Romans 16:17-20 ESV
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
A Different Gospel
While we have certain people who are trying to pressure (and threaten) Christians into coming under the Old Covenant laws and system, on the other side of the pendulum we have those who are teaching a total absence of any loyalty, devotion, or obedience to the Lord and to his commands.
For, what they are teaching is that we can “believe” in Jesus Christ, have our sins forgiven, be delivered from the penalty of sin, and that we can have heaven guaranteed as our eternal destiny, regardless of how we live our lives on this earth, and regardless of how we treat Almighty God.
They may or may not come right out and say that, but the message is still the same. For if you teach that we can believe in Jesus, our sins are now forgiven, and heaven is thus guaranteed us when we die, but you don’t teach dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness, then you have let the “believer” think his behaviors have no impact on his salvation.
Do you know that this belief is so widespread that most people who confess themselves to be of the Christian faith believe they are going to heaven when they die regardless of how they live on this earth? For, the “faith” they are being taught does not come from God, but from their own flesh.
And many are taking it to the extreme today and they are telling people that it is wrong to repent of their sins, and to obey the Lord, and to submit to his Lordship over their lives, for they say that is “works-based” salvation. So, they are saying it is a sin to obey the Lord, in essence.
So, what they are doing is they are leaving their “adherents” still bound in their sins and still on their way to hell while they are promising them heaven as their eternal destiny, based on a lie from hell. For they are giving them free license for lasciviousness, to continue living in sin, now without guilt.
The True Gospel
The true gospel of our salvation does not teach what these liars and deceivers are teaching, though. The true gospel does not say we can profess faith in Jesus Christ, and that we are going to heaven when we die, but that we can ignore the Lord and refuse to obey him and continue living in sin.
Jesus taught, in fact, that if we want to come after him that we must deny self and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, he said that if we hold on to our old lives that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives for his sake (die with him to sin), we will then have eternal life with him (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17).
And Paul taught the same thing as Jesus. He taught that by faith in Jesus Christ we die with Christ to sin so that we might walk in newness of life, not like our old lives. For, our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so we would not be enslaved to sin.
Therefore, we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies to make us obey its passions. For sin will have no dominion over us, since we are not under the law of sin and death, but we are now under grace. But God’s grace frees us from our slavery to sin. It doesn’t pacify us in our sins.
So, are we permitted to continue living in sin because we are under God’s grace? By no means! For, if we present ourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, we are slaves to the one whom we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness and ends in eternal life.
So, who is no longer condemned?
He who is in Christ Jesus. And who is in Christ Jesus? Those who walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. For him/them, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled.
For, if we live according to our sinful flesh, thinking that our sins will not impact our eternal security, our minds are set on the flesh, not on God. And to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit of God is life and peace.
So, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if we live according to the flesh, doing what we want to do, living to please self, walking in sin, making sin our practice, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God.
But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, not all who merely profess faith in Jesus Christ but who then go their own way while ignoring the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and persuasion.
For, if we sow to please the flesh, we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, we will have eternal life. Eternal life is not guaranteed, thus, on the profession of faith in Jesus, but on us leaving our lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives.
For, the gospel of Jesus Christ is summed up in these words:
“But that is not the way you learned Christ! — 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 4:20-24).
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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