Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Short Rant on Devotions, Praying, and Posting

Every since I became a disciple of Jesus, reading my Bible and prayer have been priorities in my life.  I by no means am perfect at them.  I am thankful for the gospel and the fact that I don’t earn my righteousness before God through my works (Romans 10:4; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5-7).  There have been good days where I have been in the Word and in prayer and it seemed the Lord was near.  There have been days where I was in the Word and prayer and it seemed the Lord was distant.  Thankfully, I am not saved by my feelings but by faith (Romans 5:1).

Let me rant then just for a moment about devotions, praying, and posting them on social media sites.  I have seen this pattern for a while.  The great satire site, the Babylon Bee, ran a great post on a woman completing her quite time without Instagramming it.  That was pure gold because it is true!  I go on social media sites and people are posting pictures of their Bibles open, a notebook, a cup of coffee.

Even open air preaching posts drive me crazy.  I’m all for preaching the gospel in the open air.  I also understand that some of these guys receive money from people and so they want them to see that they are serving just as they said they would.  I find it ironic that missionaries don’t often feel the need to post them serving to prove they are actually doing what they said they would do if you supported them but I’ll let that go.  Open air preachers are notorious for posting pictures or videos of themselves preaching or asking for prayer as they go to share the gospel.  Again, I understand that for some of them, the prayer requests are real and their posting is simply to encourage people to follow their lead in evangelism.   Yet for some, I fear, they are posting out of pride (“look at me going to share my faith while you read this blog”).  God knows our hearts.

In Matthew 6 Jesus had strong words about doing things for the glory of God and not telling others about them.  There is no doubt that God knows our hearts (1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10; 23:24; Romans 8:27).  The Lord sees through our posts to know our hearts whether we are truly posting for His glory or for ours.  In Matthew 6 Jesus states that our good works should be done in secret so that we might receive a reward from our Father.  Again, nothing wrong with posting about our devotions, our church, our evangelism but God knows our hearts and whether we want the applause of men or not.  Jesus states that our giving (Matthew 6:2-4), praying (6:5-8), and fasting (6:16-18) should be done in secret and not for the applause of men.  Our Lord states that if do them for men, we receive our rewards (6:2, 5, 16).

Pride is dangerous.  I have battled pride my entire life.  I always will.  We all like for people to pat us on the back and tell us “good job.”  We want others to notice the good we do.  It’s human nature I suppose.  But Jesus tells us to do our good works for our Father.  Ephesians 2:10 even states that our Father has prepared the works for us to do.  This would include our prayer times, our fasting, our evangelism.  Our works should glorify God, however, and not us.  The temptation is to post on social media sites so that our good works glorify us even though we claim it is to the glory of God.

Finally, is it sinful to post our prayer times, our Bible study, our evangelism?  It can be.  It doesn’t have to be.  Again, the Lord God knows our hearts.  We can’t hide from Him.  Like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, the Lord knows if we are hypocrites or not.  In Acts 4 we read that Joseph called Barnabas (son of encouragement) sold a field and brought the money to the Apostles’ feet.  This must have impressed Ananias and Sapphira so they did the same but unlike Barnabas, they withheld some money for themselves (which was their right) but they claimed to be giving all to the Lord.  The Lord saw their hypocrisy and He judged them before the church so that fear came upon the saints of God (Acts 5:11).  Ananias and Sapphira wanted the applause of men but were not willing to truly glorify God like Barnabas had done.  They wanted to cheat but the Lord saw their hearts (Acts 5:3).  The Lord knew the heart of Barnabas and He also knew that Ananias and Sapphira were not willing to pay the price that Barnabas had paid though they wanted the applause of the Apostles too.  Their story is for our example.

The Lord knows our hearts.  He knows if I post a picture of me sharing my faith if I’m doing it for me or for His glory.  He knows the same for people who use social media to brag about their devotions or their street preaching.  I have no doubt that the Lord loves us beyond words even in the midst of our hypocrisy and pride but I pray that He would sanctify us so that social media is not our place for our hypocrisy and pride.

Now let me go post this on various social media sites along with some pictures I have of me praying before blogging this.  Prayers appreciated.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/31/2016 at 10:32 AM

The Contrasts in John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
– John 3:36

There is a clear contrast here in John 3:36 between the child of God (Romans 8:15-16) and the child of Satan (John 8:44).  The child of God does just what Jesus commands them to do here: believes in the Son and the result is clear, we have eternal life.  This wonderful assurance of our salvation is based on the finished work of Christ (1 John 5:11-12) and not ourselves.  Even “faith” is by the gracious work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I have no problem preaching that the work of salvation is all of God and His marvelous grace (Romans 11:6).

