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Sin according to the Bible: Hamartiology I

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Question #1:

[ . . . ]

Response #1:

At your request, I will certainly keep your part of this email completely confidential (have no worries on that score).

First, it is important for any believer who is struggling with sin of any kind to remember two principles which may considered as "guard rails" to keep him/her from going off the high road and into the ditch: 1) everyone sins and struggles with sin (Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:8-10); 2) to keep growing spiritually and to stay spiritually safe we have to be winning this struggle (Heb.12:14; 1Jn.1:6-7). That is to say, on the one hand, it is a mistake for a Christian to get so wrapped up in his/her failures that he/she forgets that we are all sinners, that we all need to confess our sins when we fail, and that God forgives us when we do (Ps.32:5; 1Jn.1:9); indulging in excessive feelings of guilt is not profitable for any Christian. On the other hand, sinning with impunity, failing to be willing to "resist to the point of blood" (Heb.12:4; cf. 1Pet.4:1), allowing oneself to slip further down instead of fighting forward on this issue, is a course fraught with spiritual peril. Christians need to avoid the one trap without falling into the other. And with the comfort of the Spirit (for our failures) and the guidance of the Spirit (for our future successes in this combat) we can indeed do both – and indeed we must. This is not to say that success is immediate or easy and will not involve serious discipline for past mistakes and serious consequences too. Most Christians I know who really are serious about the Bible and following Jesus Christ now, have put themselves into positions of being "beat up" in the past and had to learn some things the hard way. It's great if a Christian has never had to do that; but in my experience and observation it's not all that common, and those who do not come to follow the Lord closely as a result at least in part of learning the hard way sometimes end up falling off the high road later on (one thinks of David). Human beings that we are, it seems that almost without exception we all have to learn the "hot stove" lesson at some point, often as the result of multiple third-degree burns.

Secondly, while I do take your point about those who have failed being more motivated to follow the Lord – and I see a lot of truth in this (as explained above) – I think we should be very careful not to use that observation as any sort of justification, either prospectively or retrospectively. Obviously, it would be so much better if we had never sinned, and so much better if we don't sin in the future, and, since this absolute is impossible, so much better if we could keep our mistakes as small and infrequent as possible. As we grow, that should be the trend, after all. I think your analysis of contemporary Christianity is dead-on (and with your permission I would like to post that part some day). Many Christians today have bought into a kind of "prosperity gospel", even if they would rebel at hearing how they have structured their Christian approach in those terms. The questions a young person should be asking are just the questions you are asking, namely, "what does Jesus Christ want me to do?", not "what career will be the most profitable?" or "how can I find the best possible spouse?". There is nothing wrong with having a spouse and a family and a career – if that is what the Lord is putting in front of a person as a central part of their life's work. But we know that every true Christian has a spiritual gift; and that the Lord wants everyone of us to be productive for Him in the ministry that He has chosen for us individually; and we further know that only by growing up spiritually and progressing in our walk with Him through passing difficult testing are we going to begin to get prepared to do that ministry. If a Christian is completely (or mostly) unconcerned with these matters, then "career, marriage, family" are merely distractions. I suppose this is why the vast majority of the human race is not going to be in the New Jerusalem in the first place, and why the vast majority of the elect will not even have a single crown of victory to show for their efforts in this life. We who have – or are struggling to – put the Lord Jesus first in all things, will not have it easy here on earth. The road to victory is steep and rocky, and the evil one does not waste his resources opposing those who are not even bothering to get on it. But for those of us who are determined to glorify our Lord by doing what He wants us to do, the rewards of a job well done even in the process of doing it are immense, the satisfaction of knowing His good pleasure, and what is to come will be wonderful beyond our comprehension.

We all have weaknesses, and, clever tactician that he is, the evil one (through his minions) is adept at attacking us where we are weak as opposed to where we are strong. We do have the resources through the Spirit to resist and endure everything Satan throws at us, but sometimes we fail. Successful Christians confess their sins immediately, get back up and into the fight, spitting out guilt but determined not to make the same mistake twice (or if this is twice, a third time, etc.), and take whatever measures are necessary to shore up the weak parts of the wall. If a person is susceptible to alcohol, staying out of bars might be necessary; if a person is susceptible to drugs, staying away from old friends who do drugs is a good idea. If a person has a tendency to pig out to great and sinful excess, keeping the fridge stocked with "Ben and Jerry's" is probably a really bad idea. We all have weaknesses, and we all learn over time what makes us more or less vulnerable to succumbing to them – and we should arrange our steps accordingly.

Everyone is tempted by his own lust, being dragged away [by it] and enticed [by it]. Then, should lust conceive (i.e., should the person give in to it), it gives birth to sin. And sin, should it be fully carried out to the end (i.e., should the person give in to a life of sin), produces death (i.e., spiritual death, the death of faith).
James 1:14-15

James was not a person to mince words, and while his very direct approach has upset many over the centuries, the epistle is part of the canon as an integral part of the Word of God, no doubt at least in part because at times we all need to hear it stark and strong. What he says here is very appropriate for our discussion: 1) Everyone is tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted. Temptation and sin are not the same thing. Therefore we do not have to feel bad about being tempted. If we are tempted to do something but do not do it, we have done nothing wrong. We have not sinned. Giving in to temptation is sin, not the temptation itself. What "drags" you away is not necessarily what drags me away and vice versa; what "entices" you is not necessarily what entices me and vice versa. But we all inhabit bodies with a sin nature, and we are all tempted. If a person denies being tempted, that person is engaging in self-delusion – in an area where it is extremely dangerous not to be 100% honest with oneself. What James says here about the process is also key. Our desires for sinful behavior tend to "drag" us where we should not go; failing success in forcing us, they tend to "entice" us to think "well, maybe it's not so dangerous just to go over there". But we should learn not to be foolish: we should learn neither to allow our will to be "dragged" anywhere (as Adam's was when he faced Eden without Eve or expulsion with her), nor "enticed" anywhere (as Eve's was when she let the serpent "sweet talk" her). Temptations will come; but if we do not allow ourselves to be "dragged away" by them and are unwilling to "enticed" by them, we will seldom succumb to them. This is an important principle. Temptation is not a sin. And dallying with temptation is not a sin. However, those who dally usually end up sinning. Anyone who makes a habit of allowing him/herself to be "dragged over" to have a look at sin, or "enticed" to consider its possibilities will not only usually sin that time, but will get into the habit of being dominated by the sin and temptation in question (so that they fall into habitual sin eventually even if not at first). Where we are weak, the only strategy which works is absolute and implacable resistance with prejudice towards anything that seeks to "drag" or "entice" us anywhere near the sin area wherein we are weak (in particular – we would do well to stay clear of all such areas in any case, even if they are not known weaknesses).

James' then spells out the next step: "lust conceives". If we give in to our lusts, allowing ourselves to be dragged out of our way and enticed by them, this usually leads to the "assignation" of committing the sin in question; then we have sinned. We can of course recover from sin. We repent immediately. We confess immediately. We take steps to ensure it won't happen again. And we gratefully accept the divine discipline for our sin as a help to remind ourselves to stay away from that hot stove in the future. But even this takes will; even this takes determination; even this takes a sober approach that recognizes the danger and seriousness in spiritual terms of what we have done. Failing a proper appreciation, we are likely to get into a pattern of continued sinning where the confession is not as swift, the repentance not as sure, and the patience with divine discipline less and less. That process is deadly, as James says at the end of the passage. Any pattern of sinning, if it is not contained and reversed, leads to "death". There are actually two possibilities here. What James seems to have primarily in mind is the death of faith (apostasy). This is the result of the believer becoming so inured to sin that God becomes less and less important to him/her – and less and less real – and the desire to do one's own will and resent any notion of God finding fault so strong that faith erodes and eventually evaporates. However, for those who refuse to let go of their faith or their sin, the result is the sin unto death (see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

Finally, it's important to notice that James does not specify any type or sort of sin or name any catalog of sins here: these principles hold true for all sin. So while it is true that scripture does sometimes single out certain areas of sin as "worse" (e.g., 1Cor.6:18), and while it is true that some types of sin have ramifications for our lives in ways that others do not (e.g., overt sins have different natural consequences from verbal sins and both from mental sins), still and all a sin is a sin, and Jesus Christ had to die for all of our sins for us to be saved, the worst and the least we shall ever commit. Blessedly, He covered them all with His blood, they have all been atoned for, and complete forgiveness for anything we have ever done or will do is only a prayer of confession away. It is just as important to keep that wonderful principle of grace firmly in mind as the terrors James lays out so bluntly. Both ditches need to be avoided for a clean run up the high road to Zion.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Sir,

I hope things have improved. My business is not doing good. I have a question about something you wrote in hamartiology.

"For if sin is essentially selfish preference for our own will and arrogant disobedience to the will of God, we should not find it surprising that our sinful nature tends to choose what it feels to be in its own interests especially in those cases where, because of ignorance, it is not obvious that such an action is contrary to God's will."

Why do you say its willful when its not obvious that an action is sinful?

In Him,

Response #2:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend. Last week was our national "Thanksgiving" day, and I certainly remembered that I am thankful for you.

I am sorry to hear about your business. But I have confidence that everything will work out. I am praying for you and your family – your business too – day by day, and I know that God hears our prayers, yours and mine. Things here are likewise not what I would wish. We got a bit of a "reprieve", so the sky will not fall this winter. Thanks in advance for your continued prayer support! God is faithful and will not allow the righteous to fall (Praise for deliverance since time of writing!).

As to your question, I don't think I've put things quite that way. In the preceding sentence I say "Only when we are following the positive guidance of the Spirit of God in the power of the Spirit is it possible to avoid some of sin's many pitfalls, and that is especially true when the sin in question comes as a result of ignorance rather than willfulness". What I am trying to do in this section is to distinguish between sins of ignorance and sins of cognizance, and to demonstrate why it is that doing things without a conscious decision-making process which recognizes that the action is sinful may still be sinful – namely, because our corrupt nature is essentially selfish.

I look forward to hearing a good report from you soon, my friend, and to being able to give you one as well. In the meantime, these are times that try our hearts and purify them for Jesus Christ. No Christian every won a substantial reward (or, in particular, the crown of life) without being tested. The Lord parted the Red Sea, then afterwards the people crossed over and rejoiced – even though they had castigated Moses ahead of the deliverance. How much better to be able to trust God that He will part that sea and bring us through before the fact! That is the stuff of real spiritual maturity.

"Your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus" (Rev.1:9),

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello Sir,

Thank you for the reply and for the prayers. I will surely continue to pray for you and your family.

I was searching for a Hindi Bible for a long time but couldn't find one. My son was playing at his grandparents house, he was taking out stuff from the almirah, he found a Hindi New Testament there, and surprisingly he didn't tear it as he would normally do, instead he put it in my wife's laps. God answers prayers in His own way!

I will keep you in my prayers

Response #3:

God is good, my friend!

Hard even for a skeptic not to see the Lord's hand in this one.

