Our most recent event from our series on community focused on “Dealing with sin”. Today on the podcast, we bring you a special follow-up episode with our speaker, Moore College lecturer Chris Conyers, to answer some of the many outstanding questions that came to us during the event.
Links referred to:
- Our May event with Chris Conyers: “Dealing with sin”: video, audio and transcript.
- Our August event: Learning to forgive with Kanishka Raffel and Philip Kern (25 August)
- Support the work of the Centre
Runtime: 35:30 min.
Chase Kuhn: Our most recent event from our series on community focused on “Dealing with sin”. Today on the podcast, we bring you a special follow-up episode to answer some of the many outstanding questions that came to us during the event. I hope you enjoy.
CK: Hello and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast. My name is Chase Kuhn. I’m coming to you from Moore Theological College here in Sydney, Australia. Today on the podcast, my guest is Dr Chris Conyers, a colleague of mine here at Moore College who teaches New Testament. Chris, you’ve recently spoke to us at our event on “Dealing with sin”, you’ve done a PhD on sin, so we could call you a “sin expert” [Laughter] and I’m glad to have you back for some questions following on from our event.
Chris Conyers: Please to be here! Yeah!
CK: Great! We see each other all the time in the office, but it’s good to sit down across from each other—
CK: —and have this chat.
CC: —oh, it’s good to chat.
CK: One of the things I’ve been impressed with is that the event that you spoke at has given us probably more questions than we’ve had at any event—which means, I think, that people really want to know how do we deal with sin? And there’s a lot to consider there.
Now, undoubtedly, even though we’re doing a follow-up episode for questions and answers, we will undoubtedly not have enough time—
CK: —to get through all the questions. So we’re going to try and work over some of the top questions that were voted up on Sli.do. So thank you to all of those that did submit questions at the event, and we hope that you’ll find this conversation helpful.
Freedom from the power of sin
CK: Now, Chris, your work has been in Romans in particular, and looking at sin in Romans, and one of the first questions that we had that I think you touched on at the event originally, but we’ll revisit now, is that Romans 6 speaks about freedom from the power of sin; how would you speak to those who feel that sin still has power over them—something especially in the case of addiction?
CC: Yeah. Look, sin does still have power in our lives. What I think Romans 6 is really speaking of is that sin has lost its power over our final destiny. For the person who doesn’t know Christ, sin results in death. But as we come to know Christ and as we have him as our Lord and saviour, sin no longer controls our final destiny. It no longer causes our final ultimate death, even as it continues to have this kind of parasitic existence within our flesh. And so, we continue to live in our mortal bodies that are infected by sin, and therefore sin still has some ongoing power within our life. But it’s not an ultimate power. And it’s a power that is in the process of being overcome by the Holy Spirit, even here and now, but will ultimately be completely destroyed. Sin will have no power over us in eternity, and that’s some of the good news of the gospel. We are free from sin, even as sin continues to be part of our lives here and now.
CK: So we’re free from that hold that sin has and the consequences upon our life. But actually, we do have real power still now to say “No” to sin because of the Spirit.
CC: Yeah, absolutely! And we are in the process of being changed by the Holy Spirit as we engage with the word of God—as we submit to Christ as our Lord. And while I know from many of the questions and from some of the things that came up the other night, I know that a lot of people experience that as being a very slow and painful process.
CC: But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening or that there is no progress. And I think most of us, if we look back on our Christian lives, can see ways in which we have changed and we have grown, and even if it’s little things or the things that seem little, the Spirit is powerful, and we’re not promised that we will conquer any and every sin right away, but we do see real change in the Christian life.
CK: Yeah, that’s great. I love, actually, being a part of a church community and watching people over time. It’s not even necessarily instantly; it’s not weekly; it’s not monthly. But actually, you look back over a decade and you think, “Wow! Look how far such-a-such person has come in their life!”
