October 23, 2013

Eternal Security - Truth or Myth?

What is “eternal security” you ask? It is the belief where it is believed that “once saved always saved.” In plain words, it is the belief that once you become a Christian that there is nothing that can alter that fact, and that there is nothing that can keep you out of Heaven.
A lot has been written on this subject, both for and against. There has been the writing of many technical books and articles. These authors use words like Calvinism and Arminianism to categorize people. Personally I’m not very interested in what these systems teach or don’t teach. I don’t believe in being put in a box in this manner. What I’m interested in is in what God has told us in the Holy Bible, that which He has given to us. Indeed, it is always a dangerous thing to be a follower of a person. It is much better to be taught of the Holy Spirit with an open Bible in your hands.
This article will not so much delve into the solving of every verse and argument that is so commonly given when it comes to this subject. Rather it will focus on the heart of the issue at hand. The real matter is not pitted between Christians who believe in “eternal security” and Christians who argue that you can “lose your salvation.” No. The issue is much more serious than that. Instead it boils down to who actually believes the gospel message as God has presented it in the Bible, and those who don’t believe that message as true.
The term “eternal security” is a cleverly disguised term, and I’m sure Satan is the master planner behind it. What we’re actually talking about is “everlasting life” or “eternal life” depending on the translation. The argument really comes down to whether one can lose “everlasting life” or not. It is a lot easier to reject “eternal security” than it is to reject “everlasting life”, yet they are in reality referring to one and the same thing. Because the term “eternal security” is not a biblical term, a person can say, “I don’t believe it!” However, if we use the proper term, “eternal life,” then it becomes much harder to say, “I don’t believe in “eternal life!”” Why would it be harder? Because it would be an outright rejection of the plainest of Scripture texts! Indeed “the serpent [is] more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made”! (Genesis 3:1)
So why does one so often feel frustrated when we are trying to convince someone that we can be eternally secure and they argue that we can lose our salvation? It is because they are in unbelief as regards to the gospel itself. No wonder we can’t convince them – they haven’t even believed the gospel in the first place!
You say, “Really, isn’t that a little extreme?” No, I don’t. The remainder of this article will explain why I believe this way.
The Gospel
This whole argument really breaks down to those who actually believe the gospel and those who don’t. There must be a poor understanding of the gospel when one does not believe in “eternal life”, or else an outright rejection of the gospel.  Now I don’t like the term “eternal security”, so I’m dropping the term for the most part from here on in and will use the biblical term “eternal life” instead. So why do people reject the teaching of “eternal life”?
The problem is that someplace along the line people have not understood that they are indeed sinners. A sinner is someone who is a slave to sin and Satan. They fall far short of God’s holiness as described in the 10 commandments. A person on their own has no hope of ever being as holy as God, which is necessary to have a relationship with God. So the question is, “How can we be as perfect as God so that we can have this relationship?”
Before we answer that important question, one needs to understand what the “wage” of sin is, that is, we need to know what the consequence of sin is. The Bible is very clear that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)  This death refers to all its three aspects: friendship-wise with God, physically, and eternally in the Lake of Fire.
We’ve already seen that it is impossible for us to live up to the 10 commandments to become as perfect as God. (Not to mention that it can’t pay for our sins.) Instead the commandments act like a mirror, revealing that we are sin-stained sinners. We also know that a mirror makes a pretty lousy washcloth! In fact it will only make matters much worse if we try using it to clean ourselves up.
The truth be told, this is why Jesus died. Jesus died, to pay the wage or consequence of our sin, instead of us. All our sins on Him were laid and He bore the wrath of God for them. That is why God turned His back on His Son while He hung upon the cursed tree. Then He said, “It is finished”. (John 19:30) Or, the payment for sin is complete.
We also know that Jesus paid the penalty for every person that has ever lived. So why are not all people saved, you ask, if all have had their debt of sin paid for? Ephesians 2:8-9 gives us the answer – we must believe it. It is written, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
God has offered us everlasting life. We must believe that Jesus, who is the God-man, bore this debt for us; that He was my personal Substitute. God promised us everlasting life if we believe the gospel. Therefore those who do not believe in “eternal security”, which is “eternal life”, don’t believe the gospel that Jesus paid their debt of sin in full. Therefore they don’t have everlasting life. Therefore they don’t believe in “eternal security”.
The person who believes we can “lose our salvation” is not trusting in Jesus as their Savior. Instead they are still trusting in themselves. They believe that they can lose their salvation when they commit an act of sin.
Some believe that any act of sin damns you and you must immediately confess that sin in order to stay saved, or in reality to get saved again. Others believe it is only when you commit a “mortal” sin that you lose your salvation. This doctrine has its roots in the Catholic Church and is a teaching of Satan. Who, I ask, is the judge in whether a sin is bad enough to damn you? When has a person walked too far in sin? What is clear is that these people don’t believe their sins are forgiven. They don’t think Jesus’ statement, “It is finished!” is true. They have made Jesus into a liar.
Further, these people think that you remain “in Adam”, that is, not regenerated. For if one has been “born again”, how can one be unborn? How can a butterfly return to being a caterpillar once it’s gone through metamorphosis? Impossible! Neither do they realize that sin is no longer one’s master. We read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old HAS passed away; behold, the new HAS come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Galatians 5:24 and 25 must also be understood: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Therefore] we [can]…also walk by the Spirit.” Look, there has taken place a great change in the true believer. For it is written, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14) It is the “Father, who has qualified” the believer “to share in the inheritance” – not we by keeping our lives holy. It is “the Father” who “HAS delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” – not us! (Colossians 1:13) We are NOT our own savior! It is Jesus Christ who is the one and only Savior! All glory be to Him!
Again, Jesus offers “everlasting life”. These people think that “everlasting” has an end. Again, this makes a mockery of what Jesus promised. Thus they join the crowd at the foot of the cross who mocked the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung there in His death-throes.
These people argue that those who believe in “eternal life” will then go on living in sin because it won’t matter. I ask those who would have the gall to promote such gibberish, do you really think that a person who is set free from slavery with all its brutality would want to go and live under that system again? I think not! Even Paul the apostle anticipates this response, and writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! HOW can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)
Why do you think Paul the apostle had to address this very question in Romans? Is it not because he argued that we are permanently under grace and not law? Therefore some mockingly said, “Well, then can’t we sin as much as we want?” To this stupidity Paul answered, “The condemnation of those who think such is deserved!” (A paraphrase of Romans 3:8 and 6:1-2)
There are many false teachers today. Some of these false teachers are promoting the belief that one can lose their salvation. This is damnable heresy. If we can lose our salvation, then Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient and we must earn our way to Heaven. If Christ’s work is insufficient then our trust is not in Christ Jesus but ourselves. The responsibility becomes ours to live a 100% perfect life in order to be saved or stay saved – this is a lie. We can in no way save ourselves. It is utterly impossible! In no way can we contribute to our salvation. If we think we can keep ourselves from sinning, then we have not understood just how sinful one is, and are still dependent on law-keeping. Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of law no human being will be justified [made perfectly innocent] in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Those who believe we can, of our own selves, keep our salvation, do not understand that this is impossible. These people do not understand just how far short of the glory of God they fall. That is, they don’t understand how far short they come from God’s perfection. You cannot be as perfect as God by your own doing – you will always fail. It is only by Jesus taking our sin and imparting His perfection to us that we can stand before the perfectly holy God. It is Jesus who gives us the victory in our lives – not me.
