“Your sin is separating you from God.”
“God won’t answer your prayers if you are continuing in sin.”
“If we willfully sin after we are saved, then we break fellowship with God.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? Have you heard a sermon or teaching, speaking to believers, that said your sin separates you from God? I have heard this message many times. Too many, in fact. It is a lie. And it is the lie that is doing the separating, not our sin.
Once we are in Christ, our sin does not and cannot separate us from God.
My friend, it is so tragic that this lie is driving people away from God. People know they are sinners and struggle with the guilt that follows, so when they are told that their sin is causing them to distance themselves from God, they can’t help but to get discouraged. I don’t blame them. That is a hopeless load to bear.
And confusion is added to that load of hopelessness. Now, I am a very logical thinker. The first time I heard this message taught, I thought of some questions that I’d like the answer to. Which in turn led me to seek the answers.
After I sin, am I separated from God for a certain amount of time? If so, how much time?
What do I need to do to get back into His presence? Do I need to do some sort of good deed to counterbalance my sin to gain His fellowship back?
Where is Jesus in that statement? Didn’t Jesus pay for my sins? If that’s so, why does my sin separate me from Him when the Bible tells me that I am “in Christ”?
Even if we don’t think about these questions consciously, we might subconsciously, and doubt starts to creep in. And doubt causes separation because our natural response is to draw away from God, thinking He doesn't want to be with us if we are disappointing to Him.
I hope to clarify this topic for you and bring you some peace of mind that if you are in Christ, you cannot be separated from Him.
Just to note, unbelievers are separated from God (spiritually and relationally) by their sin. That is why they need to put their faith in Jesus and His righteousness.
But believers? Friends, I am going to just say it straight up. No. We are not separated from God by our sin.
Why is it important to know this truth?
This teaching is wreaking havoc on people’s relationship with God. I have heard so many believers say that because of their sin, bad choices, or wrongdoings, God is not listening to their prayers anymore, God is far from them, or they don’t feel the presence of God in their lives. This false doctrine is driving people to think that because they sin, they can’t have an intimate relationship with Him.
However, if you know without a doubt that your sin does not separate you from God, then when you miss the mark, you won’t be driven away from God, but you will run toward Him instead. Isn’t that the very time we should be running toward God?
To reveal the truth about our relationship with God, I will show you that our sin does not and cannot separate us from Him if we have put our faith in Jesus’ righteousness for our own.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear a concept concerning God, I like to look in the Bible to see if I can find it to be true.
The concept that sin separates us from God is found in the Old Testament, notably and usually referred to, in Isaiah 59:2.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. ~ Isa 59:2
Anytime I have heard this taught, this verse is used and pulled out of context to make the speaker’s point. Let’s put it back into context.
I suggest you pick up your Bible and read the entire chapter of Isaiah 59, but I will highlight a couple verses for you to support my point. This chapter starts out in verse one stating that God can save and hear people. Then, as we see in verse two it says that people’s iniquities are what separates them from Him and that He won’t hear their prayers. Then the bulk of the middle of the chapter lists all the iniquities, or sinful doings, of the people it is referring to.
But then in verse eleven it gives us insight as to who the LORD is talking to. Let’s look at verse 11.
We look for justice, but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us. ~ Isa 59:11
First, this is written to the Israelites who are participants in the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant.
Also note, these people are not saved, as mentioned in the second line above. This passage is not talking to you, the New Covenant believer who has put your faith in Jesus Christ. The recipients of this message are people who do not yet have salvation.
Let’s look at one more verse to put this into perspective. This is verse 20.
The Redeemer will come to Zion And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, Says the LORD. ~ Isa 59:20
Isaiah gives the remedy for this separation. A Redeemer. Jesus! He redeems those who turn to Him. Hallelujah!
If someone uses Isaiah 59:2 to tell you that your sin separates you form God, please remember, and share with them, it DID separate you until you came to Jesus. Remember the entire chapter in Isaiah and the good news at the end.
Is there any place in the New Testament that says our sin separates us from God if we live by faith in Jesus' righteousness?
Nope. The fact is it says the opposite.
In Ephesians chapter two Paul tells us that when we were without Jesus, we had no hope and were without God. But he goes on to say that as believers in Christ, we have been brought near to God because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Brought near! I love that our God and His grace draws us near to Him and keeps us close.
And don’t forget the verse in the book of Romans chapter 8 that tells us nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing includes you. Your sin cannot separate you. This is very good news! We can stand firmly grounded in faith that God will not leave us because of our sin, and we cannot separate ourselves from Him because of it either.
My dear friend, please don’t listen to the separation lie. God is not sitting up in heaven looking down on you waiting to push you away the second you do something sinful. Jesus’ mission was and is to draw you into Him and to keep you close. His love for you is evident in His actions. Rest in Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Allow His radical grace to draw you in and to keep you close always.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.