Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Good News vs Fake News: The Spirit Convicts You of Your Sins.

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in a study contrasting the Good news of Jesus Christ with the fake news of religious tradition. When we expose the errors of religious tradition, keep in mind we are not attacking people. We are not looking to purposefully agitate fellow Christians. We are simply looking at the Good News and finding freedom from tradition.

 One major area of tradition we've been closely looking at over the last few posts was the subject of sin. As believers in Christ, we know sin is unprofitable and that pursuing sinful ways of living and thinking don't honor His Grace. God is displeased with these choices because when we miss it, we are not acting out of who and what He made us. 

 In our last few studies, we saw that God isn't punishing us when we sin. We were reminded that He isn't holding our sins against us. Today, I want to tackle another area of tradition concerning sin. The concept that the Spirit is convicting you when you sin.

Does the Spirit Convict Us When We Sin?

 This is a major stronghold in the minds of so many Christians. They see believers fail or foul up and believe that the Spirit is going to get onto them for committing sin. They really believe that part of the operation of the Spirit in the life of the Christian is to convict them when they sin. Why do they believe this?

 Tradition. Tradition creeps into our thinking and takes root. We hear a part of a message or read a portion of Scripture out of context, and we find ourselves formulating a concept, a teaching, a pattern of believing. How do we know we don't need to juggle or stand on our head before we can pray? 

 That's an odd question, isn't it? Follow me. Why don't spin around, or jump in down before we pray? Why don't we do all these things? Because there is no Scripture exhorting or commanding us to do so, it's that simple. This is the standard we should be applying when it comes to establishing the truth. Staying with clear Scripture and not man-made philosophies. 

 Many have come to believe this concept of the Spirit convicting us because we were taught it and saw one Scripture allude to it when taken out of context. Tradition-bound believers would say, Jesus Himself said the Spirit convicts us of sin. Is this the truth?

“And when he has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God’s goodness, and of deliverance from judgment. The world’s sin is unbelief in me; 10 there is righteousness available because I go to the Father and you shall see me no more; 11 there is deliverance from judgment because the prince of this world has already been judged. John 16:8-11 TLB

 When we see the Scripture in full context and in its setting we clearly see what Jesus was saying. Jesus is sharing the Good News of salvation by Faith. That He is the only source of salvation and receiving right standing with the Father. Not one place does the New Covenant say or express that the Spirit is the one convicting you of sin. 

Why the Spirit Can't Convict You of Your Sins.

 The Spirit is not the "convicter". There are three major reasons for the Spirit not convicting you. The number one reason is the role of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. To glorify Jesus would be to lift high His name and His Finished Work. For the Spirit to diminish the Finished Work would be to diminish Jesus not glorify Him. The Finished Work dealt with the sin problem.

Secondly, Jesus in His Finished Work purchased our complete forgiveness. Jesus has forgiven us of all our sins. Past, present and even future sins were forgiven once for all time on that Cross. For the Spirit to convict you for something that's already been forgiven is to make light of the Finished Work. The Spirit would be denying the finality of the work of the Cross, and He will never do that.

Finally, God our Father said our sins and Lawless deeds He'd remember no more. To convict you and to remind you of your sins would be dishonoring the Words and promise of our Good Father. God isn't dishonoring Himself. He said He wouldn't remember our sins. Our Father is faithful and true, He never lies. He said He wouldn't ever remember our sin and He hasn't. 

What is Convicting You?

Though the Spirit is not convicting you when you sin, something else surely is.
but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors James 2:9 NKJV
The Law is what convicts, not the Spirit. Now understand, we as Gentiles were never given the Law. However, Paul stated in 1 Timothy that the Law is still valid to show the lost their need for a Savior. This doesn't mean we walk up to people quoting the Big Ten. What it means is that God's standard is 100% perfection, 100% of the time. Whenever we fall short there is a spiritual awareness. This is why we need Grace and the Finished Work.

 No one has it all together at all times. As born-again believers with God dwelling inside us, we will be aware when we miss it. This isn't God convicting us. This is simply spiritual awareness of right and wrong. Our new nature knows right from wrong. Living out of that new nature matures us over time to more often than not to choose the right and shun the wrong. 

 Is it because if we choose the wrong God will be mad at us? Will God expose our sin? Will God break fellowship from us? Will He not answer our prayers? No! We shun the wrong because we know it's not profitable living outside of our New Creation. 

Correction not Conviction

 God's Spirit will never convict you of your sins. This doesn't mean He won't ever bring correction. Correction is simply God guiding us to be who we already are. The Spirit corrects by reminding us of whose we are and what He already made us. 

 When you know you are already acceptable to God, you will not strive or struggle. When you know you're perfectly righteous and made holy you don't have to embrace religious activity to try and manufacture some form of holiness or piety. When you know who you are you will begin to mature into that.

