What If A Believer Sins?

By H. L. Heijkoop

If we believers sin, what happens then? Can this change our position as children of God? Will we then be put out from the presence of God?

We have the answer in Hebrews 9 and 10. Christ has found an eternal redemption. “For by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14 KJV). Our relationship as creatures to God has been settled for all time. We have been brought into the relationship of children to the Father, and this relationship shall nevermore be altered.

But does our Father, then, overlook the sins of His children? Our Father is the God who is Light and in whom is no darkness at all. He is too holy to behold sin. He must be hallowed, or regarded as holy, by them that come near Him. He cannot put up with any sins in His children. How should He, the Holy One, be able to have fellowship with sin or with someone who has been defiled by sin. This is why our fellowship with the Father and His Son is broken off instantly by every sinful thought, word and deed. This fellowship is not restored until the sin is put away in a godly way. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9). Only through confession and self-judgment are we cleansed.

Self-Judgment – The Only Way To Restore Fellowship
Leviticus 5:1-4 lists for us the three major groups of defilements occurring in daily life:

  • The failure to witness either against evil or for the good (v.1). Omission of something, too, can be sin.
  • Defilements through things coming from outside oneself (v.2). These are the consequences of not being practically separated from what is of the world.
  • The sins that come out of our own hearts (v.4). Such sins are the result of not being sober and the lack of self-control.

Verse 15 and those following add the use of something that God has reserved to Himself for one’s own self, while Leviticus 6:1-7 includes taking away or keeping something that belongs to another.

If an Israelite had transgressed, how could he be cleansed? There was only one way, and it is mentioned in Leviticus 5:5-6: “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned.” Other things could be added to this, such as to more than make good that which had been taken from the Lord or from one’s brother (5:16, 6:5). But the first requirement was to confess the sin and bring a trespass offering.

Self-judgment – declaring one’s own sins and thus one’s own failures – is a necessary condition for all forgiveness and restoration (see 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 Jn. 1:9). God wants to bring us to true self-judgment, that is, He wants us to judge not only the deed which we have committed, but our condition, as David did in Psalm 51:5-7. So He turns our eyes to the cross that we might learn what sin is. It is not that the blood of Christ must be applied to us again. This has happened once for all, but we should recognize how terrible sins – even the one that I just committed – are, and we do this by seeing what the Lord Jesus had to suffer on the cross for our sins (the trespass offering). In Leviticus 1-7, then, we find not the cross itself, but a looking back upon the cross. The cross itself, as the foundation of our nearness to God, is found in Leviticus 16 and Exodus 29.

Only by looking at what the Lord Jesus had to suffer at Golgotha for our sins do we learn how horrible sins are. He had to be forsaken of God, bear the judgment of God, die – because He “Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24 JND). In this way we come to a true judgment of ourselves and a true sorrow for what we have done. Let us never pass over sin lightly. Never forget that confession of guilt is the only way to restoration of fellowship – confession before God, and before men when they have been affected by what we have done.

Unknown Sins
Often we commit sins of which we are not aware, and sometimes even when we think we are doing something good. But ignorance does not make us innocent! “If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity” (Lev. 5:17 NKJV). That is why David prayed in Psalm 19:12, “Purify me from secret faults” (JND).

If we are to confess these sins and thus obtain restoration to fellowship with the Father, we must first be made aware of them. Therefore in Leviticus it says, “If his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge …” (4:23). But who should do this? Who should make us aware of thoughts, words and deeds which others know nothing about? And who should convict us when we feel we are in the right? For this too, God’s love has made provision. “My children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1 KJV). May we read this verse well and meditate on it.

Christ Our Advocate
The only other verses where this Greek word parakletos, here translated as “Advocate,” is used are found in John 14:16,26, 15:26 and 16:7, translated “Comforter” in each and referring to the Holy Spirit. The footnote in the Darby translation (JND) informs us that this Greek word means “one who carries on the cause of any one and helps him.”

The Lord Jesus now carries on His service in heaven for us. He does not carry it on before God as Judge, for as far as God is concerned our case has been fully settled at the cross, but before God as the Father. The Lord Jesus is our Advocate with the Father when we sin. For believers, He does not become our Advocate only when we repent and confess our sins. No, the moment I sin He is my Advocate in heaven who represents me and my cause with the Father.

And who did we say this Advocate is? He is Jesus Christ the Righteous. He measures up to the righteousness of the Father perfectly, and at the same time He is my righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). He has completed a work that is so perfect that He is not only the propitiation, or satisfaction, for our sins, but He is that for the whole world. Thus both as to His person and His work He is completely acceptable before the Father – and no less so when He is my Advocate, when I have sinned.

Prior to this we saw that forgiveness is only after confession. Therefore, the second part of the ministry of the Lord Jesus as our Advocate is that He occupies Himself with us and brings us to confession of our guilt. To Him be all the glory!