On the other side are those who disobey or refuse to believe in the Son.  The NKJV has “does not believe” here instead of “does not obey” as in the ESV.  The Greek word here is Apeitheo which would be literally translated as “no persuade” from “a” meaning “no” and “peitho” meaning “persuade.”  The Greek has more than a mental persuasion but one in which the hearer is unpersuaded in both their mind and life.  The unbeliever then is not just a sinner in mind (mentally) but in their actions (physically).  The sinner is corrupted through and through (Ephesians 2:1).  They are sinners in both their thoughts and actions (Genesis 6:5; Romans 1:28-32).

Some have wondered about why John would not speak of good works here in contrasting the saint and the sinner?  The truth is that the saint does obey the Son when the saints repents of their sins and comes in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  The saint understands clearly that our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and that we deserve the just wrath of God against our sins yet the saint trusts in Christ alone to save them and thus we do the work that God desires for us to do (John 6:29).  Our good works then flow from our salvation and to bring about our salvation (Ephesians 2:10).  Good works can never produce salvation (Titus 3:5-7) but good works show our true salvation (James 2:14-26).

The sinner proves their rebellion against the Lord God in both their minds and actions.  They don’t just ignore God but they despise Him in their sins.  Their only hope is the same as ours: faith and repentance.  We must preach the gospel to the sinner for them to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).  No one comes to faith apart from the preaching of the gospel to the sinner (Matthew 28:18-20).  We must warn sinners that they are under God’s just wrath apart from faith in Christ.  A time will come for them to die and face judgement before a holy God (Hebrews 9:27).  As one commentary I read stated about this wrath from God: the failure to believe in the Son of God does not bring condemnation but rather continuation in this wrath (Romans 1:18).  The sinner faces God’s condemnation now for their sins and not merely for their rejection of the Lord Jesus.  The sinner is storing up for themselves wrath (Romans 2:5).

The saint then has many reasons to rejoice that Jesus has saved us!  Let us be thankful for His kind sacrifice for our sins.  Let us also warn sinners of the wrath to come.  They must repent and turn to Christ alone to save them by His grace alone though faith alone.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/09/2015 at 7:30 PM

On the Sin of Homosexuality

I wish that the sin of homosexuality was just another sin that we must deal with as people.  Along with the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), I would that we only had to deal with this sin like we do all sins.  But our society forces the disciple to have to address this sin (more than other sins it seems).  Of course, I believe that all sin is grievous to a holy God (1 John 3:4).  I believe that the Bible teaches that wickedness cannot be in God’s presence (Psalm 11:5).  I believe that God detests all sin including this sin.

Yet we find ourselves having to address this sin.  Why?  I don’t believe it is because we are opposed with seeking to “attack” homosexuals.  Our job is simply to preach the biblical truth concerning any and every doctrine including sins.  We the Bible pronounces something as sinful, we must do the same.  Titus 2:15 says that disciples must “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority.  Let no one disregard you.”  Our job is to preach the Bible and if this runs contrary to the culture then so be it.  We must be faithful to God alone (Acts 5:29).

I do believe we must be careful with this sin.  We must not make homosexuality the worst sin of all.  It is sinful.  It is wrong.  It will keep people from salvation but the promise of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is that God is able to deliver people from this sin (along with others).  While we must preach that homosexuality is a sin, let us be faithful to also preach the grace of God in forgiving sinners who repent of their sins (Acts 2:38).  Let us be faithful to the gospel message that there is hope in Christ Jesus and forgiveness in Him.  Jesus offers the sinner freedom and we must warn all sinners of the wrath to come and that their only hope for redemption and salvation is found in the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).  There is no salvation found in merely telling people to “stop sinning” apart from revealing to them the precious truths of the gospel (Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 3:3; Ephesians 2:4).  Sinners are only set free when the blood of Jesus washes away their sins and they have peace with God along with the precious gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a godly life (Galatians 5:16-17; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

I watched Ray Comfort once share the gospel with a homosexual.  He took the man through the Law to show him he was guilty of breaking the law of God (Romans 7:7).  When he was done sharing the good news of the cross (Galatians 3:24), the man asked Ray if he believed God had a problem with his homosexuality.  Ray answered the man, “Friend, you have confessed here today that you have violated the third, sixth, seventh and eighth commandments from God’s law.  I think you realize that you have other worst sin other than just homosexuality that you must deal with.”

