Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2014 Andy Young, Session 3: Practical Applications of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 14, 2014

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Practical Applications of Sanctification

Alright, welcome to our last session on Sanctification.

It’s been a day and a half since I last had the opportunity to speak to you, so very quickly I want to do a review to bring us back up to speed on where we are with this subject.  Session 1, we defined our terms and we explored the relationship between holiness and sanctification.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

This is our foundation for this subject matter.  Everything we discuss on this matter is based off of these two definitions.  And these definitions don’t belong to me.  This is how the Bible defines these terms.  That is what we spent our time in Session 1 doing, going through scripture, examining how these terms are used in scripture, and then based on their usage, we arrived at these definitions.

And then Friday evening, in Session 2, we examined this concept of cleansing and sanctification a little deeper, going back to the Old Testament and looking at how something was sanctified.  We explored the importance of washing with regard to sanctification and how the idea of baptism mentioned in the New Testament was a familiar concept to the Jewish culture because it was an integral part of the Law with regard to sanctification.  We finished session 2 looking at the account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and we saw how this was to be a metaphor for sanctification.  There were two different Greek words used for wash, in that account.  Jesus had told Peter, you don’t need a bath, you don’t need cleansed head to foot, because you are already completely clean.  You are already justified.  That part is finished.  You just need your feet washed every now and then.  Moreover, you need to wash each other’s feet.

So what we saw there was that not only is sanctification something that God does to us, as well as something that we are to strive to do ourselves, but we are instructed to participate in the sanctification of other believers.  We are to sanctify each other.  We are to be distinct and have God’s identifying character upon us and within us.  And that brings us to Session 3, and this afternoon I want to get real practical here.  I want to give us some tools to really understand the why and the how of sanctification in our lives.

I want to tie up some loose ends on some other things I alluded to in the previous sessions.  I made mention to this question of why believers still sin, and so I hope to tackle that and wrap that up, but there is also this question of is there any merit to good works.  You know we’ve all heard quoted the scripture about all our righteousness is as filthy rags, and we get constantly beat over the head with the notion of total depravity.  So I want to address this in the time I have left here.

You know I grew up going to church.  I’ve been saved ever since I was 7 years old.  I was blessed to have parents who were believers who taught me God’s word, and taught me at a young age that I was a sinner and I needed to be reconciled to God, and the only way that was possible was by believing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And my parents were old fashioned.  I think everyone thinks that about their parents, they’re just so old-fashioned.  They taught me, as a Christian you don’t do this, you don’t do that, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t dance, you don’t listen to bad music, you don’t swear.  Of course I went along with all of that.  I figured they must know better than me.

But you know as I got older and started reading more of the Bible, I had a hard time finding a lot of these things in the Bible.  I went to a Christian school in my high-school years, and these questions kept coming up in Bible classes, and no one could ever really adequately answer these questions.  And I think this is where this concept of “legalism” really stems from.  Legalism is a made-up term.  It’s not found in scripture anywhere.  But we end up labeling things a legalistic I think when we fail to understand the principles behind them.  And that was really the problem, these teachers I had kept failing to apply sound Biblical principles that, when it comes right down to it, have everything to do with Sanctification.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I started attending what was at the time a very sound fundamentalist church.  And the pastor there had such a wonderful gift for teaching.  He wasn’t just lecturing you.  He actually taught, line upon line, precept upon precept.  I had never heard the Bible taught like this before.  I had never had so much truth so skillfully expounded to me before.  And during this time, the light when on in my head, and all of a sudden it was like – Oh!  So that’s why we’re not supposed to do all those things!  And that is when I first started to grasp this concept of Sanctification.  God is Holy.  I am his child.  He made me righteous, and because I am righteous, He wants me to continually strive to be like that which He has made me to be, because that pleases Him!

So I went on like that for 16 or 17 years.  But it is more recently, I have found myself driven deeper into God’s word, reading it, studying it, and I’m finding that the things I read in scripture don’t line up with what is being taught in churches, or has been taught for, yes, hundreds of years.  Orthodoxy has been substituted for doctrine.  And so I had another one of those light bulb moments, and I discovered this to be true.  The majority of the New Testament was written to believers.  Now that sounds real profound, doesn’t it.  But think about this for a moment.  The New Testament was written to believers.  It was written to people already saved.  Already Justified.

