Sinning is normal and inevitable = the teaching of many Christians
A few weeks ago I visited a Christian chat room for the first time in ages, but I only managed to stay for about 5 minutes due to the atmosphere. Even though it was a long time ago since I entered a Christian chat room, I still felt as though it was “the same old” support for sin which I remember too well from past discussions. It was a sad experience to realize that we have not reached anywhere in all these years, and I am particularly thinking about babies in Christ which might enter the chat room and learn that the cross they must carry is super light and that there are no requirements for salvation apart from “believing” in Jesus. Oh, and also that they can never lose their salvation (if they sin too extensively they were not saved to begin with ….).
I even discovered a user name which I remember from a long time ago (a very unusual one, so clearly the same person) and this person promoted sin, that we cannot avoid it and that there are no consequences, just like he did years ago. Is it really that important to spend time teaching people that sinning is inevitable? If this would be true (that we always sin in thoughts, words and deeds) will we not sin regardless of the preaching? Or is it important to feel “sorry” for the sins – that we cannot help doing in the first place?
Still, there seems to be ONE sin that can make us lose salvation after all (even if these Christians claim we cannot) and this would be if we teach that there is something we must DO to stay saved. The believe this is legalism and something that God hates, but does God really hate the teaching that we can successfully obey him and be faithful to him? Is this really the only sin that makes him furious and which will put our salvation in jeopardy?
If we sin (and also Christians can choose to sin), we must confess our sins and repent. This means a change of mind and to turn away from sin. We are not provided with only one chance to get it right, but if we constantly sin we are not saved.
I will list some examples below of what I heard in this chat room during my short visit (not all the comments were addressed to me) and I will also make some comments.
He promised to never leave us! Did he lie?
Reply: Please check the context of this expression. Sure, God will never leave us or forsake us, but we can certainly choose to leave and forsake him. In such a case we have separated ourselves from him (Is. 59:2) because sin continues to lead to death – and if we deny Jesus, he will deny us (Matt. 10:33). Remember that it was Satan who lied and taught that sin does not lead to death. Even if we do forsake him, he will always stand there with open arms, hoping we will return to him as the prodigal son did. Remember that the prodigal son was “lost and dead” while being away from his Father. Also, think about the covenant between God and Israel which was declared to be forever but which became void because of Israel’s behavior. It is best for us if we make sure to remain in the vine (John 15), because then we will never be forsaken but loved. God does not promise to never forsake us unconditionally, (which would go against a large portion of the Bible).
You are asking him to get back on the cross again!
Reply: No, Jesus died once and for all. and this does not mean we are now free to sin without any consequences. Jesus does not have to step up and down the cross each time a person sins. The truth is that sin continues to lead to death, and we are certainly not living in lawlessness without any commandments to obey. Even if Jesus died for the sins of the world, this does not mean that all the sins of the world were/are automatically forgiven on the cross and that we were forgiven before we were even born. Jesus did his part (and what an offer that was!) and we must do our part. We are forgiven and cleansed when/if we repent from our sins, and it is always our past sins that are forgiven. Certainly not any future sins.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord
Rom. 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God
We are SEALED until the day of redemption!
Reply: The verse says “whereby ye are sealed UNTO the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). It can also be translated ”by whom you were sealed FOR the day of redemption”. A seal is a requirement but a seal can be broken. Where does the idea come from that a seal or mark cannot be tampered with or broken? The text does not say ”sealed and saved unconditionally all the way UNTIL the day of redemption no matter the conduct”. The Greek word sphragizó can mean seal, or set a seal upon, or mark with a seal. We are indeed uniquely ”marked” when we as christians have the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we are separate and different from those without this mark. See this blog article.
We can never be perfect!
Reply: Actually, we can. Jesus himself said: Matt: 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”. Let us not argue with Jesus.
We are saved by grace and not by anything we do!
Reply: We are indeed saved by grace, but this does not mean we are free to sin and that we do not have to do anything. Read also Eph. 2:10 where we can read that we must WALK unto good works that God has created for us. What happens if we do not?
We are created unto good works, prepared to walk in them!
Reply: Right, see above. WE do the walking. Jesus does not do the walking for us or instead of us. If God would be responsible for making sure we have good fruit in our lives, then he would not fail once. We would never ever sin.
Salvation is a gift that can’t be earned!
Reply: Yes, salvation is a gift, and nothing we have earned, but who says that gifts cannot be neglected or thrown away?
We have been imputed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ!
Reply: The Bible does not say this. We can read about imputed righteousness, but not that we can be imputed with the righteousness of Jesus (or anyone else). “Imputed” does not mean “transferred”, but it rather means “reckoned” or “viewed as”. We can indeed be reckoned as righteous if we have chosen to repent for our sins and become cleansed in the blood of Jesus. Then we can be regarded as righteous because we are. We have not become 80% cleansed but 100%, and we remain clean as long as we stay away from sin. The Bible does not teach “once righteous always righteous”, nor can we pretend that God the Father does not see our sins because the blood of Jesus hides his vision.
A few more common pro-sin arguments (even if I did not hear them in this particular chat room):
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us!
