Category Archives: Sin

Party over! (Lost son part 5)

The party is over!

The big problem with sin, is for the most part its enjoyable!

Hebrews 11:25 “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;”

Unfortunately, for the sinner though, its pleasure doesn’t last and it always has consequences. In other words –  there is always a big price tag attached! The party is soon over!

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Severe famine

Luke 15: 14 “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”

partyFor the prodigal son therefore,  this is exactly what he comes to realise, as his money soon runs out and unfortunately for him, this coincides, with severe country-wide famine! Suddenly, he finds himself alone, in need and desperate. Rashly, he joins himself to a citizen of the country who breeds pigs. All that does though, is increase his hunger, as the pigs seem to be better fed than him!

The phrase: “no one gave him anything” is particularly poignant, as at one point he had everything: including a family, food and a job. Now however, he has nothing. He is living in a graceless society; it’s survival of the fittest! Ironically, later on in the story, the elder son later accuses the Father of never giving him a goat to celebrate with his friends, insinuating the Father’s lack of generosity – go figure!

Alone and empty

pigsThe prodigal however, is learning a salutary lesson from these difficult times. The party has ended and he’s alone.

7 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”

 Now, he’s got lots of time time to think! Suddenly, he comes to the realisation that if he doesn’t do something drastic –  then he’s soon going to be in the grave: dead from starvation. In other words he going to ‘perish’ with hunger –  there’s our greek word ‘appolymi’ or ‘lost’ again!

He comes to life!

I love it though,  when it says that ‘he came to himself’. It’s as if he’s been asleep and finally he’s begun to wake up. Indeed, the dead son is coming back to life! He realises how stupid he’s been! Even the servants in his Father’s house are better fed than him! Anyway, that’s what his grumbling and empty stomach tells him. In fact, maybe these dire circumstances are a blessing in disguise? Could it be, that his Father prayed every day for his son’s return and yet God engineered a famine? Who knows!

Partly, this parable is again about repentance or a change of mind. This is what we see as the prodigal comes to his senses! This results in an action plan and a simple decision – he’s going home.

What am I going to say?

However, what is he going to say? How will his Father react? This time however, instead of demanding what’s is his from his Father, he’s going to approach with humility: confessing that he sinned against heaven (God) and also towards his Father – the angels are already holding a party!

However, although his humility is good, like the elder son, the younger son doesn’t yet really know the heart of his Father because his solution is to become a slave.  He’s playing safe and setting his expectations low. He can believe that his Father might be merciful because after all, he still family but the abundant; over the top; magnificent hyper-grace that he’s about to receive – no way.  If he’s lucky, he thinks he might be to spend a few nights bedding down in the stables?

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Further reading:

Part 4 a lost son (departure)

Part 3 a lost coin

Part 2 a lost sheep

Part 1 Lost 

Lost and found

A purpose focused church

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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:

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Can you miss the grace of God?

Sinning wilfully

A driving analogy

Are future sins forgiven?

Total forgiveness

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What is the unforgivable sin?

What is the unforgivable sin?

unforgivable sinIn the article ‘A better sacrifice’ , we touched on the possibility that it is possible to understand the Gospel and yet wilfully reject it. This is called the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Mark 3:28 “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:”

As Dr Henry Morris says:

“The one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ. Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible”

John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

In Matthew 12:32 and Mark 3:28, the scriptures further describes the sin against the Holy Spirit as an ‘eternal’ sin. Meaning, it’s permanent and irreversible.

Can the believer commit it?

Indeed, this is the only sin that can’t be forgiven.  The good news for the believer however is: you cannot commit it – you believe!

Unbelief therefore, is not agnosticism (not knowing). It’s when the truth is known and yet rejected.

Are then any instances in the scriptures though of persons committing this sin? I believe there are. The first is Pharaoh in Exodus chapter 7

For Example: Pharaoh (A hardened heart)

Here is a ruler of whom it not only says that God hardened his heart but also he hardened his own heart. Despite multiple miraculous plagues he refused to let God’s people go and ended up in disaster. This contrasts nicely with a ruler such ŵas Nebuchadnezzar, who brought to the edge of insanity,  finally acknowledges the God of heaven in repentance and humility.

Hardening the heart therefore, is an act of will; a stubbornness to believe and a resistance to the gracious overtures of the Holy Spirit.

