One has been “given over” by God when he/she reaches the point that he/she can engage in any activity that Bible labels as sin without having any qualms about it.
Once given over, the soul often becomes a spokesperson for the devil giving hearty approval to the area of sin, encouraging others to participate (Rom. 1: 32).
The English phrase “given over” is an English translation of the Greek word p-a-r-e-d-o-k-e-n found in the original language of the passage (Romans 1: 24).
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts....(Romans 1: 24 NABS)."
Lust is a strong desire. Lust is sin when the strong desire is for something that God forbids. Lust is sin when what we desire is legitimate in of itself, but we are willing to sin in order to obtain or retain it. Lust is sin when our desires would cause us to establish ungodly priorities.
The “being given over” of an unbeliever will ultimately result in his/her spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) unless he/she repents (changes his/her mind) concerning salvation.
For the (a-l-r-e-a-d-y) born again believer, this “being given over” results in divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) HERE on Earth and the partial or full forfeiture of the various rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. Chapters 2, 3) that he/she would have otherwise received in Heaven. Divine discipline can range in anything from living with a guilty conscience, up to and including physical death, but never the loss of salvation.
Especially in this sex-crazed time in which we are living, sins of sexual immorality (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, sexual assault/molestation) is what often comes to mind when speaking of lust. Lust, however, refers to a strong desire to engage in ANY activity that runs contrary to what Scripture has to say. One can sin by lusting (having a strong desire) to engage is sin, or by having a strong desire that leads to one having the wrong priorities concerning things that would otherwise be legitimate.
Among these things are money, power, popularity. Such things as money, power, and popularity are not sins in of themselves, but can become so if given the wrong level of priority, or when one engages in sin in order to obtain or retain them.
We do not all lust after the same things. What one may lust after is of no genuine interest to another, and visa versa. Lust is for the satisfaction or the elevation of self.
As individuals, there are areas of sin that we have no desire to engage in that others can't seem to resist, but there areas of sin that each one of us have a strong desire to engage in that others have no interest or temptation.
Fallen Man has a way of self-justifying his/her own sin by pointing to what he/she sees as the greater (in quantity or quality) sins of others.
James 2: 10 teach the if we break even ONE of God’s laws, we stand as guilty in His eyes as the one who has broken them all! Therefore, we are ALL in equal need of God’s ongoing provision of grace, and are in no position to judge others.
There are different ways in which the sin nature within us in manifested. We ALL have areas of strength and areas of weakness. There are, for instance, liars who would not steal, and there are thieves who would not lie. We have all sinned (Romans 3: 23), are sinning, and will sin (1 John 1: 8), as long as we are in this world (Romans 7: 23, 24). Therefore, we are ALL in need of the same ON-GOING grace and forgiveness (1John 1: 9) of God.
In the case of an unbeliever, the lust (strong desire) to reject the Gospel Message is consistent with the voice of his fallen nature that is inherently “hostile – Romans 8: 7 NASB” towards God and/or the things of God.
As in the case of most sins, each time one rejects an opportunity to be presented with the Gospel Message, it gets easier and easier to continue to do in the future. In the case of the Gospel Message and the opportunity for salvation that it provides one can reach the point of no return when he/she has done so for the last time.
Once the TRUE Gospel Message has been presented, there is no longer any neutrality in view. One either chooses to believe or to disbelieve it.
Spiritual regeneration (Titus 5: 3) takes place at the moment one is born again (John 3: 5). Until one is born again, he she is as spiritually dead (100%) as he/she was on the day he/she came into this world. No amount of religious activity can take the place of choosing to believe (place one's trust and confidence) in the Gospel Message.
Believing in the Gospel Message is what open the gates of Heaven. Disbelieving the Gospel Message is what opens the gates of Hell.
In the case of a back-sliding born again believer, each time he/she chooses to continue to sin in any given area, it too, becomes easier and easier, eventually coming to the point of no return that he/she is spiritually deaf and blind with an ever-increasing desire NOT to listen to an edifying principle of correcting Scripture. The end result for a back-sliding believer will the partially or completely forfeit his/her heavenly reward (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. Chapters 2, 3).
There is no neutrality or rest areas along the road towards spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is measured by the amount (2Pet. 3: 18) and the application (James 1: 22) of accurate doctrine on a daily basis.
Learning what God has to say is important as one cannot apply what one does not possess. At the same time, being able to accurately quote, but unwilling to apply, what the Bible has to say will not accomplish much in the spiritual realm.
