Granted, God DOES accepts us “just the way we are.”
“…while we (the entire human race) were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5: 8 NASB italics mine).”
Before exploring this “as we are” concept, let’s take a look at how we became what we are in the spiritual realm.
Since the Fall of Man, we come into this world physically alive, but spiritually dead, with the need to become (John 3: 7) born again.
“Do not be amazed that I said, “You MUST be born again (John 3: 7 NASB).”
This spiritually dead status is not a state of non-existence, by existing while separated in a relationship with God.
We are presently living in the dispensation (period of time) known as the Church Age. The Church Age began around 33AD around the time of the Feast of Pentecost, a few weeks after the ascension (Acts 1: 9) of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church Age (not the Church) will come to its prophesied (Matt. 24: 14) end when what theologians have named the Rapture takes place (1Thess. 4: 17).
The end of the Church Age is NOT the “end of the world,” but it is the end of the dispensation when part of the Church is here on Earth.
Most of the “Church” is already in Heaven in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1). The members of the Church in Heaven are resting from the opportunity that had had while here on Earth to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life. Among other things, they are now waiting for the Rapture to take place when the entire Church will be united and will, from that time forward, be with the Lord (Mark 13: 26, 27/1Thess. 4: 16, 27).
Later, at the appointed time, the unified Church, will return with Christ at the Second Advent and will reign (Rev. 20: 6) with Him during the 1,000 year period of the earthly Kingdom, headquartered in Jerusalem, that is to come.
It will not be until after all of the above has taken place that the present earth will melt away (2Pet. 3: 10) with intense heat, and the new heaven and Earth of eternity future will be established (Rev. 21).
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In the meantime, throughout the course of the dispensation of the Church Age, the one and only “way” (John 14: 6 NASB) to be born again, and by doing so, become a part of the Church that God designed, is to choose to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. Nothing more; nothing less. (John 3: 18).
To “believe” in the John 3: 16, 18 sense of the word goes beyond mere acknowledgement that there was a historical figure named Jesus who lived in the Middle East nearly 2,000 years ago, who claimed to be God the Son.
The form of “believing” being referenced in such verses as John 3: 16 & 18 means to place one’s full and exclusive trust and confidence in the Person and the atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ finished (John 19: 30) while ON the cross. This is the one and only means of salvation (being saved). There are many religious, political, and secular groups and individuals "believe in Jesus" in the historical sense. Virtually every secular institution makes use of the BC/AD designations when making reference to dates and time.
Many such religious, political, and secular groups DO NOT believe in His deity (that He is God) or that His shed blood completely atoned for the world's debt (1John 2: 2). Some see the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ as only being one of many paths to God, in direct rejection of the ominous "no one" principle taught by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14: 6). Such "believers" in Jesus fall short of the what it takes to be born again. According to such verses as John 3: 5, 7 and 18, unless one is born again, he will NOT see or enter the kingdom of God, and faces an eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
Critics of this hard-nosed position say that this is being judgmental and narrow minded. Ambassadors of Christ are not being judgemental. They are doing what they are called to do, that is making known the policies of the Kingdom that they represent so that unbelievers can make an informed decision, and believers can be grow in the knowledge (2Pet. 3: 18) of the Lord. If someone was about to sit down on a defective chair, would one be "judgemental" if he spoke up and warned the person of the impending consequences? As for being narrow-minded, Matt. 7 teach that the there is only one gate, and that the way to eternal life IS narrow.
Some souls, based on the mercy and the love of God, promote the misleading/false concept that as long as one believes that there is "a" God, God will accept them and inevitably open the gates of Heaven. The worship of other gods (Psalms 96/1Kings/ etc.) was an abomination to the God of the Bible during the Old Testament dispensation, and the worship and praying to "other gods" remains to be an abomination now. Strong faith is the wrong things will accomplish nothing of value nothing in the spiritual realm. All the roads within the Roman Empire may have "led to Rome," but in the spiritual realm,
with the exception of the ONE road outlined in the Gospel Message, all roads lead to the lake of fire. The Matt. 7 few vs. the many principle indicates that the majority of the each generation of Man is on the road that leads to destruction!
If there were any "other" way (Luke 22: 42) for the human race to be delivered, then the incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not necessary. God could have set aside His justice and just exercised His "mercy" and and His "love" and forgiven everyone. The same God that IS merciful and living, is also a God of justice and purity. Justice requires that EVERY sin be addressed. It is because the justice of God was satisfied by the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ that allows God to extend His mercy and his love without compromising His own character and nature.
The next time we think we have only just committed a little sin, consider what it took for the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for it (James 1: 22/1John 2: 2).
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“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB).”
If and when one is born again, he/she, then and there, becomes a new creation (2Cor. 5: 17) in Christ, with a regenerated (Titus 3: 5) and sealed (Eph. 4: 30) soul, and the recipient of eternal life (John 3: 16). From that moment on, the believing soul is forever Heaven bound, having THEN had his/her name written in the book of life spoken of in Rev. 20: 15.
For a born again believer, the issue of one’s salvation (going to Heaven) has been eternally settled, regardless of whatever takes place (or fails to take place) throughout the course of one’s post salvation spiritual life, here on Earth.
The phrase “post salvation” means that this takes place AFTER one has a-l-r-e-a-d-y been born again.
This is another one of the proverbial forks in the road in which Christianity and Christian religion(s) separate and take different directions.
Christianity places the receiving of eternal life first, at the beginning of the post salvation spiritual life, whereas Christian Religion places the receiving of eternal life at the end, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g one has complied with all the rules and traditions of men it (Christian Religion) has added to the mix. Christian Religions deny the eternal security that Christianity endorses (Romans 8: 1/Ephesians 4: 30/etc.).
The post salvation spiritual life of Scripture takes place here on Earth. It encompasses the period of time that begins (if) when one is born again, and comes to its end when the soul departs the body and enters into eternity future. The eternal life that the soul received on the day he/she was born again continues on throughout all of eternity (John 11: 24 -26).
Once born again, there is nothing else to be done (or have done) as far as salvation is concerned, but there is much more to be done if one is to identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life, as laid out in New Testament Scripture.
Again, we can see where Christianity and Christian Religion separate and take different different directions.
Christian Religion(s) promote the concept that the post salvation spiritual life is the means to finish the atoning work that Christ “started” on the cross, or order to obtain, retain, restore, or to remain eligible to receive eternal life at the end of the road. Christianity teach that the atoning work was "finished-John 19: 30," ON the cross, and become individually applicable through an act of faith. The Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the entire human race, but one must place his/her personal trust and confidence in it IF he/she is to receive its benefits (eternal life).
Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that the issue of salvation has already been resolved in that eternal life has already been secured for all of eternity (Romans 8: 1), and that the purpose of the post salvations spiritual life is for a born again believer to bring the maximum glorify God via the life of discipleship.
Christianity teaches eternal life is received at the moment one is “born again,” and that the “saved” soul is eternally secure (Romans 8: 1/Eph. 4: 30). Salvation is an “irrevocable” (Romans 11: 29) gift from God that He bestows on all who choose to make a one-time decision to place his/her full trust and confidence in the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the true, adulterated, Gospel Message, that explains the concepts of the PERSON and WORK of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many who have gone to one Church or another there whole lives, but have never had the Gospel Message presented to them. These are the type of "Christians" who "hope" they are going to Heaven, whereas those who have been presented with (and believe) the Gospel Message know that they are Heaven bound.
Are you one who hopes, or are you one who knows?
The purpose and the objective of the post salvation spiritual life is for the already born again believer to bring the maximum glory to God through discipleship. It is NOT for the purpose of retaining the eternal life that the born again believer has already received.
Discipleship involves the study (2Pet. 3: 18) and the application (James 1: 22) of the Word of God to the daily events of life, here on Earth. Discipleship is initially for the born again believers own edification, with the long-term objective of sharing the Word of God with others.
Discipleship, and NOT the participation in the religious traditions of men, is what bring glory to God.
The Church that God designed was given both an external (outside) job to do, and an internal (inside) job to do (Matt. 28: 19, 20). Its external job was/is to proclaim the Gospel Message to unbelievers so that they can be saved. Its internal job was/is to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who have already been born again. There are many alternate "Churches" with alternate agendas.
