Thursday, December 29, 2022

Living in Sin?

 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. John 5:24 NLT

 1 What, then, shall we say? shall we continue in the sin that the grace may abound? let it not be! we who died to the sin -- how shall we still live in it? Romans 6:1-2 YLT

 Much of Christian theology and doctrine are realized and lived out practically based on mere human understanding and man-made traditions rather than God's Word alone. More plainly stated, much of what Christians actually believe and practice in their day-to-day lives is rooted in what they heard someone or some minister say. Often it's not actually rooted in the Word of God.

 Some of these Ideas and suggestions and concepts includes thoughts like all who commit suicide will surely go to Hell, if you get divorced you can never remarry, or God loves you but sometimes is displeased and disappointed with you. Or perhaps one of the biggest thoughts conveyed, if you sin too much God won't forgive you. Where are these concepts specifically addressed and stated this exact way in the Bible, God's Word? 

 I will help you, they are not in the Word. Christian believers and ministers alike infer, assume, and reason certain things to be true based on a flawed, traditional, and veiled view of Father God. Often, believers assign their own attitudes and reactions, and conclusions to God. Allow me to elaborate. 

 Christians many times knowing how we might personally react or respond to a certain situation unconsciously assign that same attitude to our Father God. We then form and fashion a theology of Father God based on this and not the character of God we see clearly demonstrated in the Word. In general, we wouldn't continue fellowshipping with someone who fails us, wouldn't forgive someone if they continued in the same action repeatedly, and would judge someone swiftly if they continue wronging us, thus we conclude God is the same as us.

 Understanding this, I want to examine a concept in the Church I have heard expressed throughout my Christian life. This concept transcends all denominations and ministries I was ever involved in. This concept and idea of living in sin.

 What is living in sin? The response to this in the average believer's mind is a person who is actively committing adultery, someone living with someone they are not married to, someone who has a drinking problem, or a homosexual. Is this what living in sin means?

 I submit to you that this is not the actual meaning of living in sin. I certainly concur based upon the writings of Paul the Apostle of Grace, that adultery, fornication, alcoholism, and homosexuality are indeed sinful actions. However, that is not what it means to live in sin.

 When we consult the manual, the Basics Instructions Before Leaving Earth, the Bible, God's Word, the phrase living in sin is not found anywhere. When we need the truth revealed it's essential we check the Word. We desire God to instruct us not man or experience.

 In our text, we see Paul instruct us not to continue in sin. The word sin is the noun, not the verb. Paul is speaking of position, of identity, not actions. Of course, identity and position affect our actions. 

 Now when it comes to claiming to live in sin is defined by our actions, we see much hypocrisy in the application of this label. What I mean is, we see the man living with a woman he isn't married to and say they are living in sin. Yet we don't look at our lives and see how often we worry. We don't look in the mirror and see the bitterness we still harbor at old bosses, family, and former friends. 

 The Word tells us that which is not of Faith is sin. How often do we label those who fail to walk by Faith as living in sin? Worry is the sin of not trusting God, yet so many Christians are world-champion worriers. Where is their condemnation? 

 Let's allow the Word to be the final authority. Paul was telling us not to continue living in our old identity. We are New Creations in Christ. We are made alive in Christ anew. Dare to take your place as the very Righteousness of God in Christ.

 I believe the reason the concept of living in sin describing our behavior is so popular is that it becomes a means to control believers. The enemy uses it to control our thoughts by throwing flaming darts of condemnation at us. We won't press in to God relationally because we believe He is mad at us. We believe He hasn't forgiven us. 

 Religious tradition controls believers through guilt. Better give and participate in all our programs cause if you don't you'll be living in sin. Your prayers will go unanswered. This is why we must understand Grace and the New Covenant.

 The enemy and religious tradition try to convince believers that answered prayer is rooted in our behavior. Often Healing and wholeness are seen as rewards for good behavior. Don't be misled. Grace is unmerited and unearned favor. Healing, protection, prosperity, deliverance, favor, and abundant life are already ours because of Christ, not our own works. Therefore we can't do more good to earn them, and we can't do anything bad enough to disqualify us from receiving them. 

 As true as it is that our sinful actions are detrimental to ourselves and others, (natural consequences), it doesn't mean we should accept guilt and condemnation. Guilt and condemnation won't motivate us to make better choices. All they do is make us mask our flaws even deeper. 

