There is no one who will be so conscious of indwelling sin as the believer who walks in the light. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In the verse immediately preceding, we read, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Here, the distinction between sin in us and sin on us is fully brought out and established.
To say that there is sin on the believer, in the presence of the Father, is to call into question the purging efficacy of the Blood of the Lord Jesus, and to deny the truth of the Word. If His Blood perfectly purges, then the believer’s conscience is perfectly purged. The Word of God thus puts the matter; and we must ever remember that it is from the Father Himself we are to learn what the true position of the believer is in His sight. We are more disposed to be occupied with telling the Father what we are in ourselves, than to allow Him to tell us what we are in His Son.
In other words, we are more taken up with our own self-consciousness than with our Father’s revelation of Himself. He speaks to us on the ground of what He is in Himself, and of what He has accomplished in His Son. Such is the nature and character of His revelation, of which faith takes hold, and thus fills the soul with perfect peace. My Father’s revelation is one thing; my consciousness is quite another.
But the same Word which tells us we have no sin on us tells us, with equal force and clarity, that we have sin in us. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Everyone who has “truth” in him will know that he has “sin” in him likewise; for truth reveals everything as it is. What then are we to do? It is our privilege so to walk in the power of the new life that the “sin” which dwells in us may not manifest itself in the form of “sins.”
The believer’s position is one of victory and liberty. He is not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but also from sin as a ruling principle in his life. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that has died is freed from sin . . . . Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof . . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:6, 7, 12, 14).
Sin is there in all its vileness; but the believer has died to it. How? He died in the Lord Jesus on the Cross. By nature he was dead in sin; by grace he is dead to it. What claim can anything or anyone have upon a dead man? None whatsoever. Christ “died unto sin once”, and the believer died with Him. “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”; Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed into sin, but alive into God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Such is the believer’s unalterable position before the Father! Hence it is his holy privilege to enjoy freedom from sin as a ruler over him, though it be a dweller in him.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). – C H Mackintosh