(Continued from the FAQ Page)
Let's begin our study by noting what the sin that so easily entangles us is NOT.
It is NOT the "unpardonable" sin. The one and ONLY unpardonable sin is the sin of disbelief (in the Gospel Message), resulting in spending all of eternity in what the Bible calls the, "lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15)." The unpardonable sin is committed by unbelievers. The sin that so easily entangles us has to do with p-r-o-d-u-c-t-i-v-i-t-y of divine good throughout the course of the true post (after) salvation spiritual life. The sin that entangles is committed by believers and involves one's primary area of spiritual weakness. Failing to produce divine good when given the opportunity to do so
denies God the glory here on Earth, and will cost the believer a forfeiture of the heavenly rewards that he/she would have otherwise received at the evaluation of deeds that takes place in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15).
"D-i-v-i-n-e" good, symbolized as silver, gold, and precious stones in the 1Corinthians 3 passage is produced through the enabling power (John 15: 5) of God the Holy Spirit when a born again believer shares either the Gospel Message with an unbeliever who believes it, or shares an edifying principle of Scripture and the believer's soul structure is edified. Divine good is also produced in the life of the believer every time he, with the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit (John 15: 5) applies the doctrine in his/her soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) to the daily events of his/her life. God is glorified when a believer, through his/her own exaple, applies a principle of Scripture to his own thoughts and actions, instead of doing what would come "natural" to us. Such things do not go unnoticed by either the human or other spiritual beings that observe us.
The good news is that if one never identifies or addresses the sin that entangles us, the believer does not lose his/her salvation. The bad news is that such failure does generate other earthly and heavenly consequences resulting in havoc and destruction to our post (after) salvation spiritual life.
The sin that entangles (trips us up) is the sin(s) that establishes our own personal impediment in the identification and the execution of the true post salvation spiritual life. ALL sins take us out of fellowship with God, but the (singular) sin that so easily entangles us is the area of our spiritual life that presents us with the greatest difficulty, more so than any other form of sin that we entertain. We ALL have one. If we should overcome it, it will be replaced by another! To say that we do not have sin(s) in our life is to call God a liar, as He says we do (1John 1: 10). Among the sins we entertain is the one sin that so easily entangles us as an individual.
Being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8: 29) is a NEVER ending process this side of Heaven. As (IF) we progress, we will bring more and more glory to God on a daily basis, but this process can also be a painful and humiliating experience.
The identity of the particular sin that so easily entangles us varies from one believer to another.
Each one of us have spiritual strengths and weakenesses, but we do NOT all have the same ones. What is of no interest to one, can become the center of another's lifestyle.
Our individual strengths are areas of our lives in which we have identifed and have applied the appropriate Bible Doctrine. These positions of strength, and the desire to honor God, motivate us to think and to do what is right, whereas our weaknesses are areas of our lives in which we are are doctrinally weak in either principle or application.
Our fallen nature (Romans 7), and the born again believer's regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5) contend with each other for the immediate dominating influence of our thoughts and actions. EVERY day the devil's world offers to fill the thought chamber of our soul structure with information that feeds the hostile and independent characteristics of our fallen nature (Romans 7). This fallen nature does NOT go away when we are saved, but remains with us until we leave the natural body behind at death (or the Rapture). Paul spoke of his personal battles with his own fallen nature (Romans 7) almost 30 years after he was saved and towards the end of his earthly ministry. Not only does it remain, but it grows with intensity as it try to match (what should be) the influence of God the Holy Spirit as one spiritually matures.
The devil's plan of destruction (1Pet. 5: 8) is individually tailor-made to appeal to the sin that so easily entangles in each one of us. The only means of defense we have is the Bible Doctrine that we (should-Matt. 7: 24-27) have circulating in our soul structure. If we choose NOT to feed our soul with the Word of God on a daily basis, we will lose the battle between the fallen nature and our regenerated spirit when the moment of truth manifests itself when (not if) the storms (trials and tribulations) of life strike. It is for this reason that there is no overt difference in the way many who claim to be Christians conduct themselves and react to adversity and their unbelieving counterparts.
Believers DO have the opportunity to build and maintain an edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) and DO have access to the enabling power of God (John 15: 5), but must CHOOSE to build and maintain an edified soul structure) and CHOOSE to apply the appropriate doctrine with enabling power of God. In the spiritual realm, we are (or are not) what we choose to be.