And that is the truth.  People love their sins (Romans 1:18).  People are not naturally seeking God (Romans 3:10).  People want to steal, to cheat others, to kill, to hate, to blaspheme, and other sins.  It isn’t simply just one sin that condemns us.  It is our wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).  Homosexuality is simply another evidence of our sinfulness but it is not the worst sin nor the only sin we should preach against.  All sin is wicked before a holy and pure God.  All sin!  And the answer for all sinners is the gospel.  It is not simply to stop sinning apart from revealing to them the fact that God is able to give them a new heart, a pure heart, a holy heart.  A person can truly repent only if the Spirit of God enables them to repent (2 Timothy 2:25).

My prayer is that God will save homosexuals but also all who love sin.  Paul the Apostle reminds us disciples in Titus 3 that we once were wicked as well (v.3).  We must, in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, “remember our chains.”  We must not forget what God has saved us from.  Perhaps we have not stolen or murdered or done this sin or that but we must remember that we still needed God’s saving grace to be saved (vv.4-5).  None of us can earn salvation.  Jesus alone must be our salvation (John 14:6).  Jesus is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).  Jesus is the only reason that we are saved now (Hebrews 7:25).

So let us preach against all sin (and not just homosexuality) but let us also be faithful to preach the grace of God to save sinners.  The Lord is faithful to save the lost.  He is still saving people by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Psalm 110:1 promises us that God will continue to save sinners till His enemies be made His footstool.  I pray that the promise of Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 6:10 are the cries of our hearts.  I long to see sinful people come to salvation in Christ Jesus (Revelation 5:9-10).  It is the cry of my heart (Psalm 2:8-9).  May the Church of Jesus Christ offer the sinner the grace and goodness of God through the faithful preaching of the cross (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-5).  May the world not just hear the message of condemnation toward their sins but also the message of reconciliation that God has given us in the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/19/2014 at 2:22 PM

We Never Cease to Need the Gospel

I have written before on sinning every day.  Do we sin everyday?  Can we stop sinning?  These are all for another post and another debate.  Many disciples feel that we cannot but sin every single day of our lives.  They believe that we sin in word, thought, or deed each and every day.  For them, they often mean that they don’t love God like they should (Matthew 22:37) nor do they love their neighbor as they love themselves (Matthew 22:39) and therefore they sin every day.  They would also assert that they do not pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) nor do they evangelize at all times (Matthew 28:19) nor do they give to the poor at all times (Matthew 6:2) nor do they study the Bible at all times (Psalm 119:11).  Simply put: they do not love God enough nor as worthy as He deserves.

I can see their point.  But sadly, this view is often taken to further extremes and these sins of omission are often channeled into sins of commission as well.  In other words, the lack of loving God perfectly is seen as the same sin as viewing pornography.  After all, sin is sin!  I can’t help but sin since this is all I can do.  At my best, my righteousness is still filthy before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6) so why strive for righteousness when I can’t obtain it in the first place.  My best efforts are meaningless before a holy and righteous God.  And so I am just stuck with sinfulness.  It is who I am.  It is what I do.

And that view leads to an antinomian view of the Christian life in which sin dominates and the Lordship of Christ is reduced to Him submitting even to our sins.  Even the precious blood of Jesus (while certainly able to wash away our sins) is not able to conquer our sins.  I mean a few do get “victory” over some sins but they still sin in word, thought, and deed every single day.  Before God, they still are sinners whether they are living in adultery or failing to study their Bibles like they should.

Perhaps in the future I will take a look at these false teachings about our sinfulness and about sanctification.  I fully believe that Jesus is able to deliver His saints.  Matthew 1:21 promises that His very name would mean “the Lord saves” and He will save His people from their sins.  While I fully acknowledge that His blood is sufficient to wash away our sins (Matthew 26:28), I would go further and say that His blood empowers us to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:15-16).  The gospel always leads first to forgiveness of our sins and then toward holiness in this process of biblical sanctification (2 Corinthians 7:1).  Hebrews 10:14 is clear on this:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

The perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is sufficient to fully save the sinner (Romans 10:4, 13) but this is just the beginning.  The Lord also sanctifies His people as Hebrews 10:14 promises.

But none of us, not one of us ever comes to a place where we don’t need the gospel.  Some think that the gospel is only for the sinners.  No!  It is for the child of God as well.  We need the gospel.  The precious truths of 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; etc. are true for the child of God.  The truth of Hebrews 4:14-16 is a truth I often pray.  I need the work of Christ always to be saved.  I need His intercession to remain saved (Hebrews 7:25).  I need the blood of Jesus to continue to cleanse me from sin (1 John 1:7).  I fall nowhere close to the holy perfection that God demands (Romans 3:23) and thus I need the work of Christ to stand before a holy God (Romans 3:24-27).  I never cease to need the gospel.  I need to preach the gospel to myself always.

