Is the Saint Still a Sinner?


Saints are, without exception, sinners still.

Sinner is my name, sinner my nature, but thanks be to
him who came to save sinners, I am a sinner saved!

But the Christian no longer loves sin; it is the object of his sternest
horror; he no longer regards it as a mere trifle, plays with it, or talks
of it with unconcern.

He looks upon it as a deadly serpent, whose very shadow is to be avoided.

He would no more venture voluntarily to put its cup to his lip, than a
man would drink poison who had once almost lost his life through it.

Sin is dejected in the Christian's heart, though it is not ejected.
Sin may enter the heart, and fight for dominion, but it cannot sit
upon the throne. It haunts the town of Mansoul, and lurks in dens
and corners to do mischief, but it is no longer honored in the streets,
nor pampered in the palace. The head and the hands of Dagon are
broken, although the stump remains.

The Christian never sins with that enormity of boasting of which the
unregenerate are guilty. Others wallow in transgressions, and make their
shame their glory, but if the believer falls he is very quiet, mournful, and
vexed. Sinners go to their sins as children to their own father’s orchard, but
believers slink away like thieves when they have been stealing forbidden
fruit. Shame and sin are always in close company in a Christian. If he be
drunken with evil he will be ashamed of himself; and go to his bed like a
whipped cur. He cannot proclaim his transgressions as some do in the
midst of a ribald crowd, boasting of their exploits of evil. His heart is
broken within him, and when he has sinned he goes with sore bones for
many and many a day.

Nor does he sin with the fullness of deliberation that belongs to other men.
The sinner can sit down by the month together, and think over the iniquity
that he means to perpetrate, until he gets his plans well organized and has
matured his project; but the Christian cannot do this. He may put the sin
into his mouth and swallow it in a moment, but he cannot continue to roll it
under his tongue. He who can carefully arrange and plot a transgression is
still a true child of the old serpent.

And again, he never chews the cud of his sin; for after he has sinned,
however sweet it may have been in his mouth, it becomes bitterness in his
stomach, and glad enough would he be to be rid of it altogether.
The retrospect of sin to a converted man is nothing but blackness
and darkness in his heart.

The Christian, unlike other men, never finds enjoyment in his sin; he is out
of his element in it. Conscience pricks him; he cannot, even if he would, sin
like others. There is a refined taste within him, which all the while revolts
at the apparently dainty morsel of sin. The finger of grace, with its secret
and mysterious touch, turns all the honey of sin into gall, and all the
sweetness of sin into wormwood.

If the Christian shall sin, and sin I grant he will, yet it shall always be with
half-heartedness; still he clings to the right. The evil that he desires not to
do, he does; while the good that he would do, he fails to perform.

You will notice too, how different the Christian is as to the habit of sin.
The ungodly man is frequent in overt deeds of rebellion, but the Christian,
at least in open acts of crime and folly, rather falls into them, than abides
in them. The swallow dips with his wing the brook, and then he is up
again into the skies, soaring toward the sun; but the duck can swim in the
pool or dive under the water — it is in its element. So the Christian just
touches sometimes with his wing — alas! for him — the streams of earth,
but then he is up again where he should be; it is only the sinner that can
swim in sin and delight therein. You may drive the swine and the sheep
together side by side; they come to some mire, and they both fall into it,
and both stain themselves; but you soon detect the difference in nature
between them, for while the swine lies and wallows with intense gusto, the
sheep is up again, escaping as soon as possible from the filth. So with the
Christian; he falls, God knows how many times, but he rises up again —
it is not his nature to lie in sin; he abhors himself that ever he should fall to
the ground at all: while the ungodly goes on in his wicked way until sin
becomes a habit, and habit like an iron net has entangled him in its meshes.