Every time one chooses to respond to an opportunity to either learn, refine, or apply Bible Doctrine, we take a step towards spiritual maturity. Each time we say NO to an opportunity to learn, refine, or apply Bible doctrine, we take a step towards reversionism. Stay on the path of reversionism long enough is a sure-fire way to find one eventually being given over to one form of lust or another.
When one rejects what God has to say, it creates a void in the soul structure that the devil is more than glad to fill with some counterfeit or alternative concept that he knows will appeal to the fallen nature in us.
The forfeiture of the rewards and heavenly privileges does not result in the loss of salvation. Salvation is a irrevocable (Romans 11: 29) gift of God.
As in the case of the present-day American society, when any society is in moral decline, more and more sin becomes socially accepted, with its eventual endorsement not find behind.
Needless to say, this plays right into the hand of the devil whose desire it is to destroy (1Pet. 5: 8) any one and/or any thing that has the potential of glorifying God.
Especially in periods of moral decline, If what one believes is consistent with the majority of the population, it’s a strong indicator that he/she has been deceived and is on the wrong road. When it comes to spiritual issues, the majority is usually wrong.
“… for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many (the majority) are those who (try to) enter (the Kingdom of God) by it ” - Matt. 7: 13 NASB italics mine."
If one receives the praise and encouragement from the majority of people for his/her participation in the products of Man-made religious activity, it too, is a strong indication that he/she are on the wrong road. No one is applauding any louder than the devil himself.
“If you were of the world (promoting human/religious viewpoint), the world would love its own; but because you (disciples) are not of the world, but I chose you (to come) out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15: 19 NABS).”
“Woe to you when all men (the majority) speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers use to treat the false prophets (Luke 6: 26 NABS italics mine).”
When you speak spiritual truths, you will be hated by the majority (who cling to human viewpoint/religion).” - John 15: 19 NASB/italics mine.
“Religious” people do not want to face the pressure that the accurate doctrine will generate. Accordingly, religious people are not fond of those who challenge their religious concepts.
As initially upsetting as the truth can be at times, spiritual people welcome correction and bask in the John 8: 32 freedom and spiritual growth that the accurate teaching of the Word of God brings to them.
The ways in which one worships and serves God differs from one dispensation to the next. The people of God, for instance, no longer make animal sacrifices, that in previous dispensations, were an essential part of the temple worship rituals.
Never the less, the c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r and the n-a-t-u-r-e of God do not change. This unchanging nature of God is what theologians refer to as the divine attribute of immutability.
In past dispensations, souls were saved based on their belief (Gen. 15: 6) in the plan of God, to the extent that the plan had been made known to them. Here in the Church Age, all that is to be made known (concerning salvation)has already been made known, with salvation being secured by placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
Scripture teach that in God’s eyes (Hab. 1: 13), sin was, sin is, and sin will always be sin. In the eyes of God there is no such thing as a “little” sin (James 2: 10).
In the New Testament alone, there are over 300 documented ways, though acts of commission (what one does) or omission (what one fails to do) that a Church Age believer can engage in what the Bible calls sin.
The command to forgive others, for instance, carries just as much weight as the command prohibiting murder. James 2: 10 places the one who commits murder and the one who will not forgive in the same stinking, sinking boat of sinners.
Our rationalization may make one feel that he/she is a "cut above" others for not having committed the same type or the same amount of sin as others, but that is NOT what the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16) has to say! What we may label a "little" sin takes a born again believer just as far out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14/1John 1: 3) with God as any other sin.
Sin includes entertaining any t-h-o-u-g-h-t or taking any a-c-t-i-o-n that runs contrary to what the Bible either requires or prohibits.
Depending on where a disciple is on the road to spiritual maturity, he/she may or may not have knowledge of the precise theological name/term for any given sin, but at least until we have been given over, we ARE inherently (Romans 1: 18-20) and consciously aware when we engage in what the Bible labels as sin.
People have gone as far as misusing or perverting Scripture in order to self-justify themselves and/ or to promote sin. The devil has a long record of quoting, misquoting, perverting, and misapplying what God has had to say!
* * *
There are circumstances in which one can suffer from false guilt. False guilt is an emotion that causes one to feel guilty,when in actuality, there has been no sin committed. False guilt can be just as painful as true guilt.
Some people have mastered the art of making others feel guilty in order to manipulate and control them.
False guilt can be generated as a result of misinterpreting and misapplying Scripture. For example, the CORRECT interpretation and application of Exodus 20: 13 is that one should not “murder’, not that one should not “kill.”
