I believe I've been saved, but I still struggle with sin daily. Does this mean I'm not saved?
There are three reasons a person may fear they are not a Christian. The first reason is that maybe they are not a Christian.
Answer #1 – You Are Not A Christian
The first reason a person may be struggling with sin is that maybe they never really became a Christian. John 16:8-9 helps us understand why this happens. Jesus was talking to His disciples and said to them,
And He [Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me . . . John 16:8-9 (NASB)
This simply says the Holy Spirit will cause a non-Christian to feel guilt over his or her sin. The Holy Spirit is speaking to his or her conscience saying, “You are not a Christian and you are going to hell.” When a person believes, trusts or depends that Jesus has forgiven his or her sins, he or she has become a Christian and the person’s sins are forgiven and the guilt disappears. The Greek word for forgiveness is a very special word. It has the idea of “to leave” or “to send away.” The word was used in Egypt to refer to the draining of pools. When we respond to the sin-convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit and believe in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and the guilt is drained away.
If you are wondering, “Am I a Christian?” you are encouraged to read Searching for God and Are You A Christian? – Two Answers to Help. At this link you evaluate your life and see how many characteristics are true of you. The more evidences that are true of you, the more you can be assured you are a Christian. A person is a Christian because they are trusting in Christ as the One Who died and rose to pay the penalty for their sin and has forgiven their sins. The proof that a person is a Christian is revealed in behavior, attitude and desires.
Answer #2 – You are a Christian Living in Sin
People sometimes fear they are not a real Christian because they are sinning and the Holy Spirit is saying, “Stop sinning!” When this happens, it is common for a real Christian to be miserable and fear they are not saved. King David appears to have felt this way after he committed adultery and maneuvered to have his lover’s husband killed in war. Here is David’s prayer of confession. As you read the passage, look for the reason he was feeling miserable,
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight . . . Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. Hide Thy face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Psalms 51:1-11 (NASB)
Notice the first words in David’s prayer were a plea for forgiveness. He begs God to forgive his sin, “blot out my transgressions [sin].” David was really struggling like most of us who have been sinning and sinning or have committed a “big sin.” He was struggling so much that he begs God to “not cast me away from Thy presence, And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.” What did David fear? He feared God would reject him. He wanted forgiveness – he wanted God to love him. Does this sound like a believer who is afraid he/she has been rejected?
Some Christians are in this situation. They really do believe in Jesus. They really are in sorrow over their sins. Yet, they have sinned and fear they are not really Christians. David was a broken man over his sin. His insides were like “broken bones.” He asked God to look away – to hide His face from David. He pleads for forgiveness. How did he get in this mess? The answer is in verse 6, “Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.”
Ask God to convict you of any personal sins that you may have forgotten about and then admit (confess) them to Him. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will convict you for some sin(s) that you need to confess. Then confess them and then thank Him for forgiving you. All honest Christians struggle with sin. In Romans 7:15, Paul, the apostle, shares with us his struggles with sin,
For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 (NASB)
1 John 1:9 reveals that Christians still sin, but the proof a person is a Christian is that they repent and turn away from their sins. To struggle with sin is part of being a Christian. Proverbs says,
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
The Holy Spirit will help us to be honest about our own sin. He knows our heart,
For He knows the secrets of the heart. Psalms 44:21 (NASB)
If we do not confess our sin after we sin, we will suffer. Then the Holy Spirit will discipline us (Hebrews 12:4-13) until we confess our sins to Him. As David said, it is against God and God only that we sin.
Answer #3 – Christians Will Increasingly Become More Sensitive To Sin
The third reason you may be struggling with sin is that you are a Christian. To say we are Christians because we asked Jesus to forgive our sins means we believe Christ will forgive us because He is our God, Savior and Lord. When Jesus forgives our sins, scripture states that He completely forgives them,
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12 (NASB)
What does the verse say? It says God no longer holds us accountable for our sins. In Colossians 2:13 the Holy Spirit comforts us with these words,
And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. Colossians 2:13 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul calls Christians saints or “holy ones” in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; and Colossians 1:2. Why did he do that? Because Christians are legally declared to be holy. We are going to heaven. There are no good works that we must do to get there – all our sins are already forgiven. 1 John 5:13 tells us that we can know we are Christians. We do not have to wait until then to “find out.” Ephesians 2:6 says that as far as God is concerned, Christians are already in heaven, “[God] seated us with Him in the heavenly places.” There is nothing you can do now – you are going to heaven!
Yet, we will still sin. That is what 1 John 1:9-10 says,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:9-10 (NASB)
Yes, God has already forgiven a Christian’s past sins, any sins we will commit today and all future sins but He still asks us to confess our sins. What is confession? Confession is simply telling God you sinned – admitting you sinned against Him and only Him, just as King David did!
Yet, a Christian still sins. A Christian will increasingly struggle with their sin because they will increasingly hate sin. In Romans 7:14-15 the apostle Paul admits he struggles with sin.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:14-15 (NASB)
Then in Romans 7:24 he complains,
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:24 (NASB)
This reveals that a real Christian will struggle with sin and here is an apostle who is struggling with sin. Real Christians will increasingly struggle with their sin. The proof a person is filled with the Spirit is that they will be sinning less (Romans 8:13-14).
May we suggest that if you are not sure you are a Christian, simply ask Jesus to forgive your sins, to take control of your life, and to give you victory over sins. Then thank Him for doing that. Ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your life every day and keep you from sin. Also, do CPR everyday! “C” is for confess. “P” is for praying. And “R” is for reading and reflecting on the Word of God. This is essential for spiritual growth and victory over sin.
Suggested Links:Searching For God
What does it mean to receive Christ?
Sin and Salvation
Are You A Christian? – Two Answers to Help
Holy Spirit Gives Us Victory Over Sin
How long can a person sin and still be a Christian?
How do I repent of my sins? What are the steps?
What is the meaning of the word repentance in the Bible?
Should Christians follow Christ to become like Him?
What does it mean to receive Christ?