Have you ever heard that when you sin, you are no longer in fellowship with God? It is a very common misconception among Christians. The picture painted is that your sin puts up a barrier between you and God so that He couldn’t be close to you or bless you. In fact, He might even punish you by making bad things happen in your life until you got right with Him again.
The solution always given was for you to confess your sins to God and to be very sincere about it so that God would know you really meant it! Then, you could be assured that you were forgiven again. That resulted in you being back in fellowship with God. However for years, I often wondered if I had convinced God that I was sincere enough to be forgiven.
The idea that a Christian can break fellowship with God comes from an Old Covenant mindset that if you will obey God, He will get close to you; but, if you don’t, He will turn away from you. See Deuteronomy 28.
The good news is that none of that is true since we are people under the New Covenant. Here is why:
1. We are united to God. You can’t get any closer to God than that and sin doesn’t break that union. See 1 Corinthians 6:17.
2. All your sins are already forgiven whether you confess them or not. See Colossians 2:13 and Ephesians 4:31-32. (Though it’s fine and probably healthy to tell God when you sin, that doesn’t get you more of His forgiveness.)
3. We are not under the law of blessing and cursing laid out in the Old Covenant. We are already blessed to the max with every spiritual blessing in Christ, according to Ephesians 1:3.
The word for fellowship in the New Testament is the word we use today for intimacy. John wanted the people he wrote to enjoy this intimacy just as he did. 1 John 1:3 says, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
When we sin, we do not lose our fellowship with God, that is, our intimacy with God. It’s impossible because Jesus has finished everything required by the Father to get us into fellowship with Him and to keep us there. It’s totally based on Jesus’ performance on the cross, not our behavior.
There is no Scripture that says a Christian breaks fellowship with God when he or she sins. If that were the case, every Christians would constantly be breaking fellowship with God. Romans 14:23 defines sin as “not living by faith,” that is, not living dependent on God. If we are not depending on God, we are depending on our flesh. The context of that verse is certainly in the context of eating meat sacrificed to idols, but it is a truth which transcends that issue. Any time a person lives even one second depending on their flesh, rather than God, He considers it sin. This means we all may sin a lot more often than we are aware of!
The word “fellowship” means partnership or partaker. With this in mind, fellowship with God is two-fold. The first has to do with our wonderful position of our union with God the moment of our salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. That union cannot be broken by a Christian’s sin.”
Yet, there is a common belief that when a Christian sins, some kind of barrier comes between that person and God until that sin is confessed to God. In the New Covenant, God removed forever any barrier between the believer and Himself when Jesus Christ died and was resurrected according to Hebrews 10:17. Then He says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” To lose fellowship with God would mean to lose your salvation.
Another aspect of “fellowship” is our experience of intimacy with God. This is the enjoyment we have when we commune with God. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14. Can we stop enjoying our intimacy with God? Yes, absolutely but it’s not because He recoils from us when we sin. When a Christian sins, they are not experiencing fellowship/intimacy with God in that moment at all. They are living as if they are separated from God though they are not. If we could lose fellowship with God, it would mean we lose our union with God. We can’t be separated from our God with Whom we are united. Otherwise, we would be jumping in and out of Christ all day long. And He would be jumping in and out of us.
Enjoy your fellowship and intimacy with God without fear that you will break fellowship with Him. You can’t! You can relax and live in confidence each day as a fully forgiven, permanently united, free from the law and sin, child of God, because the Cross worked!
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