CC: And it’s also not going to be linear. I was chatting with a gentleman the other day who talked about having gone to church for 10 years, and he just sat in church and contributed nothing at all for 10 years. But then for one reason or another, something clicked, and he’s serving at church in various ways, including things that might take a fair bit of effort, but no one sees. And he’s just serving joyfully now. And so, there’s just this sudden change in his Christian life that has led him to love others in a way that he wasn’t before. And it wasn’t necessarily some big moment; it was just somehow or other in God’s kindness, something clicked and there was a concrete change in the way that he spent his time.
A definition of sin
CK: Wow. I really like the way you said before, thinking about sin being parasitic. I’d love to explore that just for a moment more, because I think it will actually inform so many of our other points in our conversation. I mean, we haven’t actually given a real definition of sin. But it’s fascinating to think about sin as a parasite.
I’ve been writing a paper this week on goodness, and thinking about what evil is in contrast to goodness. And I think “parasite” is a really good way of thinking about that, because it’s the corruption of the good. It’s the “privation of the good”—is what Augustine said.1 But it’s actually something that has to prey upon the good and twist it and distort it and corrupt it. In one sense, without the good, it doesn’t exist. So sin is always that distortion of the good. It’s a parasite on the good. It has to feed on it.
I would love to hear more from you. I mean, how do you tell people about sin when you describe sin in a nutshell?
CC: Yeah. How do I tell people about sin? Look, there’s a variety of ways, and I think the New Testament gives us a variety of ways. And so, one of the ways that we might see sin is as we do something simple as break God’s commands. But if we reduce sin so it’s just a series of wrong actions, I think we miss the scope of what sin is in the New Testament. So the question we’ve just heard about Romans 6, we’re free from the power of sin: well, the power of sin is not just that I tell lies occasionally—it’s not just those actions—but it’s this power that actually has an influence on who I am and how I think about the world and the way I approach things. And I think fundamentally, that comes down to the attitude that I bring toward God: if I come to God as a rebel—as someone who wants to ignore him, who wants to live without him, just do things my way—it’s that attitude towards God and his claim on my life that is the essence of sin, in one sense.
CC: Whereas the way we want to overcome sin—deal with our sin—is to bring that Christlike attitude where we want to worship God, we want to trust in him in all things. We see Christ trust in the Lord in his Father as he goes to the cross. And we likewise want to trust God in all of the circumstances of our life, good and bad, and that is, in one sense, the very opposite of sin. It’s that different attitude toward the God who made us.
CK: Yeah. And you really drew us into—even if not explicitly we weren’t reading through Romans in the event, but I mean, it was right there in the background of what you were saying. As we think about what Adam did in the first instance, he chose against God’s good decree: “This is what’s good for you. Trust me.” And he thinks, “Hmm”—to use the Aussie expression, right—“Yeah, nah.” [Laughter] And so, “No, I don’t think so. I’ll choose something else for myself”. Whereas Jesus, through and through and through and through, perfect submission. Perfect submission to the will of God, obedience in all things that he’s doing, saying, “I trust that this is what’s good for me”.
CC: Yeah. You see the first man, Adam, in the Garden—
CC: —choose to disobey, and you see the second Adam, Christ, in the garden choose, “God, may your will be done”—
CC: —as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane.
CK: Yeah, it’s beautiful. That’s great. Thanks, Chris!
How to choose your friends
CK: Next question here: “Given the power of relationships to shape who we are, do you think that we need to talk about how we choose our friends more than we do?” And the person says that “I’m not sure we ever address it”.
CC: Yeah. I think that’s a really interesting question, and on one hand, I think, yes, we do need to think about our friendships. Although there’s another question that someone else has asked about whether, to deal with sin, we need to be part of a Christian bubble and only have relationships with other Christians so that we can reinforce good things and not be led into sin. And I want to say, “No, that’s not true. We actually don’t want to be just in a Christian bubble. That’s not what it looks like to deal with our sin.”