Now if you start from that premise, if the New Testament is written for people who are already Justified, then everything that is written is in fact an instruction manual for life.  It is not written to tell people how to maintain their Justification.  If you are a believer, your justification is already done.  It is written to teach justified people how God wants them to live their lives as His children.

Now granted, there are many passages that teach Justification, for example Romans, or Galatians.  And an unsaved person can certainly read those parts of the Bible and come to the knowledge of God and learn how to become saved.  But that doesn’t change the fact that these books were written to believers – written for the purpose to teach them to better understand God’s truth and how to discern false teaching regarding Justification, but more specifically, how to live their lives, not so that they could merit Justification, but so that they could please their God in Sanctification.  When we understand that the Bible is God’s instruction book to believers, that puts every doctrine we’ve ever been taught in a church all of our lives in a totally different perspective.

What is God’s goal for His children?  It is a theme that you find repeated over and over not just in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament as well.  We spent 2 whole sessions looking at that on Friday.  It is Sanctification.  It is for His children to be cleansed for the purpose of making them distinct from everyone else.  If you had to single out one verse out of all 66 books of the Bible, there is one verse that could not unequivocally state it any better or more succinctly that this:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

There it is. That’s not me saying it. That’s God’s word saying it. Now deal with that. You cannot deny it. Paul is writing to believers. And look at the words he uses. We beseech you, we exhort you, we strongly encourage you. You already know the commandments we gave you. You know the imperatives. Do them. YOU do them. Why, so that you can merit righteousness? No, don’t you get it, you’re already saved, your justification is finished, you’re already righteous. You need to do this because it is pleasing to your Father!

Why do you have to exhort someone?  The word exhort in the Greek is the word παρακαλεω –  “para-ka-leh-oh”.  It means to call beside.  Picture that.  If our children are struggling with something, what to we do?  We say, come on over here next to me.  Why do we do that?  We don’t get in their face and talk at them.  And chew them out.  We call them beside us, and we put our arm around them.  What does that do?  Doesn’t that give them the sense that we are on their side?  That we are right there with them?  And when we do that we can encourage them to do whatever they know they should be doing already.  You already know this.  I know you have struggles.  I do, too.  You need to do this.  And that is what Paul is saying here to the Thessalonians.  He is pleading with them, begging them.  We beseech you.  This is so important for you to do this.  And consider this, if we have to be exhorted to do something, does that not suggest that first of all we don’t always do it, and secondly, that we are indeed able to do it?

Let’s explore this a little more.  Can we as believers please God?  Does God take pleasure in good works?

Let’s go to Colossians 1.  I’m going to comment on this passage as I read so that we get the context.

Colossians 1:1-10

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ …to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse…We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth…For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Clearly a sanctification passage.  Clearly teaching that we can please God by performing good works.  Not to merit righteousness.  Paul already established that they are justified.  He knows he’s writing to saved people who are already righteous. But for the purpose of bearing fruit, growing in wisdom and the knowledge of God, and please God all the while that is happening.

Here’s another good one. Also in the book of Colossians.

Colossians 3:20-24

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord…Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Here we have the idea of fear.  And this is actual fear, the Greek word is “phobos”.  Pleasing God because we fear Him.  We don’t fear judgment, but we fear the loss of rewards that come with our inheritance.  Our inheritance is salvation, eternal life.  We can’t lose that, but we can suffer loss of rewards if we fail to live our lives in such a way that is pleasing to God.  And while we are on that subject, we should talk about that, because this is really the motivation for Sanctification, pleasing God because there are eternal rewards at stake.  Let’s turn over to 1 Corinthians 3:12.