At the end of the day, I need the work of Christ.  I know that the world needs to hear the gospel (Romans 10:14-17) but I need to hear the truth of the gospel as well (Romans 1:16-17).  I need to be reminded that I have not arrived, that I always need the grace of God to overcome.  My pride likes to think that I have arrived but I have not.  I am still seeking.  Still hungry to know this God who saved me.  I am still longing to be like Jesus in that I say or do (Colossians 3:17; 1 John 2:6).  I despise sin but the gospel shows me that my sins are forgiven and that I can overcome sin by the grace of God (Titus 2:11-12).  The gospel shows me that Christ is faithful, sufficient, and He is my victory, my holiness, my salvation, my power to overcome.  Christ is the one that I need to focus on and not myself or my works.  They are full of holes but Christ is perfect and He is my gospel.

In every area of my life I need the gospel.  I need the gospel over my marriage, how I raise my children, how I spend my money.  I need the gospel over my home, over my job, and over my reading.  I need the gospel in my habits.  I need the gospel in my talks with the lost.  I need the gospel for forgiveness of my sins.  I need the gospel when I am driving my truck.  I never cease to need the precious truths of the gospel.  Never.

I pray that you, my reader, hunger to know the gospel as well.   The gospel is not abstract.  It is not rules.  The gospel is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the living One (Revelation 1:17-18).  The gospel is not memorizing steps to peace.  The gospel is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is my longing, to know Christ (Philippians 3:8-11).  I pray that I make my boast in the cross of Christ alone (Galatians 6:14).  His cross is my cross.  His death is my death.  His resurrection is my resurrection.  I need Him every hour!

Why We Sin

We sin because we want to sin.  Satan does not make us sin.  God does not make us sin.  We sin because we want to sin.  James 1:12-15 is clear on this:

12 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 has promised to those who love him. 13 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. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Notice verse 14.  We are enticed by our own desires.  Our desires of the flesh want to rebel against God and His Word (1 John 3:4).  Our flesh wants to be Romans 1:18-32.  Our flesh wants to ignore the commands of the Lord and live for ourselves.  We deceive ourselves and think that our obeying our flesh will produce joy and happiness and contentment but it only produces death (Romans 6:23).

In our day it is common to want our sins to be legalized.  Whether it be sexual sins or drugs, we believe that if the government will just make it legal in the eyes of the law of men then this will sooth our guilty conscience and we will have peace in our sins.  This will never be!  God has given us a conscience to warn us that we are in rebellion against Him.  Every person on the face of the earth has a conscience from God and every single person, apart from the grace of God, knows that we have violated His just laws and have rebelled against Him just as Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3.  We know that we are guilty before a holy God and we know that we are doing things worthy of death but we believe that we should have a “right” to our sins and no one should tell us that we are sinning (not even God Himself).  This will not bring peace.

Peace will only come when we repent.  Romans 5:1 assures us of this peace through Jesus Christ.  Jesus died to take away our sins (1 Peter 3:18).  He shed His own blood in our place (Isaiah 53:5-6) and through His blood alone can we find peace with God (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 2:8-9).  His blood alone is able to wash away all our sins (Isaiah 1:16; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7).  We must repent before a holy God which is turning away from sin toward God (Matthew 3:8; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  Repentance is the will of God (2 Peter 3:9).  Turning from sin is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 John 2:1-2).  By His grace alone are we able to turn away from our sins (Titus 2:11-12).  Our flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7) but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can turn away from sin and repent (John 16:8-11).

I despise sin!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/14/2014 at 8:43 PM

Arminius on Why We Sin

I was reading from the Works of Arminius and noticed a short note he wrote on why we sin.  Arminius wrote,

The efficient cause of actual sins is, man through his own free will. The inwardly working cause is the original propensity of our nature towards that which is contrary to the divine law, which propensity we have contracted from our first parents, through carnal generation. The outwardly working causes are the objects and occasions which solicit men to sin. The substance or material cause, is an act which, according to its nature, has reference to good. The form or formal cause of it is a transgression of the law, or an anomy. It is destitute of an end; because sin is amartia a transgression which wanders from its aim. The object of it is a variable good; to which, when man is inclined, after having deserted the unchangeable good, he commits an offense.

