Regardless of how it is identified, if you do something to harm someone they still experience loss or pain. Counting sin is self-centered. When you count your own sin you make everything you do that harms others more about you than about them. Love is not self-centered & that is what God tells us to live by in His new covenant. We aren't to live by fault finding introspection but by self giving love & affection. Counting sin makes you focus mainly on your feelings, morality, & performance; often even to the exclusion of those you are harming. "Love does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). You can be love conscious without being sin conscious, obviously Jesus was because He had no sin.
It is impossible to avoid guilt & shame when you are conscious of sins. Shame means disgrace, dishonor, & "a turning in upon oneself." God will never put you to shame. He will never lead you to self-pity. The only way it is ok to "count sin" is to count the ways you have harmed another person in order to apologize to them & make amends. This is what James 5:16 refers to when it says "confess your sins to one another."
Someone who is love conscious doesn’t deny the pain he has caused others, he owns up to it. That is why Romans 6:11 says we are to "consider ourselves dead to sin BUT alive to God in Christ Jesus." Christ has freed us from sin consciousness thus we are dead to sin. But Christ has also made us alive to God thus we are free to be love conscious.
Defining Your Experience using Romans 6:11
"As a man thinks in His heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). "CONSIDER (regard, deem, judge, view, reckon, take, believe, see) yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
What people "consider" themselves to be changes how they experience God's love though it does not change God's love for them nor how He considers them. I believe the experience of most, if not all people can be defined by switching the variables in Romans 6:11. In reality all Non-Christians are dead to God & all Christians are dead to sin but alive to God whether they experience it or not. Please note "Alive to sin" also refers to "sin conscious," & "dead to sin" also refers to "no sin consciousness." Remember I am listing people's perceptions of themselves below. There are only two realities for mankind, 1. Sin & no God, 2. God & no sin.
- Alive to sin
- This is the condition of a lost person who is aware of his negative actions in some way but has never paid attention to the gospel.
- Alive to sin & Dead to God
- These are those who know they do harmful things & have heard the gospel but reject it. These people may openly scoff at God or mock Him.
- Alive to sin but Dead to God
- Typically this is the condition of a lost person who is aware of his sinful state/actions but has not trusted Jesus. These are those "convicted" by the Holy Spirit of their disbelief in Christ. They are more concerned about their eternal status with God than they are with individual actions. They are usually on their way to trusting Christ for salvation.
- Dead to Sin
- These are those who have had their "conscience seared." They are remorseless & utterly self-centered.
- Dead to sin & Alive to God
- This is a rare type of person who believes that sin has never existed & that they can know God apart from Christ having come in the flesh. They are the people refuted in 1 John 1 & mentioned in 1 John 2:26
- Alive to God & Alive to sin
- These are "false converts," those who participate in a religion but have never met God. Some of these people are Pharisee types, they consider themselves alive to sin simply to boast in their self-righteous overcoming of it through rule keeping.
- Dead to sin & Dead to God
- Amazingly no one sees themselves this way. Those who see themselves dead to God always tie it to sin/behavior. The universal undergirding of salvation is exposed here. You cannot see yourself as separated from God without sin/behavior being the cause of it thus the need for a savior is revealed.
- Alive to God but Alive to sin
- Most genuine Christians live here. They have at least some relationship with God but their aliveness to sin causes them to constantly put the breaks on that relationship. What they consider sin makes them feel less loved & even forsaken (through "broken fellowship") by God. This type of life is like being stuck in traffic. You make a little progress then stop, a little progress then stop. When things seem to be progressing nicely you feel the hope of finally taking off at full speed just to end up slowing & stopping again soon after. This group is the best example of why a sin consciousness is dangerous for Christians. They can taste God's love but they are starving & can never eat & drink of His fullness as long as they are alive to sin. Sin consciousness is the primary opposing force to experiencing the love of God in a relationship with God. These people experience lots of shame & guilt. They live by unintentionally self-centered performance based morality. They experience sporadic freedom, joy, & peace based on how much they think they do or do not sin.
- Alive to sin & Dead to God
- This mindset includes Christians who think they have "lost their salvation" through actions they consider sinful. Some so called "backslidden" Christians may also see themselves this way. Those who feel cast off, on the shelf, or who are "running from God" also have this mindset. Those who think confession or repentance is tied to forgiveness from God may also find themselves here.
- Dead to sin & alive to sin at the same time.
- These people have a custom list of sins. They are dead to many of their own sins but very much alive to others. They are the condemning self-righteous types. While they can be Christians they pay little attention to the actual Spirit of God.
- Dead to sin & alive to God
- These people have freedom from sin but focus more on that freedom than they do on God Himself. They are a rare type of people today. They are the kind religious people fear will abuse their freedom but they are still experiencing God's love far more than the religious. In the first century there were many people like this which is why people are told to "not use their freedom to indulge in the flesh" (Galatians 5:13). This is a great place to be but it is still second best. Despite their behavior these people are often drawing closer & closer to God because they know that their negative behavior does not prevent it.
- Dead to sin but alive to God
- These people, the rarest of all, have no sin consciousness. Instead they have a love consciousness, they are conscientious to love. Their focus isn't on freedom from sin but aliveness to God. They are looking to love because of how well they have been loved by God. These are the most satisfied people in the world & they love better than anyone else.
Sin consciousness is good if one has sin. It makes them aware of a problem so they can look for or receive the solution. Sin consciousness for a Christian however is like a healthy man receiving cancer treatment. For no reason he is destroyed by the chemo & radiation treatments (feelings of guilt & condemnation, devaluing himself based on his behavior). There is no cancer to remove so the treatment does 100% harm. Likewise Christ irrevocably took away the sins of Christians thus guilt serves no purpose & only destroys.
We died with Christ. Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. For the death that He died, he died to sin one time. Remember this, you have likewise died to sin one time. You are permanently freed from sin & you do not need to "die" again. Now we live with Him in spirit & one day face to face. Death has no power over Christ. The life he lives, He lives to God. Remember this, you are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You have an unbreakable bond because you are now one spirit with Him. (Romans 6:8-11, Paraphrase)
Catching Up in Perfection