Paul's Passing Thoughts

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3, Doing the Christian Walk

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 14, 2015

Blog Radio LogoGood evening, everyone. Welcome to Blog Talk Radio False Reformation. This is your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to call in and add to the lesson tonight, the number is 347-855-8317. You will hear me say, “You are on the air. This is your host, Paul. What is your question or comment?” and just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional.

Per the usual, we’ll be checking in towards the end of the conclusion of our presentation and try to get a conversation going with Susan about the topic at hand to kind of round everything out.

This is our third part in the series, “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification.” In the first part we defined the enemy; in the second part we defined the Christian, and now we are getting into the actual nuts and bolts of Christian living. How, yes, how do we walk in the Spirit or according to the will and desires of the Spirit? These are also our desires because we are born of God.

Again, this series is designed to address the core basics of sanctification and we trust that folks will add to their understanding through independent Bible study. We must remember, for more than 500 years, Protestantism has focused on justification while making sanctification a subjective outflow of salvation. Christian living is therefore a vast untapped knowledge.

Taking the first two parts together, we understand that the Christian is not only declared righteous by God, we are in fact new creatures who are holy. Perfect sinlessness is not the issue, change of direction is the issue. We have examined why sin in the Christian life does not exempt the Christian from being truly righteous and why that is not “legal fiction.”

This is important: the only soteriological imputation spoken of in the Bible is our sins to Jesus. Righteousness is not imputed to the Christian nor does the Bible state that anywhere. Christians are MADE righteous by the new birth. There is no so-called “double imputation.”

Romans 6:4 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that 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. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

The righteousness of God is not merely imputed to us, the new birth has made us the righteousness of God because we are His literal offspring. This is important to know if we are to live a sanctified life as kingdom citizens.

In order to adequately tap into the vast riches of sanctification via the Scriptures, it is essential that justification and sanctification not be confused. Regardless of what English translations seem to say, “gift” and “reward” cannot be confused. Salvation is a gift, sanctification, or the Christian walk involves rewards. Anything spoken of in the Bible as a reward CANNOT refer to salvation.

This part is going to be a summary on some of the methods of change for Chrsitians. Let’s start with the basic ones and move on from there. First of all, we are disciples, or learners. Gaining wisdom in sanctification is critical.

It is also critical that Scripture is your authority. Therefore, for all practical purposes, that means independent study and not a total dependence on teachers who are a help, NOT an authority. The only authority is Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Also, the method of interpretation should be grammatical historical as illustrated by the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus prescribed a learning and applying in order to have a life built upon on a rock. The audience was the uneducated peasantry of that day. The Bible is to be interpreted according to its plain sense of the words and how they are arranged in sentences. Historical context and rules of grammar should be observed as well.

Never forget this: all rules for interpreting the Bible are found within the Bible itself. Also, always remember to interpret a passage in context of justification or sanctification.

Do you know who you are as a Christian other than a holy one? You are a disciple, or learner. One of your primary objectives is to continually gain wisdom for Christian living. That’s sanctification.

1Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

In the first two studies, we looked at how sin uses desire to make its appeal. Sin’s goal is to sell you on obeying its desires. Unbelievers, as we just read, are marked by obeying their desires.

Romans 6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

As born again believers, we are going to have desires like those of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 Again, our members, or mortality is not inherently evil. When Paul wrote “the desires of the flesh” that refers to when the flesh is being used in service to sinful desires. We have firmly established that our members can also be used for holy purposes. We also looked at the fact that our bodies are the Holy of Holies where the Holy Spirit resides. When we were “under law” we were enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good, but as ones “under grace” we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

It’s a reversal of overall direction predicated mostly by a love for God’s truth versus indifference to God’s law. That’s the glaring difference between a lost person and a saved person; though the unregenerate might be moral and practically wise in many areas of life, there will be a marked indifference to God’s opinion about things. People under grace love the truth:

2Thessolonians 2:9 – The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Wisdom teaches that Christians must discern between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of sin. I assume sinful desires will usually have pleasure as their goal, while godly desires will often look beyond pleasure to some higher goal. This can get pretty complex and would be a vast field of study in and of itself. Greed, taking shortcuts in dealing with life, and many other considerations would come into play.

