Who am I to tell anyone else how to act? Nobody! But, I have had much experience at being asked a question which is directed quite often at those who claim to be born again. From the minute you accept Jesus into your heart, other people and sometimes your own self, will ask the question; Now is that anyway for a Christian to act? Or anyone of many variations of the same question.
Many times I have asked myself how I could claim to be saved yet think, do, and or say the kind of things which I thought, said, and did. Many times and sometimes for long periods of time I have questioned my salvation for that very reason.
On one occasion I spent several days questioning my salvation. I had been loaned a series of cassette tapes containing 12 messages on the doctrine of election. The pastor who was giving the messages was teaching that there is no free will choice by man to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, that it is God alone who decides who will be saved. That if man made the choice to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, then salvation would be by works, (That is, the act of deciding and accepting would be a work by man.) and not by the grace of God. The pastor emphasized that no matter how sincere you were in your heart when you walked down the aisle to the alter to confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, no matter how sincere you are in your Christian walk, if your name was not written in the Lambs book of life from the beginning of creation, then you were not saved. I do not want to go into too much detail of what he said, so as to not possibly cause you to have any confusion also.
After listening to the tapes, I was quite confused, and I really questioned as to if I was really saved or not. Am I or am I not saved? How am I to know if my name is written in the Lambs book of life if my hearts decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior means nothing? Do I continue to sin because I am not truly saved, but just think that I am? Did God create me just so He could destroy me as an example of His grace to His chosen few? Am I an unwilling participant in a grand pageant being shown by God to those who He has elected, a pageant in which I play the part of one who seeks God, but the faith and trust I put into God is folly, because the climax of the pageant is my everlasting destruction as a show of the glory and grace of Gods power to those few who He has predestinated?
Everything that I had ever done, said, or thought came back to me as an accusation against my salvation. How can I claim to be saved after doing what I have done. Having the thoughts that I have, how could I possibly think that I could be saved. I went through a very depressing and trying period of time. But each time I questioned my salvation, a still small voice would come from deep within saying; You are saved by grace through faith, and for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Over and over again in the back of my mind John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8 would repeat whenever I questioned my salvation.
I am ashamed to have to admit that it took such a long period of time for the very basic verses concerning salvation in the Bible to convict my heart once again. John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8 tells me that I am saved, and that I am saved completely without any reservations. I almost let Satan have the victory, because I had allowed a man to sway my beliefs. And that was because I did not immediately confirm the words he was saying with the Word of God. The man had taken a few words from a verse here, and added them to a few words of a verse there, then he added his own words of interpretation to confirm his doctrine.
Again it is to my shame that I allowed his doctrine to sway me from the truth. But through this I have come to have a better understanding of God’s word, and I am now more able to stand against the darts of doubt the devil throws at me. I would like to share some of what I have learned from this experience with you in hopes that this will be of help to you, if you ever find yourself doubting or confused about your salvation. But please checkout everything here with God’s Word, always taking into account the verses preceding and following the verses given.
Salvation, once saved always saved, yes, no, maybe? John 3:16; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Ephesians 2:8; For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. These two verses tell me that I am saved because I believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. I believe because I have faith, I have faith because it is a gift of God to me.
God has given everyone the gift of faith, it is up to each one of us to receive the gift. To receive the gift of faith, to believe the promises God made to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, which leads to eternal salvation. Or to reject the gift of faith and follow after that which leads to eternal damnation. It is a decision we all must make.
We have just seen that we are saved by grace and not by works, and it is by God’s grace that salvation continues. To help in understanding this more lets look at the following scriptures.
Hebrews 9:23-10:23 (William’s translation); So, on the one hand, the copies of the original things in heaven had to be purified with such sacrifices; but on the other hand, the original things themselves in heaven with better sacrifices than these. For it was not a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, that Christ entered, but it was into heaven itself that He went, in order now to appear for us in the very presence of God. And He does not enter to offer Himself over and over again, as the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own; for, if that had been the case, He would have to suffer over and over again, ever since the creation of the world. But, as it is, once at the close of the ages He has appeared, to put away sin by His sacrifice. Indeed, just as men must die but once and after that be judged, so Christ was offered once for all to take away the sins of many, but again He will appear, without having anything to do with sin, to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him to bring them final salvation.