Now let me put this in context for you.  Paul is addressing the Corinthians regarding the sectarianism that had developed among the assemblies there.  Basically what was happening is that rather than clinging to the truth of God’s word, they were showing devotion to a particular teacher.  They were saying, well Paul teaches this, or Apollos teaches this, or Peter teaches this.  And so these rifts had formed between the believers.  And so what Paul is trying to communicate here is that, look, all of these teachers build upon each other.  We don’t fight over it.  God is using each of these teachers to build you up so that you can go out and do good works in Sanctification.  So then we pick up in verse 12, and Paul says:

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

So we have works that are of value verses works that are of no value, or even no works at all. The works that we do in sanctification that edify ourselves and others, that make us more distinct and allow us to bear more fruit, verses those things that don’t edify or if we fail to aggressively pursue the things that do.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,…

This is the day that we stand before the Bema.  The judgment seat.  This is not the Great White Throne judgement.  That is God’s judgment on the unsaved.  The Bema is the judgment seat of Christ where rewards are given to believers for how they lived their lives in Sanctification while still on earth.  Now I have no idea how this actually works, but we are told here that the Bema is a test of fire.  Somehow the believers works in Sanctification are tested by fire,

  …because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

 whether it is of value or not.  Whether it is durable enough to stand the test of fire.

If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

So there is the motivation in Sanctification.  This is why we strive to please God, because one day rewards will be given for how well we worked in Sanctification.  If we didn’t work at all, or if our works were of no value, they will be burned up by the fire, and there will be nothing left, and there will be no reward.  We still have eternal life.  That’s because Justification is already done.  What is at stake is not our justification, not salvation, not eternal life, but the rewards in the life to come.

Now if we understand that, then that puts an entirely different spin on another familiar passage, and it is one we looked at in Session 2.  Turn back to John 15.  Once again, this is the account of the vine and the branches.  In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage, and Jesus was talking to believers.  Now, take what we have just looked at regarding the test of fire, regarding works, regarding fruit in the life of the believer, regarding eternal rewards, and look at John 15 once more.

In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage because it involves cleansing the branches.  Pruning them back so that they can produce more fruit.  Now, despite the vinedressers best efforts to get a branch to produce fruit, despite God’s efforts to get us to work Sanctification in our lives so that we will be distinct for Him, look at what happens to the branch that fails to produce fruit.

John 15:6

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Now be careful with this and don’t misunderstand.  What Jesus is telling his disciples is not a test of whether or not you are justified.  He is pointing out the necessity for believers to abide.  He is pointing out why it is necessary for believers to pursue Sanctification.  Because if you don’t pursue sanctification, if you don’t strive to please God by living lives in obedience to His commandments, you are going to whither away as a believer, and you won’t produce fruit, and if you don’t produce fruit, then you are not going to be useful for God.  You’ll still have your salvation, you still have eternal life, but there will be no rewards.

There are serious consequences for failure to pursue Sanctification.  One is failure to receive rewards.  We see the fire mentioned here in John 15:6, the fire is the test that determines our rewards for our works.  We saw that in 1 Corinthians 3.  But what Jesus is telling us here is that sometimes, God has to deal harshly with believers.  If someone is not producing fruit and is withered and is of no longer useful to God, sometimes God takes the life of that believer.  He is still justified, he still has eternal life, but he’ll stand before the Bema, and the fire will come, and will burn away everything he had, and he’ll be left with nothing.  His salvation, but no rewards.

We’ve seen examples of that in scripture.  Ananias and Sapphira come to mind.  In Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding he sale of their property.  And that was such a serious matter to God, it had such potential to do great harm to the spread of the Gospel, that God dealt very harshly with them.  He took their lives.  They were saved.  They were justified, but God had to deal harshly with them for what they did.

So why does this happen?  Why do we need to be exhorted to pursue Sanctification?  Why do we need to be reminded to obey?  God gave us an instruction manual for how He wants us to live our lives, but we don’t do that all the time, do we?  We don’t do it perfectly.  But we are still commanded to do it.  And if we don’t, that’s ok, because our justification is based on how well we obey, it is based on the fact that we believed God.  The standard for righteousness has nothing to do with obedience.  The standard for righteousness is belief in God.

And because we believe God, and because we have been Justified, because He has made us righteous, we are new creatures, we have God’s seed in us that cannot sin, we are His Children, He is our Father, we have been adopted into His family, and He loves us as His children and we love Him as we love our Father.  And because we love Him, we have this desire to please him.  Again, I’m going to say this over and over until it finally sinks in, so that there is no misunderstanding, we want to please Him not to merit righteousness – say it with me, we already ARE righteous – we want to please Him because we love Him.  Jesus said in John 14:15, if you love me, keep my commandments.  That’s not a forgone conclusion, that is a command.  That is not an inevitability, that is something we must strive for.

