The Keys to Overcoming the Sinful Nature,
the Carnal Nature, Carnality, and Sin unto Holiness, e.g. Being Holy
Are You Truly Saved? The Litmus Test in a Nutshell
Firstly, Romans and Galatians divide the haves from the have nots. They clearly indicate those who have been the true recipients of the true grace of God, and those who have not. Through the determination, identification, manifestation and clarification of the object of a person's affection, allegiance and attention, one is able to observe and examine what their god truly is. Their walk -- the continuing habitual way of life -- betrays their affections. The saying is, "A tree is known by its fruits." So this is an exercise of self-examination. We guage ourselves by what the word of God reveals. We are by far not perfect -- God knows this -- and we stumble often through ignorance, neglect and even intentionally on occasion. God is not surprised when we act out. This is because all persons are born with and have an indwelling mole of Satan -- a sinful nature. (cf. Romans 6:1-6 and 7:18, You could say with Paul, "In me dwells a no-good thing.") It remains within us until our body is put in the ground. Upon salvation, when a person trusts in Christ, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell that believer, an internal operation takes place: the ruling monarch called the sin nature, the carnal nature, the old man, is dethroned from his heart, and the Holy Spirit of God takes that throne, and the believer is then set free to choose which he will obey -- the indwelling Spirit, or that indwelling carnal nature which is still lurking around in the premises seeking to take over again with his permission -- thus the constant inward battle that results (cf. Galatians 5:16-25). We will repeat concepts and principles several times over so that inculcation can take place. You will be adequately informed and forearmed for the battle for your soul. Think of it this way: it will be like having the devil on one shoulder whispering in your ear to get you to do wrong, and Jesus on the other shoulder whispering in your other ear, "This is the way; walk in it" -- only it is going on inside your head. The battle for holiness is won or lost in the mind (thus Romans 12:1-2).
After the fall of man, God said to Cain, "Sin crouches at your door and its desire is to control you, but you must master it." Everybody is capable of intentionally or unintentionally sinning every day in one way or another, either accidentally or on purpose, depending upon which inner voice we choose to obey -- simply because we are infinitely fallible human beings -- that is why we put erasers on pencils. That is why we must learn and grow in the Faith in order to give the Spirit some truth in our hearts to work with. We are not sinners because we sin: we sin because we are sinners. We are so -- not because of what we do, but because of what we are. But as true believers, we will not constantly be practicing sin as a habitual way of life, because the indwelling Spirit will not allow such a situation. The unsaved person will be able to habitually sin with impunity as a way of life without any compunction, and the evidential fact that he has no divine discipline upon him for his behavior, and that he doesn't even care, proves he is not a child of God. The back-sliding believer will go off on a binge of chain-sinning for a while, gravitating back into the old ways of his particular sin-nature trend, be it ascetic self-righteousness or indulgent lasciviousness, but he will be chastened for it. The Spirit will convict him with a consciousness of sin with guilt, and if he does not repent, then divine discipline will follow -- or even the sinning to death if he refuses correction; for indeed we bear God's Name -- his reputation is at stake -- especially regarding high profile individuals. Those regularly sinning with impunity over a prolonged period of time are probably not saved at all. According to Romans 8, the term 'carnal believer' is a misnomer.
The transformation of the believer is a work in progress. In Christ we are perfect and sanctified in position, and inwardly desire to conform to the will of God. Practical sanctification, however, takes a lifetime. Like a baby falls at least 300 times while learning to walk, so also the growing believer will stumble many times in the process of growth, but there will also be a consistently discernable difference developing in his life over time towards integrity. Practical sanctification (Romans chapters 6 and 7) takes time to catch up with our positional sanctification. We are perfect in the eyes of God through Christ because his righteousness is immediately and fully imputed to us; but practically, perfection in practice ultimately comes over a lifetime of improvement until the time comes that we arrive into His presence when we die and are perfected. Meanwhile, God the Holy Spirit can indwell our defiled, sin-ridden bodies only because the justice of God for all sin has been satisfied and appeased for the one believing, through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, one for all without distinction, once for all time -- for all sins -- past, present and future. All of your sins were future when Christ died on the cross for you. Therefore, in gratitude, we respond to God's love in obedience by desiring to be all that we can be for him in Christ. We start practicing obedience to the revealed will of God. We are not sinless because of our humanity, but at least we can sin less with divinely empowered self control.
A lost person does not have this kind of motivation within him. This divine type/kind of improvement does not happen in a lost person, though to the untrained eye, some may seem righteous because they may tend to be an ascetic, self-controlled, caring, philanthropic, self-righteous, religious person -- good in their own eyes -- generous, reformed, humanitarian and compassionate in the eyes of the world -- but nonetheless, unsaved -- lost in the eyes of God, because they do not accept his prescription for their sins -- Jesus Christ alone -- and therefore God's justice is not satisfied in their case. Reading the version of 1stJohn provided on my Home Page, because unlike most versions, it is correctly translated, helps us to make these distinctions, and it squares with Matthew 25: 31-46 where the "sheep" and the "goats" are distinguished from one another by the outward works of an evident, fearless, unfeigned, consistent inner loving-care towards other fellow believers, which is the outward expression of the inward reality of a genuine transformation of the heart -- they are truly born-again from above by God's Spirit. The only unforgivable sin is unbelief, and blasphemy is the outward manifestation of that inward reality; for out of the heart the mouth speaks. Hell is forever for the unbeliever, and those who believe in a god of their own making, because the guilt for unpaid/uncovered sin lasts forever, and unrepentant evil can not be allowed to run free for ever in the universe -- it must be contained. By both creative right and redemptive right God owns all persons, and thus all are accountable, whether they want to believe it or not, or admit it or not. A person's perception of reality to him is his reality, whether it squares with the evident facts or not, or squares with true reality or not. That does not change the facts from what they really are, or the reality from what it actually is. Those who habitually practice false religions that do not align with biblical revelation are willfully self-deceived.
The Battle is Won or Lost in the Mind
In the original Greek language from which the New Testament was translated, the word for repentance is "metanoia." For unbelievers it means to change the mind from unbelief to belief. For believers, it simply means to turn around, like as if you were going in one direction, and then abruptly decide to turn back and go in the opposite direction, and then do it. In its fuller meaning, for those who are already believers, it means to have a change of mind and heart with resultant corresponding action or conduct. In other words, you cease and desist when it comes to sinful behavior. You do this, not to be saved, but because you are saved. You have the indwelling Power to do so.
Before going further, some preliminaries are in order: It is written, "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is." A sports fanatic is what he is because that is what is in his heart. It is in his heart because that is what he loves and pursues. We should likewise be so regarding God. Similarly, another basically worded saying of Jesus says, "you become what you look to," meaning, what you pursue is what you become. A sports fanatic is a sports fanatic because first and foremost he pursues sports. He has filled his mind with it. He eats, breathes and thinks sports all the time. We should look to God the same way. It follows then that you become what you look to, and then further, you are the personification of your thought life. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
Also note that the nature that you feed becomes the strongest and most dominant part of you. If you habitually pursue and feed your mind with Christian truth and goodness, wholesome TV programming, literature and music, you will be an honorable person of integrity who pleases the Lord and cares for others. If you habitually pursue and feed on a steady diet of racy sitcoms, questionable rap music, smut and pornography, you will become an immoral, depraved, lascivious reprobate. Reprobates act out what disgust is in their hearts and are an abomination to the Lord. By the same token, moral people are decent and full of integrity and consistently live their God-honoring lives that way, and are a resultant benefit to society.
