Category Archives: Bible Study

A License to Sin? – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

In concluding this series, we’ve answered the question that Salvation does not offer a license to sin, that the saving grace of Jesus requires a heartfelt repentance of sin, promotes a desire and awareness for the avoidance of sin, and a Christ-like living that produces fruits of the Spirit.  For this final installment, let’s bring everything full circle in defining the process of a Christians walk and maturity.

While recently listening to a sermon of Dr. John MacArthur, an outline of personal Christian development was impressed upon me.  Below are the steps as they were inspired to me.  Perhaps you can identify with the step that you are on and through the working of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can move forward to the next step.

Phase I

Sin

The first phase in everyone’s life, those who are now Christians or those who are non-believers, is sin.  Everyone since Adam and Eve, with the exception of Jesus Christ, has been born into sin.  Just as we learned yesterday, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us.” I John 1:8 In keeping with this, the Bible teaches us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 You, me, all of us have sinned.  Because of this sin we are separated from God.  We are unable to experience His Glory because of our disgusting sins.  As Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  If we were to continue on our current path in this phase, eternal death and separation from God would be our outcome.  Nothing else, no amount of good works, no attempt to live right, no other religion, spirituality, oneness, or going to church, can save you from this death, nothing except for the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Through His death on the cross and resurrection we have all been afforded a second chance, the helping hand of a Savior to lift us out of sinfulness.  Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Are you lost? Discouraged, mired in sin, drowning in a pit of despair?  Sin will choke you out.  There is not one person who is strong enough to fight this battle alone.  We need a Savior.  We need a Rock of Refuge.

Phase II

Repentance

Every sin needs repentance.  Just as we discussed in yesterdays post, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” II Corinthians 7:10 If you remember, we used the example of Saul vs. David.  Saul’s repentance was mere words, the “worldly sorrow” that the Apostle Paul was speaking of in the previous verse.  But David had Godly sorrow as he declared his sin to God.  This is the type of repentance that leads to Salvation, it must be heartfelt remorse.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 NKJV God wants us to recognize that we are a sinner and are incapable of anything without Him.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9 Because of God’s gracious love for us, He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 He granted us mercy when we needed none, gave us grace when we deserved death and it is by His grace that we are saved through faith in His Son Jesus.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

Transformation

With repentance of your sins to God, and believing that His Son Jesus died on the cross for those sins, that He was buried and raised again on the third day, a conversion will take place in your life.  “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10  As the Apostle Paul states, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 This new life, or transformation, means we are a new creation in Christ.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  II Corinthians 5:17 As such, we are charged to turn from our old life and begin a new life, “born again”, where Jesus is now Lord of our lives.  Slaves no longer to sin, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” Romans 6:6, but now slaves to righteousness, “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:18

Justification

The third step in this phase is justification through Christ Jesus.  It occurs at the moment of repentance and transformation and is a direct result of Christ’s death on the cross.  His bloodshed paid the price for us, that instead of death and separation from God, we might have life.  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 NKJV There is nothing we can do to earn justification.  Nothing through works of our own, through beliefs in sacraments or infant baptism, nothing can grant us justification, or right standing with God, except our faith in Jesus.  Just as we learned in Part I of this series, not only can we not earn justification, but nothing can take it away from us. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 Nothing can separate us from the love of God once we are a child of His.  “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

My impression is that many of us, once we are saved stop here.  I know I’m guilty of it, perhaps you are too.  Or perhaps you’ve regressed from the next two phases and find yourself back here.  Know this, just as the Apostle Paul stated nothing can separate you from the love of God.  You can’t return back to your old self, it died with Christ.  But we must be aware that any continuance to live in sin is in direct contradiction with the Word of God.  As we pointed out earlier from Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”  The fear of the Lord is more than enough incentive to flee from sin.  “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:4 I think the reason we so easily fall back, or backslide as it were, is that each of us do not realize the implications of our sin once we are saved, “if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:6 NKJV  Just as the author states, why would we continue to sin, continue to repent, and continue to crucify Christ again?  Jesus died once for all and as Christians we need to realize that we need to cut ourselves off from any sin that has brought us into a backslidden state, repent of it, turn from it, and do not return to it again.

Phase III

Growth

As I can attest to, it can sometimes be difficult to move into the growth phase.  It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves, in our lives, and selfishness that we lose sight of Who is responsible for blessings we have in life.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God wants nothing but the best for us, but in order to achieve the plans He has for us, we must continually seek to grow in Him.  As Christians, it’s not enough to go to church once a week, there needs to be a continual hunger for the Word of God, a hunger for the Truths that it contains.  As Jesus said, “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Just like in physical growth, in order to grow spiritually we must be fed, but in this case by the Word of God.

