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Rediscover the Gospel

Rediscover the Gospel

Author: Eduard Serediuc

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Understanding is a fountain of life. This is a Christian teaching ministry with the purpose of bringing more understanding and revelation to the global body of Christ about the Gospel of Grace.
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OBJECTIONS AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART VII)Matthew 18:21–35 (The Unmerciful Servant)Matthew 18:21–35 (NKJV)21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus said to him, “I don’t say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’30 And he would not but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’34 And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, doesn’t forgive his brother his trespasses.”Another even stronger biblical text along the same lines is the following one from Matthew 6:14–15:Matthew 6:14–15 (NKJV)14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.The objection brought by some believers based on these two passages is that if you, as a child of God, fail to forgive others as you have been forgiven, your original sin debt will be reinstated, and you will lose your eternal salvation. At first glance, these passages seem to tell us God’s forgiveness, our salvation, is conditional upon how much we forgive others, and if we don’t do that, God will reinstate our sins, even after we have been forgiven initially.We must note that what Matthew 18:21–35 conveys is in the context of the Jewish Law. At that point in time, when Jesus gave the parable, He had not died yet on the cross and nobody from His audience was yet born again. Because of this, we need to realize that Jesus, during His life before the cross, made the transition from the Law of Moses to the Gospel. Most of the things He said were in the context of the Old Covenant because that is what His audience was familiar with, while a few things were looking forward and speaking about the future New Covenant. The conditional nature of His saying in this parable sounds very much like the Law of Moses. Jesus, throughout His ministry on earth, took the Law of Moses and raised it to the strictest of standards. He talked about its spirit, about intentions, and motivations of the heart, not just outward works. By showing the extremes of the Law, Jesus was preparing them for what was coming: the New Covenant of the grace of God through Christ. Jesus used the apostle Paul to teach that grace to the Gentiles. The sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–6) amplifies the Law of Moses, and this parable is along the same lines. So, it doesn’t say God can revoke salvation for those who are saved and whose sins were forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. That would go against the many scriptures that show we are secure in Christ from the moment of our salvation. That would even contradict many of the words of Jesus Himself. Let’s take a closer look at this parable.First, Jesus is not saying anything about those unforgiving people being thrown into hell. Second, the way the servant asks the king for mercy and the request to give him more time to pay back the debt shows this individual doesn’t grasp the reality of the situation. He thinks he can pay back the debt of sin through self-effort, but no one can do that. Only Christ accomplished this payment for people’s sins on the cross. Third, notice that nobody paid for the servant’s debt in this parable, but it was forgiven, meaning his debt was overlooked. As a child of God, you need to understand you are not just forgiven, but you are justified as well! When a husband and wife argue, they might often bring up things from the past. While the husband may have forgiven his wife (or the other way around), the moment he brings back into discussion the conflict from the past, he proves he hasn’t justified her. God is entirely different. He says, “I remember your sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Justification means you never sinned, and you will never be blamed for sin. You are unblameable and this is a fundamental theological concept.God didn’t only forgive you in the sense of overlooking your sins,  He didn’t only provide an atonement or a covering for your sins. These are Old Covenant concepts. Someone paid with innocent blood for your sins and for the whole world’s sins. Hebrews 10 says, “Jesus took away your sins” once and for all. Forgiveness means overlooking the mistakes without making any payment for them and God forgave us only in the sense that we were not the ones who made the payment for sins. However, we were justified, which is beyond forgiveness, because sin was also paid for in full, not just overlooked by God.All our sins have been taken away by Christ. That is why before the cross, we had to forgive before we were forgiven but after His work, we are first and foremost forgiven completely and permanently. Yes, we should still forgive, but not as a condition of salvation.Believers in Christ are no longer under the Law of Moses, and neither salvation is under the condition of obedience.Unforgiveness is a sin like any other. The apostle Paul writes the following words about forgiveness:Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do...
OBJECTIONS AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART VI)John 15:1–6 (Abiding in the Vine)John 15:1–6 (NKJV)1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2 Every branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.3 You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 If anyone doesn’t abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.This passage is often used to teach that Christians can lose their salvation. It’s easy to see why they would think that way, especially when you look at verses 2 and 6: “Every branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit He takes away”; “anyone who doesn’t abide in Me, he is thrown into the fire, and burned.” In particular, the phrase “in Me,” which is used twice, apparently suggests a loss of salvation. The branches that don’t bear fruit—the signs of salvation—are gathered and “thrown into the fire,” a clear symbol of eternal judgment. The question is though, since these hell-bound branches were initially “in” Jesus, does that mean they represented true believers who lost their salvation? Is being “in” the vine in this parable the same thing with being saved? I would suggest the answer is no and I feel this is the correct conclusion for a few reasons. First, the Greek word translated into the verb “takes away” in Verse 2 is airo, which actually means “to lift from the ground” or “to lift with a view of carrying.” The Passion Translation (TPT) of the Bible seems to provide a more accurate rendering of that word in the first two verses of John 15:John 15:1–2 (TPT)1 I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father.2 He cares for the branches connected to Me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest.The same Greek word airo is used in John 5:8 for the verb “take up” when Jesus tells the lame man from the pool of Bethesda to take up his bed and walk. Then, in Matthew 16:24, when Jesus says, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” the airo is used for the verb “take up” again. As a matter of fact, every other instance of this Gr. word airo in the New Testament is translated as “lift up” or “take up” except in John 15:2, where it is interpreted as “cut off” or “remove,” and I have an explanation for why. The theological “lenses” of the translators really matters. All of us wear certain “lenses” of interpretation when we read the Scripture, whether we are aware of it or not. I hear sometimes believers saying, “I only obey what the Word says” when in fact they obey whatever they think the Word says most of the times. And what they say the Word says is filtered through the “glasses” they use. Blessed are those who know what kind of glasses they use! So, I believe the translators chose to render airo as “cut off” or “take away” because of their theological understanding, but it should have been translated as “lift up.” Why? Because the vine is a creeper or a crawling plant. You often see a vinedresser picking up the branches from the ground and tying them up with strings to the pillars of the vine. If the branches sit on the ground in the dust, they don’t bear fruit. In this passage, Jesus is saying the Father lifts up every fruitless branch to help it bear fruit. He is not waiting for a given opportunity to cut people off, but to make them bear fruit. That is the Father’s job. Jesus is the vine and the Father God is the vinedresser Who is making sure we bear fruit.Furthermore, Verse 2 of this passage says God, the Father, prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. When God prunes, He always does it with the purpose of life in mind. Even His so-called discipline is life-giving. Jesus seems to have understood our potential and capacity to misinterpret scripture here. So, immediately in the next verse He tells us what He uses to prune. “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). The Greek word for “to prune” or “to clean or cleanse” is the same: kataros. The instrument God uses to prune us is His Word and not a cancer or a life-changing car accident in which you lose one of your limbs. Moreover, the dust talks about serpent mentality. In the garden of Eden, God cursed the serpent, saying: “From now on, dust shall be your food.” Whenever the branch is in the dust, it does not bear fruit. Whenever we feed with what the serpent feeds itself, when the serpent’s food becomes the atmosphere of our living, we do not bear fruit. If we keep feeding on the lies of the enemy, we will not bear fruit. That is why God lifts us up and cleanses us by His Word—to bear fruit. Just because a couple has a legal marriage certificate does not necessarily mean they have a great marriage. The certificate validates the union, but life in the union is purely relational. A certificate does not give birth to babies. It is not the legal union that brings fruit, but the relational intimate union. Likewise, in our walk with Christ, it is our relational intimate union with Him that brings fruit and life.The second reason I believe John 15 is not a passage about the possibility of believers losing their salvation is because metaphors are only meant to go so far. Jesus here is speaking in a parable. He uses an illustration to make a point. As with any picture or parable, one can take it too far. In His wisdom, Jesus uses an everyday image—especially for ancient Easterners—to make a spiritual point, that is, our continual spiritual fruition and growth here on earth. The picture of vines, branches, and gardening was a reference the commoner could understand. The whole thrust of John 15 is to prove Jesus is the source of all spiritual life. This is clear since the punch line is that bearing fruit comes only from staying in Jesus. Just as a branch separated from the vine will wither and die, so will people who are separated from Christ. In this context of fruitfulness, separation from the vine or Christ, as well as withering or death does not refer to being without God and unsaved, but to having certain parts of the whole body of truth, which is fully revealed in Scripture, “turned off” in our lives about what Christ has accomplished for us, what we have a right to, who we really are in Christ, and what our lives should look like. And this may be due to lack of knowledge, revelation and understanding because of wrong teachings or due to failure to keep the faith fresh and stro...