The Pharisees
Amazingly the Pharisees themselves had a motto that they could lose their salvation. They believed they were saved by doing good and by continuing to do good once saved in order to stay saved. That is why they snubbed their noses at those who weren’t doing so well spiritually! What’s changed?!
If we have to keep from sinning, then we are not saved by faith alone. Then we are saved by faith + works. Again, we find another Catholic doctrine!
Let me ask, did God come to earth to save us because we lived such good lives, or did He come because we were sinners? It then stands that God came to save us not because we were worthy but because He loved us. If then we can lose our salvation, it shows that God’s love is conditional. But we know that God’s love is unconditional.
If Christ’s shed blood is not adequate to save us, then we have put Jesus Christ on the same value scale as the goats of the Old Testament – sacrifices that couldn’t take away our sins! Now think about that!
What then is the requirement for salvation? It is simply believing in Jesus as our Savior. We cannot add anything to His finished work. If we think we have to keep from sin in order to not lose our salvation, then we have become our own savior. We have then become a god and are worthy of worship. Now that is blasphemy!
The Galatians
These Jewish Christians had left the system of the Law. They had placed their trust in Jesus Christ to save them. People argue that these people had now become lost again. However, these Jewish Christians thought they could add law-keeping to their new belief and still be under God’s grace. Paul was saying, “You’re wrong!” If you go back to the Law, you have given up grace – you can’t have both! It was not a matter of being lost, but a matter of making it clear that Law has nothing to do with grace. The falling was from grace to law, not falling from saved to lost.
In reality Paul the apostle was saying, “Hey look, those Pharisees who believe that you can lose your salvation by not keeping from sin are wrong. Keep away from the false teaching of ‘staying away from sin and doing good’ in order to maintain your salvation.” For it is written, “Yet because of false brothers [Pharisees] secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out your freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring you into slavery – to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” (Galatians 2:4-5)
This is the same lie Satan told Adam and Eve. He said, “Yeah, go ahead and eat from the tree of knowing the right and the wrong; it won’t do any harm.” What a lie, and it is still a favourite tool of the Devil today. Satan told them that they could gain “eternal life” by avoiding the wrong and doing the right. How, I ask, is that different than the teaching that you can keep being saved when you “avoid the wrong and do the right”? It is precisely the same lie the Deceiver spoke to Adam and Eve so long ago.
Now, when a person is saved, they may begin to believe the very lie that the Serpent tried to entice Eve with. This will bring the Christian into a time of defeat, depression, and failure. It does not make them lost. The penalty for sin has already been paid. However, we also should be experiencing victory in our Christian lives once we’re saved. If we’re not, it shows that we have reverted back to trying to better ourselves by law-keeping. This will bring sin and defeat into our practical Christian walk. Only in this will there be a “falling away.” There will be a “falling away” into law which will in turn bring a lack of victory in our Christian lives. This does not affect our sin-debt having been paid. That happened in the past and can’t be undone. Neither can it affect the third and final stage of our salvation when we are once and for all taken out of the very presence of sin, when we’re ushered into our eternal dwellings. We are told that we have a “guaranteed inheritance.” The only part in question is whether we, in a practical sense, have victory through Christ in our daily walk, or defeat because we’ve reverted back to self and the law.
The Single Sacrifice
Hebrews says we have been perfected by a single sacrifice for sins. It is never to be repeated. If then we can lose our salvation, we would be lost forever without possibility of being saved again. For it would be necessary for Christ to come and die again. This, once again, would make a liar out of God! We read, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12) Jesus said, “It is finished!” and it is just what He meant.
You may interject with a comment, “But it says we can “drift away”.” Drift away from what? We must remember who is being addressed and why. Well these were people who had been Jewish law-keepers and had since gotten saved, who were now slowly “drifting” back to their old law-keeping ways. They were not “drifting” into sin as some suppose. Besides, even if it should refer to “drifting” into sin, God would chastise the person to bring them back into obedience. The writer of Hebrews is very clear on that point, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6) This is really a very similar situation as to what we found with the Galatians.
The Arguments
We could go on with all kinds of rebuttals from those who are in unbelief, but the Scriptures also say this, “There are some things in them [Scriptures] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” Don’t think that those who don’t believe the gospel that gives us eternal life will stop there. No, they will also “twist” the rest of the Bible “to their own destruction” and those of their hearers. (2 Peter 3:16)
Remember, when studying the Bible, never use an obscure verse(s) to interpret the obvious verses of the Bible. 
The Certainty of Salvation
Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” (John 10:28) If we can lose our salvation then Jesus is yet again a liar! We also read in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and BELIEVES me HAS eternal life. He does NOT come into judgment, but HAS passed from death to life.” Once again, if we can lose our salvation, then Jesus is a pathological liar by now!
Again, in 1 John 5:13 we read, “I write these things to you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you HAVE eternal life.” It is becoming ever clearer that those who believe you can lose your salvation don’t believe the gospel. They don’t believe Jesus is capable of saving them on His own. No, they believe that Jesus requires our help!
Looking now to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. We read, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” If we can lose our salvation, then God has not done His job to establish us. If we can lose our salvation, then God’s guarantee is no good. What kind of a God is this? He would be a negligent liar! Do you not see how blasphemous this false teaching is?!
Then what about Ephesians 4:30? It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” How can one grieve the Holy Spirit? Is it not by sin? Yet, we are only told not to, not that we will lose our salvation. To the contrary – that we are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If that seal can be broken by us, then God has put on a faulty seal. Not only that, we have made ourselves stronger than God if we think we can remove His seal. And by the way, that seal is the Holy Spirit Himself.
Again, John 3:18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned.” God attaches no strings. If we believe, we are not condemned. If we can lose our salvation, then this statement by Jesus is – you guessed it, a lie!
Listen to these words carefully that John pens, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son HAS life [eternal]; whoever does not have the Son of God DOES NOT have life [eternal].” 1 John 5:10-12
You tell me, who is the liar, is it actually God, or is it you who don’t believe? In Revelation 21:8, it is written, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” If you are teaching that one can lose “eternal life”, then you are a liar.
Adam and Eve only got the boot from the garden when they decided to believe Satan and call God a liar, but for those who don’t believe that there is “eternal life…in his Son”, “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.”
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place in in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in the book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life [eternal] in his name.” (John 20:27-31)
You see, it is either God’s word, or it is man’s word. Whom will you believe? Will you believe that God gives you eternal life, or do you believe that you give yourself eternal life? Understand that when you say that you can do something to keep yourself saved, that in reality you are saying that ‘I give myself eternal life’. And that is just the lie that Satan has been convincing the world of for thousands of years. Either you will believe Satan or God. Whom will you choose this day?
The Facts
I want to make the point that doubt is different than not believing we have eternal life. Of course Satan is going to whisper into our ears from time to time with a message of doubt. We then turn back to the Scriptures as did Christ Jesus when tempted, and refute Satan with the FACTS!
You see, when we look to self, doubt creeps in. Then when we look to Jesus Christ, we are assured of our salvation. When we look to ourselves, we begin to wonder, Have I done so and so? However, when we look to Jesus Christ, we realize that He’s done it all and we can “REST” in HIS “Finished” work.
As we mature in the faith, we will grow ever more confident in our Savior. As we study God’s Word the Holy Spirit will show us the things of Jesus Christ and our trust in Him will multiply. We will also with time see how God is at work in our own lives and realize that it is by the grace of God alone.