Reply: Before the popular verse of 1 John 1:8 we can also read less popular verses such as v. 6 “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” and v. 7 “But IF we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”. Please reflect on the conditions which are clearly described. Or do you sin around the clock? Is there not one minute a day when you can say that you have no sin?
No one is righteous according to Rom. 3:10!
Reply: Paul, who made the above statement that no one is righteous, called HIMSELF righteous, along with Silas and Timothy, and he constantly requested that people should avoid obeying their flesh. Romans 3:10-11 is a reference to a few psalms, and they must be read in context. In those psalms you will find references of people who are righteous as a contrast to those who are not (the foolish ones). Note that he says ”as it is written”, which means that we should check ”what is written” so that we will understand his reason for quoting these psalms in that particular moment. See more here.
We are saved by faith alone and not by works!
The Bible, however, says the exact opposite:
Ja 2:24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only.
Our sinful nature makes us sin!
Think again. The Bible does not teach that we have a sinful nature (which would be an excellent excuse for sinning). Not in Rom. 5, not in Psalms, not anywhere.
For “confidence and boldness in our salvation” read 1 John which contains numerous verses on how one can be assured of one’s salvation.
Regarding Heb 10:4. This verse contains the clause – “those who are being made holy.” Sanctification is thus requisite for salvation. No sanctification = no salvation.
Yes obedience is necessary per Heb 5:9.
I am unfamiliar with your claim about Peter’s false teaching but your question regarding how many times can a man lose and regain his salvation in a lifetime is barking up the wrong tree. It is not a matter of “quantity” but of “quality.” It is a matter of one’s lifestyle. Those who PRACTICE sin are of the devil (1 Jn 3:8). Those who live according to the flesh (lifestyle) will die….(Rom 8:13).
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (1 Jn 3:7).
We (you and I) sin every day “willfully” and who knows if the apostles made it to heaven?? Romans 7 tells us paul did things he should not do and did not do things he should do. Peter basically started a heretical circumcised church. To me there needs to be a confidence and boldness in our salvation in order to go out and spread the gospel and make disciples. If we can’t even be sure about our own salvation how can we equip others?
Hebrews10:14 gives us something to think about.
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Quick response to your arguments.
Of course we don’t have a ticket to sin because of unconditional salvation. See romans 6
Also, obedience is a big part of our assurance that we have been truly saved, along with good fruit and a new birth. Without those things you should really question your salvation.
Also, if Peter died during his false teaching days, was he going to hell?
How many times can a man lose and regain his salvation in a life time?
It is good that you are not a “set in stone” doctrine guy Greg as we are all fallible and what we were taught and believe could be in error. This requires that we scrutinize what we believe for ourselves.
What may be helpful is to ask yourself these simple questions: Would you take the mark of the beast? If you did, would you still be sealed by Holy Spirit? If you took the mark, would that mean that you were never a believer in the first place?
I have posed these questions to those who believe in eternal security but because they were “set in stone” doctrinal types, they always evaded answering directly, mostly answering what someone else might do and not directly answering what they would do.
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My problem with conditional salvation is that it undermines the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we surrender everything, and are sealed with the holy spirit the transformation is undeniable. We become a new creation. Bought with a price (not a deposit). I understand that there are a lot of false conversions but the real deal is undeniable and irrevocable.
The only evidence of the holy spirit being taken away is old testament but they did not have Jesus.
I’m not a set in stone doctrine kind of guy and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. I feel right now that conditional salvation takes away from what Jesus did and who he is.
Hey there Greg
Well, Jesus Christ died for the world through a perfect sacrifice – even though the whole world will not be saved. The Bible doesn’t say that we are “sealed” (as in forced to remain saved), and to be sealed can also signify being marked. As Christians with the Holy Spirit we are truly special and marked. Note also that false prophets/false teachers/deniers of Christ were bought and they are still lost.
2 Pet 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that BOUGHT THEM, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
If we are unconditionally saved, there is no need for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling since we can never be lost. Also, if our salvation cannot be lost, then we have a license to sin. Unless we sin too much of course, because then the saying goes that we were “not saved to begin with”.
The Bible is replete with “If:s” and conditions also for the believers. Only those who endure to the end shall be saved. John 15 tells us that branches in the vine (in Jesus) can still be cut off due to lack of fruit.
Hi again. I regularly participate in a Christian discussion forum particularly when I’m bored and I get the same comments over and over again. There is nothing new under the sun. A favorite refrain of theirs is that if you state that ongoing obedience is required of believers, they accuse you preaching “works-based” salvation. They ignore or misconstrue James’ writings in his epistle regarding works and faith. They also ignore the fact that Jesus judges the 7 Churches in Revelation for their works, or lack thereof. They argue that if anything, you can lose your “rewards” but never your salvation. Very few are open to changing their opinions and the great majority remain intractable.
Yes, isn’t it sad, Evan?
<<A favorite refrain of theirs is that if you state that ongoing obedience is required of believers, they accuse you preaching “works-based” salvation.
That is certainly true. The most horrible sin of them all – the requirement of obedience to the law of God …. (being ironic)