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Question #4:

Dear Bob,

I feel burdened to write this to you, but I've been praying about it, and I know deep in my heart that I need to share this with you. I just so greatly love your teachings overall, I appreciate your gracious and humble spirit, and I have such a deep love and respect for you. But yet despite all that, I know that if one of your teachings it not sitting well with me that I can't just let it go and try and turn a blind eye to it. If I did that, then I would not truly be loving you in a God glorifying way. But I share this with you as humbly as I possibly know how to. I feel deeply concerned about a teaching you have called "sin unto death". I was reading a bit of what you wrote on the subject and then I wanted to stop reading because it was burdening me too much. I really do not want to discuss about this in great detail, but I do ask you to please read the following article which pertains to this subject, and I do agree with this article:

http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/sinuntodeath.htm

If you respond back to me about this email, it may take me a very long time to respond back. I honestly feel very burdened in my soul about this right now, and I just feel a deep need to pray about this issue. I was very reluctant to bring this subject to your attention, but you have such a strong influence on certain people, and I knew deep in my heart that this is what I do need to do. Please, please pray about this too. Thank you.

Out of love for our dearest Lord, and His faithful teachings that we can always trust,

Response #4:

Good to hear back from you.

As to the sin unto death, I found the article linked difficult to follow. I really only found one thing to be clear: this person does not understand the meaning of the phrase "the sin unto death", and is merely trying to "defuse it" by making it something we don't have to take into consideration at all. That is clearly a mistake.

John states very clearly that there is "sin unto death". We see an example of it in 1st Corinthians:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1st Corinthians 5:4-5

Here Paul is dealing with a sinner, and not an ordinary sinner, but a man who was sexually involved with his step-mother – and not only that: he apparently kept coming to the fellowships of the Corinthian church with her in tow and expressing the attitude "I've done nothing wrong". So he was also justifying his sin. I know many people would consider him "not a Christian" or "no longer a Christian" for such outrageous behavior. Surely, he was not behaving like one. In fact, he was bringing great reproach to the Name of Christ not only through his gross sin but also through his justification of it. Some Christians who decide to go their own way in this life cast God aside and abandon their faith altogether so as not be hindered from doing as they please; others, as was the case with this young man, want to "have their cake and eat it to", so to speak, to fully indulge their worldly lusts and still be part of Christ, even though they are giving Him a bad name with all they do and say and think. In conduct, the two may be difficult to separate. In status, there is a very large difference. This young man kept coming "to church", so to speak, indicating that he was still a believer; albeit a very sorry one (and Paul's words confirm this impression). Those who depart from Christ in their hearts and put their faith to death are not believers since they no longer believe; these are apostates. As the example of this young man indicates, the Lord does allow apostasy, but He will not tolerate a person who belongs to Him to go beyond certain limits of horrifically bad behavior. In His great mercy, for those who do wish to live no different from unbelievers and so put the Name of Christ to continual shame, our Lord subjects them to a course of fearful divine discipline whose end is physical death – that is the sin unto death . . . "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". In other words, the increasing pain may cause the person to have a change of heart, but, if not, then he/she is taken from life before apostasy sets in (as that is not the person's "true heart").

If it were up to many people, there is no way that this young Corinthian man would be allowed to be a believer any more, and there is no way that, having done all he had done, he would be allowed to survive this sentence of the "sin unto death" about which John says "I do not say that [you] should pray about that" (1Jn.5:16). But God knows the hearts of all.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
2nd Corinthians 2:4-8 NKJV

Thus, 1st Corinthians is not the end of the story; we see here in Paul's next letter that the young man repented, and that Paul is now concerned with those at Corinth who have not accepted him back in love. Surely, our God is "rich in mercy" (Eph.2:4).

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:13

There is indeed a fine line sometimes between faith and faithfulness. In truth, the one cannot exist without the other. No amount of seemingly "good behavior" means anything to God without true faith, and all true faith will exhibit at least a minimal amount of faithfulness. Would that there was never a reason for us to doubt our fellow Christians on this score. Here on the cusp of the Tribulation, however, in the era of Laodicea, marginal Christianity is the rule rather than the exception, so that it often can be hard to tell if a certain person really has faith or not. For those who really are walking closely with Jesus Christ, there is no doubt about their status as those who love the Lord more than their lives. For many others, however, we can only go by their words and deeds. It is tempting to assume that those who put on a good outward facade of seemingly holy conduct are believers, while those who behave in scurrilous ways cannot be. But it certainly can be the case that someone of the former type may not be a believer at all, while someone of the latter type may indeed have genuine faith – though sailing close to the reef of the sin unto death absent a rapid course change.

The bottom line is that when it comes to the eternal status of any person, that status is determined quite objectively by the Lord who knows full well who belong to Him and who do not. Scripture clearly condemns sinful behavior (as well as warning severely against overindulgence in a worldly approach), just as it condemns outward shows of white-washed hypocrisy. Blessedly, we who are committed to following our Lord closely can love all our brothers and sisters without at the same time following them in their mistakes (or being deceived by the patina of godliness covering others who are not even of Christ). Our job is to continue to do "our job", growing in the truth, passing the tests that the Lord allows to come our way, and helping others to do the same through the ministries Christ assigns to us.

Believe me when I say that I do understand how it is that a ministry teaching "the whole counsel of God" will eventually "rub the wrong way" the sensibilities of anyone who takes it seriously. That is a test in and of itself.

Your friend in Jesus Christ who is the truth itself.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

I do understand your earlier teachings from years ago, but I do not understand some of your current teachings such as the email you just sent. I'm very sorry and it truly grieves me. I do understand the idea of mercy toward the repentant very very strongly, but I do not understand the seeming license for immorality teachings that more and more teachers are beginning to embrace.

For 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, many interpret this as meaning that we can be saved and walking in sin too, which is fully contrary to scriptural teaching as we read all through James, 1 John etc., for these are not born of God and do not have true saving faith. But when read in the context of 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, I do not see the same interpretation as you shared, but I see the interpretation very differently and along these lines:

http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/1cor5.htm

I'm sorry we've come to such differing conclusions, but I do thank you for your reply.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Response #5:

Good to hear from you – although I am sorry that I seem to have upset you. Let me assure you that this was not my intention. I am responsible, as Paul said, to teach "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), holding nothing back, and eventually that ends up upsetting just about everyone (it's only a matter of time, in my experience – if that is some consolation).

When you say that the exposition of the doctrine of the sin unto death leads to thinking that "we can be saved and walking in sin too, which is fully contrary to scriptural teaching" or that it provides "license for immorality", I can only say in regard to the latter that this is only the case for those who twists the words to give themselves leeway that scripture does not (and I cannot do anything about that but stop speaking entirely); and in regard to the former, in all candor, this is not a conclusion which can be drawn from a proper assessment of that doctrine (see below).

Starting with the "license" issue. Many Baptist preachers from the beginning of that sect (and other like-minded individuals too) have decided that gross sin is so terrible that it needs to be combated by all means possible, even if that requires ignoring or stretching or even twisting the truth. I am not of that point of view at all. The truth is what we live by. Believe me when I say that there are many things in scripture which have caused me discomfort over the years. But if I had put my own comfort or sense of "what's right" ahead of the Word of God it would have been a horribly bad decision. This I will never do. If people are intent on sinning, they are going to sin, even if I tell them, "If you do drugs, you are going to hell!" (e.g.). Not only is ignoring, stretching and perverting the truth wrong by every canon (whatever the motive), but also ineffective. Not only does the end not justify the means at all in God's eyes – the desired end cannot in fact be achieved by wrong means.

As to the other statement which expresses your discomfort, as with its "sister" doctrine of apostasy, the sin unto death teaches in no uncertain terms that no believer can enter into a life of sin with impunity. The fact that such a life will destroy the faith of some and the body of others is surely not an encouragement to do so. If we observe a brother or sister sinning "unto death" in this way, scripture does not even advise us to pray for the same. However, there is a difference between taking sin to the extreme of being taken out of this life by the Lord (or, alternatively, allowing it to destroy one's faith so as no longer to be a believer), and sinning. After all, we are all sinning. One hopes that with growth and progress in the Lord we are sinning less and less spectacularly with every passing day. Nonetheless, as long as we dwell in these corrupted bodies, we will continue to sin day by day – even if it is only a momentary pang or doubt or flash of anger or a word carelessly spoken (etc., the biblical lists are long and they are not meant to be comprehensive), so that we all need God's mercy and forgiveness every day. This is true even when it comes to occasional spectacular sin. David is a good example of that. Murder and adultery, not as a young believer but as one who had already been confirmed as king and should have been at the pinnacle of his spirituality, one might think would demonstrate he was not a believer or had lost his salvation. The main point of David as an example here is that he did not fall into a pattern of this behavior, he was penitent about his sins/crimes, he did confess them – and he most certainly did not "get away" with them. In addition to the natural consequences of his sin, God punished him excruciatingly. But although God disciplined him severely, He did so as a father disciplines his son (compare with 2Sam.12 with Heb.12).

Save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:23 NIV

God has mercy on sinners, and, as those who need His mercy every day, we are to do the same.

I hope that this will not become the cause of a rift between us, but I do understand that every believer is responsible to the Lord to find the right Bible teacher for them, and I certainly do wish you every blessing in continued growth, progress and service to the Lord Jesus.

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

Please read this article concerning 1 Cor. 5:5. I think it is very clearly and accurately shared, and shared in a spirit of humility. I think you will respect what is written here. Thank you so much.

https://sermons.logos.com/submissions/83819-Turn-Him-Over-to-Satan-That-He-Might-be-Saved#content=/submissions/83819

Response #6:

Good to hear from you, and thank you for the link. Let me start by saying that this leaves a bit confused. Your distress with this ministry – or at least so I had thought – stemmed from your reluctance to accept that a believer can become involved in gross sin and still be a believer. Mind you, it is the teaching of this ministry that not only is such a thing a horrible witness to the Lord but also incredibly wrong-head: if left unchecked and not repented of, it leads to loss of spiritual momentum, loss of reward, and loss of physical life (the sin unto death) or in instances where the person is not solidly grounded in faith, apostasy. But this article refuses to identify the man in 1st Corinthians chapter 5 as a unbeliever. It is a little hard to tell (pastor Ron seems to want to have things both ways here), but if so, that acceptance of the man's status as a believer (why else would he be in the fellowship?) would be about the only thing this article has right.

First, pastor Ron either does not know Greek or does not bother to check his Greek NT before he pronounces to the congregation on doctrinal issues. Here is what KJV has for the passage:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1st Corinthians 5:3-5

It's not the easiest passage, true, but even in a good English translation, such as the KJV, it is clear that the apostle Paul is the subject, not the congregation or its non-apostolic leadership. He, the one with the apostolic authority to do so, is the one who has "judged" (i.e., decided) "to hand such an one unto Satan". For this reason, pastor Ron's understanding of what this means is completely incorrect.

The number of incorrect assumptions based upon absolutely no evidence which are made about the situation at Corinth would fill another email (this approach represents to me everything that is wrong with sermons and those produce/deliver, treating scripture in such a cavalier way). But that is no matter since pastor Ron wants to make this all about church discipline (so we may confine our remarks to his key conclusion). Many legalistic congregations these days are "hot" to throw out members or to embarrass them publicly for being caught in "sin". In a extreme case such as the one in 1st Corinthians 5, however, even Paul does not go so far as to speak of "excommunication" – that is a Roman Catholic idea – and that should certainly give us pause. How can the man be "handed unto Satan" (whatever Pastor Ron or others may think this means – you have my explanation in the previous sets of emails: it is the sin unto death) . . . unless the offender is present in the congregation? More to the point, how can Paul command the Corinthians to forgive him, comfort him, and reaffirm their love for him . . . unless he is still part of the fellowship after this event (2Cor.2:6-8)? In short, the whole idea of throwing other Christians out of a fellowship to which they would otherwise wish to attach themselves is never given procedural approval in scripture. There may times when that is necessary (someone who is clinically insane or physically dangerous), and there are certainly times when a brother or sister ought to be rebuked (hopefully by the other members before it ever gets to the level of leadership), but this "excommunication" idea has the stench of death about it, the spiritual death produced by legalism. The fact that so many evangelical churches are embracing this practice with glee is, in my opinion, a testament to their spiritually dead status (n.b., verse 13 is a quote from Deut.17:7 and is not talking about "excommunication" either; it is speaking about stoning to death, and the sin unto death administered by the apostle here is the New Testament equivalent).