The Joy of Liberty
The purpose of this testimony is to show the false teachings that kept me in bondage all those years and how I now enjoy the liberty I have.
 Just for context’s sake, I attended a typical evangelical church.
Now of course there is always a foundation that one has to start with, and it is the foundation that is most critical. Jesus taught this in the parable of the “house builder.” There was one fellow who built on the sand and another who dug down deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Of course the rock represents Jesus Christ as our Savior. The sand typifies false ways to be saved, which ultimately is self-effort.
This church’s practical teaching says that there are scores of different ways to be saved. I personally had invited Jesus into my heart. This was good enough for them. The truth is that I was not saved at all; I just thought I was. I continued to think for the next 20 or so years of my life that I could lose my salvation if I didn’t confess my sins and do good. In fact, even under that meticulous burden, I had no assurance that I was saved, and for good reason – I wasn’t!
The truth is that the Bible teaches that there is only 1 way to be saved. All other ways are false. Jesus said, “I am the way…no man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) Paul the apostle in Galatians says that whoever preaches a different way is accursed. Pretty strong words! You see, either you trust Jesus as your Savior, or you trust in your own ingenuities to save you. This is what Cain tried; he brought fruit and veggies and God did not accept Cain’s way. Cain was building his house on the sand. Abel in turn was building on the rock. Abel demonstrated, by bringing an animal to sacrifice, that he believed that Jesus would come one day as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”, including his sin. No, there is only 1 way to be saved.
When I came to realize what Jesus did for me, I placed my trust in Him alone as my Savior, believing that He paid my debt of sin in full – past, present, and future. Then being truly saved, I had full assurance of being saved and having eternal life. Yes, Satan tried to whisper a little doubt in my ear from time to time, but I just kept going back to the Scriptures to refute his lies. Indeed Jesus does offer “rest” for those who come to Him on His terms. I have received that “rest” He spoke of and it is wonderful!
Not only have I been delivered from the consequences of sin, God has also in His mercy liberated me from the power of sin. What a life of rest it is! Now to await the Savior’s return to deliver every believer from the very presence of sin! All three aspects of salvation are entered by faith. We cannot of ourselves get rid of the consequences of our sin, we cannot of our own effort have power over sin once saved, and neither can we enter Heaven and be free from the presence of sin by our own doing! All is by faith in God. The instant we look to ourselves instead of Jesus Christ there will be failure, defeat, discouragement, depression and problems of all kinds. In Christ is the joy of liberty!
I fully believe that what the proponents of the “you can lose your salvation” crowd needs, is NOT assurance but SALVATION! Then when they are truly saved, and not just religious, then they will have the assurance that they’re saved and will believe in “eternal life!” 

