The Spirit of Life Set Me Free
Declaring someone's eternal destination
There is much scrutiny of people who cross the threshold for what some people consider to be acceptable sins or acceptable levels of sin. I am not suggesting you take sin less seriously on this page. But I am warning that you should be more cautious when criticizing other people. Or if you fret that you are a hopeless sinner doomed to Hell, maybe this can provide some comfort or at least some suggestions for how to find peace through becoming more secure in your relationship with God.
Why do people declare that someone will spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell after tallying his sins? When one person evaluates another person's salvation, their motivation is often less than altruistic or godly. Gossip... Malice... Fear... Narrow Mindedness... Jealousy... Spite... Hate... Callousness... are some words that come to mind when I have seen "Christians" assaulting other Christians. Is this to scare unbelievers away? Or to ban unwanted Christians? Or just a power play to make themselves look better?
There are times when there is a legitimate need to assess a person's sincerity, his suitability for a position within the church, or even his intent and the likelihood he could cause harm to your church. Under these circumstances, a person's life is assessed for a reason, to protect and benefit the church. Not just to be mean spirited. When involved in legitimate decision making, you may wish to examine a person's pattern of sin (not just one occurrence). However, the three areas (gifts, fruits, and character) I list in another section (Indwelling of the Holy Spirit) may provide better foundations on which to draw valid conclusions.
I just said decision making. That makes salvation and avoiding sin sound like part a job requirement, to be evaluated by another. I do use the example of a job interview in another section. But that is referring to an inward reflection of the godly qualities you possess, so you can better understand how you may contribute to the Body of Christ. That is looking at what you have to offer. Not what someone else expects of you and why you cannot deliver it.
One type of evaluation builds up. The other tears down. One looks at the positive. The other looks at the negative.
No job requirements
There are no job requirements you have to perform to "make it" as a Christian. Christ has already done the work, the hard labor. Being a Christian is not a job. It is your life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.
Hebrews 4:2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
Access by faith into grace
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 9:30-33 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.
Some people tell you that if you continue a specific sin (which they insist proves you are unrepentant) you are not saved, you are not a Christian, and you will not go to Heaven. So to those who support this doctrine, try the following.
Here is your challenge for the next year.
1) This week you will repent of Sin A and never do it again. 2) Then the next week you will repent of Sin B and never do it again. 3) Then the next week you will repent of Sin C and never do it again. 4) Repent of a different sin every week for a year.
By your own doctrine you espouse, if you repent, you will turn away. SO... within a year's time, you will be perfect!
Definition of repentance
The following illustration is taught to children to help explain the concept of repentance. You are marching toward something. When you repent, you turn around and walk in the other direction away from it.
Not necessarily so!
Repentance -- a complete reversal of one's attitude and values, i. e. a turning toward God. (Nave's Topical Bible)
Here, repentance is defined as an inward experience, not outward. It references your heart, not your actions.
Naturally, what is inward will be reflected outwardly. But this definition does not place any stipulation that if you repeat a sin, you never truly repented in the first place.
Repentance is an inward experience
Mark 1:15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Repent NT:3340 metanoeo (met-an-o-eh'-o); from NT:3326 and NT:3539; to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction): Note: References in this format are taken from Strong's Dictionary.
Again, repentance is shown as an inward experience.
Luke 24:46-47 "He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Repentance NT:3341 metanoia (met-an'-oy-ah); from NT:3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication reversal (of [another's] decision):
Again, repentance is shown as an inward experience.
Warning not to cherish sin in your hearts
Psalms 66:16-20 "Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Cherished OT:3820 leb (labe); a form of OT:3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything:
Heart OT:7200 ra'ah (raw-aw'); a primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitive, intransitive and causative):
Some commentators translate regard or cherish to mean "relish". You delight in the sin and it fills you right down to the center of your being, engorging all applications or facets of your being. Some say God forgives the sin, if the sinner does not flaunt it.
Repentance of idol worship
Revelation 9:18-21 "A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury. The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood -- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."
Note in verse 20, where worshiping idols is mentioned. Here both the words "repent" and "stop" are used.
However, in verse 21, for the other sins listed, "repent" is used but NOT "stop". This indicates that under no circumstances will God accept a person who worships idols unless he repents AND stops. God will accept nothing less than a 100% reversal in the case of worshipping idols.
To God, repenting of this practice must be backed up with turning away from this practice. However, in the cases of other sins, it can be argued that, while God certainly expects us to have a repentant heart, He acknowledges than men are imperfect beings and can never stop sinning altogether in this lifetime.
Paul talks about our sinful nature.
Romans 7-8 is rich in powerful content. Here is an excerpt.
Romans 7:14-8:2 "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 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.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
The Spirit of life set me free.
I would like to make two main points concerning Paul's statements. First, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Again, "the Spirit of life set me free".
John 8:31-36 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Wrestling with sin
Matthew 26:41 Jesus said to the disciples, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." KJV
Secondly, Paul knew Jesus, and he participated in miracles and signs and wonders. So who is better armed spiritually to defeat or deal with sin than someone who walked with Jesus? Yet, Paul agonized over sin and wrestled with it terribly. Jesus is the only example of someone who did not sin. So I don't think it is wise to count or assess the sins in someone else's life without valid purpose.
A Christian may repeat a sin and still be saved. Because, due to the addictive nature of sin, it isn't as easy as just saying, "Oh, golly gee. I just don't think I will do that anymore." It is a battle that must be fought. The enemy does not lay down his weapons quickly, easily, or without a fight. Actually, the term addictive infers there was a time before you started sinning, and once you tried it, you became addicted to it. We are born with the sinful nature built into us from the start. So it isn't a matter of, if we had tried harder, we would not have started sinning and therefore would not have become addicted, or once addicted we could have stopped.
Remember, a repeat offense does NOT automatically mean a person is not saved. Don't let Satan trick you into giving up when you are so close to victory! He wants you to believe God will never love you. He wants you to believe you must earn your way to Heaven. But you cannot earn your way to Heaven! (Ephesians 2:8-9)
United with Christ in His resurrection
Romans 5:21-6:7 ...so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 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.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Accept Christ's love and forgiveness freely and without restrictions or limitations. Strive for perfection, but be realistic enough to know that that goal is not attainable in this lifetime. We must ask for God's Spirit to strengthen us, provide resources for us, and provide liberation from what is holding us in chains. And PEACE! Ask for peace!
And I hope you can believe that when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, Christ's forgiveness of your sins was total and absolute. You may still wrestle with sin and be plagued with doubts from Satan, but your salvation was secured at the cross. Your salvation remains intact through it all. And so does your freedom!
Romans 8:38-39 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.
Sometimes it may seem like you can't even take a deep breath to get the flood of images and thoughts to stop washing over and through you. You may not know what you are thinking or what you believe. As if you are mountain climbing and you have all those spikes hammered into the wall.
You get to the point that you just don't care if you can remember how many spikes there were, what color are they, what length are they, where they are, how far apart they are, what is the angle at which they were driven, etc. You have to throw caution to the wind and just let yourself fall. Yes there is a time when you must simply free fall. You will fall into the hands of a God of love.
All Bible verses are shown in the NIV version, unless otherwise noted.
Nave's Topical Bible, Electronic Database Copyright © 1990 by Biblesoft, Inc. and TriStar Publishing
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.