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Posts Tagged ‘Grace of God

Justification by Faith in Galatians

The epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians is a precious book to turn to when you are struggling with your faith.  The book provides clear answers to our justification before God which is not based on our works or our moral goodness or our works of righteousness but is based on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our assurance is based on Jesus and not us.  This precious truth is a bulwark in times of trouble either from the flesh, the devil, or the world.  As you read the book of Galatians you feel the passion of Paul the Apostle to protect the gospel from error (Galatians 1:6-9) which clearly is pointing back to the first heresy to come into the Church in the Judaizers (Acts 15:1-5).

What is amazing about Galatians 2 is that Paul says that even Barnabas (the son of encouragement) was led astray by this heresy.  The great apostle, Peter, was led astray.  In Galatians 2:14 we read (NASB):

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

Live like Jews.  That was their error.  In Galatians 2:15-16 Paul makes it clear that these Jews understood that they were sinners (Romans 7:7) and through the law they knew they could not save themselves because of their sins.  Instead, these Jews knew that we are justified before God through faith in Christ and not by being Jewish.  His point is clear, our salvation is based not on keeping the law or what we do but is through faith in the Lord Jesus.

This is the key for our struggles.  We are not perfected by the works of the law (or law).  In Galatians 3 Paul begins by telling his readers that we are not made perfect by our efforts even after our salvation.  Our trust from beginning to end must be in the Lord God.  We don’t begin in the Spirit and finish in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).  Paul then points to our father, Abraham, as our example in the faith in that he trusted God and God reckoned it as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  From the seed of Abraham comes our Savior, the Lord Jesus, who is the blessing of Abraham that God promised beforehand in Genesis 12:1-3.  This promise was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14).

The law was given for a purpose writes Paul the Apostle in Galatians 3:15-29.  The law shows us our need for salvation.  The law doesn’t produce righteousness (Galatians 3:21).  The law only shows me that I am a sinner (Galatians 3:24).  Paul’s defense here of the gospel is clear: we are not saved by the grace of God plus keeping the law.  The law shows us the need for grace!  The law is not bad at all.  It does it’s job which is to show me that I am a sinner in need of salvation.  The law condemns but it doesn’t offer any hope.  It only shows me that I have broken the law of God and deserve His wrath.

The solution to our sinfulness is not to try harder or to resolve to not to sin.  This will never work.  We are simply too weak.  Too human.  We need the grace of God that He has given to us in His Son whom He sent to redeem from under the law (Galatians 4:4-6).  We are not slaves of sin or slaves to the law but through Christ we have been set free to be sons of God (Galatians 4:7).  Paul turns again to the Old Testament to show that we are children of the promise, of Abraham and not of the slave woman (Galatians 4:12-31).  Our mother is not the law but is the promise of God that He has fulfilled in His Son.

Our hope now is the Lord Jesus.  God has set us free to look to Jesus and not to our flesh or to the law.  In Galatians 5:1-12 Paul turns to the Judaizers who were demanding circumcision as proof of keeping the law.  Paul says that what matters is not circumcision or what we do in the flesh.  Paul uses strong words in Galatians 5:12 by saying that those who want to circumcise should go and circumcise themselves and mutilate themselves.  They want to cut the flesh so bad, go all the way and mutilate yourselves then!  Paul is attacking this idea of circumcision hard because it robs Christ of His glory and robs the believer of the truth of justification by faith and not by what we do.  Paul adds that our call is to freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1, 13) and not to our flesh.  No doubt we are at war with our flesh (Galatians 5:16) but the answer is the Spirit and not the flesh (Galatians 5:17-18). Those of us who belong to Christ are circumcised in Jesus and His cross (Galatians 5:24; 6:14).  Circumcision is not what counts but being a new creation in Christ (Galatians 6:15).  This is the true Israel of God and not merely the Jews who keep the law (for they are not the true Israel; see Romans 9:30-33; 10:1-5; 11:1-10).

Paul ends Galatians with powerful words that would have cut the Judaizers.  He ends with this:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.  Amen.