You become what you look to. As you think in your mind, so you are. The nature you feed becomes the strongest. These maxims you should adopt. According to the conclusion of Romans 12:1-2, you should repent and present yourself a living sacrifice to God in the renewal of your mind, considering all of the things he has done for you. In other words, don't crawl off of the altar after your presentation. We further happen upon this additional maxim: if what you are is right, then what you do will be right, and God will be properly glorified. It is being, as opposed to doing. In Christianity being is to be emphasized. Doing is only to be the end result of being. Yet, by doing -- practicing the things that I am teaching you -- you will be able to realize being what you should be for God in your life. The battle for righteousness is won or lost in your mind.
The Delineation of Sins
Man has an inherent sinful nature. Sin is missing the mark -- the ideal set by God for his creation. We all acknowledge this when we wish to be excused by others when we say, "Nobody's perfect, that's why there are erasers on pencils." Yet our imperfection is the most difficult thing to cope with and admit to ourselves and to others. We like to think that we are okay, and that God will somehow gloss over our imperfections. But God cannot compromise his essence in saving us, blessing us, and taking us into heaven apart from the satisfaction of the just demands of his infinitely violated holiness and righteousness -- two important elements of his character that need to be met. Therefore, our point of contact with God is not love, but satisfied justice. So, we have his impeccable Son, who took our place and satisfied the just demands and requirements of God's essence for us, thereby permitting the triune Godhead to save us, bless us, and take us to heaven, while remaining intact and uncompromised as a holy and just triune God. True, God loves us, but that is merely the motivating factor for him to save and care for us. Love alone is not enough to do the job of saving mankind. In the Garden of Eden our point of contact with God used to be divine personal love. But now, because of sin, our point of contact with God is satisfied justice. Once it is satisfied through our faithing and trusting into the finished work of Christ who paid for all of our sins with his life on the cross, God can deal with us and yet remain intact as uncompromised, and thus we can become saved. God in all fairness could not save us by force against our will, nor based upon our good deeds which vary with each individual, nor even based upon emotion which subjectively vacillates, and still be unbiased and fair. His divine fairness would not allow him to be unfair. Though the many are called, all who have been called out from among them, and are chosen, come to God on his terms -- not theirs -- through the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Again, we come to God on his terms -- not on our own terms. Many people think that God is impressed with what they do or do not do. He is not. He is only impressed with his Son -- and he wants us to be impressed with him also. Jesus' righteousness alone is acceptable to God, and therefore we must fully appropriate his free gift of righteousness which is provided for the covering of all of our sins. This is done by adjusting to God's justice through faithing into Jesus Christ, before the justice of God adjusts to us in judgment. Again, God does all the work, and God gets all the glory. We just choose to adjust, receive, and then benefit.
God did not initially create man with the defect of sin. It remained potential. Sin came about when God put to the test the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. It was a test case for fidelity, and they failed miserably. It was necessary to test them because Satan and one third of the angels of God exercised their free will in rebellion against God already. That is the risk God takes when he is willing to create individuals with free volition. You would not enjoy being in the presence of one very long, who was programmed to do and say everything you wished ad-nauseam! God does not want "automatons" programmed to do his will. He wants those who desire to have a relationship with him of their own free volition -- who will seek to do his revealed will in appreciation for what he has done for them. That has more value. There is no room for syncretism, which is having a god of one's own making. The effects of the disobedience of the first people created are inherited, and propagated in the progeny of all. Fact: the seed of man passes on the indwelling sin nature. (Therefore, of necessity, Jesus had no human father. The flesh of Jesus was of the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit of God himself upon the womb of Mary cf. John 1:14.) Therefore, we all, without exception, have a rebellious sinful nature. Example: does one have to teach a child how to be bad, manipulative, and disobedient? Definitely not! A child misbehaves because it is within the parameters of his inherited inherent sinful human nature. As a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the whole creation groans and travails in suffering together to this day, waiting for its deliverance and the revelation of the offspring of God (Romans 8).
God has made a provision for dealing with this inherent material defect. It is called a spiritual catharsis. When sinless Jesus suffered, and died for us on the cross, all of our sins were future and thus paid for -- one died for all -- once for all time. He was then raised from the dead to prove his sacrifice was accepted by God the Father. (A physical resurrection is harder to pull off than a "spiritual resurrection" that can't be proven.) When one places his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that he paid for our sins, and that God raised him from the dead, he is spiritually cleansed, and a spiritual operation is performed which has lasting results. The indwelling sinful nature is dethroned from his heart, and all of his sins are put under the blood of Christ; for all of our sins were future when Christ was on the cross. God becomes the believer's Father as he becomes born anew from above by God's Holy Spirit: all his past sins are eradicated, and his future sins, which are also forgiven, then become a family matter and are dealt with accordingly. The sinful nature of a lost man is as a monarch on the throne of his heart, calling all the shots in his life. But when the Holy Spirit of God comes in as a result of his faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross for him, this monarch is dethroned, and is no longer in absolute control, though it is still lurking around on the premises, waiting for the chance to "act out" with the man's permission. The renovated man now has the freedom to choose. The tyranny of the indwelling sin nature is broken. The Holy Spirit has taken residence in the believer because the justice of God was satisfied, and now his life is under new management. This is the process you read about in Romans chapters 6, 7 and 8.
Imagine the concept of the eternal, infinite, living God taking residence in you by his Holy Spirit -- awesome! It is Christ in you, the confident expectation of glory! Therefore, we should strive to live like God is in us, because he is. We would not want to misrepresent the power of God to the rest of the world; but we still have our own free will to deal with. With the indwelling Holy Spirit of God in us, our life is under new management. With this newfound freedom from slavery to sin, we now have the ability to, and must, choose daily, even moment by moment, who will now call the shots in our life.
It now has become a matter of volition. Volition is the moderator that allows or disallows the dethroned sinful nature to take over the reins in one's life. God is a gentleman. Though he is the ultimate determining Power with regard to the eternal destiny of each and every individual; he will not force himself on anyone who chooses not to do his will in this life; yet there are consequences to one's disobedience, which becomes maladjustment to God's satisfied justice, thus breaking fellowship with Him. We do not lose our salvation in sinning, as some erroneously teach, else eternal life would not be eternal, but though our relationship always remains the same -- you will always be a child of God -- our fellowship is interrupted until such a time as amends are initiated by the believer through the exercise of 1st John chapter 1 verse 9 -- God's prescribed method of stall recovery. It states that if we continue to confess/admit our sinfulness, God is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins, and to keep on cleansing us from all unrighteousness. Stubborn failure to comply, brings divine discipline to the believer, which is designed to bring him back, or it can result in disastrous consequences when ignored. Consequently, it can even become the sinning unto death. Look at what happened to the high profile Princess Diana. We often hear of the wrath of God, and in our minds picture a peeved deity in the heavens, waiting to pounce on our every infraction; but if that were the case, God would never stop being angered at all the sin in this world which occurs moment by moment in the lives of all of his people. God is perpetually happy. Sin has built in consequences, and when we experience its consequences, we are experiencing the wrath of God. This is not to be confused with his final and conclusive expression of wrath upon the lost world on judgment day. Again, even though a dethroning of the sinful nature in the believer has been performed, it has not been eliminated completely -- it is still lurking around like an inside mole of Satan waiting for an opportunity to manifest itself with your permission.
