Category Archives: Confession

New Book – Forgiven.

Forgiven – How do I know?

I’ve just finished and published my fourth kindle book on Amazon called Forgiven – How do I know?

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Endorsement

Forgiven Book CoverPaul Noble is like a stick of rock …. There is a lot of talk about values today.

Values communicate what is important, they indicate what you stand for, what really matters, what is worthwhile and you really want more than anything else.

Each one of us has own set of values.  Values such as health, friendship, success, integrity, financial independence and loyalty. These values determine our direction, behaviour and provide the basis upon which we make our decisions. Our most important value is the one which is written though us.

In this sense, Paul is like a stick of rock… and the word embedded in every fibre of being is grace.  God’s unconditional acceptance and longing for a loving relationship with us is at the heart of Paul’s writing.  Discovering grace for himself, changed everything for him.

Now, Paul has become an advocate for this kind of grace: the grace which breaks down the walls we have erected and use them to build bridges to God. Paul’s message is one worth listening to; because those who understand the truth of God’s grace experiencing what it means to be free for themselves. May we all be sticks of rock with this word of grace written through our lives.

Rev Sean Blackman, Church Leader at Freedom, (Exec) AMBA MBA, PGDipTh, BD (Hons)

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Confession

Confession

confessionI’m so glad that that we no longer live in the horrific age of the inquisition. In those days the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope held sway; any that dared challenge his authority and church dogma, refusing to recant, were horribly tortured in order to extract a confession and then burnt at the stake without mercy:

“Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity.” Pope Innocent III

What is confession?

Today, in modern times, the word confession is used more in the context of a criminal admitting to a crime, which interestingly enough – according to the principle in UK law called corpus delicti – isn’t on its own enough to convict.

Wikipedia defines confession as :

“A statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information that he believes the other party is not already aware of, and is frequently associated with an admission of a moral or legal wrong:”

Confession for a Catholic

For many though, the word conjures up the confession booth and the penitent confessing both mortal and venial (less serious) sins to a Roman Catholic priest in order to receive absolution. This is called the Sacrament of Penance.

By the way, Catholics believe that mortal sins, are those which if not forgiven before death, send a person to hell because they separate the person from God’s grace (go figure that one!) Sins such as: Murder, Adultery, Masturbation and deliberately missing Mass – amongst many other sins in the list!

The Bible has one category … sin!

Confession in the Old Testament.

Where do these Catholic ideas of confession come from then? Well to some extent they are modelled on Old Covenant biblical practices: Under the law, if you sinned, you came to the priest with a sacrifice and confessed your sin in order to receive forgiveness.

Leviticus 5:5 “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess (Hebrew ‘yadah’) that he hath sinned in that thing:”

Later on in the Bible, the people confessed as a nation for their sins:

Nehemiah 9:2 “And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.”

It’s important to realise though, that ‘confess’ is not the only translation of the Hebrew word ‘yadah’, as in many contexts it means ‘to praise’ or ‘give thanks.’ In fact, this is where the name Judah comes from and is its first usage in the Bible:

Genesis 29:35 “And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.”

Confession for a Protestant

What about Protestant Evangelicals though, what do they believe? Well certainly they don’t believe that forgiveness of sins is administered by a priest. No, they believe that they have direct access to God and can therefore confess their sins privately whenever they wish – basing this on 1John 1:9.

Indeed, this kind of freedom and access to God, was intuitively understood by King David living thousands of years earlier under the law. Somehow he looked forward to the time when the believer could approach God directly without mediator or priest:

Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”

Of course, the Catholic might reasonably ask the Protestant: “how do you know you have been forgiven though?”

This is a good question. A Catholic believes that he or she knows that they are forgiven because they have received absolution from a priest. The Protestant … not so much?

That is why I believe, that 1 John 1:9 is not some miraculous bar of soap to be applied after sinning. No, under grace the believer confesses any sin knowing the certainty of total forgiveness.

Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Under the Law you confessed to get forgiven; under Grace you confess because you are forgiven!

By the way, the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 brilliantly illustrates these ideas, as when he eventually returns home to his Father with his practiced confession and suggested penance, the Father has already forgiven him and instead showers him with love and affection that he doesn’t deserve. That’s grace for you!

Luke 15:18 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

New Covenant Confession

So then, what does New Covenant confession look like? Firstly, a conversion experience is accompanied by the confession of sin and repentance:

Acts 19:18 “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

However, like the Hebrew word for confess, the word Greek word for confess ‘homologeo’ is not exclusively used in regards to sin either but simply means to agree or to say the same thing as another.

