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III. The Believer and Sin

A. Sin will not result in loss of salvation

Sin in a believer’s life will not and cannot result in the loss of salvation. Eternal life is eternal (John 6:37, 39; 10:28; I John 5:10-13). There are many undesirable consequences of sin in a Christian’s life but losing the gift of eternal life is not one of them. A person who has been born again into God’s family cannot become “unborn.” If eternal life is could be lost, then it was misnamed.

The Bible is extremely clear on the issue of eternal life. It is not a matter of interpretation, but a matter of belief. Jesus was speaking of His “sheep” in John 10:28 when He said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” It would be difficult to be any clearer than that. God has already given us “eternal” life; that means forever. Furthermore, He says that we shall never perish. The word “never” is translated from two Greek words and is a double negative, which is added for emphasis.

I John 5:13 tells us that we may know that we have eternal life. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life,…” We can know right now that we have eternal life because it does not depend upon what we are trying to do. It depends upon what God has already done.

What about the sin question for a Christian? Does God just overlook our sin after we are saved? Absolutely not! A just God requires the payment for sin (Rom. 6:23: I John 2:2). A loving God paid the payment Himself and offers it freely to mankind (I John 4:9; Rom. 3:24). Heb. 10:10-14 compares the complete offering for sin that Jesus made (v10) with the ineffective offering made by the Jewish priests (v11). The subject is then summed up in verse 14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Verse 17, quoting Jer. 31:34, tells us, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Titus 2:14, relays to us the good news that believers are redeemed “from all iniquity.

One of the blessings of knowing that we have eternal life is that we do not have to stumble around trying to be good enough to go to Heaven. That has been settled by Christ’s righteousness (II Cor 5:21). We can now concentrate our efforts on serving and glorifying Him, the One Who did so much for us (I Cor. 6:19,20).

We know from God’s Word that we should be serving Him. Neutrality is sin (Matt. 12:30). James 4:17; “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” May we get our priorities in order.

B. Sin in a Believer’s life will result in:

1. Chastening (Correction or Instruction)

Can a person trust in Jesus as his Savior, then live as he pleases and still go to Heaven when he dies? Though this question is sometimes posed from a very selfish and shortsighted viewpoint, it is an important and common question that deserves a Biblical answer.

In order to prevent a misunderstanding of this issue, explanation is necessary along with the answer. First, is it possible to live as we please? No one truly does. As a child, I always wanted to be able to fly or to go back in time. This has never worked. Our humanity, society, financial position, physical status, all place limits on things we wish to do.

The believer has additional limits placed upon his free will. He has the Holy Spirit indwelling him (I Cor. 6:19-20) and God’s restraining force is with him everywhere he goes. The sense in which this question is presented has to do with a believer choosing to obey or to disobey God. If the believer could not choose to disobey God, then why is the New Testament replete with commands to obey and sad examples of those who did not. While raising my children, they each had a free will and chose to disobey at times, but they did not truly live as they pleased in my home. When they disobeyed, I did not kick them out. As a loving father, I asked them to come on in for some serious communication.

An important parenthetical note needs to be introduced here. I would like to share part of the personal testimony of the man who first presented the Gospel in a clear and accurate enough manner for me to understand. God has used him to be a significant part of probably several hundred thousand people being saved, not including the repeated generations of the many whom he discipled. While lost, he was persuaded to attend a home bible study. The speaker clearly explained from Ephesians 2:8 and 9, that salvation was only by grace through faith and did not rely in any way upon our works. With everyone sitting around a dinner table, this man then interrupted the meeting with a poignant question, “Do you mean that if I believe in Jesus for eternal life, that no matter what I did afterward, that I would still go to Heaven?”

That is kind of a “loaded” question. How would you answer it? Most pastors or Christian leaders would tend to “fudge” on the answer and maybe say that you need to be willing to change or something like that. Many do not want to take the flak for being true to God’s word when it might incur some persecution from the “Christian” world.

This Bible teacher gave a loving and accurate reply to the question, “That’s a crude way to put it, but God loves you that much.” At that, my friend, slammed his hand on the table and exclaimed, “That’s for me.” He then believed in Jesus and was assured of his eternal life. What he did not realize then was the implication of the Holy Spirit indwelling him, God’s loving discipline of the believer, and many other wonderful truths of the Christian life which came with study and maturity. He has stated to me that if that kind Bible teacher had compromised one bit on the truth of the Gospel, that he would have rejected it and walked out. What a potential tragedy that could have occurred had the Bible teacher not been clear on the issue of grace and works for salvation. I believe that this tragedy is presently occurring in many “Bible-believing” circles today.

We have previously seen that Jesus has paid for all of our sins; past, present, and future (when He died, they were all future). Our salvation is kept by God’s power, not by our faithfulness (I Pet. 1:3-5). The answer to the question is that, even though that is crude way to put it, no matter what we do after we are saved, God loves us enough to stand by His word and save us. This leads us to the subject of the chastening of the believer.

A passage that details God’s loving correction in our lives is Hebrews 12:5-11;

5. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10. For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The following are some highlights that we see from the above passage. It explains God’s chastening of the believer. God’s Chastening is:

1. For God’s children (v5)

2. Not to be despised, but endured (v5)

3. An act of Divine love (v6)

 4. For every believer (v6)

5. Of varying intensity (v6)

6. Evidence of relationship (v7, 8)

7. Not for those who are not in the family (v8)

8. Compared to, but superior to parental discipline (v9, 10)

9. Intended to keep us in subjection to the Father (v9)

10. For our profit (v10)

11. Not initially pleasant, but ultimately fruitful (v11)

I Cor. 11:30, 31, gives us some good news. This passage presents to us a simple and practical way to escape God’s chastening in specific areas: We should judge ourselves before God needs to.

According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, there are at least 4 reasons for chastening:

1. Preventive, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, who was given the thorn in the flesh to keep him humble (II Cor 12:7-9).

2. Corrective, which is the disciplinary moving of the Father toward His wayward son for the good of the son.

3. Enlarging, the object being “unto holiness” to bring forth the “fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:6; John 15:2).

4. Vindicative, as in the case of Job who vindicated God against the challenge and accusations of Satan that the patriarch did not really love God apart from his family, his possessions and himself.

The word “chasten” (Heb. 12:6, 7, 12) is translated from a word that has to do with “child-training.” It is from the same word that is used in Titus 2:11, 12, “The grace of God... teaching us...,” and in II Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Chastening is not exercised in order to pay for sin. That has already been accomplished, once, completely and forever (Heb. 10:10, 14; Rom. 8:1; Titus 2:13, 14; I John 2:2). It is “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). There­fore, we can understand why we should “despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when we are rebuked of him” (Heb. 12:6). God’s chastisement of the believer may not even be as a result of our sin. Maybe God needs to prepare us and to mold us into something even better for ourselves, others, and for His glory.

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