From Reformation Theology:
In one of the Q&A sessions this week at the Ligonier National Conference, R.C. Sproul asked questions submitted by attendees. On the panel were Michael Horton, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler and Steven Lawson. An effort was made to capture in brief form the questions and answers but you may wish to track down the audio or video to hear lengthier responses. Here is one such question:
Why don’t Christians care, or care enough, that they are sinning?
Begg: Because we don’t truly understand the nature of the atonement and what has happened in Christ bearing our sins. A low view of the atonement goes in line with an easy-going view of sin in the same way that when people take sin seriously they have a solid and clear grasp of what has happened in Christ dying for us. This was not a moot question for Paul in writing Romans where the same question applied to the people he was writing to. The answer lies in the gospel. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves all day every day and one way we will fail is a fast fall into antinomianism (lawlessness). The ultimate reason is that the believer does not understand what it means to be united to Christ. If we don’t, we’ll have legalism on one hand or lawlessness on the other. People simply don’t know who they are in Christ.
Sproul offered one correction to the question saying that there is no such thing as a true Christian who does not care about his sin. The question should be “why don’t we care to the degree that we ought to care?” And it’s because our hearts are still less than fully sanctified and God has not fully revealed to us the sinfulness of our sin (and thank God for that). If God revealed to me right now the full measure of the continuing sin in my life, it would destroy me. God is gracious and gentle in correcting us gradually.
Lawson added that some Christians are not as sensitive to their sin because they have a lack of exposure to the Word of God. It is the light of God’s Word that shines the light into our hearts. If we are distant from the Word of God there are sins that are not being exposed by the light of the Word. On the other spectrum there can be exposure to the Word of God but it’s mere intellectualism and not something that stirs the heart or the affections. It is all cognitive, touching the head but not the heart. If a person is not regularly coming to the Lord’s table where you’re coming face-to-face with the death of Christ for us and confessing sin to God, you are ignoring a great means of grace. It is here that you are asking God to bring into the light sin that has not been confessed, acknowledged, repented of. Also, Christians who are out of community with other believers are leaving themselves exposed and weak before Satan’s attacks.