The Bible (Eccl. 3: 3) teaches that there ARE times to “kill,” but NEVER a time to murder.
The Bible authorizes, endorses, and justifies the taking of human life by other human beings under specific circumstances. Among them are acts of warfare, acts of self defense, accidental, and in the administration of justice when there are at least two eye-witnesses to the actual deed.
God cannot commit sin, nor can He direct or command someone else to do something that can rightly be labelled sin.
The Luke 14: 26 command to hate our family members does NOT means that we are to have negative feelings towards them, nor does the command to love and to forgive our enemies require that we are to have friendly, bonding feelings towards them.
Religion has a l-o-n-g history of promoting as sin any non-compliance with its own set of rules, regulations, requirements, and traditions. One must distinguish what has come from God, and what has come from Man-made religion. See Mark 7: 7/1Tim. 4: 1/ Gal. 3: 1).
To self-justify oneself or to promote a religious agenda, individuals and/or groups in positions of leadership have a long history of misquoting and/or misapplying, and/or adding or deleting from what Scripture has to say.
Perverting, misquoting, and/or misrepresenting what God said was the tactic that the devil used to accomplish the Fall of Man in the Garden (Gen. 3), and this was the tactic that the devil used in his attempt to disqualify the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God (Gen. 3/Matt. 4/Luke 4).
This is the same tactic that the promoters of Man-made religion use to infiltrate and promote false doctrine and practices WITHIN the Christian Community of the Church Age (Galatians 3: 1/1Tim. 4: 1)
This is what is meant in John 8: 44 that speak of religious people unwittingly fulfilling the desires of the devil who was a liar from the very beginning. Having first been deceived themselves, religiously deceived people fail to see the evil that they impose on others.
Developing the spiritual discernment to distinguish the difference between what is accurate Bible Doctrine and what is merely the products of Man-made religion is an essential part of discipleship. It is also the means through which one will find himself in the more intense battles of spiritual combat. When opponents can’t find fault with the message, they will turn on the messenger (Matt. 7: 6).
In the secular world, people who work with such things as currency are NOT best trained by keeping up with the latest versions of counterfeiting. They are best trained by being able to confirm the real thing.
This is what the advancing disciple will do in the spiritual realm. To the extent that an advancing disciple learns what the Word of God actually has to say on any given issue, his/her ability to spot a counterfeit, religious alternative becomes all that easier.
Once something is done long enough and often enough, it becomes accepted as being the "right" way. Once this takes place, it will almost be impossible to rectify, as it would require one to acknowledge what he/she and many of his/her family members has been doing for years or generations has been wrong (Ouch!).
Initiating correction within the Christian Community will result in much opposition from the religious crowd (John 16: 2). Religious people hate to think that what they have been taught and practicing could be in error.
While some have drifted further away from Scripture than others, Spiritually edified people know that with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ, there never has been, is not now, or every will be an individual, an organization, or a denomination that has it "all together" when it comes to spiritual issues.
Our Lord's closest and most dedicated apostles were not always right or in agreement either before OR after His resurrection.
If there were such an individual, organization, or denomination here on Earth, then God the Holy Spirit could take a vacation and direct all matters to them.
Sad to say, but there are individuals who believe that they or their leadership are infallible, but the track records of such individuals and organizations say otherwise.
If one never has the need to make adjustments in his/her soul structure, then (#1) he/she either is the first person since Christ to have such omniscience, or (#2) has stopped growing in the knowledge of Christ (2Pet. 3: 18). My money is on #2.
Discipleship is a POST (after) salvation activity. Post salvation discipleship is neither the means through which salvation is obtained or retained. One can not engage in TRUE discipleship until AFTER one is already saved, with the eternal location of his/her soul having ALREADY been determined.
Discipleship involves the study and application of the Word of God for the purpose of glorifying God by identifying and executing the post salvation spiritual life that is outlined in New Testament Scripture.
The born again believer glorifies God in his/her capacity of a disciple and later as an ambassador for the Kingdom of God while HERE in the devil’s (Luke 4: 6) world.
The teaching of the Word of God was (and remains to be) the internal (inside) part of the Great Commission (Matt/ 28: 19, 20), that was given to the Church.
Many of the various “churches” that Man has established in the name (authority) of religion have alternative priorities on their agenda. This is evident by the lack of reiteration of the Gospel Message and the lack of Bible Doctrine for the development of discipleship coming from the pulpit.
Discipleship, being the study and application of the Word of God, is initially for one’s own spiritual edification, but has the long term objective of evangelizing and edifying others.