June 08, 2013


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

His Will
Defining Holiness
Sinners to Saints
Exhortations to Be Pure in Conduct
            Whom Do We Belong To?
            Grieving the Holy Spirit
            Temple of God
            Not of the World
            Friends with the World
            Children of Light
How to Live a Holy Life
            Law or Faith?
            Time with God
God’s Calling On Our Lives
The Church of Laodicea
Coming Judgment
            The Ungodly
            The Godly

His Will

Let me just say first of all, that I believe much of the battle below can be avoided by simply accepting God’s will for one’s own life. See the title “The Royal Road to Victory”, also on this blog site.

Defining Holiness

        Let us begin this study by defining what “holy” means. Vine’s defines it as “separation to God.” The second definition is, “the resultant state, the conduct befitting those so separated.” Therefore we are called saints.


        Let us begin with God. It is said of God in Revelation 4:8 that, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Further, Hebrews 7:26 says, “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest [Jesus Christ], holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
            Yes, God is holy and “separated from sinners.” We know too, that we are born into this world as “sinners.” We were born needing a Savior.
            Let us then keep in mind too, that it is said of God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13)
          It is also written in Hebrews 12:28-29 that we should “…be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” This is an Old Testament reference from Numbers 11:1-3 where we read, “And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.” Then we also read of God’s “fire” in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8, “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering – since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
            What we can see from this is that God is a just God. He cannot overlook sin. We know that sinners must be punished.
            On the other hand, we have a God who is love. For we read, “He [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Jesus paid the penalty for everyone’s sin in “the whole world”. Does this include you? It sure does! All you have to do is believe it in order to be saved and have eternal life. Again we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16, 18)
            Here we see that God is indeed a God of love. Are you a person of this world? Of course! Then Jesus sent His Son to die in your place.
            So we see a perfect balance with God. He is a just God who cannot overlook sin. Yet in being a God of love, He can’t ignore sin. Sin must be punished. Therefore He sent His Son to take His just judgment instead of you. If that isn’t love, then there isn’t even such a thing as love! What this means is that we’re saved from the penalty of sin.

Sinner to Saint

            Now we know that everyone is born into this world as a sinner. For it is written, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
            If then, indeed, we are Christians, we will have come to the realization at some point prior to being saved that we are, ourselves, a sinner. As such we will also have realized that we were also helplessly lost, and therefore condemned to the Lake of Fire. In this progression of thought, we will have come to see the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that He alone can save us from sins consequences – the second death.
            At the very point in time that we believed the true gospel we were sanctified “once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) That means we were separated unto the Lord, having been made “clean” by His once for all sacrifice for our very own sin. By God’s grace we were changed from sinners to saints! For again it is written, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Again, it is written, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Col.2:13-14 & Rom.5:8)
            The moment we were saved we were justified. That means that in God’s sight we have a right standing. We have been declared righteous, or in other words, innocent. God will never condemn the saved to hell. You could rightly say “once a son, always a son”. The relationship never changes. What an awesome God we serve!
            I think it is important to take the time to look at what happened and what did not happen the moment we got saved.
            Firstly then, the things that did happen. To start with, we were “reconciled” to God. For we read, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” (Colossians 1:21-22) We see from this portion of Scripture that when we were unsaved we were “alienated” from God, but that upon believing the gospel, we were “reconciled.” Very simply put, we were God’s enemies, but now we are friends.
            Note, too, that it was not that God needed to be reconciled to us, but strictly speaking, us to Him.
            Further, our masters changed. We read in Colossians 1:13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” We know that we were under Satan’s thumb before we were saved, and his bidding we did – we were his slaves. Yet now we have a new master – God’s “beloved Son”! In other words, we could say we had been redeemed. Titus 2:14 says, “Who [Jesus Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous of good works.” This verse states what we were redeemed from and to, and by who, but not how. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “Knowing that you were ransomed…with the precious blood of Christ, like a lamb without blemish or spot.” So we know then that we were redeemed by His blood.
            So we could conclude that we have been delivered from the bondage of our past enslavement to Satan and sin. We have been freed by Christ and His death so that we can now serve Jesus Christ and righteousness. To this attests the Scriptures, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)
            Now let us carry on to what did not happen when we got saved.
            Let me ask, have you as a Christian ever committed a sin? To say, “no” would be a lie, and that would be a sin! So, yes, of course Christians sin from time to time. Further, are our bodies already glorified? No, that will happen at a later time. So we see then that we have not yet been perfected. It stands then that we are sanctified once for all, in that we have been set apart as wholly belonging to God. However, in conduct, we are all still in a process of sanctification.
            Looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 we see that there still remains a sanctification in conduct. We read, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” It is quite clear that God has written this for Christians. He also warns them of the fact that “the Lord is an avenger in all these things.” Don’t think that just because you’re a Christian that you can get away with living in sin! It is still a Biblical principal that you reap what you sow!
            2 Corinthians 7:1 also brings out quite clearly the need for an ongoing work of sanctification. We read, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” So then there is a need of “bringing holiness to completion.”
            Let us look at one more example and that will suffice to seal this argument as true. 1 Peter 1:14-21 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our fore fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” Why, I ask, the exhortation to be “holy” if we already are? Yet, as it says, “in conduct.” So then, very clearly, there is a difference between the “once for all” sanctification and the sanctification in “conduct”.
            What we saw earlier is that we were saved from the penalty of sin. What is happening in the Christian is a gradual freedom from sin’s hold on our lives.