“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pet. 3: 18 NASB).”
“…prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves (James 1: 22 NASB).”
Discipleship is initially for the born again believer's own edification, but with the long term objective of participating in the Great Commission. Like a runner in a relay race, one cannot pass the “torch” onto others what he/she has not first taken possession of him/herself.
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The glorification of God was the very purpose that God created Man in the first place. Man, in his fallen state, can NOT glorify God, nor can a born again believer continue to glorify God when he/she is out of the fellowship with God (John 15:5). Therefore, we see the need to first address the "fallen state" status, and then manage the fallen nature that remains with us (Romans 7) throughout the course of the post salvation spiritual life. We address the fallen state in which we came into this world if and when we are born again (John 3: 5, 7). It is then and there that we receive eternal life (John 3: 16), a regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5), and are forever sealed (Eph. 4: 30), identifying us as a child of God. After being born again, we maintain fellowship with God through the ongoing confession (1John 1: 9) and forsaking (John 8: 11).
In each dispensation (period of time) in the plan of God, believers have been given the opportunity to glorify God by learning and applying the Word of God to the extent that it has been made known to them during their appointed time here on Earth.
Here in the dispensation of the Church Age, Man has been given the completed Word of God. In the realm of spiritual combat, the devil, through his cooperative and/or unwitting political and religious allies, has opposed the promotion of the Word of Word throughout the course of the Church Age.
When possible, such forces of evil do all they can to keep the Word of God out of the hands of the common man. Where “religious freedom” is the norm, these same evil forces distort (2Pet. 3: 16), selectively delete (Deut. 4: 2/Deut. 12: 32), and add to it (Prov. 31: 6) , the religious teachings and traditions of men (Matt. 15: 9). The Bible that God inspired (2Tim. 3: 16) consists of 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament Books. There are religious organizations within the Christian Community at large that accept the Books of the Apocryphal as scripture, but It is my position that there is no place in the Bible for writings that originated during the 400 years of silence when God did NOT speak to Man.
In the Garden, the Word of God was spoken.
As of the days of Moses, around 1500 BC, the Word of God began to be written down. In the course of time, Scripture would include scrolls written by many different human authors, all of whom were inspired by God (2Pet. 3: 16). When wear and tear called for the copying of the originals, a very careful process was put in place to maintain their integrity.
The earliest original transcripts of the Old Testament were primarily inspired and written in the Hebrew language. The original transcripts of the New Testament were primarily written in the Greek language. A few verses were written in Aramaic.
This is important to note as the principle that “something is lost in the translation” certainly applies to the Bible. This is especially true of the various translations of Scripture that make up the Bibles that use the ambiguous English language.
The English versions do not always convey the messages with the precision and accuracy as did the original, inspired, languages of the original transcripts.
Accordingly, ANY Bible that is not written in the original (Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic) languages, are only at best, translations of the words that God inspired. Before, and during the course of the Church Age, some translators have done a better job than others.
In the case of the English Bibles, the translators, then and now, had/have to deal with the limited vocabulary and the ambiguous nature of the English language.
It’s not (in most cases) that the translations are necessarily “wrong,” but that they fail to communicate the messages from God with the same level of accuracy as did the original languages.
The classic example is that a more accurate translation of the original Hebrew language would NOT say that one shall not “kill.” It would say that that one must not “murder.”
The same Bible that commands us NOT to murder (Exodus 20: 13), teach that there IS a time to kill (Eccl. 3: 3, 8).
According to Scripture, there were and are circumstances (self-defense, accidental, warfare, capital punishment, etc.) in which the taking of human life by human beings was/is NOT a sin. God cannot be God and direct anyone to do anything that could later be correctly labeled “sin.”
New Testament translations into English use the word “love,” but they fail to note what kind of love that any given passage is referring to, whereas the original Greek language does.
Such inaccuracies in translation has been the cause of many false interpretations, applications, and divisions within the Christian Community at large, with each group believing that they have gotten it right.
When there are two or more different interpretations or applications, it doesn’t take the mind of a great theologian to conclude that they all can’t be right, and that some are wrong! In my experience, there is NOT one "denomination" that has got it all right, evidenced by their need to change their positions on issues throughout the course of their history. As individual disciples, there will be the need to make adjustments in the doctrines that we store in our soul structures as we become more and more edified and spiritually mature. If there is not such adjustments, then we are either the first Person or group since Christ to have gotten it all right, or we have stopped growing in the knowledge (2Pet. 3: 15) of the Lord. Many arrogant, so-called Christians, believe that their chosen denomination has it all together, but are ignorant of the its own history.
Discipleship is an ongoing process that inevitably will require changes in one's doctrine and practices as we become more and more edified and spiritually mature.
If these false concepts are to be identified and addressed, Scripture must not only be studied and taught in light of the original languages, but in light of the historical setting and in light of other passages that address the same issues.
By way of selectively quoting Scripture, the Bible can be made to appear to say just about anything that a clever communicator wants it say.
Note how both Satan and Lord Jesus Christ used Scripture to support their positions when the Lord was tempted in the wilderness (Matt.4/Luke 4).
In others cases (Gen. 3: 4), devil disputes what God has said. The lesson to be learned is that one must first be aware of exactly what God has in fact said, and then be willing to properly apply it when called to do so.
Without this knowledge or the willingness to apply it, human beings are targets that can be easily deceived.
All of Scripture was given to Church Age believers for their edification, but not all Scripture was given to Church Age believers for their application.
For instance, the worship of God in the Church Age no longer involves holy buildings, physical altars, officiating priests, animal offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, as they once DID (past tense) during the Old Testament dispensation.
The ancient cathedrals were not found anywhere in the Christian Community at large until the beginning of the third century of it's history. In the Christian Community within the Roman Empire, such things as cathedrals, officiating/medicating "priests," physical and physical altars were established to facilitate the rise of a form of Christian religion (Roman Catholicism), after what had been the local church in Rome collaborated with its former arch enemy, the Roman Empire. It was at the same time that many pagan practices began to be adopted by the Church of Rome, after having put a Christian spin on them.
In other parts of the Christian Community that were outside of the Roman Empire, ancient cathedrals and such things also became a part of the traditions of men that were brought into the worship practices of other forms of Christian Religion, as well. Even after the Protestant reformation, which originally was for the purpose of bringing the existing Church back to its Biblical roots, the traditions of men were and continue to be found, in varying degrees, in every corner of what is generally considered to be a part of the Christian Community at large. As was accurately foretold, false teachings and practices, some taught by demons, has been a problem since the earliest years of the developing Church (Gal. 3) and will only intensify in the end times (1Tim. 4: 1).
The fallen nature in man, a part of what we are, is open to the traditions of men, while being hostile to God and to the things of God. Being able to detect the difference between the "Christian" traditions of men and Biblical Christianity, is a part of managing who and what we are!
The earthly “temple of God” during the dispensation of the Church Age consists of the collective physical bodies of all born again believers (1Cor. 3: 16).
Accordingly, Church Age believers do NOT “go to Church,” but ARE the Church that gathers together (Hebrews 10: 25) for such things as corporate worship. The location and the type of “building” (if there even is one) are of NO SIGNIFICANCE, as it once was during the Old Testament dispensation.
For the first two hundred years or more, the Church that God established gathered together in such things as private homes, market places, open-air settings, and in secret hiding places during times of persecution. In such locations and environments, those gathered there worshiped God as He desired, long before the elegant cathedrals with all the “religious” pageantry, apparatus, personnel, furnishings, idols, religious products, and the traditions of men became accepted things within the Christian Community at large.
The last tangible altar that God acknowledged was the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The last tangible sacrifice that God acknowledged was the shed blood of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ while ON the cross (Heb. 10: 12), not in or at the hands of a sinner functioning in the capacity of a religious priest.
The celebrating of the Lord’s Supper is NOT for purpose of reproducing and ingesting the literal body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but for the bringing into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-ce (1Cor. 11: 23, 24 )though the symbolic elements of bread and wine, the Person (body and blood) and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ that He finished (John 19: 30 NASB) ON THE CROSS.