Why must we be commanded to do it?  Because, unfortunately, we have this new creature existing in a body of flesh that is contaminated by sin.  Turn with me to a familiar passage.  Romans 7.  Paul is in the middle of presenting this great conflict he continually find himself in, despite the fact that he is a Justified believer.  Let’s pick this up in verse 18.

Romans 7:18

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Try to understand the significance of what Paul is saying here.  What is comes down to is, this body is not who we are.  The body is not us.  The us is something else.  Something spiritual.  There used to be an old us.  When we believed God and were Justifed, the old us died.  That old us is gone.  It was crucified and buried with Christ.  And a new us was created.  A perfect, righteous creature now exists where the old us used to be.  That is the new man.  The one that delights in the law of God, and wants to please Him!  But this new man is still stuck in this old body.  And this old body is corrupted by sin, and it wars against the new man.  And it tries to get me to obey it.  So when we sin, it’s not the new us doing it.  The new us can’t sin.  1 John 3:9.  It is born of God, it is God’s seed, it is perfectly righteous, it can’t sin.  It’s the flesh doing it.  And Paul concludes by saying basically, Oh get me out of this body so I don’t have to fight with this any more!

And so basically what it comes down to is that part of the Christian life is this endeavor to bring this body under submission.

Paul describes it this way,

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

We are to do it.  We have the ability to do it.  Be in control of our bodies.  Be in control of how we live our lives.  Because the body is what the world sees.  What we do with this body determines what the word sees.  How the world sees us is how the world sees God.  And if the world sees someone who is distinct from everyone and everything else, then God is pleased.  Because we represent God, and we show that God is distinct.

Now you take that principle, and you apply that to your own life, however that works itself out.  I’m not going to stand here and tell you, you have to stop doing this or you have to stop doing that.  That’s between you and God.  That’s a matter of maturity.  And as you read and study God’s word, as you mature, as you grow in knowledge and wisdom, as God’s word Sanctifies you, what happens, it cleanses you.  And as it cleanses you, you become more and more distinct.  This is a maturity issue.  We don’t all mature at the same rate.  We’re not all at same place in our sanctification.  And that’s ok.  We don’t have to be.  Because we are still Justified.  We are already righteous.  Just because you’re a little father along in your sanctification than I am doesn’t make you or me any more or less righteous.  And that is tremendous assurance.  I don’t have to be at the same place you are spiritually to know that I am saved.  I know that I am saved because at some point in my life, I repented of my unbelief, and I believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you see now how a proper understanding of Sanctification give us assurance?  If salvation is based on performance, then we can never be sure if we’re saved.  And that’s what happens if you tie Sanctification to Justification.  But when you keep the separate, and understand that sanctification is not about righteousness but about holiness, about being distinct, then even at the times when I fail, I can just say, you know, I messed up that time, but thank God I am still His child.  I’m sorry I failed that time, Lord.  I’ll try harder next time.  Help me to do better.  Help me to spend more time in your word, so that I may be Sanctified by it, so that I may be more distinct for you.

I started off Session 1 with this verse, and I said that this was going to be the recurring theme throughout all 3 sessions.  1 Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”  I know that this study on Sanctification has been by no means comprehensive.  I know I barely scratched the surface.  But I trust that you have been edified.  I trust that God’s word is powerful enough that the Holy Spirit can do infinitely more than any words I could ever say.  I thank you so much for your attention, for bearing with me as I went though this.  I want to thank Paul and Susan for their hospitality this weekend.  And I am humbled by the opportunity they gave me to present a topic that is dear to my heart.  I somehow don’t feel qualified enough to do this, but I am just glad that I was able to share with you some of the things that God has taught me in my own personal study of these issues.

 Do we have time for questions or comments?