Sin is terrible. Gross sin is worse. But where is mercy? Where is forgiveness? Where is grace? We have had a number of conversations about Calvinism, you and I, and I believe I am correct in saying that a point of agreement between us was in pronouncing as false the idea that a believer who goes astray so far as to lose faith and apostatize was "never really a believer". To my mind, the idea that "anyone who sins in ways I find shocking cannot ever have been a believer" is the opposite side of the same coin. Does pastor Ron believe this man was an unbeliever or a believer before he lapsed into gross sin? It's impossible to tell from this sermon. No worries. Pastor Ron is interested in the authority and power that the "doctrine of excommunication" gives him, to meddle in the lives of his sheep, no doubt to control them better, to manipulate them in more minute detail, and to fleece them more effectively. I do not know this individual, so I cannot really impugn his motives, but that is the effect of his teaching, and I have seen it play out in practice many times. Taking this approach doesn't stop Christians from sinning either. Indeed, since it is pure legalism, it contributes to their spiritual infancy and for that reason actually increases sin just as it reduces the spiritual capacity to combat it. It may drive gross sin underground, but that is hardly a recommendation.

I have never yielded to legalism. And I never will. Drawing up a list of sins and/or behaviors (some of which may not even be truly sinful) and using a false standard of that sort to determine who is spiritual and who is not is probably the quickest way for a church or an individual Christian to suffer spiritual shipwreck. In truth, it is even worse than falling into gross sin. Because if a Christian falls into gross sin, at the very least he/she will have no illusions about the sinfulness of his/her behavior, and will as a result be less likely to mis-interpret the waves of divine disciple that follow. But legalism is another matter. Self-righteousness swoons to its own pretensions of holiness and measures that holiness all too often not by biblical standards but by comparison with others.

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
Luke 18:11-13 NIV

But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
2nd Corinthians 10:12b

There are many sins, and the sins of the heart are often the most deadly – because they corrupt the inner person and lead to all manner of wickedness when not combated, checked, repented and confessed. If all a person achieves is a coating of whitewash, then that facade will mean nothing to the Lord who knows very well that within the tomb lies all manner of uncleanness. That is the end of the approach pastor Ron and his ilk promote, and that is at the heart of what is wrong with the church-visible in this country today: incorrect interpretation leaving out the specifics Christians actually need so as to create a level of uncertainty heavily laden with guilt and producing a legalistic environment wherein free will is diminished and spiritual growth impossible.

Sin is a deadly game. The only way to deal with it is through spiritual growth and true sanctification which must come from the inside out largely as a result of that growth. Meeting it with legalism is really just embracing it on a selective level, pronouncing some sins worse than other . . . when Christ died for them all. Churches which make a display of throwing out one or two more obvious gross sinners only display their own hypocrisy, for we are all sinners – saved by grace. We ought to get better about our walk day by day. We will never be perfect this side of heaven. That is true of you and me and even pastor Ron.

I commend to you the Bible Basics posting which treats sin: BB 3B: Hamartiology.

Wasting one's time in a legalistic environment such as the one evident from this sermon is a choice, a bad one which will compromise growth and which can even actually endanger salvation – though gross sin may not be present – but which will without question stymie any efforts at gaining a reward. Ultimately, we are all going to stand before the Lord and give an account for "the things done by means of the body, whether good or bad" (2Cor.5:10). All wise Christians are ordering their lives to have something to show the Lord for their time here on earth, since that is what it is "to fear the Lord" (2Cor.5:11).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ through whose blood we have been cleansed and saved through faith,

Bob L.

Question #7:

What about Ananias and Sapphira; were they killed and taken to heaven?

Response #7:

I do think Ananias and Sapphira were probably saved. After all, it was dangerous to belong to this very small new group of Christians, and no particular worldly advantage accrued to keeping any kind of fellowship with Peter and the brethren. It is true that Ananias and Sapphira clearly wanted to "have it both ways" and were not above deception in trying to appear sacrificial while in reality being unwilling to part with what they claimed to be sacrificing. This makes them far less than stellar believers – but it doesn't make them unbelievers. And they certainly suffered the most dramatic consequences for their greedy, selfish and sinful behavior. But salvation is about faith – or lack thereof. It is not about conduct. Good or bad, conduct reflects spiritual status; conduct also reinforces and affects spiritual status; but conduct is not the same as spiritual status (just ask David after the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah). This is one of the main lessons that Baptist-type groups have a hard time getting their hands around.

There is apostasy, and there is also the sin unto death. The former is the loss of faith / active abandonment of faith that turns a believer who believes back into an unbeliever who has no faith (since all faith has been lost). But the sin unto death is for believers who are taken out of this life for their bad conduct – not for their lack of faith per se, even though it is true that if their faith were anything but marginal they would have been unlikely to fall into conduct so abysmal that the Lord found it necessary to remove them from this life in a painful and summary fashion. Believers who die the sin unto death and have their course cut short for poor behavior are, by definition, not great believers. Since there is a sin unto death (1Jn.5:16), by definition there have to be believers whose conduct is so terrific that it is tempting for the rest of us to say "that person couldn't have been a believer and have done XYZ!" In fact, there is no sin that believers cannot and do not commit. Blessedly, there is also no sin that believers cannot be forgiven. The only "unforgivable sin" is the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit, and that can only be committed by refusing to accept His testimony that Jesus is the Christ and the only way of salvation (viz., only an unbeliever can commit that sin). For more on this, please do see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto death", and for more on the specific case please see "Ananias and Sapphira".

Question #8:

So, I have once attributed Benny Hinns work to the devil. Only because I have heard people say it was. I actually didn't really have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit at that time. I was young in my preteens I believe. I have repented of it, but I feel awful about it. Did I commit the unpardonable sin?

Response #8:

Good to make your acquaintance. I'm no particular fan of Benny Hinn (or the charismatics generally; please see the link: "All things charismatic"). If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you – and nothing is more "personal" than that (Rom.8:9; 1Cor.6:19). That was true then, from the moment you became a believer. Many people today wrongly associate the presence of the Spirit with emotion or "sign gifts" or other such things. The Spirit's power is applied through the Word of God resident within us – everything true which we have believed. We can be emotional about that (or not), but emotionalism is not spirituality (and it is a big mistake to conflate the two). Further, none of the hyper-miraculous "sign gifts" have been given since the days of the apostles (see the link, e.g., "The Gift of Tongues: part 2").

As to bad-mouthing a (possibly) fellow Christian, we all stumble, we all fail, we all sin (Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:5-10). That is not to recommend or defend sin, but to recognize what the Bible says is true, and to embrace the blessed forgiveness that we have for any sin we may commit just as soon as we confess it to the Lord (1Jn.1:9) – because Jesus Christ died for them all (1Jn.2:2).

The "unpardonable sin" (aka "the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit") is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. Jesus died for all sin – but not for the sin of rejecting the gift of Himself on the cross. Those who reject the gospel are rejecting the Spirit's testimony because the Spirit is the One who is really giving the gospel whenever it is proclaimed. Calling Him a liar in regard to the one way of salvation cannot be forgiven because it rejects the only way to be saved. See the links:

Have I committed the unforgivable sin?

The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Guilt about past sin

Since you are concerned, you are certainly not lost. Don't let guilt take away your peace (see the link: "Attaining Christian Peace"). As with all sins of the past, the best thing a Christian can do is repent (change of mind), confess, and move on. Looking back is never profitable.

It is not as if I have already gotten possession [of what we seek] or am already brought to completion, but I am pursuing in hopes of attaining the [prize] for which I was attained by Christ Jesus. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. As many of you as are [spiritually] mature, let us think this way, and if you think in any other way, even this will God reveal to you. But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

You are very welcome at Ichthys – there is much at the site about all these topics and more (please also do feel free to write back).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

I have read through your site and I truly appreciate it and I deeply respect you for the time you take to respond to e-mails and to actively work through the problems people come to you with. I read through your page "Have I Lost My Salvation" numerous times and also your page "Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who ‘crucify the Son of God afresh’ lost" equally as much. First off I’d like to tell you a little about my situation. I was born into a Christian family and I use that term loosely because my parents do not say grace, go to church, talk openly about god, etc. they basically just both believe and are saved. I was the same way and became saved when I was around ten and I have no doubts that I was saved because I felt an indescribable joy, I don’t have the exact date on hand although it is written down in my first bible, and was a believer who didn’t nurture his faith. I followed in my parents’ footsteps and never really read my bible or prayed either. Although I had a few times I wouldn’t tell people that I had because it simply wasn’t anything to boast about. As I moved into high school I began to take a deep interest in science and wanted to learn all that I could about the Universe and the way it works. I began to be proud of my intellect and doubts in God began to arise. Ever since I could remember I always wanted to do my own thing and had sort of a rebellious streak of sorts. The science, pleasures of the world, rebellion, and doubts all culminated into me abandoning my brittle and weak faith in pursuit of my own understanding of the world and what I could see with my own eyes. I would profess it to my friends and a few people but was not generally proud of it because I’m deep in the Bible belt and that just wouldn’t go over well for me. A few times I called religion silly and stupid and just a pawn for people to take power in the past, and I would make jokes about being God and generally just being an arrogant fool. Later I wanted to be a great person who was kind and a model to acting kindly and I still do desire today to be a good person and not the jerk I was. I also couldn’t shake God and I actually apologized to him for anything I may have said or after I said something bad about him. I remembered where atheists are spending eternity and I told God I would prefer to just be destroyed when I die rather than go to hell and have the option of heaven. False prophets told me that hell wasn’t eternal and that you burn your sentence and then are destroyed which was comforting for a time. All of the sudden I got the feeling that something was missing in life and I decided it was God so I started to attend church again and eventually became baptized in a 30 degree Fahrenheit pond over winter. Everything was good and although I was slipping up at times I was generally repentant for the first time in my life. This was all until chemistry class when a friend of mine at the church casually joked about all being forgiven except the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Now I don’t really think I did this but I worry about it anyways just in case so question 1 of mine would be could you shed light on this for me? After researching the unforgivable sin I came across both Hebrews 6:4 and Hebrews 10:26 which equally terrify me to the point of not eating and throwing up because I was so worried. My question 2 would be for you to elaborate more on this as you said the writer of Hebrews urged them to go out but that confused me because right after 6:4 the author says he doesn’t believe they would do that? My question 3 stems from when I was pronouncing I was atheist I had another friend who was also brought up as a Christian and he followed down my the path and I don’t know where he stands now but I believe he is still faithful to the Lord at this point, but I don’t know his heart and maybe I shoved him away from the Lord, will I be damned for what I have done if so? Will God send me to hell because I may have ruined one of his children’s faith? I’m desperately trying to help this friend get closer to God now because of it. All of these things result in worrying that my past is going to bar me from heaven, it makes me believe my current complete faith in Jesus isn’t going to do anything for me because I was in Christ once but I believe I put myself out of him without any chance back in. I feel like I am damned and it is the worst feeling ever, I have messed up so much and begged for forgiveness, I just need to know God will forgive me. I’m desperate.

