A significant part of the today’s evangelical industry is devoted to giving assurance to people who are in bondage to various forms of sin that they do not need to fear for their souls. In other words, people desperately want to hear that it is safe to sin, and there are plenty of people out there to cater to that market.
The ministry of Jesus to people caught in sin often contained the words, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11). Or,
“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5:14)
The encounter with God’s grace not only brings undeserved forgiveness and acceptance with God. It also comes with a warning to “sin no more”. The reason for this is hidden in plain sight. If we keep on sinning after encountering the grace of Jesus Christ, there comes a time when “something worse” than being crippled and powerless for 38 years.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV)
Notice that this Scripture was not written to the world, but to Christians. It does not say, “If THEY [the people outside of Christ] keep on sinning …” but “If WE [the believers/Christians] deliberately keep on sinning AFTER receiving a knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God”.
In contrast to this plain teaching of Scripture, there is a veritable army of so-called “grace teachers” and so-called Bible teachers whose whole emphasis seems to be on the idea that because of the cross, God is now blind to your sin and He unconditionally guarantees you heaven regardless of how you live – just because you believe He does. For them, the gospel is that Jesus did it all so you don’t have to live righteously at all, and some go so far as to teach that only those who believe this way will be accepted by God. If you want to know if Jesus is really blind to the sin in the church, please read the words of Jesus to the churches in the Book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Folks, this all happened AFTER the cross.
There is a difference between believing that God requires a surrender of heart and life and a belief that you can “earn your way to heaven”. We can NEVER earn our way to heaven by any good works of faith or obedience. All we can do is cast ourselves on the mercy of God, and surrender to the Lord. We then need to follow Jesus through faith, love, prayer, obedience, the Word, and self-denial. Our acceptance with the Lord is because of the ongoing cleansing of His blood – but there are conditions for this, as the Bible reveals. See 1 John 1:7 for some of them.
Whatever is not of faith is sin.
Whatever is not of love is sin.
Prayerless living is sin.
All disobedience is sin.
Rejecting the Word of the Lord is sin.
Self-indulgence contrary to the leading of the Spirit to deny ourselves is sin.
We are not permitted by Jesus to keep on sinning.
He said, “Go and sin no more”.
It would not be fair to say that to one person if he did not mean it to apply to all who hear His Word.
Believing and Repenting
There is this idea that you can believe without repenting. In the gospels, repenting and believing are like two sides of the same coin.
You can only fully “believe in Jesus” without “turning from sin” if the “Jesus” you believe in does not say things like “Go and sin no more”.
But which Jesus is that? It could well be “another Jesus”, couldn’t it?
Repentance in Greek [metanoia] is a “change of mind” but it is more than changing your opinion on religious matters. It means turning to God, away from both self-dependence AND willful carnal sin. It means a 180 degree change of direction.
It is a change from unbelief to faith, from doubts to trust, from fear of doing God’s will to delight in doing God’s will.
Some try to redefine repentance to mean: “It is a change of mind from thinking God requires something of you to realizing that because of Jesus’ work God requires nothing from you”. That definition cannot be true in the light of what the apostle Paul said in the Bible. I will show that shortly.
The way of salvation as taught by Jesus in the gospels is something we should consider carefully. Some people teach that everything Jesus taught about salvation was out of date after the cross and resurrection. But these gospels recording the words of Jesus were written decades AFTER Jesus died and rose again. Not once do these gospel writers say, “Oh, and by the way, since Paul came along, we learned that none of Jesus’ commandments are bindings, and his warnings were all for someone else – not you”. That would be ridiculous, but this is essentially what many people are swallowing today – because THAT IS WHAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE.
It is a serious mistake to set up the apostle Paul’s teaching in opposition to the teaching of Jesus. Peter the apostle warned about this when he said:
“ Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”
(2 Peter 3:14-16)
It is possible to twist Paul’s teaching to your own eternal destruction. But if you look at EVERYTHING Paul taught, and not just a few proof texts from Romans 3 and 4 and the first half of Romans 8:1 (please read the WHOLE verse in KJV or NKJV), you will see that for the believer, we must be diligent to cling to Christ and stay away from the beguiling power of sin – if we wish to enter life.