At any rate, we learn of an extremely important principle in Romans 6. We become slaves to whatever desires we obey.

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 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? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When someone comes to you with an addiction, they have become addicted because they have become enslaved to that desire by obeying it over and over again. Whether believer or unbeliever, we become enslaved to what we obey. When we don’t feel like doing something that perhaps is an obligation like going to work, and we obey that feeling, the feeling becomes stronger and stronger to the point where it dominates us.

People who are lazy are enslaved to a certain feeling. And feelings talk, right? In this case, the feeling is saying, “I don’t want to go to work.” A lazy person must stop obeying that feeling.

Then you have stuff like pornography. People can be what we call “attractive.” So, whether men or women, we want to avoid soft porn. If you begin by obeying a desire to view soft porn, it’s just going to escalate from there. This is why I stay away from the magazine racks at grocery stores. It’s saying no to soft porn. If you say no to soft porn and set boundaries, it will always be easy to say no—the desire is weak. Saying yes makes you a slave to whatever you need to be saying no to.

And porn is dangerous because it can intermingle with the reality of an innocent recognition that there is attractiveness among people. Some people are easy on the eyes, other people not so much. This is reality. But wisdom comes into play here as well. There is an inner beauty and outer beauty which is a subject worthy of a whole book in and of itself.

Another thing we learn from Scripture is the principle of life and death. This is an active principle in both the believer and unbeliever. People either choose life or death. What we obey in life either brings about death or life. When we obey a sinful desire, it brings about some sort of death which in many cases is an extremely subtle form of death. In the life of an unbeliever, the overall direction in various degrees is death leading to ultimate death. That’s why there are degrees of eternal punishment. The end of a believer’s life is going to be eternal life, but that can look pretty sad in many cases.

More on this later, but it is clear in Scripture that a believer wallowing in anemic sanctification can sin unto death. I don’t think Ananias and Sapphire were struck dead because of their onetime act of hypocrisy, I think it was the final straw in a long succession of choices leading to death.

This is where we might plug in another sanctification dynamic. In regard to justification, we should have no fear. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ. But, we are commanded to have fear in sanctification throughout the New Testament. Why? This life and death dynamic in regard to what we obey. This is heavily emphasized throughout the New Testament.

1Peter 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Before we build on this life and death construct, let’s look more at desires. It is important for Christians to know that they can put sinful desires to death in their lives. And sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. Among unbelievers who are under law, you name it: a desire to murder. What happens when someone obeys that desire? They become a what? Right, serial killer. What about a desire to have sex with animals? What about thrill-seeking which can take on all kinds of manifestations? See, believers don’t understand these dynamics. Sin manifests itself differently in different people through different desires. Unbelievers can only be freed from these desires by dying:

Romans 6:6 – We know that 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. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Oh my, what a wonderful evangelism tool! Offering the good news to people that they can die with Christ and be resurrected with Him in Spirit baptism which will free them from sinful desires. Homosexuals do not have to be hounded by that desire the rest of their lives. They may also learn they are called to singleness. Because of lack of wisdom, I think some unbelievers reason that if they don’t desire the opposite sex, they must be homosexual. Also, be sure of this: not saying no to sexual desire might lead anywhere. Most homosexuality begins with unfettered sexual desires with the same sex as well as sexual fantasies of all sorts. In a passage we read, it speaks of drunken orgies that would have involved group sex fueled by alcohol, and undoubtedly, anything goes in those settings. Point being: obeying sexual desires of all sorts can lead to anything and the slavery thereof.

Those desires can be put to death.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sinful desires can be put to death. How? By disobeying the desire, and robbing the desire of provisions:

Romans 13:14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word for “provision” is pronoia; it means to give forethought in caring for something. We are to cut off anything that gives a thought to the desire. No, if you are a former homosexual, you don’t associate with homosexuals. No, if you are a former alcoholic, you don’t associate with people who drink. And no, you don’t keep alcohol in the house for any reason.

If you have repented of gluttony, you don’t keep excess amounts of food in the house, and if you are on a diet, you keep certain foods out of the house. Many more examples could be used—you get the picture. You don’t feed the desire because desire is what sin uses to make its appeal, and strong appeals make it harder to say no.

