Choosing to follow Jesus will result in men turning from their sin in exchange for Christ’s most precious love. But if a person is told they must first forsake their sin as a condition to follow Christ they will turn away if they are honest because they know they are slaves to sin. The world and Church both know the Church has enough hypocrites.
Salvation is a free gift bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, and if a person knows they need Jesus then they know they need a Savior. That means they know they are condemned without Him. That is Biblical repentance. The problem is that we have confused sanctification of desires with awareness of need for salvation.
We have put the sanctification cart before the Holy Spirit horse.
Some context for making this point-
A major role of Paul the Apostle was to defend and confirm the Gospel.
Philippians 1:7 “…in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel,”
Philippians 1:17 “knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.”
Pride was as prevalent back in those days as it is now. In my previous blogs I tried to paint a clear picture of how pride is not only the main weakness of all of mankind, but also the main weakness of all created beings, even angels. Pride lead to Lucifer’s downfall. Then Lucifer was cast down to Earth and out of Heaven along with 1/3 of the angels who followed him in his unsuccessful attempt to over through God. Lucifer,(Satan), wanted to be,”like the Most High”.
There can only be One God.
Perhaps in an attempt to get even with God, Lucifer tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God with the prospect of being,”like God”, the same sin that lead to Lucifer’s downfall.
Self Centered Pride lead to the downfall of man. It is leading us to the ruin of all of mankind.
Man’s pride leads to the creation of cults that serve man’s lusts. National Geographic 2011 featured the disturbing reality of child brides that are given in the name of religion. Some as young as 6 years old, almost an infant bride. The dark depths of the heart of man seem almost bottomless at times when I hear of such things as this. Pride and the ultimate lust of mankind to rule his own destiny at the expense of all others seems to be pushing the boundaries of evil ever closer to the depths of Hell.
Pride is a given. It’s the root of all evil. Money is not. Men who are old and have more than they could ever spend are using money to leverage power. Only the sense of being powerful comes close enough to the God Complex that it takes to make leaders behave like they are insane. Men who behave in such a way seem willing to destroy both mankind and this world in their quest to gain power. They may or may not realize that they desire to be,”like the Most High.”
Even after we become Christians, and God puts His Spirit in our hearts, our desires are at war with our ,flesh.”
Our flesh is the part of us that remains pride oriented and is reclaimed gradually by God after our salvation. We call this Sanctification and Discipleship. In simplified terms, those two words mean growth and development by God’s Spirit working in the believer. We are assured that upon passing from this life to the next we will be changed from our corruptible flesh to sinless incorruptible bodies, not prone to lusts. God changes our desires here and now by loving us and living in us. His humility and love shown to all on the cross is the measure of how much He loves us.
Pride even infected the presentation of the gospel in the early church. Paul recorded the event and related ones as we read in the book of Galatians in the Bible. Certain people who claimed to be Christians added a requirement for salvation to God’s free gift, bought and paid for by the only one worthy to do so, Jesus Christ.
Paul’s tone in this letter can be summed up by counting the exclamation marks and question marks in the six chapters that make the book.
Paul used about 11 exclamations and 13 questions in six chapters. This is very telling of Paul’s frame of mind. In verse 6 of the first chapter Paul tells the Galatians his frame of mind.Depending on the translation, he is,”astonished,” “I marvel.” He is astonished ,“that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who troubled you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
The guys that upset Paul only wanted a small thing added to Christ’s finished work. Jewish circumcision was all they asked in addition to faith in Jesus as Savior. To many it obviously seemed insignificant, almost like a token of good faith.
To Paul it was huge. Either Jesus paid it all or nothing. Faith in Christ had to be faith in Christ alone plus nothing.
Paul even mentioned this to the Galatians in regard to growth and development,(sanctification).
Galatians 3:3“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
So we see that neither they nor we can save ourselves, nor can we make the kind of ongoing changes that give us victorious living here and now to live selfless fulfilling lives modeled after Jesus Christ.
So here is the point of this post-
Why do we tell someone about Jesus’ sacrifice, compel them to accept His free gift of salvation bought and paid for with His blood, and then say, Only turn from your sin and accept Christ as Savior.”?
Turn from sin? Before they have the indwelling Spirit promised to all who believe?
Are we so foolish? Men can understand their sin has ruined them and condemned them to Hell but sin may still rule their desires. They may not turn to Christ because they know sin still owns their desire and they don’t want to be hypocrites. I have met people like that.
I tell them to let Jesus deal with their desires!
Only God can change our desires through Christ!
” for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
This is making an additional condition for accepting salvation’s free gift. Turning from sin is something an unbeliever ,who has not been empowered by the Holy Spirit, does not have the ability to affectingly do! He can want to be set free by Christ! That is repentance.
We must not confuse the two as if we do not already know that sanctification takes place only by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer after salvation. To say otherwise is putting the cart before the horse, or putting sanctification before salvation/conversion.
Demanding an unbeliever to turn from sin in order to accept God’s gift is foolishness in the highest degree!
Demanding an unbeliever to turn from sin before Christ comes in is the modern version of adding circumcision as a condition for salvation. It is adding the works of the law to grace!
It is perversion of the gospel, and it is another gospel!
This is the gospel, God so loved you that He came down and became one of us as Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a humble life even though everything belonged to Him. He was one of us! He lived a perfect sinless life, the life none of us ever could. Jesus said;
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus did ALL the heavy lifting, paid ALL the amount due,and continues to restore our broken lives until His return when He will suddenly make us complete and whole in an instant. Jesus does it ALL from beginning to end.
Add NOTHING to what Jesus has done. Repentance is God-given. God leads us to repent by revealing our need and how He can cancel our dept if we accept Christ by faith. In addition God makes us His children, sons and daughters.
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”Romans 2:4
If God affects a person’s heart to realize they need a Savior, then they obviously see their predicament!
Genuine repentance is an automatic response to God-given revelation of our own need for Christ.
When we see a clear picture of Christ we see our depravity.This is the goodness of God. GRACE! And to an infinite degree that leads us to true repentance.
We must never offer guilt in the absence of Grace.
Both repentance and acceptance take place or neither happens.
Give us Jesus and we have everything we need.
Not another gospel, just Jesus, and only Jesus!
Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Galatians 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”