Now it is your volition which is the deciding factor which will allow or disallow the sinful nature to take over and ruin your life. You now have the ability to freely decide. You choose! Will you be controlled by the sinful nature, or by the Holy Spirit? It is a moment by moment decision, and a life-long struggle that will not end until your body is in the ground and your soul is in heaven with God. That is why the apostle Paul said in Romans 7, "In my flesh dwells a no-good thing." Whenever he wanted to do good, evil was also present. The reason why so many Christians are a shame and reproach to the body of Christ, and such a hindrance and poor testimony of the grace of God for the rest of the world, is that they have not learned how to deal with their sinful nature or to rely upon the power of God to overcome its solicitations which are always constant. The older you get, the stronger the solicitations become; yet by relying on the power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, you can be continuously victorious over it. If we can learn to know ourselves through introspection, and identify the enemy within that we struggle with, we will have an easier time in asserting our volition, and enjoy more time in fellowship with God, and less time out of fellowship and in the wood shed for divine discipline.
Now there are three categories of sins, though they can be divided into two types: overt sins and covert sins -- seen and unseen. They are all manifestations of the indwelling entity we call the old sin nature. Mental attitude sins are of the covert type; outright acts of sin and sins of the tongue are of the overt type. It really is a matter of the hidden vs. the obvious, but they are all sin, and are all equally able to interrupt one's fellowship adjustment to the justice of God. Christians today are heavy mental attitude sinners, so, many are suffering discipline as a result since they are continually dwelling in the realm of carnality.
Category one, mental attitude sins -- under cover, or covert sins: These are the most insidious ones, for they cannot be seen until acted out, and are rarely dealt with as a result. The solicitation of the sin nature to a mental attitude sin can barely be detected by others apart from the manifestation of the overt acts of sin which may come about as a result of such cognitive mental deliberation. All sin has its beginning in the mind, and therefore the battle against sin is won or lost in the mind. Jesus taught that that which enters into a man does not defile the man, but what defiles him comes out of him -- from his heart. He then lists some mental attitude sins which come out of a man's heart (the mind). Therefore, sin begins in the mind, fueled by the old sin nature, which is a mole -- an inside agent that Satan can use to trip you up. We are sinful by nature because we have this mole as an inside agent of Satan residing within each of us which he uses to thwart us in our walk as Christians. There are no exceptions. We all are sinners in need of the grace and the power of God for victory over the world (the external systematic evil order), the flesh (the carnal nature or sin nature), and the Devil (the Adversary or his minions). Although the old sin nature has been dethroned, and no longer has dominion, it can still negatively affect us if we give it permission.
Some mental attitude sins which engender and foster overt acts of sin are: unbelief, self-righteousness, pride, arrogance, approbation lust, anger, hatred, bitterness, vindictiveness, malignity, revenge, resentment, self-pity, worry, fear, cowardice, anxiety, hypocrisy, deceit, guile, greed, covetousness, indifference, negligence, envy, jealousy, implacability, guilt reaction, vain glory, paranoiac evil suspicions, a critically judgmental spirit, imputing bad motives to peoples actions, power lust, selfishness, debauchery, presumptuousness, un-forgiveness, stubbornness, faithlessness, carnal lust, willfulness, condemnation, evil deliberations and creatively inventing evil things. These are some of the many motivating factors which are the root from which spring overt acts of sin which are the fruit. It all begins in your mind. Today, for the most part, Christians have become heavy mental attitude sinners, constantly maladjusted to the justice of God. Their spiritual walk is like going around in a circle with one shoe nailed to the floor. Suffering for divine discipline has become the order of the day as God takes each one out to the woodshed for a spiritual whipping! We bear his name, and he must protect his reputation. I already mentioned Princess Diana. She sinned to death. Because she was such a high-profile example of a Christian, God had to take her out. Everybody knew her. Of course, it was a hit by MI6 to take her out for all the dirt she knew about the royals, but she also was ready to marry and become a Muslim. God had to protect his reputation. This deserved suffering is necessary so that we will not be condemned along with the rest of the world.
The next category is overt acts of sin -- those which are plain and evident to all who have the necessary discernment and perspicacity to identify them as such -- that which is done with the body as an external manifestation of the inward deliberations of the mind. All sin has its beginning in the mind, therefore, it is an imperative to control your thought life by drawing upon the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in order to overcome the solicitations of the old sin nature which are always constant. The scripture says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee." And it also says, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Resident Bible doctrine in your soul serves as an effective deterrent to sin in order that it might not ever get beyond the point of a thought. It gives the Holy Spirit within you something to work with in your consciousness, since your volition is key to success or failure as a Christian. Again, the battle is won or lost in the mind; and thus, it is an imperative that we guard our minds against the daily barrage of adverse and ungodly influences which bombard us daily through our eyes and ears -- the most prominent entrances to our minds. You become what you willingly pursue or look to. 72% of Christians struggle with pornography. Their thought life is a cesspool. Should the Holy Spirit live within a polluted vessel -- a reprobate? As already stated, a principle to remember is that the nature which you feed becomes the strongest and most dominant in your life. If you load up on a daily diet of smut, you'll end up acting and thinking like a lascivious reprobate. Conversely, if you give diligence to a daily intake of the word of God, through Bible reading, and listening to bona fide preaching by sound men of God, you will be able to live a consecrated life which is pleasing to God. The scripture says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is," and "Out of the treasury in a man's heart his mouth speaks." You are the personification of your own thought life. You are as you think, and therefore as you think, so you are, and will act. When you are acting out, your brain is on parade for all with perspicacity to see. Therefore, a tree is known by its fruits.
Some overt acts of sin are: adultery, lasciviousness, incest, uncleanness, fornication, drunkenness, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, theft, murder, foolishness, partying, human motivated good, debauchery, idolatry, divisiveness, wickedness, witchcraft, necromancy, lawlessness, disobedience, insolence, rioting, fighting, embezzlement, fraud, sneakiness, being critical, manipulation, and backsliding through spiritual neglect. These are what many consider to be the sins of ill repute -- the scarlet sins; but the mental attitude sins behind them are the real culprits. These may seem like unpardonable sins to you, but they are no worse than those covert sins which spring from the spawning ground of one's mind. The only difference is that those who perpetrate such travesties as these against God's justice have the courage, stupidity, or boldness, to act upon their mental cogitations, while the wise and cowards can only dream of it. It is the inward deliberations of the sinner's heart that pollutes him initially. Do not be surprised if you see from time to time Christians behaving abominably. A Christian is every bit as capable of heinous sin as a lost person, when he gives his sin nature permission in his heart to carry out the travesties conjured up first in his mind. As such, it is imperative that we feed our minds with healthy input (the garbage in -- garbage out principle) and exercise self-control through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that the harlots and the publicans would enter the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees; for these, in self-righteous judgment and religious pride, looked down upon those who were commoners as the damned of God. But Jesus also said that unless our righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, we ourselves would not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew chapter 5). The scribes and Pharisees were meticulous sticklers for exactly following the letter of the Jewish Law, but this is rejected out of hand by God as human effort attempting to merit favor and gain the approbation of God by good works. Jesus Christ is our righteousness which indeed already exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees in both quality, scope and kind; and by faith, being obedient to Jesus' initial directives, our lives will overtly and covertly exceed in righteousness those of the scribes and Pharisees because Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and his indwelling Holy Spirit governs us. We trust in Christ and are so justified in the eyes of God as his righteousness is set to the credit side of our ledger. Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord. We are to forsake sin and put on Christ through the renovation or renewing of our minds, and put our bodies on the altar as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable, sacrificial service of worship (Romans 12:1, 2). Again: "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is." Christ alone is our "ticket" to heaven, not works of merit. If we fall short attempting to do one letter of the Law, we are guilty of violating the whole of it. Therefore, as Paul admonished the Galatians in chapter five, if we try to be justified by the 613 works of the Law of Moses, Christ will be of no use to us at all. We would be then obligated to obey the whole Law, which no one is really able to do. We are not saved by works of the (Old Testament) Law of Moses. We must repudiate our works of human righteousness which are unacceptable to God for justification, and come to God for the acceptable righteousness which alone is freely given us in Jesus Christ alone. Then we do good in gratitude for what he has done for us as Christ remains our fulfillment and satisfaction of the requirements, sacrifices and letter the Law of Moses, and the covering of our imperfections and shortfalls as we get our feet dirty going through this world, and we are rewarded both in time and eternity for choosing that good. Thank God for his saving grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.