OBJECTIONS AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART V)Matthew 25:1–13 (The Ten Virgins)Matthew 25:1–13 (NKJV)1 Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.6 And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.8 And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.”9 But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.”10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding, and the door was shut.11 Afterward the other virgins came also saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!”12 But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I don’t know you.”13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.The most common interpretation of this parable is that those ten virgins represent born-again believers belonging to the Kingdom of God who were all saved at one time. Then some of them lost their salvation due to their lack of watchfulness in morality and good works.Let’s analyze first what we know for sure about this parable. First, the parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven, about a bridegroom who is king Jesus, and about ten virgins who represent the visible church of Christ. Second, the action in this parable occurs between the first and second coming of Jesus. Third, the harshness of the bridegroom’s answer in Verse 12—“I don’t know you” or “I never knew you”—makes very clear this parable is about an eternal matter of life and death, respectively the matter of eternal salvation into the Kingdom of God or of eternal damnation. Fourth, it’s also obvious that when the bridegroom came, alluding to the second coming of Jesus, some of those virgins, representing some Christians, participated in the wedding of the Lamb. That means they entered heaven while the rest were rejected and went to hell. Only three things are left to elucidate: (1) First, what do the oil in the lamps and the extra oil in the jars represent? (2) Second, were the people rejected genuinely born again in the first place or not? (3) Third, what does watchfulness mean?The oil in the Old Testament was used to anoint kings and priests. It was a picture of anointing to work for God:1 Samuel 16:13 (NKJV)13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So, Samuel arose and went to Ramah.In the New Testament, believers are anointed with the Holy Spirit, as we see in these passages:Acts 10:38 (NKJV)38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.2 Corinthians 1:21 (NKJV)21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.1 John 2:20 (NKJV)20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.1 John 2:27 (NKJV)27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you don’t need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and believers are also anointed with the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation. 1 John 2:27 says the anointing the believers received from Him abides in them and teaches them all things. According to John 14:16, 14:26, and 16:13, the Holy Spirit is the Helper given to believers to be with them forever, teach them all things, and lead them into all truth. So, the oil in the parable of the virgins is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The light of the lamps represents good works, morality, fruits of the Spirit, or different divine acts of the Spirit like healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead.Now, what is the difference between the oil already in the lamps and the oil in the extra jars? On one hand, based on John 14:16 and 1 John 2:27, we know once the Holy Spirit comes into believers, He abides in them forever. He no longer comes and leaves like He used to do in the Old Testament with the people of God. Moreover, Ephesians 1:13–14 strengthens this eternal presence of the Holy Spirit in believers by asserting that He is a seal of salvation, a guarantee of believers’ inheritance until they acquire full possession of it:Ephesians 1:13–14 (NKJV)13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.The Greek word translated as “guarantee” in this passage (gr. arrabon) is a legal and commercial term that means first installment, deposit, down payment, or pledge. It represents a payment that obligates the contracting party to make further payments. When God gave believers the Holy Spirit, He committed Himself to give them all the consequent blessings of eternal life, as well as a great reward in heaven with Him. So, the five virgins for whom lamps ceased to burn cannot represent genuinely born-again believers who once had the Holy Spirit in them as a seal and then lost Him.On the other hand, a closer look into Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, will reveal that the Holy Spirit can come over people just for a while, for them to fulfill some divine tasks or even to do good works. However, it is not necessary for the Holy Spirit to remain inside them in a saving way. In other words, the Holy Spirit comes upon them, but not in them. A few examples from the ...
1 Timothy 4:1–5 (Departing from the Faith)1 Timothy 4:1–5 (NKJV)1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it’s received with thanksgiving;5 for it’s sanctified by the word of God and prayer.The first two verses of the above text state that in the last times some people will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, not realizing it of course, and out of hypocrisy they will speak lies, their conscience being marked with a hot iron. Many Christians believe that the apostasy in these verses refers to the loss of eternal salvation, because they interpret deceiving spirits and the teachings of demons as immoral sins that will eventually cause some genuine Christians to lose their salvation. However, I invite you to take things one at a time and see first what these wrong teachings consist of and then who are those “some” who will fall away from the faith, what kind of faith they are referring to, and what this distancing means.Verses 3 and 4 describe some of the things and doctrines these people promote, namely: the prohibition of marriage and abstinence from certain foods. The things related here are not immoral sins and carnal pleasures in which people usually like to indulge in, but rather “other apparently good ways” and ascetic ways of attaining righteousness. They are teachings and doctrines, but not sins.These teachings are clothed in an appearance of holiness which makes them very subtle and deceptive. Judging by their nature, it seems that those who propagated them were trying to be holy by works instead of faith. They believed that holiness came from strict adherence to a set of rules. These doctrines seem to resemble very much the Law of Moses and to be Jewish in nature. Who can these people be? Since the passage speaks of a falling away from faith it means that those people had contact at some point with the pure teaching of salvation by faith alone in Christ. They were either so convinced that they were also born again, or they only joined the church for a while, but they could not fully renounce the Law of Moses and were never born again. Paul calls them hypocrites and liars because they preached one thing to others, but they did the exact opposite in their private lives, and their consciences became numb because of their constant living in that lifestyle. They no longer saw the seriousness of the contradiction in their lives from the desire to appear before men as religious and holy. Just as the area where an animal is marked with a hot iron becomes numb and insensitive to pain, so the conscience of these people had become desensitized. Because of this, the apostle Paul describes their conscience as being marked with a hot iron.It is very possible that those “some” influenced by the teachings of the Jews were even leaders (pastors and teachers) of the church of Christ in Ephesus, since the heresies had to do with doctrines that are usually preached from the front. Moreover, in 1 Timothy 1:7, they are described as wanting to be teachers of the Law. If they were born again, they probably loved God, were eternally saved by grace, but from time to time were “bitten” by the self-righteousness propagated by the followers of the Law of Moses, and focused mainly on their good works in order to please God here on earth, and this was because of a lack of understanding and revelation. They were not yet fully established in Christ and believing the truth in all areas. This does not mean that they had lost their eternal salvation, but that in their daily lives, they relied more on their self-righteousness to attract God’s favor, instead of applying the same simple faith that they had at the moment of salvation. Therefore, their departure from the faith was not an irreversible fall from the faith, but a temporary distancing or limited to only some aspects of their faith life. The same is happening today with many genuine Christians in the body of Christ who slip from time to time into self-righteousness or do not have full faith in the truth in all areas of their lives. Paul did not have in mind here the loss of eternal salvation. Lots of born-again Christians who are still legalistic and self-righteous will still go to heaven because they put their faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.From this passage we can also draw some general principles of faith. For example, the devil’s lie will always result in a works-based salvation. This is appealing because a religion oriented toward good works seems impressive, holy, and righteous for others. We can examine religion by religion and we will see that they are all based on what you do or don’t do. It is believed that thus God is tempered in His demands, or, in other words, good human works temper Him, they appease God. However, all these teachings are satanic and demonically fueled. True Christianity is not based at all on human works, but only on the grace of God. False religions teach that we must work for salvation, but true Christianity teaches that God has done everything in Christ. This is one way to identify falsehoods in teachings. Satan’s lies always refer to the same thing: spirituality achieved through human effort and not based on Christ alone. Revelation 3:1–5 (The Book of Life)Revelation 3:1–5 (NKJV)1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I haven’t found your works perfect before God.3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.4 You have a few names even in Sardis who haven’t defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”These verses seem to focus on good works, on the idea of being watchful, not defiling our garments, and overcoming. Verse 5 specifically says that only those who overcome will be clothed in white, their names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life or the book of the saved, and Jesus will confess their names before His Father and before His angels. One of the most common interpretations of this verse in the Christian world is that some born-again people will not be watchful enough, will not overcome, and eventually their names will be blotted out of t...
OBJECTIONS AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART III)Galatians 5:19–21 (The Practice of Fleshly Works)Galatians 5:19–21 (NKJV)19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.Some preachers use this passage to threaten Christians that, if they habitually practice the works of the flesh described in the text, they can lose their salvation at any time without knowing. First, as we demonstrated in the previous section, inheriting the Kingdom is tantamount to being saved. Second, Paul doesn’t say that those people who practice fleshly works will be disinherited from a state of heirs, but that they will not inherit anything in the first place. Third, he doesn’t specify a clear timeline or a number of times after which those who practice the works of the flesh will lose their salvation.Fourth, if we look carefully at the context (a few verses before and a few verses after our passage), we can quickly discover that the apostle Paul is portraying a stark contrast between the flesh and the Spirit and between the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16–17). He merely puts them side by side for comparison and godly instruction to believers. After enumerating all the works of the flesh, he begins Verse 22 with the preposition “BUT,” which commences the enumeration of the fruits of the Spirit. He concludes in Verse 24 that those who are Christ’s (who are different from those who practice the works of the flesh and will not inherit the Kingdom) have already crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. So, he encourages believers to live according to the truth about their already changed nature. In fact, in Verse 25, he says this: if you are in the Spirit, live in Him, and belong to God, then also walk, and behave in the Spirit or according to Him. The theme is clearly the renewal of the minds of believers in Christ and not their loss of salvation. Ephesians 5:5–6 (The Sons of Disobedience Part 1)Ephesians 5:5–6 (NKJV)5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.This text, which is often used as an objection to eternal salvation, is very similar to two other scriptures from previous sections with a new addition: “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” The implication is that believers in Christ, who are sons of God and disobey Him by doing any of the shameful things enumerated, will come under the wrath of God after a certain point. However, what kind of disobedience is Paul talking about here? It’s disobedience of faith, not disobedience to the Law. He also says in Romans 1:5 that through Jesus, we received the grace and apostleship to bring about “the obedience of faith” among all nations. Sons of obedience are those who put their faith in Christ while the sons of disobedience are those without Christ.Again, here the main argument to this objection is that the apostle Paul describes the behavior of those who will never inherit the Kingdom of God and are under His wrath with the purpose of teaching believers how not to live. He begins in Ephesians 4:17 by saying, “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk,” and he continues with this contrast throughout Chapters 4 and 5. In Ephesians 5:1, Paul encourages believers in the church of Ephesus to become imitators of God, as beloved children, and in Verse 7 of the same chapter, he instructs them not to be partakers with the sons of disobedience. In Verse 8, Paul clarifies even more that they were once darkness, but now they are light in the Lord, so they should walk according to that light from inside of them. So, they are not those who will be disinherited if they persist long enough in sinful behaviors. The phrase “wrath of God” is meant to emphasize the gravity of sin. Although Jesus Christ has removed all sin and condemnation at the time of salvation, that doesn’t mean God became softer on sin and we can be relaxed about it. We should strive to differentiate ourselves from darkness and live according to the Kingdom standards we inherited. Colossians 3:5–11 (The Sons of Disobedience Part 2)Colossians 3:5–11 (NKJV)5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.This passage is identical to Ephesians 5:5–6, which we already explained. Still, I wanted to include it separately for repetition and to cover all possible objections people might bring to the eternal salvation of the new creation. Based on the context of the passage, we can quickly notice again the contrast Paul clearly makes between the unsaved (the sons of disobedience) and the saved who might still do sinful things. That is precisely the reason for such a comparison because Christians usually still do sinful things in the process of mind renewal and sanctification. Verse 5 begins with the preposition “therefore,” which introduces the result of what has already happened. Because you died with Christ (Colossians 3:3) and were raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1), therefore put to death the earthly things like fornication, uncleanness, evil desires, etc. Verse 7 continues in the past tense: “in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” Finally, Verse 8 says, BUT NOW, put aside all these things: anger, wrath, malice, etc.So, Paul doesn’t ...