Grace.  Such a marvelous word!  Paul ends by pointing to what saves us: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This was what he preached in Acts 15:11.  It is grace that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We are not saved by the keeping of the law.  We are not saved by our works of righteousness (Titus 3:5).  We are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus came and bore our sins on the cross for our eternal salvation (Galatians 1:4).  This is our hope.  This is our assurance.  This is our salvation.

I don’t know about you but that is good news to this sinner.  I am far from being what I know I need to be.  I don’t pray enough.  I don’t share my faith enough.  I don’t give enough of my money to the poor or to missions.  I can see my sins.  I am not a perfect husband.  I am not a perfect dad.  I fall so far from Christ and His perfection (Romans 6:23).

But I find peace in knowing that I am saved by grace and not by works.  I love 1 Timothy 1:15 because Jesus didn’t come to save the righteous.   Jesus didn’t come to save perfect husbands or perfect dads.  He came to save sinners like me.  Jesus died because I am sinful and have violated His laws.  I know this.  The law condemns me each and every time.  But thanks be to God who gave me His Son.  This is my assurance.  This is my hope.  This is the reason why I keep going.  It’s not because I am just strong willed.  It’s not because I am disciplined.  I am not of those things.  I am a sinful man.  I fall short in many, many ways (Romans 3:23).

Galatians is for sinners.  Galatians is for people who struggle.  Galatians is for those who need grace.  Galatians is for those who are tired and weary of trying to live the “Christian life” only to fall short all the time.  Galatians is a book of hope for those who do long to love Jesus and be more like Him.

I pray this has encouraged someone.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/03/2016 at 12:00 PM

Book Review: Grace For All (Chapter 2: God’s Universal Salvific Grace)

This is an ongoing review of the book Grace For All.  This book is edited by the late Clark Pinnock and John Wagner.  It is published by Resource Publications.

After reading Roger Olson’s chapter on how Arminianism is not “man-centered theology” but instead is “Man-centered theology” with the focus on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross and through His glorious resurrection, we are ready to examine what separates Arminians from Calvinists.  This chapter, “God’s universal salvific grace” seeks to focus on the grace of God for all.  The writer, Vernon Grounds, seeks to build a case from both Scripture and logic that God’s grace was given for all humanity.  It was the grace of God that reached out to lost humanity through the cross.

Grounds contrasts how Calvinism views the grace of God that is given only for the elect (those predetermined by God’s sovereignty to be His elect) and that of Arminianism where God’s grace is the power of God, the acting of God to bring sinners to salvation.  The gospel by nature then is the grace of God reaching out to lost sinners (Matthew 28:19).  God’s grace was fully manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 17-18) and Jesus shed His blood for all (Mark 10:45).  Jesus is the one mediator before God for lost sinners (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

The chapter tends to get bogged down in philosophy more than exegesis.  If one is to err (in my opinion), let them err on spending too much time examining what the Bible says about grace and salvation above what Calvinist theologians have said.  While I do think that it is important to see what some Calvinists have said about grace and particularly how salvation is accomplished by grace through faith in Jesus, it is more important to see what the Bible says above what Calvinists or Arminians have said.  The final authority for both Arminians and Calvinists must be the Word of God.  Therefore, I feel that Grounds doesn’t do justice to this chapter by spending too much time on what Calvinists have said above what the Bible says. No doubt he does cite Scripture here and there but true exegesis is missing.

One need only examine the great commission in Mathew 28:19-20 to see that Jesus intended His gospel to go into every nation.  This is the grace of God at work.  The message of the Church is now: Jesus is King!  Jesus has defeated sin and death.  Jesus has won the victory!  The message of the cross is thus one of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  God calls out to sinners to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15-16; Acts 17:30-31).  Whenever one does repent and believe the gospel, they find that God’s grace was drawing them to salvation (John 6:44).  It was the Spirit of God working to draw lost sinners by the gospel to the cross for salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:1-9).  A person then is justified before God through faith (Romans 5:1) and not by works (Titus 3:5-7) nor is our salvation unto faith (as in Calvinism).