14 Responses

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  1. Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    Howdy Andy,

    I loved everything you had to say here and i want to thank you for that! But although I understand that the bible teaches it is not I who sins, but the sin that dwells within me, I’m having trouble processing that conceptually. When I am presented with a temptation to sin and give into it, is it not I who chose to give in? If so, must it not be the “new i” who made that choice, sin “the old i” is gone and is no more? Or is the new man whom I call myself not to be identified with my mind–the mind that made the choice to sin? Maybe these questions cannot be answered to our satisfaction. Since the Bible teaches it, I’ll believe it either way. But it would make things alot easier for me if some further light could be she’d on it. 🙂

    Keep doing what you’re doing, you have blessed me much!

    Joey

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    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 10:36 AM

      Joey,
      Thank you for your encouraging words, and I am so glad that you found a blessing in the lesson. Even more, I am encouraged that you are asking these questions and seeking answers. These are all very good questions to ask. Our God is not a God of confusion, so He wants us to understand the things He has revealed to us in scripture. But our God is also a God of REASON. He does not appeal to us on the basis of authority, for that does not require persuasion, only the use of force. So we must be very careful simply accepting something as “true” just because some authority claims it to be so. This has been and continues to be the practice of Protestantism and the institutional church.

      As for your question regarding “who sins”. There are several realities that we have to remember that are critical. First of all, the law condemns and brings death and judgment. Therefore everyone who is born in this world is “under law” and subject to the law’s condemnation. This is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person. And this is why a literal New Birth is so important. When a person believes, the old man dies (literally), and he is reborn a new creature. This new creature is the literal offspring of God and bears the same righteousness as the Father. He is righteous because since the old man died, the law no longer has any jurisdiction over him. It cannot hold him accountable. Paul uses the example in Romans 7 of a woman whose husband dies. When the husband dies she is no longer under the jurisdiction of the law to stay with him (after all, he’s dead) and is now FREE from being bound to that law. That law cannot condemn her for giving herself to be wed to another man.

      Where there is no law there is no sin. Let me say that again, where there is no law there is no sin! There can only be condemnation where there is law. This is the very reason why John states in 1 John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he CANNOT sin, because he is born of God.”

      When a person is born again, being freed from the law’s condemnation he is now FREE to use the law to aggressively pursue obedience. It doesn’t matter if he messes up every now and then, that’s not the point, it CANNOT change his righteous status because it isn’t sin that condemns, the law was ended. Obedience to the law is the way that we show love to God and others. We can do this without FEAR because the law’s condemnation has been ended. (1 John 4:18, Romans 8:1)

      But that doesn’t mean sin doesn’t still try to tempt us. The Bible describes sin as an entity that seeks to control us. And the main mechanism that sin uses is the law. So even though we are no longer CONDEMNED, we still have bodies that are WEAK, NOT EVIL. Get that! Our flesh is NOT EVIL, it is WEAK. We have a free will we can exercise to use our bodies to do good or to do evil. The same is true for unsaved people, the difference is that the unsaved are still under law and condemnation, but believers are not condemned because there is no law. Believers now operate under a new relationship to the law; the law of the spirit of life (Romans 8:2). So “sin” for the believer is really a failure to show love, but it does not condemn. There may be natural consequences as a result of making poor choices, but it does not affect our justification, our righteous standing. It does not make us any less God’s child!

      We do not need to fear condemnation. Our motivation as believers should be love. Think about this, if we spent our energy thinking about loving others and showing love to others we would have to worry about breaking any laws. So if believers made this their focus instead of living in fear of condemnation, the obedience would just come naturally. Please understand, I am not talking about a way to “merit” salvation. Our salvation is a done deal the moment we are born again. Maintaining our salvation is never the motivation. Love should be the motivation.

      I know I’ve really rambled on here, but I wanted to try to lay this out in a logical progression. I hope somewhere along the way I was able to answer your question. Perhaps I’ve given you new questions to consider. Either way, please feel free to ask either Paul or myself. As believers we are coming out of a Protestant dark age, and our desire is to help bring others out of it. And as with anything we say, don’t just take our word for it! Search out the scriptures for yourself, as the Bereans did, whether these things are so.

      Blessing to you!

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      • Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 12:04 PM

        Thanks Andy! That does help to clear things up for me. So when John writes, ” Beloved, I write these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we, have an advocate with the Father,” he is not talking about sin in the sense of being under the law of condemnation, but sin against the law of love, and Jesus Is OUR advocate before the Father when we commit such a sin? But why does he still need to be our advocate with the Father as believers? I’ve heard protestants refer to this one countless times. Am I reading the text wrong, maybe?

