Do We Have a License to Sin?

Question from a Site Viewer
What is the true meaning about being “in right standing” with God? We are the righteousness of God and all fall short of the glory of God. If people are seeking God but have struggles and fall does that mean they are no longer “in right standing” with God? Or are we always “in right standing” with God? And if we are, doesn’t this just give us a license to sin?

Tim’s Answer
We have right standing with God when we stand in the righteousness of Christ, and do not try to add our righteousness to His (Philemon 3:7-10). The answer to our falling short of the righteousness of God is to believe in Jesus Christ. He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). Our good works can add nothing to His righteousness. That is, to say this another way, we must come to the place in our lives when we realize that we cannot please God on our own. The only way to please God is to trust in His Son (John 6:29, 40; Galatians 2:20). We should never trust in our own righteousness to obtain a right standing with God. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) We are perfected forever (Hebrews 10:14).

Thus, our standing with God is secure. Paul makes this argument in Romans 4 and concludes in chapter 5, verse 1 that because our righteousness is given to us by God through faith in Jesus, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accordingly, if we trust in Jesus, neither our good deeds nor our sin affects our standing with God. We are His children.

The question that is raised by some, then, is this: isn’t this a license to sin? Paul responds to this question by saying “may it never be” (Rom. 6:1). Relying on Jesus fully for our righteousness is a stronger motivation for us to imitate Him than any fear of losing standing before Him. The more we understand that He is our righteousness, the more grateful we become and the more in love with Him we grow. He is our righteousness when we stumble and fall. He is our righteousness when we are weak and despondent. He is our righteousness when we are self-centered and myopic in sight. And He is our righteousness when we do what is right. If we understand this, then we gain a great appreciation of Him. And we will seek to please Him out of gratitude and devotion, as well as a recognition that He rewards those who serve Him and chastise those who go astray.

There is liberty in this view, as Paul describes in Galatians 5:1. We are free.

And if we do find ourselves having sinned, we simply confess and forsake the sin (1 John 1:9) and turn back to a walk with the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16, 22-23). But we always confess and forsake our sins as His children, whose relationship with God is firm and secure because of our trust in Jesus (Hebrews 6:18-20). As we grow, we are changed more and more into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).

So, in summary, our right standing with God is always because we trust in Jesus. The passage in Romans 3:23 about us falling short of God’s glory leads right into the subsequent passage that by faith in Jesus we have a right standing with God. If we believe, then we have that right standing. If we sin, after we believe, God does not kick us out of a right standing, but rather invites us to come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help (Hebrews 4:14-16). We should confess and turn from our sin and seek those things that are pleasing to Him. But, never, never, never forget, that Jesus is our righteousness. Rest in Him. Rejoice in Him. Be thankful for Him. Walk with Him. Respond to Him. Be sustained by Him.

a fellow pilgrim,


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