We can think of ourselves with the analogy that the Bible uses.  With an introduction to the Word of God, the seed is planted in our hearts.  When we accept Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, the seed is fertilized and begins to take root.  As we grow spiritually so does the tree within us.  The more it is fed nutrients through the Word of God, watered through daily prayer and interactions with other spiritually mature Christians, then the tree begins to bear fruit.  It’s these fruits of the Spirit that we identified in Part 2 as by-products of a Christ-like life.  The Bible says in Hebrews 6:7-8, “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”  This is the consequence of not growing spiritually.  I don’t know about you, but I choose to grow to avoid being “rejected…cursed…and burned.”   Instead let us strive for the bearing of fruit.  Jesus states in Matthew 7:17-20, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”  If we are recognized as children of God by our fruits, then this is really the only indicator non-believers have of knowing we are saved.

Have you reached a plateau in your growth?  Maybe you can’t even begin to grow because you’ve fallen back into your old ways and are merely satisfied with justification much like the Church of Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16  Your secret to escaping this pit is found by walking with the Spirit, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

Phase IV

Sanctification

Sanctification is a process by which God works through the Holy Spirit in our lives once we are justified.  It’s a process through which we are to work to be Holy.  Keep in mind that these works will not affect our justification, but they are critical to sanctification.  Just as James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  Our works, or fruits, are essential evidence of a Spirit filled life and it is through these that we work to achieve sanctification or holiness.  “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” I Thessalonians 4:7 Again as we read in Colossians 1:10, “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”

Every “born again” Christian possesses the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised He would send us the Spirit until He returned again. John 14:16  He chooses to fulfill the promises that He’s made to us through His Holy Spirit, but this only works when we are filled by the Spirit and led by Him.  In fact, the Bible actually commands that we be filled with the Spirit, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 As I mentioned, we are filled by the Spirit by saturating ourselves with the Word of God, through prayer, and through mature Christian fellowship.  Our goal, the Lord’s goal for us, is holiness.  In achieving this, the fruits of the Spirit will be evident, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Holiness, holiness is what I long for.
Holiness is what I need.
Holiness, holiness is what You
want from me.

So, take my heart and form it.
Take my mind and transform it.
Take my will and conform it.
To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord.

By Sonicflood

Additional Study: Hebrews 6:1 I John 1:2-29

A License to Sin? – Part 2

If you read Friday’s post, then you know that we established some truths about how, just because we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus, this DOES NOT give us a license to continue sinning.  Romans 6:1-2 Quite the contrary, as new creations in Christ we must live more Christ like each day.  But what does this mean?  I posted here http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=784 that we are to strive to be Christ like in life, but there was one important aspect that I pointed out in that post and in the one Friday.  In order to become more like Jesus we must submit our lives to Him and make Him the Lord of our lives.  To understand this, I was going to include a discussion of Free Grace Theology vs. Lordship Salvation, but decided against it, because despite how I may feel about one viewpoint or the other, a man-made definition is wholly inadequate to describe the Gift of Salvation given to us from God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Instead, what we’ll look at are biblical truths concerning our Salvation, which continues with the message of “A License to Sin?”

I have actually heard people tell me that it doesn’t matter if they go to church, doesn’t matter if they tithe, really doesn’t matter how they live, as long as, they try to live decent and believe in Jesus.  Really? If that’s the case, why would the Holy Spirit waste His inspired breath in the authors of the New Testament?  All we would need is a verse saying Christ was crucified and resurrected, all of the rest of the instructions and teachings can just fall away, right?  Is that what this person was telling me?  Is that what you are saying if you continue to live in sin and refuse to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life?  That line of thinking simply cannot be consistent with the way Jesus instructs His followers to live, yet there are those that believe receiving Christ as Savior doesn’t result in any change in lifestyle, doesn’t require letting go of self, or doesn’t really even result in Jesus being Lord of their life.

The Bible teaches us that in order to be saved their must be a heartfelt repentance of past sins. II Corinthians 7:10, Mark 2:17, Luke 13:3, Luke 15:7 In order to understand this, let’s look at two different repentance stories, the first from Saul in I Samuel 13:8-13; when he sinned by disobeying the Lord, he offered up this response when rebuked by Samuel, “then I (Saul) said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”  Notice Saul’s response to his sin, he “felt compelled” to disobey.  How often in our lives do we try to justify sin, whether because it’s what we wanted to do, it felt good to us, or made sense to us.  On the flipside, we have David’s response to his sins with Bathsheeba after his rebuke from Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” II Samuel 12:13  David’s heartfelt repentance is obvious and is often the topic of his Psalms.  Saul’s on the other hand is just mere words.  The same can be applied to repentance when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior.  An insincere repentance likely leads to no noticeable change in behavior or lifestyle and is therefore just words.  The byproduct of such disingenuous repentance is not only a lack of noticeable fruits, but a false conversion.  The true heartfelt repentance leads to a drastic life change, a change that yields fruits of the Holy Spirit, a change that results in Jesus being Lord of your life.

In keeping with our repentance and license to sin theme, the Disciple John, in his first epistle, describes the evidence of those who have had a true conversion, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” I John 3:10 It is impossible to be saved, to have Jesus be Lord of your life and continue to live in sin.  Now keep in mind, I’m not saying that we won’t sin after asking Christ into our hearts, in fact John speaks to this in I John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”  Each of us will slip up and sin, as it’s in our nature, but as new creations in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we’ll become much more aware of sin and therefore be more in tune to avoid it.