During the Church Age, there are NO human mediators (officiating priests) between God and Man, as there had been during the Old Testament dispensation (1Tim. 2: 5).
A clergyman of the Church Age is NOT any more born again or saved than the born again members of the congregation that he is called to minister (serve). As taught in (Matt. 23: 7-9), Church Age born again believers are ALL equally-saved brothers. The same can be said for our sisters, as well Gal. 3: 28).
In the Church Age, Scripture calls for pastor-teachers and deacons. The office and function of Apostle came to an end, after fulfilling its purpose during the earliest formation of the Church. It came to its end with the physical death of the last Apostle. Time alone made it impossible for future apostles to meet the "eye witness requirement ()," that had been required of candidates for the office of Apostle. The passing down of the role of Peter as the head of the Christian Church is based on a misinterpretation of (Matt. 16: 16).
In that Matt. 16: 16 event, it was on a confession of faith, "You are the Christ..)," that Peter uttered, and NOT on the person of Peter, that the Church was/is to be built. The same proverbial keys to the kingdom (The Gospel Message) that were given Peter in the Matt. 16: 16 event were later given to ALL of the Apostles and it was all of the apostles that were commissioned Matt. 28: 19 to proclaim it.
The individual mission that Peter was given (Luke 22: 32) was to encourage the band of shaken disciples that had ran off when the Lord was taken into custody. It is my position that the Lord chose Peter for this task, because it was Peter who publicly denied even knowing the Lord. God has a history of accomplishing much through the least likely candidate (humanly speaking) for a job (1Tim. 1: 15).
It was James, the half-brother (Galatians 1: 19) of the Lord Jesus Christ ), one of several sons of Mary and Joseph (Matt. 13: 55), that became the administrative head of the local Church in Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus Christ was the half-brother of these men and woman, as they all had Mary as their mother, but the Lord Jesus Christ was NOT the biological son of Joseph.
Peter did play a major role in this event (Acts ), but it would be James who would assume the leadership role in the local Church in Jerusalem. James, Peter, and Paul would later "lock horns" on several doctrinal issues and practices. The local church in Jerusalem was on the edge of collapse when it was financially rescued by several of the local assemblies that had been established through the missionary work of the Apostle Paul.
At NO time were all the local assemblies under the "rule" of any ONE apostle or group.
Among the local churches that were established was the local church of Rome. Some identify Peter as having been the first bishop of Rome. Some question this teaching as there was no mention of Peter when Paul was in Rome, ministering to the believers there from his location of house arrest. In any event, the local church in Rome, consisting of the many local assemblies gathering in many different types of locations, was NOT at all like the local church in Rome that was later (200 years after Peter's execution) raised up to be the "HQ" of the Christian Church throughout the Roman Empire.
The local assemblies of the first century, including the church in Rome did NOT have "a" building, but met in many different kinds of buildings and meeting places. Rome would become the scene of much persecution of Christians during the earliest centuries of its history. It was NOT until in the 3rd century, that it collaborated with Roman Empire. Initially, Christianity was given legal standing of equality with the other pagan religions of the empire, and would eventually become the official religion of the Christian Community throughout the Roman Empire. Politically, the secular leadership in Rome saw a "united religion" as the means to unite the diversity within the Roman Empire. Religious leaders saw this as the means to end the persecution of Christians, and the eventual means to secure its own interests throughout the Roman Empire.
By the time that the local church of Rome became the HQ of the Christian Community throughout the Roman Empire, Peter had been dead after being crucified by the Roman Empire some 200 or more years before.. It was as a result of this collaboration that many pagan practices were adopted into the Christian Community throughout the Roman Empire, after putting a "Christian spin" on them. It was at that time and forward that many of the practices that had facilitated the worship activity of the Old Testament were erroneously introduced into the Christian Community within the Roman Empire.
"Holy buildings, officiating/mediating priests, and altars were not a part of the worship activities of first two hundred years of the Church Age. Such things were engineered to facilitate the products and the practices of "Christian" religion that developed with the collaboration of what had been the local assemblies in Rome with the political aid and support of its former arch enemy, the Roman Empire.
This is not to say that the Old Testament does not have a place in the Church Age. Much can be learned about the divine character and nature of God and the plan of God by examining the practices that were a part of the worship and daily practices of the Old Testament believers.
At the same time, one must develop an understanding of what Old Testament Scripture does and what Old Testament Scripture does NOT apply to the worship and daily practices of Church Age believers.
How one interprets and applies Scripture is critical to the quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life.
If one is to glorify God, which is the primary objective of the post salvation spiritual life, he/she must learn to do things God’s way.
As of the time when the Lord Jesus Christ walked among the Jews, many of the “religious” practices that had evolved within the Jewish Community had rendered the accompanying worship meaningless (Matt. 15: 9).
“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the precepts of men (Matt. 15: 9 NASB).”
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14: 12 NASB).”
Any “other way” to salvation, other than the one way (John 14: 6) that the Gospel Message speaks of, results in one remaining spiritually dead and void of the eternal life needed to secure a home in Heaven.
Because every soul has been created in the likeness of God, every soul has everlasting, never-ending, life. Because of its everlasting, never ending life, every soul is destined to spend all of eternity in one of two possible locations/environments.
It is the soul with everlasting life that receives eternal life, as result of being born again, that will experience eternity in fellowship with God. Souls that are not not born again, will spend eternity separated from God. Being born again is the first step that one must (John 3: 5, 7) take in order to manage who and what we are. AFTER having settled the issue of salvation, that is where one will spend eternity, the born again believer is called to identify and execute the post salvation spirit life, of which the management of our fallen nature is a fundamental part.
Any type of post salvation spiritual life, other than the one outlined in Scripture, results in the lack of production of divine good, symbolized as the silver, gold, and precious stones in 1Cor. 3: 14.
The “religious” world, including the world of “Christian Religion” has engineered many alternatives to the post salvation spiritual life outlined in Scripture.
These alternatives require one to receive the many products and take part in the many practices that Man has added to the mix.
Pleasing "a" god in order to receive the earthly and eternal blessings of "a" god(s) through human effort and activity is what all of the “religions” of the world (Psalms 96: 5) are all about. Pleasing the God of the Bible, in order to receive the earthly and eternal blessings through human effort is what the many Christian religions are all about. Christianity, on the other hand, teach that one pleases God by placing one's trust and confidence in what the God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) has done, is doing, and will do for the souls that are born again.
Christianity acknowledges that God has done for Man what Man could never have done for himself.
Religion, including Christian Religions(s), maintains the position that Heaven or Hell is determined by what Man does, has done, to make himself right with God through human effort.
Religion appeals to the pride, arrogance, and ignorance of Fallen Man, as it appears to provide Man with the means for Man to make and keep himself “right” with God.
If salvation could be obtained, restored, and retained through human effort and the religious traditions of men, then the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus would not have been necessary.
If it had not been necessary, this would make God’s plan of salvation the cruelest thing to have been imposed on the totally innocent Lord Jesus Christ.
Never-the-less, the evil forces of religion continue its persistent practice of adding traditions of men and counterfeit alternatives to the atoning work that the Lord Jesus Christ finished (John 19:30 NASB) ON the cross; threatening those who do not follow their lead with Hell fire.
Like any other counterfeit, these alternatives must have the appearance and be accepted as the real thing if the deception is going to succeed. The amount of religious teachings and religious activity that can be seen WITHIN the Christian Community reveals the extent of success that the devil has had (1Tim. 4: 1) in this area of spiritual combat.
The phrase Christian Religion is an oxymoron, in that it contains two incompatible terms.
Christianity and Christian Religion do NOT bind. Like water and oil, that can be mixed together and give the appearance of solidarity, but will inevitably separate (Proverbs 30: 6).
“Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar (Prov. 30: 6 NASB).”
When one's "religious" beliefs are revealed for what they are, it can have a devastating impact on one's spirituality with a deep sense of betrayal. When this involves a follower of Christian Religion, one' faith can be deeply shaken. In such a scenario, its a win-win-win situation. The devil won when he first deceived the one involved, and he wins when the faith of the one he deceived is deeply shaken. He continues to win when the shaken soul is left with serious doubts about anything that his/he former "edifier," has to say. Knowing the reality and the impact that the principle of Proverbs 30: 6 can generate, the devil is most pleased to promote any part of Christian Religion that in truth is actually anti-Christ.