Response #9:

I am pleased to make your acquaintance, though my heart goes out to you in your spiritual turmoil.

Please know and believe and never forget that all who are believers in Jesus Christ are saved. Everyone who has committed him/herself to our dear Lord and who continues to walk with Him in faith is a believer . . . and by definition believers are saved. Only unbelievers are lost. God is not desirous of "barring" anyone from heaven (2Pet.3:9). What does He say?

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:17

We should know this is true, even without this blessed scripture, because Jesus Christ died for every single sin of every single human being who has ever lived or ever will live. Why? To cast them into hell? God forbid! Only those who refuse to accept that precious sacrifice are lost. All a person really needs to be saved is to "not say 'NO!' " to God. Unbelievers are those who refuse to take the Gift God offers – or in the case of apostates those who later on turn back to the world in unbelief, and fling God's precious sacrifice back in His face (Lk.8:13). But everyone who wants to be saved, who is willing to be saved, who believes in Jesus Christ, most assuredly is saved.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:18 NIV

The "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (aka the unpardonable sin or the unforgivable sin) is the sin of rejecting the Spirit's testimony to Christ in the gospel – that is, refusing to believe and calling, in effect, the Spirit a "liar". The only sin for which Christ could not die was the sin of refusing to accept His sacrifice for all of our sins. If we do not have the work of Christ to offer to God on that great day, we have nothing to offer. Here are some links on this:

The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Have I committed the unforgivable sin?

Have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

Rejecting Christ is blaspheming the Spirit

Apostasy and the Sin unto Death (in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin)

We all have things in our past that we regret. What if Peter had been unable to get past his three denials of Christ? What if Paul had been unable to get past his horrific persecution of the Church? What if David had been unable to get past his adultery with Bathsheba and treacherous murder of Uriah? No human being is without sin, even after salvation:

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
James 3:2 NIV

"When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near . . . "
1st Kings 8:46 NIV

For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 NKJV

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1st John 1:6-10 NKJV

For all sin and fall short of God's glory.
Romans 3:23

The Christian life is all about forgiveness. It is by God's forgiveness that we have been saved, and it is only by God's forgiveness that we can persevere in this work. We are not at Disneyland. This is the devil's world at present, and we are in the midst of a great spiritual conflict. Guilt is one of the devil's greatest weapons and he wields it against believers with considerable skill. To survive this fight we have to "believe that He is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Heb.11:6). That is to say, we have to be looking forward and be very leery of looking backward. We are supposed to be living this life "one day at a time" (e.g., Matt.6:34). The only tomorrow we should focus on is the glorious day of our Lord's return; the only yesterday is the day that matters is the day He died for us. Anything else will only serve to skew our true focus.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Here are a few more links which speak of these matters (they will lead you to many others):

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

God's Forgiveness of Sin (in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the biblical study of Sin)

What is the "unforgivable sin", really?

Cleansing from sin (in Pet. #15)

1st John 1:9 and confessing sin.

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Sin, Confession and Forgiveness.

My advice is to not only have a look at the links above (which are directed towards your particular question/issue), but also, for example, to spend some time with Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology, the biblical study of Salvation. That is because it strikes me that in addition to working on the issue of what is not true, it would also be good to focus some (a lot, actually), on what salvation genuinely is.

Please do feel free to write me back about any of the above (I think I have answered all of your specific questions here).

Please also remember that God forgives us when we sin if we but turn back and confess; refusing to believe in His promises of forgiveness (e.g., 1Jn.1:9), is self-indulgent guilt at best and can cause horrendous spiritual problems at worst.

But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
Hebrews 6:9 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #10:

Hi, I have a big problem here. I am a new Christian, I screwed up bad and I'm sure I'm going to hell because I chose to.

I thought I said something at the Holy Spirit but I realize now I probably didn't. I have OCD and anxiety it was just going on and on in my head. I didn't intend to give up or anything. Then one night something in my head said lay down on the bed. All of a sudden I felt all relaxed and at peace can't explain it I'm sure the devil made me feel this way so I would let my guard down. Then all of a sudden in my head I said I must have committed this sin Jesus said he won't forgive it Gods word doesn't change etc then I said I know I can't be forgiven but I'll do God's work anyway. Like I completely gave up and I had no intention to it wasn't pre mediated or anything it just happened. I'd rather die than give up so I can't explain it I just felt content at the time.

Then I remember saying I bet I won't be saying that tomorrow. I woke up and felt like the condemnation of that previous sin was gone. And I didn't even realize what I had done until i thought about it. So I'm thinking their was no conviction and I'm completely doomed and may as well just kill myself. How weak was I even now I know I'm dead I can't give up so how it happened that night I can't explain. Matthew 10:22 one must endure till the end. I can't believe this I feel like I completely gave up because the devil made me feel at such peace that I thought whatever I say I'm ok with. I know I'm going to hell now if you have any thoughts I would be happy to hear from you.

Thanks

Response #10:

Good to make your acquaintance – let me assure you that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are most assuredly not "going to hell": all believers are saved; only unbelievers perish eternally.

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."
Acts 16:31

Faith is tested in this life, but God is with us. We belong to Jesus Christ forever, as long as we maintain our faith in Him. Therefore whatever happens in this life, we know that He is working it all out together for good for us (Rom.8:28), so that we can have complete confidence in Him that He loves us and is for us not against us:

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV

The so-called "unforgivable sin" or "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is a sin only unbelievers commit since it is the sin of rejecting the Spirit's gospel testimony about salvation through Jesus Christ (see the link: "Have I committed the unpardonable sin?"). If we believers do sin – and all sin (Rom.3:23) – we are restored to fellowship through confessing that sin and are then completely forgiven.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NKJV

Fighting it out spiritually on the "mental front" is something else again, and something all believers must learn to do. It takes time and spiritual growth (accomplished through good Bible teaching and personal Bible study, et al.) to grow up to the point of being proficient in such "combat". For now, you can breath easy and know that as a new child of God He is on your side; Jesus is in you and He is for you; He has given you His Spirit and the Spirit's encouragement is ready to be accessed by you through concentrating on the truth at any time. These things take time and growth to appreciate and employ properly, but please do not let anyone or anything or any experience or any failure (we all fail: Jas.3:2) rob you of the joy and peace that yours as a member of Christ's Church, His Body.

(8) Though you have never laid eyes on Him, yet you love Him. And though you cannot see Him at this present time, yet you have faith in Him. For this reason you rejoice with an inexpressible joy that bespeaks the glorious future to come, (9) when you shall carry off in victory the ultimate prize – the [eternal] deliverance of your lives – which is the very purpose and objective of this faith of yours.
1st Peter 1:8-9

There is much written about these matters at Ichthys. I will give you some links; but my good friend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Youtube channel [and website: Bible Academy Online] also has some very good material on this subject (see especially "Preventative Measures, part 1"). Here are those Ichthys links:

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

"Who controls our thoughts and emotions?"

(in BB 4B Soteriology): "Transforming our Thinking":

The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Introduction to Virtue Thinking

Techniques of Virtue Thinking

Please do feel free to write back any time.

Your brother in Jesus Christ – now, and for all eternity in the New Jerusalem.

Bob Luginbill

Question #11:

Hi Bob.

I'm still worried because I was saved. But this night I took anti anxiety medication and my emotions were like dulled down. I went from thinking i hope I haven't committed this other sin to snap yes I must have committed this sin Jesus wont forgive it Gods word doesn't change I went as far as to say I'll do Gods work but I know I can't be forgiven. Like it makes me sick to say it but because I felt so content from the medication i think I actually meant what I was thinking. I sat up and said I know I won't be thinking this way tomorrow. But I think it was to late. I would rather die than give up but apparently that night I did. I took the meds to help me think I was forgiven and it done the opposite. I felt no consequence thoughts nothing i was thinking scared me because I felt so content. It makes me sick. Even know I feel totally doomed I have this protection like feeling that wont let me give up but it was gone that night when I thought all that. I really think I meant it at the time like yeh I can have a breakdown and loose all hope but ill be good in the morning. I know if I hadn't taken the meds I wouldn't have done that but I feel it couldn't have all been the meds I feel like God judged me. I've asked him to strike me down where I stand I'd rather die than to have given my salvation back it feels like I did but didn't really know what I was doing at the time.

Response #11:

This is a matter of choice. If you have chosen to believe in Jesus Christ, and if you do indeed now still believe in Him (which seems obvious from your emails), then you are a believer, and all believers are saved; only unbelievers, those who reject Jesus Christ and refuse to accept Him and His sacrifice for them, are lost:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

Also, if you have confessed your sin to the Lord (whatever sin you may have committed), then the Lord has forgiven you:

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,"
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Psalm 32:5 NKJV

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NKJV

The Bible, the Lord, says that you are saved and that you are forgiven. The evil one is happy to have you doubt these truths and to torture yourself with all manner of extra-biblical rationalizations, doubts and fears. But believers have to believe . . . the truth.

Stand fast in the truth, my friend. Revel in the security you have in the person of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He will not forsake you as long as you keep your faith in Him.

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
John 10:28 NKJV

(8) Though you have never laid eyes on Him, yet you love Him. And though you cannot see Him at this present time, yet you have faith in Him. For this reason you rejoice with an inexpressible joy that bespeaks the glorious future to come, (9) when you shall carry off in victory the ultimate prize – the [eternal] deliverance of your lives – which is the very purpose and objective of this faith of yours.
1st Peter 1:8-9

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Yes sir I am definitely a believer, but I was saved. I was just reading on this medication side effects lack of caring of important things. That's how I felt that night i lost all hope of being forgiven and accepted it at the time. Which I would never do normally. If God knows everything why would he judge me if I was in a state that was effected influenced?, I essentially accepted I couldn't be forgiven at the time. Gave in which would be rejecting Jesus sacrifice. I woke up with hope but felt like I was judged anyway. Even know I'm pretty much doomed but I can't give up even when I think I have no choice I really don't get it?. Believing in Jesus is one thing but accepting for a 30minute period after I am saved seems to be the point of no return. Like I said I'd rather be dead than to reject my salvation I don't get what happened that night at all.

Response #12:

I'm a bit confused but let me reiterate that this is not about how you "feel" but about what you believe. It doesn't matter if you "feel saved" or not; it matters whether you are saved or not. Salvation is not a matter of "feeling" but of being reborn by the water of the truth of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, having been baptized by the Spirit into the Person of Jesus Christ so as to be one with Him. As long as you are indeed a believer, you are in Jesus Christ, you are "safe" / saved. That is true if you feel horrible or guilty or whatever you feel.

Also, God is not "judging" you. God may discipline you for sin – He does that for all of His children in order to teach us how to behave properly (read Hebrews chapter 12). Only those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior are judged in the way you mean. God does not want to judge/condemn people:

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him"
John 3:17 NKJV

God only judges/condemns people who refuse to accept the great Gift He has given them in Jesus Christ that they may be forgiven their sins:

"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NASB

The only "point of no return" for human beings is dying without Jesus Christ.

So whatever you may have done or think you have done, you may freely confess it to the Lord and be forgiven (1Jn.1:9). It's not a question of how you or I feel about it; the issue is what Jesus did about it: He died for whatever you or I or anyone else has ever done. Unbelievers are forgiven everything when they believe; after salvation, believers are forgiven whatever needs to be forgiven when they confess. But unbelievers are outside of the family of God before they believe, and are "adopted" only when they believe; believers are God's own dear children whom He loves perfectly . . . because Jesus bought us and we belong to Him.