John uses the word extensively in his Epistle in regards to the believers confession or statement of faith:

1 John 4:15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

1 John 4:2 “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:”

2 John 1:7 “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

The Apostle Paul also used the same word in the famous salvation passage:

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess (aorist) with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession (present tense) is made unto salvation.”

Confession to one another.

Just to finish though, James also talks about confession but in the context of confessing sins to one another (not a priest).

James 5:15 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

What this verse is saying, is that if you have sinned against someone go and put it right – as Jesus explains in Matthew 18. Maybe though, James is thinking of when Abimelech inadvertently sinned against righteous Abraham?

Genesis 20:8 “Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.”

Read More:

What to do when you sin

Can you miss the grace of God?

Sinning wilfully

A driving analogy

Are future sins forgiven?

Total forgiveness

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Gods Grace Works BookLatest book Gods Grace Works Every Day

 Kindle book – Christ in You

Kindle book – Christ the End of Law

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Stop hiding from God!

cover eyesWhat is the natural reaction of a person when conscious of sin? It’s to hide, to pretend the sin doesn’t exist. We cover our eyes and pretend nothing has happened. We see no evil! The first humans and sinners, Adam and Eve, reacted just like this. Their first action, was to try and hide away from God in the garden and just to make sure, they covered themselves with fig leaves – I mean what were they thinking? This though, is the basis of all religious systems: Manage sin; cover it.

A temporary fix

Under the Old Covenant, God provided a temporary fix to the sin problem: a cover-note until the full insurance documents of the New Covenant or agreement arrived. Therefore, sins were covered under the old; under the new sins are taken away. (Hebrews 10:4) In fact, the Apostle John tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses not just once –  but it keeps on cleansing.  (1John 1:7)

So then, what should we do as believers in Jesus Christ when we sin?

Stop hiding!

monkeysFirstly, don’t hide. Admit or confess your sin. (1 John 1:9) Be totally transparent with God. Don’t justify yourself or your behaviour.

Note: If you believe the father is angry with you because of your sin then you will probably find it very difficult to approach God. In fact, that is the lie the devil or accuser wants you to believe, because his strategy is to get you to separate yourself from the source of grace and mercy – God.

Rather then, believe that you can approach the throne of grace at any time and under any circumstance because of the fact that you are accepted in the beloved. In other words, your standing doesn’t depend on your state. (Romans 5:2) (Hebrews 4:16)

Think of how much it pleases God when you come to God, even though you may feel bad, dirty and messed up by sin! That is an expression of faith. I mean, did Jesus ever turn a sinner away? Again, how did the father receive the prodigal son? (Luke 15)

Trust the blood

Next, believe and trust that the blood of Jesus is already going to work cleansing you of all you sin (1 John 1:7 ) and that your advocate Jesus is speaking on your behalf to the father as your attorney. (1 John 2:1)

Why do we need an advocate or defence lawyer? Because, sin has negative consequences in our lives. It produces death. Therefore, our advocate is working all things for good in our lives – even our sins and stupid mistakes!

Trust God’s grace towards you

Secondly, believe that God’s grace is abounding towards you even when you sin. (Romans 5:20)

Believe and confess that you are in fact more than a conqueror through Christ. (Romans 8:37)

Believe and confess that you are forgiven. Note: receiving forgiveness is to believe God’s word rather than express how you might feel about yourself. (Colossians 2:13)

Believe that you are still righteous, a saint and justified. (Romans 3:24)

Believe that Jesus has atoned for ALL your sin at the cross (1 Peter 2:24)  – so there is nothing to pay, you don’t have to pay a penance. If your expecting or suspecting that bad things are about to happen as a punishment for your sin then repent of the thinking! There is no future punishment for those in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Summing up then, don’t make repentance and confession a dead work (Hebrews 6:1), because in themselves, they don’t earn you anything! God isn’t favourable towards you because of your repentance; your repentance is an evidence of God’s grace at work in you:  producing faith in his finished work!

Therefore, don’t promise never to sin again – because that’s probably a lie!

Read More:

A driving analogy

Stop saying sorry!

Are future sins forgiven?

