Sin: Confessed and Unconfessed
Sin is any action, attitude, or thought which is contrary to the character and command of God (1 John 3:4). As temptation constantly floods our senses, we intentionally and unintentionally are drawn toward it, and often sin. Sin’s influence must not be underestimated, for the Holy Spirit is grieved because of our sin (Ephesians 4:30).
While sin is difficult to categorize, we can think of sin in a threefold sense: sins of commission (sins of what we do), sins of omission (sins of what we don’t do), and sins of disposition (sins of how we do something). Sins of commission are usually recognizable, but sins of omission can be more difficult to acknowledge and correct. The Ten Commandments are a clear example of sins of commission (Exodus 20). James speaks of sins of omission, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). Sins of disposition are the most difficult to discern, since we can easily cover up our stubbornness and begrudgingness as we outwardly act with obedience.
We are called to live by the standard of Scriptures, walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). With the presence of the Spirit, we experience conviction when we sin overtly and also when we neglect our duty. Often we are convicted for our attitudes and thoughts.
Sin always leads to pollution, disintegration, and perversion; and what is worse, it hinders our fellowship with God. While we are disappointed and hurt when believers sin, we should not be surprised that it occurs. The Christian life is a struggle against the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the forces of Satan. We are all familiar with the internal war we feel as we seek to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-21).
In short, the remedy is confession (1 John 1:9) and learning to walk in the Spirit. We also realize that despite our deep repentance, the consequences of sin may still continue in our lives. Yet, thankfully, Jesus bore the penalty of our sins and His blood cleanses our conscience and gives us hope and purpose, and we’re spared the eternal consequences.
If we die with unconfessed sin, we do not lose our salvation. We cannot be removed from the love of Christ by any created thing, including us (Romans 8:38-39; see our article on Eternal Security). As believers, we remain confident that God has already accepted us, but we also eagerly seek to confess and repent with regularity in order to further our daily journey of sanctification.