Yesterday I managed to remind myself and someone I know that I am still a sinner, although a saved one by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, claimed through faith alone. "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9). I asked that person's forgiveness, and the Lord's, and tried to move on. There was no question, however, that I felt embarrassed by the whole thing, especially since personal pride - especially feeling the lack of accomplishments to be proud of - was the issue.
One of the most widely used Christian metaphors is that of God casting our sins into the depths of the sea; we often like to embellish the image by saying God puts up a sign saying, "No Fishing." The part about the depths of the sea has clear Scriptural origin; the part about the sign does not. Yet it is consistent with Scriptural truth about the finality of our forgiveness, such as in John's first epistle: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness."
There is a reason for the "No Fishing" sign as part of the metaphor, of course. Others do not always respect that sign or that concept and look for opportunities to bring up a Christian's past sins to discourage or embarrass them into avoiding telling people about Christ, or to discredit them with those they have told. Like any sign put up saying not to do something, it means very little, or less than nothing, if not enforced. While the Holy Spirit may sometimes succeed in convicting a person inwardly not to do this, or to stop doing it, unsaved persons with little interest in Christ tend to ignore the Spirit or not hear Him at all.
It is popular recently to speak of "owning" things in a situation, of taking responsibility for them and not saying, "Let someone else do it," or, "I'm not responsible." We as believers need a collective sense of "ownership" of these "territorial waters" into which God has cast our forgiven sins, and as their collective "owners" we need to take part in enforcing that "No Fishing" sign. As politely as possible, surely, although sometimes those involved may make politeness hard and make firmness come first.
The Swedes have a policy of "armed neutrality" which we outside their country - and outside their mindset - often misunderstand. In the 1980's, towards the end of the Cold War, there were a series of "submarine hunts" where foreign submarines - one proven to be Soviet - were found or believed to be found in their territorial waters. Not many countries would have the nerve to pursue a Soviet submarine with depth charges, destroyers, and helicopters, but Sweden did. (I must note that these incidents were heavily disputed by politicians and journalists in Sweden, and further that the idea that some of these supposed subs might have been NATO vessels did not make some Swedes happy that they might have been let off easy. Armed neutrality meant going after every incursion equally.)
We need to be more willing to go after those who invade our collectively-owned Christian "territorial waters" when someone is going after another Christian whom we know has dealt with their sin Biblically and asked God's forgiveness and taken it to the Cross. Am I saying we should be more like the Swedes with their "armed neutrality"? Only when necessary.
(See "About Me")