This is something I wrote and sent to my email list in July of 2008:
“Here. Take this hammer and give a strong, hard blow! …Feel guilty? Don’t. Everyone is doing it… well, –because they can’t help it, that’s why. And remember, as long as your blows get less or more gentle as time goes on, you’re doing well. …Oh, but if you do happen to spend a lifetime hammering nails into Christ Jesus, just don’t fall away completely; because Heb. 6:6 does mention something about the impossibility of being brought back to repentance since that would be ‘crucifying the Son of God all over again…'”
Commendable? A life that delights God? Attitude and actions of one who has been born from above? –one who has been infused with the HOLY Spirit of the Most High Pure God? …Hardly!
So… I’m beginning to really wonder how many denominations want to do away with the book of Galatians in the Bible. Everyone in favor say, “I.”
Oh, you DON’T? Well, so many seem to want to disregard some things it says. Here’s one thing it clearly says: “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:7,8) Then for added punch, Paul restates it in verse 9 (and I will quote it from the NKJV instead of the NIV): “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Now, I certainly want NO ONE accursed! It is a horrifically, dreadful thought to me! But neither do I want a throng of others accursed because they are believing a false gospel being propagated by a misled informant. False gospels need to be “nipped in the bud” before “their teaching spreads like gangrene.” (2 Tim. 2:17) So those of us who witness about the Gospel better have it straight! (This is not to discourage anyone from witnessing… There are many theological things that we may not understand, but it is imperative that we admit to that, rather than make up the answer based on a pet denominational belief.) Do we see what Gal. 1:7-9 actually says? It doesn’t say, “If anyone HAS a false gospel” or “BELIEVES a false gospel”. (It is already a given that those people are condemned.) It says, “PREACHES a false gospel.” The reason for this is obvious: The falsehood can lead others to sin and damnation.
And what’s so awful about leading others astray? Look at what Jesus says in Mark 9:42 –“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me TO SIN, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” And if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, cut it off or gouge it out –rather than go to Hell! (See v. 43-49) This is all strong language! And what for? For us to say that isn’t what it means? For us to say, (or just imply): “It’s no big deal, folks. We all have a sin nature. Even we Christians sin every day.” Is that suggestion not going to lead many to more likely sin???
But if that attitude is the correct one, I’m wondering how to interpret Gal. 5:24 –“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” If the “sinful nature” in Christians has been crucified, why is it being taught that we are still in its clutches on a daily basis? Is not Romans 8:4 clear? “…that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” So just HOW much sin can we commit in a given day and NOT be living “according to the sinful nature”? If we “just can’t help but sin daily”, then have we “been set free from sin” as Romans 6:18 tells us we have? How about a few verses up –verses 6 & 7– “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” How free? Half free? 95% free? “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5:1) Isn’t Christ ALL-powerful?!
“Died” means died. Again, I’ll repeat Rom. 6:7: “…anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” What true Christian has not “died”? In crucifixion –with Christ– we DIE! “Now if we died with Christ… The death He died, He died to sin once for all… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:8-11) I will also repeat Rom. 6:6 –“…our OLD SELF was crucified with Him…” That means what it says: That our old self dies! Why would it be taught that we, poor little weaklings, will automatically resurrect sin on a daily basis? Really? Is that what God’s Word teaches? It does not! If we go backwards (or turn back toward sin), once we have become alive to God, we do so deliberately! God’s Word tells us in 2 Peter 1:3,4 that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…[so that we] may participate in the divine nature [NOT THE SINFUL NATURE] and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” So again, I say, if we don’t believe and trust in this verse (and other Scriptures –which are all God-breathed), to the point of obedience, then we are deliberately refusing to obey God’s Word. Col. 3:5-10 says, “Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self…” For “In Him you were also circumcised [that is “circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit” Rom. 2:29), in the putting off of the sinful nature…” (Col. 2:11)
It seems that just like the law-denominations (those who try to put others back under law), there are huge denominations that are trying to drag their gullible sheep back under something else just as wretched: SIN!!! And the two actually are related; they go together. Romans 7:4-6 says, “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another… For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” So what is being referred to as what “once bound us”? Just the Law –the written code? No. Verses 4 & 5 speak of the law AND the sinful nature almost interchangeably! “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14) In other words, if we are truly under GRACE, we have been set free from law AND sin!
“The law of sin and death” which is spoken of in Rom. 8:2 speaks of “spiritual death”. Romans 7:24 asks, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God –through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Again, I ask, How powerful is He?! “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Cor.4:20) Power for what? 2 Cor. 10:4,5 tells us, “…divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” So, power for what? Power to cut out ALL disobedience to Christ. We have that power in us –IF we have the Spirit of God in us by being born anew from above.
“We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:2-4) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) What part of “GONE” is not understood?
As 2 Cor. 5:15 says, “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves…” (Is it okay to live for ourselves part of the week? Or part of every day? You know, at least… um… an hour? Can I have 45 minutes for my “sinful nature self”?) Good grief! What part of “NO longer” is not understood? It shouldn’t be hard. For as 1 John 5:3,4 says, “His commands are NOT burdensome, for everyone born of God has overcome the world.” What world? “…everything in the world –the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does…” (1 John 2:16) And how could it be hard –for someone who is dead??!?? –For as Gal. 2:20 tells me, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” Hmmmm….. There’s those words “NO longer” again… And as 1 Cor. 6:20 reminds us, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. [Yes, with the precious blood of Jesus.] Therefore honor God with your body.”