Christian Religion consists of all the elements that “religious” authorities have added to, deleted from, or distorted what the Bible as to say over the course of the Church Age. While some denominations are more culpable than others, to some degree, the devil’s fingerprints can be found in virtually every corner of the Christian Community. Evil is any teaching or practice that is anti-Christ. Detecting evil before it can create a major crash in one's soul structure is what the lesson in Mattew 7: 24-27 is all about.
One must learn to manage the fallen nature, as it that is inherently receptive to false teaching and easily deceived.
The Matt. 7 wind and rain (adversity) that will test the integrity of one's soul structure ARE coming. The inevitable (Proverbs 30: 6) revealing of the truth concerning his/her "religious" beliefs for many will be a painful experience . This is why the Lord made being delivered from evil, a fundamental part of one's prayer life.
Sin is easily identified. In our heart of hearts, we all known when we are engaged in sin. But evil is not so easily detected, especially when it is promoted by a wolf in sheep's clothing.
The devil can generate the most destruction (1Peter. 5: 8) when the source of evil is one in which souls have trusted for their spiritual edification. The majority of false teachers are NOT so by design, but have first been deceived themselves and have unwittingly become been blind leaders of the blind (Matt. 15: 14). They existed before the incarnation of Christ. They were on the Earth when Christ walked among us. They are here now!
The quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life neither improves nor diminishes the integrity of the salvation that a born again believer has received (Romans 8: 1). v
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Roman 8: 1 NASB).”
One becomes and eternally remains “in Christ Jesus” the moment he/she is born again (John 3: 5, 7), being forever sealed (Eph. 4: 30) as a child of God, by the Work of God the Holy Spirit.
There is NO religious ritual or activity required to “finish” the job. There is NO religious activity needed to retain the salvation that a born again believer has already received.
There is ongoing activity (1Cor. 11: 24, 25/Heb. 10: 25/2Pet. 3: 18/1John 1:9/John 8: 11) James 1: 22), required if one is to identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life, but these activities are NOT for the purpose of obtaining, restoring, or retaining salvation.
Believers who adopt one of the many alternative types of a post (after) salvation spiritual lives that are promoted in the name of Christian Religion are still Heaven bound (Romans 8: 1), but are often “dead” (inactive) when it comes to producing divine good that glorifies God. Many unwittingly become useful tools in the hand of the devil promoting evil.
Other than being seen “going to Church” once a week, there is usually little difference (if any) in their lifestyles and interests of their unbelieving counter parts.
This is why within the Christian Community there are some who produce little, and why some produce great quantities of divine good. In doing (or not doing) so, some bring little glory to God and others bring much glory to God.
Many believers produce a lot of human good (wood, hay, and straw – 1 Cor. 3: 12).
Such human good contributes to accumulating earthly prosperity, and can contribute to making the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6) a better place for others to live.
The only part that the production of human good plays in the spiritual life of a born again believer is that it is then and there that one is given many opportunities to serve as Christ’s ambassador. There are many unbelievers that produce the same type of human good, and contribute as much human good to the world around them, as do the Christians among them.
Some forms of human good have their own benefits and rewards here on Earth. The production of human food is the usual way in which most "make a living,’ here in the devil’s world.
Never-the-less, all of our deeds of human good will be totally burned up (rejected) as far as being given any consideration for the type of rewards spoken of in 1Cor. 3: 14.
Many Christian parents Christians like to boast about the human good, earthly prosperity, secular accomplishments, and contributions their offspring are making to make the devil's world a better place to live. But how often do we hear of the contributions their are making to the job that the Lord gave to His Church to do?
The 1Cor. 3:14 rewards and the Rev. 2/ Rev. 3 privileges are reserved for those who identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life outlined in Scripture. The post salvation spiritual life is about the production of divine good, symbolized as the silver, gold, and precious stones of 1Cor. 3: 14.
If an atheist or unbeliever can do it, then it is NOT “divine good” that is being produced (John 15: 5).
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5 NASB).”
Anyone who has not been born again IS “apart from Me.”
This John 15: 5 “n-o-t-h-i-n-g” takes many of things “off the table” that human logic would offer and for which one would otherwise expect to receive a heavenly reward for when the 1Cor. 3 12-15 “evaluation” event takes place.
Kissing cousins of human good are the religious activities that are based on the “traditions of men.” While being among the things that are highly esteemed (Luke 16: 15)by Man, they are meaningless (Matt. 15: 9).
This was true when the Lord Jesus Christ walked among us in His Humanity, and it is true now.
Among the divine fruit (good) being spoken of in John 15:5 are the evangelizing (sharing of the Gospel) of unbelievers and the spiritual edification of those who have been born again.
Although God works though His disciples/ambassadors to present the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to present principles of Bible Doctrine to fellow believers, it is GOD who enables the recipients to understand (1Cor. 2: 14) that which they are being presented,
It is GOD who then provides the recipients with the opportunity to choose to either believe or to reject it with the free-will that He has given them.
If and when the Gospel Message is believed, it is GOD who regenerates (Titus 3: 5) the formerly dead spirit. It is God that seals (Eph. 4: 30), marking for identification the born again soul as a child of God, , and it is GOD Who then bestows on the born again soul eternal life.
If a principle being conveyed to a fellow believer through a fellow believer is believed, it is GOD who then causes the spiritual growth (1Cor. 3: 6, 7) in his/her post salvation spiritual life.
Without the Word of God, NONE of the above can take place.
The only part that the production of human good has to play in the spiritual realm, is that it is usually while engaged in activities of human good that we share with others that God provides the advancing disciple with the opportunity to act as His ambassador. This is why Christians have all kinds of different secular interests, talents and abilities, and why God places His disciples and ambassadors in all walks of life. God is just as interested in the salvation and edification of the souls gathered around a barrel fire under a bridge as He is with the souls of rich and famous.
It is God (who chooses what spiritual gift each born again believer is to receive, as well as where, how, and when he/she is to exercise it (1Cor. 12). The fallen nature within us has no such interest in such things and must be managed so that it will not inhibit us from identifying and executing the spiritual gift that God has in mind for each one of us. The spiritual gift that God selects is NOT for ourselves, but for the service of others (1Cor. 12: 7). The self-centered fallen nature is NOT inherently interested in others, except to the extent of what others might be able to do for them.
Learning and applying the principles of the Word of God to oneself, and then being used of God to evangelize and/or edify othersis how a born again believer of the Church Age brings the maximum glory to God.
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The classic example of undisputed, great, “human good” would be the work of a surgeon who is an unbeliever or an atheist. There are many such individuals in the world. God makes use of such human good and such unbelievers and atheists every day. Such human good is produced by both believers and unbelievers alike for the earthly benefit of many.
But as great as such human good may be, it remains to be human good. It does nothing (in of itself) to either evangelize or edify the soul of either the one who produces human good, or receives the earthly benefits from it. In the best case scenario, human good can be used to preserve the physical life of someone, but cannot (in of itself) save or edify his/her soul. In many such scenarios, it is the human producer of such human get that receives the praise and the glory, and not God.
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For a self-centered, back-sliding, born again believer, eternal security is often perceived to be a license to sin. After all (it is reasoned), if salvation is a “done deal,” then why not just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die?
Sin may be “just fine” and/or “works for me” for a season (Heb. 11: 25), but will sooner or later be regretted when such a believer becomes the recipient of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) here on Earth, or when he/she forfeits (1Cor.3: 15) many of the rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and (Rev. 2/Rev.3) privileges that he/she would have received in Heaven and enjoyed for all of eternity.
It will be during such times and event that many will concede the foolishness of the license to sin attitude, concerning one’s post salvation spiritual life. Divine discipline here on Earth is for the purpose of getting the wandering believer on (or back on) track while there is still time and opportunity to do something about it. It will be too late to do anything about it once he/she departs. There is NO divine discipline is Heaven, as there is no opportunity for repentance once the soul has departed this Earth. There is only the receiving or the forfeiture of reward and privileges, based on the quality of one's post (after salvation spiritual life that took place here on Earth.
