Well, that sure is a strange teaching on faith you have as you explain James 2:22,24 which says, “Faith is made complete by what he did… [So] you see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” However, you merely make up a distinction between “salvational faith” and “sanctificational faith.” The book of James, God’s Word, does not. I do wonder which of those two kinds of faith you would attribute for those in Matt. 7:21-23. –Because they certainly had some type of faith to be able to do what they did –prophesying, driving out demons, performing many miracles, and even calling Jesus “Lord”! But notice that Jesus says that only those who do the will of the Father will enter His kingdom.
Trusting Christ does mean just that: Following Him in obedience. Like the analogy of getting in the wheel-barrow as He pushes you on a tight rope across a deep and wide pit… It’s not enough for you to say you believe He can get you safely across; you have to prove your faith by getting in. Once in, you must “continue in the teaching of Christ” (2 John 1:9) and “obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. [Otherwise] they will be punished with everlasting destruction…” (2 Thes. 1:8,9) Furthermore, once we’re in, we do always have the choice to say, “This is uncomfortable; let me out.” Or to say, “I want to go back and sin a while longer.” However, if you are truly trusting Christ, you will stay right there with Him, abiding in Him, obeying Him, and fellow-shipping with Him. But He does not force you to stay with Him. At any time you can call it quits, and many do. As Luke 8:13 says, “They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
Yes, HE will stay faithful, but as 2 Tim. 2:12 says, “If we disown Him, He will also disown us.” (We can’t disown something we’ve never owned.) To be in covenant with Christ is a two-person agreement. BOTH have to keep it for it to hold affect. And both have to abide by the covenant itself. He will always remain faithful to keep His part, and He will empower those who willingly abide in Him and His words, helping them to keep their part; but He will not force anyone to keep the covenant, just as He did not force anyone to accept it in the first place.
It is not enough to say you believe in the covenant. You have to abide by its dictates. Therefore, it is not enough for you to say you have faith in Jesus and the New Covenant (The Gospel). You must adhere to its instructions, its way, its truth, its life. This is why “believers” of all types –such as Mormons– can say they believe in Jesus, but they deceive themselves because they have faith in “another Jesus” –a “different spirit and a different gospel.” (See 2 Cor. 11:4) As 2 Tim. 2:5 says, “He does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” There is ONE correct and true Gospel. All other “gospels” damn.
The main rule is belief in –not just any old thing– but belief in THE TRUTH. And that truth entails this: “Repent and believe the good news!” (Jesus in Mark 1:15) Genuine repentance is an absolute necessity, and it does put one on the path of holiness. No holiness, no salvation, for “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) And don’t make the excuse here that we are positionally holy and need not be holy in thought, word, and deed. Because the first part of that verse tells us to “make every effort to… be holy.” It is a command all through the Bible: “Be holy in all you do…” (1 Peter 1:15) Yes, it is the pure in heart who will see God. (Matt. 5:8)
Who taught you the theology you have? Because you are sorely deceived and need to erase your biases as best you can, throw away your skewed lenses, read God’s Word carefully with the Holy Spirit as your teacher, and stop pointing others the wrong way. I am indignant about false teachings because they are sending people to Hell forever! “Therefore I hate every wrong path” (Ps. 119:104), and “Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken Your law.” (v. 53)
If you think it is okay for Christ’s followers to sin, then maybe you are holding onto some pet sins while you conveniently toss out most of the Scriptures. (Like most of 1 John which you quote from.) Yes, if someone is not walking in the Spirit, he can listen to the slave master “Sin” and go back. But Gal. 5:16 tells us to “walk in the Spirit” so that we won’t. Rom. 8:9 says “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.”
1 John 3:5 says that Jesus “appeared so that He might take away our sins.” It doesn’t say the “penalty” of sin, though elsewhere Scripture teaches that too. No, it says He “takes away sin.” That is why Rev. 1:5 tells us that He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.” And why Rom. 6:18 says, “You have been set free from sin…” –and sin is “rendered powerless” (v. 6) because you are either “slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness.” (v. 16) For as Jesus says in John 8:34-36, “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.”
Back to 1 John 3:6-9: “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. [This is stated because it IS possible to be led astray.] He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil… 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.”
Jesus says in John 15:2, “He [the Father] cuts off every branch IN ME that bears no fruit,” and in verse 6, “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” The word “remain” speaks of one who is at one time IN Christ, the Vine. The whole Gospel is about choice. Choosing life or death, righteousness or sin, Christ or the world. And the choice is faced daily until one leaves this earth. Let Scripture interpret Scripture, for in saying “no one can separate us from Him,” God’s Word teaches that sin does in fact separate us, as does our own choice to continue to sin. (1 John 1:6,2:3-6 / Heb. 10:26 / Isa. 59:2 / Luke 13:3) You are following man’s interpretation and rationalization when you disregard Christ’s teachings on this matter. You apparently want to believe man’s doctrines on this, rather than what God’s Word says.
You do this again with your interpretation of 1 Cor. 3:1-3. No, that speaks of infants in Christ, and if one remains an infant, he will be as that “tree that does not produce good fruit [but instead] will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9) Also, carnal means worldly, and there are numerous verses that say things like “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) And “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) If someone hangs onto the world and sin, then they do not have the Holy Spirit of God inside of them. And “unless a man is born anew / born again / born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (See John 3:3,5) But once he has been, he is “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) “Gone” does means gone, and actions will testify to this.
Let me suggest that you study Scripture and let it interpret the passages you are hung up on. Do not let your “man’s doctrines” interpret for you. Especially if you are choosing to be a “Bible teacher.” Because Jesus had some strong words for those “blind guides” in passages such as Matt. 23.
(Written and sent 11/17/09)