The question has been asked, “Can a Christian sin and not know it?” What do you think? What does Scripture say? Do they match?
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Before we look for the answer to this question, let me ask another one: Why do we have a sin nature?
When Adam and Eve sinned, they turned away from God and followed a new “master.” In doing so, they estranged themselves from God. They were not designed to be “separated” from God in this manner. Without the partnership of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they became blind; they were poisoned by their rebellion, shackled to their new-found desire for not only the forbidden fruit, but for all kinds of things. Living life without the interaction of the Holy Spirit (God) is what it means to have a sin nature. We cannot see ourselves as we truly are: His children.
Once we turn back to God for life and healing, we are once again united with the Holy Spirit. In our partnership with Him, we begin to learn how to see ourselves as 100% righteous (we have the righteousness of Christ imbued to us, 2 Corinthians 5:21) and holy (set apart as His very own), and then to act accordingly. It’s a lifelong process, one that gets more glorious with each step! We learn to trust Him and to count on Him to tell us the truth quickly and simply.
As for the question, “Can a Christian sin and not know it?” the answer is No. Sin is the willful turning away from the Lord; it is rebellion, a deliberate thought process that leads to action. James describes this process,
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-16
There’s nothing unknowing about this evil desire that drags us away. As Christians, we face the Lord and reflect the Lord’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18); to sin means that we deliberately turn away from looking at Him. The word, “sin,” is used to describe a person’s arrow when he misses the mark; I personally don’t think that this analogy fits very well. The assumption is that the person shooting the arrow is trying to hit the target of God’s will. I believe a better picture is a person deliberately turning away from the target and shooting at something else.
One more thing: Christians have the Holy Spirit interacting with them, so when they sin, the Holy Spirit immediately, lovingly, and specifically calls it to their attention. His warning may come at the outset of our temptation, somewhere in the process, or even after our commission of that sin–or all three. The idea is that we cannot sin without Him revealing our sin to us. We cannot sin without knowing it. We know when we are ignoring the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. Let’s not kid ourselves.
The subsequent question is, “Is it normal for Christians to sin everyday?” We will look at this one tomorrow.
Abba, coming back to You is the smartest, wisest and greatest thing we ever did! Thank You for coming after us, seeking us until You found us and then carrying us home. Thank You for helping us come to our senses and then throwing us a party when we made it home. You are truly a remarkable God. May we keep our eyes fixed on You, Lord Jesus. Amen.