 In summation, live in Grace. Live in the new identity Christ has made us. Don't walk in guilt and condemnation. Though sinful actions may have natural consequences, know God isn't punishing anyone. Finally, let the Word of God, not tradition be the final authority for truth in our lives. His Grace is greater. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Grace, Foolishness, or Legalism: Becoming Established in Grace

 For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) Romans 5:17 AMPC

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...2 Corinthians 8:9a MEV 

 We have been in an ongoing study examining the practical aspects of the Christian life in light of Grace and the New Covenant. This explorative study comes in the form of a question. Are we living under true Grace or are we embracing foolish pseudo-Grace? Or are we living with a mixture of Grace and Law, or some other form of legalism?     

 Our Father's desire is for us to live victoriously in Christ. To live the abundant life Jesus' triumphant resurrection and Finished Work procured and purchased for us. But this overcoming life is only realized when we fully receive abundant Grace and of the gift of Righteousness. 

 This is why we must become established in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is also why the enemy is so set against the Church discovering who we are, what we have, and what we can do through Christ. The enemy sows seeds of foolishness and raises up religious traditions to pervert the Grace of God. This is why we must contend for the Faith and not allow the enemy any footing. 

 In concluding this study, it seems good to look at the other practical everyday aspects of the Faith. Things like giving, soul-winning, and daily Bible reading. Again we want to examine them in light of Grace so we can become more and more established in Grace. 

Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace... Hebrews 13:9a

What about a prayer life under Grace? What about a daily devotional time set apart with God? Is this somehow legalistic or a performance-driven activity that we need to be free from?

 The foolish pseudo-grace thinking may claim it is. This is of course would be erroneous thinking. What is legalistic or performance-driven to spend time in fellowship with the One who loves us with everlasting love? That may be the root of the opposition, if devotional time or prayer time hasn't been joy-filled or fulfilling one could understand why someone wouldn't be interested in continuing it. 

 Time spent in prayer, reading and studying the Bible, God's Word, and meditating on His promise and provision, and goodness is not legalistic. It is connecting with our Savior intimately. It's not a work or a chore or a duty to fulfill. It's actually a receiving time. It's a time where God pours even more of His Love and mercy and Grace out upon all areas of lives. It's a time that heals our wounded hearts and brings stability to our emotions and calms our fears and anxiety. It's Facetime with our Father and He's always glad we came.

 Legalism tries to make daily devotionals a duty to perform. They say God is upset if we miss our time with God. That if we don't have time for Him, He won't make time for us nor hear us when we call upon Him. This is wrong thinking because it turns intimacy into an obligation and forced fellowship. 

 Spending time with our Father is part of life under Grace. Don't allow the foolish to abolish this out of your life. Don't allow the legalist to pervert it and turn it into some chore. 

 What about giving? Should those under Grace continue giving to the local church and missions? Of course. God so loved the world He gives. We are loved unconditionally by God. That Love received, compels us to be a blessing so others can also hear the Good News. This isn't legalism or trying to earn anything from God. This is a gracious and loving response to a loving God who wants to win the lost and use us as a channel of blessings.  

 Speaking of the lost, under Grace should we still try to win the lost to Christ? Of course. Knowing how Good our Father is, is a great motivator in witnessing to the lost. Contrary to the foolish, not all humanity is saved and made Righteous. The lost are still lost and need to receive this wonderful gift of Grace. 

 Winning the lost to Christ doesn't mean God loves you more. It's just taking part in Christ's ministry to a lost world. It's sharing His Grace with all. What about our manner of life under Grace? 

 Though legalism has taken this out of balance and turned holy living into a harsh message doesn't mean there isn't a true Grace-filled life that honors Christ. Foolishness says our behavior doesn't matter. Legalism says our behavior is our savior. Both are equally wrong. Our thinking, our speaking, and our actions will bring honor to Christ when we become more and more established in our true identity as the Righteousness of God in Christ.

 Grace received produces an empowerment. Grace gives us new desires. Paul gives us some insight in his Epistles. Watching what we "feed" upon is a key to cultivating the Godly desires Grace has deposited within. 

 It's just like junk food. Under Grace and the following the Spirit, we can limit how much of this world we allow in our thinking. Think of it, if we stuffed ourselves on stuff crust pizza all the time we wouldn't be as healthy as we could be. It's the power of right believing that produces a life that honors God.