One of the many benefits of discipleship is developing the spiritual discernment to distinguish the difference between actual guilt and false guilt.
Just as a doctor must determine if an illness is due to a virus or a bacterial infection, the type of guilt (false vs. actual) must be identified if an effective treatment is going to work.
The ONE reliable source for making this distinction is found in the Word of God, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g it is being accurately interpreted and applied.
The devil and those who promote his “religious” agenda, have a long history of misquoting and misapplying what God has said (Gen. 3/Matt. 4/Luke 4) and/or meant.
In doing so, the ones the devil deceives may “feel” guilty when there has been no sin committed. Others he has deceived will not feel guilty when they indeed should, having failed to see when it IS sin or evil that they have embraced.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5: 20 NASB).” In the time in which we are living, our souls are daily bombarded by those who call evil good, and good evil!
* * *
When it is false guilt that is in view, God has a solution.
False guilt is resolved when one learns that what he/she thought was sin was not sin at all. In doing so, one will experience the freedom that such truth about his/her situation brings to him/her (John 8: 32).
There are many things that can generate false guilt. “Survivor’s guilt,” or blaming oneself for something that happened when in fact, he/she had not done anything morally wrong, are classic examples of false guilt.
In both the courts of Man and in the Court of Heaven, sin involves malicious intent.
For instance, there are circumstances in which one could innocently place others in harm’s way that results in serious injury or death. But unless there is malicious intent and/or criminal negligence, there may been no crime or sin committed.
At the same time there are times that we are guilty of sin. As much as we would like to blame other people or other things for our sin, such a defense will not hold up in the Courtroom of Heaven.
Being victimized by others might explain WHY we did (or didn’t do) what we did, but this does not change the fact if there came a time when we chose to make a negative response and choose to engage in sin. It is not uncommon, for instance, for abused persons to later become abusers themselves.
* * * *
One's comfort zone is a heavily fortified state of mind. It defends itself by keeping the things that would "rattle our cage."
God’s solution for actual sin will NOT be found in one’s comfort zone.
The devil will do all he can to have remain in our comfort zone.
Nor is God's solution going to be found by doing good deeds in an attempt to “make up” for sin we commit. The devil promotes the false concept that through the production of good deeds one can make-up for sins committed. While the production of future good deeds and the future forsaking of the same type of sin can be a sign that genuine repentance has taken place, it in of itself, such things do not address the sin already committed.
One can temporarily broaden the scope of his/her comfort zone with the abuse of drugs, alcohol, self-justification, distractions, or doing good deeds in an attempt to make up for the damage our sin has cost ourselves and others. Such "solutions" do not address the existing spiritual issues, and in the long run, often add new problems to the mix.
Others may be hurt by our sin, but the sin issue is a matter between the sinner and the Lord (Psalms 51: 4) that must be addressed (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11).
Such things may temporarily relieve some of the pressure that unresolved sin will generate, but will continue to raise its ugly head until the sin is addressed, or until we no longer here the voice of God calling for our r-e-p-e-n-t-e-n-c-e (change of mind). It is at that point that we have been “given over.”
1John 1: 9 teach that forgiveness f-o-l-l-o-w-s confession (acknowledging the sin). Unit we can acknowledge our sin, we can not be delivered from its consequences.
Humans have mastered the art of clearly seeing the sin and faults of others, while down-grading or denying our own.
Take a look at the human hand as it points to others and you will see that there are three fingers pointing back at the person pointing to other people. If one imagines these fingers as being the proverbial fingers of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, one would not be so quick to point an accusing/condemning finger at others.
The one who confesses his/her sin immediately receives the forgiveness of God (1John 1: 9), but there is also the need to forgive oneself. Otherwise, the devil will cash in on the opportunity (Eph. 4: 27) to use this in order to inhibit our future progress and participation in the plan of God.
Exposure of our past sin may or may not be part of the divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) that God sends our way. Thank God, that in His mercy, we are often spared from this embarrassment and humiliation. There is not one person I know who would want the world to learn of all of the sins he/she has committed throughout the course of his/her lifetime.
The spiritually mature believer equally accepts blessings and adversity (Job. 2: 10), acknowledging BOTH as being a part of the plan of God.
Everyone has a few skeletons (memories of past sin) rattling around in the closet of his/her past.
Although all confessed sin is completely forgiven, God allows us these “skeletons” to prevent us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12: 3).
* * * *
Paul, in his letter to the born again believers in Corinth (1Cor. 1: 6-11), listed various types of sin that some of the recipients of this letter had been involved in (1Cor. 6: 11), but were now forgiven. !