Total forgiveness

My Kindle books

Gods Grace Works BookLatest book Gods Grace Works Every Day

 Kindle book – Christ in You

Kindle book – Christ the End of Law

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What’s all the fuss about hyper-grace?

hyper-graceI find it puzzling, that those who believe in the forgiveness of sins past, present and future (Billy Graham falls into this camp), are disparagingly labelled as being HYPER-GRACE (this is Dr Michael Brown’s definition in his book of the same title). I mean, is this to somehow differentiate between just bog-standard GRACE and HYPER-GRACE? Is hyper-grace just a little to extreme and excessive – even for God?

The big problem in the minds of the anti-hyper-grace camp, seems to be that if future sins are already forgiven then surely there is nothing to stop the forgiven taking advantage of God and sinning with impunity – so encouraging licentiousness? Isn’t this the point though? If it can’t be abused then it’s not really grace at all – it’s mercy!

And anyway, what’s the real difference? Surely, even if every sin you commit today has to be individually confessed and repented of in order to be forgiven, then you can still go out and sin, repent, confess and get God’s forgiveness anyway – because you know the outcome; you know God’s heart to forgive!

In our own experience, we know that God never turns around and says: “I’m not forgiving today, what you did is to bad, and you’ve done it to many times.” No, we know we have forgiveness because he HAS forgiven us in Christ at the cross.

hyper-graceIndeed, the fact that you might have to confess every sin doesn’t stop you sinning. It’s a fact, confessing the same sin over and over again, feeling condemned and guilty, and making promises to turn over a new leaf don’t work. Why? Because, you are focusing on the sin and applying law and your own fleshly strength to control a bad sinful habit. You are rubbing salt into a wound.

Grace is so wonderful, because like medicine it stops the infection, it breaks into the sin/confess/sin cycle: (The sin/confess cycle is exactly what Roman Catholics practice in the confession booth and Protestants do privately or at communion.) However, none of this religious performance results in deliverance or holiness, just frustration, sometimes desperation and many just give up, give in and continue to sin – they become licentious.

I believe, that because, future sins are forgiven, and there is no judgement for those in Christ Jesus (even when you sin), then the result is that the believer’s eye is off themselves and their own self-effort and onto Jesus who is the deliverer.

For example: when a non-swimmer falls into a lake and someone attempts to rescue him or her, often the drowning person grabs hold of the rescuer in panic and nearly drowns both of them. A wise life-saver will knock the drowning person unconscious so that they can safely drag the inert person to the shore!

This is what God has done for us in Christ. He’s knocked SIN (noun) on the head. We’re unconscious; we died with Christ. As the word says, God is not counting your sins any longer. No longer does he see you or relate to you in the flesh. He sees you in Christ; in the spirit. Consequently, we died to the law and sin and where there is no law there is no longer any offence!

Therefore, the work of the cross is so much more than just getting our sins forgiven, it is the execution and termination of the problem: SIN (noun) in the flesh. It’s only when you realise this wonderful truth of grace and the complete forgiveness of sins, that you stop looking at your spiritual score card and start living in the spirit as God intended!

Does this mean that you can still go out and sin without fear of judgement because you are in Christ? Yes you can, but that does’t mean that there aren’t any consequences at all to continuing to sin. For Example: if I foolishly decide not to pay my taxes I may soon find myself in jail!  If I sleep around as a married man I may find myself in the divorce court! Of course even in our stupidity, God’s grace abounds and grace will teach you, even in a jail cell, that continuing to sin is a dumb idea!

Lastly, the disparaging use of the term hyper-grace is a bit ridiculous really. It’s like saying that it’s wrong to call God’s love hyper, amazing, super, or abounding (terms that the Bible uses in fact in relation to grace).

hyper-graceSubsequently, what are the limit’s to God’s grace? Is it limited to only those who repent as (John Burton) would say. In other words, you only qualify once you repent and if you stop repenting you forfeit God’s grace. This is a horrible idea and it isn’t even grace let alone hyper-grace.

As the Bible says, God’s grace is upon all and towards all. The only restriction is that it has to be accepted; it has to be received by faith. The only way you can miss the grace of God is if you reject it,  ignore it or maybe even replace it with hyper-holiness teaching! 

P.S You will probably notice ,if you read the material from those who are attacking so-called hyper-grace, that they don’t believe in the eternal security of the believer either. Evidently, they need this big stick to keep their followers in line and they call this grace?

New Creation Church Gosport

Escape to reality – Paul Ellis

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Christ the End of Law
Christ in you the hope of glory
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God is not counting sins!

