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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can a Christian sin and be saved?

I believe this is one of the most important questions that every evangelist and prophet should ask. I personally believe that when those original apostles brought someone into the fold, the objective was for the new convert to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be freed from sin. Perhaps this expectation was progressively understood, but it is clear that over time, they had zero tolerance for sin unto death in their midst because "a little leaven leavens the whole lump."

Now there may have been a window of time that they gave a new convert to make the transition from their old way of life to the new. You see that in people. For example, a woman who is living with a married man gets saved. What do you do about the relationship she's in? I have noticed that God has patience with this situation to turn it around. However, the time is not indefinite. Ultimately, if she throws caution to the wind, she either ends up leaving the church or tainting everyone she touches in the church. Next thing you know, someone else is pregnant out of marriage and we all wonder what went wrong.

Jesus made radical statements such as this:
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Matthew 18:7-9

This passage technically does not fit our righteousness by faith theology. Jesus is saying, basically, to do whatever it takes to stop sinning because sinners aren't getting into heaven. Thus someone with a conviction to keep themselves from sinning is perfectly acceptable to God. If the TV causes you to sin, cut it off. If the computer causes you to sin, cut it off. If rock music causes you to sin, cut it off. Some people can't go to Mardi Gras and try to lead those folks to repentance because they simply do not have the faith to achieve that level of grace to keep themselves from lusting.

When we talk about a salvation by works, I believe what Paul is explaining is righteousness by works as opposed to a righteousness by faith. In other words, we could look at the above example and say that anyone who does not own a TV is righteous. That is not the point though. Having a TV or not having a TV does not bring this level of righteousness that God is working in us. It can't. If it did, then man could boast that he was more righteous than his neighbor that owned a TV, as many in my homeschooling organization used to do.

The problem described in 2 Timothy 3 is that they can't grasp the magnitude of power that is in God to achieve freedom from sin. So they deny it. Hence, they have numerous sins that are offending God. These are they that creep into houses leading silly women laden with sin astray. They are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The Pharisees are not what we imagine them to be. By American Christian standards, they were exemplary. By appearance, there is no indication that they were in adultery unless you want to assume that this is what Jesus wrote in the sand when he got them to all walk away. They would have nothing to do with people who were sinning by carousing or living in open wickedness. They were ultra legal about the Sabbath and judged Jesus on more than one occasion for healing on the Sabbath. They couldn't imagine that anyone of God would be healing on the Sabbath. Jesus said that our righteousness had to exceed that kind of righteousness.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in **no case** enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

The problem with their brand of righteousness was that it was all done by their own efforts and it was a means of boasting. They boasted of their fasting, their long prayers, their giving, their outer garments, and their meticulous keeping of the Sabbath. That is salvation by works, not the removal of these sins unto death. This type of righteousness leads to pride.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

There is a twofold deception that satan loves to lead men into. On the one hand, you have folks that love to walk in the flesh and then on the other, you have people that want righteousness and try to obtain it by their own means instead of by the fruit of the Spirit. Either of these two extremes cause a man to miss the mark.

It is so difficult to describe this walk that comes by faith, but it is absolutely necessary to inherit the kingdom. Without the Holy Spirit's power, one cannot be freed from sin. It is this impartation of God's character into our lives, which is called "grace," that gives us that power. Grace doesn't mean "favor." It means an influence on the heart. It was more than what we understand it to be. I believe it is Jesus' divine nature imparted to us as is described in 2 Peter 1:4.

Not everyone has the level of faith in God's Spirit that some have. So they do things because of their weak faith to keep themselves from sinning.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. Romans 14:1

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 1 Cor 8:9-13.

We are to walk in liberty and not under the Law. That is because rules and regulations cannot achieve righteousness in us. So with that in mind, I want to present Ephesians 2 in a different light:

For by grace (Jesus' divine nature imparted to us in the Holy Spirit with super spiritual nuclear fusion) are ye saved (we are saved from God's wrath and hell's fire) through faith; (we are believing and trusting in God's nature in us to free us from sin by this grace and to give us a full and complete pardon from sin) and that not of yourselves: (we aren't looking to ourselves or our own abilities to sweat it out to keep ourselves from sinning or offending God, which would be a completely tiring and arduous task) it is the gift of God: (technically, we do not deserve this gift of grace. We deserve death. But God imparts His nature to us thanks to Jesus' death on the cross and what He did for us to extend us the gift of freedom from sin) Not of works, (nothing we do can give us this level or righteousness. We can't keep the Sabbath, fast many days, wear the perfect clothing, give $10, be burned at the stake, you name it, it can't give us this level of righteousness that comes by grace through faith, which is ultimately the love of God poured out into our hearts) lest any man should boast. (Otherwise, someone could say, "I did it without God. I managed to keep myself from sinning without any help from God. It is all about me. I am great. Then someone who is entangled by sin would feel that there was no hope for them.) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, (Thus our faith in God gives us the fruit of the Spirit in grace to do good works. We begin DOING things naturally, without really thinking about it because Jesus' burden is easy and light and there is life and peace in the Spirit. Out of our bellies flow rivers of living water and it is nearly effortless. God shows us something to DO and we simply walk through the open door to do it because we are so motivated to do it) which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

For example, how much effort does it take for you to do something to serve the Lord? Do you have to force yourself to do it or do the good works simply flow from you? Did you do it to prove your righteousness or to make yourself righteous or did you do it out of love and compassion for that person that seemed to naturally flow from your spirit? That is grace!!! God's grace was flowing from you to this person and it was all sufficient beyond your own abilities so that you can't boast. His grace was made perfect in your weakness. It is a perfect picture of what Ephesians 2 is describing.

You do not sin every day. You walk in the grace of God by faith to be freed from sin and it is a gift. That is what salvation is all about. And that, my friend, is what God has saved us from so that we can be presented unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. I don't believe that a sinning Christian who willfully sins will inherit the kingdom. There is an urgency in Jesus' message to do whatever it takes to stop sinning. If time is irrelevant, there would be no need to do anything radical stop sinning.

So we have a so called Christian who is at Mardi Gras or the porn convention participating fully in the madness of the event. He sincerely believes that God will forgive him at the end of the day. I say that he is grossly deceived according to everything the Bible teaches. If anything, he should walk in a conviction to steer clear of Mardi Gras if his faith is so weak. But the last thing he should do is throw caution to the wind and go and expect God to forgive him at the end of the day. That is absolutely not the message. As far as I can see Scripture teaching, if he happened to die on the way home, he will not inherit the kingdom unless by some miracle he repented in his last hour like the thief on the cross next to Jesus. My bottom line point is that freedom from sin is a necessary part of salvation. That is what grace is all about. God's commandments are not grievous to keep.

Many blessings!


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