Here are a few links which will be useful in sorting these things out:

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin

Your in Jesus Christ who paid the price for all that all might be saved by grace through faith in Him.

Bob L.

Question #13:

I have a question on the old man in Romans 6:1ff.. You have any studies about what happens when letting the dead man rise again the old man? I know the only way a Christian sins is when they resurrect the old man. In a way he is allowed to live because they bring him back to life they allow themselves to become slaves again you know what I mean?

Response #13:

Good to hear from you. As to your question. This is not the way I would describe it (it's not the way scripture describes it). What I mean is, the sin nature or "old man" is positionally dead; it is never said to be "resurrected". Paul is using a metaphor, but that metaphor can only be pushed so far. He is speaking of the sin inherent in the corrupt flesh of our present, earthly body (that is the "old man"; please see the link: "The Sin Nature"). It is only "dead" in the sense that we, as being "in Christ" are positionally one with Him in resurrection (since He has been resurrected). So, from one point of view, the godly divine point of view, we are already "sitting in heaven" side by side with Jesus Christ, "resurrected" as He has been, with our current, temporary body already "in the grave", so to speak. But that is our promise, our "position", not our entire present reality with which we have to cope daily – obviously, we are still here on earth, not in heaven, and our bodies have not changed. Our present flesh is just as corrupt as it was before we believed, and will continue to be so as long as we draw breath in this body.

As believers who have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we have the power to resist the impulses of the flesh – to the degree that instead we heed the guidance of the Spirit, for "these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Gal.5:17 NKJV). So in Romans chapter six, Paul is appealing to believers to act in accordance with our new status as those who belong to Jesus Christ: we should consider these corrupt bodies "dead" because we now belong to Him. While we are still here in the world, however, we will continue to have to deal with the issue of sin. We can either respond to the Spirit's guidance and walk in the light, or, as will sometimes happen to all who are still in the world, make the poor decision of responding to the flesh instead in sin. The solution to all such stumbling is the God-given solution of confession (1Jn.1:9). Believers who are and wish to continue to walk closely with the Lord will make a habit of turning away from all error and mistake, confessing quickly, and taking all steps necessary to avoid falling back into sin in the future. It is true that the deeper into sin a person gets and the longer he/she takes to confess, get back into fellowship with the Lord, and begin moving forward again instead of indulging the sin nature and suffering the concomitant divine discipline, the more it may seem that the "old man" has been "resurrected" – it may take a while after a severe lapse to return to the place where sin is under some measure of control. I have much written about all these matters at Ichthys, and I invite you to have a look at the following links in particular:

Sin, Confession and Forgiveness.

Sinlessness and 1st John.

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Apostasy and the Sin unto Death, the Conscience and Sanctification.

Sin and Spiritual Transformation.

Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology:  the biblical study of sin

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

I have a few questions. I've been saved, like a long time ago, I think I was 12 or 13. I'm older now. I used to go to church all the time and never had a doubt in my mind that I was saved. Once I got to high school I completely quit going to church, I still prayed every now and then and also read my Bible every once in a while . I stopped doing everything I used to do in the church and took a turn for the worse. I done a lot of things that I really regret doing and now I wish I could take all that back. I've been with my current boyfriend for almost two years and he's really religious (like I used to be), he's got me going back to church (first time back in church was 2 weeks ago, I hadn't been in about 6 years) but I feel like something keeps telling me that I won't make it to heaven because of the things I've done and that really scares me. I know the Bible says that the devil will put things in your mind to make you feel like you're not saved anymore, so I don't know what to do. I started church again, I talk about The Lord all the time to my friends and on Facebook, I even helped someone repent and get saved (just can't seem to help myself). I've really been trying to make myself a better person, I pray for The Lord to help me every day. So I need your input on what to do. Since I've already been saved am I okay even though I didn't really have anything to do with God for so long? Or do I basically need to start over?

I would really appreciate the help! Thanks so much!

Response #14:

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance. Your testimony is similar to many I receive, that is, from Christians who have spent some time out in the wilderness and now are concerned (or sometimes even frantic) about whether or not they are still saved. At such times it is best to start with biblical absolutes:

(17) "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:17-18 NKJV

From these verses, words directly from our dear Lord Jesus, we must conclude that 1) God is not looking to condemn us – He wants us to be saved; 2) all believers are saved; 3) only unbelievers are lost/condemned. That is the way it is. It is not the case that "good people who do good deeds" are saved; if they are not believers, they are lost. It is not the case that "believers who have sinned a little or a lot, or who have sinned this sin or that sin are lost"; all believers are saved. God disciplines us when we sin, but He does so as a loving Father to correct us, not in anger or with a view to our destruction (Heb.12:1ff.).

The solution to sin is confession: if we confess, we are forgiven (1Jn.1:9; Ps.32:5). Confession and turning away from our past mistakes may not immediately take away the punishment (we may have to endure a little "time out" even so), but it does restore us to the full love and fellowship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And all believers sin from time to time (Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2); we ought not to, but we do; we ought to be getting better about it, but we will never be perfect, and it is a lie to claim otherwise (1Jn.1:6-10). We are forgiven when we confess to the Lord; there is no profit in confessing to other human beings (unless it's a case of apologizing to someone we have personally wronged).

Sin and temptation are the "potholes" on the track of the Christian race. We do need to learn to avoid them; we do need to learn to get back up and get in the race again right away when we do stumble over them; we do need to refrain from wallowing in the mud if we do find ourselves flat on our faces after being tripped up. But the race is the thing. Sin is an issue because it impedes our progress (and can even endanger our faith if we let it get completely out of control); but if we are believers in Christ, if we do esteem Him beyond all things, then our mission is not to avoid sin (although we are commanded to avoid sin); our mission is to grow spiritually, to progress up the track, and to help our brothers and sisters in Jesus do the same. Sin impedes the mission; avoiding sin is merely a collateral function of the mission. The problem with most Christians groups today is that they are not devoted to Bible teaching which is the sine qua non for growing, progressing and producing spiritually, the real reason why we are still here after salvation and the basis for our eternal rewards and Christ's good pleasure with us at His judgment seat.

You clearly have a heart for the Lord. Becoming a "better Christian" is a matter of growing in the truth and the teachings of the Word, walking closer with Jesus day by day, and entering into the ministry He has for you (and He has one for us all) to help others do likewise. Sin is inconsistent with this process, but avoiding it is not at all the same thing as this process – it's only a part of the process. Additionally, embracing the true Christian way of life of growing, progressing and producing is really the only way to become truly confident of salvation, confident in one's heart of the Lord's love, and confident in one's walk of being in God's will; that is because it is only by knowing the truth and then believing the truth and having one's belief in the truth tested and refined in this process that assurance in all things true will grow.

Only God knows the heart – and He knows all even if we are not sure – but from your description I think that it is incredibly unlikely that you have not been a believer the entire way. Praise the Lord that you have "come back from over fool hill" (as my maternal grandfather used to say) like so many of us who wandered off in our young adult years. Like the prodigal son, the Father welcomes us back with open arms. It is only those who want no part of Jesus whom He rejects. For those of us for whom Jesus Christ is dearer than life itself, "nothing can snatch them out of My hand" (Jn.10:28). Here are some links on this topic:

Spiritual 'ups' and 'downs'

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

For the process of spiritual growth and orientation to Christian doctrine generally, I recommend the Peter Series (see the link) – but there are many such resources at Ichthys, and you are certainly most welcome any time.

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:

I will do that today Bob (snowed in anyhow!). Is there any chance that we all will go through the Great White Throne Judgment? Unbelievers to be convinced why THEY CHOSE the 2nd death; Believers to receive their rewards (rank or standing in His service; our WORKS)? I would expect the Apostle Paul to be a 5 star general; the thief on the cross, a Private First Class? Or should I read these links & find out 4 myself?

Response #15:

The Great White Throne is strictly an unbelievers judgment. The Church is evaluated and rewarded following our resurrection at the Second Advent (see the link:"The Judgment and Reward of the Church"). Millennial believers have their own evaluation following their resurrection which occurs at the end of history (see the link: "The Judgment of the Sheep"). Here are the links for the Great White Throne:

The Great White Throne of Jesus Christ: The Last Judgment of the Unbelieving Dead

The Great White Throne Judgment

The Great White Throne, the Last Judgment,and the Outer Darkness

The Last Judgment and the Great White Throne

Thanks again for your enthusiasm for the Word of God! Write any time.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Brother Bob,

I just read your latest - Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing and found it to be such a blessing. I was particularly interested in Question #17 because it reminds me of myself so much you would not believe. When I read what this brother has gone through I could so relate to him. Not sure what his besetting sin was or is but I guess it really doesn’t matter. Could you let him know that I replied and that there are other believers who go through the same thing?

Also, can you comment on a similar verse to Hebrews 10:26? It is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Thank You So Much,

Response #16:

Good to hear from you again,

I sent your remarks along as requested.

As to your question, there are plenty of passages in the NT in particular which make it very clear that believers cannot sin with impunity. That is not because sin, any sin, has the capacity to cancel out salvation (it does not), but because sin, any sin, dallied with, committed, unconfessed, wallowed in, embraced, and finally justified will have a hardening effect upon the heart. Eventually, a pattern of defiance in sinning will lead to one of two outcomes: either the Lord will become so ashamed of the believer in question (so to speak), on account of the terrible witness, that He will remove that person from the earth (the sin unto death); or the believer in question will become so ashamed of the Lord (so to speak), that he/she will no longer be willing to be called to account for sin, and will then abandon faith and stop believing entirely (apostasy). This is all covered in detail in BB 3B: Hamartiology at the link.

As to the specifics of the passage in question, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, two things should be pointed out to all who are worried that, because they have committed sin after salvation (and everyone has committed sin after salvation: Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10), therefore they are lost with no way to return:

1) It is not true that salvation can be lost through sinning. We know that salvation comes not because of our own good behavior (i.e., personal "righteousness"), but "by grace through faith" (Eph.2:8-9), and that all who believe are saved (Jn.3:17-18). It would be more than just a little odd if lack of "good behavior" damned us, when it was only by renouncing our imperfect righteousness and seeking instead God's perfect righteousness which comes only through faith that we were saved. In fact, since sin does not affect faith directly (only indirectly, as described above), sin does not directly or immediately cause the loss of salvation. Sin can weaken faith, and if faith dies, a person is no longer saved, because such person is no longer a believer. As our Lord says at Luke 8:13, "They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (aphistantai, i.e., "apostatize" or lose faith)" (NIV). God always welcomes back the prodigal son who returns to Him. It is only those who depart and refuse to return, ever, to the point where they no longer have any faith left at all in Jesus Christ, that there is loss of salvation. Because all believers are saved, but only believers are saved.

2) The last verse in this passage, appended to Paul's listing of various categories of "sinners" who "will not inherit the kingdom" says "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (NKJV).

Simply put, everyone falls into some category of sin/sinners before salvation (and most of us into many of them); but we are washed clean of our sins at salvation (forgiven them all), we are sanctified by the Spirit, made holy and presentable to the Lord in spite of our previous state, and we are given God's perfect righteousness, something no one could ever produce by human effort, when we believe "in the Name" of Jesus Christ and are subsequently made "one with Him" through the Spirit's supernatural baptism of us into Him.

