Can I be Born Again and Still Commit Sins?

April 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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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.

God’s Will and Our Will

September 18, 2015 at 9:26 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 7 Comments
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Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Romans 2:17-18 (emphasis added)

One of the distinguishing features about sometimes categorizing God’s will as preceptive, rather than decretive or secretive, is that God’s preceptive will is clearly revealed.

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

There is nothing good in our flesh. Have you come to grips with this in your life? Have you preached this to yourself and to the children entrusted by God into your care? God’s will can sometimes be described as dispositive, as can ours, but, in a stark contrast to His, our disposition, apart from His Spirit controlling us, is toward evil.

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 7:19-25

Our wills are always subject to God’s decretive will, but they are often in abject rebellion against His preceptive will. Our wills are subject to our desires, but there is hope in Christ, for He can change our desires and thereby make our wills subject to God’s will.

One important thing to remember about God’s hidden will is that it is intentionally hidden. God has His reasons for not revealing His secret will to us, and those reasons are good. Historically, though, this has not sat well with everyone who claims to be a Christian. There were those in the early Church – including ascetics, gnostics, and legalists – who wanted to add their beliefs to Scripture’s teaching about God’s preceptive will, and to insist that their additions were binding, when in fact God had not revealed them to be so.

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The “things” referred to were possibly things like refusing to eat and wearing itchy clothes – things that appeared to mortify the flesh in an attempt to exercise “self”-control over the will. These denials of self and comfort were supposed to “prove” how spiritual the practitioners were by demonstrating their own “will power,” but they were basically worshiping their own will by pretending it was God’s will.

The truth is that there are certain areas where Scripture grants liberty and the application of personal conscience – for example, exact clothing choices, which holy days to observe, and what to eat or drink. In these areas, we should acknowledge that, where God has chosen to close His holy mouth, we ought not to be loud with ours.

An Illustrative Marriage

October 23, 2013 at 9:41 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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Marriage is supposed to illustrate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

Obviously God made a good choice when he chose to make marriage Gospel-illustrative, because it is a very pliable analogy. In the Bible it is used at least three different ways to illustrate the relationship between Christians and Christ.

First, it illustrates Christ’s relationship with the capital C “Church” – the “universal” church.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.

Hosea 2:19

God – from the time of Abraham – has been calling out a “bride” for His Son. He has been “saving” a bride: making her righteous and cleaning her up so that she will be beautiful for His Son. If we are to illustrate that accurately in our marriages, we need to be holy and different in a world which is devaluing marriage every day.

Second, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship to local churches.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

II Corinthians 11:2

As married couples we need to have “Godly” jealousy, which is a desire that your spouse’s affections are set on you in a way they are set on no one else. This is justifiable if you are a trustworthy recipient of those affections. We also need to be involved in ministry in our local church, holding up the Christian ideal of marriage in a church which calls itself Christian. Stand up for the marriages of your fellow church members, and stand up for Jesus when problems arise.

Third, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship with individual believers.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Romans 7:4

We are part of a universal body, and we should minister in a local body, but we must nourish and cherish our individual and personal relationships with Christ as well. Spouses “leave” their old lives as sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, to commit to a higher allegiance to each other. So too do Christians leave our old protections, homes, hopes, tasks, and masters, to be joined unto Christ, Who provides better protection, hope, tasks, and is a better Master.

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

The Trap of Failing to Learn Lessons

May 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 4 Comments
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They say that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I don’t think that Samson was “insane” in the clinical sense, but we sure have to wonder about his tendency to repeat the same mistakes. They also say that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Two times, with two different women, Samson was tricked into revealing a secret to his own detriment: Judges 14:16-18; 16:6-19. In fact, on the second occasion – with Delilah – he was fooled multiple times by the same ploy.

Where was Samson’s ability to gauge cause-and-effect? Where was his “nonsense” filter? Where was his aptitude to learn from his own mistakes? The same place yours and mine so often is: buried beneath a layer of sinful flesh.

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.