The way we want to approach our relationships is to make sure that we’re building really strong, rich and deep relationships with other Christian people. So it’s not about rejecting the non-Christians in our lives and having nothing to do with them. But it is about the types of relationships that we have. And so, if your very closest friends are all non-Christians, that’s unlikely to be helpful for your Christian life, because all of the strongest influences around you are going to be turning you away from Christ. And so, what we really need, I think, to be growing in our Christian lives is to have some really close Christian relationships, where we are able to share the deep things of life together.
CC: And that doesn’t mean we never go out for dinner with our non-Christian friends. But it does mean that as we come to them, they’re not our only relationships or our primary relationships, but we’re coming to them as a representative of Christ, who is fed by the word of God and encouraged to be a disciple in their church context. Whether that be on a Sunday or in your Bible Study, those Christian relationships need to be really central to forming who we are—
CC: —as we go out to relate to non-Christians.
CK: Yeah. I mean, we have common problems in our lives, because of sin, which is common to all of us.
CK: But the solution we have is not common. It’s a very special solution: it’s the gospel.
CK: And so, if we keep going to talk about our common problems to friends, even if they share the same problems, they won’t be able to give us the right answers if they don’t know the gospel. And so, what we need is the gospel for our problems. And that’s why we need people to help us gospel our way through, if you will.
CC: That’s right. And so, we need Christians around us to push us back to the gospel. And we also don’t want the non-Christians to so dominate our social life that they are, in fact, pushing us toward other forms of sin.
CC: We need to belong to Christ, first and foremost, and that will mean belonging to Christ’s people—not in the exclusive sense that we’re in a Christian bubble, but as a really important part of what we do with our time week by week.
CK: Yeah, absolutely.
CK: There’s a question here for me, and people want to know where my secret kingfish spot is. And the answer, Blake Fung, is that I never tell. [Laughter] You can come with me sometime fishing, and I will show you.
Christian complacency about sin
CK: Relating to the community here, what happens when the whole church community’s become complacent over certain sins? I think this is really helpful. I mean, Paul Grimmond and I talked about this a couple of months back at our last event before yours. He said, in one sense, there’s a common problem amongst my congregation, and in fact, the more specific my congregation is, the more specifically I can address that problem. And my reply was, actually, the more diverse our congregations, the more aware we are of our problems, because, in one sense, it’s very easy to get blind spots for us altogether.
Now, that can happen with as diverse of a people as you can get. Any congregation can become blind to their own sin in some way. But actually, the exposure, in one sense, of problems comes through the exposure to different people and them helping us see from the outside in, almost. But how is it that we become complacent, perhaps, and how can we fight this? The example given here is materialism.
CC: Yeah. It’s a fantastic question, because I think we all become complacent over our own sins—individually and as churches. And I think every church has a different character: every church is unique in many ways. And there’ll be different patterns of behaviour that tend to dominate any group of people. And if we are not active as Christian communities in seeking to live holy lives, then there will inevitably be sins that creep in and we ignore, because we’re just not working at being holy. And so, the first thing we actually want to be working on as Christian communities is repenting of sin and seeking to live holy lives that honour God.
Now the particular sins that any community might struggle with can be very diverse. I remember hearing a story of church officials going into a series of churches where senior ministers had fallen by entering into adulterous relationships. And as they surveyed the people in those churches, they found that the people within the churches had relatively lax attitudes towards sexual sin. The sin of the senior pastor, at some level, had just seems to have infiltrated the whole church. And we shouldn’t really be surprised by that: Jesus tells us “a little yeast will leaven the whole lump of dough” (1 Cor 5:6 [Editor’s note: Chris means the Apostle Paul]). A little bit of sin in a Christian community will work its way through and numb all of us to the effects of that sin, and make us complacent as to how dangerous it is.
And so, we need to actually be listening to the word of God and coming back to that constant call for Christians to repent of sin—
CC: —and turn back to Christ.