For since the law cast only a shadow of the blessings to come and did not possess the reality itself of those blessings, the priests with the same sacrifices that are perpetually offered year after year cannot make perfect those who come to worship. Otherwise, would they not have ceased offering them, because those who offered them, having once been purified, would have had no further consciousness of sins? On the other hand, through these sacrifices there is given a real reminder of their sins, for the blood of bulls and goats is unable to take away sins. So, when Christ was coming into the world, He said:
"Sacrifice and offerings you did not wish,
But a body you have prepared for me;
In burnt-offerings and sin-offerings you never took delight.
Then I said, See, I have come, just as the Scripture writes about me in the book, O God, to do your will."
Although at first he said, "You never wished or took delight in sacrifices and offerings, burnt-offerings and sin-offerings," all of which are repeatedly offered in accordance with the law, He afterward said, "See, I have come to do your will." He is taking away the first to let the second take its place. It is by this will of God that we are consecrated through the offering of Jesus’ body once for all. Every other priest stands officiating day after day and over and over again offering the same sacrifices, although they are unable to take away our sins. But this One offered up once for all and for all time one sacrifice for sins, and once for all took His seat at God’s right hand, from that time waiting till His enemies should be made the footstool of His feet. For by that one sacrifice He has made perfect for all time those who are consecrated to Him. Now, the Holy Spirit, too, gives us the testimony, for after saying:
"This is the covenant that I will make with them
in those last days," says the Lord:
"I will put my laws into their hearts,
and write them on their minds,"
He continues to say:
"I will never, never any more recall their sins and deeds of wrong. For when these are forgiven, there is no more need of an offering for sin."
Since then, my brothers, we have free access to the real sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which He opened for us, through the curtain, that is, His physical nature, and since in Him we have a Great priest over the house of God, let us continue to draw near to God with sincere hearts and perfect faith; with our hearts cleansed from the sense of sin, and our bodies bathed in clean water; let us, without ever wavering, keep on holding to the hope that we profess, for He is to be trusted who has made the promise.
Verses 12-14 of chapter tells us everything we need to know to understand that we are saved by grace forever! Jesus suffered on the cross, (A suffering of such a great magnitude that we cannot begin to comprehend.), to pay the penalty for all our sins. For ALL sins! All means every one of them, not just a selected few of our sins, but for every single one of our sins! We are justified by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our life. And it is forever, not just for the day you accepted Jesus, but it is for yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever! Praise God!
There is so much good stuff in all those verses, but the main point to be drawn from them is that we are saved by grace forever. But this does not mean that it is all right to sin and brake God’s law. We are not perfect, only Jesus was perfect upon this earth. Though we are not perfect, we must strive to be perfect as Jesus was perfect. The apostle Paul helps us to understand this in:
Romans 7:7-8:17; What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holly, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
What did all that just say? The law brought condemnation for sin. The law did not bring forth sin, it brought recognition of sin. We would not know what sin is if the law had not told us what sin is. With the recognition of sin, I realize that the eager desires of my flesh are sin and death.
The law is from God, therefore we know that it is holy and good. The law is from the Spirit of God, given to our spirits. But our spirits reside in fleshly bodies which are as bond slaves of sin.
Our fleshly bodies and our spirits are continually at war with each other. Galatians 5:17; For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Though I will in my spirit to do good things, that is follow the law of God, my fleshly body makes me a prisoner of sin. As a prisoner to sin in my flesh I do the things that I do not want to do in my spirit. If I do things which I truly do not want to do, then I know that it is not I (my spirit), but it is sin which resides within me that does the things that I do not want to do. This does not mean it is all right for me to willfully sin. It means that though I (my spirit) joyfully want to follow God’s law, my flesh which continually wars with my spirit, takes my spirit prisoner of sin in my flesh.
Praise God, Jesus Christ has come to save this despicable miserable man from this body of death.
For those of us who in the Spirit follow Jesus Christ, and not the flesh, can now not be condemned. The life giving power of Christ Jesus has by the law of the Spirit freed us from the power of the law of sin and death.
The law could not make us righteous before God, because it was weak through the flesh. God sending His Son Jesus, in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin condemned sin in the flesh. So that for those of us who do not follow after the flesh, but after the Spirit, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled within us.
Those who follow the flesh have there minds set on things of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21; Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Those who follow the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
If with your mind your pursue the appetites of the flesh, you shall find death. If pursue with your mind the Spirit, you will find the fruits of the Spirit and life.