I have quoted Matt. 5:48 and 1 Peter 1:15,16 many times to different preachers and so-called believers of the Bible. I often get the weirdest responses. Something like: “perfect” means “mature”, and “holy” means “set apart”. That’s fine. But then you’ll have to call God that: –that is, call GOD “mature” and “set apart” in these two verses. Here’s what the two verses say: Matt. 5:48 –“Be perfect, therefore, AS your heavenly Father is perfect.” 1 Peter 1:15,16 –“But JUST AS He who called you is holy, so be holy in ALL you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” I’ve realized most people just do not want to set their eyes on perfection and holiness, so they grab ahold of other definitions for the words. I really don’t care about the “other” definitions. I care that, the perfection and holiness that is being talked about –is the kind that GOD has! And His Word is commanding me to be just that!
So, I ask, why is the true, pure gospel –which is SUCH GREAT NEWS– so often not being preached? Why is it so often being twisted? I think there’s two main reasons …besides that we have an enemy that keeps trying his best to twist it too. But why are people twisting it? Yeah, okay… ignorance… probably due to laziness in studying the Scripture. But that’s because they are idolators –and idolators are those having more attention on, affection for, admiration for, or allegiance to –something other than God.
But here’s the two things I think are the biggest reasons: 1)People don’t want to give up their sin, and 2) People feel the need to control others. Whole denominations seem to be based on one or the other of these two great “drives”.
So, do I believe that Christians sin? Here’s one answer: “Not when we walk in the Spirit.” (See Gal. 5:16) Do we always walk in the Spirit –every minute? We SHOULD –because the Word tells us we CAN! That’s what I want to hear preached! Remember, “THE POWER OF SUGGESTION”!!! Don’t suggest to others, “Oh woe… we are in this body of sin and will just keep sinning…” Why even talk like that?! Is that what an Olympic coach tells the athlete?! No way!!! He says, “You are the best! You are going to win! Therefore, you are going to be in STRICT training! So get your mind prepared RIGHT NOW to prepare your body!” It’s actually sick –and unrealistic– to even consider that an Olympic coach would say, “Now I know you are going to fail miserably every day… I know that your nature is actually NOT to be the victor. We can say that you are a winner, but we know, practically speaking, you’re really not. It’s even okay if you come in last –just so long as you keep trudging along…” Why are preachers talking like this?! It’s not even the right conversation!
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires [yes, allowing for daily indulgence in the sinful nature] they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3,4) This is why we keep seeing signs outside of churches like “CELEBRATE RECOVERY”! Why are we not just sticking to the pure gospel –CELEBRATING JESUS EVERY DAY? Let’s be in discussions about what HE did for us as Gal. 6:14 says: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” And let us meet together –WHY?– in order to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:24) Why discuss your weaknesses? –and even make light of them? Especially when preaching or witnessing?! “For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Eph. 5:12) (If you must confide in someone, choose only one or two godly, wise individuals. Then the name of Christ will not be slandered and subjected to public disgrace. –See Heb. 6:6 & 2 Sam. 12:14) If your words UPLIFT Christ’s power, I will listen. If not, I prefer not to hear it. Speaking of how “Christians sin daily” is treating Christ’s power as of weak effect in one’s life. It is treating Him –and His work for us on the cross– with contempt.
So should we teach that we should walk in the Spirit –every minute? Absolutely yes! Many Bible teachers seem to avoid quoting some very necessary verses; I guess because no one wants to be reminded that they themselves are not even living up to what it says. But that doesn’t change the fact that it IS in God’s Holy Word. I do believe that many “Bible teachers” genuinely want to alleviate the discouragement many people have concerning their sin, and that is understandable. But it doesn’t ultimately help another fellow human being to tell them that we are consigned to a lifetime of bondage. Because we aren’t! That is NOT the Gospel! No, we are to explain to them The Truth –that Jesus came to set captives free –completely free! (See Isaiah 42:7) Our message to everyone is: “Say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!'” (Isaiah 49:9) As Jesus said in John 8:31–36, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has NO PERMANENT PLACE IN THE FAMILY, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
In John 3:3 Jesus declared, “…unless a man is born from above, [“born of the Spirit” v. 8] he cannot see [enter] the kingdom of God.” Match this with Rom. 8:9 –“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” If you “cannot help but sin”, you have NOT been born of the Spirit. The Word of God is clear.
1 John 3:8-10 says, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s nature abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God…” If the devil’s work is not destroyed in you individually, then you blaspheme Christ’s power by negating verses such as 1 John 4:4 –“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One [Christ’s HOLY Spirit] who is in you is greater than the one [the ANTI-christ spirit] who is in the world.”
So when we indulge in a thought or conversation or action that we know does not conform to God’s beautiful, righteous character, –are we being obedient to His Word? Like 2 Peter 3: 14 –“Make EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” –? Those who know Christ and go back to corruption are compared to a dog returning to its vomit! (See 2 Peter 2:20-22) And God detests sin so much that HE wants to VOMIT! (See Rev. 3:14-22) So what do you think HE thinks of those who keep bringing down the hammer on His Son, as if saying, –“Sorry. It’s just what is going to naturally happen on a daily basis.”–?
Well, Heb. 10:26-29 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning, after having received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God… How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
“Far be it from me, God –Jesus– to trample You, Your blood, or Your grace! –any time during a given day!” Let’s teach and encourage THAT attitude!