Can I be Born Again and Still Commit Sins?

April 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: I John 3:9-10 seems to be saying that true Christians never sin. How can I make sense of this?

Answer: By examining the verses carefully, in their context, and in light of the dominant doctrines of the Bible which address the same issues.

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. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

I John 3:9-10

Who is “born of God?” True Christians, according to John 3:3-7, are people who have been “born again” (reborn spiritually) by the Spirit of God. Therefore, the “whosoever” which begins I John 3:9 is anyone who is really a Christian. Taken in isolation, the statement,”True Christians do not ‘commit’ sin,” could easily be taken to mean that if you are truly a Christian, then you will never commit any sins. And, logically, the inverse would be true: If you sin, then you must not be a true Christian.

However, true Christians know from experience that they do still sin. It would be difficult to find a true Christian that denies sinning every week, every day, even every hour. We don’t use our experiences, though, to interpret Scripture, so let’s keep reading.

Why don’t those who are born again commit sin, according to I John 3:9? It is because “His [God’s] seed” REMAINS (stays permanently) in those who are born of Him. What does that mean?

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I Peter 1:23

If you are truly a Christian, God, by His Word, at the moment of salvation, gave you His “seed” – something of His nature. This does not mean that true Christians become “gods” (a false belief of Mormonism), but we do get a new “heart” – new essence or nature – which is “of God.” This is not a physical impartation, like when our children inherit our DNA, but there is a similarity, even though it is spiritual, not physical. So, we could reason that, the occurrence of sin after a “salvation” experience means that we did not really receive God’s gift of salvation, because sin is not of God. It’s “of” us. (Note the impossibility of the seed of God leaving His spiritual offspring, which emphasizes the truth that real salvation, once granted, can not be “lost.”)

Another interesting thing to note is that I John 3:9 is a chiasmus:
A. Whoever is born of God
B. Does not commit sin
C. Because God’s seed remains in him
B. He cannot sin
A. Because he is born of God

It seems very black and white, but, without regard to its proper context, it could be used to teach the false doctrine of “perfectionism:” the idea that any sin in the life of a person excludes the possibility that he is a true Christian, so it must be possible for human beings to reach a state of sinless perfection in this lifetime.

On the flip side, it would also be an error to use the verse to support the Gnostic idea of antinomian dualistic perfectionism: the “antichrist” doctrine that the physical body doesn’t matter, so a spiritually transformed Christian can sin all he wants in his body, and it doesn’t “count” because the spiritual self is no longer even capable of sinning.

The better view is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and to analyze I John 3:9-10 in light of other verses in I John such as:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

I John 2:1

And:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I John 1:8-10

Additionally, passages like Romans 3:10-23 and Romans 7:14-25, and pretty much all the New Testament epistles that deal with Christians getting the victory over sin and fighting against it all the way to our ultimate sanctification and glorification, make it clear that no Christian ever reaches a state in this lifetime where he is completely free from the commission of sins.

So, when we come to a somewhat jarring verse like I John 3:9, we interpret the dominant pervasively-Biblical precept over the more obscure in-context precept. And the next verse, I John 3:10, actually helps us get a better sense of the context. It says that the children of God are “manifest,” which is a key word in the Book of I John. It means “to make apparent; to reveal openly.” It is what we look to when determining the status of something’s invisible essence by what Thomas Aquinas called its outward “accidents.”

How can we make the best human judgment in distinguishing the children of God from the children of Satan? By their manifest righteousness, or lack of righteousness. We would expect the children of God and the children of Satan to be polar opposites when it comes to the patterns of their lifestyles, and their responses to sin, in the sense of repentance or unrepentance. Of course, we also identify the children of God by their love for other Christians.

This helps us to get a deeper sense of the use of the word “commit” in I John 3:9, so that we understand it as describing an ongoing, habitual life of sin, rather than the commission of any one individual sin. When we are looking at other people, trying our best to determine the genuineness of their profession of faith, we can not judge their hearts, but we can make a practical determination of how much trust to place in their profession based on what we observe. Furthermore, when we examine our own hearts in light of the outward fruit produced in our lives, we will lack assurance if we act and talk more like the devil than like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit Who indwells true Christians CAN NOT initiate sin or practice sin. Our “flesh” – our old nature that is still subject to worldly and Satanic influence – CAN NOT produce God-pleasing righteousness.

So, in response to the question, “How can I make sense of I John 3:9-10?” let me summarize with six points:

1. Sin the life of a Christian does NOT automatically mean the person is not really a Christian. (As Martin Luther said, the Christian life can be described as simul iustus et peccator: simultaneously justified yet sinning.)