As a result of having a particular area of sin that so easily entangles us, we find ourselves easily tempted and may even desire to engage in thoughts and/or behaviors that we know in our heart of hearts (Romans 1: 18) violates the Word of God. It is when we are presented with the opportunities to either please our fallen nature or to please God that we see where we stand in our walk with God.
Among all of weaknesses, we all have at least one, that from human viewpoint, we seem unable to overcome. The truth is that with human desire and ability, apart from God, many of us cannot overcome it, but with the power of God ALL (good) things are possible.
There is a human tendency to rationalize and even self-justify our own areas of weakness as being less serious than the sins that others choose to entertain. This, in part, comes from the practical need for secular authorities to establish law and order in a civilized society. Minor violations of law must still be addressed, but surely do not call for incarceration or the death of the violator. The "seriousness" of the crime, in the eyes of secular law, is often based on the value of item involved, and/or the extent of psychological or physical injury to which the victim was subjected. The "criminal"offense, however, is viewed as being committed against the state, although the victims of crime may also seek the recovery of damages via civil suits.
In the spiritual realm, there are no degrees of sin, other the sin of disbelief which alone carries with it a never-ending sentence to be served in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). Just because the sin of disbelief is the ONLY sin that carries this sentence, does not at all mean that every other sin does not have undesirable consequences (Heb. 12: 6).
Habakkuk 1: 13 tells us that God cannot even look upon ANY sin in an approving manner, let alone be in fellowship 2Cor. 14: 13 with one who engages in it. From divine viewpoint, sin is sin, with the exception of the unpardonable sin of disbelief. The sin of disbelief (John 3: 18) is the "greater" sin in that it is unpardonable and carries the worst possible consequence (Rev. 20: 15). That is not to say that ALL other sins do not have other consequences (Heb. 12: 6). Scripture (Romans 3: 23) tells us that we have all sinned, and James 2: 10 tells us that by having broken ONE of God's laws, we are in the same stinking, sinking boat as the one who has broken the all.
In the spiritual realm, others may (and usually do) indeed suffer as a result of our sin(s), but it is against God that one has sinned (Psalms 51: 4) and it is with God that a believer must be reconciled via the 1John 1: 9 process. The epistle of 1John was written to believers for the purpose, among other things, to be instructed on how to address post (after) salvation sin.
The 1John 1: 9 confession is different from the confession of FAITH (declaring one's belief and trust in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ-Romans 10: 9/Matt. 16: 16) that a soul makes in order to receive salvation.
The 1 John 1:9 form of confession has got nothing to do with restoring or retaining the salvation that one received the moment he/she was born again (John 3: 5, 7). The 1John 1: 9 form of confession does have a lot to do with being in intimate fellowship (2Co. 13: 14) with God and the accompanying desire to execute the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
Apologizing and/or making restitution (if possible) to the ones we have hurt via our sin is a good i-n-d-i-c-a-t-i-o-n that one has truly r-e-p-e-n-t-e-d, but the 1John 1: 9 forgiveness is based on the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus, and not on any deeds or penance that is done on the part of the offender in an attempt to make amends.
Reconciliation with others is NOT a prerequisite for obtaining forgiveness from God. If it were, it would place our personal salvation in the hands of other people. As long as the ones we have hurt refuse to forgive us, there is nothing more we can do to make amends once we have apologized. Upon making a legitimate apology, the "ball is in their court". If they choose to enter into the mental attitude of bitterness, revenge, or refusing to forgive, they have chosen to go from the postion of victim to villain to their own harm.
Scripture (James 2: 10) points our that if we have violated any ONE of the laws of God, we stand as guilty as the one who has violated them all.
Take a moment and bring to mind the worst form of sin (other than the sin of disbelief) that you think a person can commit. Now consider the fact that in the eyes of God, you are no better (James 2: 10), and that the only reason you have been forgiven and are Heaven-bound is because you believe that your sin was atoned for by the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
According to this James 2: 10 principle, the homosexual or the lesbian is no more or no less a sinner than the fornicator (sex before marriage) or the adulterer. The shoplifter is no less a thief than a bank robber or the swindler. The little white lies" makes us just as much a liar than telling any other lie. Sins of omission (failing to do what we should) is just as much sin as sins commission (the things we do that break the laws of God). The list goes on and on.