For Example: the children of Israel

Likewise, the Children of Israel suffer this same hardening of the heart and unbelief and its described in Psalm 95:8 (quoted in the book of Hebrews 3:8:)

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”

In several other places in Hebrews this theme is tellingly repeated: Hebrews 3:15 and 4:7 for example.

For Example: their descendants

Of course, the descendants of these Israelite reprobates act in a similar hard-hearted and unbelieving fashion, rejecting the message of Stephen by stoning him to death:

Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked an uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did”

This is clearly a deliberate and wilful rejection of the truth!

One of the bystanders to that execution (a Jew and a Pharisee): the Apostle Paul however describes the grace of God towards him because he was ignorant of the truth.

1 Timothy 1:13: “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” 

In other words, he didn’t reject Jesus wilfully.

Why can’t this sin be forgiven?

Why can’t this sin be forgiven? Why can’t this sin be repented of? The fact is, if the only way of salvation as proclaimed by Stephen, is rejected – then there is no hope!

Hebrews 12:25 “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:”

For Example: a person owes money. However, when offered a cheque for for £1000, they deliberately rip it up –  rejecting the kind offer.

Hebrews 6:6 “If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Understanding Hebrews

Maybe you have noticed – most of the Bible quotations so far – have come from the book of Hebrews. This is interesting, because understanding the sin against the Holy Spirit is a major key to understanding this book.

Additionally, three other helpful keys are:

  1. To whom was it written?
  2. Why was it written?
  3. How does it apply to us today?

To whom was it written?

In this light, let’s look at a commonly misunderstood verse of Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received  the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more  sacrifice  for sins”

Firstly, ask the question: ‘to whom was this scripture written?’ Most people people assume that the Epistle was written directly to them, when in fact it was written by a Jewish Apostle to his Jewish brothers: some born again Messianic Jews and others – who maybe had heard and understood the Gospel; are even meeting with believers – but are not yet true converts! The phrase “received the knowledge of the truth” is referring to these Jews.

Why was it written?

Next, ask the question: ‘why was it written?’  Clearly, he is addressing the problem of those Jews amongst the ‘Hebrews’ or Jewish believers, who have heard and been exposed to the power of the Gospel but refuse to accept the sacrifice of Jesus and instead are returning back to the temple worship. They are falling away.

Therefore, he is not warning gentile believers that they may lose their salvation through deliberate or wilful sin!

In fact, it makes no sense at all to interpret this verse that way: I mean – sin by its very nature is wilful!

Yes, you could sin accidentally, say break the speed limit, but most sin is a decision.

Watch your children – they choose to sin. Likewise, the first sinner Adam couldn’t plead ignorance. No, he deliberately sinned by taking the fruit from Eve his wife.

Hebrews 6:4 

Another scripture that makes sense when you know ‘why’ it was written, is Hebrews 6:4

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and  have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Again, this verse is talking about those who have heard the Gospel, maybe even experienced its power through healing or deliverance but have chosen to reject it – they have fallen away. No repentance is therefore possible. It’s the sin against the Holy Spirit.

The sin of rejecting the messiah

The wilful sin or the sin of wilfulness therefore, is a deliberate choice to reject Jesus as Messiah even when the truth is known and even experienced.

Furthermore, there are many other examples in Hebrews, of warning to the unbelieving Jews within the believing community who have clearly heard and understood the Gospel:

Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”

Hebrews 3:12 Take care brethren (Jewish believers and unbelievers) , lest there be in any one of you an evil (works filled) unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore let us fear lest, while a promise of entering his rest any of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us just as they also but the word they heard did not profit them because it was united by faith in those who heard.

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience

Application – So what about us?

Lastly, how do these scriptures apply to us today? I believe that even in our churches today, there are many who call themselves Christians, who go to church, tithe, read their Bibles, sing in the choir and even know a bit of theology– yet they are not saved and born again. They have a form of religion but no power.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “ Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

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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!

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A better sacrifice

Eternal Salvation

are all sins forgivenIn the last article I looked at how the offerings of the Law were a temporary fix so that God could continue relationship with mankind despite failure. Of course, this all awaited the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and High Priest of God, who established a salvation that would last for ever and would never need to be repeated- awesome! A better sacrifice.

Hebrews 5:9 “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

Eternal redemption

Jesus therefore, was not only the sacrifice but the high priest making the offering and He obtained and bought for us  eternal (permanent) redemption (ransom) that never needed to be repeated!

Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

He took our sins away:

As a consequence, this superior sacrifice of Jesus took away sins; something the law could never do – only covering it. The blood of Jesus though, cleanses us perfectly from all sin. It’s like a powerful cleaning agent. It removes sin completely. It takes it away.

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 us from all sin.”

Incidentally, it’s interesting that part of the natural function of blood is to fight infection!

1 John 3:5 “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Romans 11:27 “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

He cleansed the conscience

In addition, the blood of Jesus not only takes away sins but as a consequence it purges the conscience and guilt of the sinner.

Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

He changes You!

Even so, there was one another important change necessary, a change in the heart of the offerer that was promised centuries before:

Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;”

Consequently, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus didn’t just make the sinner holy for a short time (a year) – but for ever! Did you get that? You have been made perfect (in your spirit) for ever!

Hebrews 10:10 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

God forgets sins

Just to make sure, God now chooses to forget your sin! Under the Old Covenant every sin was recorded. It was reckoned to your sin debit account. Under Grace the salvation that God offers is so complete that He no longer records your sins. They are no longer charged to your account!

Romans 4:8 “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Even better than that, your sins never come into his mind; He never remembers your sins – ever!

Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

The remission of forgiveness is so complete that it’s as if you never sinned – God has no memory or consciousness of your sins!

No more offering required!

Hebrews 10: 17 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

And, just to underline all this amazing Good News, the verse above clearly says, that the remission or forgiveness is now so complete that –  no offering for sin is required ever again!

Why is this? Think about it. When Jesus died on the cross everybody’s sins from that point were future. If His blood only took away the past sins that had been committed, then a whole lot more blood is going to be needed, because without the shedding of blood there is nor remission or forgiveness!

Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

This meant, that instead, of a lamb being sacrificed every year, Jesus had to be re-sacrificed every year for the last 2000 years because people are still sinning! However this is not the case because every sin that has been or will be has been expiated by his precious blood.

1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Sin is dealt with once for all

Therefore, Jesus has dealt with the whole issue of sin in God’s eyes for ever.

Hebrews 9:26 “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

Are we all forgiven?

Maybe your saying though, does it mean that everybody is forgiven? Well technically yes, BUT… not everyone takes advantage of this amazing special offer:

Hebrews 9:27 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

What if we reject Jesus?

Now, the bad news. If someone chooses to reject this sacrifice of Jesus then there is no hope – this is a sin against the Holy Spirit. This is what some of the Jews amongst the Jewish Christians were in danger of doing by rejecting Christianity and going back to the temple system of sacrifices,

Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins”

Hebrews 10:29 “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

Read More:

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Jesus and the mosaic law

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Latest book Gods Grace Works Every Day

 Kindle book – Christ in You

Kindle book – Christ the End of Law

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Freedom from sin- Christ in you (chapter 6)

Freedom from sin!

saintIf you could take a pill to be totally free of all sin, would you do it right now? If you’re born-again then your answer would be most likely a resounding yes! The desperate man at the end of Romans 7, as discussed in the previous chapter, would certainly grab at the chance! I mean, as believers, don’t we all long for that day when we will be in heaven where we will we never ever sin again? A glorious thought!

However, the Gospel (God’s-pill) is not just a promise of freedom from sin in the future, but rather it is freedom from law of sin and death NOW!

As a result, if you turn to Romans chapter 6, it is clear that the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are together the means by which God has not only forgiven all your sins but has also dealt with sin in the flesh. Therefore, your freedom is a done deal – it happened 2,000 years ago!

Romans 6:18 “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness”

Romans 6:22 “but now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome eternal life.”

When Jesus was crucified you were crucified with him

Romans 6:6 “knowing that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”

When Jesus died you died with him

Romans 6:7 “for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ….

When he was buried you were buried with him

Romans 6:4 “therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death”

When he was raised you were raised with him

Romans 6:4 “in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life”

Consequently, the resurrection of Jesus is the key. Life is more powerful than death; light always overcomes darkness. Resurrection and eternal life always defeat and trump death completely.

1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death is swallowed up in victory”.

One of my favourite scriptures and the one of the best bits in the Bible (in my opinion) is Romans 8:1. It’s like a victorious fanfare of trumpets announcing the termination of the wrestling match described in Romans chapter 7.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, for law of the spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Wow! What this amazing verse tells us, and what we have been saying already, is that resurrection life, Christ in you and the law of the spirit of life, breaks the hold, the chains, the patterns and the habits of sin in our lives! As Jesus came to life and walked out of that tomb, so God is able to raise you from the dead! Similarly, like Jesus calling forth Lazarus from the tomb – so He calls your name!