All sin is equally bad in the eyes of God, and all sins are equally able to send the unregenerate to hell, and also the regenerate to the divine woodshed. Many Christians are suffering today in unprecedented numbers, but by far, most of it is suffering for divine discipline for chronic maladjustment to the justice of God. In other words, they fail to stay adjusted, and to keep their sin accounts short with God, through the regular utilization of 1st John 1:9. Their lack of confession of sin has them in the divine wood shed getting a whipping. Are you enduring undeserved suffering for future blessing, or suffering deserved divine discipline as a child of God? Better check up on your thought life and your resultant conduct. "There is presently therefore no divine discipline/condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who are habitually maintaining a walk, not according to carnality (as the seat of passion and frailty), but according to spirituality (which is the will of God); For the principle of spiritual life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2.) You can discern the difference by this: Suffering for blessing is bearable because of the special grace afforded the believer by the Holy Spirit for his glorification of God -- the privilege of suffering for blessing is exclusively that of believers who are mature in the Faith; but suffering for divine discipline -- it is unbearable. Only two percent of all Christianity qualifies for the privilege of undeserved suffering for the glory of God. They have reached greater grace status (James 4:6), and can be trusted by God to maintain their fellowship adjustment to the justice of God, and to protect his reputation before both principalities and powers, and a lost and perishing world.
Job was such a one (Old Testament). He was totally unaware of the dialogue concerning him between the Lord God and Satan. And when he was afflicted, even his miserable wretched wife told him to curse God and die; but he said, "He knows the way that I take, and when I am tried, I shall come forth as gold," and, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him." Job knew that he was being tested. God knew him, that he could be consistently trusted because of what he was before God; and Job knew his God. Job had such awe and respect for God that he even sacrificed on the behalf of his children lest that at any time they might have cursed God in their hearts. All that he had lost as a result was restored to him ten-fold for passing the test. Suffering for blessing is good for the believer though most people will naturally decline the discomfort.
There is also undeserved suffering that comes about as a result of the sins of other people. Freedom and free volition comes with cost, risk and affect. Some of the worst crimes in the world have come about when people have exercised free will without responsibility. Nobody merely sins unto themselves alone. All our sins affect other people in some way and to a certain degree. The sins of Hitler negatively affected many millions of people in many ways. It is like the butterfly effect where some say a flutter of wings here eventually causes a typhoon across the globe. No man ever sins unto himself alone. Our sins will most certainly cause grief and heartache, not only to the Holy Spirit, but also in those around us whom we influence. I know a man whose controlling, narcissistic, egomaniacal Christian wife of twenty years had an illicit affair. She subsequently divorced him with the intent of destroying him because she self-righteously refused any of the blame for failure herself, and this ruined and obliterated their once healthy, happy and prosperous Christian home. He had been studying for the ministry, but this immediately precluded him from serving in that capacity. He had to file bankruptcy twice, first seven and then thirteen, to deal with the catastrophic losses incurred during the course of the three-year court battle. He finally won a no-fault divorce decree which cleared his name of her many false allegations, levied because she, though guilty, wanted him to support her for life with alimony: and the only winners were the lawyers who had attained all that they had left remaining. He lost his wife, his home, his retirement account, his good name, his children, his flawless credit rating, his dream, his ambition, his job of sixteen years, his self-esteem, his self-confidence and self-respect, and he eventually fell victim to severe chronic depression, persistent anxiety and mood disorder over the abysmal failure that his life had become as a result of this woman's hatred and ire. Â He since has learned to forgive and even love his enemy, even after all that she has done and continues to do against him. Your sins affect other people. Christian love demands that we do not sin against one another. Christian love is a self-sacrificial loving- care which seeks the highest good of others without any expectation of return. I Corinthians 13 is the love chapter.
Now, going back to the subject of overt acts of sin, some present-day controversy needs to be touched on. With regard to capital punishment, war, and God's orders to utterly destroy the Canaanites: "Thou shalt not kill" is a mistranslation of the original Hebrew text of the ten commandments. It should be translated: "Thou shalt not do murder" (which is the taking of a human life with premeditated malice.) The misconception is that a loving God would never want such a thing as an execution, or a war. Those who espouse such a "phoolosophy" do not know God or his word. What they are badly in need of is a paradigm shift. God gave the Canaanites plenty of time (400 years) until the measure of their sins was full, and Israel was used as his instrument of judgment against them after their exodus from Egypt, even as he used the Babylonians against the Israelites in divine discipline later. The love of God towards the lost is impersonal, and is extended through common grace -- food, air, security, etc. God's love to believers is personal, since the sacrifice of Christ enables him to so love. The love of God is a loving-care which seeks the highest good of the object. It is subject love based upon the character and qualities of the one doing the loving, directed towards an object, the qualities and characteristics of that object being of no consequence. The love of God is always directional. Killing the enemy is biblical. It is love directed towards those being defended, and against those who are wronging them. The Canaanites, in need of judgment, would have, and did, pollute the purity of God's people because God's people were not decisive in dealing with them in obedience to the word of God. Love is directional. In war, killing the enemy is designed to seek the highest good of those who are being defended against the aggressor. The same principle holds in self-defense. The taking of a life in the defense of yourself and your loved ones is legitimate and bona fide, and well within the parameters of the principle of God's love. By doing nothing you would fail love in allowing harm to come to your family and loved ones. Carrying out justice by means of execution is also a bona fide practice, and unimpeded, serves as an effective deterrent against the predatory practices of incorrigible criminals. Love is directional. Law provides for seeking the highest good of society in eradicating the scourge of the criminal element. This has its origins in the word of God as a principle of government. Those who protest the execution of criminals are acting in ignorance.
Another unconscionable act of murder -- the taking of human life with premeditated malice -- is the contraceptive infanticide of the abortion industry; for life begins at conception. Abortion stops a beating heart. The same people who cry, "Save the whales!" also say, "Kill the babies." Why is one species to be preferred and chosen over another? Why can they be so moved with compassion towards the creatures of nature, and yet be so cold-hearted towards their own offspring. This is beyond me, and it can only be explained in the context of their being judicially given over to a reprobate mind by God -- a mind void of discernment -- filled to the brim with error and evil -- because they turned thumbs down to a knowledge of God, (cf. Romans 1:18-28). They are either deceived through the indoctrination of those who actively promote such hostility towards our own, or they are handed over to their own depravity by God in the context of judicial blinding. The insanity of Snowflakes and Liber-tards comes to mind. It is called "Volitional Immutability" (Romans 1:18-32; 2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12; 2nd Corinthians 4:4; Romans 9:14-18). God has sent them strong delusion so that they should believe lies, because they had not a love for the truth. God also passively hardens by allowing hardened hearts to steel themselves against him. This is judicial blinding and hardening according to foreknowledge.
