Although Christians have been saved from the power and penalty of sin, we continue to struggle with the presence of sin; we continue to sin. Our justification is complete and irreversible, but our sanctification is an ongoing process which will continue until we leave this world for the next.
This battle with sin is often discouraging and at times depressing. True believers feel their weakness and are compelled to cry out with the apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am” (Romans 7:24). Despite our strong resolutions not to fail again, temptation comes and we yield to it. We all have our besetting sins, and we cannot reach a state of sinless perfection here on earth.
This ongoing struggle with sin poses a serious question: what does Christ do to His people when they sin against Him? How does he respond? Does He remove His love from us and withdraw in anger? Or to put the question a different way, does Christ stop loving His people and leave them to their own devices? I fear there are many Christians who struggle through their Christian life, thinking exactly that. They look back and see failure, sin, spiritual coldness, and backsliding, and they are led to believe that Christ has finished with them, that He is huffing with them. This is not so.
Christ does not stop loving His people because they sin. Remember He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), and His love continues even though we still sin. This love may mean that He will chastise us, but His chastening is always in love, and it is always designed to draw us back to Himself and restore to us the joy of our salvation. The apostle John said in 1 John 2:1, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
When we sin, Christ acts as our advocate before the Father. He pleads for us. He presents our case and pleads our cause because He loves us. When a person exercises saving faith in Christ he or she is brought into a saving union with Him and is accepted by God because of Him. Nothing can change that. Our justification is sure, settled, and steadfast; therefore, Christ cannot and will not cast us away. Rather He continues to love us and continues by His Spirit to draw us to Himself. This glorious truth does not present a reason for us to continue in sin. God forbid (Romans 6:1–2). It encourages us to avoid sin and love Christ more fervently. Because of His faithful love for us we are constrained to love Him (2 Corinthians 5:14).