It seems to me often when people believe they are saved, even if they realize they are a sinner, they lose perspective of sin and their relation to it, almost that their sin in their life generally has mystically disappeared. In fact, we were told one time at a church I attended in the past to not look at ourselves as sinners saved by grace, as we now have a new identity and should look at ourselves that way.
While when someone is saved their sins are washed away from a penal perspective, and they are removed out from under the eternal wrath of God (ie. they are not held as guilty due eternal punishment), it’s not actually like they never sinned, and it’s not like they don’t continue to sin throughout their lives. A saved person still carries with him the carnal man, the corrupt nature, and while they have a new nature as well, the sin nature continues, with its same traits and same evil efforts and desires, although dethroned as ruler, but at war now with the new man.
Rom 8:7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
We continue to carry this carnal man with us during our time here in this life, and this is what Paul laments during his ministry:
Rom 7:24 – “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
from the load of sin, and burden of corruption, under which he groaned, and still bespeaks him a regenerate man; for not of outward calamities, but of indwelling sin is he all along speaking in the context: wherefore it is better by “this body of death” to understand what he in (Romans 6:6) calls “the body of sin”; that mass of corruption that lodged in him, which is called “a body”, because of its fleshly carnal nature; because of its manner of operation, it exerts itself by the members of the body; and because it consists of various parts and members, as a body does; and “a body of death”, because it makes men liable to death: it was that which the apostle says “slew” him, and which itself is to a regenerate man, as a dead carcass, stinking and loathsome; and is to him like that punishment Mezentius inflicted on criminals, by fastening a living body to a putrid carcass: and it is emphatically called the body of “this death”, referring to the captivity of his mind, to the law of sin, which was as death unto him
While reading Puritan Thomas Manton, in his sermons on Genesis 24:63, in Sermon VII, he wrote something I thought most excellently laid out the perspective a Christian should continue to have for sin, and you can read the full sermon here:
4. None are exempted from bewailing the evil of sin. Though the children of God shall never feel it, nor have the dregs of God’s displeasure wrung out to them for it, yet they must bewail the evil that there is in sin. The death and merit of Christ doth not change the nature of sin, nor put less evil into it, why should we look upon it with a different eye after conversion than we did before? Sin is still damning in its own merit and nature, and it is still the violation of an holy righteous law, and an affront to the holy God, and an inconvenience to the precious soul. Sin is the same as it was before, though the person be not the same. Nay, the children of God are not altogether exempted from the effects of sin neither, it is a disease, though not a death, and who would not groan under the heat of a burning fever, though he be assured of life?
God hath still a bridle upon you to keep the soul in awe. And though the godly can never lose their right in the covenant, that doth remain, yet they may lose the fruition of it, and this is enough to make a child of God mourn: Notwithstanding all the privileges of grace, you may be branded, though not executed; and though the Lord hath made them vessels of mercy, yet he doth not use and employ them as vessels of honour, but they are set aside as useless vessels.
Sin will still be inconvenient, it will bring disgrace to religion, and discomfort to your souls, and furnish the triumphs of hell, and make Satan rejoice, and eclipse the light of God’s countenance; and who can brook the loss of God’s favour, and of intimate communion with him without sadness, and bemoaning his case? I may ask you that question, Job xv. 11, ‘Are the consolations of God small with thee?’ Do you make so little reckoning of those rich comforts of the Holy Ghost?
Though you cannot be damned, for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom. viii. 1., yet your pilgrimage may be made very uncomfortable; and he that prizeth communion with God, would not lose the comfort of it for the least moment.
Besides, if there were no inconvenience, yet love is motive enough to a gracious person? Where is your love? Christians! You sin against mercy, the warm beams of mercy should melt the heart, Ezek. xxxvi. 31, ‘Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loath your selves in your own sight for your iniquities, and for all your abominations.’ As long as there is love in the heart, you can never want [lack] an argument to represent the odiousness of sin. Put the matter in a temporal case; it would be ill reasoning for an heir to say, I know my father will not disinherit me, therefore I do not care how I offend him. Where is your love to God, if you do not hate sin? Psa. xcvii. 10, ‘Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.’
Though your right in the covenant be safe, yet you should still have the evil of your own doings in remembrance.
May these things be on the forefront of our remembrance, may it keep us humble and in awe of divine grace and mercy, may it elevate the perfectly righteous Lord Jesus Christ, and may God grant us a hatred of sin because it’s an affront to the One we love!