OBJECTION AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART II)Hebrews 3:12–14 (Falling Away from God)Hebrews 3:12–14 (NASB95)12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it’s still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.Some Christians interpret “falls away from the living God” in this passage as the loss of salvation. However, here we have the same explanation as before. Falling away from God or departing from the living God means beginning to profess faith in Christ but still leaning back to the old system of the Law that God has abolished and not believing fully in Christ (i.e., having an evil heart of unbelief). The “deceitfulness of sin” referred to here is the deceit of the sin of unbelief in Christ. That is the context. The following verse talks about holding fast the beginning of our assurance in Christ and not sliding back into unbelief. Also notice that in Verse 14, holding fast to the beginning of your assurance, firm until the end, is not a condition to remain in a relationship with Christ, but a result of having already become a partaker of Him. The verse doesn’t say you remain this way as long as you hold fast, but it says you know those who really have become partakers of Christ (past tense) by seeing them hold firm to their conviction of salvation until the end. The same idea is expressed in Hebrews 3:5–6:Hebrews 3:5–6 (NKJV)5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward,6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.Some preachers render from this passage that believers remain the house of God as long as they hold fast and firm to the end the confidence and the rejoicing in hope. However, the verse doesn’t say that. It instead says believers already are the house of God, and the proof lies in the fact that they will hold fast the confidence to the end as a result of their faith. In other words, you know your house is connected to the electric grid if the lights stay on. You don’t keep the lights on to make sure you remain connected to the power grid. Hebrews 12:14 (The Pursuit of Sanctification)Hebrews 12:11–17 (NASB95)11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.Many Christians take Hebrews 12:14 out of context and conclude that genuine born-again believers need to pursue practical sanctification (i.e., performing good works and omitting evil deeds) while they live on earth, to maintain their salvation. Otherwise, they will not get to see the Lord, meaning they can lose their salvation any moment. I admit this is a difficult verse to interpret in the right way by itself or isolated from its context, and I will explain why is so.The sanctification referred to in Hebrews 12:14 can be only one of two types. The first type is behavioral and practical sanctification at the level of body and soul. This is progressive and consists of a process of transformation that begins after the new birth and can last a lifetime. The second type is the sanctification or righteousness given by Jesus at the time of being born again at the spirit level. This is no longer progressive but given once and for all. It is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:11 where Paul tells the Corinthians in the past tense that they were sanctified. As a general rule, there is much confusion in the Christian community about the work already finished in us and about what is still in the process of completion, precisely because the authors of the books of the Bible alternate the discourse of the body and soul with that of the spirit without announcing the audience. And then it falls on to us and to the Holy Spirit to make this distinction, which is not always simple. But if we have a sincere heart and desire to get to the root of pure truth, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will succeed.Let’s suppose Hebrews 12:14 refers to the progressive sanctification of behavior. Seeking such sanctification is a good and desirable thing and it is a process in which we must be constantly involved as Christians, because God is holy and we know that He very much wants us to be holy in our conduct as well, as the apostle Peter mentions in 1 Peter 1:15–16. The fact that the text exhorts us to pursue this sanctification may be an indication that here it is not about justification received only once at the time of salvation. And if the verse had stopped there, perhaps this would have been the best interpretation that would have instilled in us an even greater desire to sanctify ourselves. But when the verse ends with the fact that no one will see the Lord without this sanctification, there can no longer be a question of practical sanctification. Why? Because God is perfect and He only demands perfection, according to Matthew 5:48. He doesn’t accept half measures or progressive quests. Are we ever perfect, after salvation, in all our conduct? Of course not. This means that progressive sanctification, which is always imperfect, cannot be a factor in determining whether we see the face of God or not. In this situation, no one will even see His face. I can guarantee it. With God, it is not as if there is a threshold of holiness that only He knows in His mind and keeps it secret, which may be 60% or 90%, and if your effort exceeds that threshold, you will succeed in seeing His face, otherwise, you won’t. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen so far, practically too many Christians believe this without, perhaps, even being aware of it. Generally, the conclusion the audience is left with, after a sermon on
OBJECTIONS AGAINST ETERNAL SALVATION (PART I)Principles of InterpretationWhenever we approach a biblical passage that apparently contradicts believers’ eternal security of salvation, we can utilize several principles or tools to help us understand the correct and intended meaning of that text. First, we need to look at the historical and cultural context of the book to which the passage belongs and search for answers to questions like the following: Who is the author of the book? In what period was the book written? What is the theme of the book? To whom was it addressed? What issues of the day was the author trying to address? What was the author’s tone and the atmosphere created by him? When doing this research, we might find important clues about the interpretation of our initial text. Second, we need to read the passage in its immediate context, meaning a few verses before it and a few verses after it, to see what the author was really talking about. Third, it is recommended to read the same passage in multiple translations of the Bible and in different languages, if it’s possible, like English and Greek. Some languages are much richer in words and meanings than others. The Greek language is one of the most comprehensive and richest on earth. That is probably why God ordained things so that the New Testament was written during a period when Greek was prevalent. For instance, the Greek language has six different words for “love,” three different words for “knowledge,” and three different words for “wisdom.” Moreover, the word “salvation” comes from the Greek word soteria, translated as restoration to a state of safety, soundness, health, and well-being as well as rescue, deliverance, and preservation from danger or destruction. However, as Christians, when we read the word “salvation” in the Bible in our native language, we think it refers only to salvation from hell and from the lake of fire. If we read these difficult passages in only one translation of the Bible and in only our native language, we can miss much of the text’s initial intended meaning.The fourth key to an authentic interpretation of complex texts on the security of salvation is to understand that salvation is a holistic and complete package, including salvation from hell, as well as physical health, material prosperity, and deliverance from sinful habits and addictions here on earth. Along the same lines, the fifth principle is that salvation includes our spirit, as well as our soul, and body. The salvation of the spirit is instant and eternal, while the salvation of the soul and body is progressive and happening here on earth. Sometimes, even as Christians, we might forfeit our lives here on earth earlier than God had planned and not reap the full benefits of the Gospel, primarily because of a lack of knowledge and understanding. We might even have periods of backsliding or apostasy. However, that does not mean we also forfeit our eternal salvation.The sixth principle of interpretation is that salvation includes two parts: a minor part and a significant part. The secondary part has to do with atonement for our past sins, which grants us eternal entrance into the Kingdom and escape from hell, while the significant part has to do with the New Covenant of blessings, holiness, peace, joy, health, and prosperity here on earth. The salvation Jesus Christ brought was not a salvation from hell primarily, but a salvation from sin and all the effects that entered the world with it. Salvation from hell is a by-product of salvation from sin. For example, let’s look at the journey of the people of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. Their coming out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea is a symbol of our escape from sin and hell, of being born again and baptized in water. However, we all know that was not God’s primary purpose—just to get them out of slavery, help them cross the Red Sea, and then let them live on their own in the desert. Deuteronomy 6:22–23 says God brought them OUT of Egypt to take them INTO the promised land of Canaan. Getting them out of Egypt was only a secondary and necessary step for God to take them into the promised land. Many Christians think the promised land for us believers is heaven after physical death, but that is not so. Why? Because in heaven there will no longer be giants with whom to fight the fight of faith, like the giants the Israelites fought in Canaan. The giants of disease, poverty, curse, demonic influences, sinful habits, and addictions are here on earth, not in heaven. Canaan is the supernatural manifestation of the freedom of the New Covenant here on earth. Unfortunately, many believers think only of getting into heaven and escaping hell, and these are already granted to them anyway. They die in the “wilderness” without ever getting to live in the Canaan of the Gospel here on earth. We are called to heal the sick, cast out evil spirits, and raise the dead (Matthew 10:8). How many of these benefits of the Gospel happen regularly in Christian churches? They are almost nonexistent. However, we worry about hell! Why do so many believers still indulge in the world’s sinful pleasures? Because, like the people of Israel in the desert, if they haven’t tasted Canaan yet, they will always think back to Egypt’s “meat and garlic” when they were in bondage. Many Christians received Jesus just to have their sins blotted out. They crossed the Red Sea spiritually and then stopped there, waiting to die physically and go to heaven. And that’s why they tend to desire “Egypt” so much. Moreover, the people of Israel who died in the desert and never reached Canaan because of their unbelief were punished by God in different ways—primarily by physical death—but He never sent them back to Egypt.The seventh and last principle that will help us interpret difficult passages is that “contending for the faith,” “continuing in faith,” “watching in faith,” or “doing good works” are all effects of genuine salvation and not conditions of maintaining salvation. Otherwise, salvation would not be by faith alone anymore, and we would have works to boast of before God. Hebrews 6:4–6 (Renewal Impossibility)Hebrews 6:1–9 (NKJV)1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let’s go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.3 And this we will do if God permits.4 For it’s impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,5 and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come,6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it’s cultivated, receives blessing from God;8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it’s rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this m...
PROOFS OF ETERNAL SALVATION (PART II)Perfect World versus Fallen WorldLet’s see another proof of the security of salvation. Lucifer himself and the first Adam fell away into sin in a perfect world and from a position of perfect holiness. Even more so, in a world full of evil, temptations, and of all the appetites and bad habits working against you as a believer, the probability of you falling from salvation is a million to one unless God keeps you and maintains your salvation intact by the power of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:7–9 that not ourselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who will sustain us guiltless to the end because God is faithful:1 Corinthians 1:7–9 (ESV)7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,8 Who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.Then, Jude says those who are called are sanctified by God the Father and preserved by Him in Jesus Christ:Jude 1:1 (NKJV)1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ…1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 conveys the same idea that the God of peace will Himself sanctify us and preserve us blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ because He who called us is faithful, and He is the One who will also do it:1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 (NKJV)23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.Finally, Jude says God is able to keep us from stumbling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory:Jude 1:24 (NKJV)24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,… The Everlasting CovenantLet’s read a compelling passage from Jeremiah 32:37–40 about the New Covenant and its effects on the believer:Jeremiah 32:37–40 (NKJV)37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God;39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.In this passage, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel specifically, but about the New Covenant in Christ extended later to the Gentiles as well. In Verse 37, God tells the people of Israel something pertaining only to them as a nation, namely that one day He will gather them out of all countries and bring them back to Jerusalem. But then, from Verse 38 to Verse 40, God begins to tell them things about the New Covenant that apply to all believers in Christ today. How do we know that? First, God promises them they shall be His people. This is a recurring theme in both the Old and New Testaments. God has always been looking for a chosen race and a Kingdom of priests that will be His temple to dwell in. We see in Exodus 19:5–6 a promise to the people of Israel that if they obey the Law, they will be that people:Exodus 19:5–6 (NKJV)5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.6 And you shall be to Me a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.Then, in the New Testament, in 1 Peter 2:9, after the Crucifixion of Jesus, God tells all people who are in Christ (both Jews and Gentiles), in the present tense, that they are that chosen generation, His own special people, because Christ has fulfilled all the Law and conditions:1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.The second proof that the text from Jeremiah applies to the new creation is the promise of God that He will give this people one heart, a new heart, and one way, that they may fear Him forever. Who is the way, the only way to God? Jesus Christ. He says this in John 14:6:John 14:6 (NKJV)6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”Now, after we have established that Jeremiah 32:38–40 applies to believers in Christ, let’s notice what God says about that New Covenant, respectively about salvation. First, in Verse 39, God says He will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Him FOREVER. In other words, this new heart guarantees that they, by their own free choice, will fear God FOREVER, not just temporarily. Second, in Verse 40, God says He will make with these believers an EVERLASTING COVENANT. A covenant between two parties ends only when one of the parties dies. We know God never dies, but we also know believers can never die either since they have eternal life in their new spirits at the time of salvation. Moreover, an EVERLASTING covenant means that covenant will NEVER end, suggesting believers, even by their free choice, will never want to come out of that covenant. Third, in the second...