When living in or with sin that has not been confessed, one is not going to be in fellowship (1Cor. 13: 14) with God. When out of fellowship, the born again believer is not going to have much of an interest (if any) in God, or in the things of God. As a result, he she is not going to be given many opportunities (if any) to produce much “divine” good.
Periods of time out of fellowship with God will be regretted at the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 evaluation event in Heaven, if not sooner as a result of divine discipline here on Earth.
Divine discipline can involved anything from having to live with a guilty conscience (1Sam. 24: 5, 10/Ezra 9: 6), up to and including physical illness (1Cor. 11: 27) and/or physical death (Acts 5).
Divine discipline takes place here on Earth, and can even be the means through which one departs this earth (Acts 5).
Born again believers are not the recipients of divine discipline in Heaven. However there is the loss of specific rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. 2/Rev. 3) that the same born again believer could have otherwise received if he/she had chosen to identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life outlined in Scripture while here on Earth.
While it IS true that salvation (going to Heaven) cannot be lost (Romans 8: 1), there are many other severe consequences that sin can bring to the born again believer while here on Earth.
“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son who He receives (Heb. 12: 6 NASB).”
Scourging in the ancient world was a form of severe discipline. The person scourged had the skin over his back and/sides slit down to the bone as a result of the lashing (whipping) he received. Weaker men could die as result of scourging alone. The Lord Jesus Christ was scourged BEFORE He carried His cross to His crucifixion.
Heb. 12:6 is not referring to physical scourging, but is conveying the principle of severe punishment.
This brings us to the main subject of this presentation. If we, as (already) born again believers, are to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life, we have to learn how to manage what and who we are.
As clearly taught in Paul’s letter (epistle), the sin nature with which we all come into this world with, does NOT go away as a result of being born again. In fact, it increases the pressure of evil influence that it puts on the soul of a born again believer, keeping pace with whatever spiritual growth the advancing disciple may experience. When Paul wrote this epistle to the local church in Rome, it was towards the end of his earthly ministry, nearly thirty years AFTER he had been born again!
What we, as a born again believer, do have, as a result of having been born again, is the indwelling (1Cor. 3: 16) presence and the enabling (John 15:5) divine power to both identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life.
We had to make a one-time choice to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message in order to be born again and saved, but we have to make daily and ongoing choices if we are to identify, stick with, and to execute the post salvation spiritual life.
True, God accepted us just as we were when we chose to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. There are NO further requirements to retain the salvation that a born again believer receive the moment he/she is born again. The later decisions to "turn one's life over to Jesus" in order to "follow" Him has got N-O-T-H-I-N-G to do with being "saved," but has everything to do with the type of post salvation spiritual life that is outlined in Scripture.
A born again believer can never be any more or any less “saved” than what he/she became at the moment he/she was born again. A born again believer CAN become much more (2Pet. 3: 18/James 1: 22) or much less (2John 1: 8/Gal. 1:6 /Gal. 3: 1) spiritually mature, especially when it comes to applying the knowledge that one has already received.
Rather or not a born again remains a spiritual babe (Heb. 5: 13) or advances in the life of discipleship to point that he/she becomes as ambassador for Christ (2Cor. 5: 20), does NOT improved or diminish the integrity of the salvation of the salvation he/she received at the moment he/she was born again. The born again believer who does advance will be the recipient of the 1Cor. 3 rewards and Rev.2/Rev 3 rewards. The born again believer who sins is subject to divine discipline here on Earth, and will suffer the loss (1Cor. 3: 15) of some (or all) of the rewards and and privileges that he/she would have otherwise received, in addition to the home in Heaven that ALL born again believers will experience (Romans 8: 1).
Spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of accurate Bible Doctrine one has circulating in his/her soul structure, coupled with his/her willingness to apply it to ALL that he/she thinks, says, or does on a moment to moment and DAILY basis.
If one is at the same level of spiritual maturity that he/she was, let's say, 6 days, 6 months, 6 years, or 6 decades ago, he/she is NOT advancing in the life of discipleship. In the spiritual realm, if one is not advancing towards a higher level of spiritual maturity (Heb. 5: 12-14), he/she is gradually back-sliding.
The first indication that one is back-sliding is a disinterest in God and or the things of God. If the back-sliding is not address, the disinterest becomes an indifferent attitude towards God and/or the things of God, dismissing the significance or the need of God or of the things of God. In the final stage of back-sliding, the believer adopts the inherent hostility (Romans 8: 7) that the sin nature has towards God and the things of God. This hostility will often become overt (Matt. 7: 6) when the back-sliding believer is confronted with the truth concerning the status of his/her present walk (or lack of it) with the Lord.
In order to continue to spiritually advance, there ARE going to be ongoing changes that the advancing disciple is called to make. Even though God DID accept and receive us, "just the way we were" at the moment of salvation, we will develop an earnest desire to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become c-o-n-f-o-r-m-e-d to the image of his Son… (Romans 8: 28 NASB).”
There is a need here to pause and clarify what Romans 8:28 is and is not saying to us.
There is a false doctrine that promotes the concept that the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ produced a limited atonement in that it only atoned for the sins of certain ones that God the Father “foreknew and predestined.” Scripture (1John 2: 2/John 3: 18/Rev. 20: 15) make it perfectly clear that the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the entire human race, with the one exception of the sin of disbelief. This exception was NOT a deficiency in the Work, but of divine design.
The Romans 8: 28 foreknowledge speaks of the omniscience (all knowledge) of God the Father. In His omniscience, God knows what choices each and every soul that He creates would make concerning spiritual issues during their appointed time here on Earth.
God the Father knew who would and who would not CHOOSE to believe, before the human race came into existence. With the free will that gives to every soul, each one of us chooses to believe or to chooses to disbelieve the information with which we are presented. With the one exception of the sin of disbelief, the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the entire world's sin debt, rather the individual souls or groups of souls choose to believe it or not. Accordingly, the ONE and ONLY sin that a soul will find itself in the lake of fire for is the ONE sin of disbelief. As we have already noted, this is not a license to sin, as there are other earthly and heavenly consequences in store for those who choose to engage in what the Bible calls sin.
The ones “He foreknew” and are “predestined” to be conformed to the likeness of His SON are the ones that He foreknew would choose to believe in God and in the things of God. It is NOT that God chose some to saved and some to be lost (), but that He knew who would choose to believe (and be saved) and who would choose to disbelieve (and be lost). As of the Church Age, eternal salvation or eternal damnation is the end result of the choice James 3: 18 that each soul makes. Prior to the Church Age, souls were saved (Gen. 15: 6) or condemned as a result of their chosen individual response to the information that they were personally presented with, up to that point in human history. This information begins with the concept of eternity that God places in every soul that He creates (Eccl. 3: 11).
Accordingly, before any of the individual souls of the human race was created, God foreknew who among us would choose to believe and be born again, and who would choose to disbelieve and inevitably face the lake of fire when the Rev. 20: 15 event takes place. God foreknew who among those who were/ are born again would choose to be conformed to the likeness of His Son in the course of his/her the post salvation spiritual life.
It was and is on the basis of the decisions that each soul makes that “pre-destines” (sets the stage) for what takes place here on Earth and in Heaven when his/her time here on Earth is over.
God desires that all men be saved (1Tim. 2: 4), and has provided the means through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for that to take place.
At the same time, He does NOT violate the free will to choose that He has gives to each and every soul He creates.
The Rev. 20: 15 event to take place makes it clear that there have been, are now, and will be those who CHOOSE to reject God’s one and only (John 14: 6) plan of salvation, and in doing so, brings onto themselves the eternal consequence of the lake of fire.
Matt. 7 teaches and global statistics continue to confirm that it has been and that it will only be a minority of each generation that finds the one way (John 14: 6) to salvation.
Scripture (Matt. 24: 14) teach that the Gospel Message would be made known to the nations before the end comes, NOT that the majority would believe it!
I believe that the same minority principle applies to discipleship, as only a minority of those who are saved will choose to identify and choose to execute the type of post salvation spiritual life that is outlined in Scripture. Accordingly, only a minority of Church Age, born again believers will receive the 1Cor. 3: 14/Rev. 2/Rev. 3 benefits, in addition to the home in Heaven that all born again believers have waiting for them.