The effect of actual sins are all the calamities and miseries of the present life, then death temporal, and afterwards death eternal. But in those who are hardened and blinded, even the effects of preceding sins become consequent sins themselves.

Notice that Arminius is clear that he gives no reference to God causing us to sin.  We sin because we have a sinful nature and because we want to sin by our own free will which is itself enslaved to sin apart from grace.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/04/2013 at 8:28 AM

Arminius on Actual Sins (Part 2)

IX. Because we say that the wages of every sin is death,” we do not, on this account, with the Stoics, make them all equal. For, beside the refutation of such an opinion by many passages of Scripture, it is likewise opposed to the diversity of objects against which sin is perpetrated, to the causes from which it arises, and to the law against which the offense is committed. Besides, the disparity of punishments in the death that is eternal, proves the falsehood of this sentiment: For a crime against God is more grievous than one against man; (1 Sam. ii, 25;) one that is perpetrated with a high hand, than one through error; one against a prohibitory law, than one against a mandatory law. And far more severe will be the punishment inflicted on the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, than on those of Tyre and Sidon. (Matt. xi, 23.) By means of this dogma, the Stoics have endeavoured to turn men aside from the commission of crimes; but their attempt has not only been fruitless, but also injurious, as will be seen when we institute a serious deliberation about bringing man back from sin into the way of righteousness.

X. Mention is likewise made, in the Scriptures, of “a sin unto death;” (1 John v, 16;) which is specially so called, because it in fact, brings certain death on all by whom it has been committed. Mention is made in the same passage of “a sin which is not unto death,” and which is opposed to the former. In a parallel column with these, marches the division of sin into pardonable and unpardonable.

(1.) A sin which is “not unto death” and pardonable, is so called, because it is capable of having subsequent repentance, and thus of being pardoned, and because to many persons it is actually pardoned through succeeding penitence-such as that which is said to be committed against “the Son of Man.”

(2.) The “sin unto death” or unpardonable, is that which never has subsequent repentance, or the author of which cannot be recalled to penitence — such as that which is called “the sin” or “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,” (Matt. xii, 32; Luke xii, 10,) of which it is said, “it shall not be forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come.” For this reason, St. John says, we must not pray for that sin.

XI. But, though the proper meaning and nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost are with the utmost difficulty to be ascertained, yet we prefer to follow those who have furnished the most weighty and grievous definition of it, rather than those who, in maintaining six species of it, have been compelled to explain “unpardonable” in some of those species, for that which is with difficulty or is rarely remitted, or which of itself deserves not to be pardoned. With the former class of persons, therefore, we say that the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed when any man, with determined malice, resists divine, and in fact, evangelical truth, for the sake of resistance, though he is so overpowered with the refulgence of it, as to be rendered incapable of pleading ignorance in excuse. This is therefore called “the sin against the Holy Ghost, not because it is not perpetrated against the Father and the Son; (for how can it be that he does not sin against the Father and the Son, who sins against the Spirit of both?) but because it is committed against the operation of the Holy Spirit, that is, against the conviction of the truth through miracles, and against the illumination of the mind.

XII. But the cause why this sin is called “irremissible,” and why he who has committed it, cannot be renewed to repentance, is not the impotency of God, as though by his most absolute omnipotence, he cannot grant to this man repentance unto life, and thus cannot pardon this blasphemy; but since it is necessary, that the mercy of God should stop at some point, being circumscribed by the limits of his justice and equity according to the prescript of his wisdom, this sin is said to be “unpardonable,” because God accounts the man who has perpetrated so horrid a crime, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace, to be altogether unworthy of having the divine benignity and the operation of the Holy Spirit occupied in his conversion, lest he should himself appear to esteem this sacred operation and kindness at a low rate, and to stand in need of a sinful man, especially of one who is such a monstrous sinner!

XIII. The efficient cause of actual sins is, man through his own free will. The inwardly working cause is the original propensity of our nature towards that which is contrary to the divine law, which propensity we have contracted from our first parents, through carnal generation. The outwardly working causes are the objects and occasions which solicit men to sin. The substance or material cause, is an act which, according to its nature, has reference to good. The form or formal cause of it is a transgression of the law, or an anomy. It is destitute of an end; because sin is amartia a transgression which wanders from its aim. The object of it is a variable good; to which, when man is inclined, after having deserted the unchangeable good, he commits an offense.

XIV. The effect of actual sins are all the calamities and miseries of the present life, then death temporal, and afterwards death eternal. But in those who are hardened and blinded, even the effects of preceding sins become cousequent sins themselves.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/27/2013 at 10:00 AM

%d bloggers like this: