Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

When Experience Dictates Theology

I believe the Bible calls us to holiness (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and I believe that we are to pursue holiness for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).  I believe that the Bible is clear that Jesus came to save us from not just the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin (Matthew 1:21; 26:28; Romans 6:23; 8:1-4, 9-12).  I believe that 1 John 3:6-9 clearly shows that we are not to practice a life of sin and in fact, 1 John 2:1 says that we should not sin.  I believe that the words of Jesus in John 5:14 and John 8:11 show that we are to forsake our sins.  The very nature of repentance is a cosmic change of mind and heart about sin and about the holiness of God.  Acts 3:19 makes it clear that repentance involves turning away from sin and 2 Corinthians 7:10 says it produces salvation.  Hebrews 10:19-39 makes it clear that we are not to return to a life of sin or thus we crucify the Lord Jesus all over again since we count as unworthy His precious blood to help us overcome sin.  1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that we can overcome sin by God’s grace.  Titus 2:11-12 says that God’s grace given to us in Christ Jesus helps us to say no to sin.

Yet we sin.  I sin.

The temptation then is to read the above passages and to try to make them not teach what they don’t seem to teach and that is that God calls His people to pursue perfection.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.  John Wesley defined this as “perfect in love” and not sinless perfection.  There certainly is a danger in sinless perfection teaching in that it becomes all about avoiding this sin or that sin but it doesn’t deal with the heart.  Further, the focus becomes all on what we do and not on what Jesus has done.  Our performance becomes the focus and not the Lord Jesus nor His grace.

Now I am of the opinion that God does not want us to sin.  In fact, there is no sin that His blood can not cleanse us from and can help us to overcome.  Nothing is as powerful as the blood of Jesus to cleanse and sanctify.  Those who believe they are trapped in sin need to hear the good news that Jesus can set them free by His grace.  We cannot overcome sin by our own power or discipline.  It is only by the grace of God that we can overcome sin.  The grace of God can motivate us to be holy and to honor the Lord in all that we say or do (1 Corinthians 10:31).  The will of God for us is clear: our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  God called the children of Israel to holiness (Leviticus 11:44) and He calls us, the saints of the Church, to holiness as well.

However, I know of people who claim to sin everyday.  I even wrote a post on Amazon.com about holiness through a book review.  I actually had some folks writing about how we can’t be holy and how we sin everyday.  They actually looked right at the passages on holiness and the call to forsake sin and said, “Nope, can’t be done.  I sin.  Therefore, these cannot be obeyed.”

I for one will not do this to Scripture.  Simply because I have failed at holiness doesn’t mean that the call to holiness is not real nor does not exist.  I must seek forgiveness and I will still pursue holiness.  I will not give up.  I will not quit.  Just because I fall down doesn’t mean that I will now look at 1 John 2:1 and say, “I can’t be holy and so I will stop trying to be holy.”  No!  I hate sin and I will not stop seeking to be holy.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ends with Paul the Apostle praying for the disciples and I love what he prays:

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Do you pray this for others or for yourself?  Do you pray for the Lord to sanctify people completely?  I do.  I long to be holy and I long for the saints of God to be holy.  I pray for the Lord to sanctify myself, my family, and all the Christians that I know.  I want to see the people of God honoring the Lord through faithfulness.  Paul promises in verse 24 that God will do this.  Amen!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/07/2013 at 10:00 AM

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