Romans 8: 28 verse does not contradict 1John 2: 2 that speaks of the atonement of the sins of the whole world.
By divine design, the Lord Jesus Christ, with the one exception of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18), shed His atoning blood paying for every sin that had been and would be committed by every human soul from Adam down to the last human soul to be created in the entire human race.
In order for God the Father to have placed the entire sin debt on the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago, He in His omniscience had to have knowledge of every sin had been or would be committed throughout the course of human history. They reason we are held accountable for what God already knew was going to happen (before we were even born) is because at the time we would sin, we did so and continue to do so with the free will that God has given us. Sin is a choice that we make!
Because, with the exception of the sin of disbelief, all sins had been paid for ON the cross, God the Father would not be true to His own Word if He required ANY further payment for a sin that has already been paid for in full.
Using proverbial language, one could say that the world’s sin debt was stamped PAID IN FULL by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Shame on those who teach that the names that have been written down in the Book of Life (Rev. 20: 15) could be erased.
Divine discipline is NOT for the payment for sin, but is imposed to motivate the one disciplined to find or to return to the straight and narrow road of discipleship via the 1John 1: 9 process.
Because, by divine design, the sin of disbelief was not atoned for (and will NEVER be atoned for), it is ONLY for committing the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18) that a soul will find him/herself in “Hell,” or what the Bible calls the lake of fire. If there were any other sin, then the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ finished (John 19: 30) failed to do what Christianity has been promoting since the resurrection of Christ.
It is ONLY because one’s sin debt has been stamped PAID IN FULL that a born again believer has the blessed assurance of eternal life and an accompanying home in Heaven. It is for the born again believer that the Lord Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a home in Heaven (John 14: 3). Don't ever overlook the fact that God has also prepared the lake of fire for the devil, his fallen angels (Matt. 25: 41), and all the human souls who choose to commit the sin of disbelief (Rev. 20: 15).
The fact that one is born again (having made a confession of faith in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ) is evidence in itself, that such a soul has not committed the one sin that would have otherwise kept him/her out of Heaven.
Having now addressed the foreknowing and the predestination spoken of in Romans 8: 29, lets move on to what the same verse is speaking of concerning the conforming to the likeness principle.
One thing that will become abundantly clear to any advancing disciple is that we are NOT going to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (or do anything else of a positive, spiritual nature– John 15: 5) via our own human efforts, including the human effort associated with the “religious” traditions of men. Religion can make a person religious, but NOT spiritual. Hell, or what Rev. 20: 15 calls the lake of fire, will be filled with "religious," but spiritually dead souls.
This Romans 8: 29 c-o-n-f-O-r-m-a-t-i-on (not c-o-n-f-i-r-m-a-t-i-o-n) is an ONGOING and never-ending process that is to take place throughout the entire course of the post salvation spiritual life, here on Earth.
Discipleship, being the study and the application of the Word of God is the means through which a born again believer of the Church Age is “conformed” into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29), through the enabling power (John 15: 5) that God provides.
Many Christian religions promote ritual confirmation, in part, identifying the one confirmed as member in full standing with the corresponding denomination.
The concept of denominations did NOT come from God (1Cor. 3: 4). The Church that Scripture calls for consists of born again believers, united in doctrine. The Church that Scripture calls for consists of independently functioning local assemblies. Local assemblies can render aid to other local assemblies in need, and can engage in missionary work, but with the long term objective of formulating independent local assemblies. There was/is NO hierarchy authorized in Scripture. As of the end of the Apostolic (1st century) period, the responsibility of all that takes place within ANY local assembly is that of the pastor-teacher. The pastor teachers of each local assembly do NOT have managing authority outside of the one local assembly he serves. The unity of universal Church is to be based on accurate Bible doctrine. The "Christian" hierarchy that was established throughout the Roman Empire as of the 3rd Century was the product of collaboration between the local assemblies in Rome and the seated Roman Emperor (Constantine). Under Constantine, the local assemblies in Rome went from being the object of persecution, to one of equality with other pagan religions, to the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The devil has had much success in dividing and promoting religious conflicts WITHIN the Christian Community at large. If such things had not been foretold in Scripture (2Tim. 4: 1), one would be at a loss to explain what has taken place, is taking place, and will take place, especially as the dispensation of the Church Age comes to its foretold (Matt. 24: 14) end.
These divisions, aka denominations, have been, are, and will be the result of FALSE teachings and their accompanying traditions of men that have evolved over the course of the Church Age.
The divisions WITHIN the Christian Community, in some cases, are the end result of disputes over the different interpretations/applications of the Word of God.
In other cases, these divisions are end result of disputes over the many “traditions of men” that the various denominations have added to what can be substantiated in the Word of God.
The dilemma of religious disputes is that both sides are convinced that they are right, and will not consider the matter open for debate. As a result, there is an inevitable division that takes place.
As for me, the bottom line for evaluating a spiritual controversy in what the Word of God has to say. One of the challenges that ANY advancing disciple is going to face is the fact that “religious” teachings and accompanying practices are going to found in virtually every corner of the Christian Community.
Determining if and when it is God’s will for any given born again believer to “move on” to a different local assembly is a hurdle along the road to spiritual maturity that the majority of Christians would rather not consider. In many cultures, taking a different road that what one’s family has trod for generations will result in personal rejection, exclusion, isolation, and persecution, highlighting the challenge of Luke 14:26.
"If anyone comes to Me (is born again), and does not hate (choose to please Me over his) his own father, mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14: 26 NASB italics mine)."
Note that the Lord was speaking of post salvation discipleship in the application stage. He was not saying that one could not be or remain saved.
There are many Heaven-bound born again believers who fail to identify and/or to remain in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. Discipleship (the study and the application of the Word of God) is initially for the edification of the born again believer, but with the long term objective of his/her participation in the Great Commission.
Such born again believers will not lose their salvation (Romans 8: 1), but will forfeit the rewards in Heaven that they would have otherwise received (1Cor. 3: 15), as these rewards and the privileges spoken of in Rev. 2 and Rev. 3 are for born again believers who identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. As long as one lives here on Earth, it is never too late to "get with the program." Better to have served God for just a few months that not at all.
Our fallen nature is directly linked to what we “feel.” Doing what “feels” good or “feels” right is a satanic trap, when what “feels” good or “feel” right runs contrary to the Word of God.
After the woman (Eve) had been deceived by the devil, she “felt” that the eating of the prohibited fruit was going to improve the life that she shared with Adam. She was first human on record to have “followed her heart,” in opposition to what God had said.
We all know how that worked out!
There are many things to be mastered when learning to manage the sin nature that has been passed down to the generations of the human race.
We did not ask to be born, nor did we ask to born with a fallen nature that is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God. Never-the-less, this is the “way” in which human souls come into this world since the Fall of Man. This hostile fallen nature does NOT go away (Romans 7) if/when we are born again.
In fact, the fallen nature that remains within us increases its pressure, keeping pace with whatever spiritual growth is obtained. It will be with us until the moment we take our last breath. In his letter (epistle) to local assembly in Rome, Paul spoke of his ongoing battle with his sin nature thirty years after he was born again and towards the end of his outstanding ministry here on Earth.
It is this “way we were born” that we must learn to manage. This “way we were born” manifests itself differently in each one of us, but the end result (Romans 6: 23) is the same.
“The wages of sin is death (Romans 6: 23 NASB).”
This Romans 6: 23 death can be spiritual in nature if the sin is the sin of disbelief (John 8: 24). The end result of the sin of disbelief is spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
This Romans 6: 23 death can be physical (Acts 5/1Cor. 11: 27, etc.) in nature if it imposed a form of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6). The end result of this type of death is the end of one’s time here on Earth.
Salvation is not lost, but ALL sin results in the immediate loss of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14/Habakkuk 1: 13/James 2: 10) with God. Fellowship is restored when the sin is confessed (1John 1: 9). For a born again believer who has experienced intimacy with God, just being out of fellowship is enough to motivate him/her to confess (1John 1: 9) and to forsake (John 8: 11).