Proverbs 6: 17 lists the sin of looking down our (judgmental) noses at others is one of the specific sins that God hates.
ALL sin(s) associated with the post after) salvation spiritual life negatively impact the productivity of divine good here on Earth and HOW (not where) the eternal life of the believer will be experienced (with or without reward). When out of fellowship with God, little (if any) divine good is going to be produced. Little or no divine good will result in little or no rewards in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15). We do NOT serve God in order to be rewarded, but the receiving or forfeiture of rewards is clearly spoken of in Scripture (1Cor 3: 12-15).
Some of us might have a tendency to lie or to steal, but have no desire to engage in sexual immorality, whereas others have a tendency to engage in sexual immorality, but would never even consider lying or stealing. ALL of us have a fallen nature with a tendency to engage in certain sins, and at least one area of sin that could be identified and classified as being our own sin that so easily entangles us.
While only the sin of disbelief will keep us in a state of spiritual death, all post (after) salvation sin results in temporal death. Temporal death is in place when there is no productivity of divine good in the post salvation spiritual life of a born again believer. For many so-called Christians, periods of days, weeks, months, years, decades, and scores come and go without ANY divine good (resuling in spiritual maturing of oneself and the salvation or edification of others. In this the devil is well-pleased!
The devil is a master in the art of spiritual warfare. He is NOT (usually) going to attack us in or through an area of strength. He IS going to attack us in or through an area of weakness, with our own personal area of sin that so easily entangles us being his primary focus of attention. Our area(s) of weakness are those areas in life in which we are ignorant of what God has to say, have rejected what God has to say, or have replaced what God has to say with religion or other forms of human viewpoint in order to cater to the desires of our own SELF-centered, fallen nature, and/or agenda.
Like a skilled magician, the devil catches the focus of our attention with one hand while he uses the other to accomplish he objectives. While we are focused on the day to day earthly issues of health, wealth, family, friends, jobs and recreation, the devil is working behind the scenes and in the midst of such daily activities to keep unbelievers in our personal periphery on the road to Hell and believers in our personal periphery from identifying and advancing along the road to spiritual maturity.
The devil is most effective when he has deceived one to believe that all is well with God when nothing could be further from the truth.
Knowing what our primary weakness is, and when and under what circumstances we are more likely to cave in to the desires of our own fallen nature and/or the attacks of the Eph. 6:12 forces of evil, can go along way in dealing with the spiritual combat we face each day.
Never-the-less, there will be times when we don't see it coming, which emphasizes the need to train ourselves to resoond doctrinally, and not react emotionally. Dealing appropriately with the expected insults and inconsiderate words and actions of others on a daily basis is what trains us for the unexpected.
Doing what "feels" good and feels right at the moment can get us in a whole heap of spiritual trouble. There are many things (Col. 2:8/Rom 7/2 Tim. 3: 13) that can contribute to how we FEEL. This is what makes our hearts so vulnerable. When we like someone or something, our tolerance level is usually quite high, whereas if we don't like someone or something, even the good they have to offer will be viewed with suspicion and a high potential for criticism.
Anyone involved in the training of military or police officers involved in sudden and high stress situtations will concur that one will most likely respond in the manner in which he/she was trained.
We prepare for being attacked on our blind side by building an edified soul structure based on the Word of God and being in fellowship with God. This sets the stage for responding doctrinally and avoiding the pitfalls of reacting emotionally. As noted earlier, practicing the application of doctrine in the every day affairs of life is what trains and prepares us for greater challenges to come. If one can't handle the day to day challenges that the job, the spouse, the family, the neighbors, the motorists, and others bring to us, we are sitting ducks when it comes to being blind-sided by demonic (Eph. 6: 12) attacks. Why do you think God allows such things in the place?
We build and maintain an edified soul structure by the daily intake and application of the Word of God (Matt. 7: 24-27), and by conducting a 2Cor. 13: 5) self-examination and making the necessary adjustments. The advancing disciple will begin every day by asking God to show him/her what His will is in every incident that will take place today. The advancing disciple will end every day by evaluating how well he/she responded. No day is perfect, as it will provide a list of successes and failures in all that God had in mind.
When we drop our guard, the devil and/or his Eph. 6: 12 forces of even can knock us down, but the devil can not keep us down if we confess our failures and continue on making the best of our time (Eph. 5: 16) for the rest of the day. Just because the devil won a couple of rounds, there is no need to throw in the towel and hand over to him the rest of the day as well. Nothing is more frustrating for the devil than to have thrown his best punch only to see us get back up again.