Among the sins cited in this letter to the Corinthians were fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, coveting, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. These sins were cited as these were among the type of sins that the born again recipients of this letter had previously been involved (1Cor. 6: 11). Keep in mind that according to James 2: 10, ANY sin takes us out of fellowship with God, and we have all sinned (Romans 3: 23), and to some degree, will continue to sin (1John 1: 8).
The good news is that (with the exception of the sin of disbelief-John 3: 18), ANY sin can be forgiven, and ANY back-sliding sinner can return to fellowship with God. Once back in fellowship with God, the lost but found sheep can then continue to move forward with the plan of God.
Its not that God has chosen to overlook ANY sin, but that the sins were atoned for by the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross, opening the door for ongoing forgiveness.
When these skeletons are bringing to mind sin that has not been yet confessed, it is an invitation for us to address them through confession (1John 1:9). If one is still involved in this area of sin, it is an invitation not only to confess, but to repent (change your mind) and to forsake (turn away from such sin) the sin (John 8: 11) in the future.
Such reminders, however, are not to generate a (false) need to confess a sin that has already been confessed (and forgiven) to God. They may be a reminder of the need for forgive yourself.
When God forgives a past sin, He remembers the sin more (Heb. 8: 12/Heb. 10: 17).
In the case of sin that has already been confessed and forsaken, our memory of past sins can prevent us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12: 3), and to keep us from returning to our “folly- Prov. 26: 11).”
Until we are willing to concede our past sin, the devil will use such things to generate feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and fear of public exposure in order to inhibit our progress in the post salvation spiritual life.
While I am not suggesting that a trip through the wild side of life is a good way for a pastoral candidate to prepare for the ministry, it is often the areas of our own personal failure and recovery that enables us to minister to others who have likewise fallen in any given areas of sin.
If sinless perfection were to be required, no one could ever qualify to serve God in any capacity.
Present and ongoing sin MUST be addressed. Refusing to confess and to forsake sin can not only destroy the quality of the individual's post salvation spiritual life , it can destroy the productivity of a ministry.
Our own sin can be used of the devil to condone and to promote the same type of sin in the lives of others.
Sin that has been addressed (1John 1:9/John 8:11) does not disqualify a believer from developing or returning to the post salvation spiritual life that he/she had been called to engage.
God had full knowledge of what all of our sin, faults, and failures would be when He chose what our individual spiritual gift (1Cor. 12: 11) and accompanying ministry (1Cor. 12: 18) would be.
The gifts and calling of God irrevocable (Romans 11: 29).
If one's sin enabled the devil to destroy one's ministry or area of service, it does not mean that one cannot repent, confess, and then pick up the pieces and start anew. As long as a born again believer is still drawing breath, he/she remains to be a work in progress, and in a position to minister to others.
Once sin has been addressed (1John 1: 0/John 8: 11), don't worry about future worthiness (Luke 15: 21). No one ever was, is now, or ever will be worthy. In the spiritual realm, all of us are what we are by the (undeserved) grace of God (1Cor. 15: 10).
Our God is not only the God of second chances, He is the God of 490 chances (Matt. 18: 17) and then some!
It is the one who is experiences divine forgiveness and the enormity (James 2: 10) of his/her own sin that finds it easiest to forgive and to extend mercy to others (Matt. 18: 21-35).
A believer who had been given over to his/he lust (strong desire) can confess and forsake the path he/she has chosen. In doing so, he/she can then become a very useful tool in the hands of God to rescue others who have likewise fallen.
* * *
Q.: Just how serious is a “little” sin?
A.: This of course is a trick question, as there is no such thing as a little sin (James 2: 10). No matter how "little" or "harmless" human viewpoint may rate a sin, is it still enough that it required the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross to atone for it. Where no atonement exists, there remains only Hell.
Denial, self-justification, rationalization, and blaming our sin on the failure or sins of others, are common alternatives that the soul will choose to engage in order to seek release the pressure that one’s own guilty conscience would otherwise generate.
The epistle of 1 John was written to born again believers. Therefore, the sins being addressed in this passage were sins that were (and are) committed AFTER one has already been forever saved. With the exception of the sin of disbelief, a born again believer is capable of committing the same sins (or more) that he/she had committed before he/she was born again. Eternal security does not mean that there aren't other forms of divine discipline on the way, or is it a "get out of jail free" card.
As the advancing disciple progresses in the post salvation study (2Pet. 3: 18) and application (James 1: 22) of the Word of God, he/she becomes more and more aware of the more than 300 ways one can engage in what the Bible labels as sin. Adding the "one sin" principle of James 2: 10 to the mix, the daily need to address (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11) sin becomes abundantly clear.
