The sting of sin for the unsaved really only amounts to a fear of future loss or retribution of some kind or what next, for them there is little fear of present loss associated with sin. At most some will wonder why it is that things seem to be going not so well with them, but for many because sin is delicious to the flesh while being perpetrated, they will simply relish in their sin until their very last days, with little regard to it or its consequences.
For the saved the sting of sin is entirely another matter. The sting of death for the saved has been removed, but the sting of sin still remains. For these future loss or retribution is not so important as present loss of things with eternal value. The sting of sin impedes fellowship with God, it barters discontentment for contentment, it barters sorrow for joy, it barters despair for hope, it barters anxiety for peace, it barters anguish of soul for assurance; in short it wages war against all that is counted valuable to the Christian. A read through the penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) gives evidence to all this. The wicked tend to go around with the idea of how good they are, commending themselves or at least expecting commendation of themselves from others, whereas like David the Christian with a true sight of himself has the best understanding of what he really is, and were it not for the redeeming work of Christ, and the residence of the Holy Spirit in him, there would be nothing of righteousness for him to hold on to. But as all the penitential psalms begin with self condemnation and judgment of self, so they end with pardon received.
Do Christians sin? Yes. But they find no present joy in it, and all that is eternally valuable is attacked, this is the sting of sin for them. It is recognized that all mankind sins and is under the present judgment of sin, however the sin which is the greatest travesty to the Christian is not another’s, but his own. He knows he will die because of it, but that causes him little consternation; the great sting of sin for him is not then what or what next, but what now? He has found this greatest of ailments within himself and gone to the Saviour for the balm of Gilead thus removing the future retribution, but what does he do with his sin now? There is a present sanctification where he puts it away in the power of the blood, but this sanctification is partial at best, and that which remains is still grievous to him. It is that inborn sin nature which he retains and which cannot be gotten rid of until the body dies that causes him such grief. He longs for perfection but cannot find it in himself. THIS is that very thing which throws him back upon Christ, where that sting which was meant to sting has its salve as well!
Sin with its sting and its sting being so grievous, the Lord has provided a balm for sting of sin for the Christian while they remain on earth. We look beyond this present evil unto the better day which is coming, a day where we will be glorified and without sin for eternity. We can look forward with anticipation to the day when we will be not only with Christ but like Christ, having finally and entirely put off the former things of this world. As the Son of God so beautifully put it in Isaiah, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.’
Heb 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.