2. Unrepentant persistent sin in the life of a professing Christian may be seen as the manifestation of a false profession of faith in Christ.

3. God’s nature in believers is not the source of their sin; it IS the source of any outward righteousness produced in their lives. (Justification is settled in Heaven; regeneration should be evident on earth.)

4. Our assurance of salvation should be challenged, and we must examine our profession of faith if we are manifestly non-Christian in our love of sin and lack of love for Christians.

5. Our obedience to the law of God is important for Christians, although it is not the basis of our status as children of God. (We must avoid both extremes: legalism and antinomianism.)

6. Gnosticism is a heresy. Our bodies are important to God, just as our spirits are important to God. Christ died and rose again to redeem them both.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 2)

October 19, 2017 at 11:10 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life, Isaiah | 2 Comments
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Last time, we acknowledged that God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, and constant. Now we will see that it is also complete.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:13-14

God does not need any assistance in getting information, or in helping Him to understand or interpret the information He has. Nor does He need anyone to counsel Him as to how to use His information or knowledge. Obviously, the same cannot be said of us. We often need assistance, help, or someone to give us advice. We need teachers, and the Bible says we are foolish if we won’t listen to someone with more experience than us. We need instruction manuals. We have to stop and ask for directions.

But not God. He doesn’t need anyone’s advice. That’s one of the many reasons that we must read and study our Bibles diligently. That’s where God has told us exactly what He wants us to know – no more and no less. Obedience to God’s Word is not bondage or drudgery; it is great freedom. He knows what’s best for us, and when He says, “thou shalt not,” we had better believe there’s a very good reason for it. His Word is not up for debate, because He has spoken it, and caused it to be written, out of His omniscience.

In addition to being complete, God’s knowledge is correct.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10

Even the smartest human experts are sometimes proven wrong. There are times when we “know” something without a shadow of a doubt, and then it turns out that we were deceiving ourselves or we were forgetful.

But not God. He is perfect in all His ways, and in His omniscience He cannot be wrong, mistaken, forgetful, or untrue. He knows everything that will happen, not because He looks ahead in time before making His predictions or prophecies, but because He is infinite and is already present in the “future” now, sovereignly causing or allowing events to occur before anyone else “gets there.” God would score a perfect A+ on any history test, not because He was the one Who wrote the test, but because history is “His story.” He is making it happen, and the future, to Him, already exists in His omniscience.

Because God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, complete, and correct, it is also comforting.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but (to use a well-worn but still accurate cliche’) we know Who holds tomorrow. At least I hope you know Him. He knows you – either as His child or as His enemy – either as His “son” or as a sinner. He knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you’re thinking right now, and where you’re going.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:29-32

You are going to see Him – probably much sooner than you think. The determining factor on that day will not be your baptism, your church attendance (or even your membership), or your religious affiliation. No last rites or rosaries or confessions or the record of how good a Samaritan you were will matter at that moment. Your “good” deeds will not be weighed on a scale against your bad deeds. Your parents, your skin color, your bank account, or whether you loved your country – none of that will matter. What will matter is whether you believed and received the eternal Son of the omniscient God.

Through Whom God Works out His Plans

November 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Several years ago my wife and I were sitting across the table from another married couple, having a meal together at a Christian retreat. They were telling us about the first and only house they had purchased after getting married. The wife said that, after looking at many houses, they had a found a few possibilities but none seemed like the perfect choice. Finally, her husband drove them out to the country, down a winding path, to a little rundown home in a wooded area. The wife was adamantly opposed. The price was right, but the house needed a great deal of fixing up, and she did not want a renovation project to be the first task they tackled together as married couple. To put it bluntly, she hated it. She had a certain type of home in mind, and this was not it. Then, as she was telling us about it, the couple smiled at each other, and the wife said, “I had a plan, and…”

I remembering thinking, “I know what’s coming next. She’s going to say, ‘I had a plan, and God had a plan… and His plans are always better than our plans.'” Or something to that effect. But that’s not what she said. She said, “I had a plan… and my husband had a plan.”

The husband listened carefully and patiently to his wife’s input, but, even though they didn’t agree, he made the decision to purchase the house. She lovingly submitted, they fixed it up, they raised a family together there, they glorified God in that home, and, all those years later, they were still living in it and they loved it.

I still think about it that conversation sometimes. It sounded so unspiritual compared to what she could have said. However, the Bible says:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

That’s not the most popular Bible verse these days. Our modern society doesn’t like the idea of “submission,” especially where gender roles are debated and used as cannon fodder in the culture wars. And, even within the confessing evangelical church, a whole bunch of ink has been spilled trying to “explain away” the plain meaning of such a simple principle.