The 1John 1:9 confession is NOT for the purpose of being re-saved, but for the purpose of returning to fellowship with God and moving forward in the plan of God. As of the moment one is born again, the issue of salvation has already been settled for all of eternity.
The a-u-t-o-m-a-t-i-c forgiveness cited in 1John 1:9 is for post (after) salvation sin committed by born again believers throughout the course of their post (after) salvation spiritual life. This is evident in that this epistle (letter) was initially addressed to born again believers of the local churches scattered about in Asia Minor.
The primary purpose for the confession of post salvation sin was/is to re-establish fellowship (not to re-secure salvation). It is fellowship and not salvation that is lost when post salvation sin is committed (1John 1: 3).
There is no CLERGY involved in the 1John 1: 9 procedure (1Timothy 2: 5).
There is no penance for a sin debt that has a-l-r-e-a-d-y been stamped PAID IN FULL by the very blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The forgiveness spoken of in 1John 1: 9 is granted on the basis as any other sin that being FAITH in the atoning blood that was shed on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ.
* * *
Divine justice requires that each and every sin be accounted for and addressed, one way (1John 2: 2) or another (Rev. 20: 15).
With the exception (by divine design) of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18), EVERY sin that was ever committed, being committed, or will be committed by the collective and individual souls of the ENTIRE human race (1John 2: 2) was atoned for by the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ while ON the cross.
As far as s-a-l-v-a-t-i-o-n is concerned, this leaves only the ONE sin of disbelief to be accounted for in order to satisfy the requirements of divine justice.
The ONE sin of disbelief will be accounted for through the never-ending sentence served in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). It is a never-ending sentence because NOTHING (including any amount of time served in the lake of fire) can ever atone for the sin of disbelief. If the lake of fire were a place of extermination, then divine justice could never be satisfied, as the debtors could no longer continue to serve the never-ending sentence.
For God to send any soul into the lake of fire for having committed ANY sin (other than the sin of disbelief), it would mean that the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ failed to achieve its intended purpose (1John 2: 2).
If the all-atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ failed, the entire human race is headed for the lake of fire.
While appealing to human viewpoint, adding ANY further requirement (for salvation) than faith in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ amounts to a blasphemous insult to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Either He paid the payable sin debt in full, as He claimed (John 19: 30) and His Word proclaims, or He did not.
No amount of prayer, or any other after-death religious activity can get a spiritually dead soul out of Hell (Hades) or into Heaven! Funerals can provide those we leave behind with many things, such as closure and the opportunity to consider their own eternal destiny. At the same time, such things can do NOTHING to change either the location or the environment of the soul that already departed at the moment of physical death. The location and the environment of a departed soul were self-determined by the choices he/she made during the course of his/her appointed time here on Earth.
Fallen Man never was and never will be able to save himself or anyone else from the impending wrath of God awaiting ALL those who are not born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18).
If faith (trust and confidence) in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ does not save the soul, then every human soul is headed for a never-ending existence in Hell (1Cor. 15:14-19).
* * *
Eternal security does not mean that there are not still many other consequences for the sins that born again believers and unbelievers commit.
For the born again believer, these negative consequences result in receiving divine discipline (Heb.12: 6) HERE on Earth, and the loss of reward (1Cor. 3: 15) and privileges (Rev. Chapters 2 and 3) in Heaven.
When the actions violate the laws of Man, both the born again believer and/or the unbeliever are subject to the consequences that the laws of Man have established (Romans 13).
When the actions do not violate the laws of Man but violate the laws of God, the violator is still subject to divine accountability (Romans 14: 12).
Every wonder why it seems that you can’t get away with anything, while others seem to get away with everything?
The children of God are held to a higher degree of accountability (Luke 12: 48), and are therefore subject to more frequent and more intense forms of divine discipline.
Better to be disciplined here on Earth, and as a result, get back on track with the plan of God than to experience the loss of reward and privileges for all of eternity.
The earthly administration of justice is a divinely-ordered institution (Romans 13) carried out by Fallen Man. Because it is Fallen Man at the helm, it will fall short of our expectations from time to time.
Although He could and has done so (Acts 5), God, in His mercy, does not usually strike a violator dead as a result of a single sin being committed.
We don’t seem to mind when WE don’t get what we deserve, but can be merciless when it comes to the degree of accountability we impose on others.
Divine justice will eventually prevail, be it here in time, or throughout all of eternity.
