Vol: 167 Issue: 10 Monday, August 10, 2015
For most Christians, there are two kinds of Christianity. There is the kind of Christianity everybody else should embody — and there is the kind of Christian that they are.
Generally speaking, one bears little or no resemblance to the other.
The kind of Christianity we expect from other Christians is one of sinless perfection; a person who explodes into profanity when he hits his finger with a hammer is not a ‘real Christian’ or he would have been able to check his language.
A Christian who drinks or goes out for a drink in a restaurant or bar isn’t a real Christian. Christians don’t drink. A Christian who is going through a divorce isn’t a real Christian. A real Christian would tough it out, remembering Christ’s admonition about divorce.
A Christian who still smokes isn’t a real Christian. A real Christian would have been delivered from that nasty habit by the saving power of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
There are Christians who think other Christians shouldn’t have a weight problem — ‘gluttony’ is one of the few besetting sins actually named in Scripture, together with drunkeness and adultery.
(In general, other fat Christians don’t see obesity as a sin — it is a ‘disease’ or it ‘runs in the family’ or it just isn’t as bad as smoking or drinking.)
Still, a fat Christian going through a divorce, who turns to the bottle to drown his sorrows isn’t a real Christian.
Real Christians are never out of fellowship with the Father. If they are, then they are ‘lost’. That begs the question, were they ever ‘found’ in the first place?
There are two sides the question of eternal security. One school of thought is that one can lose one’s salvation through sin and must be reborn again.
The other school of thought says ‘once saved, always saved’. The latter view says that if someone continues to sin after salvation, then they probably weren’t really saved in the first place.
A quick look at the former view and how that stacks up to Scripture: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
Those who believe one can lose one’s salvation through wilfull sin point to this verse, focusing on the “if they sin wilfully” part as evidence that it IS possible to ‘fall away’ and be condemned to ‘certain’ ‘judgment and fiery indignation’ in hell.
But Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
The other side points out that it is ‘impossible for those who were once enlightened’ TO fall away. Both miss the message.
What this Scripture teaches is that it is impossible, if one DID ‘fall away’ to ‘renew them again to repentance’ , since that would mean crucifying’ to themselves the Son of God afresh,’ putting Him ‘to an open shame’.
Renewing AGAIN to repentance would mean that the first Sacrifice was insufficient, and His Power to save is subordinate to our power to sin.
As Hebrews 10:10-11 tells us, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right Hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.”
Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, assumed the form of sinful man so that He could pay the penalty for sin forever. On the Cross, He was reviled, beaten, crucified naked, and bore in His Body the sins of all mankind on their behalf.
If His one sacrifice for sins was ‘forever’ but was insufficient to keep those Whom He had saved, then His shame at the Cross is not over. He must continually be ‘sacrificed’ for sin.
Moreover, if it is impossible, having once been saved, to be renewed unto repentance, then the lost Christian is in much worse condition than the lost sinner. The lost sinner still has a chance to be saved.
The lost Christian is, on the authority of Scripture, lost forever.
He had his chance, he blew it, and now there remains ‘no more sacrifice for sins’.
He might as well continue in sin for all he is worth. He has no hope of further redemption. Or Hebrews 6:4-6 is meaningless.
Something cannot be simultaneously possible and impossible — things that are different are NOT the same.
Often, I am accused of preaching a ‘license to sin’ — usually by the ‘temporary security’ crowd, but also sometimes by those who believe their eternal security is eternal and cannot be lost.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no ‘license’ to sin, and all sin will be judged by God. But that doesn’t mean Christians DON’T sin.
Now the questions grow more confusing. If a Christian can sin his way out of being saved, which sin is the one that constitutes ‘falling away’? Is it murder? Rape? Lustful thoughts? Drinking? Smoking? Drug abuse?
I know of Christians who became addicted to prescription drugs. Are they lost? At what point did they slide across the line? When they doubled up their Valium prescription, or when they started buying them on the street? Should Christians even TAKE Valium?
Is taking a prescription tranquilizer the start of the slide — or evidence the slide has already occurred? Is your doctor contributing to your sin by practicing medicine? Should you avoid doctors? Or just ignore their advice? Why even go SEE a doctor?
What IS sin? James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
If a Christian ‘knoweth to do good’ but doesn’t do it, Scripture says that to him, that is sin. Christians, therefore, either ALWAYS do good, or they sin.
Do you know anybody who ALWAYS does good? Do you?