CC: And whether the besetting sin in our context is following the secular view of sexuality or whether it is a materialism and greed—I go to church in the Inner West of Sydney; I think that we’re just swimming in that soup of both of those issues and we need to be on our guard against just following our society, and I think materialism continues to be an area where we don’t often work hard enough.
CC: And so I think this particular question about complacency—especially over materialism—is very insightful.
CC: We really need to be paying attention to that, and working to be holy in that particular area of our lives. But not just as individuals.
CC: We need to be doing it together.
CK: Yeah, and I guess, pushing this even just more practically, how we address it, it seems to me that we really desire comfort. And we also like to try to justify things that we like. And so, we will always find ways to justify our sin. So I guess part of the way’s we can say it is as a community, we might ask it in reverse: what questions don’t we allow to be asked?
CK: Or what’s off guard? What kinds of things would we protect together? What kinds of things would I justify in my life? Or what kinds of things would I permit in your life because I also want it in mine? So if I see you living a very comfortable existence at the expense of generosity or maybe at the expense of holiness in some ways that are evident that we can talk about, am I allowing that in your life simply because I also desire that for my life? Or would I challenge that in your life because of envy, instead of actually desiring you to be holy as well? So there’s a whole complex of things that we have to be asking ourselves as we’re diagnosing the issue.
CC: That’s exactly right! And so you can’t simply look at someone and go, “They have a comfortable lifestyle, therefore there is sin”, because actually, that maybe that is my envy—
CC: —my covetousness. Or maybe it is their greed. Or maybe it’s both.
CC: And that’s one of the difficulties in dealing with sin is none of us are without sin and we need to be very conscious of our sin before we point out the sins of others.
CC: “Remove the log from your own eye before you pick the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5).
CC: And, yeah, it’s hard work—
CK: It is.
CC: —dealing with our sin.
CK: It is! And it’s not about me overcoming you or us finding our place in some social ranking as we’re trying to deal with sin. It’s actually us on a common journey together.
CK: And that’s the really important part, isn’t it: I mean, we have to be on this together.
CK: As we take a break from our program, I want to encourage you to plan to join us for our next live event in August. We’ll be continuing in our series on community—this time, looking at “Learning to forgive”. The most liberating truth of the Christian life is that our sins have been forgiven. But one of the most difficult challenges of the Christian life is forgiving others as we have been forgiven.
Does forgiving mean forgetting? If we forgive, must we still trust someone? What about those who haven’t repented of sin? At this event, Kanishka Raffel, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, and Philip Kern, the head of the New Testament department here at Moore College, will lead us through what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and how we might learn to forgive those who’ve sinned against us. I really hope that you’ll plan to join us on August 25th either in person or on livestream.
One change to this event is that we won’t be having a Q&A session on the evening in the ways we have in the past. Instead, we’ll be receiving questions in advance. So we’re encouraging you to register early to gain access to the Sli.do information and to begin to submit questions and vote up other questions you’d like answered. For more information and to register for the event, go to our website: ccl.moore.edu.au.
Now let’s get back to our program.
Public confession of sin
CK: What place does the public confession of sins have in the Christian community? And should certain sins be confessed in private or between you and God?
CC: Yeah, as we talk about public confession, I want to make a distinction between two types of public confession. On the one hand, we have a general confession: so, Chase, you and I both go to Anglican churches and it’s been the practice in Anglican churches for centuries that you have a general confession of sins every time you gather together. And so, the whole congregation will read aloud a confession of sin. And that’s a great thing for all of us together to be acknowledging that we are sinners who need to be repenting week by week, day by day, turning back to Christ.
But that’s a general confession. We’re not confessing, “Well, I spoke an angry word to Steve the other day, and I stole a pen from work”. We’re not talking about the particular things that we’ve done. We’re talking about that general attitude towards God and toward other people.