Many times, we forget that God ordains and commands authority and submission and obedience – even in our fallen and sinful earthly realm – for good, using them as means to carry out His sovereign will. God is omniscient, so He is certainly able to foresee and determine the outcome, even of bad human decisions, but He still tells sinful children to submit to sinful parents, sinful church members to submit to sinful church leaders, sinful employees to submit to sinful employers, and even sinful wives to submit to sinful husbands. It’s not always easy to trust a another human being with a life-altering decision, but it should not be difficult at all for us to read the Bible, understand its basic concepts, and to trust the omniscient God of the universe.

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?

Job 37:16

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Psalm 139:4

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I Timothy 1:17

The Purpose, and the Misuse, of Anger

May 28, 2015 at 10:45 am | Posted in Matthew | 9 Comments
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Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Matthew 5:21-26

We are created in the image of God. This deals more with the make-up of our inner selves than any physical characteristics. It includes our will and our emotions. In some ways, our emotions are a mirror of the ways God chooses to express His feelings. We are able to love because God is love, and He has created an ability to love in us. We have compassion because God understands everything about us, and He has created in us an ability to understand others.

Many of the emotions which we received from God have been warped and perverted because of sin. Jealousy is one example. God’s jealousy is good. We should be jealous of those we love in the sense of wanting what is best for them, and wanting to share a special bond. But instead we make it into a petty, selfish emotion, where we are jealous of what someone else has, so that we want it for ourselves. Another example is lust: a strong burning inward desire for something. We should lust after our spouses. We should lust after righteousness. But we’ve turned lust into a sinful desire to have what is forbidden, and our flesh enjoys it all the more because it is forbidden. Fear is another example. We should have an awe of God, and a reverent fear of Him that helps us. Instead, we make fear our excuse for not moving in faith, for not boldly going into the unknown while knowing that God is with us.

Let’s focus on another example: anger. Anger is expressed by God. God is love, but He does get angry. God is love, and He is good, but a part of being good is being just, and part of being just is rewarding right and punishing wrong. God’s holiness must be offended by, and angered by, sin. It must be angered by injustice, so God reserves His anger for times when His creatures rebel against Him, as is the case with Lucifer, Adam and Eve – and you and I.

Question: How can God be loving and angry?
Answer: How can He not?

We tend to be subjective when we think about someone’s evil deeds. Two people read about a criminal in the news. One person is offended, and another person is not. One person does not approve of the criminal’s actions, but is sympathetic over the consequences of getting caught or over the circumstances that led him to commit the crime. A third person is aghast and disgusted at the villainy that was perpetrated. Deep down, though, each of them has a sense of justice. When the crime is horrific enough, or cruel enough, we feel an urge to see punishment meted out, if not by the authorities, then at least by some cosmic judge. None of us really, truly want a God who could look at 9/11 and just want to give Osama Bin Laden a hug. God’s response to kidnappings, rapes, murders can not be, “Let’s just hold hands and sing kumbaya.”

Question: If God is all-powerful and all good, why is there so much bad?
Answer: That’s the wrong question. The question should be: “If God is all-powerful and all good, why has He not obliterated this whole world a long time ago?”

God expresses anger – it seems – as a way of dealing with injustice and sin. But we have taken our God-given capacity for anger, and have warped it and abused it and tainted it with sin.

There is a righteous anger and a holy indignation. The Bible even tells us to be angry (but not to sin, Ephesians 4:26). Some examples of righteous indignation include Jesus chasing the money-changers out of the Temple, and sinners under John the Baptist’s preaching reacting violently to get past the Pharisees in order to get to God (Matthew 11:12).

Matthew 5:21-26 is part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ the King issued His decrees on the fulfillment of – and the real meaning of – the Law. The Pharisees had made the law of Moses completely external. Christ said that its real application is to the heart – internal. Sinful anger is anger that is not justified – anger that exists, according to Matthew 5:22, “without a cause.” And this may very well include 99.9% of all human anger. Because, unlike God, we are sinful and not capable of exercising or administering perfect justice, we are commanded to be forgiving, meek, humble, long-suffering, kind, loving, prayerful for enemies, willing to turn the other cheek.

We who have been forgiven in Christ have been spared the consequences of God’s anger, although God remained just. Therefore, we, being unjust, must not place our own selfish interpretation of justice around us and seek to enforce it.

Sinful anger is very dangerous. It makes us want to destroy, when Jesus has called us to be builders rather than destroyers.

Sinful anger puts us into bondage spiritually (and sometimes literally). God doesn’t want us to be captives. He wants us to be free.

Sinful anger in our hearts comes out of our mouths, and makes a bad situation worse. God wants us to come into bad situations and make them better.

The Law said “thou shalt not kill.” The Pharisees added:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

Matthew 5:43

Jesus said not only is murder a sin, but unjustified hatred in the heart is murder.

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

I John 3:15

Most murders are not cold and calculated; they are a result of unrestrained anger. Most of them don’t take place when people are defending a righteous cause; most of them take place in the barrooms and the bedrooms. God values human life. Only He gives it, and only He has the right to take it away. So the Lord says, make things right with your brother before you come to the altar to show your love for God. We need to come to worship with a right heart. Bitterness and anger toward our brothers intrudes on our relationship with God, and our worship of Him.

Catechism Question 7

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 7 Comments
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Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

“Trans” means across. Sinning is going across the boundaries of God’s law with ag”gression.” Two broad categories of sin are sins of “omission” and sins of “commission,” which are, respectively, any lack of conformity to, or transgression (violation) of, the law of God. In other words, both doing bad, and failing to do good, are sin.

Other verses to consider:

And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

Leviticus 5:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James 4:17

Beware the Fight with the Flesh

September 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, The Fives | 5 Comments
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I know a number of Christians who have devoted the majority of their lives to the ministry of delivering their fellow human beings from the power of Satan. This is certainly a noble vocation. In fact, it was one of the chief objectives of the incarnate Lord.

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.

I John 3:8 (emphasis added)

Given the prevalence of “deliverance” ministries in the modern church, and the ubiquity of “seeker-sensitive” ecclesiology in recent years, the idea of delivering someone to Satan instead of from Satan probably sounds especially abhorrent to you. However, that is precisely what the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul adjured the church at Corinth to do.

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

I Corinthians 5:5

What was the offender’s crime? It was brazen sexual sin, practiced openly and unrepentantly.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

I Corinthians 5:1

Church discipline can be a touchy subject, and we see precious little of it practiced these days. It is a grievous measure which must be done with mourning and severity, and not motivated by any sort of a personal grudge. The idea that a believer would be sent out to deal with Satan apart from the accountability, encouragement, and exhortation of the brothers and sisters of Christ which make up his local church family should definitely give us pause. True Christian fellowship is possible only when we are on the same page concerning the fight against our sinful flesh. If we can, through the conquering power of Christ, keep our sinful physical desires in subjection, we can stand together, unified in our desire to bring glory to God.

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.

Romans 7:18

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 22 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female). But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security

October 29, 2010 at 9:25 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Eternity, John | 16 Comments
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I. Will God or someone else take away the salvation He has given me?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

We must never base our beliefs on this subject on our experience or the experience of another person. We must let the Bible speak for itself. Consider the testimony of Jesus Himself:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:37 (Emphasis added.)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 (Emphasis added.)

II. Can I lose it on my own?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

If we had to do anything to keep it, we would lose it easily.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:10

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

But we do not “keep” the salvation that God gives us. Christ keeps it.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

II Timothy 1:12 (Emphasis added.)

If we could get it – or keep it – ourselves, then Christ died in vain.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21

III. Can some other power or condition take away from me the salvation given by the Lord?

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

According to John 1:12-13, when God saved you, He became your Father, and you became His child. Your biological father can never not be your biological father. Likewise, once you are made a child of God, your Heavenly Father can never not be your Father.

There is almost always a record made of physical birth, but there is always a record made of Spiritual birth.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (Emphasis added.)

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13 (Emphasis added.)

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 (Emphasis added.)

Ephesians 4:30 would have been a perfect place to say that if you grieve the Holy Spirit, He will leave you, but instead it says right there that He seals you unto the day of redemption.

We are not saved by feelings, and feelings do not affect the objective truth of the Word of God.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

IV. Questions

A. Does I John 5:13 teach us that God wants us to be secure or insecure about salvation? Secure.

B. Does I John 3:20 teach that we can trust our own hearts and feelings about whether we are saved? No.

C. Find three Bible Verses that promise that God cannot lie.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Hebrews 6:18

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

V. Memory Verses

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:13

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Three – Baptism

How the Fallen Are Mighty

December 9, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Genesis | 13 Comments
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Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

I John 3:12

Cain was “of that” wicked one: the devil. Therefore, he would be a liar and a counterfeiter – and a blasphemous counterfeiter. “Slew” in I John 3:12 can mean to slaughter – as in the way a sacrificial animal was killed. There are some difficult passages in Genesis, and the New Testament many times clarifies the Old Testament.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Genesis 4:8-10 (emphasis added)

Verse 8 says “slew,” as if Cain was saying to God, “Okay, God, you didn’t like my first sacrifice – you wanted a blood sacrifice – a slaughtered beast – here you go,” in a very rebellious, very arrogant, very evil way.

So I John 3:12 may be revealing the demonic nature of Cain in his outright rebellion against God. And Genesis 4:9 (“I know not [where my brother is]”) certainly reveals his lying, which is also the way of Satan. How quickly sin – in the very first descendant of Adam and Eve – begins to completely reach its full depths of evil! Adam and Eve’s very first child turns out to be not just greedy, not just jealous, not just rebellious, not just dishonest, not just disobedient, but a murderer! And not just a murderer but a perpetrator of fratricide!

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Genesis 4:1

The name “Cain” meant “that which was acquired.” Cain was acquired from God, but obtained through a painful effort. There was a double curse of painful childbirth – the pain itself and the tendency toward a feeling of pride: “This child was given to me by God, but he’s mine, too – look how much effort I put into him, look how much pain it cost me to have him.” We must be careful to remember Whose children “our” children really are.

Think about all the questions God asks in Genesis 4:6, 7, 9, and 10: “Why art thou wroth?” “Why is thy countenance fallen?” “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” “Where is Abel thy brother?” “What hast thou done?” God gave chances to admit to sin to both Adam and Cain. Adam tried to avoid God; Cain outright lied to God. Then notice Cain’s selfish, Luciferean point of view:

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Genesis 4:13-14 (emphasis added)

And Cain continued rebelling against God:

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Genesis 4:16:17

God pronounced Cain a vagabond – a wanderer, a homeless person – but, instead of wandering, he founded a land – and called it “Wandering” – and tried to settle down there and build a city!

Jude v. 11 speaks of the “way of Cain.” In Genesis, starting with the life of Cain, we begin to see a clear division of the broad way and the narrow way, with the descendants of Cain following the way of Cain, and God raising up a remnant of believers in the line of Seth.

Cain had an Enoch in his line; Seth had an Enosh and an Enoch in his line. One line has a Mehujael; the other line has a Methusaleh. They both had a Lamech. Cain’s Lamech was the first bigamist.

The people in the city of Cain and his son, Enoch, had agriculture (Genesis 4:20). They had arts (Genesis 4:21). They had industry (Genesis 4:22). They had everything but God.

In Genesis Chapter 5 we see a clear separation in the line of Seth and the line of Cain. If there is “the way of Cain,” we could also say there is a “way of Seth.”

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 5:2-3

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

Seth’s Enoch was 300 when he had Methusaleh, and his life changed. He walked with the Lord. The birth of a child should make us walk with the Lord.

Enoch’s disappearance is a good picture of the rapture before tribulation. “Methusaleh” means “man of the dart,” which could refer to him being a good shot with the bow and arrow, but, being of Seth’s line, and not Cain’s, it probably reveals God’s intention for the lifespan of Methusaleh to be like a dart. A dart flies far from the person who launched it, but it eventually lands, and that is the end of its journey. It marks a spot – the end of something. Methusaleh lived to be 969. He holds the record for the world’s oldest human. When he finally died, God flooded the world. This shows God’s attribute of being longsuffering.

Professing Atheists Do Have Faith

March 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 1 Comment
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Christian: Professing atheists are people who know the truth, but choose to deny the truth because they are walking after their own lusts.

Professing Atheist: I find it quite strange that you claim to know what’s going on in other people’s minds.

Christian: I do not claim to know what’s going on in other people’s minds in the sense of having a private revelation. Romans Chapter 1 and I John 3:20 make it abundantly clear, however, that God knows what is going on in everyone’s mind, including professing atheists. They have access to the truth, yet hold that truth in unrighteousness.

Professing Atheist: Do you actually think that everyone in the whole world really believes that Christianity is correct, and willfully ignores that truth? Is non-belief so alien a concept to you that you refuse to consider that many people out there honestly and legitimately don’t believe the same things that you do?

Christian: Non-belief is not an alien concept. I don’t believe a great many things. Likewise, to you, faith is not an alien concept. You have faith. But your greatest need – and on some level you know this – is to transfer your faith to Christ Jesus. I am fully aware that I have no power to sway you. But the Holy Spirit of God does have the power. He not only reproves of sin, but also of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:8) He can use Scripture to do so. (Romans 10:14-17) Therefore, it is you, not me, who will get the real benefit if you open the Bible and read with an open mind and heart.


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