Arminianism and Free Will

Arminius is often said to be the theologian of freedom.  One Calvinist theologian said that Arminius was “anthropocentric” in that he placed humanity at the center of his theology and not God.  To this day, Calvinist theologians continue to assert that Arminius and Arminianism is all about human freedom.  Libertarian free will is said a chief focus of Arminian theology.

And yet is this fair?  Is Arminianism focused on free will and humans as its center?

The fact is that those who say that Arminius was first and foremost about human freedom must prove this from his writings.  This cannot be done.  Arminius does not elevate human freedom above God’s sovereignty nor does he ascribe to salvation the basis being free will.  Arminius is clear in his writings that the will of man is free indeed but bound by sin (Romans 8:6-7).  The will of mankind is darkened by our sinfulness.  The will of man, like Jonathan Edwards later, was free but free to sin.  Man could do nothing with their free will to earn salvation.

Arminius was clear that we should uphold free will for three main reasons.  First, sin must be ascribed to free will.  While God can certainly use man’s free will sinful acts for His glory (Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23-24), the act of sin must be free and not from God lest God be made the author of sin itself which Scripture deplores (James 1:13-15). God is simply too holy to sin (Exodus 15:11; Habakkuk 1:13).  If mankind does not have free will, sin must come from outside of them and that would be from the Creator Himself and Arminius simply would not affirm this.

Secondly, Arminius defended free will in regard to grace.  It was here that Calvinists often attacked Arminius as being Pelagian.  For salvation to be truly gracious and a gift from God (Romans 6:23) then it must be maintained that mankind receives this grace by their own free will albeit by the ministry of the Spirit.  To deny freedom in the work of grace is to make grace not truly grace.  How can one ascribe salvation as a work of grace if in fact man has no choice but to succumb to the irresistible drawing power of God?  Calvinists will insist that this is truly grace when dead sinners are regenerated to believe the gospel but salvation as a gift from God (John 3:16) is not a gift if the person offered the gift has nothing to say about receiving the gift.  Salvation as gracious is gracious in Arminianism since the will of man is freed by the Spirit to believe and receive the gift (John 1:12-13; Romans 11:5-6).

Finally, Arminius affirmed human freedom because it upholds the relationship between God and man as a true relationship.  God is not forcing His will upon people as a Master and they as robotic slaves.  Instead, God is loving, gracious, and reaching out to lost humanity through His Son and through His Word to bring them into a free and loving relationship with Himself.  The consistent theme of the Old Testament is God having relationships with people (and later the nation of Israel) through human freedom.  God allows the free will decisions of Abraham, David, and others to build His relationship with them.  No doubt God is sovereign in His choosing but He continues to allow a man like Abraham or Moses to even sin against Him in the process but nonetheless uses the men and their free will for His glory.  This does not end in the New Testament.  The coming of the Messiah is God still reaching out to humanity.  Yes our will is bent and wicked.  Yes we are sinners but God is consistently holy and pure yet He reaches out to the lost though His Son (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).  God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

The facts are that Arminius is not putting man at the center of his theology nor even free will.  Instead, Arminius affirmed the grace of God as central to his theology.  We are saved by grace and kept by grace.  Pelagianism places the beginning of faith in man but Arminius places salvation as an act of God’s first grace.  It is God who initiates salvation first in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately in His Son (John 1:17-18).  The beginning of salvation is not in man.  The beginning of salvation, according to Arminius, is God and His grace.

For more on this I highly recommend the book, Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace by Keith Stanglin and Thomas McCall.

The FACTS of Arminianism: Freed by God’s Grace

The first point of the five points from FACTS is “freed by God’s grace.”  This has to do with the doctrine of prevenient grace by which the sinner is able to believe the gospel and to be saved and yet the Spirit frees the sinner so that the decision by the sinner is the free will choice of the sinner.