        As a Protestant I had it drilled into my head that the sins I am most guilty of committing are what they called “sins of ommission.” That is, sinning not in what I did, but what I DIDN’T do. And I don’t mean stuff like not helping a neighbor when he clearly needed it or anything like that. I’m talking about pressing on me passages like, “do all things to the glory of God.” My trouble is, How in the world can I know if I’m doing all things to Gods glory when I’m not always consciously thinking about it? I got in the terrible habit of watching my inner thought life like a hawk to be absolutely positive that nothing not glorifying to God was going on in my mind. It’s a hard habit to break. What I really want to know is, when sinful thoughts enter our mind, thoughts that we hate, is that sinning against the law of love? Or if we momentarily entertain a temptation before rejecting it, is this momentary entertaining of the idea something we need to ask Gods fatherly forgiveness for? It would seem to make the Christisn life almost impossible if thst were true, because, after all, sometimes it’s hard to know if you’ve actually entertained the idea or not. Anyway, Protestantism has really messed up my walk with God. I can’t blame it exclusively for I am the one who embraced it, but much of it still has a hold on me. It’s odd–even though I rationally know I’m being overscrupulous, it’s hard to shake those thoughts and feelings. I think I even developed OCD about it all when u was in the fold. I’m making progress though, even if slowly. ThanKS Andy!

        Joey

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      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 12:54 PM

        Joey,

        We could sit here and nitpick and get caught up in the minutiae of our daily living, constantly question our every action, “am I doing it right? Am I doing it right?” But God doesn’t want us to live our lives like that. He didn’t set us free from the law’s condemnation and the enslavement of sin only to be enslaved to some system of orthodoxy. And in reading your response and your follow-up questions, that is my assessment of your present state of mind. I can attest to this because I have been there too, and as you say, it’s hard work to break that mindset. When you have been conditioned to think a certain way for so long, it takes a long time to undo all that, to train yourself to think a different way, without letting the old biases color your conclusions. But notice what the orthodoxy does to us; it causes us to live lives characterized by constant FEAR! Fear that somehow we will screw up and put our salvation in jeopardy.

        Look, it’s as simple as this. We are saved the moment we are born again! Period! We are justified ONCE and for all time. Why? Because the new creature is born of God and IS righteous. Nothing changes that EVER! So here’s the deal. This is what we must do. Stop living in fear of messing up our salvation, and just go out and love God and love others! If that becomes our focus, the rest takes care of itself.

        I like to look at it this way. We have earthly parents, a mother and father. Being born into that family makes us a child of that family. Being born again makes us a child of God’s family where God is our Father, Jesus is our Big Brother, and every other believer are brothers and sisters. So, with our earthly family, if we screw up, does it make us any less a son/daughter? Do we stop being a part of that family? Do we somehow forfeit our inheritance and claim to those things that belong to us as a benefit of being part of that family? The answer is a resound, OF COURSE NOT! It is the same with God’s family. We can never stop being a child of God. We can never be “un-born again” any more than we can be unborn from our earthly family. Now, yes, we do screw up things with our family from time to time. And what do we do? Don’t we try to go and make things right with them? Don’t we seek forgiveness when we’ve wronged somebody? Yes. But we never stopped being a child of that family. How hard is it then to understand that the nature or our relationship with God and others is exactly the same. We seek forgiveness, not to put us back in the family, but so that our relationship can continue without broken fellowship.

        The fear created by Protestant orthodoxy is perhaps the most destructive body of thought ever perpetrated on the human psyche. It enslaves people to some labyrinth of spiritual egg-shells that God never intended for His children to navigate. But you too can overcome this. I cannot tell you the joy and elation that I feel right now that you are beginning to see things for what they are and are embarking on this journey. I know I don’t have all the answers; this is a journey that we are all going through, but at least we get to do it together, and we get to encourage and equip each other along the way!