After salvation, we will all need our "feet washed" from time to time (Jn.13:12-17; cf. Ex.30:19-21; 1Jn.1:9), and God forgives us whenever we sin, disciplining us not as enemies but as beloved sons and daughters (Heb.12:1ff.). If we stray from Him, we will regret it; if we stray long and a lot, we will regret it long and a lot; but it is only "if we deny Him" that "He will deny us" (2Tim.2:12). Being born again means having a living, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship is born of faith, and will only die along with the death of faith, if we turn aside into cowardly apostasy, "denying the Lord who bought us" (2Pet.2:1), instead of staying true to Him in our hearts.

Passages such as this one you ask about are very salutary for believers to consider because they remind us 1) that it is not proper to live now after professing Christ the same way we did before; and 2) that is very dangerous to do so as well (with apostasy and the sin unto death being real possibilities if we cast aside all restraint). However, there are two extremes to avoid whenever we are reading scriptures which paint the contrast between the children of the light and those still in darkness in such stark terms:

1) We should avoid becoming apoplectic about them because we have not been perfect and are not doing as good a job as we should be in growing, progressing and producing for Christ (we should take the lesson without devolving into panic that only demonstrates our lack of understanding/acceptance of the absolute love of God).

2) We should avoid being perfectly nonchalant about them because we feel safe as believers even though we are not doing as good a job as we should be in growing, progressing and producing for Christ (we should take the lesson with proper humility so as to demonstrates that we do understand/accept the absolute justice of God).

If a person is willing to take counsel of the scriptures – instead of his/her fears – they affirm undeniably that our faith is the victory which overcomes the world (1Jn.5:4). That is the legacy and the motto of all who have been truly "born again".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello again Robert,

You may remember me. Recently a sin came to my attention that I committed a long time ago, a lie. I told this lie to someone and recently I have become convicted of it. I want to repent of it and have confessed it to God and sought His forgiveness. However I struggle about whether or not I should confess to this person. The reason for this being many fold. Firstly I don't think the person will remember the time, secondly the lie was about something terribly embarrassing for me, something I would rather leave in the past and forget and lastly I think that confessing this to the person would cause more harm than good as it would bring to light something about me I would think that the person would rather not know and may cause trouble even though I have overcome this sin.

However I want to do the right thing and I can't help but think that If I don't confess I am still therefore lying and still sinning which is not repenting and the bible says along the lines of those who do not repent will perish. This is very difficult for me and I feel under constant condemnation. I have sought your advice as I see you as a Godly man who has helped me before.

I don't know whether to confess now, confess later when God instructs or to put the past behind me and sin no longer. I have sought the will of God on this but I am so confused in my mind.

Thank you much

Response #17:

Good to hear from you again. While I cannot give you specific advice on this issue (you have to make your own decisions, after all), I will say a few things in general. First, when we confess to the Lord, we are forgiven (1Jn.1:9). So if we have truly turned away from our sinful attitude and told the Lord about it, and especially if we are walking carefully on the issue from then on, that is what the Lord requires. If there are cases where we have caused someone else material loss, restoration of that loss is, in general, not a bad policy to follow. I do not find in the New Testament where we are commanded to do this, but it seems to be something worth considering when and if it doesn't cause more problems than it solves (cf. Prov.14:9 NIV: "Fools mock at making amends for sin"). What I mean by this is that it not uncommon for Christians to become fixated with or obsessive about some sin they have committed in the distant past (as if they are not committing enough new ones every day). To relieve their guilty conscience, therefore, they sometimes drive themselves to do things that are unwise, unhelpful, and potentially damaging to others – in the Name of God. If a person's "making of amends" will actually only cause the other person grief, anger, confusion, etc., and will only alienate that person from the one doing the confessing and possibly also from God, then how is this "making of amends" of any benefit? For this reason, no doubt, it is not required by scripture. We may wrong other people when we sin, but scripture is quite clear about what sin really is:

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Psalm 51:14 NIV

Being an affront to God, it is right and proper that we confess all sin to Him instead of to other human beings (whether "victims" or neutral parties) – that is what scripture commands.

One further thought. God does not intend us to torture ourselves forever about sins long past. Once we confess them, they are forgiven – and we have to believe that He is telling us the truth about that forgiveness, claim that forgiveness, and move on.

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Paul persecuted the Church of Christ, and was personally responsible for imprisoning and plundering many Christians . . . not to mention being implicit in the murder of many. If anyone had reason to do a personal apology tour it was Paul. If he had set out to make amends for all the wrongs he had done instead of moving forward with the apostolic ministry Christ had for him, I dare say we would not have any of the Pauline epistles because he would never have had time to get around to anything else in his life. But we do not find in scripture a single indication that he made any sort of personal apology or amends to any individual Christian for what he had done, even though he was well aware of his prior evil conduct and mentions it ruefully on more than one occasion. This doesn't mean that he was not sorry or never did apologize to anyone; it does mean that this was not something he felt to be necessary – looking back instead of looking forward. For any true Christian who was aware of Paul's conversion, I am sure that this conversion itself was enough for those who had been wronged. We are told to forgive others before we ask the Father for our own forgiveness, after all ("forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors").

So if a friend or acquaintance truly has something against us and is upset with us for that reason, apologizing is not out of place. If we have damaged someone materially, making material amends is not out of place. But if we were to hold ourselves to the standard of apologizing to everyone we have ever committed a sin against, in mind, word or deed, this policy would be unworkable, to say the least, and likely do much more harm than good (which no doubt explains why it is not required in scripture). God wants us to be moving forward, not backward. God forgives us when we confess our sins – for we are really sinning against Him – and we need to accept the truth of what He says on this subject. And if we ever do feel the need of telling someone of some sin against them long past, we need first to consider whether we are really doing this for them or for us, whether we are doing them any good by this act, or whether we are really only seeking to relieve our own guilt feelings. If it is the latter rather than the former, and especially if we shall hurt them in so doing . . . . . (draw conclusion here).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Thanks Bob, that has given me some food for thought.

I suppose the thing that gets me is this; if I do not tell the truth when I have the opportunity to do so/repair the lie, am I continuing to lie and therefore continuing (unrepentantly) in sin?

I really appreciate your help Bob.

Response #18:

You're very welcome. As to your additional question, a sin is an act of heart or tongue or hand; it takes place at a point in time. Sin is not a state, as in "living in sin"; but a person can be in a situation where he/she is continuing to sin regularly on account of the situation he/she has put him/herself in.  In such cases, getting out of said situation ASAP is advisable. Still, it is the act of sin that is the sin, not the bad situation which is conducive to it. If a person lies, that is a sin. If a person lies again, that is a sin. If by action or inaction a person is perpetuating harm to others, that is sinful; on the other hand, if a person to person "confession" will not have the effect of eliminating such a situation but will rather be causing harm that would otherwise not be done – for purpose of assuaging a guilty conscience to the detriment of others – it would, in my opinion, be best to confess to the Lord (not the person), forget, move on. People we love in particular are likely to be forgiving even without "knowledge" (as a parent I can tell you there are some things I would rather not know, especially when that knowledge is about the past and will change nothing). We do know that God forgives us when we ask Him to – based on the blood of Christ – and that is the important thing.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

I have been a Christian for many years. My life before was very bad and God forgave me for a multitude of sins. My problem is the sins I committed after being saved. When I read Hebrews 10:26 it scares me. I find it conflicts with 1st John. However, I know the Bible has no contradictions. I have about come to the conclusion that Satan, who is a liar, is using this scripture to hamper my witness as a Christian. I can’t share what I am not sure of. How can I find peace in this matter? Thank you for your attention.

Response #19:

Dear Friend,

Please do be at peace about this. Jesus died for all of our sins. We are most certainly forgiven when we confess. The Father did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it (Jn.3:17). Since He wants to save us, we may sure that He is not looking for ways to condemn us – He is love. We are to fear God in a godly way of reverence, not to be terrified of Him who is our loving Father and who sacrificed His Son for the sins we are concerned about – and ought to forget about if we have confessed them long past (e.g., Phil.3:13).

But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
Psalm 130:4 NKJV

The book of Hebrews is misunderstood by many on many levels. One thing that is often overlooked is the overall theme: convincing Jewish Christians in Jerusalem to stop reverting to Jewish traditions, superstitions, and now no longer authorized practices of the Law. Just before this verse you ask about, Hebrews 10:26, Paul (whom I take to the be the deliberately anonymous author), had said:

Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
Hebrews 10:18

In context, this means that since Jesus actually has died for all human sins and atoned for them – something the Levitical sacrifices could not in fact accomplish – there is no Levitical offering which can produce forgiveness: Christ's death on the cross fulfilled the shadows of the Law, so that for a Christian to go back to these rites is saying in effect that he/she does not consider what our Lord did in paying the price for our sins valid – a terrible thing. In that context, "there no longer remains an [animal] sacrifice for sins" is referring to the same thing. So if we sin by sacrificing an animal through saying in effect Christ's actual sacrifice was of no effect, well, what is the sacrifice for that sin? There is not one – because it is a faithless rejection of the work of Christ. That is why it also says in Hebrews 6:6: "If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (KJV). "As long as" these people were putting Christ to shame by engaging in these rites, there was no way to be restored. We can't expect to be forgiven while we are in the process of sinning and with every intention of continuing (not much repentance there!). To be forgiven, a person needs to own up to the sin, turn away from it, and confess it. But that none of what happened to and with the believers in Jerusalem who received this epistle meant that they had lost their salvation for previous bad conduct we may be sure:

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
Hebrews 6:9 KJV

Here are some other postings that deal directly with this question (but do feel free to write me back about any of the above):

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation

Hebrews 10:26 again, and two other notes


Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #20:

Is there someone I could speak with over the phone concerning the potential that I have committed the sin unto death?

Respectfully,

Response #20:

Good to make your acquaintance. With respect, however, it is not my policy to do phone counseling (between my full-time job and this ministry, I don't have the luxury of enough time to do so, neither am I gifted or trained in the area of pastoral counseling). However, I can tell you that you have the wrong idea about the "sin unto death" and also "apostasy". Any believer who is concerned about his/her status is not an apostate (apostasy is the complete death of faith with the result that apostates could not care less about their standing in the eyes of the Lord); and no believer who is still alive is without hope of recovery from sin, however terrible or long-lasting (repentance, confession and ceasing to sin will bring recovery, and open the way to renewed growth through the Word of God).

To take the latter first, the most famous example of the sin unto death is that of the incestuous Corinthian believer whom Paul "handed over to Satan" (1Cor.5:1-5); apparently, this severe discipline was sufficient to cause repentance and a change of behavior, because in his next epistle Paul entreats the Corinthian congregation to allow him back into fellowship in his next epistle (2Cor.2:6-11) – so he did not die after all. The sin unto death is the Lord taking a believer out of this life when such a one will not let go of either his/her chronic sin nor of his/her faith, forcing the Lord's hand, so to speak. In apostasy, on the other hand, the believer in question chooses the world, and his/her sin, over the Lord, and stops believing entirely. There is no need for increasing divine discipline leading to terminal discipline in such cases because said person is no longer "a son/daughter", and so is not treated to the discipline of "a son/daughter", no longer belong to Christ – by his/her own free will choice.

Here a number of links which sort all this out (have a look and please do feel free to write me back):

Have I committed the unforgivable sin?