PROOFS OF ETERNAL SALVATION (PART I)IntroductionAm I still saved? Was I ever saved in the first place? Have you ever had these kinds of questions come to your mind as a born-again believer? I know I had them eating away at me many times, although I thought I was a genuine believer in Christ, born again, baptized in water, and saved. Why? Because I was still sinning as a Christian and sometimes repeatedly in the same area. When that happened, I was feeling ashamed and sorry, and I was wondering: “Will I ever see any real progress in holiness in my Christian life so that I don’t have to worry or be afraid of losing my salvation? Will I ever overcome, completely and permanently, sinful behaviors that keep reoccurring again and again, although I have confessed them and decided to change so many times?” I didn’t know what to do because I wanted so much to be pleasing to the Lord, but I felt hopeless. My conscience kept weighing me down with condemnation for years until I began to fear the accumulation of these sins had undone or would undo my eternal salvation somewhere in the near future, although I confessed them and I was genuinely sorry. I used to ask myself: “How much will God bear with me until He gives up on me completely?” Whenever I boarded a plane, I would cry before God and make sure I confessed all my sins, so I would not be eternally lost if the plane crashed. With these questions constantly bothering me, I became disheartened in my Christian walk. Instead of rejoicing in my salvation, loving God more and more, and pursuing Him with an unburdened heart, I was always feeling unworthy, even when I may not have had a specific sin in mind. I was finding it difficult to pray or read the Bible at times. Even more problematic was the fact that I was regularly involved in public ministry in the church. I was leading worship every week, preaching the Word, and praying for people. Slowly, I lost all confidence in ministering to God and people. I became so self-focused I lost sight of Christ and all He has done for me. Despite my best efforts and good intentions, I kept sinning. My unresolved sins continued to pile up, burdening my conscience and making me feel spiritually hopeless and paralyzed. I began to think I could never live a holy life and I would always be in condemnation, guilt, and depression. Mind you, I wasn’t living in grave sins like adultery, drugs, drinking, smoking, stealing, or lying. I was a pastor’s kid, born and raised in a Christian family. But I still had some issues I had to deal with. One day after the church meeting, I seriously decided to give up on following the Lord because I was tired of fighting and pretending I was well. I was also convinced my Christian life had suffered irreparable damage and I was already lost. So, I thought to myself: “What’s the use? I’ve already lost my salvation. Why try anymore?” If you’ve ever experienced something similar, this teaching series is for you. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit had mercy on me and didn’t leave me there. He slowly began revealing to me deeper truths about what really happened at the cross and about salvation.Can true believers, who are born again and justified by faith in Christ, ever lose their salvation by sinning? I soon realized this question has been a source of controversy for a long time among Christians. This is indeed an issue of considerable importance in practical Christian living. On one hand, if there is no guarantee that salvation is permanent, believers may experience a great deal of anxiety and insecurity like I did, undermining the effectiveness and the power of the Gospel in their Christian lives. On the other hand, if salvation is secure and believers are preserved saved independently of their lives and actions, the result might be lassitude or indifference to the moral and spiritual demands of the Gospel, something called libertinism. Therefore, clarifying and establishing the scriptural teaching concerning the security of the believer is essential for a victorious life.There have been two predominant perspectives to this controversy on eternal security: one in which our perseverance in faith and sanctification conditions the keeping of salvation, and the other in which salvation is secured by God eternally, independent of our sanctification. In this teaching series, I will advocate that genuine salvation is preserved by God forever, with sanctification a result of this salvation and not a condition to maintain it. I will accomplish this by first unfolding the biblical proofs according to which genuine believers in Christ can never lose their salvation. Then I will tackle the most common biblical objections to the eternal security of salvation for true born-again believers and attempt to answer them.This teaching series describes another application or implication (besides confession of sins and the Lord’s Supper) of the reality that believers have become free of condemnation forever, and their future sins have been eradicated as well.  A Free and Irrevocable GiftLet’s read two passages that illustrate the very nature of salvation and eternal life:Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.The first proof that you, as a born-again believer, can never lose your salvation is the fact that salvation and eternal life are free gifts from God. Even the expression “free gift” is a pleonasm because any gift is free by the very definition of the word “gift,” but I used it to make sure we understand it’s free. A gift means no strings attached, no conditions, no work, or good deeds needed to earn or keep it. Knowing this gift doesn’t come from a human being but from Almighty God, who is ever faithful and reliable, never changing, and gives only good and perfect gifts to people (James 1:17), gives us even more confidence and trust.Moreover, eternal justification of your sins is received by faith alone and independent of the works of the Law. That means you did not receive your salvation based on your good works, it is not maintained by your good works done after the time of salvation, and it is not lost by your evil works. What are the works of the Law? They are good and holy deeds done for the Lord, but they are done through human effort and with the wrong purpose of keeping yourself right with God and be pleasing to Him. Since your salvation is independent of your works, it is secure and eternal. Romans 3:28 shows this clearly:Romans 3:28 (NKJV)28 Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law.Salvation is also an irrevocable gift. How do we know that? The very nature of God illustrated in Romans 11:29 reveals to us this fact:Romans 11:29 (NKJV)29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.Although the context of this ve...
Jesus – The Imprint of the FatherHebrews 1:1–3 (NKJV)1God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,In the past, God spoke through prophets to the fathers of the people of Israel, but now in these last times from the birth of Jesus onward, He has spoken to us through His Son. Matthew 5:17 tells us that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets (that is, all the prophecies of the Old Testament), and Luke 16:16 tells us that the Law and the prophets continued until John.Matthew 5:17 (NKJV)17“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.Luke 16:16 (NKJV)16“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.So, we will have to re-evaluate the so-called references to the end times that we find in the books of the prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel because they cannot be referring to the end times since they were all fulfilled in Jesus. The prophets spoke to the people of Israel about Jesus and His first coming, not about the end times and the second coming of Jesus.Jesus is the last revelation, and the Law, the prophets, and all the Old Testament must be interpreted through the lens of Jesus because He is the imprint of the Father’s person. The Law and all the apparent severity of God in the Old Testament must be seen within the nature of the person of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled all the Law and yet His message was one of “extravagant” love and restoration. For example, when He was confronted by the Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery, according to the Law she had to be stoned to death, but Jesus, because of His love, found a way to save her from death without breaking the Law. Then Adam and Eve could have been left to die eternally after eating from the forbidden tree because that’s just what God said would happen. But God, because of His infinite love, found a way (although it was a very costly way) to save mankind from eternal death without breaking His own Word. Moreover, the fact that little children were drawn to Jesus and loved to be in His presence speaks volumes about the kind of person Jesus was, Who represented the very nature of the Father Himself. Children intuitively sense when a person is full of love toward them.When did Jesus usually get angry or upset during His life? Only when He came in contact with the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who preached a God harsh with sin, those who always preached sin and sanctification. This does not mean that Jesus downplayed the seriousness of sin and the need for sanctification, but He simply prioritized love for the person and their restoration instead of punishment.When we want to discuss something more delicate with a person (especially correction), don’t we prefer to talk face to face rather than in writing? Why? Because we want that person to feel from our voice the attitude with which we say those words, the emotions emanating, etc. In writing, the person can interpret what I said according to their state of mind at the time and through analogies with other, usually negative, experiences they had in the past. In writing, the person reading may have all sorts of unfounded suspicions, doubts, or preconceptions. In the same way, God first sent the Law in writing to His chosen people. Through it, the people of Israel developed in their minds and hearts an image of God as a harsh and strict God in relation to humankind. But then God sent His Son, Jesus, to correct the distorted view people had of God because of the Law of Moses. But most people have never corrected it or find it very difficult to do so.Usually, we as humans are quick to forget the good things that happen to us and what God has done and is doing for us. When the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they used to quickly forget all that God had done for them when they were dealing with God’s discipline. We also tend to focus on God’s curses in Deuteronomy chapter 28 for example, but we don’t see God’s blessing in the same chapter. We get fixated on God’s so-called harshness and lose sight of His goodness and love. Have you ever thought that maybe God had no right to step in and remove the curses? From the way He loves people that He gave absolutely everything for them, I believe that if He could, He would have never included any curse on man. He was not the One who cursed, but automatically if the people did not choose life, they came out from under His protection.The natural human tendency is always towards Law, harshness,  and asceticism because of man’s need to do something to be righteous. There is an almost irresistible attraction to self-righteousness. But we will never be in the wrong if we “exaggerate” in the direction of love, acceptance, and restoration when it comes to people as persons and not necessarily to their way of living which can be more or less divine.Many Christians seem to fear too much grace. They feel that if they give people too much grace, they will live in sin even more. But it is exactly the opposite. Most Christians don’t realize how hard it really is to live in super-grace, or hyper-grace, if I may say so. You just need to seriously try to see if and how long you can maintain a mental attitude in which you always see yourself loved by God and as being His favorite even when you sin? You won’t be able to because of the conscience that God has put in us to warn us when we are wrong, but which no longer tells us that our sins have already been erased. The conscience and the devil are part of a very loyal and faithful accusing police force, always on duty, especially when you are preparing to do a ministry for God.A sin repeated for years will not soften your conscience until you feel nothing. If by any chance your conscience no longer feels anything, the devil will take care to fill the void and continue with accusations and condemnation because you are a child of God. We feel good when we are legalistic as if we are taking God’s side, and we think that He will perhaps be more merciful to us and our weaknesses if we preach sin and repentance loudly to others.Jesus is the radiance of the Father’s glory (the pinnacle of the Father’s nature) and the imprint of His person. The word “imprint” comes from the Greek charakter which means engraving or carving tool, imprint or print. Everything Jesus said after His baptism in the Jordan was EXACTLY what God the Father meant. Can we say the same about the Old Testament prophets who were not even born again? Not. Perhaps Samuel came the closest to Jesus because none of his words, the Bible says, fell to the ground, but were fulfilled. But Samuel was not exactly God, the Father. Similarly, the prophet Elijah came very close, but then we see him complaining and lament...
