Sunday, April 26, 2020 -
One common thing I see in prison, which I am sure is to unique to the confines of these walls, is the claim that since we are under grace, and once one “accepts Christ,” he is automatically forgiven of his sinful nature, and so living a godly life is not necessary. They pull out individual Scripture verses, entirely taken out of context, such as I Corinthians 15:31, where Paul says, “I die daily.” If Paul has to die to sin daily, then what’s wrong with us having to die to sin daily they quip. But the context refers to the persecution and threat of death Paul and those early Christians faced.
Indeed, how can one ignore Romans 6, and particularly verses 1-2, and 11-15: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? May it never be!”
Often, people need excuses for their sin because they are friends with unbelievers and try to fit in. It is for this reason Paul said, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
Peter also warns, “For if after they escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘a dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’” (2 Peter 2:20-22) This is speaking not of one merely sinning in the course of the day, but actually becoming enslaved to sin, as is demonstrated in the prior verse.
Rather, Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16-17) “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him, there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins [as a pattern of sins]; no one who sins [as a pattern of sins] has seen Him or knows Him. Little children let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” (I John 3:3-9)
So, “if then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
This is all so very clear to me. And it is “The surpassing greatness of His power” (Ephesians 1:19) through the Holy Spirit, not our own strength, that keeps us from temptation. “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” (I Thessalonians 1:5)