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

*Apostasy and Sin unto Death (in BB 3B)

Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

In Jesus our dear Lord in whom we who are of faith are safe forever through faith in Christ.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
1st John 5:11-13 NIV

(37) For yet a little while, how short, how short [the wait], and He who is coming shall come, nor will He delay. (38) "And [in the meantime] my righteous one shall live by his faith, but if he shrinks back, My heart takes no pleasure in him."
Hebrews 10:37-38 (cf. Habakkuk 2:3-4)

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

In response to your reply I have this one question: do you believe its possible for the believer in Christ to cease from doing those sins of the flesh in 1 Cor. 6: 9-10 and Gal. 5: 19-21?

In Christ,

Response #21:

As to your question about the lists of sins in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21, the first passage does not characterize them; the second calls them "works of the flesh", which is a periphrasis for "sin". Neither list is meant to be complete, only representative of the kind of behavior a person who is following the flesh instead of the Spirit is wont to become involved in. The Galatians passage ends by saying "I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal.5:21b NIV). The NIV's translation is a good one. I concur with "live like this", because repetitive practice rather than occasional missteps are meant. Also, I render the operative phrase of the preceding first part of the verse "– and whatever is similar to all these things", because the point is that Paul is deliberately disabusing the Galatians (or anyone reading this letter) that he has been comprehensive in his list of sins: there are many other "things like this". Sin is a wide and deep topic, and much behavior which is sinful is not even listed in scripture – but we know well enough from our consciences and the ministry of the Spirit the difference between right and wrong. That, after all, was the point of the tree of knowing good and evil, to wit, to provide sinful people with the means of recognizing their own sinfulness . . . without which no one would be inclined to seek God's mercy.

All sin is a matter of choice, even sins of ignorance. Those who repeatedly "practice such things" (Greek prasso, to do by way of intention and occupation) end up compromising their faith. That is to say, while all of us sin (Rom.3:23), and while believers are forgiven their transgressions and all unrighteousness when they confess their sins (1Jn.1:9), giving oneself over to a life of sin (in whatever manifestation – the two lists give examples) is so completely contrary to the Will of God the Father, the good pleasure of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Spirit, that those who do so inevitably harden their hearts (see the link). The end of this process, when carried to extremes, will either be apostasy (the death of one's faith from hardening oneself repeatedly against the truth when becoming too uncomfortable with the recognition of violating God's Will), or the sin unto death (there are those who will not let go of either faith or a life of gross sin, and the Lord does not allow that "Baal dancing" to go on forever). This is covered in detail at the link in BB 3B Hamartiology, the Biblical Study of Sin in the section "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death" (please see the link).

So to answer your question, indeed, any advancing believer is going to have to "get a handle" on sin, and especially arrogant, gross sin, and especially the sorts and types of sin for which he/she has a particular weak spot (we all have weak spots – they are different, but we all have them). Failure to do so compromises spiritual growth, and falling into a life characterized by "practicing" sin of whatever kind, especially the more overt, gross, arrogant varieties (although all sin is sin, and all sin is dangerous and harmful) can lead to spiritual shipwreck. But it also must be said that "defense" alone will not provide victory. Spiritual growth, forward progress in the Christian life through hearing, learning, believing and applying the Word of God, is absolutely essential for any real progress in dealing with sin (see the link: Peter #30: Sanctification). It's no good burying oneself in a bunker, so to speak. Sin will always find a way in for those who are not advancing. The only way to make progress in sanctification is to make progress in spiritual growth – the two must go hand in hand.

Case in point are the passages above. If a person misunderstands these passages (as many lukewarm Christians do), then not only will the false conclusions drawn from them not be of any particular profit, but they will also be liable to lead in false directions – because they have been incorrectly understood.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

You're not understanding me correctly, which caused you to respond in the way that you did. Not all sin leads to death. Scripture teaches us that there are sins to death and not to death. Those sins that lead to death are those sins in 1 Cor. 6: 9-10 and Gal. 5: 19-21, that if we should do them, then we shall not inherit the kingdom of God. These are the sins the Jesus died for and come of the heart, and if we are naming the name of Christ, then He expects us to cease from doing those sins, for we become His ambassador, as He will not, nor cannot, abide where sin is allowed, for He is holy, therefore we also must be holy (Heb. 12: 14).

The sins that lead not to death are those sins that come not of the heart, i.e.: unclean thoughts in the mind (these are thoughts to us, which try to enter into the heart, but the faithful believer takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, as they keep themselves, and the Wicked one touches them not). There are other sins that lead not to death such as, not responding in kindness or gentleness with meekness, as we should, or out of frustration we say things we shouldn't, etc.; and there is another type of sin that leads not to death: entropy (decay), which entered into the world when Mankind sinned. Therefore when Adam & Eve sinned two types of sin entered into the world: one that effected Mankind, thus giving us a sinful nature, and the other, entropy, which effected our physical bodies and all His creation. For instance, our flesh and bone body, that because of Original Sin entropy causes it to waste away in time, as the body grows old and feeble. Jesus also took on sinful flesh, like ours, yet He was without sin in the heart (Rom. 8: 3).

Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh to make it possible through His cross for us to do what we couldn't do before. Therefore if we do not take up our own cross daily, and die to ourselves daily, then we are not worthy of Him.

He has an expectation of YOU to cease from doing those sins of the flesh that lead to death, which come of the heart. If you don't cease from them then you are none of His!

I hope this message penetrates into the core of your being, and causes you to tremble and to fall on your knees in repentance. The time is coming very soon where He is going to separate the wheat from the tares. I truly hope you are not a tare because He desires that no one perish.

In the love of Christ,

Response #22:

With all due respect, 1st John 5:16 says "there is sin unto death", not "some sins lead to death, others do not". The question is, what is (the) sin unto death? This has is covered at various places at Ichthys (you have the links); in a nutshell, it involves becoming involved in sin to an ultimate degree without repentance or confession and refusing to turn back – as in a prodigal son who does not return – with the result that the Lord takes the believer out in a very painful death.

Secondly, we have been over some of this ground before, you and I, and you apparently did not pay attention the first time. Paul's lists in these two passages are representative and not meant to be taken as complete – as he himself says: "those who practice such things" (Gal.5:21 NASB). The Greek word here, toiauta, means, literally, "things like this"; in other words, this is not a comprehensive list and any sin which is in any way "like this" would qualify for forfeiting the kingdom of heaven for those who "make a practice of doing them"; that is, a person cannot take the fire of sin into his/her lap repeatedly and expect not to get burned. The extreme result of sin is the death of faith as the heart hardens (aka "apostasy"; you have that link too); the sin unto death falls on those who as believers refuse to relent and sink deeper and deeper into a life of unrepented sinfulness.

So what are "such thing" / "sins like this"? From these lists it is clear that they compromise all manner of sins. For example, Galatians 5:20 has "hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions". Without going into the details again it is obvious prima facie that here we have mental and verbal sins, many of which the average Christian (in our poorly informed Laodicean day) may not even recognize as sin . . . certainly not as "really bad sins". We could easily fail to recognize if our brother/sister is jealous or selfishly ambitious (for example), and the idea that such "hidden sins" might be eroding their faith to the point of apostasy is particularly alarming. But that is what the passage says . . . by way of example. 1st Corinthians 6:10 mentions covetousness – the sin which "killed" Paul (Rom.7:7-11; that is, got him to realize that legalism was not a means to salvation). Which of us is completely without covetousness and lust of any kind for anything at any time? Paul certainly was not. If we make a practice of it, it can destroy our faith, but it is not a unique type of sin; it is an example.

I can think of few things more spiritually dangerous than crafting a list of "no-no" sins and proclaiming everything else of less import. There is no better way to weaken a person's conscience so as to make them less afraid to do things not on "the list". All sin is sin. Did not Christ die to all sin (Rom.6:10)? Did He not bear all sin in His body on the tree (1Pet.2:24)? Is He not the propitiation for all sin (1Jn.2:2)? Paul's lists are meant to show that sin is subtle as well as gross and ubiquitous. Making use of his lists in an incorrect way to delimit sin somehow or drawing up one's own lists (which is what any editing of Paul's lists absolutely will be) is the essence of legalism – and the exact opposite of his purpose in providing these lists. But even by the works of the actual Law justification is impossible (Gal.2:16), how much less through personally concocted, artificial lists produced without the inspiration of the Spirit?

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.
1st John 1:7 NKJV

That is the gist of it (as I say, I have explained this to you before). In short, your personal understanding of these matters has no basis whatsoever in scripture (as we have already seen). It is also very dangerous – to you, and to others. I would seriously counsel you not to share your false views with those who may be persuaded and come to spiritual shipwreck as a result. That would incur a greater judgment.

Finally, when you accuse me of gross sin and counsel me to fall on my knees and repent – as if anyone who dares to disagrees with you must of necessity be a "bad sinner" (as opposed to being a "good sinner" like yourself) – how is that not the epitome of pride (since you do not know me at all)? Is that not a "bad sin"?

"Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you."
Ezekiel 28:17 NKJV

In hopes of your deliverance from all things legalistic in the One who died for us and for all of our sins, Jesus Christ the [only truly] Righteous One,

Question #23:

All I know is I used to believe like you, as I was indoctrinated in that type of thinking, as I grew up in the church since birth. Jesus says concerning those that are not willing to hear the truth, "Let them alone," which I am now doing with you, as I am not going to argue or be contentious over the word.

If you want to continue to believe it's not possible to cease from sin (those sins that are forbidden) then you will never cease from them because you don't believe it's possible. Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes" (Mk. 9:23). So if that's what you want to believe then just keep on going. But know this, except you repent, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

The truth of the matter is this: He went to the cross to destroy the power of darkness which held us captive, and through the operation of His cross, He makes it possible for us to be set free from our sins. In other words, because He did what He did, now He expects us to put to death those sins of the flesh; and if we do not, then we are unbelievers, as that is why He came to die, and arose again.

He expects all that name the name of Christ to depart (cease) from iniquity. Why do you think the Bible is called the Holy Bible? The very purpose of the Holy Bible is to teach and make us holy, but since you believe this is a life-long process ("process of sanctification"), then that just keeps you in a endless cycle to get out of sin, which keeps you in bondage.

Jesus does not represent our holiness. What He desires to do though is to present us holy, which requires a doing on our part, which means we must surrender to do His will, which will is that we cease from doing those sins of the flesh.

You have gone after another gospel, which is not another, but a lie. If I were you, I would pray to Him to first soften your heart so you can hear what is being said here in this email, because it's the truth (not my truth, but His).

In Christ,

Response #23:

As I read your email, it is abundantly clear that you did not even bother to read mine. Otherwise, you could not possibly characterize my words in the way you are doing. This is not at all what I said.

Is this a stock email you send to everyone who disagrees with you?

When I read what you have written here (and previous emails), the impression I get is of someone who is mired in a "personal interpretation" which has absolutely nothing to do with the actual words of scripture. Then, you doubt the spirituality, even the salvation, of anyone who does not agree with this personal interpretation (which, by the way, is not only not in the Bible – I have never even heard of it before in any Christian context or even in any heretical pseudo-Christian context).

Sin is sin. That is not to excuse sin. What you are doing is excusing sin, and justifying yourself based upon your ability to "live up" to a standard of your own making by staying away from certain sins (although which ones is unclear since you reject as important many of the items on the two lists you approve of in the Bible). That is the definition of legalism; it is bereft of grace, requires no faith, and is entirely "of works". However, as mentioned before, even if your standard were perfect (which it is not, being entirely self-imagined), then . . .

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Galatians 2:14-15 NKJV

Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.
Acts 15:10-11 NKJV

In hopes that the Lord will open your eyes to the actual truth of the actual Bible that you may be saved.

Bob L.