As we look at this further, INCENTIVE is so huge in all of this. Note 2Timothy 2:15.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Note the use of the word “worker.” The same Greek word is mostly translated “laborer” elsewhere. This couldn’t be talking about salvation. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to earn his salvation. This not only means that a Christian can be ashamed, but that their entry into heaven can be a foggy and fearful affair:

2Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If adding these things listed to our lives can result in a rich entry into heaven, I have to believe that a not-so-rich entry is also possible. Every indication here is that one can go to heaven shrouded in doubt. Peter could not be telling Christians to make every effort to finish their salvation—that’s not what is in view here. Paul described his own rich entry:

2Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Key to the rich entry is “fulfill your ministry.” As we read in one of the many passages cited here tonight, EVERY Christian has been granted gifts for the purpose of the ministry they are called to. Fulfill that ministry. At least for Paul, the ability to stare death in the face without even flinching is tied to the fact that he fulfilled his ministry, and I strongly suspect it is no different for us. And let’s face it, we know how much emphasis there is on individual gifts in the institutional church.

Not only that, the only ministry that is taken seriously is performed by those who purchased a degree from a seminary. In a home fellowship, the gifts of the individuals in that small group are right in front of you every week. Individual service is the focus—not all of the distractions of an institution bewitched by authority. Leaders of a home fellowship are focused on individual gifts—not all of the drama that goes along with an institution.

Wise sanctification is rewarded richly in this life and the life to come. You can have eternal life, and be miserable in this life. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Hey, you’re here, while you are it you might as well love life.

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (Psalms 34:12).

Is it fair to say that depressed people don’t love life? Is it fair to say that depression is a form of death? Remember when I told you that choosing death or making death choices can be very subtle? Well, many times a series of subtle death choices can culminate into depression and often people will have no idea where the depression came from. This is where we get into people thinking depression is a chemical imbalance etc. Now look, depression can be medical, so definitely go to the doctor, but also be sure to take a hard look at your life—do both.

Susan and I are involved with a young person right now that can’t tell the truth about anything. I don’t know a whole lot, but I know this: if that person doesn’t repent they aren’t going to love life and see good days. If for no other reason, please start a home fellowship for the sake of our young people. Why? Because the institutional church is not going to teach this stuff to our children. No, no, that would be making them Pharisees. So, what do we see coming out of the institutional church in regard to our youth? Death, and death more abundantly unto death. Weak sanctification delegates God’s people to death, period.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10: 28 – Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Luke 14:12 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

What is missing in Christianity is a whole new way of life defined in kingdom living. We are merely ambassadors here, and are to live as sojourners and aliens (1Peter 2:11). Neglected is a body of knowledge that encompasses kingdom living from how we think to citizenship.

Missing is this whole concept of incentive for kingdom living. Obviously, when salvation is emphasized, and sanctification is looked at as an endeavor to keep our salvation, life more abundant in the here and now is not going to be emphasized. Our individual calling is not emphasized, keeping our salvation is emphasized.

This is the great calling of the home fellowship movement: an emphasis on sanctification and kingdom living. I was going to have several other parts to this series until I started researching; then I realized that I would be doing nothing but this till the second coming and none of our other projects would ever get done. So this is it. Next week we move on to something else. But I do believe that the Scriptures hold the answers for life’s most difficult problems, and it is up to us to find those answers in the Scriptures.

However, I am doing another series that is a critical supplement to this study; the whole issue of the “race of faith.” Part one, What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation, Part 1: First Letter of John 1:7-10 is complete and posted on PPT. Yes, this whole idea of perseverance that fuses justification and sanctification together. Is salvation in part a reward? Is salvation the reward for persevering, or is salvation strictly a gift?