Because Paul is the favorite source of proof texts from those who teach the error I am talking about, I will quote some of Paul’s letters now so you can see how you as a believer must flee sin if you hope to be finally saved.
Teachings of Paul that Are Often Ignored – All Written to Christians
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,” (Romans 2:5-8). “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11)
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)
“What then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1,2a)
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18). There is a big condition there. If you are led by the flesh, you are not led by the Spirit.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[a] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[b]drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves ONCE WALKED when you lived in them” (Colossians 3:5-7)
Therefore he who rejects this [the teaching on sanctification and sexual purity] does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:8)
“If we deny Him He will also deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:5-7)
“They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” (Titus 1:16)
Warnings from the Apostle John
“If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”. (1 John 1:6). [I consider it ridiculous that those who explicitly deny this teaching (like Joseph Prince) claim it was written to gnostics, not Christians. On what authority do they say so?]
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3)
“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4)
“But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).
“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him” (1 John 2:15).
“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7)
“He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8)
Warnings from the Apostle Peter
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:18-21)
These verses and the whole chapter in fact are a strong warning. It talks about people who have escaped from those who live in error being ALLURED by lewdness by false prophets. If someone had escaped that means they were in Christ, for there is so escape from sin outside of Christ. But these false teachers, who promise LIBERTY, are actually slaves of corruption. No doubt many of these teachers are addicted to lust and cannot save themselves from their own masturbations, but they promise LIBERTY to people in the name of GRACE. You can escape the pollutions of the world through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but if you go back into sexual sin and other kinds of evil, and are overcome by it, you are WORSE OFF than if you had never known the Lord at all. These people KNEW the way of righteousness – they knew Jesus – for there is no other way – but they turned away from the HOLY COMMANDMENT delivered to them to follow the so-called “liberty” of licentious “grace teachers”.
If words have any meaning, this is talking about people who knew Jesus, who were sanctified by faith, but fell from their position of steadfastness by listening to the wrong kind of teacher, especially teachers who say that what real Christians call sexual sin is actually no big deal.
Peter says earlier in chapter 1 on 2 Peter:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;” (2 Peter 1:5-10)
WE are the ones to make our calling and election sure. It is not something predetermined according to the arbitrary choice of God. God is not willing that ANY should perish. He died for all. This passage is an exhortation to godly, self-controlled living. It teaches that faith is not enough to make our calling and election sure, if it does not lead to these other qualities. It states things positively, but the implication is that if you neglect these things you will be spiritually blind, even though you WERE formerly forgiven of your sins. Blind people, as we know, tend to end up in ditches, if Jesus’ words are anything to go by.
This positive exhortation of Peter is in fact a veiled warning.
Peter ends the letter saying:
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;” (2 Peter 3:17)
This verse means YOU CAN FALL. Beware so you don’t fall, being led away with the error of the wicked. The error of the wicked is that it won’t be too bad for the wicked, that you can get away with it.
We could add to this serious list many verses from the Book of Hebrews, and many, many of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrowis the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13,14)
“When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” (Luke 13:25-27)
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26,27)
11 “Afterward the other virgins [the ones lacking oil] came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:11)
“And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matthew 25:30)
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47)
Jesus made it very clear that we need to be those people who are filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, who do something with what the Lord entrusts us, who help the poor, who depart from iniquity and who do the will of God if we are to be among those welcomed into His eternal Kingdom. Otherwise, there is eternal punishment. Because refusing to listen and do God’s will is considered by God to be rebellion against His authority. If we want to be in His Kingdom, He must be our King and we need to do His will, living a life of faith and love according to God’s Word.
In view of this, and in view of the fact that we do live in an exceedingly wicked age, I urge you to pursue the Word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit with all your spare time so that your soul might be purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit.
If you have sinned and been deceived, and want to change, there is MERCY with God. You need to call upon the name of Jesus, asking for mercy, and asking for HIM to change your heart and help you to turn back to Him as Lord, Master and Savior.
I pray all those who need to will do this. Amen.