Because the mind set on the appetites of the flesh is hostile towards God, it refuses to obey the law of God. Because of its hatred towards God, it cannot obey the law of God. Therefore those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If the Spirit of God dwells in you, you are not in the flesh but you are in the Spirit. If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him, that is Christ. If you are in Christ, and Christ be in you, then your body is dead because of sin. But your spirit is alive because of righteousness brought by the Spirit through Jesus Christ. If the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead resides within you, that same One who raised Jesus from the dead shall also give life to your mortal body by His Spirit that resides within you. (For help in understanding read 1 Corinthians 15:34-58.)
So, we are in debt, we are not obligated to our flesh, to live following after the lusts of the flesh. Because if you do live your life following after the lusts of the flesh, you shall die. But if you by the Spirit put to death the lusts of the flesh, you shall live.
For those of us who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For we have not received a spirit which makes us slaves of fear once again. But we have received the Spirit of adoption as children of God, and by that Spirit we cry Abba, Father, (Abba is an affectionate way of saying daddy or papa.). The Spirit Himself confirms to our spirits that we are children of the living almighty God. And as children, then also heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. If we truly suffer (Don’t let that word suffer scare you.), with Him, then truly we will be glorified with Him.
We have received salvation by God’s grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We are under grace, not under the law, so we do not suffer the condemnation of the law. We must still strive to obey God’s law, but though the mind is willing, the flesh is weak. Consequently we sometimes fail, but we do not suffer the penalty, because we are under grace. The Spirit of God who dwells in us will continue to work in us to help us in our Christian walk until we are perfected, which is the day of the coming of the Lord.
I cannot stress enough that being saved by grace does not give us a license to continue to sin as much as we please. There are some sins which we can give up immediately, while other sins take a considerable amount of time to overcome. There are some sins in our lives that we do not recognize as being sin. Sometimes we discover that things which we do not consider to be sin, are actually the root of a massive area of sin in our lives. Whether or not we always recognize the sin within us, we must always strive to overcome sin.
Though we earnestly struggle to overcome sin, we must come to the realization that we of our ownselves cannot overcome sin. We must rely upon God through Jesus to overcome the sin which is in us. Jesus is our strength, our confidence, our comfort. Matthew 11:28-30; "Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."- Jesus takes our burdens so we may have peace. Let Jesus take control of the situations and circumstance in your life. Walk with Him and He will carry you through lifes burdens.
Hebrews 4:14-16; "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."- Jesus walked this earth as a man, He understands how we feel, because He felt the same temptations that we do. Knowing how much Satan hates God, how much more temptation do you think he threw at Jesus when Jesus was here in a mortal body, than he does towards us? So yes, let us come boldly to the throne of grace and submit ourselves to our Master and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:6-7; "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."- We know that God loves us, He created us and He has adopted us into His family as children. Let us come to Him humbly as little children crying Abba Father, this is a problem area in my life, daddy I know that you love me, take control of it and guide me through it.
2 Peter 1:3-4; "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." - God reveals to us all we need to know to live our lives in godly manner, if we will just humble ourselves and submit to His guidance.
Knowing all these things, then we also know; Phillipians 4:13; "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Praise God! I can do all things, but it is not I it is Christ Jesus who gives me the strength.
We are saved by grace through faith, and we continue under grace. Though we strive to overcome sin, our flesh is weak. So, we must come to have total dependence on God’s saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is another question in regard to sin and eternal salvation which has caused much confusion for me, and I have found that it is of equally great concern to many people who I have discussed it with. The question being: What is the sin unto death?
1 John 5:16; If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
Just what is that sin which leads to death? If I am saved by grace, and if my salvation is eternal, then how can I sin unto death? Does not the book of Hebrews 9:23-10:23 tell me that Christ died for all of my sins for all time?
Jesus did pay the price for all of our sin for all time. Let there be no doubt or confusion. For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will have eternal life with Him.
To help us understand what meaning death has here, let us look to: 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The sin does not cause eternal death and destruction, the present body is destroyed so the spirit can be saved by Jesus. I had thought that sin unto death meant eternal death, that is, loss of salvation and eternity in the damnation of hell. But that is not what it means at all. It simply means that my present mortal body is destroyed, but my eternal spirit will be saved.
I do not want to appear to be over simplifying this with such a short explanation, but I do not know what else to say. If you have truly accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior, then you have eternal life with Him.
I have said all of the above so as to be able to get back to the original question; Is that anyway for a Christian to act? Well, if I have failed in my Christian walk by word or deed, then actually it is not anyway for a Christian to act.