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      • Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 12:14 PM

        Thanks Andy! So when John writes, ” Beloved, I write these things so that you do not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,” he was talking about sin in the sense of sinning agsinst the law of love. So Jesus still needs to be our advocate before the Father when we sin in that sense….or am I misunderstanding what John is saying?

        Joey

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      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 1:32 PM

        Joey,

        Sorry, let me address that question specifically. In 1 John 2:1, to what is John referring when he says “these things”? What is the context. It would seem apparent that the “these things” would be all that he had just stated in the previous chapter, verses 6-10 of chapter 1 in particular. Now here is where it is to understand the entire context of John’s letter, the reason why he wrote it.

        A false teacher by the name of Cerinthus had infiltrated the assemblies to which 1 John is addressed. Cerinthus was a 1st century Gnostic who had blended Christianity with Gnosticism. The primary theme of his teaching was that there was a physical realm and a spiritual realm. He taught that when one did evil, it was only in the physical and not the spiritual that was sinning, so it didn’t matter what you did in your physical body. The physical is evil anyway, so live any way you want, it won’t matter because your spirit is good and doesn’t sin. If you want a more in-depth explanation, you can go to Paul’s post here

        So John was attempting to refute this gnostic teaching that people didnt “really” sin. In other words, 1 John 6-10 is about JUSTIFICATION and not SANCTIFICATION. This is where it becomes confusing for believers because Protestantism teaches this passage in the context of Sanctification. But John is making hypothetical arguments with regard to justification as a means of showing the fallacy of the gnostic orthodoxy.

        So John goes on then to say, I’m telling you this so that you don’t sin. In other words, I’m telling you this so that you don’t buy in to the false teaching and go out and live your life any way you please. John is trying to clarify for these believers the nature of their justification. That is not based merely in some outside realm manifestation, but it is a real change that takes place. To be justified, an unsaved person must acknowledge that sin is sin, and an actual change needs to take place. Hypothetically, under gnostic teaching, and unsaved person could claim he was righteous because his “spirit” was good and only his flesh was evil. John is saying, no, you are unrighteous and sin because you are under law. Christ died to end the law. His role as “advocate” is for the purpose of refute Satan, the accuser of the brethren. When Satan accuses a believer before God, Christ says, no, there is no law to charge my brother!

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      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 1:48 PM

        In re-reading my last response, let me make sure I clarify something.

        The gnosticism that John was refuting taught that man had two parts – spirit and flesh – and that spirit was good and flesh was evil.
        And that man doesn’t really sin because only his flesh sins because it’s evil, but that’s ok because his spirit is still good.

        But what the Bible teaches is that man as a created being is good and that flesh is WEAK. And weak is not the same as evil. What makes a believer righteous is not that he doesn’t sin but because he is BORN AGAIN and has the Father’s righteousness. This new creature does not sin because there is NO LAW to condemn, so where there is no law there is no sin. I hope I have done a better job there at contrasting the differences.

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  2. Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    Thanks again, Andy.

    That explanation of 1 john makes a lot of sense! So the propitiation for our sins he was talking about were sins that were committed preconversion, when we were still under law, because the new us, not under the law of condemnation and having God’s seed within us, needs no propitiation. Sound right?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

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    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      Exactly! Wow, you’ve nailed it! You know there are people languishing in the institutional church who still don’t get that profound statement you just made. The propitiation is for past sins only that we committed prior to the new birth. There is no need for a continuing “atonement” or “covering” since for the believer the law is ended! That was a lightbulb moment for me, too, the day I understood that. And it’s funny, once that little nugget of truth becomes apparent, how much more and more of the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place. And it all makes perfect sense, and you don’t need the orthodoxy of the “church” to explain it all. Blessings to you, my brother!

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      • Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 4:03 PM

        It does make sense! The only thing bothering me is that john sounds like he’s talking in in the present tense to those who are believers.–“i don’t want you brothers to sin, but if anyone DOES sin, we have an advocate….” and he then proceeds to connect christ our current advocate with his being the propitiation for our sins, if we should fall into one. If believers no longer need a propitiation, why does john here connect that propitiation with christs advocacy “in case anyone does sin?”

        I hope I’m not bothering you with all of these questions. Last one for today! 🙂

        Thanks again!

