One day in making my rounds as a prison chaplain, I met a new prisoner. He told me that he had become a perfected Christian that he was without sin and in fact, could no longer sin. He would not accept any discussion on this topic from me (I was imperfect and sinned every day). I knew he would eventually have a spiritual crash and it came sooner than later. In a few months, he told me that he no longer believed in God.
In the Gospel of Luke 18:18-27, there is a story about a man who comes to Jesus with what seems like a good question: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus knows this man’s heart (as He does each of our hearts) and begins to list the Commandments. He lists five of them when the man interrupts Him: “All these things I have kept from my youth.” In other words, “I have kept all the commandments of God; therefore, I am perfect.” It is generally agreed that there are 613 commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah). Wow…maybe this guy is perfect! Then again, no one was able to keep the Law and all have sinned and fallen short.
Jesus reveals this man’s imperfection with these words: “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The man goes away sad because he was clearly guilty of the sin of the love of money, which is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). His imperfection was laid bare.
“I don’t need to confess anything because I haven’t sinned!” Yes, I have heard those very words come out of the mouths of folks before. Sometimes folks have dealt with some big sins in their life and think that’s the end of it. This illustration has always helped me:
Let’s view our sins like fruits and vegetables stacked on a big truck that needs unloading. When we first get serious about our commitment to the Lord, we are throwing these giant watermelons off the truck. We get that whole layer of watermelons unloaded and think that we are done with our sins only to discover a layer of smaller cantaloupes. We get that layer of cantaloupes unloaded only to find a layer of zucchinis. Thank God that all of our sins are not revealed to us at one time! As we grow in Christ, we find ourselves recognizing sins that we didn’t realize were in our lives. This is especially true with what goes on in our minds with being judgmental, hateful, envious, prideful, and so on.
In my own life I have been unloading that truck for a long time and still know that I am not even close to the bottom. I am convinced that if I ever reach the bottom of that truck, I will find a layer of thousands of little peas that need to be unloaded one at a time. Seeking to grow in Christ should also include asking Him to reveal another layer of sins to us. If anyone still doubts that they have sins in their life, let us listen to the words of the Holy Apostle John who understood this truth well:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)