I hear this response sometimes when I attempt to share the Gospel with someone. It goes something like this:
Me: Have you ever heard the Gospel before?
Other Person: Yes, I was raised in the church.
Me: (Continuing on with the Gospel until I get interrupted)
Other Person: God is all forgiving. It doesn't matter what you do because He forgives. I can do whatever I want because God forgives.
I had a conversation (or rather started a conversation) with a classmate when I was a Senior in high school. All I had to say was a couple of words about the Gospel and she finished the rest of the conversation then walked away. She basically informed me that she could do whatever she wanted, then go into her prayer closet and ask God for forgiveness. She was involved in a relationship with a guy that she was not married to and wanted to defend her immorality. I noticed that she did not give me an opportunity to talk. She also walked away when she was done talking. This says a couple of things. One of them is that deep down in her heart, she had some idea of right and wrong, and she knew that what she was doing was wrong, and she wanted to defend herself in doing wrong before God. She was resistant to hearing the truth.
The reason I am writing this is because there are those who do evangelism who are frustrated with these people. Human beings tend to react to things and this situation is no different. We go out and share the Gospel. The other person we are talking to covers up his or her sin with wrong doctrine and doesn't give the evangelist an opportunity to speak. The evangelist comes up with a strategy of finding a doctrine that combats this way of thinking. But here is where the problem is. Now the evangelist tries to find verses that prove that what the other person said is wrong. We use verses like the one in 1 John that tells us that a Christian cannot sin, or that they won't sin. But doing this is dangerous, because we are taking verses out of context and trying to combat what the opposing person is saying and believing, then we start promoting this doctrine which is not helpful to the cause of Christ.
When we run into people who try to defend their sin while being a Christian, we have to realize that this is not much different than a person arguing with us about the deity of Christ, or, being saved by being good. Yes we need to combat wrong thinking with Scripture, but we take the whole of Scripture and use it to help the other person see his or her error.
In talking with people who are defending their sinning while being a Christian, you will have to realize that most of these people are not going to converse with you. In evangelism, we tend to react to their sin. We take extra measures to try to prove to them that a Christian won't sin if they are truly saved. But that leaves a number of other difficulties in dealing with people. Not everyone you talk to is going to try to defend their permission to sin while still being a Christian, but there are those who will truly want to be free from sin. If you try to explain, across the board, that a Christian doesn't sin, then you are going to cause these people who are struggling to be free from sin, to be discouraged and they will want to quit. They will believe the lie that they have to be perfect if they are truly saved. What they need to understand is that even after they come to Christ, they will struggle against sin. It is our job to give them the tools they need to have to fight against sin. If these people are truly saved, they will appreciate that and will want to use the tools to fight their sinful hearts with.
Also, Paul wrote several letters to churches that were made up of Christians, many of whom were entangled in sin issues. If it is true that when a person comes to Christ and is truly saved, and he or she will no longer sin because he is now a Christian, then much of what Paul wrote was a waste of time. He wrote to Christians who were enslaved in various types of sin. He wanted them to repent. He also wanted the church to respond to Christians who are in sin. Look at how he dealt with the Corinthians and Galatians. Also, take a look at the first chapters in Revelation when Jesus addressed the seven churches. He rebuked all of them (except one) because of sinful practices they got themselves into.
Yes, it is true that a person who has a new heart and is a new creature in Christ does not have to live in sin or practice sin anymore! The power of the Gospel can break chains of sin. The blood of Christ is the most powerful weapon available to over come sin. It is a heart issue. If a person still wants to live in sin and believe the he or she is still a Christian, then something is seriously wrong with his or her belief system. Jesus died to forgive us of sin, and to set us free from sin. Why should we want to go back into sin, when we realize how much it destroys us and brings dishonor to His name?
One the one hand, it is true that a person can be a true believer in Jesus Christ and still sin, however, he will have a struggle now between his new nature and his old, sinful nature. Sometimes, a person comes to Christ with much baggage, and it takes a lot of time and effort for the baggage to drop off. We have to be careful to be patient with people. God forgives us instantly when we come to Christ (justification), but we will spend the rest of our earthly lives fighting against the Enemy of our souls, continual temptations to sin, the lust of the world, and pride. We need the tools to help us overcome sin, and resist temptation to sin. We need the grace of God to say 'no' to sin, and 'yes' to righteousness.
So next time you talk with someone who boasts about being allowed to sin, while believing in Jesus and being fully forgiven for everything they are doing, remember that God knows what they are doing. They are not fooling anyone but themselves. God is big enough to help them to see their need for a Savior. Don't go to the other extreme of teaching people that Christians don't sin anymore, and if the opposing person were truly saved, they wouldn't sin. If you do have the opportunity to talk to the person, if he or she opens up, you might have a good conversation with that person. At first, they will put their guard up (sinning while being a Christian as being allowed), but if you are patient, you might find that they would want to talk about the issue.
I saw something like this happen one time. We were at a jazz festival, and wherever Chris would be preaching, a small crowd gathered. There was one woman who was opposing him. She kept insisting that Jesus never talked about hell. She believed that God was all loving, etc. I noticed that wherever Chris went, she appeared. After a while she seemed to soften a bit. I have to wonder if she really was interested, but was too prideful to put her guard down at first.
After a person comes to Christ, and has truly been born again, there will be fruit or evidence in that person's life of conversion. The Bible says that we will know people by their fruit. It doesn't say that people will know that a person is truly a Christian because of living a perfect live. A Christian's life will be marked by humility and love. There will be a hunger for knowing God. Sin will become more and more distasteful. God will become more attractive to the person who is truly born again.
Don't be afraid of people's reactions to the Gospel message. Respond in love and kindness. Speak the truth in love, whenever possible. Be patient with people. Remember, there is only one group of people that Jesus opposed, and that was the group which believed they were holy before God, yet their lives were full of sin. They didn't live openly sinful lives, but they failed to keep the Royal Law which is to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. They were not repentant, because they did not see their sin. If they were keeping the Royal Law, they would have loved Jesus, because Jesus came from God and is God.
Most of the people out there are not these kinds of people. Most of them are ignorant of Scripture or the Gospel. Be open to those who think they have sinned to greatly for God to forgive them. The devil has people either believe that their sin doesn't matter to God, or, that they have sinned too greatly for God to forgive them. Be sensitive, and don't assume everyone is like the Scribes or Pharisees or Jesus' Day. And don't tell them to 'quit sinning' because they can't. They can repent, and you can give them the tools they need to overcome sin in their lives. That is what discipleship is for. Let's be disciples and let's disciple others. That's how the church will become healthy.