In this message are described the oldest tricks used by the devil to deceive Christians into believing something that is not true or not believing what is true.
IntroductionThere was a king of the Moabites named Balak and the children of Israel had just defeated the Amorites and were on their way to Moab. And the Moabites were afraid. So, Balak, the king of Moab calls Balaam, a man who had contact with the spirit world, to curse Israel. But Balaam could not curse them even though he tried several times and from different places.Numbers 23:16–20 (NKJV)16Then the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, “Go back to Balak, and thus you shall speak.”17So he came to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab were with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”18Then he took up his oracle and said: “Rise up, Balak, and hear! Listen to me, son of Zippor!19“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?20Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.What did God speak through the Balaam’s mouth? That God is not like man to ever lie. Sometimes we humans lie, either on purpose to get out of a situation, or by mistake because we thought it was the truth. But God does not lie even by mistake. He doesn’t say, “Hey, I’ve been here for so long that it slipped my mind when I said that.” Not so with God at all.A very polished way of preaching, but very subtle and false, is this: “No matter what happens, we know that God is faithful.” Please, allow me tell you what is encapsulated in this statement, something that is not explicitly said, but is implicitly intended: “Whether God will do what He has promised or not, He remains faithful.”All Christians claim that God is faithful until it comes down to something specific where they need proof that it works. As long as it is spoken in general, all agree that the Word of God is true. But when we need something specific from the Word to be fulfilled in our lives, we shy away with statements like: “Well, you can never really know anything for sure.” We say He is faithful because the Bible says so, and there is no way we can be born-again Christians unless we affirm it as the Bible does. But we find out if we really believe that He is faithful when we are faced with something that He has said and has not yet manifested in our lives.Outside the church, we know exactly what the words mean. But in the church of Christ, it’s as if “the smoke and the glory of God overshadow us to such an extent” that words no longer mean anything. I hope you get the irony. For example, if someone outside the church takes a loan from the bank and, at some point, he stops paying the installments, he will be considered “unfaithful” by the bank, no matter how the economy and situations change. Why? Because that someone promised and signed a loan agreement with the bank that he would return the money regardless of changes in the country’s economy and world’s economy or in his financial situation.When it comes to God, we think completely differently without realizing it: “Well, God is God, even if He doesn’t do exactly what He said, He is still faithful. He doesn’t have to do everything he said, but He’s still faithful.” And so, we shroud everything in a cloud of ungodly mystery and ambiguity, even demonic I might say. And we bring into the scheme all the pompous theological words to gain more credibility in our unbiblical claims, such as: “Well, God in His sovereignty may have decided to do something different in a certain situation than what He said in the Word.” And then the common people will tend to say: “I don’t really understand anything this man wants to say, but he certainly knows more than I do because he went to the seminary. So, I’ll believe what he says. ” The Definition of Faithfulness“God is always faithful” means that He will always do what He said He would do and He has already done what He said He would do.A simple definition of faithfulness would be this: “When you speak and promise something, you also do it.” God is always true to His Word. Faithfulness is not something like: you say one thing, and then if another idea comes to you, you do something else and still remain faithful. No, that’s a lie. Verse 20 of the passage above says that once God has blessed something or someone, that blessing cannot be reversed. The blessing is irreversible. God’s Faithfulness in SalvationGod said in Psalms 103:2-3,Psalm 103:2–3 (NKJV)2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:3Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.Did God say that? Will He do that? Yes, of course.Has He forgiven all our sins even if we have done some very bad things or are still doing them? Yeah, sure. He has forgiven all our past, present, and future sins. How do we know this? Because He said so. Did He heal all our physical ailments? Yes, of course. How do we know this? Because He just said so in the passage above. But many Christians hold back when it comes to healing.As long as you don’t have to see something tangible (like for example in the area of ​​forgiveness of sins), God is faithful. But when it comes to something visible (like physical healing), He is no longer faithful. We take no chances, because if nothing happens, then all eyes are on us. We are afraid.If someone receives Jesus in his heart, we lead him in the prayer of repentance. And if after a week that person comes and tells us: “I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I feel like I’m no longer saved” we probably ask him: “Well, why do you feel that way?” To which the person responds, “I just don’t feel like God has forgiven me.” What do we usually respond as Christians at that time? “Well, I don’t know what to say, maybe He hasn’t forgiven you, who knows?” NO, not at all. But we will tell him: “You don’t have to live by feelings. The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10 that if we make Him Lord, we will be saved. We live by faith and not by sight or feeling. We all have these feelings from time to time, but you don’t have to dwell on them. These feelings must be ignored.”But what do we do when we get to financial blessing or healing, and we don’t feel healed? Instead of saying: “I don’t go by what I feel, but by what the Word of God says” – we say something like: “I trust God. He knows better what is good for me.” Now we are saying something different from what God said.In Luke 5:17-26, we see Jesus again as in Psalms 103:2-3, putting the forgiveness of sins on a par with physical healing:Luke 5:17–26 (NKJV)17Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.18Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was ...
The Power of the Lord’s SupperIntroductionLet’s first read the famous passage on the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians 11:17-34: 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 (NKJV) 17 Now in giving these instructions I don’t praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it’s not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I don’t praise you. 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.  Many Christians interpret the passage above in the following way: “Before I take the Lord’s Supper, I need to examine myself very carefully, check for any unconfessed sins in my life and confess them all. Then I can partake of the Lord’s Supper. This is the worthy manner of taking the Lord’s Supper. Otherwise, if I take it with any unconfessed sin, I might lose my salvation, I might lose the blessings of God, or God might punish me with sickness or even death. And I will not be able to come to God and ask Him to heal me, because I did it with my own hands. So, if I feel too unworthy on occasions, it’s better not to partake of the Lord’s Supper in order not to be punished by God.” This is how many believers read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and they treat the Lord’s Supper as something very sacred and dreadful, that can be partaken of only if they have been completely honest about their lives with God and made sure they confessed every sin they know before Him. Otherwise, God will strike them with sickness and curse. Because of the fear of punishment, many believers refrain from partaking of the Lord’s Supper for long periods of time. Overall, most believers consider the Lord’s Supper to be something similar to the bitter water from Numbers 5:16-28, that women suspected of adultery had to drink to prove their innocence. If those women were dishonest and guilty and drank that water, their bellies would swell, their thighs would rot, and they would become a curse among their people. This is the mentality with which most Christians approach the Communion. However, this interpretation and practice of the Lord’s Supper are far from the truth and rob believers of its precious benefits that Jesus intended when He initiated it. The Necessity of Innocent BloodLet’s analyze the passage carefully in its context. First, the expression “unworthy manner” from verses 27 and 29 doesn’t refer to the worthiness of the person taking the Lord’s Supper, but to the worthiness of the manner in which the person partakes, the worthiness of the way, or the method. We can never become worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper through something that we do, no matter what we do, not even through confession of sins, because the only thing that could pay for our sins and could make us worthy is  innocent blood, as seen in Hebrews 9:22: Hebrews 9:22 (NKJV) 22 And according to the Law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  Without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins, and not without confession of sins. Our blood is guilty and tainted by Adam’s sin that was transmitted to us when we were physically born on this earth. The only person that had innocent blood was Jesus Christ, the last Adam, because He didn’t have an earthly father. The Holy Spirit conceived Him, Jesus had blameless blood, and He kept His blood innocent throughout His life by fulfilling all the Law of Moses and by not sinning even once. He was without spot when He reached the moment of the cross: 1 Peter 1:18–19 (NKJV) 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  Why could only innocent blood remove sins? Because the soul of a human being is in the blood. That is what Leviticus 17:11 tells us: Leviticus 17:11 (NKJV) 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it’s the blood that makes atonement for the soul. The word “life” in the expression “the life of the flesh is in the blood” is the Hebrew “Nephesh,” which translates into “soul, living being, self, or person.” So, you have been made worthy once and for all by Christ’s blood and sacrifice, and nothing else. Period! You are always worthy to partake of the Communion  because of Jesus’ innocent blood and not because of your confession. Your righteousness and worthiness are Christ. However, there is also a proper and worthy manner of partaking of...