So why did I fail? 1 Peter 5:8; Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Satan’s desire is to take as much of mankind to hell with him as he possibly can. To see a glimpse of Satan’s personality and some of his activities refer to, Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekial 28:12-19, Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:11-12; Revelation 12:9-10, 20:10, and Job 1:6-2:10.
Because of Satan’s hatred towards God, he wants to deceive and tempt all men, in an effort to bring as many men to hell with him as he can. We who are saved know that though Satan may tempt and deceive us even unto death, he cannot take our spirits with him to destruction and hell.
So why does he waste his time on us, knowing that we know that we have victory over him by the blood of Jesus Christ? Because it is our responsibility as Christians to lead other men to Jesus. If we have fallen under one of Satan’s deceptions, if we are living in sin, if we are living our lives following after the flesh instead of following the Spirit, then we will not be leading men to salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, Satan indeed has a small victory.
It is our responsibility to conduct our lives in such a way as to lead others to Jesus. Our words and actions should reflect Jesus living in us and through us, so that Jesus can draw more men unto himself. In our Christian walk, it is also our responsibility that if we see a brother fall, we are to in love bring that brother back to his Christian walk.
Galatians 6:1-2; Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
James 5:19-20; Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
The following example will help bring the meaning of James 5:19-20 to a better understanding.
You know that you know that you are saved, and you are certain that your very best friend is saved. You love the children of your very best friend as much as if they were your very own. Now Satan, as he is prowling around like a lion seeking whom he may devour, captures your friend in a sin, and deceives him to the point that your friend does not acknowledge nor even recognizes the sin. In your own mind formulate a sin which you can relate to, but for this example let us use drinking as the problem.
Your friend is a good person, and he has been all of his life. But you have noticed over the last few months that his alcohol consumption has been increasing. You have never seen him really drunk, he hasn’t received any alcohol related traffic violations or had any accidents, and you have never seen him violent or verbally abusive. But, you have noticed that it has affected his performance at work, and it has caused some discord in his family life.
You reason with yourself as to what to do if anything. His performance at the job has slipped, but he still performs his job better than most. There has been a few times that he had a couple of drinks too many, and had been unable to do some of the things with his wife and children which he had promised, and they had to cancel their plans, but he always makes up for it. All in all he is good at heart, and he always tries to do the right things.
If you approach him, if you press the issue, you could cause an irreparable rift in your relationship. Should you take the chance of jeopardizing your friendship by going to him and discussing the problem and showing him what must be done? Or should you just set back and wait to see what happens, and pray that the problem will come to an end by itself? First of all pray, but then by all means approach him in love and do all you possibly can to return him to where he should be.
Yes there is a chance that you could lose him as a friend if he does not understand or accept your loving encouragement. But then again, you could lose him as a friend anyway if he falls too deeply into alcoholism with all the pain and suffering it brings.
There is also another aspect to take into account, that is his children. Even if your friend does not become an alcoholic, if he just remains the same as he presently is, it could affect his children in their decision for Christ. That one birthday party missed, that one family outing to the special place, that one father and son ball game, that one thing spoiled because of one drink too many, might cause his children to make the wrong decision for Christ as they grow older.
What would you rather do when you are in heaven; Let your friend apologize to you one time for breaking off a friendship because you approached him in love to help bring him back to his Christian walk? Or, apologize to him for all eternity for not approaching him in love to return him to his Christian walk, therefore his children did not see Jesus in him, consequently they did not accept Jesus as their personal Savior, resulting in their eternal damnation in hell? It comes down to this simple question; Is it really in your heart to tell your very best friends children who you love as your own, to go to hell?
What is James 5:19-20 saying? If a Christian brother falls, reach out in love and bring him back. It is not his soul you are saving or his sins that you are hiding. The people who accept Christ because they see Jesus in him, these are the souls that are saved, and it is their sins which are hidden.
This brings us back once again to the question; Is that anyway for a Christian to act? When someone asks you that question, what is your response going to be? Will you become offended and strike out in anger? Or will you examine the accusation and take whatever steps necessary to correct the problem? Are you know ready and willing to approach a brother who is in error, and in love do whatever you can to bring him back to his Christian walk? Only you can make the decision. I pray you will make the decision in the love of Jesus Christ.
Praise God! Halleleuigh! Amen.
Please feel free to write me at:
PO Box 822 Warsaw, Mo. 65355