Many of us aren’t even out of bed for the day and already we have sinned by some thought or action. Many have already decided to continue on a lifestyle of sin. As a result, many of us are in need to confess (1John 1:9) and/or forsake John 8: 11 a known sin, in order to regain and/or to maintain fellowship with God.
Confessing 1John 1: 9 and forsaking John 8: 11 of what the Bible has labeled as sin is a moment to moment, day by day, necessity if we are going to manage the “way” that we were born. The confessional that God established for this purpose is open 24 hrs. a day, seven days a week. The amount of accumulative time that a born again believer spends out of fellowship with God is an ongoing choice that he/she makes. Since one out of fellowship is not going to be inclined to move forward in the plan of God, the devil will do all he can to downplay one's need to confess or to forsake sin.
Each and very time we sin, we are then and there out of fellowship with God, and will remain so until the sin is confessed. Confessing, but then not forsaking the sin, will soon enough render the same soul out of fellowship again when the sin is engaged again. Such born again believers will spend much of his/her post salvation spiritual life going around and around in a "revolving doorway," going in and out of fellowship with God, and never moving forward in the plan of God.
A type of sin that is of great temptation and desire for some of us is of no interest or temptation to others, and vice-versa, but we are all sinners. There are, for example, those who are natural born liars who would not steal, and there are those who steal, but do not make a practice out of lying. But neither lies of the liar or the stealing of the thief has the approval of God. Pointing out what we (not God - James 2: 10) consider to be the greater sins of others does NOT justify our own.
As James 2: 10 clearly teaches, the one who breaks even one of God’s laws stands as guilty as the one who has broken them all! We are all, therefore in the same stinking, sinking boat of sin.
The fact that everybody is doing it does NOT make it any more acceptable to God. The fact that everybody is doing it only demonstrates the extent that the fallen nature in Man is influencing any given society. While the majority or a sizeable minority may be doing it, the truth is that everyone is NOT doing it! This is just one of the devil's lies that he promotes. "Everyone's doing it" did little good for the ones that were destroyed by flood in Noah's day!
Scripture speaks of there being one type of sin (for each one of us or for a group of us) that so easily entangles us (trips us up) as we strive to move forward in the plan of God. This one area of sin that so easily entangles us is different from one person to the next, but we ALL have one. Some of us have many, as one type of sin often calls for others to hide or to support it.
Identifying what the one area of sin that so easily entangles each one of us as an individual is critically important when it comes to managing the sin nature that is within us.
As the old saying goes, birds of feather flock together, but so do sinners who seek the comfort, acceptance, and support of those who have the same desires. These desires can be either good or evil.
Born again, Church Age believers “gather together-Heb. 10: 25 (NASB)” to engage in such things as corporate worship. Fallen Man gathers together to engage in what the Bible calls sin. Again, these are choices that we make.
Because living human souls are (not were) ALL sinners (Romans 3: 23/1John 1: 8), we are NEVER in a position to pass moral judgment on others for ANY reason.
Note that the administration of justice and/or exercising marital and/or parental authority that has been given by God is NOT passing moral judgment.
Moral judgment and divine discipline is in the hands of God. One may not get caught or be held legally accountable for everything he does (or fails to do) by earthly authorities, but we ALL are accountable to God who knows all that we think, say, or do, or fail to do.
Sooner or later, be it in Heaven or on Earth, no one gets away with anything.
There is NO eternal condemnation (being sent to Hell) for those who have been born again (Romans 8: 1), but that does not mean that there is no other consequences (Heb. 12: 6/1Cor. 3: 15), as we will all reap the crop that is the result of the (good or bad) seeds that we have sown (Gal. 6: 7).
Managing the garden that our personal seeds will produce is a critical part of the post salvation spiritual life.
God DOES accept us “just as we are” at the moment of salvation, but this does NOT mean that He does not desire that we make changes for the better. Such changes ARE necessary IF we are to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8: 29), and by doing so, bring glory to God. Such changes are NOT a condition to be met in order to retain the salvation that a born again believer has already received, but it is a condition to be met if one is to advance in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
Scripture (Heb. 4: 15) teach that the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in every way that we are, but He chose NOT to sin in order to retain His status as the sinless lame of God. Had He sinned (in His humanity), His humanity would have been disqualified as an acceptable sacrifice on the cross. He could NEVER have sinned via His deity, but could have sinned (but did not) in His Humanity. If He could not have sinned, in His Humanity, then He was really never tempted, as Scripture tells us He was!
Even though Fallen Man is inherently bent towards sin, engaging in sin is still a choice that we make.
One of the more contemporary arguments that human viewpoint has come out with is that God created each one of us the way we are, therefore there is no moral or legal obligation to change. This, the argument goes, would include the lack of moral or legal obligation to address whatever inclination one has been born with to engage in one activity or another that the Bible labels as sin. But did God initially create Man just as we are today, with an inherent desire to sin? Let's examine the facts.
God created the human race for His glory in the midst of an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil. This battle is what is called the Angelic Conflict that began in Heaven before the creation of Man, and will continue, running concurrently with human history. Since its creation, the human race is the focus of attention in this ongoing battle in the spiritual realm. This conflict can be traced throughout the course of human history. It is what makes up the spiritual combat (Eph. 6) of the Church Age, and plays a major role in the end time events of human history.
When a soul commits and/or lives with any (James 2: 10) sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken (John 8: 11), God is denied the glory due Him, thus defeating the primary purpose for which God created the soul in the first place.
Every soul that God creates is given “free will.” By the decisions that each soul makes with this free will that God has given him/her, God either receives or is denied the glory that is due Him. God does NOT desire to be worshiped by rote or by beings that have no choice but to comply.
God created the bodies of Adam and the woman (later named Eve) in perfect form. God created their souls and placed them in the bodies that He created.
The bodies of Adam and the woman, in the condition that God created them, were biologically perfect and had the potentiality of living on this Earth indefinitely (Gen. 3: 22).
The souls of Adam and the woman were created in fellowship with God.
As a result of the Fall, some things immediately changed, and some things did not.
After the Fall of Man, God continues to create the soul in His (everlasting) likeness and with the same free will that had been given to Adam and the woman. God places these souls in the bodies that Man reproduces when the reproduced bodies come forth at birth.
These souls however, unlike the souls of Adam and the woman, come into this world spiritually dead, out of fellowship with God, and in the need of being born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Unlike the bodies of Adam and the woman that God created, the bodies of the human race are not created, but are reproduced through the human process that God engineered for that purpose.
Unlike the bodies of Adam and the woman prior to the Fall, our bodies do NOT have the potentiality of living indefinitely, and are destined to return to dust (Gen. 3: 19). At the moment of physical death, the soul departs the body.
Departed souls of unbelievers have gone and continues to go to the Torments Section of Hades. They will remain there until the Rev. 20: 13, 15 event takes place. Prior to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, departed souls of believers went to the Paradise Section of Hades. This is the same Paradise that Jesus spoke of in His conversation with the criminal that had been crucified on the cross next to His own (Luke 23: 43). As of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, departed souls of believers are in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1) in Heaven where they will remain until the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16, 17) takes place.
“For we know that if the earthly tent (our physical bodies) which is our house is torn down (physical death), we (born again believers) have a (different) building (interim body) from God, a house (body) NOT made with human hands (reproduction), eternal (suitable for life) in the heavens (1Cor. 5: 1 NASB italics mine).”
"The Rapture" is the name that theologians have given to future event spoken of in 1THess. 4. When the Rapture takes place, God will raise the dust or what are left of the decaying bodily remains of what had been the bodies of the departed believers in the form of a resurrected body. At that time the interim bodies that the departed believers had in Heaven before the Rapture, are exchanged for the resurrected bodies in which they will dwell in for all of eternity.
The only exception to this returning to dust scenario is bodies of believers that on the Earth when the Rapture (1Thess. 4) takes place. The bodies of these believers are immediately (1Cor. 15: 52) transformed into their resurrected bodies in which they will dwell in for all of eternity.
