Articles & News

The Four Things that Happen When We Sin

August 23, 2022

-by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from the digital booklet "What it Takes to be Forgiven"

Four things can happen to a Christian when we sin. And may I say this to you: If you are a child of God and you sin, one of these things must happen, because God says it will happen.

#1 . . . We lose the joy of our salvation

After David confessed his sin, that is what he asks God to restore to him:

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. -Psalm 51:12

When David sinned, he didn’t lose his salvation—but he did lose its joy. When we sin, we’re miserable. You see, a real child of God can’t have fullness of joy if you have unconfessed sin in your life (1 John 1:4, Ephesians 4:30). That’s the reason Paul warns the Ephesians not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Your salvation is secure; He has sealed you for the day of redemption, but you can grieve Him so much that He can’t work in your life. As a result, your life becomes static and stale and meaningless and joyless and powerless. That happens to the child of God when we sin and do nothing about the sin in our lives.

So today, as a believer, you are either living with a grieved Holy Spirit or you are allowing Him to work.

When there’s unconfessed sin in your life, the joy is lost.

#2 . . . We face judgment—either our own or God’s

May I say to you that either we judge ourselves or God judges us today. Because when a Christian sins, you actually have God’s permission to deal with your own sin:

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. -1 Corinthians 11:31-32

Paul says that if a Christian has unconfessed sin in his life and he won’t judge it himself, then God will move in and judge that sin. Sometimes it seems God’s judgments are slow. I do not know why, but sometimes when a child of God sins and refuses to deal with it, God doesn’t do anything about it right away. God has His own reason for that. But oftentimes, God will judge that Christian right on the spot, because He says, “I have to judge the lost world, because they’re sinning. But I don’t want you to be judged with the world. Therefore, I’ll judge you here and now for the thing you are doing.”

#3 . . . We risk being removed from the scene

The third thing that can happen to a child of God when he sins is he may commit the “sin leading to death”:

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. -1 John 5:16

This is physical, not spiritual, death. I don’t know what sin this is that leads to death. Perhaps God doesn’t tell us is because it’s different for each of us. For Ananias and Sapphira, it happened to be lying to the Holy Spirit. That is not true today in most cases, because there are those who definitely lie to the Holy Spirit and nothing happens to them. But if I knew today what the sin leading to death was in my life, you can be sure of one thing—I’d avoid that one.

But there is a sin leading to death that a child of God can commit. And sometimes God has to say, “Come home, My child. I can’t let you keep on committing that sin.” God puts you out of operation, or maybe He removes you from the place of service. God does that today, my beloved. I could name at least 25 people I’ve definitely seen God remove. It’s like the law of gravitation in that it always works.

#4 . . . We can confess and be forgiven

Then, my beloved, we come to what every child of God should do when we sin:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9

Does that mean that if we live under grace today God won’t take us to the woodshed? I think sometimes He does. But if we will confess, He says, and will judge ourselves, we will not be judged. He says that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin.

Friend, the important thing for a child of God is to be sure you acknowledge your sin. The words “if we confess” is in the Greek homologemen, meaning “to say the same thing”—that’s confession. It means to come over and stand with God and agree with Him.

When you and I sin, we so often go to the Lord and have 14 excuses lined up for why we sinned. That’s not confession. When we go to God and apologize and excuse ourselves, we do not confess our sin.

When you and I confess, we are to come over on God’s side. Say, “Lord, you say I am a sinner. I agree with you.” Confession is to call it what God calls it. If God says it’s black, we are not to say it’s gray. Admit it’s black. Agree with God. And when we agree with Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. Not only that, but He cleanses us. That means the prodigal son doesn’t make a trip the next day back to the pigpen. God cleanses us from all unrighteousness—if we confess.

Trust Him. He’s wonderful. When you are His child, even if you fall, He’ll never throw you out. It’s wonderful to have a Savior like that.

Download "What it Takes to be Forgiven" free.

My Turn

Dr. McGee concluded his message about forgiveness with these three challenges. Which one do you need?

If you are a Christian, hear this. When David sinned, God gave him another chance. God gave Jacob another chance. God gave Simon Peter another chance. And God will give you another chance, but you sure better agree with Him. Get over on His side and stand with Him. It’s better there, I promise.

If you’re a miserable Christian—unhappy, disturbed, living without joy—may I say that you have grieved the Holy Spirit. He’s trying to get you to go to God. Like David did, just tell Him. Read Psalm 51 and ask the Lord, “Wash me … cleanse me.” There’s a way back. Christian, God says He will restore your joy and that He wants your joy to be full.

If you’ve never trusted God, He’s not asking you to confess anything. He’s asking you instead, “What will you do with Jesus who died for you on the cross, to take away all your sin?” You see, He deals with His children differently than He deals with those who are not His children. And if you have not accepted Him or received Him as your Savior, that’s all He wants you to do. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die because you are a sinner, and all He asks you to do is to receive Christ as your Savior. He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That’s His invitation to you.