The latest thing now is to refer to the fetus as a thing that imposes itself upon the woman -- invades her body -- but this can only be an act of volition. A fetus is incapable of imposition and invasion because it has no active volition. If a fetus can exercise its will in imposition and invasion, then I will also believe in Santa Claus. What God has ordained as natural human procreation and a blessing, women have distorted into a "bane" against profligate wanton sexual license. They want free love without the attendant responsibility that goes with it. Margaret Thatcher once said that the most hideous crimes that have been committed in history have been by those who exercised their free will without responsibility. In the evangelical letter of Mathetes to Diognetes, AD 130, in chapter 5 he says referring to Christians: "They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not cast out their fetuses" (From: Scribner's Ante Nicene Fathers, 1921 Charles Scribner's Sons, Chicago, New York, Boston).
The judgment of God is evident, even in this, with the impending failure of the Medicare System, the Social Security System, failing gross national product, the trade imbalance and the out of control, spiraling deficits incurred by our government; all because we have aborted our taxpayer base, our Social Security pool, our productivity base, those who might have found the cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, invented new things for man's good -- a holocaust of sixty million human beings in America alone who could have been productive contributors to the well-being of the whole world, wasted in a garbage can, torn apart in partial birth abortion in the third trimester -- even to the final week of delivery so that their organs can be harvested. Don't they feel pain? Don't their hearts stop beating? Don't they bleed? If they had a chance to breathe they would cry. They will be waiting for us in heaven as those saved because they had not reached the age of accountability, wanting to know why? Was it for money? Many would gladly pay to take the infant as their own. Was it for convenience? Since when does a parent's convenience outweigh a child's right to live? Was it because of fear? It is not an uncommon occurrence among women of all ages to give birth to a child. Family planning? Since when do we tell God when to bless us with a child? Choice? Choose to stay out of the sack if a pregnancy is not wanted! We are bound to be held responsible for our actions! America is as guilty as Mao Se Tung, Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Just because it is legal, that doesn't make it moral.
Category three sins, also overtly manifested, are sins of the tongue: gossiping, backbiting, maligning, criticizing, tale-bearing, whispering, censoriousness, slander, false accusation, lying, mockery, indictment, blasphemy, misleading, judging, bantering, boasting, and cutting others down in order to build one's self up.
In the New Testament, the epistle of James deals with the effects of the tongue, likening it to a tiny spark that ignites a great forest fire. It is a small member of our body, but it sure can cause a lot of damage. He states that any man that gives no offense in word is a mature man, and is able also to control his whole body. This means that we should start by controlling what springs to life in our minds, and then what is tempted to come out of our mouths. All sins of the tongue are the result of mental attitude sins which occur first in the mind. Again, the battle against sin is won or lost in the mind. Bible principles in your soul will help you think as God thinks, and then you will be able to resist the solicitations of the sinful nature to sin with the lips, which are always constant. You will then have what you need to live a controlled life which is pleasing to God, and to be a suitable witness to the world around you by the life that you live, and the words that you speak.
Herein lies the key to the elusive utopia men have been seeking for millennia. If everybody could be saved, and master the monster within, this world would be so much a better place.
Being controlled by the Holy Spirit -- you will be surprised at what peace you will have -- not having to look over your shoulder, cover your tracks, or remember what lies that you told in order to remain consistent-like. Be honest, up front, sincere, forthright, a person of integrity, desiring to please your Lord as your motivation. Bear the fruit of the Spirit and you will have your rewards; you will be able to fulfill that scripture of the Bible which says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
If anything, get the relationship between covert sinning and overt sinning: hatred begets murder; covetousness begets theft or even adultery; a lack of self-control begets drunkenness; pride begets boasting; arrogance makes one unteachable; resentment begets character assassination; a party spirit sows discord; on and on the list can go -- but I think now, you should be able to make the connections.
Now there is a fourth category of "sins" which are not necessarily sin, but which could possibly lead to sin if not handled with discretion. These are called taboos, or more accurately, illegitimate prohibitions. Taboos are norms and standards inculcated in one's soul which are not necessarily sin, yet which have been cultivated as such by many evangelists for creating guilt trips and illegitimate pressures of accountability in order to bring about tabulated results which will promote them to their next speaking engagement. Taboos can be a "point system" with God wherein many feel that God is impressed with them by what they do or do not do. It is a sign of Christian immaturity, because God is not impressed with what we do or do not do; God is only impressed with his Son, and he wants us to be impressed with him too. Also, God is more keenly interested in what we are -- not so much in what we do; for if what we are is right, then what we do will be right, and God will then be properly glorified in our lives.
Taboos are illegitimate prohibitions because they are not necessarily forbidden in the Bible -- God's written and revealed will -- our standard and guide for practice and conduct. They are man-made prohibitions -- much like the multitudinous prohibitions and precepts imposed by the Pharisees upon the Law and culture of their day -- man-made embellishments on the word of God which have no validity or support; and Jesus rebuked them for this evil work in no uncertain terms. They made of the 613 Laws of Moses over 6,000 precepts to follow, where Christ has made of them only two: Love God and your neighbor as yourself.
Today illegitimate prohibitions are attitudes like, "I don't smoke -- I don't chew -- and I don't go with the ones who do!"
This is self-righteous legalism in the first degree! Tobacco use may be bad taste -- poor judgment -- but it is not sin because it does not violate the justice of God, and it is not directly prohibited in the scriptures. "Destroying the body" of Christ in context refers to persecution of believers unto death, not the chemical poisoning of ourselves.
But one may say that it is the destruction of the temple of the Holy Spirit; well, what about caffeine, or bleached flour, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives? These can be linked to cancer. Valium is the Christian's "alcohol!" What about that? You see, it is a matter of subjectivity, where we pick and choose in a self-imposed point system created by men in order to supposedly impress God. But God is only impressed with his Son, who was the visible manifestation of himself to the world; and that isn't narcissism -- merely a statement of the facts.
You see, in the Christian life the truth always lies between two extremes -- (in this matter, total abstinence vs. overindulgence). Charles Haddon Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers, yet he smoked cigars all of his life, and fought bouts of depression many of his days. G. Campbell Morgan wrote textbooks for seminaries, still in use today, yet he was refused the opportunity to speak at Moody because he smoked cigarettes. The list of victims is legion.
Other illegitimate prohibitions include: no playing cards, no gambling, no dancing, don't shoot pool, don't go to the movies, though today, that might be a good idea; don't wear makeup, don't wear jewelry, no bathing suits, don't drink alcohol -- yes, don't drink alcohol -- as if we were more righteous than Jesus!
At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee Jesus turned the water into wine. The Greek word used is -- "oinos" -- the first of his many miracles. The master of ceremonies who tasted it sure knew what wine was. It sure wasn't grape-juice! The apostle Paul told his understudy, Timothy, to take a little wine for his stomach's sake, and his oft infirmities. Proper rendering of this wedding passage reveals that Jesus made abundant provision for those wedding guests after they were already wasted.
The Lord Jesus Christ used wine at the last supper. Are we supposedly more righteous than him because we use grape-juice instead? Yet pastors all over America impose their personal prejudice, subjective bias and dogmatic prepossessions upon their flocks every time they take communion! It appears to be a hangover from the days of prohibition peculiar to the American Christian; but people will find a way -- and they did -- considering all of the contraband the authorities had to deal with in those days when legislated spiritual self-righteousness was the order of the day. If you turn to the Old Testament -- Deuteronomy chapter fourteen, verse twenty-six -- it says that those who were too far from Jerusalem were to take their offering and turn it into money: "use it to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, WINE, STRONG DRINK, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice." The Lord would never give a charge to do anything that would violate his justice, so if this were sin they would not have been instructed to do so. I am sorry if any take issue with this, but I must proclaim the whole counsel of God, and expose error.
