Unbeliever’s Sin Versus Believer’s Sin

On the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
- II CORINTHIANS 2:7
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
- JAMES 1:13

It must be said from the beginning that sin is a result of man’s action and therefore not something created by God. God is the author of man and man is the author of sin. Now I want to look at this thing called sin. A Christian cannot sin in the same way a non-Christian does, and here is why. Sin and punishment are one. When we invite sin into our life, the LIFE that holds us together (Col. 1:1-15) withdraws and the absence of LIFE is death. If I take the punishment out of sin, do I still have sin? The unbeliever will sin and experience punishment (death where there once was LIFE), but Christ has taken the punishment out of sin for the believer. The believer merely must confess, for the blood of Jesus has cleansed and continues to cleanse him. Therefore, the believer will sin and not be punished, for Christ became his and every other believer’s punishment on the cross. This gives sin a new meaning and a different purpose in the believer’s life as opposed to the unbeliever’s. If sin brings punishment to the unbeliever, what does sin do for the believer?

Imagine sin like cars with no steering wheels, headed for instantaneous wrecks. People are on the wrong road in out-of-control vehicles, and each day the trips are repeated, ending in constant punishment and death. Now sin is also like a train, but unlike a car without a steering wheel, it has tracks leading to a sure destination at the end. We are not to be traveling in sin, either the car or the train. However, only the believer can crawl aboard the sin train, which does not go out of control but heads on tracks to its destination determined by God. The Bible is the greatest encyclopedia of failures in the world. We see over and over again how saints riding the sin train ended up understanding the grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and goodness of God. Most of the Bible would never have been written if the people of God had not been on the sin train, and yet God had his own destination for them and used the track to get them there. I want to write a book called, “Why This Place?” Why earth? Why man? Why sin? Why failure? Well, it all puts us on the sin train, but there is a God-determined destination for the believer that is redemptive; the unbeliever does not have this and is not allowing God to be redemptive.

Another example is the caterpillar and the butterfly. Both have the same DNA, but they are not the same. The Caterpillar is trapped in a tomb of his own making and lives in darkness. The butterfly is free and yet tossed back and forth by the smallest breeze. Again, the unbeliever is like the caterpillar; sin has trapped him in complete darkness, and he is easily captured or crushed. The believer is like the butterfly, and when he sins he is tossed back and forth by every little move in the atmosphere, and yet somehow he can travel across a continent. The wind against which the butterfly fights is actually taking him to a God-determined destination.

God is using sin in the believers’ lives to take them to a revelation of Him. To echo Paul, we definitely are not teaching that we should sin so grace will abound. However, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rm. 5:20). If this is not true and God cannot use our failures and be redemptive, then what is the option? We can look at our own lives for the witness and test it. Sin brought us to Christ when as unbelievers we got sick of the car wrecks! Then it has been sin used by Him to reveal who He really is and the “why” of obedience: to make us happy. God is fighting nothing and using everything.

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