All believers need to develop self-discernment – introspection.
Introspection is the ability to see ourselves as we really are, based upon God’s word, and not clouded by our own sense of wanting to be right
The Need to be Right
Don’t misunderstand, it is this innate God-given desire to be right that keeps us from being totally comfortable with sin wherein we must justify that our wrongs are actually right.
And if God had not placed this desire to be right with us, there is no doubt that man would destroy himself if he did not need to feel right, which we refer to as have a conscience – John 8:9.
It is the conscience within man that drives him to be right, yet when he is wrong it is also this drive that forces him rationalize that his wrong is really right in order to live with himself.
On a personal note, as a counselor I have never met a client that is in all actuality really comfortable with being wrong, in the present tense.
There are times that people will admit that “I was wrong back then, but now I’m okay.”
However, this is totally different than taking personal responsibility that a person is actively wrong at that present time without any justification of that behavior.
The Spiritual Difference
This is what should occur when a person accepts the Lord and owns the fact that they are sinners deserving of hell; coming to God confessing themselves as a sinner pleading for God’s grace; and believing and trusting in God’s word that God is faithful to forgive him based upon what God’s word has said.
Always remember we are NOT saved by faith, we are saved by grace; yet faith gives us access in appropriating God’s saving grace to our lives.
Salvation is always a gift; it is never bartered for (Ephesians 2:8).
Denial is the Worst Sin
It is the rationality of sin that becomes the worst problem, much more so than the sin itself.
Because if we have a rationality of why our wrong was really right, then we have a rationality to continue in it; and in the process we start a pattern of rationalizing all sin in our lives that makes us feel comfortable with ourselves.
We must understand there is a difference between a singular sin, and a sin that becomes habitual.
Introspection, or better stated self-discernment aids us in being truthful with ourselves, wherein the Holy Spirit has a greater ability to convict us of the sin in our lives (John 16:8-11,13).
And for those that would protest and state that as believers we can stop sinning, we need to see what God has to say on the subject. But first let me say why this is wrong.
The Teaching that Believers can Totally Stop Sinning
This teaching distorts the Word of God. Many well-known teachers have taught this heresy – yes I say heresy – the devil uses this form of pride more than any other promote overt sins which are easily seen by others, by due to the self-denial are unseen by the person himself.
Whereas the pride that states that you must no longer sin, and have the ability to do so is a sin so well hidden, whose aim is to hide other sins – because if you’re truly saved, and the truly saved cannot sin; then you must not be sinning if you are saved; or even worse yet, if you sinned as a believer, then you have lost your salvation and you’re going to hell .
What does the Biblical text say in 1 John 1:8:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Why would I go so far as to say that teaching that the believer can become sinless is a heresy, it is because this is what God says in His word.
You see, if we go so far as to say that we have no sin; the Scripture says the truth is not in us – which is to enter into heresy (Heresy Is an opinion or doctrine held in complete opposition to an Orthodox position which undermines a foundational truth concerning an essential belief.).
And for those that would say that this is prior to the Christian’s conversion, speaking about our prior life as unbelievers, they ignore the Greek grammar which God utilizes to make the point.
You see the verb translated into “we have” (Greek: echo) is in the perfect tense – meaning: it is a continuous action that never stops – period!
The full grammar of this verb is:
present tense, meaning it is: Continuous Action – Never stops
active voice, meaning it is: Subject Causes the Action (Object Receives Action)
indicative mood, meaning it is: Mood of Certainty – A Reality
first-person, meaning it is: Applies to the Speaker (“I” – “We”)
plural number, meaning it is: Applies to All
So you see this applies to everyone, believer or not (as seen in the grammar of the word: “we”); especially in light to the fact that John was addressing believers only as seen throughout this letter.
And to validate this point even further, we read 1 John 1:10, which states:
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
The verb “sinned” (Greek: hamartano, a derivative of hamartia) meaning: “missing the mark“- it is an archery term, wherein the bull’s-eye is the size of the arrow dead center in the target, and anything outside of dead center – perfection, is missing the mark – sin.
The Greek grammar of the word hamartano used here is:
Tense Perfect Completed in the Past, Results in the Present
Mood Indicative Mood of Certainty – A Reality ~ it is an undeniable fact
Voice Active Subject Causes the Action (Object Receives Action) ~ we choose to do it
Person First Applies to the Speaker (“I” – “We”) ~ this is to you and I
Number Plural Applies to All ~ it applies to everyone
And as we know, the perfect tense is meant to show a complete unmovable reality that the thing has occurred, yet is ongoing in the present.
It is not that the results of the sin are present without the action present also – The action is present with the result.
The idea is that the reality of the presence of the thing is so assured that it is stated in the past tense
Within the Greek grammar, to express the complete solidity of something, it is referred to in the past tense – this does not mean that it occurred only in the past, and is not present in now.
The idea is you cannot change the reality of something’s existence anymore to change the past
This, among many other Scriptures teaches that believers are still sinners; and will sin as part of their makeup (Read Romans 7:14-25, is also in the present tense).
Yet at the same time we are not captive to sin – it is not our master that we MUST succumb to it EVERY TIME sin is presented. We have choices.
By no means am I rationalizing sin.
The choice to sin is a moment by moment decision.
And we’re told in God’s word, over and over TO NOT CHOOSE SIN!
The problem with the singular sin is it many times leads to an habitual sin – plural sin – and then the sin solidifies within our lives, it takes root and is much harder to remove.
This means that a sin then becomes a habit, and once it becomes a habit; we have yielded ourselves to it as our master, which is what Paul refers to in Romans.