Under the principles of the Doctrine of Stewardship, born again believers are called to respect and care for our natural bodies while here on Earth, as they are the house of our soul and the temple of God (1Cor. 3: 16), as long as we are here on Earth. What becomes of our bodily remains, however, is of no consequence to the location or the status of the departed soul. N-o-t-h-i-n-g can undo the Work of God (Eph. 4: 40/ Titus 3: 5) and its results (John 3: 5, 7, 16, 18) on the soul that took place at the moment of salvation when the soul was born again (Romans 8: 1).
If my bodily remains are available, I prefer to have them buried, as this is what God did with the body of Moses (Deut. 34: 5, 6). When circumstances cause the bodily remains of a departed soul unavailable, this does NOT prevent God from raising them up in the resurrection form when the Rapture takes place. Physical matter can change form and location, but the elements still remain somewhere. These the location of these elements is not beyond the omniscience of God.
Our inherent desire to engage in sin was NOT the result of God creating us. Our inherent desire to engage in sin is a manifestation of the fallen sin nature that became a part of the human environment as a result of sin. The sin nature, and the accompanying spiritual death status that Adam and the woman (later named Eve) is passed down to the humanities (bodies) of each generation of Man at the moment of conception () through the male partner in the reproductive process. Hence, the "way" we are, that being spiritually dead and with a fallen nature that is hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God, is NOT the way that God created Man.
By being born again (John 3: 5, 7, 16, 18) each soul of the human race can spiritually return to be the way that God created Man. At the moment one is born again, he/she is spiritually regenerated (Titus 3:5); returns to fellowship with God (2Cor. 13: 14); and is the recipient of eternal life (John 3: 16) needed to live with God when one departs this Earth. The salvation that one receives is NEVER in jeopardy, but fellowship with God (while here on Earth) is maintained through the confession (1John 1: 9) and the forsaking (John 8: 11) of post (after) salvation sin.
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Success in the spiritual realm calls for us to overcome the inherent hostility of the fallen nature and believe in the Gospel Message with the enabling help and power of (John 15: 5) God the Holy Spirit.
Once born again, success in the post salvation spiritual life calls for us to overcome the ongoing struggle with the fallen nature that remains within us. The devil can do nothing to undo the Work of God (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 4: 30/ Romans 8: 1/ etc.) that took place at the moment a soul is born again, but can do much to try to destroy (1Pet. 5: 8) the quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life, here on life.
The FALLEN NATURE that we all have to manage was passed down to us when what becomes our body at birth is conceived in the womb (Psalms 51: 5). This nature is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God.
“For the mind (of fallen Man) set on flesh (human viewpoint) is HOSTILE towards God; for it does NOT subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so…(Romans 8: 7 NASB),”
While being hostile towards God and the things of God, its arms are wide open to human viewpoint and the “religious” alternatives that are designed by men and endorsed by the devil.
It is at the moment of physical birth that we become a human being with a physically alive body, a soul that will never die, and with a spirit that is spiritually dead towards God and the things of God.
As of the Church Age, the John 3: 16 eternal life, necessary to live in Heaven, is received at the moment one is born again, and continues on when the soul of the born again believer departs this world.
One must learn the critical difference between the everlasting life that all souls have as of the moment that God creates them, and the eternal life that is received at the moment of salvation, if/when one is born again.
With the everlasting life of the soul, the departed soul lives on in one of two environments (ultimately Heaven or the lake of fire) for all of eternity. Homicide and suicide brings about to the end the physical life of the human being, but not the everlasting life of the soul.
It is the soul that has received eternal life, as a result of being born again, that spends eternity in fellowship with and in the presence of God.
With the exception of the believers that on the Earth when the Rapture (1Thess. 4) takes place, the bodies that we are placed into at birth are destined to return to dust (Gen. 3).
As of the Church Age, where the departed soul will find itself is dependent on the individual choice that each souls makes concerning the Gospel Message. The Gospel Message explains WHY one MUST be BORN, and HOW this is to be accomplished.
The Gospel Message can be encapsulated in just two short verses (John 3: 16/John 3: 18), but a more detailed explanation is helpful for one to truly understand the meaning and the significance of the principles being communicated in these two short verses.
I say “as of the Church Age,” because it was not until AFTER the incarnation (taking on bodily form) of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Gospel Message was fully developed and announced to the world. Prior to Church Age, the souls of Man were judged on the basis of their personal belief (Gen. 15: 6) or disbelief to the extent that God has revealed Himself and His plan to them. Old Testament people of faith knew that a Messiah was coming, and were given much detailed information through such things as the wrrtings of the prophets, but were not, for instance, given such things as His name (Jesus) etc..
As of the Church Age, God has revealed to us all that we are ever going to know about Him, His plans, this side of Heaven.
Even infants and persons who never reach the age or stage of legal accountability have been given the knowledge of eternity in their heart (Eccl. 3: 11). If due to circumstances, this basic truth is the only knowledge they ever receive, then it is on their belief in that knowledge that they are saved.
For those who reach the age of moral accountability, and ARE presented with the Gospel Message, it is like a two-sided coin. Believe (John 3: 16), that is to place one’s trust and confidence in it, and you are saved. Disbelieve it (John 3: 18), and you headed for what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). The same Gospel Message that assures believers of a home in Heaven assures disbelievers of residency in the lake of fire.
Accordingly, the LAST thing that anyone should want to do is to remain just as spiritually dead as he/she was when he/she came into this world. Remaining spiritually dead is what Jesus spoke of when He addressed the issue of dying in your sins (John 8: 24 NASB).
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that am He, you will die in your sins (John 8: 24 NASB)."
Nor should a born again believer desire to remain “just as he/she was” after he/she became born again. Just because God accepts and seals one “just as he/she were” on the day he/she was born again, does NOT mean that God does not desire that we make the necessary changes (Romans 8: 29) to be conformed to His likeness.
This conformation has nothing to do with obtaining or retaining salvation, but has everything to do with discipleship.
God created each one of us for His glory. One does NOT glorify God by following his/her natural inclination to sin, or by attempting to address his/her sin through the religious alternatives and/or traditions of men. This applies to one's pre-salvation life that took place here on Earth before he/she was born again, or one's post salvation spiritual life that takes place after one has been born again.
God created our soul with everlasting life, and gave us the freedom and the accountability for what we choose do with the free will that He has given us. We like the “freedom” part, but recoil from the responsibility and the accountability that comes along with it.
God does NOT desire to be worshiped by “robots” that have no choice, but by creatures that choose to honor, reverence, and glorify Him. In order for a real choice to be on the table, God allows the forces of evil to produce and offer alternatives.
Understanding all the evil that God allows is not easy, but can it helps to know that He has a divine objective in mind when He does.
The inherent inclination toward sin did NOT come from God, but God allowed it to become a reality within the human environment when the first sin of disobedience took place in the Garden. God's response to the Fall of Man was NOT a knee-jerk reaction. God knew that this was going to happen and had His plan of salvation in mind before the Earth and any of its inhabitants were created (Ephesians 1: 4).
When presented with the Gospel Message or an opportunity to hear/read the Gospel Message, we make a choice. We can choose to listen to it or read it, and we can choose not to do so. After having being presented with it, God the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel Message understandable, but it is still up to each soul to choose to believe it or to reject it. The presentation of the Gospel Message can take place at any time and in any place that God chooses.
Once born again, we can choose every day to pursue and to execute the type of post salvation spiritual life that God has designed, or we choose one of the many “religious” alternatives that involve the “traditions of men.”
We can choose to do neither one, and just do “our own thing.”
Each one of these choices will sooner or later bring out their own end results, “…for whatever a man sows (good or evil), this he will also reap (Gal. 6: 7 NASB italics mine).”
Managing the fallen nature, that is inherently hostile towards God and the things of God, plays a major role in establishing a personal relationship with God.
Managing the fallen nature within us continues to be a major role as we identify and execute the type of post salvation spiritual life that God has in mind.
In closing, keep in mind that we can do much in the religious realm with human activity, but we can do nothing in the spiritual realm apart from God (John 15: 5). Attempting to manage who and what are we with human desire and input will prove to be a frustrating disappointment. Managing who and what we are with the enabling and sustaining power that God supplies will go along way in making the load a lot lighter to bear, and will increase the intimacy we can share with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 11: 39).