Objections to One-Time ConfessionSome might say, “But what about what Isaiah said in chapter 59 verse 2 that our sins put a separation wall between us and God, that they hide His face from us and that He will not hear us? Doesn’t that mean that we come out of fellowship with God and that we need to confess our sins to Him in order for Him to hear us again?” No, it doesn’t. Isaiah lived before the cross, Jesus had not paid for his sins yet, and Isaiah was not a new creation in Christ. Indeed, during his time and during the Old Covenant period, people’s sins created a separation wall between them and God, and God didn’t hear them until they humbled themselves before God, and brought the animal sacrifices for atonement. However, Christ is our eternal sacrifice that has cleansed us from all sin once and for all. So, in the New Testament, our sinful deeds don’t put a separation wall between us and God anymore. God doesn’t hide His face from us, and He always hears us, no matter what we did wrong.  ”But what about Proverbs 28:13, where King Solomon says: Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) 13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”? The same explanation given for Isaiah’s case is relevant here as well. King Solomon needed the mercy of God and his prosperity depended on his obedience to the Law, because he was walking in darkness. His sins had not been removed yet. All the people of the Old Testament relied on the mercy of God for their blessing and prosperity. Until Christ would come, God overlooked temporarily their sins when they obeyed the Law or brought the animal sacrifices. However, in the New Testament, the new creation has become prosperity (2 Corinthians 8:9) without any qualification, because of Christ’s righteousness, and believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Believers in Christ don’t have sins to cover or confess anymore, because they were all taken away at the cross.  “But what about King David when he lamented in Psalm 32:1-5 and Psalm 38:18 about his sins and confessed them? Shouldn’t we follow his example?” Let’s read those passages.  Psalm 32:1–5 (NKJV) 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord doesn’t impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I haven’t hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.  Psalm 38:18 (NASB95) 18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.  If we look carefully at the first two verses of Psalm 32, we will notice that King David prophesied by the Spirit about the time when people’s transgressions will be forgiven and the Lord will not impute iniquity to them anymore. He rejoiced looking ahead at the days we are living now. However, in his time, he had to confess his sins to the Lord to receive mercy and he probably confessed more in the hope of saving his son from the death punishment. And even though King David confessed his sins many times and asked for forgiveness from God, his confession and tears were not the ones which atoned for his sin. David still had to bring sacrifices to atone for his sins according to the Law.  Finally, “what about the Lord’s prayer from Luke 11:2-4 or Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus tells us to ask the Father to forgive our sins? Isn’t He telling us to confess our sins to God?” Let’s read the Lord’s prayer passage in Luke: Luke 11:2–4 (NKJV) 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  If we take a close look at the Lord’s prayer in the light of the Gospel, we will quickly notice that the Lord’s prayer is an Old Testament prayer and not a New Testament one. First, we need to realize that the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them how to pray were Jews, accustomed with the Law and the Torah. Second, Jesus hadn’t died yet on the cross in order to establish a prayer model according to the new creation era and He couldn’t disclose yet the plan God had through the cross, otherwise the devil would have never crucified Him. At that moment in time, Jesus was still in the Old Testament period. The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant had not been made yet. For example, He said in verse 2 to pray that God’s Kingdom would come on earth. That was the longing and the prayer of all Old Testament prophets, that the Kingdom of God would come. This was supposed to happen when Messiah would come. At that point in time, this kind of prayer made sense because the Kingdom had not come yet. However, we see later in Romans 14:17, as well as in other places, that Jesus brought the Kingdom on earth, especially after the cross, although not in its full visible manifestation yet:  Mark 1:14–15 (NKJV) 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  Luke 17:20–21 (NKJV) 20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Romans 14:17 (NKJV) 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Then in Luke 11:3, Jesus told His disciples to ask the Father for the daily bread. However, we see later in Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3 that God has already blessed believers with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places and everything pertaining to life and godliness. At the end of the prayer, Jesus instructs the disciples to ask the Father to deliver them from the evil one. That made sense before the cross, because all people were in the domain of darkness and under the authority of the devil and they needed God to intervene and help them. However, later, Colossians 1:13 says that believers have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of H...
Confession of Sins in 1 John 1:91 John 1:5–2:1 (NKJV) 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and don’t practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.   The question we should ask ourselves about 1 John 1:9 is this: Is this verse addressing believers or unbelievers? In the context of everything we have seen so far, this passage cannot be addressed to believers in Christ because, it it refers to believers, then it undermines the whole Gospel. If all our past, present, and future sins have been forgiven, there is nothing else to forgive. If we became righteous at the moment of salvation, then there is no more unrighteousness to be cleansed of. We cannot say that we have been cleansed of all sin and that we are still being cleansed, both in the same time. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, He said to Peter in John 13:10: John 13:10 (NKJV) 10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”  Based on this verse, many Christians wrongly conclude that, as born-again believers, they are completely washed and clean in a sense, but they still need to wash “their feet” by asking for forgiveness for the sins they do. Such a conclusion is inconsistent with what Jesus did on the cross, and it has nothing to do with the context of the washing of feet, which was about servanthood to each other.  Coming back to 1 John 1:9, this Scripture was written to a congregation of believers, but it was meant for unbelievers, and we will see why. We see this kind of address in the epistle of Romans as well, which was written mainly to believers. However, we find Romans 10:9-10 addressing the unbelievers who might have been in the church among believers, and tells them how to be saved. Moreover, in our churches today, preachers usually use the expression “brothers and sisters” to address a congregation, but not all in the congregation may be true brothers and sisters. Some can be just nominal Christians while others can be  unbelievers altogether. In the same way, especially the first chapter of 1 John was written to the church as a whole, but it addresses a certain context and a certain issue of the day, that was happening in the church, and that was Gnosticism.  Gnosticism comes from the Greek word “gnosis,” which means knowledge or insight. We know from church history that near the end of the first century, and in the early second century, proto-Gnosticism, specifically Docetism, arose within the church. Docetism was the doctrine that Jesus Christ didn’t come in the flesh, that He didn’t have a physical body, and that therefore His sufferings were only apparent. In later years, this developed into a theological system known as Gnosticism. By the middle of the second century, this philosophy blossomed into full expression and its advocates were producing their own gospels and epistles, of which the Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Judas are some examples. John appears to have anticipated Gnosticism’s development and threat to the health of the church and he wrote 1 John to counteract its influence.  Gnosticism blended Greek dualism with Eastern mysticism. It adopted the dualistic view that only the nonmaterial, or the spiritual, was good while anything material was evil. Along with this, came Eastern mysticism’s focus on a secret spiritual knowledge reserved only for the chosen few. The Gnostics were trying to fellowship with believers in the church and that’s how their ideas and thoughts infiltrated Christianity. They were saying things like the following: “It’s great that you are a Christian, it’s great that you are acquainted with Jesus Christ, but now let me lead you into a deeper knowledge of some deep spiritual truths that will secretly unlock more meaning and purpose for you.” As I already mentioned briefly, two primary beliefs marked the Gnostics concerning Christ and Christianity and these were what John was concerned about. First, Gnostics didn’t believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh or having a physical body. Second, they didn’t believe that sin was real at the spiritual level, so they were ultimately sin deniers or deniers of the sin nature transmitted from Adam to all people at the spirit level. Here is why they reasoned that sin was not real in the human spirit. Gnostics believed that any sort of sins or appetites, be it sexual sins or other addictions, occurred only in the physical world. However, they thought they were living at a spiritual level, and not a physical one, because of the secret deeper knowledge they thought they possessed. As such, anything that happened in the physical realm was less important and it was even considered a fabrication of reality, an illusion, because reality happened at the spiritual level where sin didn’t exist. That is why Gnostics believed Jesus didn’t have a physical body. It would have been too low, too base for Jesus to be tight to a physical body, so Jesus had to be purely spiritual according to Gnostics.  Therefore, the uncharacteristic opening of the first chapter of 1 John shows clearly that the initial address was not meant for believers but for Gnostics, who didn’t believe that Jesus came in the flesh. There was no greeting to believers, unlike what we find in John’s second and third epistles. Instead, the apostle John opens up his first epistle with a direct address to the serious heresy of Gnostics: 1 John 1:1 (NKJV) 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.  Later in chapter 4, John mentions that anyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God and has the spirit of Antichrist, again counteracting the Gnostic heresy: 1 John 4:1-3 (NKJV)1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spi...
Confession of SinsRomans 8:1 says this: Romans 8:1 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  Many Christians read the above passage and again they add in their mind, without even realizing, the following: “Yes, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus [as long as they don’t have any unconfessed sins in their lives].” However, that is not true. As we will see from the Bible, confession of sins doesn’t constitute the basis, or the condition of MAINTAINING salvation. Once believers are justified by faith, they have peace with God forever: Romans 5:1 (NKJV) 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  If maintaining justification or salvation depends on believers’ confession of sins (either of all sins or even only the known sins), then the most loving thing that God, the Father, can do for believers is to take them to heaven immediately after they are saved. This way believers are not in danger of ever losing their salvation by missing even one unconfessed sin. When believers confess their sins, can they be sure they confessed everything? Do they have enough time to confess everything?  For Martin Luther, confession of sins was a daily discipline. Sometimes, he confessed for as long as six hours at a time! He took it to the highest extreme. Luther was asked on one occasion, “Do you love God?” to which he answered, “Do I love God? Sometimes I hate Him.” How could someone say such a thing? Only  someone tormented by his sin could come to such a conclusion. Luther confessed for hours. He would review regularly the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins and the greatest Scriptural fear he had was breaking the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). He would also review often the Sermon on the Mount and question whether he could faithfully live according to its principles. The scenes of judgment in the Book of Revelation haunted him as well. R.C. Sproul explains with more details what used to happen in those times in this way, “Confession was a regular part of the monastic life. The other brothers came regularly to their confessors and said, ‘Father, I have sinned. Last night I stayed up after ‘lights out’ and read my Bible with a candle’ or, ‘Yesterday at lunchtime I coveted Brother Philip’s potato salad.’ (How much trouble can a monk get into in a monastery?) The father Confessor would hear the confession, grant priestly absolution, and then assign a small penance to be performed. That was it! The whole process took only a few minutes. Not so with Brother Luther. He was not satisfied with a brief recitation of his sins. He wanted to make sure that no sin in his life was left unconfessed. He entered the confessional and stayed up for hours every day.” Luther’s reason for confession was his fright about God’s judgment. He thought God was offended by his sins, but God was not offended because of Christ’s sacrifice. Luther lived in daily fear of the immediate judgment of God on his life. He said on one occasion, “If I could believe that God was not angry with me, I would stand on my head for joy.” That’s how much he became distressed with the enormity of his own sins and his inability to satisfy a righteous God.  Luther confessed every sin. He hated his sin. In fact, because of his obsession with confession, Luther was even deemed crazy. Some monks believed he had deep sexual struggles, because only that kind of sins would bother a monk so much that he would confess as much as he did. The monks thought Luther was on the verge of a psychotic episode or breakdown. His heavy doses of confession caused even physical pain and suffering to him. He developed digestive difficulties (e.g., kidney stones and gallstones) due to the anxiety caused by his battle with sin. No particular sins distressed him. It was his overall corrupt nature –“What can I do to win a gracious God? Oh my sin, my sin, what shall I do with my sin?” Today, maybe Christians don’t take confession of sins to such extremes like Luther, although they should, if they were really serious about it. However, they still go through a similar relative torment like Luther and always feel unworthy before God. The Israelites in the Old Testament had a Day of Atonement once a year when they would confess their sins and put them all on a goat - a scapegoat called Azazel - and then they would send that goat in the wilderness. Can anyone imagine a few million Jews taking the time to confess all their sins from that past year to the priests? The whole process would have taken a few years to end and the priests would be exhausted or die of exhaustion. Did the people confess their sins like believers do today? Of course not. Whenever people brought animals for sin offerings, would the priests examine the people of their sins, or the animal for sacrifice, which had to be spotless and without any defect? The animal, of course. The priest would examine the sacrifice and not the person bringing it, because the whole reason for why anyone would bring a sin offering was that they sinned. No need for further examination.  Similarly, when John the Baptist baptized people in water at the river Jordan, the Bible says that people would come to him and confess their sins. They would not start confessing every little sin to John in the water. In both of these two described cases, confession of sins meant acknowledging that they had sinned before God, and believing that He forgave or covered all their sins. This is what born-again believers do, once and for all, at the moment of their salvation. Think about the criminal on the cross, who had a multitude of sins, which he didn’t confess. He just asked Jesus to remember him when He would go into His kingdom and Jesus promised him that He would take him to heaven. Why would God be interested in hearing about every dirty and filthy sin of ours? He knows and sees plenty of it, everything is open in His sight, He already knows everything, and He already paid for all sins through Jesus’ sacrifice.  The truth is that, even if we think that we have a sincere and pertinent reason for confessing our sins, we actually do it because we cannot forgive ourselves and because of our self-righteousness. We are trying to show God that we are not that bad, that we can do something to fix the wrong and become again worthy before Him to receive His blessings, and to have Him move with power in our lives. Does confession of sins really help us in not sinning anymore? As you probably noticed in your own practice, most of the times, it doesn’t. You confess the sin and then you do it again most of the times, because that confession in itself keeps you in the cycle of sinning, by making you focus on the sin and on your inability to overcome it, and not on Jesus.  Now, let’s look at confession of sins from a different angle. When people do something wrong to us, should we expect them to ask for forgiveness first in order to forgive them? According to the Bible, no, not at all. We should forgive people no matter what they do, and even about 490 times a day. If God requires that of us, wouldn’t He much more treat us the same way? Yes, He would. He has already removed all our sins, ...