So again, the truth lies between two extremes. On the one hand, you have the self-righteous legalist with clogged arteries dying of a heart attack, and imposing his illegitimate prohibitions upon his fellow man, and on the other, you have the man who is in a drunken stupor, endangering himself and others, not being controlled by the Spirit, but by the "spirits." Both extremes are wrong. Moderation in all things is acceptable. Table wine was a staple of the middle east because potable water was in short supply. The custom of wine with a meal is still practiced today among European Christians and Jews. Europeans eat a high-fat diet as we do, yet have fewer heart problems because they have wine with their meals. Teetotalism is strictly an American thing -- a "hangover" from the days of prohibition (pun intended), but not an issue in the rest of Christendom.
Now I would be remiss if I were not to mention the rest of the admonitions of the Bible which warn of overindulgence, or crossing the boundaries of love towards one's fellow man. If you have a problem with alcohol, or gambling, or anything else, then by all means abstain from the practices. The aim of Christianity on earth is to seek the highest good of others, and their salvation and peace. If the practice of your legitimate liberty in Christ were to cause an immature believer to stumble into the sin of indiscretion, or overindulgence, then by all means refrain from exercising your right in his presence. Paul said he would not eat meat or drink wine as long as the world stands if it meant offending his brother in Christ (Romans 14; 1st Corinthians 8 and 10). This offense has no reference to those who ought to be mature and know better, but there are always those who grow old in the Lord without growing up in the Lord. They are the mature Christian's bane, and God's headache.
We as believers have three laws to consider: The law of liberty, where you are entitled to indulge in certain practices not directly prohibited in scripture;
The law of love, where in all we do we are to consider the highest good of our brother or sister in Christ by not doing anything in their presence to make them unwittingly stumble into sin;
And the law of expediency, where we do not adversely influence or offend the lost by what we do in their presence by misrepresenting Jesus Christ.
All things are lawful for the Spirit controlled believer, for what he does will be motivated by his love and appreciation for God; yet all things are not necessarily expedient for the believer, for he must always consider the highest good of others. Christianity is the return of the age of conscience. This is one of the reasons why the religious crowd rejected Christ so vehemently. They were not used to the idea of thinking for themselves. In the volitional exercise of love, we make free-will choices of eternal significance, and accept the responsibility, and yes, rewards, for doing them.
These principles, of course, are tempered by the knowledge that some people will be offended no matter what you do. Christians who have grown old in the Lord, yet have not grown up in the Lord should not be allowed to impose their acquired, legalistic, illegitimate prohibitions and false doctrines upon others, and they have no excuse for taking offense at another's legitimately enjoyed liberty. They should know better. Many people are opposed to Christianity. That does not mean then that we are to refrain from practicing our faith in their presence just because they do not like it. For example, Muslims: they hate and murder Christians and Jews because they are commanded to do so in their holy book. What part of the Islamic war against America do we not understand? Therefore, it is not un-American to stop Muslim immigration -- it is self-preservation. Given the tenets of the Muslim faith stated in the Quran and their Haddith -- the mandate to conquer the world, kill all opposing infidel dissenters, lie to their intended targets in order to establish Sharia Law -- self-preservation is in high order. When our founding fathers framed the U.S. Constitution, Islam was on the other side of the world. Now it's in Dearborn, Michigan! They never even dreamed that it would someday come here and rear its ugly head. After 200 years of "give me your huddled masses," here it is. We are headed for a constitutional crisis of monumental proportions. If Muslims are allowed to practice their freedom of religion under the U.S. Constitution, it will mean our end. Freedom of religion regarding Islam necessarily requires the destruction of the American way of life. Sharia Law is designed to displace the Constitution and establish itself as the law of the land. The Islamic culture when practiced correctly, and the Western culture, are far too different to coexist peacefully. Peaceful Muslims are either being deceptive, or do not know their own book very well. When the Imam of any established mosque gives the order to go militant, they are obligated to obey, or suffer the fate of an infidel. Muslims only tolerate their host nation's laws until they can out-populate, overrun, or war it into submission. We have established Muslim no-go zones -- neighborhoods where the police do not even venture to go. Look at the mess in Europe! That is the nature of Sharia Law. Muslims do not assimilate into society. Wherever they go they displace the population to grow the territory they control. A Christian Representative Constitutional Republic and Islam are fundamentally incompatible and diametrically opposed to one another. Rick Warren's "Chrislam" is a joke. The Pope's "Together" movement is a deceptive sham! Really, as with the previous administration, the ordering of government oversight entities to stand down, the demanding of illusory political correctness, the giving of preferential treatment by our government, and the widespread promotion of the Muslim faith in our educational institutions are destroying this nation from within. Trump has the right idea. Forbid the establishment of Sharia Law. We must stop the influx of those who espouse the radical fundamentals of Islam now while the damage is manageable. Stop the lies and deception now, or America will fall from the annals of history with barely a whimper, and our way of life will be a distant memory. We can kiss our Christian asses goodbye. You can try to coexist with Muslims, but do not allow them to control you. You have rights under heaven as well.
As a matter of fact, civil disobedience is called for in situations where the dictates of man and government conflict with the laws of God; as it is written, "Let God be true, and every man a liar." When Antichrist comes, Christianity may be outlawed, even as it was being extinguished in the Middle East by ISIS. Many will practice their faith despite the dictates of such a one or such people. Of course, in normal circumstances, though, Christians should "Obey every legitimate ordinance of government for the Lord's sake," letting the chips fall where they may. People who know how to lead, first learned how to follow. Good leaders are made -- not born. Show me someone who has respect for legitimate, bona fide authority, and I'll show you one who is capable of being a good leader -- because he has humility. It takes humility to be teachable. It takes humility to learn from those who know more than we do. It takes humility to be moldable by the One who made us. It takes humility to recognize our desperate need which only God can fulfill. Arrogance is the enemy of every person on this earth who is in need of God's unmerited favor. Arrogance will keep you from accepting God's provision for your salvation. Humility is not humiliation, but a true assessment of one's low estate before God. It is written: "Fortunate are those submissive to the Spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs alone," Matthew 5:3 correctly translated.
Trends of the Sinful Nature
Now, we have seen how sinful mankind can be. What now needs to be examined is the trends factor of the sinful nature which is so much a part of every one of us.
The sinful nature of man has two basic trends which are manifested in its function: lasciviousness and asceticism. People basically fall into either one of these two categories, sometimes exhibiting a combination of the two, one or the other being more dominant.
The ascetic type of person will generally gravitate toward abstinence from substance abuse, tend to stay out of trouble, and basically appear to be a good person by societies standards. But in this is the deceptiveness of the sinful nature. The sinful nature will generally have this type of person deceived into thinking that he is all right -- he is good enough to get into heaven by his own merits -- and will tend to be very philanthropic in his interests and activities. Everyone will have a good opinion of him which will usually end up being the driving force behind his perception of himself.
This type of person can be very unnerving as well -- and a bane to the those who fit into the other category -- for the most prominent manifestation exhibited by him is a tendency towards legalism, Pharisee-ism, being self-righteous and judgmental in criticism of others, and having a general intolerance for persons of the other type. This ascetic trend is known as the strength side of the sinful nature, because, for all intents and purposes, it appears to demonstrate a form of "godliness" which seems acceptable to the untrained observer. But under knowledgeable scrutinizing examination it falls short when one considers the motivational factor. It is not only a matter of what you do, but also why you do what you do. If one practices righteousness because he has been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, loves God, and seeks to do his will in appreciative obedience to his directives, this motivation is acceptable to God. If one seeks to glorify self, impress others, and impress God, this is unacceptable.