 In summation, renewing the mind, daily devotionals, prayer time, witnessing to the lost, giving, and belonging to a local church or fellowship, (though I didn't touch on it here I have in previous articles), are not legalistic. It is foolishness to omit these from our life simply because we have now seen the truth of Grace. Grace found us, saved us, made us Righteous, and approved of God. 

 Let's live our lives in triumphant victory. Victory over all the schemes of the enemy. Victory over fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Victory over condemnation and a sense of unworthiness. Let's boldly reach out and receive all God has procured for us in Christ. Salvation, soundness, wholeness, preservation, and prosperity are ours because of His Grace. Embrace true Grace and walk in victory. 



Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Grace, Foolishness, or Legalism: Too much Goodness?

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) Romans 5:17 AMPC

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...2 Corinthians 8:9a MEV 

 We've been in an ongoing series looking at the life lived abiding under the Grace of our Lord Jesus. We are examining practical aspects of the Christian life. This examination comes in the form of a question. Are we abiding under Jesus' Grace, or foolishness (pseudo grace), or legalism (man's traditions and attempts to earn favor and love)?

 Recently, many churches and ministries have been sounding the alarm concerning ear-tickling, positive, feel-good messaging. The concern is that the Gospel is being too diluted and made too appealing to the lost. This begs the question, does the Gospel of the Grace we proclaim have too much goodness?

 The Gospel is the Good News of the Grace of God pledged in the life, substitutionary death, and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The old gospel hymn perfectly sums up the message of Grace. Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried all my sins far away, (forgiven forever). Rising He justified ( made those who believe Righteous), freed me forever, one day He is coming back, what a glorious day! 

 Some warn that the message some proclaim is ear-tickling. It makes light of sin and has no conviction. It doesn't proclaim to sinners how wicked and evil their sin is. It doesn't tell them about eternity in Hell. It doesn't command that they repent, turn around and cease their wickedness. 

 I recently read about one of those ear-tickling, "fluff", feel-good, happy preachers. This minister was speaking with a woman whose theology first and foremost was clearly unbiblical. She also had been divorced five times. She was currently living with a man she wasn't even married to. They were living in open sin and rebellion against God's clear command of purity before marriage. 

So did this "preacher" correct her? Did he show her sinful she was, and had broken and violated God's commandments? Did he open the Scripture and line by line reveal to her how sex outside of marriage was clearly sinful and rebellious?

This divorcee and open fornicator, shacking up with a man never even got one word of "conviction" and telling her about Hell, and the need to repent of her sins. All this "preacher" did offer her was eternal life. This feel-good, ear-tickling, happy, preacher is named Jesus Christ. Be sure to watch out for Him and His happy message. Too much Grace is obviously dangerous. We need to make the sinner uncomfortable and show them how wicked and dirty and unacceptable they are before God. 

 This is the account of Jesus and the woman at the well from John 4.  This is a powerful illustration of the Gospel proclamation. Yes her theology was clearly incorrect, Jesus affirmed that. Yes, she was living in sin, Jesus revealed that. Yet in all this, she never felt condemned, she never felt worthless, she never felt unworthy and unwelcome. 

 Grace reveals the truth in love without compromise, but it's not a harsh, condemning proclamation. Grace magnifies what Christ has done, not what our sin has done. The Gospel is the proclamation of the answer to the problem, the antidote for the ailment, the light that reveals the way out of the darkness. It's the heralding of the Good News that God has reconciled lost sinful man. It's the glad news that God isn't mad at you, He is mad about you!

 I trust you're tracking with me that it's the legalist that is sounding alarm bells about a feel-good gospel. The legalist feels that if the lost aren't made to feel unworthy and wretched they won't really be saved even if they do respond to an invitation to trust in Christ. They magnify sin and guilt and minor on God's Love in their messaging.

 When I was a young boy, I remember being raised in church. I heard the gospel regularly, that is the basic message that Jesus came, died and rose again, and is coming back. I simply believed that. I never believed we came from monkeys or evolved by accident. Yes, as I got older I rebelled and sinned. I still believed though, and as I got old enough to fully understand, God revealed to me all are guilty before God that's why Jesus' work was so needed, and why it was so powerful in its working and accomplishment. 

 In all this, I never once felt condemned, unworthy or unwelcome. Legalists can't seem to grasp that we as individuals grow in our understanding of the Gospel and all that Jesus did for us. This includes progressive changing in actions and thinking. We don't need pointed fingers and wagging tongues of condemnation to guide us.