BELIEVERS CANNOT SIN (1 JOHN 3:9)1 John 3:9 (NKJV) 9 Whoever has been born of God doesn’t sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.  Many people struggle to understand this passage because its context clearly shows that Christians still sin: 1 John 1:8 (NKJV) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1 John 1:10 (NKJV) 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  1 John 2:1 (NKJV) 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous.  These are three instances from the same letter where the writer, the apostle John, talks about sinning. The first two passages communicate that, “If you say you haven’t sinned, you are a liar.” Then, in the third passage, John adds this, “I am writing to you so that you will not sin (future tense). But if you do sin, you have an Advocate with the Father.” Then, in 1 John 3:9 he declares, “If you are born of God, you cannot sin.” That sounds very contradictory, isn’t it? Both Scripture and experience reveal that Christians can sin and still sin. Even the entire context of the book of 1 John shows that it’s possible for a born-again believer to do something that is sin. Yet, 1 John 3:9 clearly says that if you are born of God, you cannot sin. How can this be? Some people take 1 John 3:9 to mean you cannot “habitually” sin. Several Bible translations now even render it this way. People who think along this line preach something like this: “If you were a drunk before you were saved, you might get drunk once or twice, but if you are truly saved, you will not habitually sin. Eventually, you will see victory in that area, or you were not truly born again.” However, in order to embrace this view, you have to categorize sin – which God doesn’t. To Him, there are no “big” sins and “little” sins. By His definition, we all habitually sin. We all habitually fail to study God’s Word as much as we should. We all habitually fail to love others the way we should. We all habitually fail to be as considerate as we should. We habitually get into self-centeredness, and God has to habitually deal with us about it.  Sometimes, we also pass over things that God calls sins. For instance, God views gluttony the same as drunkenness, adultery, and murder (see Deuteronomy 21:20). Gluttony is a sin that can only happen habitually. You cannot become overweight by eating just one large meal. Even if you gorged yourself one meal, it would only make a pound or two of difference. However, in order to gain an extra fifty to a hundred pounds, you would have to do it repeatedly. Being overweight is a habitual sin. I don’t say that to condemn anyone, because I know there are overweight people who are not that way necessarily because of food. But I want to put things into perspective.  If you interpret 1 John 3:9 to mean that you cannot habitually sin if you are truly born of God, then nobody would qualify, because we all habitually sin. The only way this can be preached is to say, “Well, you cannot habitually do the big sins, but the little sins, yes, you can habitually do them.” However, this is not what this verse is saying.  I believe that the apparent contradiction and confusion created by the book of 1 John concerning the new creation and sin flows from the frequent and subtle alternation between sinning at the level of the body and soul and sinning at the level of the new spirit. If you understand the human composition of spirit, soul, and body and that God deals with the born-again believers in the spirit or at the spirit level, then a better interpretation of this passage would be the following. The only part of you that is born of God is your spirit. Your soul is not born of God and your body is not born of God. They have been purchased, but they are not redeemed yet. Your soul and mind are being renewed, and your body will be glorified at the end. But the only part of you that is changed right now in an instant is your spirit and your spirit cannot sin. That spirit was created in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). Once you believed, your spirit was sealed (Ephesians 1:13), preserved and encased in the Holy Spirit in such a way that sins that you commit in your actions and in your thoughts don’t penetrate it. Since the recreated spirit cannot sin by itself, it retains its purity and its holiness. You don’t lose your spirit’s holiness based on your performance. This understanding is pivotal to having a relationship with God and fellowship with Him.  Based on Hebrews 9 and 10 and on what we’ve discussed so far about future sins, we can also interpret 1 John 3:9 in the following way: if all past, present, and future sins of born-again believers have already been removed by Jesus’ sacrifice once and for all, then there is no sin that a believer could do that would fall outside of what the sacrifice of Jesus has already dealt with. As such, a Christian cannot commit sin anymore.  Next, let’s see how and what does the Holy Spirit convicts the world and believers of, because most of the time the condemnation coming from our conscience is confused with the Holy Spirit’s conviction.   THE CONVICTION OF SIN AND OF RIGHTEOUSNESSIn the night before His crucifixion, in John 16:7-11, Jesus gave His disciples some instructions, telling them the following:  John 16:7–11 (NKJV) 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It’s to your advantage that I go away; for if I don’t go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they don’t believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  In verse 8, we can see the three-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit: to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. It’s amazing how religion in general has twisted this verse to make it sound condemning, when it’s in fact the exact opposite. The Lord Jesus seems to have known that this passage will be misinterpreted, or that it could be misinterpreted, so He went on in the following verses explaining in detail exactly what He meant. In verse 9, it says “of sin” (singular) and not “sins” (plural). The Holy Spirit convicts the world and not believers, of only one sin: the sin of not believing in Jesus. He doesn’t convict the world of all their individual immoral sins, because the conscience already does that. The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict people that are not born again about whether they are drinking, lying, or stealing; that is the conscience’s job. The primary reason for which people will be going to hell ...