 

“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute (count or reckon) sin” – Romans 4:8

counting sinsThe happiest people, the blessed people, are the ones who know the truth of this verse – God is not counting sins! In other words, God is not keeping a daily tally or record. I counted mine since Monday:  a total of twenty four and none at all on Sunday. I reckon that must be a record – well for me anyway! Oh, I did forget though, ‘what is not of faith is sin’, so there may be a few more that I missed – sorry!

Thankfully, I believe that there isn’t some divine sin chart that the angels assigned to you are examining daily. One angel turns to the other with an anxious frown: “Oh dear! February was a bad month for Paul, what are we going to do?”

Does God keep records?

I mean, does God reset the sin counter back to zero when we finally decide to list our sins and confess them before him one by one? Do the the angels breath a sigh of relief? Is that really how grace works?

Now, God does keep records – indeed there are many books in heaven:

Rev 20: 12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

God even records your tears:

Psalm 56:6 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

What’s more, if your are a believer your name is in the book of life – that beats an entry in Who’s Who!

Philippians 4:3 “whose names are in the book of life”

You are forgiven!

The wonderful truth of salvation by faith in Christ is: God has already forgiven all our sins past, present and future. The count stays on zero. Some people don’t like this idea, it seems a bit reckless of God, I mean surely everybody is going to abuse this hyper-grace?

Dr Michael Brown writes: “The fundamental deception in hyper-grace is that all of your future sins are forgiven in advance.”

However Dr Michael Brown, I believe that this is in fact the glorious truth of the Gospel and anything less than this is not the Gospel. If you want to call it hyper, super or exceedingly abundant, as Paul describes it somewhere, I don’t really care. The fact is, only believing that your past sins are forgiven (up to the point of confession I presume), is a much inferior message relying on the performance of the believer to somehow stay in the grace of God by the means of perfect confession and repentance.

On the other hand, if Romans 4:8 means what it says, you really don’t have to keep short records with God because – there aren’t any!

1 John 2:12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”

Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Our sins are forgiven. We have redemption. In other words the debt of sins in its totality has been paid for at the cross. God is not topping up the balance every time we sin to cover the sin withdrawal. No, you are declared righteous or justified – for ever and ever and ever!

What happens when we sin?

What happens though when you do sin? The Apostle John acknowledges that possibility in 1 John 2:1:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense: even once)  we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

The answer, is not as some teach: you lose your salvation; you are whisked out into outer darkness until you say sorry; you are barred from the presence of God; you are marked as a naughty backslidden christian under God’s severe discipline.

No, a true believer doesn’t pretend that he or she doesn’t sin. In fact, the gnostic heretics infiltrating the early church, said heretical things like: sin doesn’t matter because it is just an illusion not reality. Of course, sin is no illusion, it’s very real. Real enough for Jesus to come in physical flesh to pay the terrible price for human sin.

The Apostle John countered gnostic teaching by saying:

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:10: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Therefore, a believer is one who walks in the light. We admit our sins. We never hide or pretend that sin doesn’t exist!

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Come to the light of the world!

This is illustrated in the Gospels where it is seen that they who are regarded as sinners, in fact are attracted to Jesus the light of the world like moths dancing around a bright light!

John 3:20 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

On the contrary, the self-righteous pharisees are repelled by Jesus because He reveals their hypocrisy. In Luke 18:9 Jesus pointedly tells the story of the Pharisee and the publican going up to the temple.

The Pharisee, full of himself, thinks he’s righteous and without fault before God and proceeds to read out a list of his good deeds (the religious like to reckon their own righteousness). His prayers however don’t go any higher than the ceiling! The publican on the other hand doesn’t read a list (of even his sins), he just smites his breast in anguish and says: “have mercy on me a sinner”. This is true confession and it says he goes down to his house justified. He has come to the light and the light has cleansed his heart.

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth (continually) us from all sin.”

Relationship with God is not broken when we sin

Therefore, true believers live in that light because we know that it is the light and grace of Jesus Christ that cleanses, changes and delivers us. Thankfully, when we sin, relationship is not broken;  that would be like the doctor refusing a patient entry to the hospital because they are sick!

No, it doesn’t matter whether your sin is adultery, stealing, lying, or watching pornography, it is the light not the darkness that you need and Jesus the advocate (defence lawyer not the prosecution) is already at work on your behalf (1 John 2:1).

So, when we come to Jesus he shines upon us, not to expose and shame but to cleanse, heal and deliver.