The person who possesses the lascivious trend is usually very easy to identify. This type of person is usually involved in some kind of sexual escapade, tends to overindulge in abusive substances, and is generally on operation play around all of the time. Eat, drink, tie one on and be merry -- party till you die! Usually despised by the self-righteous and embraced by fellows of like disposition, this type will self-destruct if allowed to do so. This tendency is viewed as the weakness side of the sinful nature due to a flagrant lack of self-control. It is also harder for this type of person to resist the solicitations of their fleshly sinful nature due to the fact that their trend relates mainly to the appetites of their body.
As stated earlier, either type of person can exhibit the tendencies of the other at times, but will generally operate within the area of their basic "weakness" or "strength" when out of fellowship with God. The self-righteous person could on occasion hop in the sack with somebody, and the indulgent person might do a good job of resisting temptation from time to time. But all persons fall into either one or both of these categories. There are no exceptions. Knowing this, and discovering your trend, will help tremendously in your pursuit of Godliness. Self-examination takes humility, and a willingness to do something about it, and it takes vigilance and fortitude for control. You will discover your area of weakness and better be able to identify and resist the tendency of your old sin nature -- the flesh -- and avoid those things and circumstances which will tend to trip you up. The Devil knows what will turn your head, and he will make sure of that. Once you know your trend, the battle is half-way won in your pursuit of righteousness.
Always remember this: your trend will be with you the rest of your life. You can resist it successfully as you submit to the control of the Holy Spirit. But if you fall into temptation and succumb to sin, you will be maladjusted to the justice of God, and as a result, out of fellowship with him, and will naturally gravitate back towards your trend, thus opening the door to chain-sinning. If you catch yourself exhibiting your trend, then it is most likely that this has already happened to you because you are no longer under the control of the Holy Spirit, but under the dictates of the sinful nature. This is what happened to me when I backslid for three years when I didn't know any better. If you catch yourself sinning, don't wait. Immediately do 1st John 1:9 to get back on track after such a derailment. Confess/Admit your sinfulness to God, sins will be forgiven, fellowship will be restored, and you will again be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Damages caused by a lapse or a failure do not always go away, and they can become greater the longer you stay out of fellowship.
With God, there are two kinds of righteousness, the imputed righteousness of Christ which is what saves you -- Christ is our righteousness -- and the practical righteousness which we learn and practice as a result of learning and applying ourselves to God's will and Bible doctrine over a lifetime. The processes involved are called positional sanctification and progressive sanctification. Positional is Christ's imputed righteousness set to the credit side of your ledger by God when you accepted Jesus Christ in faith as your Savior and Lord; progressive is your improving daily walk with God as you learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ with spiritual maturity as your ultimate goal in becoming more like him over time. God has not called us to pass judgment on one another, but to seek one another's highest good as we help each other attain to this objective. Walk in the light that you have. Don't try to change others; leave that up to God, for he is able to do so. They will walk in the light that they have been given, and you set a good example by your obedience to the will of God for you. You cannot "will" not to sin apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, for that is against human nature. The Pin-Oak Tree is the only northern deciduous tree which keeps its dead leaves through the winter. In the spring, when the sap begins to flow, the dead leaves are pushed off, making room for new growth. We do not pluck off our own sins like dead leaves in order to become righteous, but as we yield to the penetrating "sap" of the Holy Spirit within us, our old sins drop off like dead leaves, and are replaced with new living growth -- and we even produce fruit. This is the work of God by the power of his Holy Spirit indwelling every believer faithing into Jesus Christ.
Now we'll look at handling our sins. It is written in scripture, "If we keep on confessing our sinfulness (to God), he is faithful and just to keep on forgiving our sinfulness, and to keep on cleansing us from all unrighteousness." (1st John 1:9 grammatically correct). The name of the game is to keep your accounts with God short. The fact that this verse exists implies that we will need to use it. When we accidentally or willfully sin against God as believers -- and we will -- its human nature to err or presume -- our fellowship with God is impeded and interrupted because we are then maladjusted to the satisfied justice of God and therefore not controlled by his indwelling Holy Spirit; for he cannot have fellowship with, condone or gloss over sin. Therefore, God has provided us with a method of stall-recovery, called confession and repentance. Its mere existence indicates that we will find it necessary to utilize it. To repent of your sin means to have a change of mind and heart with corresponding conduct, such as turning around and forsaking that sin. Confession of sin restores fellowship with God, and the enabling power of his Holy Spirit. The Greek word "homologeo" means to say the same thing. We agree with God that we indeed do sin. When fellowship is broken by sin you are then controlled by your sinful nature and can't help but sin, and chain sinning can result; so, to stop this progression you must realize it, repent of it, and confess it to God. Fellowship is then restored, and you are again controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God. He never leaves you nor forsakes you, but merely sits down and lets you have your way until you break the chain of events of your own accord, or ensuing divine discipline burns your britches enough, straightens you out, and puts you in your place. God can't change the circumstances we create in such a state, but can make things right again to his glory afterwards. He works all things for our good. Sin has consequences in this life that are sometimes unalterable. When we first believe, we are cleansed from all sins, past, present, and future, right there on the spot. But as we walk through this world we will get our feet dirty on the way, thus necessitating the above maintenance program of daily confession and repentance. Remember to keep your accounts short with God; don't let sins pile up. Confession can be immediate -- even as we catch ourselves gossiping about somebody behind their back. Don't wait until prayer time. You can do it quietly in your head on the spot. God hears your mental confession. When you observe carnal Christians living abominably, keep this in mind: they either were never taught these doctrines, or they have become careless in their walk with God.
The advantage to being constantly controlled by the Spirit of God is in what is called the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). This is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering endurance, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control -- in other words, immense capacity for life. When you have all these things operating in your life, you will know for sure that you have been born again, and are being controlled by the Spirit of God. The inner peace and joy is addicting in a good way. Their absence will let you know that you need to adjust. Every believer is a priest with the vertical priesthood function of direct access to the throne of God. When you pray to God he hears you, and you can be assured that he will always act in your best interest. All of your other functions are horizontally directed towards others as ambassadors of heaven, and rely upon the exercise of your vertical priesthood function.
Spiritual growth is a life-long process, with many ups and downs. All believers are at different stages in their growth at any given time; But God will make all things work out in the end according to his purpose and will for our lives. Imagine the honor and privilege of being a useful tool in the hand of the Almighty God, serving him in gratitude for all that he has done for you. Constantly maintaining your fellowship with him will be the way to guarantee your rapid spiritual advancement and readiness for his present and future use and leading. It is also a good way to show him that you love him. Therefore, do not be discouraged if and when you fall. Just repent, confess, get up, brush yourself off and keep on walking. This is what babies do, and what God expects of you in being able to handle your sins. God is a God of second chances, third, fourth, etc. He is in the business of recovery. Again, babies fall about 300 times while learning to walk. If we sin 70 x 7 and repent and confess, we will be forgiven; God expects this of us, and lives by the same policy; but if we do not forgive others their shortcomings against us, we cannot expect to be forgiven by God until we do. That is not works salvation, but a reality. God's fairness requires this. You were redeemed -- bought out of the slave market of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ -- never to be put up for sale again. You are now a precious possession of God; you are not your own; you were bought with a price -- the precious blood of his Son. Now it is time act like it. Now that you know how, guard and maintain your fellowship adjustment to the justice of God. The lost are to adjust to the justice of God in saving faith, before the justice of God adjusts to them in judgment. We are to adjust to the justice of God in confession of sin, before the justice of God adjusts to us in divine discipline.