 The Gospel is Good News. It is not a message of shame and guilt. It is not a message of hellfire and wrath and an angry God who wants to punish all. Grace simply reveals the Good News of the Father's Love expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust in Him alone and receive New Life. Receive His free gift and pass from eternal death to eternal life. 

 The error of the foolish is they, once having been freed from religion, set their eyes again upon the stones they had relinquished. They again clutch these stones in their hands that used to be hurled at the sinful, and now turn them towards the legalists. They foolishly embrace bitterness at the legalist and began throwing stones at them.

 This isn't the Gospel way. The same Grace we now give the vilest sinner is the same Grace available to the most legalistic among us. Grace is gracious and loving to sinners and saints alike. Remember, the legalist may call us their enemy but that doesn't mean we have to count them as our enemy. 

 In summation, the Gospel is a happy, feel-good, positive, and pleasing to the ear proclamation of glad tidings and hope. Grace proclaims the truth in love. Grace isn't denying the existence of future judgment or an eternal hell for those who callously reject the love of God, it's just that this isn't the message of the Gospel. It isn't what we proclaim to the lost. There is no bad news in the Good News, and the Gospel is Good News. 

Image by nneem from Pixabay

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Grace, Foolishness, or Legalism: Is Grace and Faith enough?

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) Romans 5:17 AMPC

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...2 Corinthians 8:9a MEV 

 A life lived under Grace brings celebration, joy, and peace that supersedes natural expectations. Under Grace, we have confidence in our approach to God and a permanent sense of acceptance and approval from Him. The victorious Christian life is only realized by Grace alone through Faith alone.

 This is why it's important to have a working knowledge of Grace and Faith in our personal lives. The enemy likes to sow the seeds of legalism and foolish pseudo-grace in our thinking in an attempt to derail us off the Righteous path of the triumphant victorious life in Christ. This is why we've been examining Grace and foolishness and legalism in recent weeks.

 In our last study, we answered the question of what it means to be saved. Today, it seems good to continue along the same line and ask what must we do to be saved? This is an age-old question. Legalistic religion and tradition and pseudo-grace offer their answer but how does Grace respond?

 Again citing our last study, we can see that this question is moot for the foolish because they believe all are already saved regardless of personal Faith. Again, Paul and the other Apostles dismantle this foolish thinking. Jesus, Himself proves pseudo-grace foolishness is in error as well

 Legalism on the other hand, through mixture, brings much confusion to the Church on this subject. The simple question, what must I do to be saved has a simple answer. Yet legalism makes the simple complex, convoluted and complicated. 

 Legalism teaches that one must make a commitment to God in order to be saved. In other words, it's not about trusting God's promise, it's about us making a promise to Him. Legalism says we must promise or commit to God to live a life of complete obedience and submission. If you didn't commit to Him, are you really saved?

 Legalism claims we must repent in order to be saved. Repentance according to legalists is a change of direction, a cease and desist of any and all actions contrary to God, a sorrowful realization of one's faults, failures, and flaws. If you haven't repented are you really saved? 

 Legalism appeals to people regardless if they consciously agree with all they claim or not. The reason it appeals is because it always makes room for something for us to do. Natural human nature seeks to boast in what has done. Look how I did this noble act or performed this kind deed is something many of us have boasted about at some point in our life.

 Salvation is by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone. There is no boasting in human effort. There are no requirements to meet. There are no checklists to complete. It's simply trusting in Jesus alone and nothing else.

 It's not trusting Jesus plus our commitments or change of behavior. It's not trusting in Jesus plus our pledge to live pure. Jesus plus something always equals nothing, but Jesus plus nothing equals everything!

 Allow Grace to give the simple answer to the question what must one do to be saved? Paul the Apostle of Grace was asked this very question. What was his response? The Holy Spirit through Paul answered this way;

  30 He then led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved.” Acts 16:30-31 MEV

 Grace answers the simple question with a simple answer. Simply believe. The Spirit through Paul didn't respond with believe, plus stop all your sinning and ungodly habits and pledge to never do them again. The Spirit through Paul didn't respond with, nothing, you don't have to do anything you're already saved or will be after you die, didn't you know? 

 Grace has the best response. Believe in Jesus and receive salvation. It's that simple. No matter how far in sin you feel simply believe/trust in Christ alone and you will be saved. It is that simple.

 In summation, let's ask again. What must we do to be saved? Simply believe in Jesus. Trust in Christ alone and you will be saved. Grace is the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ! 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at