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”

Consequently, in 1 John 1:7 (referred to earlier), it’s because we are in the light that the blood of Jesus cleanses (continually) from all sin. It’s like being under a sun lamp that erases sin (darkness).

What about others?

What about others though? When we sin against other people then maybe they are counting our sins! It’s no good saying to the police officer, when he’s caught you speeding: “It’s ok God has forgiven me so you ought to let me off”. No, when we sin against others we should seek to put things right if we can.

James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, God is not acting like a divine bookkeeper keeping records of every sin. Neither is the Holy Spirit checking our sin record like a divine tax inspector from HMRC sent to make sure we’re not cheating on our tax return.

No, we are free from a ‘divine tax inspection’ and this means, we are released as sons and daughters to enjoy our relationship with God and actually become children of light! Thankfully, we no longer have to tread carefully in God’s presence afraid of the next sin we may commit!

Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

Further reading:

Holiness

Legalism

Awake to righteousness

Download my Kindle books on Amazon:

Christ the End of Law
Christ in you the hope of glory
Christ the End of Law KIndle Amazon

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What is legalism?

Relating to God by law

lawWhat is legalism? It is when we believe our performance affects God’s favour towards us. In other words, when we do something good say attend church, give to the poor, don’t sin ( or at least keep a clean slate), read our Bibles, pray, or witness to the lost – that somehow God in turn rewards us. Contrary to this, if we maybe do something bad then we believe that we are out of favour with God and even are being punished by God. This is relating to God on the principle of law rather than grace.

Are you responsible?

Even more subtle than this though, is a lie that we are solely responsible to maintain our relationship with God and this is somehow dependent on our continual confession of sin. In other words, if we don’t confess sin then we are not forgiven and our relationship with God is broken – He now has a frown on his face and maybe he’s even a little angry and won’t answer our prayers or return our phone calls!

Can you lose this relationship?

Some believers even honestly believe, that its possible to lose that relationship all together if the backlog of unconfessed sins mounts up beyond a certain threshold of grace where God throws his hand in the air and at last gives up on us and walks away.

Let me ask you this question: when you didn’t know God and were an ungodly sinner who was it that initiated the relationship? Was it your seeking God that attracted his favour and forgiveness or was it his grace that found you and caused you to repent?

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

What is the nature of our relationship?

The truth is that a legalistic and distorted view of our relationship with the Father misunderstands the nature of the relationship. Under the Old Covenant God physically related to his people. The disciples had a relationship with Jesus where they handled him, sat down with him for a meal and even watched him asleep in a boat.

1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”

That is not the kind of relationship with God that as believers we now have.  As Jesus revealed, we now worship the Father in spirit because God is a spirit. (John 4:24). Paul says it in another way: he says even if we have known Christ after the flesh thus we know him no longer.

2 Cor 5:16 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”

This means that God doesn’t see your sin, He doesn’t see you flesh He only relates to you by and in the spirit. He sees the old you as dead and only the new Christ in you. All that matters is new creation.

Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

That is why God can say He remembers your sins no more and that He doesn’t reckon sin to your account. It’s like you look in a mirror and you see yourself imperfect but when God looks He only sees perfection and Jesus. Consequently, when He relates to you and you are conscious of all you sin and faults, just know that God isn’t conscious of them at all! You are accepted in the beloved not in your own worthiness and righteousness.

Does sin matter?

Does sin matter then? As a believer, your sin is not stressing God out because Jesus has dealt with every last stain of it.  If this statement makes you nervous then examine HOW you are relating to God. Is it dependant on your performance or the performance of Jesus? We now relate to God by faith and in the spirit.

That is why He declared you dead to sin and alive to God. The cross completely closed the book. There is no future punishment for sin – for those in Christ. Romans 8:1 You have been transferred from death to life.

Now, the fact is we still have to live in a physical world and relate to physical people in the flesh – even in church. God may have forgiven all your sins but people may not have! Therefore, if you continue to sin you are not going to inherit the kingdom of God, you are not going to experience life in abundance as Jesus promised.

Galatians 5:21 “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.”

So, tying all this stuff up. The important thing is that God wants you to enjoy a relationship with him not based on rules but the leading of his Spirit –  this was his original intention for Adam and Eve  in the Garden of Eden. He wants you to walk in the spirit not the flesh. If you are indulging your flesh then you are going to find it hard to relate to God by the spirit and sin itself – not the Holy Spirit’s big stick of conviction – will make you feel unhappy because you are living unnaturally as far as your new nature is concerned!