No condemnation

As a result, because we have been set free there can be NOW (this moment and at any moment), NO (zero) condemnation or future judgment and penalty for sin. Nothing we do, no sin we can commit (even right now or in the future), is going to suffer a penalty because when Jesus died, we died!

In the next verse, Romans 8:2, the writer gives a bit more detail on how this is possible. He explains how what the law was powerless to do (free us from the law of sin and death), God did at the cross by judging sin in the flesh.  Therefore, not only were individual sins dealt with but also the whole of our sinful flesh was judged – exhausting all possibility of future penalty.

Romans 8:2. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

This is the ‘too good to be true’ news that is the Gospel of Grace – and the legalists hate it! Without conditions, caveats and multiple hoops to jump through, lawkeepers just can’t cope. Indeed, the original translators of the King James Version even added extra text (without any authority, I may add): “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Why? Because they couldn’t believe verse 1 could be that good!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 20.00.48Indeed, how can it be that good? Surely, the first thought that goes through the mind of the believer is: Yippee, lets go out on the town and sin as much as I can get away with!” Of course, that takes no account of the fact that if you are born-again you actually do want to live holy because you have a new nature. The truth is that now you are a willing slave to righteousness and to God (Romans 6:18 and 6:22). It’s a bit like thinking that if you said to your children that they could now do whatever they liked, that they would somehow smash your house up, drink all your beer and drive your car into a wall! No, if they really are your children and truly love you they probably wouldn’t – well, I hope not! This, however, is the risk of grace and of love that God undertakes. The good news is that God now treats us as sons who are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14); the law is for immature kids who need rules.

Accordingly, when Jesus said the following he wasn’t kidding: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Let us, therefore, learn to stand and enjoy this freedom that Christ has purchased:

Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery”

Questions for discussion

1) How have we been freed from sin?  – Romans 6:7

2) What has set us free from the law of sin and death? – Romans 8:1

3) How much judgment is left for the believer? – Romans 8:1

4) If you died and had sinned only 5 minutes beforehand, would you still be saved? – Romans 8:1

Chapter 7 is coming next week  but  why not sign up to receive email updates? 

Chapter 5

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Or … In the meantime why not read the whole book on Amazon Kindle?  

New Creation Church Gosport

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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Why do I sin? Christ in You – (chapter 5)

why do I sinWhy do I sin?

In the previous chapter I made a radical statement: I said that Christ in you cannot sin.  What do I mean by that? Does it mean that a born-again believer never sins again? The Apostle John in his first epistle indeed seems to say exactly that:

The believer cannot sin?

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

In point of fact he also says that if you commit sin you are of the devil! You can’t get much more black and white than that!

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

However, we do sin

Sadly, we all know from our own experience that even after we become born-again and are filled with the Holy Spirit, even though we desire to live a holy and completely sinless life is not a reality and is probably not even possible. Indeed, the writer John, a few verses later, seems to contradict himself and confirms this by the following verses:

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

1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense, one off) we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

So, what is John saying? Does he really mean a believer cannot commit sin?

A believer does not practice sin

Firstly, a better translation of 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:8 and 1 John 3:8 and the phrase ‘commit sin’ would be ‘practice sin’, as translated in the ASV. This is because the tense of the verb ‘sin’ is not ‘Aorist’ (sinning in a moment of time, even once – see verse above 1 John 2:1). It is in fact,‘present active’ or sinning continually.

Therefore, John is saying that a true believer may sin in a moment of time but doesn’t sin continually – or practice sin. In fact, if they do sin continually, then there are grave doubts that they ever knew Christ in the first place!

1 John 3:6 “No one who sins (present active) has seen him or known him!”

A believer practices righteousness

However, I don’t believe that the above explanation, although technically correct, is the complete answer because John not only talks about practicing sin; he also talks about practicing righteousness. See the following scriptures:

1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him”

1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no one deceive you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous”

1 John 3:10 “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious, anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”

Now, this is problematic because John uses the same present active tense to describe righteousness! In other words, a believer practices righteousness – he or she doesn’t just do occasional acts of righteousness, like an unbeliever might. No, they constantly and continually do righteousness every day, at all times.

Now, we can easily cope with the idea that we occasionally sin but can we honestly say that we practice righteousness day in, day out? Well, John says if you don’t, then you’re not born again! There must be a more complete answer – and there is!