Not only does Salvation require true repentance to God, along with faith in His Son Jesus, but it results in an inability to continue to live in sin, mandates that we confess our sins when they occur after Salvation, and will manifest itself in our lives resulting in the fruits that I mentioned earlier.  As Jesus taught in Matthew 7:17, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  We know that the fruits of the Spirit are, “… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  But think about each of these; they are truly by-products of a heart filled with Jesus through His saving grace.  Are you displaying those fruits in your life? Have you truly confessed your sins with a repentant heart?

 

Prayer: If you claim Christ as Savior but continue to live in sin, you may need to seriously examine your relationship with Jesus.  Repent of your sins and turn back and make Jesus the Lord of your life.  Acknowledge any unconfessed sins to the Lord and ask that he search your heart Psalm 139:23 and renews your soul Psalm 23:3  Pray that the Lord helps the Fruits become more evident each day.

 

Additional Study: John 16:7-10, II Corinthians 5:17, II Timothy 2:11-13

A License to Sin?

That’s a question that has a much deeper response than just the obvious of “certainly not!”  The former part of the question might be, “Does Salvation allow a license to sin?” which brings to the forefront the debate of once saved always saved.  Is this statement biblical?  Does it always hold true?  What if the murderer of the late-term abortion doctor had accepted Christ as Savior (I don’t know if this is true, just posing the question), would he still go to heaven after committing such an act?  It’s an interesting discussion, one that deserves reverence and a detailed look at scripture, along with an examination of 2 somewhat contrasting doctrines of theology.

The Apostle Paul asked in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”  This is the same question I asked at the beginning; Paul’s answer to his own question is a resounding, “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:2 The answer seems clear, but in order to fully understand it, we have to look at both this question and answer in context.  To do that, we need to look back at chapter 5.  Beginning in verse 12, Paul is contrasting the death of man that followed the sin of Adam with the life through Christ that came through His death and resurrection.  He states that the original sin brought judgment, but the gift that came by the grace of Jesus Christ brought justification.  Paul states in Romans 5:20-21, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  It’s to this statement of grace increasing with an increase in sin that Paul asked the question above of whether we should continue sinning so that grace might increase and resounded emphatically, “NO”.  We know that none of us are perfect, we weren’t perfect before salvation through Christ’s saving grace and though we were justified and purified by the blood, we didn’t become perfect afterward because we still have our sinful flesh.

If we continue in Romans 6, we learn that Paul is teaching that those who have accepted Jesus as Savior are dead to sin, but alive in Christ.  Romans 6:6-7, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”  As being no longer slaves to sin, we then become slaves to righteousness, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  Romans 6:18  But just as I alluded to earlier and as I have in previous posts, there is a duality taking place within us, an internal spiritual war that is constantly raging.  Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul knows full well of this battle and inspired Paul to provide insight into his own personal battle in Romans 7.  As we pick up in verse 21, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Romans 7:21-23 Each of us have to understand just how critical this battle is and how important it is to never stop fighting, to “run with endurance”. Hebrews 12:1  What if we stop?  What if we try to fight the war that rages ourselves and it overtakes us?  That is when we fall back, slowly creeping into sin, or by taking a drastic step backward such as the murderer I alluded to earlier.  Is one sin any greater than another?  If as a Christian I lust in my mind is that any less than an outward sin of murder?  The Bible states, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one” Romans 3:10 It doesn’t state that those who do this sin and not that one are righteous, no, everyone, anyone, all, but Jesus, are unrighteous.  To further emphasize this point, lets again look at Romans 5, “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” Romans 5:14 Did you catch that?  Death reigned over everyone, even those that did not break the commandments.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 We are all worthy of death.  The murderer, the prideful, the greedy, the idolater, the luster, the drunkard, you and me, all of us.  But thanks be to God, through His saving grace that each of us, regardless of our sins can be saved if we believe in Jesus, call on His name in repentance of our sins, and receive Him as LORD and SAVIOR of our lives.  In closing, one final inspired passage by the Apostle Paul that gives us hope in our battle, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 Nothing can separate us from Jesus as our Savior, He died once for all. I Peter 3:18

It’s on this point that I’ll pick up the next post on the 2 doctrines of theology I mentioned earlier and how they relate to this discussion, as we go more in depth on “A License to Sin?”

Prayer: If you are not living the life you should be, trapped in the snares of sin, holding on to self, let go.  Give full control to God, repent of your sins and turn back toward Jesus.  We cannot fight the battle alone, we’ll lose.  Just as Paul concluded his own personal battle, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24 Only Jesus can rescue, He is our Victor.  Pray now and ask that He intercedes in your battle.  Pray that you submit your will to His and offer Him full control.

Additional Study: Romans 7:7-25, Romans 6:1-23, Romans 5:12-20, Ephesians 6:10-20