Arminians believe, as Calvinists do, that the sinner is bound in their sins.  We agree with our Calvinist brethren that sinners are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1) and that apart from the grace of God, none could be saved (John 6:44).  Romans 3:10-18 establishes point by point the nature of our depravity.  There is nothing in us that is not effected by our sinfulness.  Our minds, our hearts, our will, our speech – all this is bound in our sins.  We are depraved.  We are sinful.

A better term than “total depravity” would be “total inability.”  The sinner is totally unable to come to salvation apart from the intervention of God.  We do not love God.  We don’t want to serve God.  We don’t even see our need for salvation apart from the grace of God opening our eyes to our sinfulness.  The entire work of salvation is a work of grace.  Regeneration in both Arminianism and Calvinism is a work of God, a monergistic work by God alone (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).

Arminius affirmed total inability.  He wrote:

In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

However, despite agreeing that we are dead in our sins, that our wills are held captive by sin and only the grace of God can set the sinner free, Arminius went on to write that God’s grace enables the sinner to believe.  He wrote:

“What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties — one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it.”

Certainly the Arminian position is that salvation is all of grace (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8-9).  Romans 11:6 is clear that salvation is not by works but by grace!  Good works cannot obtain salvation because they are often tainted by our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6). If good works could save, how many good works must one do to be saved?  If God requires perfection to be in His presence, who can boast that they are ever perfect save the Son of God?  Scripture is clear that we are sinners (Romans 3:23) but Scripture is also clear that Jesus alone is perfect (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Christ shed His blood for us, for our sins, and He bore our sins on the cross.  Jesus was the sinless sacrifice for our sins.  He was the absolutely perfect sacrifice that secures our eternal salvation!

Yet God does not force people to believe.  Because of our sinfulness, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our need for salvation through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  The Spirit brings conviction of sin (John 16:8) and He exposes our wicked hearts to the gospel truth that Jesus shed His blood for our sins (John 3:16).  The Spirit thus does His work of grace in us so that the freed will of the sinner can believe and be saved.

Arminius wrote about the work of the Spirit in bringing repentance:

Because, after the gate of grace has by the just judgment of God been closed on account of a malicious continuance in sins, no passage is open for the Spirit, who is necessarily the author of repentance. Therefore let these words always resound in our ears, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. iii, 7, 8; Psalm xcv, 7, 8.) And this exhortation of the Apostle, “Workout your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” (Phil. ii, 12, 13.) May this be graciously granted to us by God the Father of mercies, in the Son of his love, by the Holy Spirit of both of them. To whom be praise and glory forever. Amen.

Arminius affirmed that the work of salvation is the work of God’s grace through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Arminius wrote about this saving grace:

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

The Arminian position then is that we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, by the work of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.  This gospel comes through the preaching of the inerrant, infallible Word of God.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17) and sinners need to hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).  The name of Jesus alone saves (Acts 4:12) and He alone is the meditator before God for sinners (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Sinners are commanded to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15-16; Acts 2:38; 3:19-20; 17:30-31).  This salvation is the work of God from beginning to end.

Some Further Thoughts on the Death of Robin Williams

I have seen it all when it comes to the death of Robin Williams.  I have seen people defending him for committing suicide (some even calling it a brave decision).  I have seen people defending his right to take his life in the midst of his depression.  I have seen both worldly and Christians cheering on Williams as an actor.  I have seen people having “Williams Memorial” parties where they sit and watch Williams’ movies to celebrate his life (and his death I guess).  I have seen some Christians cheering Williams burning in eternal hell (no I am not kidding).  I have seen even one Christian rejoicing that Williams is now healed and in the presence of the King.

I have seen it all.

Williams’ death sparks a conversation about death that worldly people don’t want to face and that is that we all will die.  All of us will face the great equalizer in death.  On the same day that Robin Williams committed suicide, over 146,000 people died as well.  In the end, the 146,000 people who died the same day as Robin Williams are all the same: dead.  Their money, fame, fortune, poverty, disease, etc. could not help them.  They are all dead.  They all will end up the same as you and I: worm’s food (unless you cremate them).  From dust we came and from dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19).