But then there’ll be another type of public confession where we want to confess a particular sin. And so, I don’t think that’s something that’s appropriate to each and every sin. But there’s a couple of occasions where I’d say it really is important to confess sin publicly. One is if the sin was public: so if I, while up the front of church, spoke an angry word or slandered somebody, I should confess publicly that that was wrong, and apologise and seek forgiveness in a public way, because the sin was public. And the other time where I would suggest you want to have a particular public confession is when you’ve got serious sin in Christian leadership. And so, where a Christian leader has made a serious error—even if it’s not serious enough it means they’re removed from Christian leadership, but it’s serious enough that it has a significant impact on numerous people—it sets a good tone for the Christian community for the leader to confess that sin publicly and to repent and seek forgiveness. That’s part of what modelling the Christian life is about.
CC: And leadership is a public thing. For the ordinary Christian, it would be, I would imagine, less common—that you would want to stand up in front of your church and confess a particular sin. But there’s certainly lots of room for confessing your sin to one or two people that you trust, and certainly confessing sin to God where your conscience is troubled.
CK: Yeah. You’ve given us some very wise advice there, Chris, and I appreciate the way that you’ve given us some specific reasons why we would go to a public audience or take a more private audience.
Just a comment again on the general confession: I think this is actually so important for our life together—that we stand and say these things, not because we think that’s the time we are bringing every specific sin to mind before God; I think that can be misunderstood. The reason why we have general confession, as you’ve said, is actually, all of us as a congregation recognise we are here because of the grace of God. All of us are sinners and in need of the saviour. All of us are coming here for mercy from God—the mercy that’s been shown to us in Jesus Christ. All of us are coming here in faith—that we can receive that mercy in Jesus Christ—that that is a gift of grace. And so, actually, that levels the playing field for us, and we can then, in gospel fellowship, we’re setting a stage here, saying, “I am here because of the gospel”. We can now feel free, in one sense, to say, “We’ve all just confessed that we’re sinners. So I can be real about my problems, just as you can. I am no better than you and you are no better than me, because we are only who we are in Christ, and we can therefore have life together in this way—in Christ. So, yep. Thank you for what you’ve said.
Married people confessing sin to each other
CK: Getting more specific about the particular sin, someone’s asked a question here that I’ve been asked a number of different times in a number of different occasions. And that is, when we’re thinking about confessing sin, for people that are married, should they confess all of their struggles to their spouse? Say, something like pornography or times where they might have been tempted by going astray or having lustful thoughts about someone else: should they be bringing these things to their spouse? Or should they be talking to someone else in the community: if they’re a Christian man, perhaps another Christian brother, or if they’re a woman, another Christian sister?
CC: There’s a couple of things I’d like to say to that. First is it’s good in every marriage to be working toward a relationship where you can share with one another openly and not need to pretend that you’re someone you’re not. And so, that’s an important long-term goal for any marriage is that there should be nothing that you couldn’t share with your spouse.
Of course, you’ll never get to a point where you share everything, because that’s just not possible—to talk through every thought you’ve ever had.
CC: But you need to be trying to develop the relationship where there’s nothing that you wouldn’t share.
However, because we are in a world that is tainted so deeply by sin, I don’t think that goal necessarily will apply immediately in every instance. And there will be times where it’s just not helpful for the health of your marriage to dredge up every particular sinful thought. And yet it may be very helpful for you to have a Christian brother or sister that you can talk through those issues with in service of your marriage.
CC: Chase, I think—before we began, you had some helpful things to say about this?
CK: Well. We were trying to figure out what to say about this, Chris. I mean, we didn’t talk through every question, but we did talk about this question in particular, and I was just saying that I guess one of the ways we could ask is that “Are you not telling your spouse in order to guard your marriage?” In other words, maybe you’ll see some wisdom there in protecting something, because of other insecurities, maybe, in your spouse or in, perhaps, past hurts that might be drawn up, or whatever it may be. Are you guarding your marriage by not telling your spouse?