We can choose to restore fellowship with God as soon as we lose it by confessing (to God) all known sin(s) 1John 1: 9 that we will inevitably entertain, or we can wander around in a state of temporal death (producing NO divine good). How long we stay our of fellowship with God is a choice that we make. These inevitable periods of time can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess our sin (to God), or for as long as the rest of our post salvation spiritual life.
For most of us, the sin that so easily entagles us will be something that will stalks us throughout our lifetime, waiting for the opportunity to reintroduce itself. We are creatures of habit, and old habits are the hardest to break.
The devil, through observation, knows what the sin that so easily entangles us is for each one of us. He has mastered the art of pushing the right buttons at the right time for maximum effect.
It is by no coincidence that we find ourselves in the same provoking scenarios over and over again in which the opportunity to engage in the sin that so easily entangles us presents itself. The reason that God allows this to take place, is so that we can identify what that sin is, and address it! Until we do, we will continue to be its slave and face defeat after defeat out in the spiritual battlefield (Eph. 6).
In most cases, the people involved have no clue as to how their thoughts, words, and/or actions are being used as tools in the hands of the devil to get a believer out of fellowship with God via the negative way the believer chooses to respond to the negative words or actions presented by those in his/her personal periphery.
One of the common alternatives to dealing with the sin that so easily entangles us is to focus on the areas of strength that we do have and hope that in the end we will come out ahead of the game. The truth is, we can go no further along the road to spiritual maturity until we address whatever God places before us, among which is the sin that so easily entangles us.
Note that I did NOT say that by failing to identify and address the sin that so easily entangles us that one cannot be or remain saved. There is ONLY one issue (spiritual death) that God requires every soul to address for one to be saved (John 3: 18). The issue of spiritual death is forever resolved when the soul chooses to BELIEVE in a presentation of the TRUE Gospel Message. Eternal life is received at the moment of salvation, NOT when we physically die. John 5: 24 speaks of the believer ON EARTH already having passed (past tense) from spiritual death to spiritual life.
Success or failure to identify and address post (after) salvation issues such as identifying and addressing the sin that so easily entangles us as an individual believer will greatly impact the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life, but the purpose of the post salvation spiritual life is neither to obtain or to retain salvation. The Work of providing (John 19: 30/Titus 3: 5) and maintaining (Eph. 4: 30/Rom. 14: 4) the salvation for the soul of a born again believer is the function of God that cannot be lost due to ANY human activity, as such an act would require a power source greater than the power of God in order to reverse it (Mark 3: 27).
There is no power anywhere greater than the power of God, but devil and several religious teachings would have us believe otherwise.
A lack of interest in learning of and then executing the true post salvation spiritual life is a clear indication that one is an "immature" believer, content with infant's milk (1 Cor. 3: 2), but not the solid food of an advancing discipleship (Heb. 5: 12-14). Human infants in the natural realm and immature believers in the spiritual realm are Self-centered in nature and seek what pleases them at the expense of others. Mature disciples are Christ-centered, having moved forward from the things of spiritual childhood (1 Cor. 13: 11), live a Christ-centered life for the glory of God (Luke 14: 26), perceiving the evangelization of unbelievers and the edifcation of fellow believers Matt. 28: 19, 20) to be the PRIMARY reason for being here on this Earth.
There are cases of instantaneous deliverance, but for most of us, breaking free and remaining free from the bondage of the sin that so easily entangles us, involves a s-l-o-w process, with each failure becoming less frequent and with less intensity as we spiritually mature. I am 61 years old, have been a born again believer for as long as I can remember, been a disciple for decades, and an ordained pastor teacher for seven years, but still struggle keeping the sin that so easily entangles me, as an individual.
Knowing our enemy and how he/it functions are key elements in the realm of spiritual combat. As far as dealing with the sin that so easily entangles us is concerned, our enemy is the devil (1 Pet. 5: 5) and the sin nature (Romans 7) of the guy/girl that we face in mirror. Deception is how these enemies function. Both will do all they can to blind us from seeing what the sin is that so easily entangles us as an individual, knowing the damage it can do to the quality of our post salvation spiritual life. The concept of being one's own worse enemy has a definite application to the fallen nature within all of us.
