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Question:
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

As Christians we have access to the Father. Sin cannot be in God’s presence. We still sin after we become Christians. So do we not get to enter God’s presence until we get rid of all our sin? We’ll never be sin free in this life? How can we go in God’s presence with sin?

Answer:

You are correct on several issues, but missing one part that will answer your question.

Yes, as Christians, we now have access to the direct presence of God as Eph 2:18 states. Yes, as Christians we still sin. And yes, sin cannot be in God’s presence.

So how can we be in God’s presence and still be sinners?

A simplistic answer might be that each and every time we go before God, we ask for forgiveness for all our sins, and being “sin free” can enter His presence. But that not only ignores that fact that we can sin at any moment, even while praying…. it ignores a much deeper truth about sin and salvation.

First, one might consider that Ephesians 2:18 is speaking about the fact that all of our sins are already forgiven as Christians from an eternal standpoint, so even though we have sin temporally (in the flesh), we can still go in God’s presence because our sin is forgiven eternally speaking. That angle however, tries to separate the spirit and flesh, as if they exist unaffected by the other (dualism). But that still isn’t reaching down to the deeper foundational truth (not to mention dualism is unBiblical).

What is the foundation truth that answers this question? It’s called “imputation”. What is that? You may be familiar with AMPutation… cutting something off. IMPutation is putting something on, or attaching something that was not previously there.

James 2:23 (NKJV) 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted [imputed] to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

As a Christian, at the moment of regeneration (Titus 3.5), the human spirit is miraculously made new (“born again”). Your sin was imputed to Christ on the cross, and His righteousness is imputed to you at the moment of salvation.

At that point, as Christians, when you are in God’s presence, from a JUDICIAL standpoint, God doesn’t see your sin, He sees Christ’s righteousness. However, we still live in our sin-cursed body which continues to struggle with sin until it is finally replaced with a new, eternal body.

The sin of the flesh must be confessed and forsaken. We confess our sins to God and ask His forgiveness, so of course, in a sense, our sin is actually present when we first go into His presence to confess. It’s not present from a judgement standpoint however because God see’s Christ’s righteousness at the spiritual level.

Summary: while a Christian still sins, he must go into God’s presence to ask for the forgiveness of those sins. So the sin in our flesh cannot be the subject of Eph 2:18. It is the unforgiven sin of the unsaved that is in question, by implication, in Eph 2:18 and that is what keeps someone from having access to the Father.

Once our sins our forgiven, our spirits regenerated, and Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, God only sees the perfection of His Son when He looks at us. Therefore, we have access to him.

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