Or are your guarding your sin by not telling your spouse? In other words, would it be the thing that would actually break that sin in your life by having to tell that thing to your spouse? So if you’re a man that’s been struggling with pornography, if you had to tell your wife, what would that do to that struggle with pornography? And by not telling your wife, does that enable you to continue in that sin?
I think that there’s a lot of wisdom there, and I think probably by having outside counsel, you would be able to discern which of those things is the truth. But either way, we have to recognise just how painful and awful sin is.
CC: Absolutely! And it may be in the particular instance of pornography, I imagine it will be necessary to confess to your spouse that you have a struggle.
CC: I can’t imagine a healthy marriage where that’s something that you can keep a secret from your spouse.
CC: But that won’t necessarily mean that you confess all of the ins and outs, and it may be that finding someone else to be the accountability partner is more helpful in the long-term.
CC: You’ll continue to talk with your spouse in general terms. But someone else may be more helpful in dealing with the day-to-day confession of the particular struggles that you’re facing.
CK: Yeah. And it’s also a strange thing to put on your spouse—to say, “Are you struggling with this right now? Are you looking after other—” In one sense, if it’s the burden on my wife to ask me, “Have you been having lustful thoughts about others?”, that creates this very tense and almost suspicious kind of sounding attitude. Whereas, if I have a mate from church, who I do have, he’s able to say to me, “Is your mind pure? Are you looking at things you shouldn’t look at? Are you staying faithful to your wife?” That is something that I have asked him to do for me, and in fact, my wife knows that I have somebody to ask me those kinds of questions, which reassures her and, in one sense, lets her off from having to be in any way suspicious, but reinforces trust in our relationship, which I think is a very wonderful thing.
CC: Absolutely! I think that’s a really wise way forward.
Turning to Christ
CK: Yeah. Moving to the next question, then, someone says, “Is turning to Christ only the start? Isn’t Christian life a continual turning to Christ? Are we saved by grace, but remain in grace only by works?”
CC: I think this is a brilliant question.
CK: I agree.
CC: So thinking back to the other night as I gave my presentation, I did say that if you want to deal with sin, you need to start by turning to Christ. And I’ll reiterate that: you can’t deal with your sin effectively on your own as a person who remains in rebellion against God and who doesn’t have Christ as Lord and saviour. You need to turn to Christ.
However, how do you continue to deal with your sin? Well, it’s by continuing to turn to Christ. So when I said, “You need to begin by turning to Christ”, I didn’t mean you turn to Christ and then you do something different; I meant you begin by beginning to turn to Christ. You need to start that process. In other words, you need to become a Christian. And that doesn’t mean that you then continue by some other means. You continue by turning to Christ day by day, week by week, and seeking to honour him. And so, we are saved by grace and we remain in grace by faith, not by works; we’re not saved by our works. It’s by God’s grace from start to end, but you need to start in grace by turning to Christ in order to then continue in it. [Laughter]
CK: Yeah, yeah, absolutely! And I mean, I think this is a really important part of what you were saying from Romans 6 as well earlier: we recognise we now are in Christ, which means something fundamentally different about our lives. And in fact, that we have the Holy Spirit, we are now enabled for a different kind of life. But that is actually enabled to us, in one sense: we exercise that new life by faith. So we are seeking to put to death sin, for example: we want to actually rid ourselves of as much sin as possible.
Now, if I were to think that I could do that in my own strength and power, that would be contrary to turning to Christ. But as I try to do that by faith, I’m saying, “Lord, by what I know is promised to me in Christ, and the fact that I possess the Spirit, I am actually seeking to do these things. But only in that power—the power that you’re giving to me. So please give it to me! I am calling out to you in faith.” I don’t know if you’d add anything else to that.
CC: Yeah, I mean, as we turn to Christ in faith, God gives us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not powerless. The Holy Spirit is God—one of the three persons of the Trinity—
CK: The almighty.