Yet based upon 1 John 1:9 (“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”); the Scripture found between the two above Scriptures, it is when we confess our sins and relinquish its control and choose not to let it be our master, that the power of sin is broken in our lives.
Warren Wiersbe States:
“Christians do sin, but this does not mean they must be saved all over again. Sin in the life of the believer breaks the fellowship but does not destroy the sonship. A true Christian is always accepted even if he is not acceptable. How does God provide for the sins of the saints? Through the heavenly ministry of Christ. We are saved from the penalty of sin by His death (Rom. 5:6-9), and we are saved daily from the power of sin by His life (Rom. 5:10). The word “advocate” means “one who pleads a case” and is the same Gk. word as “Comforter” in John 14:16. The Holy Spirit represents Christ to us on earth, and the Son represents us to God in heaven. His wounds testify that He died for us, and therefore God can forgive when we confess our sins. Read carefully Rom. 8:31-34. The word “confess” means “to say the same thing.” To confess sin means to say the same thing about it that God says. Keep in mind that Christians do not have to do penance, make sacrifices, or punish themselves when they have sinned. Every sin has already been taken care of at the cross. Does this give us license to sin? Of course not! The Christian who truly understands God’s provision for a life of holiness does not want to deliberately disobey God.”
As believers we must be able to discern when we are simply defending our own egos based upon pride, as opposed to defending the gospel in humility. And believe you me; unbelievers have the ability to know the difference, if they choose.
How often I hear preachers talk about the blindness of the unbeliever, glossing over the fact that the unbeliever sees the hypocrisy that happens in many of our churches and uses this to accuse Christ, to blasphemy and slander Him and His Church.
We must not forget that the unbelievers were created in God’s Image (In the person of Adam prior to man taking on a fallen nature, yet we were born after man’s fall in the image of our father Adam – in the image of a fallen man), just as much as believers are, even though the human nature has been corrupted by the fall, much of the unbelievers discernment (many things are simply too easy to recognize, rather for the Believer or non-believer), is much better than we wish to give them credit, especially in regards to pride.
And do not attempt a fool yourself that because you’re a believer, and because the Holy Spirit indwells you that you cannot be self-deceived about your own sinfulness (remember Christ’s admonition to the apostles “be not deceived,” which would make no sense if this could not occur ~ Luke 21:8. Believers can be deceived, and of the worst type of deception – self-deception), God is a gentleman and will not crush you into seeing the truth, but will use His Word and experiences in life to teach you concerning your own pride and self-deception – if you will allow this to occur.
And this does not diminish the fact that unbelievers can tell the difference between an arrogant attitude, and a humble one.
So self-examination is necessary in order to foster humility based upon a true examination of who we really are as sinful creatures.
Paul elegantly said it best when he stated in 1 Corinthians 11:31:
“For if we would judge [Greek: diakrino] ourselves, we should not be judged [Greek: krino].”
The first word for “judge” is diakrino, and means to separate thoroughly, to withdraw from, to discriminate, or decide; depending on the grammatical breakdown.
The second word in this passage for “judge” is krino, and according to its grammar within this passage means to condemn.
The literal Greek rendering is:
“if we discern for ourselves, then we will not be eternally condemned.”
According to the full context of the chapter which centers on the Lord’s Supper; what is implied is that if a person discerns himself according to the Gospel, faith unto salvation, they will not be eternally judged – the discernment here is unto life, not unto death.
Many preachers have unwittingly taught this passage of Scripture concerning the Lord’s supper completely opposite of what the Greek text states.
If we notice a few verses prior to verse 31, 1 Corinthians 11:27 states:
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
The mistake that many preachers make concerns them teaching that you must be sure that you are right before the Lord before taking the Communion of the Lord, it deviates from the text in that it teaches the person to focus on themselves as being acceptable to God.
No man, on his own is acceptable to God.
We are accepted because and through Jesus Christ.
And what this text focuses on is the word “unworthily”, which is an adverb, and speaks about the form or manner that these people were indulging in the Communion of the Lord.
We know from previous statements that the Corinthian church were taking the love feast (It was a potluck supper), wherein they would have a meal and during the meal serve communion as seen in 1 Corinthians 11:21-22, which states:
“For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”
What Paul addresses is that they had turned this love feast into a gluttonous party where people became intoxicated.
It is when they took communion without focusing on Jesus Christ and Him supplying their salvation, doing so in a matter of not taking it seriously, being drunk; this is what brought sickness upon the believers.
Again the focus is not if you are justified before God, Jesus took care of that.
And if you spend your time trying to figure out if you’re good enough you’re doing the opposite of what should be done at communion.
What we do is we remember what Jesus did. It’s not about us, it’s about him.
In verse 32 it states literally in the Greek:
“when we perceive we are condemned as sinners, this perception by faith leads to God’s training/teaching [by and through His Word] wherein we are saved apart from the world that is condemned to pay the price for that condemnation“.
What we should always do is keep ourselves in check by examining ourselves concerning how we act in life.
The manner in which we engage ourselves with unbelievers and believers, based upon the truth of what is occurring in not upon self-deception.
Introspection is a necessary aspect of being a Christian.
Introspection is never to be done to figure out if were worthy of salvation, as some have mistakenly taught concerning the above Scriptures – no one is worthy.
Romans 3:11 through 12 is not only describing the unbeliever, but all mankind including believers when it states:
“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
This is why we must always be self-discerning so that we would be eligible workman doing the good pleasure of our Father in truth and reality.
It is in being honest about our own sinfulness that we gain humility – humility in serving God, humility in serving each other.