The Ideal of Walking in the Spirit
One must admit that all of the demands of New Testament living are a tall order to fill. Humanly speaking, do you have enough human grit to perform all of the Bible's admonishments to integrity, and avoid all of the trappings of unrighteousness with which one can become entangled? Do you have a lot of "sweat equity" in your Christian walk? Are you walking a "tight-rope" Christianity? We must agree that the Christian life is an impossibility. It is impossible to live it in the energy of the flesh. Only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, can anyone hope to enter into its fulfillment.
Happily, the key to success is nestled neatly within a passage of scripture from the pen of the apostle Paul. "Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit." Don't be controlled by the "spirits," but conversely, be controlled by the (Holy) Spirit. "Be filled" is a second person plural present passive imperative -- linear action. The present tense means it is to be on-going. In the passive voice, you receive it. Being an imperative, it is a command. Jesus said, "If you love me, do my commandments." If you love Jesus, then you will demonstrate that love in obedience. Never mind that it came from the pen of the apostle Paul; Paul had the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is "Christ in us, the confident expectation of glory." The Holy Spirit is Christ, and Christ is the Holy Spirit. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and Christ was God manifested in the flesh, as indicated in the Jewish feast of tabernacles, or booths. God is manifested in three persons. The Holy Spirit, and therefore, Jesus, via the pen of Paul, was God in the flesh indicating this command. "You all be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit."
The present tense demonstrates continuous linear action. "Be ye continually filled with the Spirit." The passive voice indicates that you receive the filling. "Keep on being filled with the Spirit." "Keep on keeping on being continually filled with the Spirit." You choose; you decide, moment by moment, day by day. You have been set free from slavery to the sin nature so that you can. It is not like you are empty and need a filling. The word for filled means controlled. Be controlled by the Spirit. That is what we are commanded.
Volition is the moderator that allows or disallows the indwelling entity of the sinful nature to take control. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will step aside from the throne of your heart when you determine to act out in sin and allow the embodiment of the entity of the sinful nature to occur using your body parts. This is what the Bible calls yielding your members. You choose. Will you be controlled by the old sin nature? or the Holy Spirit? You decide moment by moment, day by day. With practice, you can learn to identify the promptings and warnings of the Holy Spirit who dwells within every sanctified believer. It is God/Christ in you -- the down-payment of your eternal life, and the confident expectation of future glory. By heeding his signals, you can live the Christian life with good success, and avoid living out your Christian life where most believers dwell -- in default. You will accrue eternal rewards for obedience, and avoid divine discipline for disobedience.
You are to keep on being filled with the Spirit, when you are washing the dishes, or cleaning your car, or eating your dinner, or taking a shower -- it is not just for Church, or only when you are doing spiritual things. It is to govern your life by the moment in order that you may fulfill the command of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is your position of strength for making good decisions. If you do not comply with this command you are walking in the flesh, or carnal nature, fulfilling its lusts, desires, and passions -- yielding your members. You are then out of fellowship with God, are in a position of weakness, and are walking in disobedience. Walking in disobedience causes self-induced misery due to bad decisions made from a position of weakness, and opens the door for deserved divine suffering for discipline, which is geared to steer you to repentance and the utilization of 1st John 1:9, thereby channeling you back in line. Stay filled with the Holy Spirit, and you will avoid the unpleasant experience of grieving the Holy Spirit and going to the divine woodshed. Choose to continually stay filled with the Spirit and you will not fulfill the sinful lusts of the flesh/carnal nature. It is addicting in a good way.
Galatians 5:16-18: "This I say then, keep on habitually walking (present imperative -- a command) in the Spirit, and you cannot at all fulfill (1st aorist active subjunctive) the lusts of the flesh; for the flesh earnestly desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (cf. James 4:5): and these are contrary to one another so that you cannot do the (sinful) things that you would. But if you allow yourself to be continually led by the Spirit, you are not under Law (The Law of Moses)."
Law is for those who cannot control the carnal passions and desires and their propensity for evil. Law, with its inherent penalties, acts as a restrainer when the Restrainer is not restraining. Law is for the natural man. The natural man cannot receive the things of God; for they are foolishness to him. But to those who love God, and are the called according to his purpose, the filling of the Spirit makes Law unnecessary, for the Spirit himself acts as a restrainer and guide. "Keep on walking -- having your habitual manner of conduct -- in the control of the Holy Spirit, and you will not at all fulfill the passions and desires of the carnal nature."
Paul says in Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh (the inner entity of the carnal nature) are evident, which are these: adultery, fornication, impurity, a wanton unrestrained appetite, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, contention, jealousy, wrath, strife, seditions, self-seeking ambitions, envies, murders, drunkenness, rioting, and such like, of which I presently tell you, as I have also told you in time past, that they which habitually practice such things as a way of life shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Other comprehensive lists of works of the flesh, or the carnal nature, can be found in Romans 1:18-32, and First Corinthians 5:1-13, and First Corinthians 6:1-11.
If and when you find yourself demonstrating any of the preceding works of the carnal nature, rest assured that either you have never been saved, or you are temporarily under the control of your old sin nature. You are out of fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit has stepped aside until by an act of your volition, you decide to allow God to control your life by his Holy Spirit again. You cannot will to live the Christian life in the energy of the flesh. You cannot imitate the control of the Holy Spirit. All you might be able to do in the flesh is to put your church face on for about an hour each Sunday. The only way to regain the control of the Holy Spirit is to do 1st John 1:9: "If we keep on confessing our sinfulness (to God) he is just and faithful to keep on forgiving our sinfulness, and he keeps on cleansing us from all unrighteousness." This is how you can jump-start your Christian walk after a stumble into carnality. It is the first step to assure control by God's Holy Spirit. We all sin every day. So, the trick is to humble yourself and confess -- keep your accounts short with God. Don't allow sin to build up where chain-sinning occurs and you enter into the phase of divine discipline. Have you ever wondered why there is so much sickness and suffering in the Church today? Most Christians are carnal, and living out their spiritual lives in default. They have no understanding of our present subject.
Of course, it is also a work of the flesh to try to live the Christian life merely by human "grit." It is impossible. It cannot be done. By it you are out of control and out of the will of God. The Pharisees did, and many Christians do today, live their lives by the strength side of their sinful nature (self-righteousness) by doing good, and acting religious, and putting on their "church face," but if you cross them, they'll bite you as sure as a Rottweiler. That is because they have no genuine self-control. They have a pseudo-self-control that is easy to maintain for the duration of a church service. Genuine Holy Spirit self-control is tolerant and enduring. Pray to God that you may develop the perspicacity to learn the difference.
Paul says in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against which there is no law."
First note that the word "fruit" is in the singular. This means that, in contradistinction to the multitude of fleshly violations against God's holiness and righteousness, there is only one fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, when you are being controlled by the Holy Spirit, all nine of the above qualities will be present -- not five, not seven -- all nine. Second: they do not have to be learned, practiced or developed: they will occur naturally when you are under the Spirit's control. Third: they will be conspicuous by their absence -- a dead giveaway that you have crossed over the line into carnality. You will wonder where your love, joy and peace went to -- that which you have become addicted to -- when they are missing from your heart. Exercise 1st John 1:9 and get back under control. Fourth: there is no law against these qualities. There are plenty of laws against the works of the flesh (cf. Romans chapter 7).
Paul also says in Galatians 5:24, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts (cf. Romans chapter 6)." Our old man is crucified with Christ, so that it is no longer we that live, but Christ living in and through us. We put to death the old man and we cultivate the new.
Paul further says in Galatians 5:25, "Since we live (have eternal life) in the Spirit, let us also habitually walk (have our manner of living) in the Spirit (cf. Romans chapter 8)." The Spirit controlled life is the best way to live. May God bless your life with the reality of these truths.
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