Protestantism clearly states that salvation is a gift, but also a reward for persevering. This fits perfectly with their progressive justification construct. We contend that even though the English translations seem to indicate salvation as reward, that in the overall consensus of Scripture, mixing gift and reward is absolutely impossible—the two MUST be kept separate. I believe that a Christian can throw in the towel, but that doesn’t mean he loses his salvation—it means he loses reward in this life and the life to come. The idea of losing eternal reward is difficult for me to grasp, but losing rewards presently—not so much. It’s hard to love life when you have no hope. An example of eternal reward follows:

Daniel 12:3 – And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

That sounds pretty cool, but then there is this:

1 Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is pretty clear, no? Saved people will suffer loss of reward. The “through fire” part is a little unsettling, and it should be, but nevertheless, gift and reward cannot be confused. ANY passage that speaks of gift apart from spiritual gifts for service MUST refer to justification/salvation. ANY passage that speaks of reward MUST be speaking to Christian living. And when you start reading your Bible that way, it makes sense. For instance, James 1:12.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

So, if life is about Life and death choices, wouldn’t it make sense that one of the eternal rewards is for someone who persevered well in the Christian life? Specifically, a crown of life? Note what else James writes in the very next verse and following:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Look, we all make choices in life that brings forth some sort of death, but that doesn’t mean we lose our salvation. Yes, yes, I know how the Reformed get around the accusation of Christ plus perseverance; already not yet which means that perseverance is merely a manifestation of who God has already elected. Well lovely—that just overfloweth with hope.

So, your assurance is only as good as your response to the next trial. And by the way, I heard John MacArthur Jr. say that. In fact, it was said to me by a Reformed counselor during a hard time that I was going through; I had to persevere through the trial in order to show myself approved.

Ok, so that’s it, part three of our series and next week we move on to something else.

Addendum: (more…)

Romans 13:14B; Part 2, “Overcoming Sin and Living Righteously, a Righteous Life of Real and Lasting Change”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 16, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

In part one we looked at condemnation and how it empowers sin. Christ went to the cross and ended the law’s condemnation. Fear of death is primarily driven by condemnation and the fear of judgment. One of the most important parts of a Christian’s identity is to know that we are no longer under condemnation.

However, in our day there is a return to authentic Reformed soteriology that actually posits fear of condemnation as the primary motivator in sanctification. In Reformed soteriology, sanctification is seen as a conduit to final justification. In order to remain in the conduit that gives us our best chance to “stand in the judgment,” we must relive our original salvation by faith alone in sanctification. How is that accomplished? By reliving the same gospel that saved us over and over again. This is done through what the Reformers called mortification and vivification. Mortification is something we can do, vivification is only a future glory experience. When you see a Charismatic-like Reformed worship service, what John Piper calls exultation worship, they believe they are experiencing the joy of “future glory.” Really, this is probably the New Calvinist claim to fame: they put feet on the vivification part of mortification and vivification through a more contemporary form of worship. Hence, the “Reformed Charismatic” movement shouldn’t surprise us.

The “mortification of the flesh” part of this doctrine is a return to the fear of judgment, the same fear of judgment that originally saved us. Said John Calvin:

By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment [sec.3]… it seems to me, that repentance may be not inappropriately defined thus: A real conversion of our life unto God, proceeding from sincere and serious fear of God; and consisting in the mortification of our flesh and the old man, and the quickening of the Spirit. In this sense are to be understood all those addresses in which the prophets first, and the apostles afterwards, exhorted the people of their time to repentance. The great object for which they labored was, to fill them with confusion for their sins and dread of the divine judgment, that they might fall down and humble themselves before him whom they had offended, and, with true repentance, retake themselves to the right path [sec.5]… The second part of our definition is, that repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God. Before the mind of the sinner can be inclined to repentance, he must be aroused by the thought of divine judgment; but when once the thought that God will one day ascend his tribunal to take an account of all words and actions has taken possession of his mind, it will not allow him to rest, or have one moment’s peace, but will perpetually urge him to adopt a different plan of life, that he may be able to stand securely at that judgment-seat. Hence the Scripture, when exhorting to repentance, often introduces the subject of judgment, as in Jeremiah, “Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer. 4:4)… The stern threatening which God employs are extorted from him by our depraved dispositions [sec.7] [from the CI 3.3.3-7].

Susan and I sat in a Pentecostal service and listened to the pastor say in no uncertain terms that one is not really saved till they experience the “second blessing” usually manifested by speaking in tongues. Services from the Charismatic camps are predicated by these second blessing experiences such as speaking in tongues, Holy Spirit laughter, and “dancing in the Lord.” Though Charismatics emphasize mortification far less than the Reformed, it’s the same basic idea. The vast majority of all denominations in our day flowed out of the Reformation and are predicated by progressive justification; viz, keeping ourselves saved by the same gospel that originally saved us.