Now in this post let me just address a few things.  First, as disciples of Jesus I don’t think we should make light of the death of anyone.  In Acts 12 the wicked Herod has James the brother of John killed (Acts 12:2) and he wants to kill Peter (Acts 12:3) but God hears the cries of the saints and He rescues Peter from sure death (Acts 12:5-11).  Later on, God strikes down Herod (Acts 12:20-23).  What you don’t see is the Church rejoicing in this.  You find the gospel going forth (Acts 12:24) but nothing is said that the Church rejoiced that Herod was killed.  Herod, no doubt, was an enemy of the gospel but the Church allowed God to handle Herod and they accepted His judgment.

My point is that the Church didn’t rejoice in killing of their enemies.  Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 12:19-21 something completely different about this.  He wrote:

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Jesus said that we were to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) to be like our Father in heaven.  

I don’t see room for disciples rejoicing that Robin Williams is dead or celebrating that he is in hell.  This is not from the Lord.  

That said, I don’t see that disciples should use Robin Williams as an example either.  This was a wicked man.  Let us not play games here about this.  Here was a man who had a vulgar mouth, made jokes about God Almighty, ridiculed Christ, was addicted to drugs and alcohol, etc.  That is only his public sins.  This was not a “good” man as some are saying.  This was a typical man.  A wicked man (Romans 3:10).  

Yet Williams is no different than us.  Without Christ and His grace, I too would be hell-bound (Titus 3:4-7).  Were it not for the grace of God in my life, I too would be lost in my sins (Ephesians 2:4).  Were it not for the cross, I too could be chasing women, addicted to drugs, bound up in my sins.  It was the grace of God and His grace alone that saved me.  It is tempting to belittle Williams and not see our own sinfulness and the grace of God intervening in our lives to save us.  Let us not ridicule Williams for his sinful life without stopping and pondering the grace of God in our lives.  In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, let us “remember our chains.”  

Before a holy God none of us are worthy.  Before a holy God none of us deserve heaven.  We deserve His just wrath.  But thanks be to God for rescuing us from our sins (Romans 5:8-9).  It was not me that saved myself from the wrath of God.  It was God in Christ saving me from His wrath (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  As Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote, “We are being saved from the wrath of God by the sacrifice of God.”  I didn’t earn this salvation.  I didn’t make myself worthy to be saved by being a little better than Robin Williams.  I am saved only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  

I pray that this truth, the truth of God’s grace, will flow in our minds and hearts as we consider the death of those around us.  We too will die but what separates us from the world is the Lord Jesus and HIs grace (John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).  We are not like the world who grieve because they have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) but we rejoice that Christ is risen from the dead and He is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Christ alone saved us from death and He alone gives us the assurance that there is more than the grave.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/14/2014 at 12:00 PM

Looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Today was just a bad day.  If it could go wrong, it did.  I drive a truck for a living and was broke down for over 9 hours.  Then I drove a man’s care back to my work after he came to take over the route for me only to break down in his car with a dead battery.  What should have been a relative easy day turned into one of those bad days.

In comparison, I know there are many more worst things that could have happen.  One man (not a believer by the way) replied to me, “Hey, it could have been worst.  You could have been killed in the truck.”  That put my day into perspective.

Forgive me for my complaining (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Today was one of those days where I just didn’t “feel” saved.  It wasn’t that I was seeking to grieve the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30) but I just wasn’t feeling too sanctified today.  I wanted to just go home and do nothing.  I didn’t want to read my Bible.  I didn’t want to pray.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I just wanted to sit.

Thankfully I have a faithful high priest who understands my struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The more I walk with Jesus the more I realize that I need His grace each and every day.  I need Him to help me live a holy life (Hebrews 12:14).  I need His grace to help me to be a faithful witness for His glory and honor (Titus 2:11-14).  I need His grace to help me when I fall short of the glory of God (Hebrews 7:25; 9:14).  My salvation is based on the work of Jesus and by grace through faith I am saved (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8-9).  This grace is at work in my life to stand firm for the gospel in spite of my flesh, the world, or the devil.  God’s grace is there to help me be more like Christ (Romans 6:1-23).  That is my heart’s cry.  I hate my sins.  I despise my flesh and my laziness.  I long to honor the  Lord Jesus in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17) but I do fall short of His perfection (Mark 12:29-31).