Identifying what IS the sin that so easily entangles us in the face of demonaic (Eph. 6: 12) opposition and self denial is the first step in addressing the issue.
Second is to take full responsibility for it. Our own fallen nature, the devil, and those who unwittingly or willingly do his bidding, will put all kinds of pressure on the advancing disciple to blame other people and other things for the sins we commit, and to dissuade us from developing and maintaining an appetite for God and the things of God. Never-the-less, at the end of each day, believers will prove to have been (spiritually productive or spiritually unproductive) by the choices we made that day. The accumulation of the good (or lack of it) each day is what defines our post salvation spiritual life for which we will give an account of Romans 14: 12.
"Religion" focuses on what we do for less than an hour or soonce a week, where as spirituality focuses on what we are 24-7.
(Until one is born again, he/she is spiritually dead and incapable of doing ANYTHING positive of a spiritual nature (John 15: 5) other than responding to the call of God to listen to and then believe in a presentation of the TRUE Gospel Message. Such opportunities do NOT happen every day. We can choose to be religious or relatively moral any time we choose, but we can only be saved (receive salvation) in response to the timing of the invitational calling that is made by God the Holy Spirit. These "invitations" can take place at any time and in any place that God chooses.
No one knows when he/she will receive his/her last opportunity to be saved while here on Earth, and Scripture offers NO such opportunity once one has departed. Death bed conversions do take place, but there is no guarantee that any one of us will be in a condition or be given the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel in our final days or hours. For an advancing disciple, his passing is not the time when he will meet his Maker. His passing involves a change in bodily form, location, and a c-o-n-t-i-n-u-a-t-i-o-n of an intimate relationship with God whom he/she "met" the day he/she was saved, and then came to know intimately over the course of his/her post salvation spiritual life. How one faces death or the process of death reveals much about how well anyone KNOWS the Lord. Many religious people know "of" God, but never knew get to know Him personally and walk with Him on a daily basis. There will be many "religious" persons who will be told, "...depart from Me, I never knew you (Matt. 7: 22,23)! Genuine Christianity is about establishing a personal relationship with God and then executing the true post salvation spiritual life for the glory of God. How well one knows the Written Word of God (The Bible) is equivalent to how well one knows the Living Word (John 1: 1), the Lord Jesus Christ.
Note I said how well and not how much one knows the Bible. There are "religious" people who can quote the Bible from cover to cover, but are clueless when it comes to the proper interpretation and/or application of the very words they speak. You can see this in sit coms and other forms of so called entertainment all the time. One thing that all advancing disciples will learn is that the Bible can be made to appear to say just about anything a clever writer or speaker wants it say. The devil has been an expert at twisting what God has actually said from the very beginning (Gen. 3) and continues to do so
If you are spiritually dead, my prayer for you is to read and respond to the Gospel Message and settle the issue of WHERE you are going when you depart your natural body at death. Many people who woke up this morning will not be here when the sun rises tomorrow with the departure being the last thing that they and those who knew them were expecting. IF you are spiritually alive (born again - John 3: 5, 7), my prayer for you is to identify the true post salvation spiritual life. If you are an advancing disciple, my prayer for you is that you will continue the fight and finish the particular course that God has set before you (2 Tim. 4: 7).
Every day, the advancing disciple chooses to devote time for his/her edification (Matt. 7: 24-27/John 8: 31, 32) and self-examination (2Cor. 13: 5) or not. This requires him/her to forego other activities that would consume the same time. Every day the advancing disciple chooses to reject human viewpoint and the application of it when in dong so it would require him to do (or not to do) something that doesn't fit with who he/she in Christ.
In short, EVERY day the believer CHOOSES to become a little more or a little less conformed to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8: 29). Identifying and addressing what the sin is that so easily entangles us as an individual believer will go a long way in reaching the divine objective of being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8: 29). This conformity can take overt leaps and bounds in the life of someone who has recently been born again, but will be less noticeable in the life of an advancing disciple. Never the less, if people can not see more of Christ and less of the old you over a period of time, it is a good indication that you have been derailed along the track of spiritual maturity.
Salvation is complete and immovable, but advancing or retreating in the battlefield of spiritual combat is an ever-changing status. There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm Every one of us of us going further into enemy held territory, or we are in retreat. Enemy-held territory is where any teaching, practice, or activity exists that is contrary to what God has revealed in Scripture
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