Romans 7:18-19

If you are a Christian, then the Lord has set you free from the bondage of the Law by His love and grace. However, our march toward complete surrender to His will and total conformity to the image of Christ is more of an uphill climb over rocky terrain than a casual stroll though a peaceful park. Thankfully, God has given us His Spirit to indwell us, His Word to instruct us, and His body to influence us.

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

Galatians 5:16-17

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

Psalm 119:11

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

Experience can be a valuable teacher, but it is in our nature – apart from God – to repeat our mistakes. Our best method for learning from our failures is: (1) to yield to the Lord’s Spirit, remembering that He has set us free from the power of sin; (2) to stay focused on the Bible with the intention of obeying it; (3) to find brothers and sisters in Christ in a local Bible-teaching and -believing church who will hold you accountable in love.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Romans 7:22

The Addict (His Characteristics)

October 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Jeremiah, Outcasts of Ministry | 17 Comments
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This is the beginning of a series of lessons entitled Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church.

What is an outcast? It is someone who has been excluded, or who does not “fit in.”

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Jeremiah 30:17

An outcast is someone who has been expelled or driven out – someone whom nobody seeks after or wants to be around. In Jeremiah 30:17 God sent words of comfort to Zion – the people of Jerusalem who were then in captivity. The other nations were calling them an Outcast. No one was inquiring after the Temple or the holy city. Why had God allowed them to reach this condition – to become “outcasts?”

Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.

Jeremiah 30:15

Their incurable sorrows were caused by their incurable lusts – their sinful desires. God knew their hearts, and He observed their actions, and they were “addicted” to sin.

The first of the three “outcasts” that I want to talk about is the “addict.” To call someone an “addict” has a negative connotation in society today. There are all kinds of addicts. Many of the things that we could become addicted to, according to Scripture, are clearly wrong. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, fornication are common examples. There are other things that may not be clearly wrong, but are still sources of addiction for many people: TV, radio, internet, junk food, coffee. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I myself struggle with a serious addiction. I am addicted to fried chicken and green Kool-Aid.

fried chicken

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/green-kool-aid.jpg?w=273

There, I’m not proud of it, but I admitted it. Go ahead and judge me…! All kidding aside though, I am aware that addiction can be a very serious problem, and I’m thankful for those who have come up with ways to combat addictions. Sadly, though, most of the ways our society treats addiction deal more with treating the symptoms than eradicating the source, and I am afraid we are fighting a losing battle. A true addiction can only be cured by a changed heart.

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.

Romans 7:18-19

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…

Romans 7:24-25

The only solution to beating a sinful addiction is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once He has set us free, we are to follow the ways the Bible sets forth for not getting involved in our old addictions again.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

Once you have trusted Christ, you may replace your worldly addictions with the things of God. Are you involved in Christian ministry? Is your family? Most of the things that come to mind when we hear the term “family activities” are worldly activities, but families can and should minister together. And even if you are not part of a ministering biological family, you definitely need to be part of a local church family.

Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God…

I Chronicles 29:3

Most of the time addictions are something bad, but the Word of God speaks of one who had the right kind of addiction. In I Corinthians Chapter 16, the Holy Ghost, through the Apostle Paul, is writing the closing of His first letter to the Corinthians, and He singles out a few individuals who are positive examples to the believers.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I Corinthians 16:15

The Holy Spirit of God says, of all the things in the world that you could be addicted to, if you’re going to be addicted, here’s what you need to be addicted to: the ministry of the saints.

Here are some of the characteristics of a person who is an addict:

1. His addiction becomes visibly apparent.

You will see this with people who are addicted to certain types of drugs. In the area where I live addiction to crystal meth is epidemic. The judges in the courts of my district have gotten so adept at spotting crystal meth addiction that they can usually tell just by looking at a litigant’s teeth as she stands before the bench. Another example is people who suffer from alcoholism getting the “shakes” when they go too long without a drink.

I Corinthians 16:15 tells us that Stephanas was known. Because he was the first person converted to Christianity in Achaia, he was known to God, but it is because he was addicted to the ministry of the saints that he was known among the other Christians. Worldly addicts are known for selfishness. Christians who are “spiritually addicted” should be known for ministry.

