A feature of the Protestant tradition is how we view sin. On one hand, the littlest sin is a big deal. On the other, the biggest sin, when confessed and repented, is forgiven & God the all-knowing promises to forget it.
Some might think this is a moral cognitive dissonance. The casual philosopher might deridingly speculate that you’re trying to self-flagellate & self-congratulate at the same time. But there is a way to hold these two truths in tension. In fact we must do so so as to not fall into errors in either direction. The tension of the bowstring is what makes the bow able to shoot an arrow. And it is this tension of mourning the vileness of our sin while also rejoicing in our absolute and full forgiveness which sends the arrow of our sanctification flying.
Sin is not just an annoying pebble in your shoe. Rather, your sin is a damnable treason against the God who made you. But if the Lord’s Christ has died in your stead for your sins, you are now forensically justified. God declares you are not guilty.
It isn’t minimizing sin to rejoice that God through Christ has forgiven every foul sin of every true saint. But you also can’t exaggerate how dark indeed is our sinful state and how dangerous it is to even trifle with sin. The Word of God points out to us how contemptible is our sin, and then promises that because Christ died in our place, any guilt or shame regarding our sin is taken away.
These two truths in tension should lead us to swift and genuine confession of our sin, and diligent zeal to resist future temptation to sin by the great grace of our glorious God. Hate your sin, and confess it now, and then walk as if it is entirely forgiven.
Part of our sin is that we often aren’t honest with ourselves about how deep our sin runs. We can point to our obvious sins of lust, envy, anger, or deceit. But we hide from the truth that we have many vain glories which we think are our best character traits. God call us to submit to the surgeon’s knife of His Spirit’s work, exposing all the dark corners where we’ve been defiled by our sin. You should ask the Lord to give you grace to see not only your blatant sin, but the sin you choose to ignore, the sin which others praise you for, the sin which hides in plain sight. And then know that when you confess your sin, God promises to wash you with the assurance that by the Son, you are free, you are clean, you are justified freely.
So then, hold these two truths together, you are a great sinner, but Christ is a greater Savior.