If not, then are you lost, condemned forever to hell, since you blew your only chance? (Hebrews 6:4-6)
There are two kinds of Christianity, as I noted at the outset. The kind of Christian you expect your pastor to be, and the kind of Christian that YOU know you are — while despairing your shortcomings.
But only one of them is real.
Your pastor will NEVER live up to the standard of Christianity you expect of him. You just don’t know his secret sins. But you can bet they exist..
Just like yours do.
How many sins does it take to get out of fellowship with God? The answer is one.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
How much obedience does it take to get right with God? The obedience of One is sufficient to make us righteous, if we trust Him for our salvation.
Of the two kinds of Christianity, there is only one that is real.
Not your pastor’s — or your perception of your pastor, or his perception of you. Or your Christian friends who continually point out your need to ‘put away your besetting sins’. They have their own.
(How many of them are walking advertisements for the sin of gluttony? Do they have a ‘license’ for that sin that you don’t have for yours? Is John Hagee forever lost? Sure, he can lose weight. And YOU can quit smoking, drinking, or whatever. But he is still fat, and you still smoke)
There is no ‘license’ to sin. There is only sin. Our natural state is that of a sinner. Evil is the absence of good. Note that the default position in this world is that there is first evil. Evil is dispelled by good — not the other way around.
Consider a totally dark room. Darkness is the absence of light. The default is darkness, not light. It takes energy to make light to dispell the darkness.
Absent the energy given off by light, it remains dark, and not the other way around.
You cannot shine a beam of darkness into a lighted room.
Jesus said that we are ‘children of the light’ that is, we are energized by the inherent goodness of His indwelling Holy Spirit. His Presence in the life of a believer dispells the darkness by shining through the clear Light of truth.
It is that Light that exposes the darkness of sin — a lost person sees sin as his natural and inevitable state — how many times has somebody told you that they actually would RATHER go to hell where he will feel comfortable around his friends?
On the other hand, a saved person, indwelt by the Light, wants nothing more than to be in the Presence of Christ for eternity. Even as he struggles with his sin nature.
The worst thing about hell to a Christian isn’t the torment so much as the eternal separation from Christ — “Having once tasted the heavenly gift” — the writer of Hebrews puts it.
Sin has consequences — their is no ‘license to sin’ in Scripture. Smokers get lung cancer. Alcoholics get liver disease. Drug abusers overdose. Divorce brings its own misery. Getting saved eternally doesn’t mean you are exempt from the earthly consequences of your sinful actions.
There is only one REAL Christianity. And it isn’t your pastor’s, or that person who seems to have conquered sin in their life, or Bill Graham’s kind of Christianity, or Hal Lindsey’s or mine.
There is only one kind of REAL Christianity.
You know whether or not you sincerely try to do good, whether you always make it or not. So does the One Who went to the Cross for you because He KNEW you wouldn’t always make it. That’s why He did it.
Your relationship with Jesus is unique; it isn’t like anybody else’s. Jesus saves us individually. He loves us individually. He answers our individual prayers.
He walks with us as individuals, He talks with us as individuals. His Spirit indwells us individually, and guides us through our individual trials and tribulations.
Paul wrote to the Phillipians; “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (2:12)
“Work out your OWN salvation” with the Individual with Whom you have a personal relationship. Through His Spirit, Jesus will guide you into all truth, but it takes time.
For some, it takes more time than others. Like the fat guy who criticizes you for smoking — he clearly hasn’t gotten it yet.
He misses the fact that when he points a finger at you, there are three pointing back at him.
Jesus was crucified, arms outstretched and palms up.
The biggest besetting sin of all is the one that keeps you from doing ‘good’. In this life, the Scripture says that the only time we do good is when we obey God’s will.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
Our purpose in this life is to lead others to Christ — according to God’s will that none should perish.
Be grateful that He accounted you worthy of salvation. Put your life and your sin nature in His nail-scarred Hands.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
You will never be ‘good enough’ — but He is.
Trust Him to make the changes in your life that He sees fit. Know that you are a work in progress and that your life is ordered according to a Divine Plan — one God has for YOU.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL PERFORM IT until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)
The only REAL Christianity is the kind that brings victory, not defeat. Leave defeat in the world it was designed for.
Pray instead that God will, “Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His Sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21)
That is NOT a license to sin. It is a license to persevere, getting back up when you fall, doing God’s Will — despite the trials of this world — none of which are news to Jesus.
Don’t let the enemy steal your victory.
It came at too high a Price.
Originally Published: November 14, 2004
Featured Commentary: When Deeds Become Doctrine ~ Pete Garcia