Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stress-Free Sinning? (with audio)


But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."
(2 Timothy 2:19 – ESV)

Not every true Christian will experience the same degree of personal, practical sanctification. The thief on the cross was saved but since he died that same day he didn’t have the time that the Apostle Paul had to show forth the fruits of righteousness. We instinctively and interpretively understand that some believers will progress further into the sanctification process, they will press on to the mark in a more pronounced fashion than some others. On the other end of the spectrum, some might seem to be acting like unbelievers, while they may truly be born again.

This brings an interesting question. Why are there so many genuine Christians who persist in the same patterns of sin, apparently without pangs of conscience, and without repentance, apparently hard-hearted against the communion of Christ, the conviction of the Spirit and the commands of the Word? Why do they sin without stress, without struggle, and seemingly without significance?

Well, first off, the inward sins of the heart that perhaps do not manifest as overt, “big time” sins that everyone condemns are sins nonetheless. We all have sin; it is just that Christians are supposed to be striving toward holiness, wanting to be blameless while realizing they will never be completely sinless in this lifetime. Still, what about those who don’t even try? How do you tell the Christians from the non-believers, in that some professing believers live “worse” moral lives than some non-believers? Why would God even allow this?

We know this for sure; it is all a part of God’s plan. Jesus said it would be so, and that we won’t know until the end who the real believers were, and also that many think they are true believers but they aren’t. The answer is in our personal valuing of practical sanctification, both temporal and eternal. God is giving us opportunity.

Peter says to make your calling and election sure by growing in fruitfulness (2 Peter 1:5-10). Now when he says this he is not saying that you are making your calling and election sure to God, but to yourself, because the Lord knows those who are His, and because the second inscription on the sure foundation of God says that those who are His, those who claim the name of Christ are to depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). We also make our calling and election sure to others we know (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4), others we meet (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), and perhaps even to Satan and the demonic realm (2 Timothy 2:26).

Those that are doing this are being made useful and ready for every good work by cleansing themselves from sin (2 Timothy 2:20-25). Here in 2 Timothy Paul speaks about a cleansing that isn’t just something God does for us as we sit passively. This is a self-cleansing for service that goes beyond a general cleansing for sin. 1 John 1:9 would be speaking of the general cleansing from the guilt and penalty of sin, but Paul and the Bible talks of another type of cleansing. We sanctify, or set apart ourselves because He has sanctified us (Leviticus 20:7-8 / 1 Corinthians 1:30).

It is not a salvation issue but an assurance of salvation issue. It is not a “make it to heaven” issue, but a “rewards in heaven” issue. It is about fruitfulness and usefulness in this life. It is about working out from our cleansing from sin, and cleansing ourselves in God’s power so that we are separated for service. It is about being prepared for production. It is about our cooperation with God’s Spirit so that we are set apart and made useful and closer to God.

However, what many do not realize is that this voluntary, temporal cleansing has eternal consequence as well as temporal aspects. They don’t go for it because they don’t see the worth; they haven’t realized it, made it real, cashed in on this truth. There are temporal aspects, such as an assurance of salvation and communion with Christ by the Holy Spirit, and eternal aspects, as with rewards in heaven. We have not stressed the practical presence of God and rewards in heaven enough.

In sanctification, God allows us to store up treasures in heaven, and allows us to win crowns that we may cast at the Master’s feet. To some, that may not seem to be all that big a deal, as long as they make it, but believe me, and believe the Bible, it will be a great big deal on that day, and you, me, and all of us will want to have more to give than we will then. We need to see this as it really is, and stress to believers the importance of the eternal state, not just as the resting place from wrath, but the place where we make an eternal statement about how we honored the glory of the Lord with our lives. For some this isn’t enough motivation, but we must endeavor to renew our minds to this truth.

To be a servant of the Lord, a vessel of honor for Him, we must be empty, clean, and available. If we refuse to empty ourselves, clean ourselves, and make ourselves available to the Lord, we will find ourselves captive to the devil in one sense or another. When you commit a sin, you let the devil win. If someone does not have the desire or the actions to depart from iniquity at all, it is fair to ask if they really belong to Jesus or if they have just deceived themselves. The sanctified, feeling God’s love, imitate it, and the more they imitate it, the more they feel it. It is worth striving for. At best, stress-free sinning is success-free sinning.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

This is taken from a previous post from 4-5-07, but now includes the audio, which has additional material in it...we will be doing this with many of our older posts, so that they can have the audio attached to them...hope these are edifying and enjoyable for you...God bless...

...and don't be afraid to leave a comment if you haven't listened to the audio...the posts can stand on their own, too...