Exhortations to Be Pure in Conduct

Whom Do We Belong To?

            Quite plainly, we belong to the Lord. For 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We can see then that we “are not” our “own.” In this age were we don’t understand slavery this may be a hard concept to grasp, but when we are a slave we belong to whoever our master is. In this case, as we before discussed, we now belong to our Lord. He purchased us by His very own blood!
            If then, our Master asks something from us, don’t you think we ought to obey Him?! Yes, so we ought to. “What then is He asking us to do?” you ask? Quite simply, He is asking us to be holy. He says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) Not that this is the only thing He is expecting of us, but it is the subject at hand, and is a most critical aspect of His will for our lives.

Grieving the Holy Spirit

            When it comes to grieving the Holy Spirit, it is plain that this is addressed to believers. For we read, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30) Quite obviously, only believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit!
Some false teachers today say that when we as Christians sin, that we don’t need to deal with it. All we need to do is thank God that He’s already forgiven us that sin and carry on as if nothing happened. I ask, if you’ve hurt someone, do you think it would be O.K. to just carry on, or do you think it would be a good idea to mend things? Why then do we think we can just carry on as if nothing has happened when we’ve “hurt” the Holy Spirit who indwells us by our sin against Him? It should pain our hearts that we have “hurt” the Holy Spirit who indwells us – whose temple we are.
Therefore, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Keep in mind, this is not in regards to our relationship with God. For once a son, always a son. Rather, this has to do with fellowship.

Temple of God

            Now we read in 2Corinthians 6:16, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…” and again, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
            We see from the above Scriptures that it is a very serious thing to live a holy life. To think that God Himself lives in us! Everything we watch, listen to, and partake of, the Holy Spirit is there with us! To think then that it is said of God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong…” (Habakkuk 1:13) And further, “…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
            So just how seriously does God take these things you ask? Looking over to Leviticus 10:1-2 we read, “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Then let us turn over to Acts 5:1-11. Here we read, “…a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold…property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” “Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God. When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last…After…about three hours his wife came in…Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.’ And she said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ But Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” “Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.” “And great fear came upon the whole church…”
            We see then that at the beginning of the Levitical system, with all its ceremonies, laws, and priestly functions – that God wanted to make a point to all the Israelites – I AM A HOLY GOD. This God did when He destroyed Nadab and Abihu. Then at the very beginning of the church, we again have God make this same point to the whole church, including those of the nations, that I AM A HOLY GOD. This time God makes the point by destroying Ananias and Sapphira.
            The question might be asked, “Were Ananias and Sapphira actually Christians?” Yes, that is quite apparent from the Scriptures we’re looking at. We also see that “great fear came upon the whole church.” Why was there “fear” upon the church, if not for the fact that if they sinned in a similar way the same judgment would come upon them?
            How then, I ask, are we as believers to conduct ourselves?


            Firstly, we read in Philippians 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Again, let us read in Ephesians 5:3-4, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
            You say, “Why should I care whether my life is lived in a ‘worthy’ or ‘proper’ ‘manner’?” Well, I ask you, would you like to stand before God come judgment day with the cookie crumbs of sin around your mouth?
            Again, do you not call Christ Jesus, Lord? Yet then, He being your Master, why do you not do the things He asks of you? Following the verses we just read in Ephesians, we read, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partakers with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (vs’s 6-8)

Not of the World

            James says simply, “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (1:27) Then John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) What does John mean by all these kinds of “desires”? Well, I believe Peter answers these things very well in 1 Peter 4:1-4, where it says, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.”
            Let us look at one more portion of Scripture before we bring a conclusion to this particular segment. Looking over then to Romans 6:20-23, we read, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
            We see then quite simply that a true believer does not continue to live a life of sin. In fact the latter verses tell us that the believer is “ashamed” of their former conduct. A question mark could be put over any professing believer who continues in sinful habits, hordes wealth, does not love the fellowship of believers, or brags about themselves and what they’ve accomplished.
            Truly the believer has no business being a part of the world. For if the world is hostile toward God, why would we want any part in it? Keep in mind that it was the world that had our Savior crucified! In fact, the world is going to be receiving the payment of “death” for its wicked behavior! Therefore, “…test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

Friends with the World (James 4:4)

