If I am Saved and All of My Sins are Forgiven, Why Not Continue to Sin?
The question of why a Christian who has been saved and forgiven of their sins should not continue in sinful living is an important one. For some, the idea that salvation brings complete forgiveness leads them to wrongly conclude that they can go on sinning without consequence. However, the Bible makes it clear that continuing in sin as a believer dishonors God and will lead to negative spiritual consequences. Looking closely at what Scripture teaches can help us understand why wilfully remaining in sin is not an option for the redeemed.
Forgiveness Does Not Mean License to Sin
First, it is vital to recognize that just because our sins are forgiven does not then give us permission to keep on sinning. Paul anticipates this distorted thinking in Romans 6:1-2, asking the hypothetical question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” Grace results in forgiveness, but not license. The abundance of God’s grace is not a free pass to live however we want.
In fact, at the moment of salvation, the believer’s relationship with sin fundamentally changes. Romans 6:2-7 describes how in Christ we have died to sin and have been set free from its mastery over us. Forgiveness breaks sin’s power, but does not make sin permissible. We are not to use such forgiveness as an excuse to go on sinning.
Sin Grieves the Holy Spirit
Although we have forgiveness through Christ, ongoing unrepentant sin will grieve God’s Spirit within us. Ephesians 4:30 warns, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The fact that the Holy Spirit has sealed us as believers means we are to live in a way that honors Him and does not grieve Him through defiant sin. Just because we are saved does not make such sin acceptable.
Sin Harms Our Witness
In addition to grieving God’s Spirit, continuing in sin damages our witness as ambassadors for Christ. As representatives of Jesus on this earth, our lives are to reflect our new identity in Him. First John 3:6 says, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” While we will stumble at times, making sin a pattern undermines our witness to the saving power of the gospel.
Paul reminds Titus of this truth. Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” We are to train ourselves under grace to renounce sinful habits, not indulge them. Our lives are to evidence the transforming power of God’s grace. Continuing in sin contradicts the new life we have in Christ.
Sin Can Lead to Painful Discipline
While our sin as Christians is fully forgiven in Christ, remaining in unconfessed sin can lead to God’s painful discipline in our lives. Hebrews 12:5-6 reminds us, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” Having been so graciously forgiven, we do not want to presume upon God’s grace through defiant sin that invites His discipline. Sin ultimately destroys our peace and fellowship with God. He cares too much to let His children ruin their lives, and will discipline as needed.
Sin Can Lead to Loss of Reward
In addition to discipline, ongoing sin for the believer can lead to loss of eternal reward. At the judgment seat of Christ, our works on earth will be tested by fire to assess the quality of what we have done (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). While we are saved by grace, our reward is based on our character and works. Second John 1:8 warns, “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” Sin can rob us of reward we could gain by obeying Christ.
Sin Makes Us Less Fruitful
Rather than leading to eternal reward, continuing in patterns of sin makes believers less spiritually fruitful. Those who walk according to the flesh set their minds on things contrary to the Spirit, and this leads to death, not abundant life (Romans 8:5-6). Sin keeps us operating in the flesh when we are to walk in the transforming power of the Spirit. Staying in sin does not glorify God in our lives or promote Christ-like character growth.
Sin Leads to Entanglements
Part of sin’s deception is that it promises freedom while actually leading to spiritual bondage. As 2 Peter 2:19 warns, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” When we continue in sin as believers, we get entangled in its clutches, undergoing corruption of our character and habits. What we think will free us actually further enslaves us. Obedience leads to true freedom in Christ.
Sin Infects the Church
When believers continue in sin unrepentantly, it can infect the corporate body of Christ as well. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for approving of sexual immorality in their midst (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Sin tolerated in the church spreads like leaven, corrupting the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6-7; Galatians 5:9). Continuing in open sin unjudged brings reproach on the church and dishonors Christ.
The proper response to sin in the body is to confront it, not condone it (Matthew 18:15-17). Otherwise, it could leaven the whole church. Christ gave Himself to purify His church as His bride, so believers should pursue holiness together, not tolerate sin from one another.
Sin Defiles the Conscience
When we continue in sin, it defiles our consciences, which can shipwreck our faith. Paul warns that those who reject a good conscience end up with faith shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19). Repeatedly doing things we believe are wrong sears the conscience and hardens the heart (1 Timothy 4:2). What once pricked our conscience with conviction no longer bothers us. This leads to a hardened heart, not a healthy heart sensitive to sin.
Sin Doesn’t Reflect the New Creation
Second Corinthians 5:17 promises, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Remaining in unrepentant sin does not evidence this new creation. We are to behave in accordance with our new identity in Christ. First John 3:9 says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” While we will struggle with sin as new creations, it will not be our ingrained habitual lifestyle.
Sin Fails to Live Up to Our Calling
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” He defines this worthy walk as walking in holiness, putting off falsehood and sinful anger, and refraining from theft and corrupting talk (Ephesians 4:17-32). Continuing in sin falls short of living up to the holy calling we have received in Christ. We are to daily grow into the people God has called us to be.
Sin Doesn’t Love Others
Persistent sinful habits fail to fulfill the second greatest commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Paul explains that love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10). Sin hurts people and fails to demonstrate Christlike love. If we continue in sin, we do not live out love as we are called to do.
Sin Does Not Reflect Christ
As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus’ example and walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). Since Christ was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), we too are called to lives characterized by obedience, not ongoing sin. First Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” Continuing to walk in darkness is incompatible with our calling to walk as Jesus walked in the light and obedience of the Father.
To summarize, Scripture makes abundantly clear that wilfully continuing in sin should not be the path of the redeemed believer. Though our sins are fully forgiven in Christ, ongoing unrepentant sin grieves God’s Spirit, hurts our witness, invites God’s discipline, leads to loss of eternal reward, stunts our fruitfulness, entangles us, infects the church, defiles our conscience, contradicts our new identity in Christ, fails to reflect our holy calling, undermines love, and dishonors the example of Jesus.
Rather than cheapening grace, the amazing gift of God’s forgiveness should compel us toward heartfelt obedience, not enable sin’s persisting power. We glorify and honor God by pursuing lives characterized by the righteousness made possible by His Spirit within us. Our forgiveness is to be accompanied by repentance as a pattern of life. With sins nailed to the cross, we now have power through the Spirit to walk in new obedience and righteousness.
By understanding the dangerous spiritual consequences of persisting in sin, we can avoid the mistake of viewing forgiveness as permission to go on disregarding God’s commands. Our security in Christ gives us freedom to walk in holiness, not use grace as opportunity for the flesh. In light of such undeserved mercy, our response is now to honor Christ through lives increasingly reflecting His character. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised with Him unto new life, our calling is to walk in obedience to God with sins left behind.