The cure for all this is to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  1 John 1:7 speaks of this daily cleansing like this:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The Greek tense of 1 John 1:7 is such that this cleansing is not just a one time cleansing but an ongoing cleansing.  The blood of Jesus cleanses me and continues to cleanse me.  He is making me holy by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  I hear His call to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I long to be pure and holy.  While I do fall short (James 3:2), His grace is there to help me get up and continue to strive for holiness.

Praise God for His enabling and powerful grace!

For more on this I recommend the book by Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace.  

Our Doctrine Must Destroy Sin

Our doctrine must not be a doctrine that allows for people to continue without repentance in a life of sin.  This is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).  When we live in sin, we are showing that we are slaves to sin (John 8:34).  By being slaves of sin, we show that we are in turn children of the devil (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:3).  We are then to avoid sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  We are to not walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do (Ephesians 4:17-20).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:34 that the Corinthians were not to go on sinning.  When we do sin, we have the assurance of 1 John 1:9, that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who died for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

Any doctrine then that takes the sacrifice of Christ who came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and teaches that we can continue in sin is not biblical (Hebrews 10:19-39).  Jude 4 reminds that we are not to teach God’s grace for continued sinning:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yet God’s true grace enables us to overcome sin as we read in Titus 2:11-12:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Notice what the grace of God does for the disciple: trains.  God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and not indulge in it further the grace of God helps us live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.  The grace of God does not allow for continued sinning (Romans 6:1-4).

2 Corinthians 7:1 is a wonderful promise given to disciples:

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.

The grace of God enables the disciple to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to avoid sin.  The grace of God trains us and it doesn’t give us a free license to live in sin.  We are now slaves of Christ and not slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-23).  We have been bought with a price and are to glorify God with our bodies which is His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There is a subtle way in which the enemy takes the truth of God’s grace given in Christ for sinners and he turns it so that people start to believe that since Jesus died for our sins, we can indulge in sin.  A person is taught that they can live in sin because they are “once saved, always saved” despite no repentance over sins.  Another person is taught that since they died with Christ and are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), God does not see their sins anymore so even when they sin, God only sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by a one time act of faith.  They ignore 1 John 3:7:

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

According to 1 John 3:7, a person who is practicing righteousness is righteous.  There is nothing mentioned here about imputation but about practical living.  A person can claim all day that they are imputed with Christ’s righteousness but 1 John 3:7 tells us that if we are truly righteous through Christ, we will live righteously.  Those who do not live a righteous life by the grace of God will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:7-8).  We are to repent of our sins and turn to Christ alone to help us overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Christ shed His blood for our sins and He delivers us from the power, penalty, and pleasure of sin.

Do you hate sin?  I do.  I despise sin.  I am not perfect but I long to be like Jesus in every way (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:6).  I praise God for the sacrifice of Christ for my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7).  I praise God that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sins (Hebrews 10:14).  1 John 1:7 is a wonderful passage of Scripture that speaks of the cure for dirty feet:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This passage is all in the continued present tense of the Greek.  In other words, as we walk in the light (present tense), the blood of Jesus cleanses (present active tense) us from all sin.  The cure for our sins is not found in the laws of men.  It is not found in morality.  The cure for overcoming sin and its power is the precious blood of Jesus as we walk in the light (Galatians 5:16-17).  We have a faithful high priest who was tempted as we are but without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Thus through Christ we are able to approach the throne of God and receive help in our time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16).

Praise God for our merciful and faithful high priest who lives to pray for us (Hebrews 7:25)!  He is able to deliver us and help us to be holy by His gospel that sets us free and empowers us to be holy as He is holy.

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