2. An addict is a burden on his family.

As you read this, do you have a loved one for whom you regularly pray to be delivered from addiction? Most of us do. If you belong to a church with a bus ministry or a children’s outreach ministry, how many children in your children’s church or Sunday School services shed tears every week during prayer request time over their parents’ addictions? Not only was Stephanas addicted to ministry, but his household was, too – his entire family. What do they say about the House of [insert your last name here]? Worldly addicts bring shame to their families, but addiction to ministry will spread to your whole family, bringing blessings instead of shame.

3. His addiction is a drain on resources.

Could a forensic accountant examine your checkbook and your bank statements and your household budget and be able to determine where your heart is? Are there entries for tithes and offerings – for missions giving – for love offerings? Or would those entries be outweighed by your entertainment budget? Do you spend more on entertainment – cable TV, internet service, movies, and restaurants – than you give to the work of the Lord? A gambling or drug or shopping addiction will quickly create problems with your finances. But an addiction to ministry…

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

I Corinthians 16:17

The legacy of Stephanas, the ministry addict, was that he supplied that which was lacking. The worldly addict takes away that which is needed, but the ministry addict provides that which is missing.

4. His addiction makes him difficult to be around.

What’s the worst part about being around an addict? Often, addicts have a variety of unpleasant symptoms that go along with their addictions: bad breath, body odors, slovenly appearance. But the outward signs of addiction are not the worst things about it. Maybe the worst thing is that their addiction comes first. If you’ve been around someone with a desperate addiction, you know that they tend to want to talk about nothing other than their addiction. Unless the listener is a fellow addict, he probably doesn’t have a lot to add to a conversation about gambling or pornography. The nature of most addictions is that they make the addict very self-centered. However, a person who is truly addicted to ministry is somebody that most people will like to be around. Ministry addicts have an attitude of “what can I do for you” instead of “what can you do for me.” This is what the Apostle Paul had to say about Stephanas:

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus… For they have refreshed my spirit and yours…

I Corinthians 16:17-18

Stephanas was the kind of person you would have been glad to see coming. You wouldn’t have had to check your wallet, or hide the women and children. If you were feeling low, he was the type that would lift your mood, refresh your spirit. When the Bible says he was a minister to the “saints” it doesn’t mean that he polished the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul and St. Mary, or that he lit candles for previously deceased Christians. It means that he looked for ways to take care of the needs of other believers – living believers – brothers and sisters in Christ – and he did it to the glory of God. He was excited about it, and he did it with a smile on his face.

Are you addicted to ministry? Do you look for opportunities to be a blessing to others? As a Christian, I should strive to be a blessing, not a burden.

Next time, I will compare the signs of worldly addiction with the signs of ministry addiction.

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 20 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

Destined for Victory

February 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Romans | 18 Comments
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For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 7:14

The Law can not change us. Nobody can deny that the Law is holy and good and just, because it came from the holy God. The Law is good because it reveals God’s holiness and our unholiness – our sinfulness. But the Law cannot cure us – it makes the diagnosis.

According to Romans 7:15-21, our “members” – our arms, legs, and whole body – can be controlled by our flesh (carnal nature; old nature), or by the Spirit (new nature). It is okay for the believer to have a goal of not breaking God’s laws, but the believer has to realize that, like the Apostle Paul, we can not obey the laws in our own power. Nor does the Law itself provide the power for us to do good.

According to Romans 7:21-24, believers have been “redeemed.” We have been “set free” or “bought out of slavery.” But the Law can not set us free. The Law is like gravity. The more we struggle to jump up in the air, the more keenly we feel its weight drawing us down. The Law – when viewed as a burden of weight to carry – draws us down into sin. When the Apostle Paul calls himself a “wretched” man, he means “wretched” in the sense of someone who has been in a battle and is worn out and worn down. No matter how hard we struggle in the battle, we will wind up wretched unless we are delivered – delivered by the Lord Jesus.

According to Romans 8:1-4, as believers, we are not condemned by the Law. There is now (present tense eternal) no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (those who are saved). We owed a debt for our sins, but Christ paid it for us. Now, it has been paid in full – the Law can not claim that it is still owed.

According to Romans 8:5-17, as believers, we are destined for four specific victories:

1. God’s Spirit, which lives inside us, is stronger than our flesh. Therefore, we are destined for victory over the flesh.

2. We had physical life before we were saved, but were dead spiritually. Now, we have the victory of spiritual life, too.

3. Before, we were at war with God. Now, we have peace with God. The victory is chiefly His, but, in a sense, it is ours, too.

4. Before, we wanted to please ourselves. Now, we want to please God. We are destined for victory over self.

According to Romans 8:18-30, as believers, we do not have to feel frustrated. The suffering in the world was not “created” by God. It was created by Adam’s sin. The suffering of the believer is temporary. We long for the fulfillment of our hope, but, because we know it is coming, we shouldn’t be discouraged. Jesus feels our pain, and intercedes for us in prayer. We know that God’s plans are perfect.

According to Romans 8:31-39, as believers, we do not have to worry about God disowning us. We need to be focused on serving God as our King and Lord, but there is also a sense in which God is “on our side.” He proved it when Christ died for us. If He died for us while we were sinning against Him, how much more will He bless us, now that we are His children? God is not a double-minded hypocrite. Having justified us, He will not now accuse us. Not only does the Holy Spirit pray for us, but Christ does, too. Even when we fail God, He still loves us. It is not a conditional love. A child who disobeys his father is still that father’s child. No child, once born, can change the fact of who his father is. Nobody can go back and be “unborn.” NOTHING can separate the born-again believer from the love of God.

Marriage and War

January 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Posted in Romans | 12 Comments
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Romans Chapter 7 addresses the Christian’s relationship to the Law of God. On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who thought that grace created a free license to sin, were those who thought that grace created an obligation to follow the letter of the Law in such a way that the spirit of the Law was negated. This is one area of the Bible that people will point to when they want to condemn “legalists.”

Here are some common misconceptions about legalism. In other words, here is a list of things that many people mistakenly use to label someone a legalist:

1. You dress up for church or encourage others to dress up for church.

2. You carry your Bible anywhere besides church.

3. You think there ought to be some restrictions for ministries in church.

4. You won’t do certain things so you can avoid temptation.

5. You recommend to people whom you love that they should or shouldn’t do certain things (such as use the King James Version of the Bible or come to church on Wednesday nights.)

None of these things make someone a legalist in and of themselves. Technically, a legalist is someone who thinks that keeping the Law of God is the way to earn God’s favor so that God owes them a debt for their self-righteousness. There is also a sense in which a legalist is someone who believes that keeping rules makes him more spiritual than other Christians.

In Romans Chapter 7 we find the illustration of a marriage to explain the believer’s relationship to the Law. A husband and wife are one flesh. They come under the “law” of marriage as long as they live. If the wife marries somebody else, she’s a bigamist, but also an adulteress. But if the husband dies, she is free to remarry. The law of marriage did not die, and the wife did not die, but it’s as if, when her husband dies, she is now dead to that law and that law is now dead to her. The only way to get back into a marriage relationship with her deceased husband would be a type of re-birth or resurrection. Christians are the bride of Christ, resurrected with Him in a new relationship.

Remember, a main function of the Law is to show up the unbeliever, to point out his sin, to make sin abound, to point the way to salvation.

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Romans 7:7

Coveting is usually considered among the least of sins to men, but, from God’s viewpoint, it is the sin that leads to other sins.

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

Romans 7:8

An “occasion” is a foothold, or an enemy camp inside walls which had been designed to keep an enemy out. Concupiscence is like lust, but carries a connotation of being more determined, more scheming, like a combination of coveting and lust. From it, we get the word “Cupid.” Sin, using the Law as an “occasion,” can kill – both physically and spiritually.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

Romans 7:11

One of the dangers of misunderstanding the Law is that we begin to compare ourselves with those we perceive as holy. We have to remember that our faith is not in a pastor or anyone else – but in God. Our role model is Jesus, not another godly person.