No one truly gets away with anything.
What does all this have to with being “given over” to our “lusts?”
When a spiritually dead soul is given over, he/she has reached the point where he/she is not interested in being presented with the Gospel Message. Taking this disinterest to the grave will result in spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire.
A clear indication that a spiritually-alive (born again) believer has been “given over,” is that he/she not interested in being presented with an edifying principle of Scripture.
Neither a spiritually dead unbeliever or a born again, but back-sliding, believer is living a life that brings glory to God,. This remains so no matter how religious he/she may be, or how much human good he/she is producing.
All unbelievers are headed for the lake of fire Rev. 20: 15).
All born again believers are headed for Heaven, but will forfeit some (2John 1: 8) or all (1Cor. 3: 15) of the reward (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. Chapter 2 and 3) that he/she could have otherwise received.
Taking up residence in either the Lake of Fire or in Heaven are self-determined destinies (John 3: 18).
No one but YOU can keep YOU out of Heaven, and no one but you can put yourself in Hell, based on what YOU choose to do with a presentation of the Gospel Message.
Receiving a full, partial, or NO reward in Heaven is the result of choices that a born again believer makes during the course of his/her post salvation spiritual life.
No one but YOU can choose to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life that God has in mind for YOU.
Note that before something (or someone) can be given over, it must first be in the possession of the one handing it over.
With the free will that God gives to each and every one of us, we have in our “hands” the ability to choose to listen (or to refuse to listen) to a presentation of the Gospel Message when God call us, and each and every born again believer, with the free will that God has given us, has the ability to choose to pursue the post salvation spiritual life.
Rather or not we do either one or both, are choices we make. God forces no one to do either one, but has made it clear that there are eternal blessings or consequences hanging in the balance.
Rather or not we are “given over” to our lusts is the result of choices that we make.
Is the unbeliever who has been given over” necessarily lost forever?
No, but he/she will be lost forever as of the last time that he/she is presented with an opportunity to respond the the Gospel Message and continues to refuse to listen to it or to disbelieve it.
The spiritual danger in rejecting such an opportunity to be presented with the Gospel Message or choosing not to believe it is that NO ONE knows if he/she will have another opportunity before departing this Earth.
There are death bed scenarios that involve confessions of faith, but no one is assured of this opportunity. Tens of thousands of souls leave this world every day on a global level whose departure was the last thing on their minds or on the minds of many who knew them.
All souls who depart this Earth in the capacity of an u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-e-r are eternally LOST and will spend ALL of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire.
In this context, an unbeliever is one who has heard, but has not believed, in the presentation of the Gospel Message.
In the case of a born again believer who has been given over, it is not his/her salvation, but the quantity of his/her reward (1Cor. 3: 14) and/or privileges (Rev. Chapters 2 and 3) that are in jeopardy.
The born again believer, who has been given over, can recover his/her lost fellowship and move forward in the post salvation spititual life IF he/she #1 confesses his/her sin (1John 1: 9), and #2 forsakes (John 8:11) the sin in the future.
Although God desires that EVERY soul of the Church Age come to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message, Rev. 20: 15 make it clear that there will be those who will NOT be saved.
Scripture teach that within a single family unit, some will be saved and some will not. This is interesting, as it is the norm for ALL members of any given family unit to go (or be put through) the SAME religious rituals and activity.
Scripture (Matt. 7: 13) teach that the MAJORITY (of each generation) will choose one of the many alternatives ways to address his/her spiritual needs and suffer the eternal consequences (John 3: 18).
Of the born again believers, only a m-i-n-o-r-i-t-y of those will choose the narrow road of post salvation discipleship, and by doing so, reap a harvest of saved and/or edified souls (Matt. 13:8).
Many born again believers will enter (or re-enter) the realm of religion and pursue one of the many “religious” alternatives rather than face the challenges that true discipleship will require of them.
Keep in mind that “lust” is a strong desire of ANY kind.
This “strong” desire can involve the strong desire to remain in one’s comfort zone, rather than deal with the inevitable adversity that true discipleship and/or ambassadorship WILL generate.
It is evident that one has been “given over” to this form of lust (strong desire) will be the lack of souls being saved or edified though him/her (Matt. 13: 6, 7).
Believers who not identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life will NEVER lose their salvation, but will forfeit many (or all) of the heavenly rewards and privileges that they, in the capacity of disciples and/or ambassadors, would have otherwise received.
One does NOT serve God to be rewarded, but God has chosen to reward (in Heaven) those who choose to identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life during their time HERE on Earth.