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      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on April 8, 2016 at 4:17 PM

        Not at all, you’re not bothering me at all. This is good stuff and is what we are supposed to do as believers, we challenge each other and build up each other. This is truly edifying. I think the key to understanding this can be found in the grammatical structure. I had to pull out my Greek interlinear NT. You are correct that the statement is in the present tense, but the verb “is” is a linking verb, and “propitiation” is in the nominative case, making it a predicate nominative. That means it shows “equivalence”. In other words, with a true linking verb you can switch the subject and predicate and the sentence would have the same meaning. Thus, “He [Christ] = propitiation” in the same as “Propitiation = He [Christ]”. It is defining Christ’s role. But notice it does not necessarily imply an ongoing role. It does not say that Christ is propititating, or Christ is at this moment acting as a propitiation. Another way of looking at it would be like this. I cook for a living. So I could say, “I am a cook”. Notice it’s the same grammatical construct. It is in the present tense with the linking verb “am”, but obviously that doesn’t mean I am cooking at this very moment. Does that clear it up a little?

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  3. Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 4:44 PM

    Kind of–what you’re saying about the verb tenses makes sense. But what I’m struggling with is that it sounds like john is connecting christs propitiation, not with past sins commited by his readers as unbelievers, but of sins committed as christians. If I may paraphrase, it sounds to me like he’s saying, ” I write this in hopes that you will not sin, but if anybody does sin, be comforted to know that Jesus is your advocate with the Father and the propitiation for that sin you committed…”

    Now I do not want that way of looking at the text to be right, but I’m struggling eith how else to read it. Becase if it means as I paraphrased it above, it seems to follow that believers, as believers, still need christs propitiating work on the cross when they sin. And if that is the case, how can it be said that the christisn is not under law, no longer needs a covering, etc? This is why it’s bothering me. Get what I’m saying?

    Thanks my friend!

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    • Joe said, on April 8, 2016 at 6:18 PM

      Oh… (sry one more, lol) if the renewed mind/will of man is now wholly good, being God’s new creation, how is it that the mind/will ever chooses to disobey God? Sin within our members might tempt us to disobey God, but how is it possible that the new man (the renewed mind and will) can choose to follow that temptation? Maybe our situation is similar to Adam’s prefall. Adam, although righteous, was still able to disobey God–and that without any encouragement from indwelling sin! Could we say that when we as new men/women choose to disobey, that we, unlike Adam, do not forfeit our righteous being cause it is God’s gift?

      I understand that indwelling sin tempts us, but since it does not force us to comply, and the whole of our real selves have been made new, who but us–the righteous us–is left to choose to follow sins promptings?

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      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on April 8, 2016 at 10:05 PM

        The answer to this is fairly simple: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” If we were not new creatures, our spirit would not be willing. Before a person is born again, they do not love the word of God nor do they “love the truth” (2Thess 2:10). You seem to struggle with the idea that weakness and righteousness can be together. Christians sin because they are weak. The reality of this is explained by Paul in Romans 6 (and other places). When a person is saved, freedom and slavery are reversed. A lost person is free to do good and enslaved to sin. A saved person is free to sin but enslaved to righteousness. The Bible makes it clear that Christians are enslaved to righteousness. This results in different wages depending on which master you are enslaved to: Sin, or Christ. The believer can only earn life wages; a lost person can only earn death wages. The more a Christian sins, the less reward he/she will receive in this life and the life to come. The lost person is free to do good, but this only results in lesser condemnation. You seem to be hung up on the Protestant/Gnostic concept of purely righteous works. Um, it is obvious that even unbelievers do meritorious works because some will receive a lesser condemnation than others at the final judgement. Moreover, the unregenerate are enslaved to sin because the condemnation of the law is what empowers sin. Unbelievers, in many cases, are unable to say no to temptations that will obviously destroy them. As they obey sin, the desires become stronger and stronger to the point of enslavement. I mean, we see it all the time, but one example is the guy who raped Absolom’s sister. The guy had to know that meant certain death, but he was unable to say no to the desire. This is why the believer’s sin will be more and more less frequent if he/she is knowledgeable about these things. A Christian should know they have the ability to say no to sinful desires. lastly, reversed slavery and freedom is a change of direction, not a perfection in practice.

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