Free of CondemnationAnother way your conscience is cleansed of the consciousness of sins is by realizing and acknowledging in your mind and heart that, even when you sinned, you still remain free of condemnation. Let’s read the most famous passage on freedom of condemnation found in Romans 8:1-2: Romans 8:1–2 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  Who is Paul referring to in the above passage? He addresses those who are in Christ, meaning the invisible church (which is the true church), and not the visible one. Now, what does it mean for you to be in Christ? It means that you are a born-again believer and a new creation. It means also that you are saved, justified, that you have eternal life, and have the Holy Spirit in you. These are all equivalent phrases about being in Christ. So, this passage is addressed to believers that still commit sinful actions. In the physical and natural realm, when can a court of law condemn you? You are condemned when you break the law of the country you live in. In the spiritual realm, being condemned before God means that you are a sinner. What does “no condemnation” mean before God? It means justification, or having the “justified” legal status declared by God on you as a believer; it’s right standing with God. That means you are “unblammable,” as if you’ve never sinned. Justification is more than forgiveness of sins. In our inter-human relationships, forgiveness means that the wrong done to someone remains still unpaid, but the wronged party chooses to overlook it or forget about it. The phrase “forgiveness of sins” in relation to God can be used only in the sense that believers didn’t pay themselves directly for their sins because of His mercy. But Someone paid. Christ is the One Who paid for them and in their stead, and they paid in Him. God didn’t just overlook or forget their sins without any payment. Christ paid for them. Justification means that believers paid in full for their sins in Christ, and that they have been reborn into a new justified creation that has never sinned. If you received Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior, then you became justified, you paid in full for all your sins through Christ, and you have been reborn into a new justified creation that has never sinned and will never actually sin ever again. I will explain that in detail later. As a believer in Christ, all your sins - past, present, and future - have been completely and permanently removed, not just forgiven.  In the story of Daniel, after he was thrown into the lions’ den and God saved his life, if someone came to king Darius and told him that Daniel broke the law, it would have been unjust for the king to punish Daniel again for the same law break. Daniel had already been thrown once into the lions’ den. In the same way, God’s justice today demands our acquittal because of Christ’s sacrifice. We are not justified based on mercy, but based on justice and righteousness, because our sins were paid in full in Christ. In the night of the Passover, when the people of Israel were getting ready to leave Egypt, God told them: “When I will pass through your door and see the blood (not your good works or your good name), I will pass over” (Exodus 12:13). Blood means that there has already been a death. Jesus died for us and that’s why God’s righteousness is on our side. Many Christians read Romans 8:1-2 and, unconsciously, add to it in their mind the following phrase:“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [as long as they don’t do sinful deeds].” However, Paul addresses born-again believers in this verse, who still have sinful deeds in their lives. If they didn’t have any sinful deeds at all, there would not be a reason for them to feel condemned in the first place, and the verse would be irrelevant. The apostle Paul has in mind exactly those people who were regenerated, who were made righteous, but still have sinful deeds in their lives, like you and me. It’s exactly those deeds that have the tendency to make you, as a believer, feel condemned, although you are not condemned anymore. Another way some Christians read the above verse is the following: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [as long as they do works of righteousness and walk according to the Spirit].” However, at the moment of salvation you have received an eternal redemption and justification, completely apart from works and independent of your good or bad works: Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it’s the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Romans 3:28 (NKJV) 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law.  Salvation came by grace through faith and not through good works, which are the deeds of the Law. Faith is the only condition of receiving eternal justification. Good works are not a condition, but a natural effect, and a normal result of a genuine saving faith. Faith alone justifies, but not the faith that is alone. James seems to paint a slightly different picture than apostle Paul in James 2:14-26, by affirming both faith and good works as conditions for salvation, apparently contradicting Paul. I said “apparently” because James is not actually contradicting Paul and we will see why. Let’s read the passage from James 2:14-26: James 2:14–26 (NKJV) 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but doesn’t have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you don’t give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it doesn’t have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that
The Great Exchange2 Corinthians 5:21 says the following: 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He (God, the Father) made Him (Jesus Christ) Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  Question: In what way was Jesus Christ made sin on the cross? Was He made sin only legally OR was He made sin vitally in His nature as well, meaning in His spirit? Then, in what way were believers made righteousness? We have already seen and proved earlier that believers had to be made righteousness both legally and vitally in their nature. Here we will focus on how was Jesus made sin on the cross and on what kind of death He experienced as a result of being made sin. Did His spirit experience spiritual death and complete separation from God together with His physical death? These are very important and complex questions that we will attempt to answer. When I talk about nature throughout this section, I will refer to the spirit of a human being, respectively to the spirit of Jesus Christ.  There are two prevalent perspectives concerning the answer to the above questions. The first perspective is that Jesus was not made sin vitally in His nature, but sin was only legally or judicially imputed to Him. By the same token, born-again believers remain sinners in their nature and righteousness is imputed to them just legally as well. The second perspective is that Jesus was made sin both legally and vitally in His nature, and He took on the nature of Satan on the cross. By the same token, born-again believers become righteousness both legally and vitally in their nature. Both these perspectives have difficulties. The problem with the first perspective is that it makes believers in Christ only legally righteous. The issue with the second perspective is that Jesus takes on the nature of Satan. The viewpoint that I will present and explain in this book is a third alternative: that born-again believers were made righteousness both legally and vitally as I have already proved earlier, but Jesus was made sin only legally, and not vitally in His spirit as well. Moreover, I will advocate that Jesus experienced only soulish death and physical death, but not spiritual death in His spirit. Why do I believe that sin was only imputed legally to Jesus? There are about four reasons for that. First, it’s because whenever the people of Israel brought animals for their sin and guilt sacrifices in the Old Testament, and laid their hands on the animals for the transfer of guilt, those animals never became sin in their nature. It was just a legal transfer. The same happened with the azazel scapegoat that was sent in the wilderness in the yearly Day of Atonement, caring legally all the sins of the congregation. The scapegoat didn’t became sin in its nature. Second, we see that God credited righteousness to Abraham and the other people of God in the Old Testament only legally and in advance, before Christ came to die on the cross. In the same way, sin was imputed to Jesus Christ just legally, but in His case, it was both retroactively (in order to include Abraham as well) as well as for all time. Third, if Jesus had been made sin in His nature, meaning in His spirit, then He would not have been anymore the perfect, blameless sacrifice for humankind’s sins. Let’s read two passages that illustrate how the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament (Exodus 12:21) was a “typology” of Christ and how Jesus Christ, Himself, was going to become the Lamb of God (John 1:29): Exodus 12:21 (NKJV) 21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.  John 1:29 (NKJV) 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  If we continue with this parallel, we can notice that the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament had to be “unblemished.” At the time of sacrifice, a hand would be laid on the unblemished sacrificial animal to symbolize the transfer of guilt. We can see that in many passages like Exodus 12:5, Leviticus 4:3-4, Leviticus 23-24, Leviticus 32-33, and Leviticus 22:20, but let’s read just two of those passages: Leviticus 22:20 (NKJV) 20 Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf.  Leviticus 4:3–4 (NKJV) 3 If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and kill the bull before the Lord.  The sacrificial lamb didn’t actually become sinful in nature, but rather sin was imputed to the animal legally and the animal acted as a sacrificial substitute. In like manner, Christ, the Lamb of God was utterly unblemished, as we can see in 1 Peter 1:19, and humanity’s sin was imputed judicially to Him. He was humanity’s sacrificial substitute on the cross of Calvary. The transfer of sin on Him was just legal and not vital. Let’s read 1 Peter 1:18-19: 1 Peter 1:18–19 (NKJV) 18 Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  The whole world is currently in sin and separated from God from birth, because of the sin nature transmitted from Adam, and not because of their own sinful actions. Likewise, Jesus becoming sin in His nature would have meant He would have been separated from God and blemished, defiled, even if He had never sinned through His actions during His lifetime. The fourth reason for why I believe that sin was only imputed judicially to Jesus is because Jesus would not have had the right to resurrection if He was made sin in His nature. Let’s read Romans 6:23 to see why: Romans 6:23 (NKJV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  This passage says that the wages of sin is death. If Jesus had become sin in His nature, He would not have come back from the dead and He would not have defeated death. The only people on whom death cannot reign over are righteous people. Therefore, Jesus had to remain righteous in His nature and spirit in order to have the power and legal right to come back from the dead. Now, why do I believe that Jesus experienced pain and death only in His soul and body, but not spiritual death in His spirit? First, it’s because Adam and Eve sinned with their soul and physical body before their spirit became dead. In the same way, Jesus had to experience death only in His physical body and so...
What Is Sin?Now that we defined righteousness, we are in a better position to define sin, by comparison with righteousness, in a more holistic way. We said earlier that righteousness is the nature of God that defines His character and His ways of doing all things. 2 Peter 1:2-4 says that those who are in Christ have also become partakers of God’s divine nature and righteousness: 2 Peter 1:2–4 (NKJV) 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  Just by looking at the definition of righteousness, we can deduct two things about sin. First, sin is also a nature the same way righteousness is a nature. In fact, the Bible shows that all human beings are born on this earth with a sin nature in their spirit, that was inherited from the first man, Adam. Second, sin is  everything that God is not. Sin is the complete opposite to righteousness, to God’s character, and to His ways of doing things. We can see this contrast illustrated in many passages of the Bible. Let’s read just a few of them: Romans 6:18 (NKJV) 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.  Romans 6:20 (NKJV) 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  Similar to righteousness, there is positional sin and practical sin or, better said, inherited sin and manifested sin. Inherited sin or inherited righteousness decide your eternal destiny and have to do mainly with eternal damnation and eternal salvation respectively, while manifested sin and manifested righteousness have to do with the quality of your life here on earth, as well as with eternal rewards after this life. People who remain with a sin nature by not accepting the sacrifice of Jesus, will go to eternal damnation in the lake of fire after physical death, no matter how many good and righteous deeds they did while living on earth. By contrast, those who change their sin nature into a righteousness nature and are transferred from death to life by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins (John 5:24), will go to eternal salvation in the presence of God after physical death, even though they still did sinful deeds in their lives on earth. Their eternal salvation is secured by their righteous nature received by faith as a free gift and not by their righteous deeds or manifested righteousness.  How should we define “manifested sin” that accompanies the sinful nature or is still present sometimes even in people with a righteous nature? In the eyes of most believers, manifested sin amounts only to immoral and wicked deeds, which have first been revealed by the human conscience when the first man fell, then by the Law of Moses as transgressions of the Ten Commandments, and later on by Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, where He expanded the moral law to the level of thoughts and intentions of the heart (Matthew 5-7). Finally, apostle Paul described in detail in his epistles this kind of manifestations of sin, in passages like Ephesians 5:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:10-21, and Colossians 3:5-9. These are: sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, impurity, lust, uncleanness of any kind, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, slander, abusive language, gossip, idolatry, theft, lying, drunkenness, abuse, sorcery, hate, envy, jealousy, strife, anger, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, murder, evil desires, and wickedness. These sinful deeds and attitudes are all sins of commission, mostly external, and they are the most obvious among all sinful behaviors. Then, there are sins of omission like when believers can do some good and yet don’t do it (James 4:17), or when they don’t love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as Jesus loved them.  However, there are also some other sinful deeds of omission that are less obvious, yet still sinful in God’s eyes. If you remember, I mentioned somewhere in the beginning of this book that righteousness does not consist only of morality, although morality is included in it. Righteousness is much more than that; it consists of God’s nature, character, and ways of doing things. Righteousness includes removal of all sin through Jesus’ sacrifice, as well as healing, prosperity, blessing, victory, peace, joy, wisdom, and eternal life. Since sin is the opposite of righteousness and the opposite of God’s nature, then allowing in our lives sickness, disease, poverty, financial lack, debt, lack of peace and joy, worry, sadness, melancholy, depression, stress, failure or fear of any kind, insecurity, overeating, etc. is also sin. Yes, you read that well: allowing sickness in your body is sin. Accommodating lack, poverty, and debt in your life is sin. Being stressed and worried is sin. I am aware that what I’ve just said may come as a shock to many, because we might have never thought of sin in that way. Before you turn away and discard this teaching, allow me to give you biblical support for why I believe sin includes all those things.  Can you ever picture God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus as being stressed out, worried, fearful, sick, poor, sad, insecure, or depressed? No, of course not, these attributes cannot even be mentioned in connection to God. Were any of these facets of death present in creation in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of man? As we know from the Bible, God didn’t include them in His creation of the world and man. When did these sinful states of being enter the world? They all came in when man disobeyed God and sin entered the world. They are all manifestations of sin and death. Do you think by any chance that any of these effects of death will be present in heaven in the future life? No, of course not, even now they don’t exist in God’s presence or anywhere in the third heaven. Moreover, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:19 that the born-again believers in Christ have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read them: 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV) 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, Whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  If we go back to the Old Testament and think about the Tabernacle or the physical temples of God, was there any defilement or uncleanness allowed in them? No, there was none permitted. Since our bodies have become the temple of the Holy Spir...
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