God does not reward (in Heaven) deeds that were not done, or deeds that was done with the wrong power (John 15: 5) or motivation (Matt. 6: 2, 5).
In summary, being “given over” by God is the result of one choosing to submit to the lusts (strong desires) to do or refrain from doing what God desires. God obviously never wants us to engage in mental or over acts of immorality, but DOES want us to have the strong desire to hear and to respond to the Gospel Message, and then to develop the strong desire to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life.
If one says “NO!” long enough, he/she, as an u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-e-r, can come to the point in which he/she is will have NO desire to listen to a presentation of the Gospel Message.
It is at this point that one is given over by God to the influence and consequences of his/her lust(s) strong desires that run contrary to what God forbids or requires.
If one says “No!” long enough, he/she, as a born again believer, can come to the point in which he/she will have NO desire to listen to a presentation of edifying principles of Scripture.
The inevitable vacuum that this scenario generates in one's soul structure will inevitable be filled with the concept of atheism or one of the many “religious” alternatives created by Man and endorsed by the devil.
The deceptive nature of religion leaves its followers with the “feeling” that all is well, when in fact he/she has chosen to follow the broad road that leads to destruction.
Being deceived by one's feelings is inherently more likely to take place by female believers. This tendency is what Scripture means when it refers to female believers as being the weaker gender (1Pet. 3: 7). Dangle in front of a woman what has the a-p-p-e-a-r-a-n-c-e of being something that will improve her environment/circumstances (Gen. 3: 5) or that of a family member, and she will inevitably become an easy target for satanic deception.
Male believers tend to be swayed by their pride and arrogance. Appeal or attack a man's pride or arrogance, and he becomes like soft putty in the hands of a woman's (*Proverbs 7), or the devil's (Eph. 6: 11) wiles.
*The wiles in Proverbs 7 is directly speaking of characteristics and behaviors of sexually- immoral type of woman, but the natural influence that a woman over a man can be used of the devil to generate spiritual adultery (unfaithfulness to God-Rev. 2: 4) as well. One can engage in spiritual adultery when one's love of God is over-shadowed by a love for anything or anyone (Luke 14: 26) else.
"But I have this against you, you have left your first love (Rev. 2: 4 NASB)).
The Eph. 6: 11) wiles (ways) of the devil) are often presented in ways that appeal to the fallen nature (Romans 7) in Man, but whose ultimate goal is destruction of one type or another.
Male believers tend to cave in side to the desires and plans (Gen. 3: 17/) of their woman (mothers/wives/daughters/lovers). This is true even when they are not deceived (1Tim. 2: 14), and know that what they are doing is contrary to the plan or laws of God.
Being deceived is not the exclusive domain of woman, and pride and arrogance is not the exclusive domain of men. Men can be deceived, and woman can suffer the consequences of pride and arrogance. The passages that direct its focus towards the male or the female is describing natural/spiritual flaws in the nature of most men and women.
Male or female, it is the broad road (Matt. 7: 13) that appeals to Fallen Man.
Believers (male and female) may have inherently different reasons for doing the things they do, but the end result is the same if what they do contradicts the plan of God.
In closing, my prayer for the readers of this presentation is that a 2Cor. 13: 5 self-examination be conducted. If upon doing so, one finds that one is
experiencing the symptoms of having been given over in the capacity of either an unbeliever or in the capacity of a back-sliding believer, that he/she address this issue for the benefit of his/her own spirituality.
Symptoms of unbeliever who has been given over:
* The person has no desire to be presented with the Gospel Message, or has been presented with the Gospel Message, but has chosen to disbelieve it. The spiritual issue with this situation is that rejection of the Gospel Message results in one spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire.
Symptoms of a back-sliding believer who has been given over:
* The Person has no desire to learn of, begin, or remain in the post salvation spiritual life. Such persons, having already secured salvation, are content with remaining in the deceptive comfort zones that one of the many religious alternatives have to offer, rather than deal with the challenges that the life of genuine discipleship will bring () to them. Such back-sliding believers live in the denial of the principle that if they are not moving forward in the plan of God, they are moving backwards.
Such believers do NOT lose their gift of salvation, but will experience all of eternity without the (1Cor. 3: 14) rewards or the (Rev. Chapters 2 and 3) privileges that are reserved for those who choose the post salvation life of discipleship. Advancing disciples do NOT do what they do in order to be rewarded, but God has made it clear that He intends to reward (in Heaven) born again believers who choose to make God and the things of God their top-priority during their time here on Earth.