Christian Life is More than Sin Management

p1[Admin note: Don’t like talking about UBF so much? Then let’s talk about the gospel! Here is another article submitted to us regarding Christian life and how the gospel of Jesus impacts our life.] I entered UBF when I was seventeen years old. I had just finished a disastrous break-up with a high school girlfriend that had left me with overwhelming guilt and shame because of the impurity of our relationship. I was disgusted with my life-dominating sin problems, and I earnestly prayed for God’s help to change.

In what I believe was an answer to this prayer, God led me to 1:1 Bible study in UBF. My Bible teacher helped me to confront my sin in repentance and receive forgiveness. I entered a very in-depth program of Bible study, testimony writing, evangelism, outreach, prayer, attending meetings, and so on. It kept me busy so that I had no time to sin. Testimony writing gave me opportunities to examine myself and see where I had sinned.

Bible teachers trained me in various ways to help me grow. When I exhibited pride, I was given the name “Humble.” When I struggled with lust, I was given a purity ring and encouraged to wear it as a reminder to be pure. These things are not bad necessarily, but the result was bad: I began to assess my spiritual condition according to how well-managed my sin was. Once I was told that my connection to God is like a pipe through which His love flows, and sin blocks up the pipe. I became so preoccupied with unblocking the pipe, I never stopped to realize that there was no water flowing through it anyway.

Nowadays, the Holy Spirit is leading me to realize that my Christian life is more than just overcoming my brokenness. It is about Jesus, who bore my brokenness on the cross and rose again to set me free to love him and others. All the training, repentance testimonies, and self-inspection couldn’t bring real freedom. It could only manage my sin—ensuring it didn’t get out of control. But Jesus, beautiful Jesus, and His precious holy blood transfuses my heart with a rich and eternal flow that emancipates, enlivens, empowers, enriches, and establishes me secure in His love forever! (That alliteration is for you, Ben!)

How about you? Has your focus been on managing sin or receiving real freedom in Jesus to love God and others?


  1. Very good thoughts, Joshua, thank you!

    One of the first things I learned from our new pastors (and from the Sermon on the Mount) was that this is a lie: “It kept me busy so that I had no time to sin.”

    We are swimming in sin, if we are honest. The idea of sin management is really just a white-washing of the cup.

  2. Thanks, Joshua, kudos to the alliteration.

    I think that sin management comes from the unfortunate idea that we are sinners when we sin (so we need to control it!), not realizing that it is because we are sinners that we sin.

    • Great article. There is a qualitative difference between living by the Spirit and sin management. It is the difference of putting on the new self vs. patching up the old self. At least I’ve experienced it that way. More could be said.

    • “More could be said”

      Yes! Please say more… We all would benefit highly from gospel-rooted articles such as this one. The question “What is the gospel?” could generate a year’s worth of exciting, healthy dialogue!

      Ah but ubfers don’t have time to talk about such “foolishness”…gotta get “back to the bible” and can’t chat now because we “gotta prepare for our conference”.

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone. Well it is not as “juicy” as some of the recent articles, it is good to rest our minds in the wonderful grace and love of our Lord.

    Recently Brian discussed his personal mission to preach the gospel to UBF leaders. I’m reminded of the words written by Bonhoeffer in “Life Together” on the importance of community for reminding one another of the truth of Christ. In a season where the truth of Christ is weak in me, it is strong in my brother. In community the Spirit may use my brother in whom Christ’s truth is strong to strengthen me in whom Christ’s truth is weak. (Can anyone link me to that article?) Thus we all have the mission as Christians to preach and receive the gospel to and from one another. As we do so, Christ is built up stronger in our midst. Thanks all of you for being a part of this community with me; may Christ be built up in us through our online community!

    • “Well it is not as “juicy” as some of the recent articles…”

      Yes unfortunately our non-juicy articles typically get only a handful of comments. Only our juicy articles get a real response :(

  4. Hi Joshua, Here’s the link: and I think this is the quote:

    “When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”

  5. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ quote perhaps explains why sin management never works; the sin I commit is NEVER the fundamental root problem:

    “[God] brought me to see that the real cause of all my troubles and ills, and that of all men, was an evil and fallen nature which hated God and loved sin. My trouble was not only that I did things that were wrong, but that I myself was wrong at the very center of my being.”

  6. Mark Mederich

    I think God is finally winnowing out our good-minded but failed religious efforts (which at best made “Saul” a murderer of early believers) vs. accepting Holy Spirit help (which enabled “Paul” to endure much suffering in spreading the gospel).

    • Yes indeed Mark. Here are some questions worth pondering that have helped me immensely and questions I’m still considering:

      What would make a “law is everything” Pharisee of Pharisees with a credential list longer than a giraffe’s neck to consider such things as rubbish (Philippians 3:1-21)? What could be SO over the top glorious and valuable?

      And consider this: That same thing that caused Apostle Paul to give up his legalism also caused Stephen to testify as he did. That same thing cause normal religious, upstanding people in Israel to shout Crucify! What invoked SUCH anger and jealousy in the religious people who just wanted to live a moral life under God’s law?