Why are believers, while still in this world, left to struggle with indwelling and remaining sin? Certainly God has the power to make us perfect and sinless from the moment of our conversion. The Holy Spirit could so work within us that we are totally liberated from the remains of sin the moment we are born again. He’s going to do that when we are glorified at the end, so why not now? If God has the power to make us perfectly holy the moment are born again, why doesn’t He do it? Why are we left to struggle with remaining sin until our dying day? Let me offer some answers to this question. After reading them you might wish to add to them by offering some comments of your own.
1. Of course, first we must say that this is God’s will.
Therefore, even when we may struggle with understanding why, we must trust that it’s for our good and for His glory.
2. God has left us to this ongoing conflict with remaining sin to promote our humility.
Thomas Brooks, “partly to keep them humble and low in their own eyes
3. Also to teach us how dependent upon God we are.
4. In order to make Christ more precious to us.
5. To make us more patient and compassionate toward others.
Arthur Pink, “It should promote a spirit of forbearance to our fellows: we ought not to expect less failure in them than we find in ourselves”
6. To make heaven more precious to us and to help us keep our affections on things above.
Thomas Brooks, “that they may distinguish between a state of grace and a state of glory, and that heaven may be more sweet to them in the close”
7. To further display in us, and through us, God’s grace, power and perfections.
Listen to this quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“Just as God permitted Job to be tempted of the devil, that all the world might see how God can enable a man by patience to triumph, so he keeps us here to let the devil and all men know what his grace can do for his people, and also to let angels, and principalities and powers in the heavenly places behold what saints God can make out of guilty sinners. He takes those who had gone far away in sin, and brings them nigh by the blood of Jesus. He fashions the rough, knotty timber that did not seem as if it ever could be shaped, and uses it in the building of his temple. He makes wonders of grace out of sinful men and women, such marvels of mercy that the angels will stand and gaze at them throughout eternity, as they say, ‘How could God make such…beings as these out of sinful material?’ All this will be ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved’(Eph. 1:6).
8. Our conflict is God’s school by which He is perfecting our faith and preparing us for the world to come.
Think of how it was with the children Israel after God delivered them from Egypt. He didn’t bring them into the Promised Land immediately. They must wander in the wilderness for many years and face many trials and temptations and the land itself must be conquered after much fighting. So it is with the Christian. God said through Moses in Deut. 8:2-3:
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord”
So, you see, the Christian’s life in this world is his wilderness wandering. This is the period of the trying and the strengthening of our faith; the period in which we are being trained to be no more children, but to grow up into spiritual maturity and wisdom. And this is the period in which, by each of our unique experiences in this world, we are being prepared and fitted each for our special place in the glory of the world to come.