The result is a proper biblical definition of antinomianism: some sort of doctrine that separates the law from sanctification. The “Christian” remains under condemnation, and must prepare to “stand in the judgment” by other means apart from loving God and others through obedience to the law. But there is no future judgment for Christians to stand in that has to do with justification. Antinomianism, when it boils right down to it, is the fusion of justification and sanctification together. In any doctrinal construct where sanctification is the progression of justification—that’s antinomianism because the law must be separated from sanctification lest it be justification by works. This is probably the key to ecumenicalism because the primary religion of the last days, according to the Bible, will be antinomianism.

To the contrary, why is it critical that Christians know they are no longer under the condemnation of the law?

1John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

The word translated “perfect” in the English is τέλειος (teleios), and is translated “mature” in many other passages of the New Testament. The word means “maturity,” or possessing everything one needs to be mature. Mature love is the idea here, not a “perfect” love.

So, what do we need to understand if we are to be mature in love, overcoming sin, and living righteously? We need to understand that there is no condemnation for us and no need to fear judgment, and we need to understand how sin works against us.

We need to understand that sin is a stand-alone element. It was sin that was found in Satan at some point in time (Ezekiel 28:15). Sin, whatever it is exactly, wages war against righteousness. The location of sin is in the body, and it uses desire to tempt individuals against righteousness. So, the four elements to understand are sin, righteousness, body, and desire. Sin is the problem; its enemy is righteousness; its location is the body, and it uses desire to tempt people to wage war against righteousness.

Let’s begin by looking at how these four elements operate in an unbeliever. Every person born into the world has the works of God’s law written on their hearts. Also within every person born into the world is a conscience that uses this law to either accuse or excuse behavior. So, every person born into the world has an intuitive law and judge within as part of their being. In the final judgment of condemnation at the end of the ages, those who have never been exposed to God’s written law will be judged and condemned because they violated their consciences on many occasions. As a cosmic principle, where there is no law there is no sin, so all babies go to heaven because they do not have a developed conscience. This would also apply to mental disabilities where a conscience is not present.

The Bible also states that repeated rebellion against one’s conscience can sear it like a hot iron. A refusal to obey conscience can reduce a person’s ability to feel guilt.

1Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Sear: g2743. from a derivative of 2545; to brand (“cauterize”), i. e. (by implication) to render unsensitive (figuratively):— sear with a hot iron.

Those who lack a conscience or moral compass are referred to as sociopaths in our culture. Sin uses desire to tempt, so a person with a seared conscience will most likely follow every desire that sin uses to wage war against righteousness. Police are sometimes stunned that murderers confess to their crime and state the following motive: “I wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.” So, the murder was committed to satisfy the murderer’s curiosity.

Civil and criminal law restrains evil when fear of punishment outweighs the desire to commit a certain act. If a person thinks they can outwit law enforcement they will be inclined to obey the desire that sin is tempting them with. They don’t see the desire as evil; they have a stronger desire to avoid punishment. Nevertheless, the desire can be strong enough that any kind of logic or self-preservation is abandoned.

Sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. The question is whether or not we will obey the desire just because it is a desire. Sin is opposed to any kind of law and is empowered by condemnation. Sin is an entity that seeks to bring death through the condemnation of conscience and bad desires. It is a complex death system. Those who are under law are constantly bearing fruits for death although they are able to do good works. In fact, their consciences will reward them with good feelings when they do good, but they are still under condemnation and sin’s constant harassment.

In regard to the believer, sin still resides in the body, but it has been stripped of its power due to Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Sin is empowered by its ability to condemn. I can’t say that I completely understand this, but nevertheless, it is what the Bible states:

1Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sin brings about some sort of temporary death, physical death, and ultimately eternal death. Sin is in the sowing and reaping business, and the sowing of sin is often interpreted as “getting away with it” because there has not yet been a reaping. But the point here is that sin is empowered by the condemnation of law. When Christ died on the cross to end the law, it stripped sin of its power. Hence, when a Christian is confronted with a sinful desire, they are not only able to say no to that desire, but do so for the proper motives; i.e., love for God and others.