            Very closely tied to the above, is the aspect of being friends with members of the world. We look to 2Corinthians 6:14-17 for the proof. There we read, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord.” Plainer words could not be read, we should not make friendships with people of the world. How can there be any common ground? For they are haters of God, being opposed to Him. How can one hold hands with the enemy? The words “unequally yoked” refers to either having two different animals in one yolk, or even the crossbreeding of two different kinds of animals. Clearly not seen as a good thing. So then you will essentially have one animal pulling toward the world that leads down the path of destruction and hell, and the other feebly pulling away toward the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Quite clearly though, “…the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26b) Possibly in an even clearer way Paul writes, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” (1Cor.15:33) When one becomes a friend with one from the enemy’s camp, one tends to withhold one’s testimony in order to maintain the friendship – this is called hiding your light under the lampstand, or being ashamed of our Lord Jesus Christ!
            Let us look once more at the words written in Ephesians 5:6-17. We read, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish…” I don’t think much more needs to be said! Let us simply heed these words of our Lord.

Children of Light

            We’ve already seen that we ought to “walk as children of light.” We saw that we should refrain from being friends or “partners” with those who are of the world. In fact we were told to “expose them.”
            On the other hand, we are still to be “children of light.” So even if we are not friends with them, it does not mean that we ignore the people of the world. Even if we “expose them” for their wickedness, we are still to be “children of light” before them. So how, is the question? Let us turn to Matthew 5:14-16 to get the ball rolling on this one. We read, “‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’” Therefore it stands that if we hide our light from before people that they won’t “give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” What a shame that would be! Then let us be as Paul the apostle, who stated in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” So then let us not hide the fact that we’re Christians. Let us not hide the fact that we love our Lord who gave His life so that we could gain eternal life. Besides, how loving is it to not warn the people of the consequences of sin? How much do we really care about others if we don’t tell them of our Savior who alone can save them?   
How to Live a Holy Life


            First off, let us look at James 1:13-15. We read, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
            What we see then, is that God does not tempt people to sin. In the garden that was in Eden, we saw that it was Satan who tempted Adam and Eve. Satan’s advertisement appealed to Adam and Eve and they consequently fell for the lie. It is no different today.
            Now let us go to 1Corinthians 10:13, where it says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
            We see from this passage that God will not leave us in a lurch. Rather, God in His kindness has provided a “way of escape” in every situation. Again, in the garden, God had provided a “way of escape” – “the tree of life”. Yet Adam and Eve chose not to take that “way of escape”.
            Let us now go over to the book of Hebrews, starting with chapter two and verse eighteen. We read, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”           Looking ahead then to chapter four, verses fifteen and sixteen, we read, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
            This ought to give us a lot of comfort. We know that our Lord Jesus Christ has been tempted too, and yet never sinned. In fact, we read earlier that “God cannot be tempted with evil.” (Jam.1:13) Yet, He still went through all those different temptations. Therefore He knows the hardship of going through those things and we can therefore count on Him to avert falling into these temptations when we cry out to Him to deliver us. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer ends by saying, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)

Law or Faith?

            So just exactly how are we to become holy in all conduct once we’ve become Christians? Are we perfected by the Law, a form of will-power? Are we to just keep trying, trying, trying, or is there a different way that God has in mind for us?
            Let us look at Galatians 3:1-6. There it is written, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’?
            So what can we take from this? Well, it is quite plain that by attempting to perfect ourselves after we’re saved by following some set of laws is no more beneficial than trying to get saved through a system of rules! Clearly the Holy Spirit has a role to play in seeing us being born on to perfection and maturity.
            Further, let us look at Titus 2:11-14. Here we read, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
            Let us also at this time take a look at 1 John 3:1-3. Here we read, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
            What we see here so significantly, is the “grace of God.” We can see that by God’s grace, He has given all people the opportunity to be saved. We also know that we are saved by His grace. For we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So we see that God’s grace appeared by the sending of His Son to be the payment for our sin, so that by believing this to be true, we are saved.
            We also see that Christ “redeem[ed] us” from a life of bondage to sin. In fact Paul the apostle says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1Corinthians 15:10)
            So how did this come about you ask? Well, if we turn over to Romans 5:21 and read on down to 6:14, we will find the answer. I would suggest that you take your Bible and read this portion in its entirety. However, to keep things to the point, I’ll only select a part of this text. We read, “…as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This simply means that a life of sin leads to the second death – the Lake of Fire. On the other hand grace leads to “eternal life.” Continuing on to chapter six, we read, “…How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life…We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin…We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again, death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
            What grace! Our old identity is gone! Law and sin have been defeated by Christ Himself. We are now free to serve God! So what are you waiting for?! We are told to “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
            If, however, you think that law and rules will keep you from sinning as a believer, Paul has these words for you, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith’.” (Galatians 3:11)
            Lastly, we saw that the person who looks for the coming of Christ “purifies” themselves. When a person is looking for, and yearning for, the coming of Christ, it has a purifying effect on one’s life.