The Law is holy and good.

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Romans 7:12

But it is good because it shows the sinfulness of sin. This is true for the unbeliever, obviously. When we believe, neither sin, nor the Law, have dominion over us. So, how do we wind up in the same condition as Paul:

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Romans 7:13

When sin uses that which is holy and good (the Law) to work death in me, then I’m in big trouble. But at least I’m not alone. We call the Apostle Paul “St. Paul,” but he was a also a wretched man.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Romans 7:24

There is a war going on between two natures. This is a description of our sin nature:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

The carnal man – the “old” man – is too long accustomed to the old ways, and it has the advantage of maturity over the new man – the new nature. What’s going to give my new nature a fighting chance? The truth that my new nature is not really “my” nature. It should be the Holy Spirit living inside me. The Holy Spirit of God is not some floating, amorphous, fickle entity. My condition is not that one day He might “fall” on me, and the next day He might not. He’s a Person. He’s God. He’s going to win the war.

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.

Romans 7:23

The Law pointed out my sin and showed me the way to salvation, but it is not my motivation for living a holy life. I can force my kids to obey (sometimes…maybe), but do I really want them to be motivated by laws and rules, or do I want them to obey me because they love me?

In the battle of the sin nature versus the new nature, the nature that wins the war in the “wretched man” when he’s weary from battle is the nature that’s been fed the most and the nature that is yielded to the Spirit that gives it power.

Discipleship Lesson 1: Salvation

October 15, 2010 at 10:38 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Salvation | 31 Comments
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Discipleship Lesson 1 is on salvation.

SALVATION

I. The two spiritual families

A. The devil’s family

The way to get into the devil’s family is simply by being physically born. Every human being comes into the world as a member of the devil’s family, since we have been conceived in sin and born in corruption. Not everyone likes to use the terminology of being a “child of the devil.” I am not implying that the devil creates human beings. He is a created being himself and lacks the power to create a living soul. It is also correct to say that we are born into this world as sons of Adam, and to say that we are born as children of wrath and children of disobedience. But all unsaved people are slaves to sin, and therefore slaves to Satan.

In one sense, the “children of the devil” are those who believe they are religious, but base their attempts at righteousness on a lie.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 8:44

You enter the devil’s family by birth through your physical forefather, Adam.

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 5:3

Adam’s image and likeness after the commission of sin and the “fall” in the Garden of Eden, is that of a fallen sinner.

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

We inherited our sin nature from our “father,” Adam. Therefore, we are sentenced to die. We have to be “born again” because, up until then, we’ve only been born once – physically. We are dead spiritually before salvation.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:22

B. God’s family

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

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

As a result of your new birth, you have inherited eternal life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

John 6:47

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:36

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

II. There should be a “family resemblance.”

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

II Corinthians 5:17-18

III. There is a “Father – son” relationship.

A. Fathers discipline and forgive their children; children love their fathers and desire to be forgiven when they have offended them.

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

B. Fathers protect their children spiritually.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 6:18

C. Fathers provide for their children.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

D. Fathers protect their children physically.

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

E. Fathers teach their children.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

F. Fathers care about their children.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

G. Fathers love to give gifts to their children.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:11

IV. A saved person will still sin.

A. God commands His children not to sin.

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 3:5-10

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:14-18

B. God has broken sin’s power over His children.

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 7:25

C. God chastens His children in love.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:5-11

D. God forgives His children when they confess their sins to Him.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 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. 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 1:6-10

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

Proverbs 28:13

V. Questions

A. How does someone enter God’s family?

By receiving Jesus as his Savior and being born again.

B. Find three verses that promise you eternal life.

John 6:47; John 3:36; I John 5:12

C. After salvation, God deals with you as:
a. a sinner
b. a son
c. a partner

Answer: a son

D. True or false?

1. Everyone must earn his or her way to Heaven. (F)
2. Sin must be confessed to a Christian leader in order to be forgiven. (F)
3. Each person can choose his or her own path to Heaven. (F)

VI. Memory verses

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

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

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

Next time: Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security


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