What Is a Christian Like? (Part 1)

Today I begin a series of posts (lasting who knows how long) examining how the Bible describes a Christian. Each post will focus on one characteristic of a Christian. I will state the main characteristic, explain it from Scripture, then ask you to consider if the characteristic is true of you.

On to the first characteristic!

A Christian confesses that they sin.

For this first characteristic, look to 1 John 1:8.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8

Here, the Holy Spirit tells us that if we say (or claim) we have no sin, then two things are true of us: (1) we deceive ourselves and (2) the truth is not in us.

The first reality of someone claiming to have no sin is self-deception. The implication is that every person, apart from Christ, has sin—even Christians (remember Romans 3:9-18, 23). So, if someone says they don’t have any sin, then they are deceived.

(Notice that their being deceived implies that someone has deceived them. Who do you think that might be?)

The second reality of someone claiming to have no sin is that the truth is not in them. The truth of what? The truth of the gospel or the truth of Jesus are both perfectly acceptable answers. Remember that Jesus said “I am the . . . truth.” Therefore, if someone does not have the truth “in them,” then they are not an actual Christian.

How I Got There From This Verse

Now, let’s use logic to come to the conclusion I have stated in my first characteristic. It naturally follows that if someone who claims they have no sin is not a Christian, then a Christian will be someone who realizes and admits that they do, indeed, sin.

Of course, not everyone who admits that they sin is a Christian. Do you know anyone who admits their sin but doesn’t love Jesus and has no desire to repent? I do!

But this verse does show that if someone has “the truth in them” (which is a phrase that describes a Christian), then they will admit that they sin.

How About You?

Now’s the part for us to search our hearts (or better yet, ask God to). Consider these questions:

  • Do we realize that we sin?
  • Do we think or believe that we really don’t sin?
  • Do we confess that we sin?
  • Do we justify our sin, excusing it because of what someone did to us, or because of our state in society, or because “everyone’s doing it”?
  • Do we act like we don’t sin? That might not literally be “saying” we don’t, but isn’t that a LOT like saying we don’t?

I once heard a pastor tell about his church: “We have no members who are not sinners.” While I have a little beef about putting our identity in our sin, I understand what that pastor was saying.

What’s Next

There’s much more that defines a Christian, but this is a good place to start. Real Christians confess and admit that they sin.