Time with God

            So often we hear that we should be reading the Bible and praying. Yet it often seems like nothing more than a chore. Now it is true, that if we are not saved, that it will be nothing more than a going through the motions of some empty religious rosary. No, it is not just something we must do, and then collect our brownie points when we’re done. Reading our Bible, in reality, is how we grow to maturity as believers. In this way God can speak to us from His Word.
            We need to be familiar with God’s Word in order that we’re not led astray by the smooth speaking of false teachers. For example, how do you know what is counterfeit money, if you don’t even know what the genuine looks like? How important to really know God’s Word with all the false teaching out there today! Therefore we read, “Now the Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
            Let us look at 1 Peter 2:2. It reads, “As newborn babes desire the pure soul-nourishing milk, that you may grow by it; if indeed you ‘tasted’ ‘that the Lord is kind’.” (KJ3) We see here that a “newborn” Christian has “’tasted’ that the Lord is good.” Therefore as a “newborn” they would naturally “desire” the “soul-nourishing milk” in order that they “may grow by it” to maturity.
On the other hand, if a person doesn’t care to spend time in God’s Word, it may well show that they’re not true Christians to begin with. For just as it would be very unnatural for a newborn baby to not want milk, so it would be just as unnatural for a Christian to not want “the pure soul-nourishing milk” – God’s Word. Why would we want to remain baby Christians?
Ephesians 4:13 says we are to grow “to mature manhood.” This, “that we no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (4:14-16)
Now as regards prayer, God makes a very straightforward statement. He says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. Can you imagine a child in a home never asking for anything at all?! Of course as parents we would love to give our children things! So our Heavenly Father would also love to lavish us with His treasures! Our God is not stingy as some would think, but is generous! However, keep in mind the words of James, who writes, “You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!” (James 4:2-4) So then, if we’re praying according to God’s will, the answer to our prayers will always be yes.
            Prayer is an essential part of our Christian life. We must be able to communicate with God. We speak to Him of our shortcomings. Of our need for Him to mold us according to His will. For our hearts to express our thanksgiving toward our God. We are also exhorted to pray for our enemies. We are to pray for many different peoples and situations. In short, prayer is critical.
            Finally, to neglect reading God’s Word and prayer is to refuse to let God be at work in our lives. It is telling God, “I’m not interested in You”. It is like saying, “Thanks for saving me, God, but now I don’t want You to be part of my life. I’d just rather go on living my life according to my own will and passions. So please butt out, God!”  This will leave us stunted as believers. In this way we greatly grieve the Holy Spirit wherewith we are sealed.

God’s Calling On Our Lives

            Let us look at several verses regarding God’s desire for our lives. The first we’ll look at is Ephesians 1:3-4. Here we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…” This then is God’s will for our lives, “that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
            Further to this, we read in Hebrews 9:13-14, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
            So then, not only are we to “be holy and blameless”, we are also to “serve the living God.”
 Romans 12:1-2 puts it this way, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
            Let us examine verse one first. We see the “appeal” is “by the mercies of God.” We must remember that it is by God’s mercy that we have been forgiven and have received eternal life. Therefore it is completely reasonable that we “present” our “bodies as a living sacrifice”. The Greek sense is that it is a once for all act. So this is something we should set out to do once and for all. We also need to believe that God accepts us as a “living sacrifice.” This is a sacrificing of one’s entire life to God. It is a life of service to Him.
            Now verse two. The world still holds a lure to us as Christians – we must resist that lure by looking continually to God for deliverance. (Look at the section called “Temptation.”) So then, rather than cave to the world, we are to have our minds renewed. In my mind, this is accomplished by habitually reading God’s Word and praying. Thus by putting into practice the things we read in the Bible, we will by use, find out the value of what God has written for us. I fully believe that we’ll find it priceless!


So what then if a Christian chooses to disobey God? Does it matter if we keep on sinning? It certainly does! Let us look to Hebrews 12:3-17. This is a lengthy section of verses, but so very, very critical to understand. It reads, “Consider him [Jesus Christ] who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
 ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.’
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
            What do we learn from this passage? Well, we learn that Christ’s struggle against sin was so great that His blood was shed. The point is, you have not yet struggled against sin to the point where your blood has been shed.
            Further, the fact that God disciplines us proves that we are His legitimate children. For it says that God does not discipline us if we are not His children. Not only that, it is “for our good.” Of course the discipline is painful at the time, but it has its reward – holiness. The Lord refers to it as a training course. To think that the Lord Himself is training His children – us – to be holy! Wow, that is simply amazing! This is God’s aim for your life – is it yours?
            We started off this article by seeing that God is perfectly holy. We followed that by showing how sinful mankind is. Once we were saved God started the process of sanctification in our lives in order to bring us to the point of absolute holiness so that we could live forever in His very presence! So now when we think of God’s discipline and our hardships, we can see that it is indeed for our good! For we will, because of those things, be able to spend all of eternity with our Holy God!
            We are told that “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Sadly, Esau didn’t care about being holy, he only wanted the blessings. So it is today, many want a free ticket to Heaven, but don’t care about holiness. Thus they’re never saved in the first place, but simply walk away from it all just like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22.

The Church of Laodicea

        This church thought they had it altogether. They thought themselves as “rich”, as having “prospered”, and having “need” of “nothing”. (Revelation 3:17) Yet, how very mistaken they were. Jesus said that in reality they were, “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” A greater contrast there couldn’t be!
            This church fits the time era we live in today, and sadly, this is the state of the church of today – especially in the western hemisphere. This same attitude of pride is present in our churches now. It is an attitude of, “What do you mean?! Don’t you know that I’m a Christian?! I go to church, I pray, I read my Bible, I tithe, I’m involved in this and this and this!” Yes, but Jesus Christ says this, “… not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Therefore He continues, by saying, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:17-22)
            Even so it is now. We live in a time when one can hardly tell the difference between the saved and the unsaved in the church. Yes, that is how “lukewarm” we have become. We might be very busy for the Lord, but are we genuinely serving the Lord according to the truth of His Word? Do we really care about the things of the Lord, or are we simply occupied with our own lives and how we can get ahead in this world?