There are only two states for anyone: you are either living under Law and living in the flesh or you are living under Grace and by the spirit. There is no middle ground.

Galatians 5:18 “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law”

More related articles:

What do you do when you sin?

Awake to righteousness

True holiness

What is holiness?

What is the kingdom of God?

Repentance is not what you think

Awake to righteousness

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Does the Holy Spirit convict believers of sin?

What do we mean by conviction?

Before I answer the question: does the Holy Spirit convict believers of sin? I first want to look at what the word ‘conviction’ actually means.

Found guilty by a court

conviction or correctionFirstly, imagine for a moment, someone standing in the dock having been convicted or found guilty by the judge and jury of drink driving. They are now under condemnation and are judged guilty by the court and deserving of punishment. Of course rightly, they are probably feeling guilty, ashamed and fearful of the penalty they have to pay. They have felt the full force of the law! 

Strong beliefs

Another use of the word conviction could also be in the sense of someone who has strong convictions or beliefs. In other words, they are fully persuaded or convinced of what they believe.

Lastly, conviction can also be used in sense of convincing someone else of fault.

What does John 16:8 mean?

So what does the Bible say about this subject? John 16:8, is usually the verse most people pull out of the hat when the topic under discussion is raised.

John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will reprove G1651 ( convict in some translations) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

Reproving the world of sin

Firstly though, this verse is not talking about the conviction or correction of believer’s  sins but the reproving of the world of sin.

The sin of unbelief

Secondly, the next verse tells us the sin which is being corrected: “ Of sin, because they believe not on me”.

Therefore, its is quite clear that this verse is referring to the Holy Spirit convincing the world of the sin of unbelief. It is not talking about believers – they believe and don’t need convincing!

The rebuke of the Father

The Greek word G1651 elegchō is of course used elsewhere. For example, it used in Hebrews 12:5 to describe our relationship with the Father.

Hebrews 12 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked G1651 of him:”

However, the discipline of the Father, is hardly our first definition of conviction: “The act of proving that a person is guilty of a crime in a court of law”. Wouldn’t it be strange if we treated our own children like that? No, we rebuke, correct and discipline them but never convict in the sense of condemn or judge them.

The rebuke of Jesus

Likewise, it also speaks of the Lord Jesus himself chastening and rebuking believers but again in the sense of relationship and not in condemnation.

Rev 3:19  “As many as I love, I rebuke G1651 and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Look at how Jesus interacted with his disciples. Did they make stupid mistakes and say stupid things? Yes they did, the Apostle Peter often the chief culprit! I mean, how often has Jesus said to you or I : “get behind me satan”. However, even when Jesus did rebuke them sternly, his love, kindness and patience shone through.

Similarly, as a professional driving instructor I have authority to rebuke, correct, convince, train and coach my pupils but never convict them!  Of course, when they have passed their test then my authority ends and if they break the law then that’s the job of the police and the authorities!

The rebuke of church leaders

Likewise, those with spiritual authority in the church have a mandate to correct and teach:

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, G1651 rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Titus 1:13 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince G1651 the gainsayers.

John 8 – the woman caught in adultery

So, how does Jesus deal and interact with unbelievers? For example, in John 8 the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery before him and try and force him to make a judgement. He refuses and simply says:

John 8:7 “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Is Jesus accusing them of sin? No, his words of truth and light simply shine into their dark hearts revealing their sin.

Ephesians 5:13 “But all things that are reproved G1651 are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”

Of course, what happens is that their consciences are awakened.

John 8:9 “And they which heard it, being convicted G1651 by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

The story then further unfolds as Jesus is left alone with the woman.

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Interestingly enough, what we have been saying about Jesus as the light of the world, is supported by what Jesus says about himself in the next verse:

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Therefore in conclusion, I believe like the woman caught in adultery,  the Holy Spirit does not convict or condemn you either. You are not a convict you are a convert!

A believer is not daily standing in the dock before the judge as declared guilty. No, you have been declared righteous (justified) and transferred into the household of faith; you are a child of God. There is therefore, NOW, NO condemnation (penalty to pay), for those in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

So the good news is: yes, he will correct you, train you, and even rebuke you at times but NEVER CONVICT you.

Further Reading.

God will not convict believers of sin – Phil Drysdale
Why you need to repent
The driving test and the law
Training for reigning

 

 

 

 

 

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