Proverbs 17:15 ESV
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
Who Does This?
Who is it that justifies the wicked and that condemns the righteous? Surely it is Satan, but it is humans under the influence of Satan, too, and some of them call themselves Christians and are pastors of churches, too.
So, how do they do this, and is it apparent to all? No, it isn’t apparent to all because it is done very stealthily and with much deception and twisting of truth to make it look like and to sound like truth, so that even some who grew up grounded in the truth have left the right way to follow the lie.
So, what does this lie look like? It comes in many different forms, but at the root of it is the teaching that says that we can believe in Jesus, be saved from our sins, be on our way to heaven, but still live in sin, making sin our practice, and that God will just keep forgiving us every time we sin.
Yet, it is True
Yet, it is true that God is very loving and forgiving. And it is true that being a Christian does not mean we are living in sinless perfection. For, Jesus died for our sins, taking upon himself our sins and our punishment for sin, because not one of us could keep the law perfectly.
But… “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:3-4
Notice with me what this says, though. It does not say that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who believe in Jesus or who have professed faith in Jesus, but in us who walk (conduct our lives, in practice) NOT according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8:5-8
Again, notice with me what this says. It does not say, “those who are no longer in the flesh positionally because they believed in Jesus,” but it says, “For those who live according to the Spirit.” The Christian faith is not just about being positionally righteous by faith, but it is about being righteous because one is living righteously and not in sin (1 Jn 3:7; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
We either have our minds set (determined) on the flesh or on the Spirit. Again, this does not mean we are living in sinless perfection, but we are either following Jesus with our lives or we are following after the flesh. We can’t do both at the same time. They are opposed to each other.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom 6:16
The whole purpose of Jesus dying on a cross for our sins was that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, not so we could be positionally righteous so that we could continue living in sin without guilt. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
For, when we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, we are baptized spiritually into Christ and into his death so that, just as he was raised from the dead, we might live in newness of life in him (Rom 6:1-4).
For our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but so we would be slaves to God and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Jn 6:35-58; Gal 2:20).
“Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:21-24
But this is not optional. For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we live according to the Spirit, then we have eternal life (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Back to the Lie
I heard a pastor preach the other day on the subject of holiness. But his message was a mixed message. On the one hand he was talking about what the Scriptures teach on repentance and on holy living, and he described for us what that should look like.
But on the other hand, he said something like, “God does not expect you to be perfect. He expects you to keep repeating the same sins over again. And he will keep forgiving you every time you sin.” And then he quoted this:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn 1:9
Nonetheless, he missed the context of that verse, for what preceded that was this:
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 Jn 1:5-8
So, what he taught was deceptive, for he gave the impression that God fully expects that we will live in habitual sin, but if we just keep confessing our deliberate and habitual sins, he will just keep forgiving us.
No! God does not expect us to keep committing the same sins over again and to keep confessing the same sins over again. He expects that we should be free of our slavery to sin, for if our faith is genuine, we have died with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness.
He also expects us to now live according to the Spirit so that we no longer gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh, for this is why he died. Yes, he allows for the fact that we might sin here or there, but he doesn’t allow for deliberate habitual sinning against him as a matter of practice. If we live in sin (we make it our practice), we will die in sin (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
But it isn’t just that these who are teaching this false gospel are justifying the wicked, but many of them are also condemning the righteous, talking about us as though we are self-righteous legalists who are trying to work our way into heaven. Both viewpoints alike are an abomination to the Lord.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!