CC: —and he is dwelling in us, reshaping who we are and our desires, and empowering us to live for Christ. And so, anything we do is actually a result of God’s grace to us in giving us the Spirit.
CC: And so we continue in faith, but empowered to do good works.
CC: We’re not saved by our good works, but we are saved to do good works.
CC: And so, yeah. Look, it’s grace from start to finish that saves us.
CC: We never move on from that. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do good works.
CC: And we will do good works, and we will deal with sin in small ways and in big ones progressively over time.
CK: Yeah. And somebody here sadly asked, “Why bother?” and it’s not a throwing our hands up, it’s not a saying it doesn’t matter now, or that I can’t do this; in fact, it does matter. It matters so much that Christ gave his life for our sins. And actually, it matters so much now that the Spirit is working that new life in and through us so that we can actually be rid of sin entirely. I mean, that is a wonderful hope for the life to come—that we will have no more sin.
And so, that’s why we bother: we bother because Christ has given his life for us. We bother because the new life promised to us is one of no sin, and so we’re seeking that life.
CC: Yeah! We bother dealing with our sin because that’s the good news of the gospel—that our sin can be dealt with. If we don’t want to deal with our sin, we’re, in one sense, saying that the gospel has nothing to offer us.
CC: We don’t need it. But sin is—it’s dangerous and it’s destructive, and I don’t think we fully comprehend just how evil it is and how abhorrent our sinful thoughts and actions are before God.
But God gives us both forgiveness for our sin and, through the Holy Spirit, power to slowly and progressively defeat the sin in our lives. And that’s good news.
CC: That means I’ll stop hurting myself. It means I’ll stop hurting my wife. I’ll stop hurting my kids and my church family and all the people around me. God empowers me to love them and care for them, which is what I want to do. And so, I have every reason to bother dealing with my sin. That’s what the gospel enables me to do. That’s part of the good news.
CK: Yeah. And as we do that together, I mean, it’s always going to be the gospel that is the foundation for our opportunity to share life together.
CK: I mean, we’re running out of time here and I’m just looking at this last question: how do we begin sharing our life together, talking about sin? How do we tell people we need help? How do we actually start to get real about these things?
And I want to say what you’ve said is it’s the gospel—that actually we realise that we are freed from sin in Christ, that actually we are all sinners together who need grace and therefore, we can begin sharing openly, knowing the solution that we have commonly—common problem with a very specific solution that’s come to us in Jesus. And we can keep offering that to one another, helping each other grow in that new life.
Is there anything you want to add before we sign off here, Chris, to say an encouragement to people to be dealing with their sin in community?
CC: I think the very first thing I want to say about dealing with your sin is Christ has dealt with your sin on the cross. It is dealt with. It has no power over you for eternity. Christ has done everything that’s necessary. And that should be a great encouragement. There is no burden here from your sin; Christ has taken that. And that’s the good news of the gospel.
However, as we live as Christ’s people and we recognise the evil of sin, we’ll actually want to participate in that work of defeating sin, and we’ll want to remove sin and its continued parasitic existence—we’ll want to remove that from our lives. And that’s actually not a burden that we have as Christians, but it’s a privilege that we have to be sharing in the life of Christ. And so, I’d encourage people who are really struggling with guilt, keep reminding yourself of that gospel—that Christ has dealt with it—and keep turning back to him and asking for his help to deal with sin. Because through his Spirit, he does enable us to make concrete changes in our lives, and it will be slow and it will be painful. But we can deal with those particular manifestations of sin here and now.
CK: It’s great. Chris, thanks so much for your time.
CC: No, thank you very much for having me.
CK: Yeah, appreciate all that you did for us the other night and thankful that you’ve come back on and do some questions.
CC: No worries.
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1 Augustine of Hippo, Confessions. Translated by Henry Chadwick. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991). III.vii.12.