Question #24:

Bob,

If it's not possible to cease from doing those sins of the flesh, then why did Jesus say, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes"? And why would He said that if it wasn't possible?

In Christ,

Response #24:

I never said either that a person can't stop sinning certain sins, nor that every Christian should not make ceasing from all sin a top priority. But it is a biblical truth that no person, not even the best of Christians, can refrain from all sin all the time (e.g., Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:8-10). There are some who teach (heretically) that believers are capable of not sinning at all; others who claim they have never sinned since believing; others that claim they have never sinned in the first place. All of these claims are false and spiritually very dangerous:

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
1st John 1:8-10 NASB

Your heretical position is unique in that you have concocted a false, non-biblical list (by taking representative lists and then editing them and subtracting things to suit your own personal strengths and weaknesses) and calling your special list "sin" and everything else "OK". That is very dangerous, spiritually speaking.

Pride is what caused the devil to fall from grace. Is pride on your list? It is true that the sin of pride tends to follow a progression – as it did for the devil. Pride (a mental sin) led to conspiring (a verbal sin) which led to rebellion (a physical sin). But all sin is sin. The words of our Lord which you quote here come from Mark 9:23, and the sin in context is a lack of faith (not fornication or drinking or gambling or dancing or smoking or watching movies or playing cards or whatever may be on your special list). Sin is sin. It is all bad. It all leads to hell – absent forgiveness through the blood of Christ and being born again. It all leads to discipline and trouble for believers – absent repentance, confession and spiritual growth. Teaching that only some sins are sins is the epitome of legalism, and has the exact opposite effect of what you may hope: it leads to more sinning, not less; it leads to self-righteousness, not God's Righteousness; it leads to hardening the heart, not spiritual growth.

I am certainly aware that different people have different strengths and different weaknesses, but it is a mistake to believe that because your weaknesses are A, B and C, that therefore X, Y and Z are not just as dangerous; the fact that you are not plagued by temptation to X, Y, and Z does not give you the right to teach other brothers and sisters that these sins are "not really even sins" when the Bible makes clear that they are: all sin is "sin of the flesh" because it is the flesh, the sin nature, which is the source of sinning (Matt.26:41; Jn.3:6; 6:63; Rm.6:19; 7:14; 7:18; 8:2-13; 1Cor.3:3; 2Cor.10:2-3; Gal.2:16; 5:13-19; 5:24; 6:8; Eph.2:3; Col.2:13; 2:23; Heb.9:13; 1Pet.1:24; 4:6; 2Pet.2:10; 2:18; Jude 1:23; see the link).

Hell will be filled with self-righteous people whose hearts are crammed full of all manner of things detestable to the Lord – even if they have never once been involved in fornication or drinking or gambling or dancing or smoking or watching movies or playing cards or whatever may be on your special list.

It's all about the Bible and the truth of the Word of God. Never, never put your own experience or what seems right to you above what the Word actually has to say.

In Jesus Christ who is the truth.

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hi Bob,

I find it interesting that you say that we can cease from certain sins, but not all. Now it is good that you said that we should make that a top priority, but then you reference Rom. 3:23, which I agree with, as all have sinned (past tense). But when we come to Christ, having confessed and repented of our sins, with godly sorrow, and receive His Holy Spirit to be born again, then He is expecting (Heb. 10:13). Now those that continue to sin afterward can still be forgiven, but if they continue to lay the foundation of repentance from dead works then how can the foundation ever by laid? (Heb. 6: 1).

Your belief causes you to think your foundation is laid for you once you come to Christ, even if one should continue to sin, but in reality there is a doing on our part to purify ourselves (1 Jn. 3:3); to keep ourselves (1 Jn. 5:18); and preserve ourselves (1 Thess. 5:23), otherwise the foundation is always in process of being laid. And if the foundation is ever in process then the building can never be built. We are called to go onto perfection, as to cease from those sins of the flesh is the basics, even as it is our reasonable service (Rom. 12: 1-2).

If all sin is sin, then what is sin not unto death? (I already know your answer). You will say: to all them that confess and repent of their sins, which He paid for on the cross, then those sins are not unto death, because He paid for them. But He says there are sins that come from within (the heart), and sins that are without. Now the sins that are without (not unto death) are impossible to keep, thus He has no expectation for us to keep them, but the sins that are from within are possible to keep, because of His cross. Therefore He does not have an expectation for us to cease from those sins from without, but from within (Matt. 15: 10-2).

And To James 3:2 I say, amen! So I say to you, consider what is being said.

The 1 Jn. 1:8-10 passage is one that has been taken out of context for years, even as you do, which supports your belief, which most of Christendom has come to believe. It's this belief of why the latter times have come and the last days have ended, but that's another topic for another time.

In this passage John's desire is for others to come into fellowship, even as our true fellowship is with the Father and the Son. Verse 8 is referring to them that don't want Christ because they say they have no sin. But for them that confess their sins He will forgive them, and cleanse them from all unrighteousness, which brings them into fellowship, as truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son.

Verse 10 is speaking to them that hold to Gnostic beliefs. This Gnosticism has evolved into what most of the church believes today (post-modern Gnosticism), which causes them to think to be something they are not. In other words the church has turned the true gospel into a lie teaching that He continues to abide in the believer even while they should do one of the sins of the flesh, which is a lie, which stems from not believing it's possible to cease from doing those sins of the flesh, which then causes them to misconstrue the scriptures to their own destruction, even as Peter said in 2 Pet. 3:16.

Those that have bitten the apple of this false doctrine are deceived, but God can bring them out of it. Many will come to believe the true gospel during the latter rain, but unless they repent, and come to believe the true gospel then they will be thrown into His wrath because they refused to believe the truth (2 Thess. 1:8-9; 2:10-12).

What I say here, I say not only to you, but to me also, as we must take up our cross daily, and die to the flesh.

This is all I have to say on the matter. If you won't hear this truth then there's no need to continue, but if you will hear it then we can continue, so to encourage, exhort, and edify one another.

In Christ,

Response #25:

1) Any Christian can respond to the Spirit and avoid any sin at any given time; however, all Christians fail to respond to the Spirit and fail to avoid all manner of sins all the time. The type of sin is not the issue: it's a question of good versus bad choices (and the fact is that we all fail, fall, stumble and sin from time to time . . . at least). Once again, you insist on categorizing where the Bible does not. That is your mistake, but please do not attribute it to me (I have never said anything of the sort, nor have I ever taught any such thing; please read the lengthy, detailed study: Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin). All sin is sin. Believers can avoid and/or commit any sin . . . and will have consequences for the latter, type not withstanding.

2) In Romans 3:23 the Greek verb is a gnomic aorist, not a past tense. Many versions incorrectly render it as a perfect (which it most definitely is not). Rather, it is a general/universal statement: "everyone sins", and that ought to be evident to Greek readers also from the second verb which is in the present tense: "and (as a result) fall short of God's glory". There is a lot of twisted (false) theology that has been foisted on this verse and others in Romans. If interested in the truth, see the link from the study above: "The so-called "imputation of Adam's sin".

3) The "foundation" in Hebrews 6:1 consists of areas of truth believed, not in specific behaviors or levels of sanctification achieved. That ought to be evident to anyone even in English from verse two when it is made clear that Paul is talking here about "teachings". Once again, you are taking an individual verse here or there, attributing to it a meaning it does not actually have, and building a personal theology on that false meaning. This is the stuff that cults are made of. As I say, if your opinion of your own abilities as an exegete are so great as to risk such spiritual shipwreck, that is one thing; but please don't inflict this sort of thing on anyone else. Believers need the truth.

4) As to "I already know your answer", you clearly do not understand my position even though I have explained it to your what must be approaching a dozen times by now (including our previous exchange). "Sin unto death" has no definite article in 1st John 5:16. This means that John has no specific, individual sin in mind but rather sin generally = sinning (as is also his meaning in the same epistle's first chapter: 1Jn.1:7-8), and in the context, taking sinning to a fatal level.

5) James 3:2 indicates all manner of sins: "many things" is as generic as one can get in Greek, so it has to include the possibility of any sin.

6) There is no need to bring the Gnostics into 1st John 1:10. What is says is clear enough, and they are not the only ones who claim sinlessness. That is essentially what you are doing. According to you, you do not sin . . . in any important way. According to John, this is making God out to be a liar. The rest of your cryptic discussion of the chapter doesn't seem to have any bearing on the argument. But the implications of what John says in verse nine, "if we confess our sins, He . . . forgives us" is something you ought to take into account. If there were no commission of sins, there would be no need for confession and forgiveness. And here is what John says in the very next chapter, often overlooked:

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.
1st John 2:1 NKJV

Not only does John entertain the possibility that his generally positive and holy recipients may sin (after all, he is writing in order to do what he can to head that off), but he also gives them comfort in advance by telling them that Jesus will be our Advocate if we do fall into sin. But if there were no sin, there would be no need, either for John's writing or for our Lord's advocacy. And by the way, the Greek says "sin" – there is absolutely no justification from the actual language to make this mean "not a serious sin" or some nonsense of that kind.

7) "This false doctrine". What false doctrine? Believing the words of scripture to be literally true? It is a common cult technique to get people feeling nervous about sin, but without ever fully spelling out what the problem is, what the consequences are, what the mechanics are, or, most importantly, what the solution is and how to achieve it. This is always "mystery stuff" that the person in charge doesn't want to let go of for several reasons: a) once propounded, all would see it was nonsense, and the guilt that comes with uncertainty would evaporate; b) there really is no "there there" in any case.

8) "The true gospel". See above, and consider:

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:6-7 NKJV

Are you really saved? It is hard for me to fathom it inasmuch as you seem to be so wrapped up in your own esoteric brand of legalism and self-righteousness. At some point in the past, obviously, you were mired in some sort of sinful conduct that shocked even yourself. Then, through prodigious effort you were able to pull yourself together and stop doing "X" (although not Y and Z or A, B, C). I am happy for you that you have stopped whatever it is, and I am sure that whatever it is is something none of us who are Christians should be doing and that we too should stop if we are doing it. However, stopping a particular behavior is not the gospel, nor does it lead to salvation. There are more than enough unbelievers who are recovered and reformed drug addicts, alcoholics, sexual deviant, criminals, etc. to demonstrate the point that exceptionally bad behavior of certain types can be corrected – and we are all happy about that. But salvation is about faith in Jesus Christ. There are also plenty of unbelievers who have never done any of these things, and more than enough who, by the false "fleshly" standard you embrace, have "never sinned" (seriously). They are still going to hell – by their own choice because they have refused to embrace Jesus Christ through faith. "All sin" (Rom.3:23). It's just a question of what and when. This is not an impediment to salvation because Jesus died for all sin. What concerns me most about your particular heresy is that it verges on self-salvation through the works of "putting off the deeds of the flesh" as you conveniently define them. You are going to heaven (so you think) because you have "gained victory over the flesh". In fact, "all sin", even if the sin is something you don't deign to call sin. In fact, only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ without works are saved.

For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [the purpose of accomplishing] good works, which [very works] God has prepared ahead of time for us, that we might walk in them (i.e., live our Christian lives in the accomplishment of them).
Ephesians 2:8-10

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.
Acts 10:31

In the mercy of Christ our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Well, then you just keep on going in the way that you are, and see where you end up. All I know is that Jesus said, "Except you repent, you all will likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3; 5). "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. 22:11).

Response #26:

Good words. I suggest you read them and apply them to yourself (Matt.7:1-5).

 

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