:16). Becoming a Christian is a supernatural experience.
Paul says that the Holy Spirit begins to produce what he calls “fruit” in their life. Just like a branch of a fruit tree doesn’t produce the fruit itself, but must only remain securely connected with the vine, so too a Christian who is deeply connected to Jesus and seeking Him will have spiritual fruit produced in their life by the Holy Spirit. Paul says that this fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and hope (Gal 5:22).
You cannot have an encounter with a semi-truck and walk away unchanged. If you are hit by a truck it makes an impact. Similarly, you can’t have an encounter with the Almighty God and not be changed. If a person claims to be a Christian but does not possess new desires to please God, doesn’t feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when they sin and doesn’t display the fruit of the Spirit increasingly in their life, they should seriously question if they are really saved or not. Jesus says that this is one way you can know if you are really His follower or not; you can know by the fruit you produce (Matt 7:16).
It is true that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all the sin of a Christian on the cross, even the sins that they would commit in the future. However, Paul makes it clear that this is not a licenses or excuse to keep sinning in Romans 6:1-2.
The reason is that when someone becomes a Christian they begin to love God. Christianity is all about love. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to LOVE the Lord your God with all your mind heart and soul and that the second greatest commandment was to LOVE your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36-40). This is why Christianity is a relationship and not a religion. It is driven by love; God’s love for us and our love in response to God’s working within us. He enables us to love him back and to love others. When someone truly loves another they look for way to make them happy and to serve them. A Christian doesn’t want to obey God because of fear, obligation or out of a desire to earn love, but as an act of love for God and a desire to avoid creating separation from Him.
Let me give an earthly example. My wife is a very forgiving person. In fact, she is probably the most forgiving person I have ever met (which is a good thing because she has to deal with me). If I were to cheat on her and commit adultery it is likely that she would accept my apology and forgive me. I have seen her forgive others for even worse offenses. But, I love my wife VERY much. I wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt her. The fact that I know she would forgive me doesn’t make me want to cheat on her by committing adultery. Far from it! In fact, it makes me want all the more to love and cherish her and to remain faithful to her. I know that if I were to do this, it would hurt her badly and create tension and separation in our relationship.
So it is with someone who has truly had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. They now love God and don’t want to do anything that would hurt Him or hurt others. They will want to obey Him in order to make Him smile and bring Him joy. The idea to intentionally sin because they know God would forgive them is unthinkable. As Paul says, “by no means!” (Rom 6:1-2). I can’t imagine intentionally hurting God because I know He is forgiving. Someone who understands that they deserve hell (justly and rightly) but that God has chosen them to save by taking their place and dying for them would be blown away by this unfathomable act of love. Such love strips you bare of all self and prompts a person to love such a God in a very personal and real way. Such love begets love. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing or seek its own way (1 Cor 13:5-6).
Yes, they could be forgiven of sin, by why would they want to sin? Sin is ugly, painful, harmful, and toxic. It destroys relationships and takes us out of God’s perfect plan for us. Someone who is really a follower of God will possess this understanding and view of sin.
This doesn’t mean that Christians never sin or fail. We all do. But it means that when we do, we no longer enjoy sinning in the same way we use to. They have lost their taste for it, so to speak. Sinning becomes distasteful. Their desires have changes such that they now find the most joy, peace and contentment when they are walking through life in a way that God desires. They find that when they sin they are weighed down by guilt and they lose the joy they had when they were walking closely with God. Separation is introduced between them and God when they sin, and this removes the joy they experience from their relationship with Him.
A true believer in Jesus will have a hard time continuing to do it their way. If you have really been saved you will be changed. Your deepest desires are no longer the same. You may be able to embrace the old, foolish ways for a while but it is be harder for you. You will feel this new sensation…the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You will feel the weight of conviction grow. For a true believer this feels like ugliness inside them. It grows until the point where this robs any potential happiness the sin would have given. It is immediately replaced with nothing but ugliness and shame. It can take some time to get to this point (perhaps years for some people). But a true Christian can never continue to act in a manner that is contrary to their new character, indefinitely. This is what John tells us in 1 John 3:6. . .
“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
The person who life continues to reflect the old pattern of sin, and who lacks even a root desire for something different, should look closely at themselves to see if they are really in the light (2 Cor 13:5).