Friday, September 11, 2015
One of the most frustrating things in the life of a Christian is to fail in his attempt to live the life of Christ. Christ puts within the heart of each Genuine Believer the desire to live for Him in obedience. When he fails to live up to what he believes is the standard of perfection, he can easily fall into some very serious error.
The first error is believing that once he is converted, he will no longer sin. The beloved apostle, John, wrote in 1 John 1:8, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." That was written for Believers, including John. He uses the first person, plural because he is speaking to himself as well as other Believers. He fully understood, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the weakness of the old nature which wars against the new nature. We must also note that John is speaking in the present tense. He is saying that if he were to contend that even as he was writing this letter under the direction of the Holy Spirit that he had no sin, it would make him a liar.
I might not be cognizant of any unconfessed and unrepented of sin, but I can be sure that if I genuinely seek His face, He will convict me of that sin, so that I might confess and repent of it. So the first error I speak of is the error of believing the converted man has no sin.
The second error is becoming discouraged when that sin is realized. Time and again men and women have shared with me their feelings of despair because they have failed. Such individuals often feel there is no hope for them, and they sometimes give up saying, "It doesn't work. I tried it, and all I feel is guilty." That is exactly why John wrote the next verse, 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
God understands our humanity, Jesus was tempted, and he knows we will be tempted sorely also. The closer to Jesus one walks, the different the temptation is. When one is a new Believer, he might be tempted to engage in the same old sins of the flesh he indulged before his conversion. When he fails and confesses them, he learns to hate them, and the temptations might become more subtle. The temptation might not be an openly overt sin, but one of the heart, or mind. Satan is simply searching for beach head from which to attack. Prayer life and Bible Study are often where the attacks are centered. These need be confessed and repented of as much as murder, or theft.
A third error is feeling unworthy to serve. Self-condemnation often robs people of the great joy which accompanies serving Him. I have know people who felt they could not be used by God because of their sinful past life. Some ladies who have had abortions have been so overcome by guilt, they simply cannot function. Some homosexuals and prostitutes, some felons and murderers, some terrorists feel they have crossed a line where even though God has forgiven them, they cannot be spiritual leaders in Christ's Church. Paul wrote about this in Romans chapters seven and eight. Romans 8:1 declares, "There is therefore, no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Chapter eight of Romans is all about the freedom one should experience once sin is confessed and repented of. We love to attach social value to our sin. We say it is worse to kill a baby than to kill an adult. It is worse to steal than to lie. It is worse to commit adultery than to hate. However, God hates all sin, and all sin grieves Him. Through sin we quench His Spirit, but when we believe we are forgiven because we are continually confessing our sin and turning from it, there is NO condemnation. God doesn't condemn us and Satan cannot condemn us, so Scripture seems to teach that only person who can condemn the Believer is himself. Romans 14:22.
Now this is not license to sin. The genuine Believer is grieved because he grieves God. The genuine Believer hates sin, his own sin, but he rests in the secure knowledge that genuine confession brings genuine forgiveness.
Dear Lord, Please help Your children to be energized by Your complete forgiveness. Help us to rest in You, even as we go about the marketplace of life and are subject to the accusations leveled by the agents of our enemy and Yours. Help us to not cringe in fear of exposure, but help us to diligently seek Your face, and to trust in Your grace, as we confess that which You bring to our mind. Help us to discern the difference between Your conviction and the enemy's accusation. I ask this in the blessed and holy name of Jesus, Amen.