Coming Judgment

The Ungodly

            That Jesus Christ is coming to judge the world, there is no question. Jude writes in verses 14b-15, “’Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”
            What then will be the outcome of these ungodly ones? Well, 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-10a says this, “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day…”                                   
            Here is a very clear set of verses as to the final state of the ungodly, which is all who are not true Christians. We read, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-12, 14-15)
            What then will it be like in this place? Matthew 13:47-50 describes it in like this, “…the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And again, Luke 16:28 speaks of this place as a “place of torment.”          Revelation 21:8 describes some of the “torment” in this way, “’…their portion [the ungodly] will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’” Cleary, this is no party place, but rather a place of continual agony.

The Godly

            What, then, is in store for the true Christian? This is the description we find in Revelation 21:1-8, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
            Wow! What an amazing future for the believer! What a sharp contrast we have between the sinner’s and the saint’s future. Romans 6:23 simply describes it like this, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
            We could conclude then, that when a sinner is saved, they are saved from the penalty of sin. Then as a Christian they are being perfected – gradually being freed from sin in their lives. Then when we finally enter God’s presence for eternity we are freed entirely – even from the very presence of sin!


            Let us be clear right from the outset that these rewards for the Christian have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. These rewards have strictly to do with our quality of work as a believer.
            Some Christians seem to think that it doesn’t matter how we live our lives. They say, “We’re saved anyway, so what will it matter? Aren’t we all going to heaven?”
            Well, let everyone who calls themselves by the name of “Christian” think on this, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10)
            Prior, we learned about the “great white throne judgment” for the unsaved. Now we learn about “the judgment seat of Christ” for Christians. Here the quality of our work will be put to the test, and each will be rewarded accordingly.
            Let us begin with 1 Corinthians 3:5 and carry on down to verse fifteen. We read, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field. God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
            What a day of revelation that will be! Some will certainly receive great reward, and others “will suffer loss.” Therefore as the apostle writes, “Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” Keep in mind, too, that we are referred to as “servants” and that we aren’t “anything.” Rather it is God who is working in and through us to His glory and honor! Indeed, all the glory goes to God!
            This particular reward has to do strictly with the church itself. It has reference to things like evangelism, church planting, teaching, and shepherding. Indeed this is a serious task not to be taken lightly. Hence the attached warning, “Do you not know that you [plural] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you [plural]? If anyone destroys God’s temple [the church] God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you [plural] are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) No doubt, God will “destroy” the wolf that seeks to “destroy” His church.
            Further, Paul the apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 4:5, when “the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
            Just think! God is going to reveal all the motives of our hearts! Oh, no wonder the Psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)
            Let us now look at these rewards that are given in the form of “crowns.”
            The first crown we want to look at is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 and is related to the sections in 1 Corinthians we just finished looking at. We read, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
            The disqualification is in reference to receiving the “imperishable” crown, not salvation; rather, it has to do with rewards. So then let us “not run aimlessly”, let us not be ones “beating the air”. Let us rather, “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
            Let us carry on to the second mention of crowns. We find it in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, where Paul writes to the Thessalonicans, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” Indeed, how very precious are loved ones! Whom would you rather have in heaven with you in the presence of the Lord than your loved ones?! Indeed, what a reward!
            Continuing now to 2 Timothy 4:7-8, we have Paul speaking again. This time he writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
            Here we find Paul the aged, near the end of his life (see verse 6). We find that he has indeed so run in the race as to obtain the “imperishable” crown. He is victorious! Why? He has “kept the faith”. Now, not only will this reward be given to him, but to all who keep “the faith”. By God’s grace Paul the apostle was saved, and he faithfully passed on the pure gospel message to all who would listen. In this he was faithful, and hence he would receive his reward.
            Moving then to James 1:12, we read, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God promised to those who love him.” This crown may simply refer to “eternal life”. Yet what an amazing reward! Just think of it, eternally in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ together with all the holy ones!
            On we go to 1Peter 5:1-4. We read, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
            It is so important for those who are shepherds of the flock to remember that we should lead by example. We should not drive the flock in a “domineering” way. We need to remember that we, too, have a Shepherd over us, and we will have to answer to Him on Judgment Day. Yet for those who are faithful in these things there will be the reward of “the unfading crown of glory.”


        What do we conclude from these things then? Well, we know that God is perfectly holy. God has never sinned, and it is impossible for Him to sin. He is blameless, spotless, perfect and therefore – holy.
            Mankind on the other hand, fell into sin from the outset and has been sinning ever since. The fact being that we’re born sinners and of course sinners sin just as much as dogs bark or bees visit flowers.        
            Therefore mankind is under the judgment of God. However God in His loving mercy sent His only Son – Jesus Christ, to be punished instead of us. If then we believe this, we are pardoned. That is we will not perish by being cast into the “lake of fire” for all eternity, but will rather gain “eternal life.” In this way we are freed from the penalty of sin.
            We also saw that, as believers, we have not yet been made perfect, but that rather we still stumble in many ways. Therefore we know that God is still in the process of perfecting us. Therefore the call to be holy.
            Finally, we saw that there will be a judgment in the “last Day”. The wicked will be cast into the “lake of fire” for their sins – for they refused to believe what God did for them through the sacrifice of His Son for their sins. The righteous, on the other hand, will go into the eternal dwellings that God Himself has prepared for them. At that point we will be completely free from sin – even the very presence of sin!

Victor Reimer
email me at focusingonjesus@gmail.com