I believe, in context, the Apostle John is describing who we are in the spirit. In other words our spirit man (Christ in us) indeed practices righteousness and cannot sin.

Why do we still want to sin?

So then, if we have Christ in us and a brand new nature, why do we still want to sin as well as want to do what’s right? Do we posses two natures now: a sinful nature and a Christ-like nature that are locked in some sort of mortal combat or tug of war? Or, are we perhaps schizophrenic with some kind of weird personality disorder? For many of us that’s certainly what it sometimes feels like.

No, I don’t believe that is the case; you don’t have two natures. You have one new nature that is Christ-like. However, the scripture does indeed suggest that there are two opposing forces: the flesh and the Spirit at war inside you!

Galatians 5:17 “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.”

The conflict of desire

Paul describes this conflict of desire in Romans 7:

Romans 7:15 “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I am doing the thing I hate. 

Romans 7:16 “But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do I agree with the Law confessing that it is good.”

In effect, what he is saying is that even though he doesn’t want to do bad things, he has no power to actually stop doing bad things – even if he wants to. So, becoming monk, hiding away from the world and from all temptation to sin, will not change the fact – that even in a monastery sin is with you. The war carries on regardless.

Romans 7:23 “I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members”

Regrettably, even though you are born-again, you still carry around the body of death, your mortal and sinful flesh: mind, memories, emotions, will, sexual drive and so on.

Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

As Paul says in an earlier verse in Romans 7:14 that we are sold in bondage to sin:

“For we know that the Law is spiritual but I am of the flesh sold in bondage to sin”

Its not me, its this darn flesh!

However, in verses 17 and 20 of Romans 7 Paul comes to three important realisations:

Firstly, there is no good in his sinful flesh (note he is careful to say in his flesh because he knows that his spirit man is good and desires good.)

Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Secondly, he has no power to do the good that he (his spirit man) wishes.

Thirdly, he realises that if he doesn’t want to do it, then it’s not really him doing it. In other words, it is sin in the flesh. His true identity therefore, is not in the sinful behaviour but in the new man.

Romans 7:17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Romans 7:20“But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”

Example – driving your screaming kids to school!

Imagine you are driving your kids to school and they are behaving very badly in the back seat, fighting, screaming and even trying to distract other drivers. You can’t do much about it because you’re trying to keep your eyes on the road. Do you just ignore the behaviour and pretend it’s not happening? No, of course not – if you don’t deal with it soon, you’re likely to have an accident!

Sin in the flesh could similarly be likened to a big, bad dog straining at the leash. We need someone to help us and fast! Who is going to deliver us from this body of death? Who do we turn to?

Most people, of course, turn to Mr Law. Yes, he’s Mr Perfect, he knows the rules absolutely. But he’s no teacher or coach! All he does is point out that your children are misbehaving and he even finds time to comment on the inadequacies of your driving! Thankfully we are no longer married to Mr Law! The Law, religious rules, church attendance, will power, determination, self-help, education, self-discipline, self-reliance, striving, and even prayer may all help and even manage the sinful flesh for a while but they can never ultimately control it.

A positive note

The writer of Romans chapter 7, though, ends on a positive note: he maybe stuck, in need of help, under the Law, frustrated and unhappy in this struggle against sin but he has now seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has grasped two important positives:

Firstly, he now knows there is only one person, Jesus, or Mr Grace who can help him get free from the law of sin and death. The writer has now given up on himself and also on Mr Law!

Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

Secondly, he now has a clear revelation of who he is in Christ (see I MYSELF in the verse below). He understands now beyond a doubt that his sinful flesh is not his identity even though it is his responsibility.

Romans 7:25 “So, then, on the one hand I MYSELF with the mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, WITH MY FLESH, the law of sin (my capital letters and bold letters added)

To conclude therefore, how do we answer our original question: “why do we still sin?” We still sin, not because we have a sinful nature but because still we have the sinful flesh! 

Questions for discussion

1) How do we understand the contradiction in John’s First Epistle where he apparently says someone who is born-again cannot sin?

2) How do we explain that John says that a born-again believer continually does righteousness?

3) Why, even though we are born-again. do we still want to sin?

4) What are the conclusions that Paul comes to in Romans 7?

Chapter 6 is coming next week  but  why not sign up to receive email updates? 

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Or … In the meantime why not read the whole book on Amazon Kindle?  

New Creation Church Gosport

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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