 In summation, know God isn't mad at you or keeping score. He isn't looking to punish you for your sins. He isn't holding your sin against you. His Spirit isn't convicting you of your sin. Conviction means to expose, with the idea of bringing shame. Father finds you acceptable and is pleased with you as a child of God. Cling to the Scripture and its truth and relinquish the traditions of men, especially with this subject of sin. In the Scriptures, we find peace and comfort, in the tradition of men, we only find uncertainty and discomfort.  
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Good News vs Fake News: God is Holding Your Sins Against You

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

We're in a series of study distinguishing between the Good News of the Gospel of Grace and the fake news of religious tradition. As we have stated, religious people are not our enemy. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Their eyes haven't yet opened to the glorious full Gospel of the Grace of Jesus Christ. 

 In our last study, we began dealing with the issue of sin. We began addressing the areas of tradition surrounding the subject of sin. So far we've seen that God isn't punishing us when we sin. Today, I want to look at another aspect of this subject of sin.

Is God holding our sins against us?

 When we sin is God holding that against us? Is God charging it to our account? In more simpler terms, is God keeping score? Is He tallying up each and every time we blow it? Is He tracking our "good" days and "bad" days? 

 Does God see our sin and then tell the angels, to step away from us? Does He tell the Spirit to depart from us temporarily? Does God withhold His presence and power and provision? 

 The answer depends on who gives it. Tradition would say absolutely. Tradition may say "ok, God isn't literally punishing you for sin, but prayers and provision are hindered until you repent and confess." Grace says otherwise. God isn't accounting our sins against us. 

 A lack of fully understanding the New Covenant and the Finished Work of Christ is why there seems to be some confusion among many Christians. Any rational believer will agree and conclude sin isn't fulfilling and takes us further than we want to go and often ends up costing us more in the long term. Grace isn't about celebrating sin. It's about victory over sin, freedom from addictions, and mercy and goodness extended to those still struggling. 

 Think about it. When we are in a hurry, and cut someone off in traffic or don't let somebody merge into our lane, later on, we realize that wasn't very kind of us and not very loving to another. When we allow anger to dictate our reaction, lust to overtake us, or bitterness to alter our mood we wish we could take back our words or actions. Now in these moments, where is God? Is God saying I wanted to lead you and guide you but you've failed? I wanted to bless you but now my hands are tied?

 Tradition would say God's hands are tied. He can't help or heal until you repent and confess. Why? Because of not rightly dividing the New and Old Covenant. There is a passage that trips them up.

If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; Psalm 66:18 NASB

 See? Religion says. It's clear Scripture. How do you hyper-grace preachers spin this? If we have sinned He won't hear. The understanding of this passage is again by sticking to context.

 The Psalmist is writing under the inspiration of the Spirit under the Old Covenant. There is no mediator between God and man at this time. Sin was merely covered for a year. This is an Old Covenant principle. Secondly, allow the very passage to interpret itself.

 The Psalmist doesn't say if the Lord regard wickedness or sin, He won't hear. The Psalmist states, if I regard sin, He won't hear me. What is he actually saying? If the Psalmist himself sees his own sin God won't hear him. The Psalmist is disqualifying himself. He lacks the confidence to receive from God because He is seeing his own sin. When we look at ourselves instead of Jesus we too will lack the confidence to receive.

 Tradition is once again not rightly dividing between the Old and New. Under the Old, seeing our sin and without a Finished Work, and mediator between God and man sin was a barrier between God and Man. Under the New Covenant, Jesus became sin and paid the full price for the forgiveness of all sin. Jesus already dealt with the sin issue.

 Is God holding your sins against you? Allow the New Covenant to Answer.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

He is the one who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s 1 John 2:2 TLB

17 And then he adds, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” Hebrews 10:17 TLB

Is God holding your sins against you? How could He? How could our God charge your sins to your account when He said your sins I will remember no more? How can He keep track of your failures when He declared He is no longer counting people's sin against them? Did Jesus tell a lie? Was Father God fibbing? Tradition seems to think so.

 Traditional religion has yet to grasp the fullness of the goodness and greatness of God's New Covenant. They seek to pepper this New Covenant with a pinch works. A dash of self effort. A sprinkle of performance and achievement. In traditional religion, His presence, power, provision are mere rewards for good behavior. So bad behavior means He can't respond otherwise God is rewarding bad behavior. Thank God the New Covenant is so much better than religious tradition.

 God's provision isn't a reward for good deeds. God's presence, blessings, favor, and salvation are demonstrated in our lives because of His goodness and love, not ours. It's because of the Father's faithfulness and kindness, not our good works. Jesus Finished Work purchased our complete redemption, not our achievements or sustained goodness.

 Thank God for this New Covenant. If God did account our sins we all would be in trouble. Because no one has it all together, (not saying we can't find triumph over temptations and addictions, but reminding us that God's standard is absolute perfection.) Grace has it all together and in this New Covenant, He is the mediator between God and man. He is the covering and cleansing of all our misdeeds and sins. We are complete in Him, lacking nothing. 

 In summation, disregard tradition. God is not keeping track of our sins. He isn't tallying up our good days and bad days. He isn't holding our sins against us and withholding answers to prayers until we get things right. In this New Covenant, we've already been made right. We have a mediator, the person of Grace Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. Receiving anything from God comes by Grace through faith, not our behavior. When in prayer don't look within yourself to see if you measure up and end up disqualifying yourself and shrinking back. Look to Jesus, He is your completion and He Finished the Work and His blood already purchased the provision. 
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net