Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
It is not possible for a genuine Christian to live in habitual sin.
Once a person has repented, trusted in, and surrendered his life to Christ, he becomes overwhelmed by the enormity of what the Lord Jesus did to save him from the consequences of his sins. His gratitude knows no bounds. His priority in life is to honour Christ in every way possible. And he does his utmost to live in obedience to Him. That is the normal Christian life.
But what happens if he slips up and sins again? The biblical answer is that he will lose his peace of mind, the inner joy he has known since his salvation, and his closeness to the Lord … until he has dealt with that sin. But he will not lose his salvation.
The LDS has different ideas. Their definition of repentance is “the successful, perfect and absolute abandonment of sin.” They maintain that we are capable of completely eradicating sin once we have repented of it, and that God expects perfection of us. In other words, if we sin again this means that our repentance was neither genuine nor valid.
“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is
forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this
ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins — behold,
he will confess them and forsake them.” (Doctrine
& Covenants 58:42,43)
“There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin … Trying is not sufficient. Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, 12th President and Prophet of the LDS church, pages 163-164)
“Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life with strength to focus on the abandonment of specific sins. It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord said: He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:32) (Ensign, May, 1995, Finding Forgiveness, Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).
“We are gods in embryo, and the Lord demands perfection of us.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, 12th President and Prophet of the LDS church, page 286)
But if we were able to earn salvation through our own righteousness, we would not have needed a Saviour.
As it is, God was fully aware of the dilemma of our fallenness. So He devised a plan of salvation that catered for it. Christ came to earth and suffered and died on the cross in our place, to pay the penalty for all the sins, past, present and future, of those who trust in Him (c/f Colossians 2:13-14). And in His mercy God has provided committed Christians with a way to deal with it, if and when they become aware of any sin in their lives.
The following passage was addressed by the apostle John to members of the primitive church, i.e. those who had already repented of their sins and trusted in Christ for salvation:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 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.” (1 John 1:7-9, KJV)
Unlike the Old Covenant sacrifices for sin that had to be offered over and over each time we sinned, Christ’s atoning death covers all the sins of those who are His, for all time (Hebrews 10:10, 12).
We are grateful for this aspect, because the longer we walk with Christ, the more conscious we become of sins in our lives that we hadn’t even realized were there, particularly sins of the thought life.
Biblical salvation is an ongoing process. As explained in the article about salvation listed at the bottom of this page, salvation’s effects are in the past, present and future. The very moment we first trusted in Christ for salvation, we were saved from the guilt and penalty of our sins. Then we begin the ongoing process of being saved from the power that sin has over us. And finally, we will be saved from the very presence of sin in our lives.
This doesn’t mean that we have license to sin. The Christian does his utmost not to sin, by choosing moment by moment to submit to God’s will rather than to his own. And he does this by leaning heavily on His grace.
Nevertheless, until our bodies are redeemed, our fight against sin will be an ongoing battle. And if we do become aware of any sin in our lives, we can confess this to the Lord, repent, and ask for forgiveness. But the Christian does this with great sadness, as he is all too aware that it was because of his sins that Christ suffered on the cross.
The following links lead to articles that relate to what we have discussed above:
This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.
Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.