James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that 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. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 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? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin resides in the body, but even though the body is weak, it is neutral. When the Bible authors speak of the “body of sin,” “desires of the flesh,” etc., they are speaking of when the body is being used by the individual to do the bidding of sin. In the case of an unbeliever, they are under law and sin can provoke them to yield their members up for unrighteousness to the point of slavery while the power of sin has been broken within the believer and they have a choice:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore, let me comment on this passage:

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The “desires of the flesh” are really sinful desires spoken of in context of yielding up our members in service to sinful desires. At least for the believer, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit:

1Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

So, even among Christians, if they “Let…sin…reign in [their] mortal bod[ies], it can lead to fruits unto death, or destruction. Not eternally, but present miseries of all sort.

Through learning God’s full counsel and applying it to one’s life, Christians can learn to say no to sinful desires and live according to the desires of the Spirit. The unregenerate do not possess the desires of the Spirit because they are not born of God. There is not a war between sin and the desires of the Spirit raging within the unbeliever, only a battle between the conscience and sin, and the motives for saying yes to the conscience involve motives other than those of a kingdom citizen. The battle is a single dimension. However, here is where the importance of evangelism comes in: the Holy Spirit convicts the world of unrighteousness, and the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Evangelism adds another dimension in regard to showing people their need for a savior.

For the Christian, they have the testimony of conscience and the Holy Spirit. The New Testament has much to say about utilizing conscience in our fight against sin. The apostle Paul instructed us to keep a clear conscience before God. This also has much to do with assurance of salvation. Even though we know intellectually that the law has been ended by Christ and we are never condemned, sin nevertheless invokes feelings of condemnation and shakes our confidence.

In the final analysis, sanctification is the growing art of knowing how to control our bodies:

1Thessalonians 4:3 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Potter H. 1

Romans 13:14B; Part 1, “Overcoming Sin and Living Righteously, a Righteous Life of Real and Lasting Change”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 2, 2014

Potters House logo 2

“I only have ONE comment concerning all of the drama that is part and parcel with the institutional church: ‘under law.’ That’s it. To be under law is to be cut off from bearing fruit for God. To be under law is to be cut off from its life and love.”

“This whole idea dominating the institutional church that Jesus keeps the law for us or, ‘Christ 100% for us,’ cuts off ‘life and peace’ from God’s people…The idea that we are still sinners and need to return to the cross daily to keep our sins covered is the blue chip of satanic gospels.”

“We are NOT sinners, we are saints. If we do not know this, sin will rein in our lives—it will be empowered by condemnation. The first step to living a life of change is to know that we are no longer condemned.”    

As I reviewed Romans 13:14 in preparation to move on in our Romans study via 14:1, I noticed that the primary focus of our last study was the first part of 13:14 and we emphasized putting off sin and putting on Christ. In this study, I want to pause and focus on the second part of 13:14: Paul’s command to not “gratify” the “desires” of the “flesh.”

Let’s be clear and concise: what distinguishes the home fellowship movement from the institutional church follows: we believe that Christians are not only declared righteous, we are in fact personally righteous. We are perfect because there is no law to condemn us, and we possess the same desires of the Holy Spirit. The sin we commit in our Christian lives is sin against the fellowship of our heavenly family, and cannot remove us from our sonship. We only sin because we remain in these mortal bodies that tempt us with contrary desires which we sometimes “gratify.”

The institutional church, by and large does not believe this. Because Christians supposedly remain unrighteous, their sins need to be covered until the return of Christ, and the institutional church supplies that covering. Of course, there are varied doctrinal opinions regarding the “correct” process for keeping our sins covered, but it is usually referred to as “absolution.” The vast majority of institutional churches came from either Catholicism or Protestantism, and though most professing Christians assume that Protestantism is not predicated on absolution, this is NOT true at all. Both are clearly salvation by an institution given authority on earth by God to forgive sins. John Calvin and Martin Luther, the undisputed co-fathers of Protestantism state this fact throughout their writings in no uncertain terms.

Home fellowships believe our sins are ended, not merely covered. The institutional church believes that we need a continued covering because we are still sinners because we sin. This keeps Christians under [the] law which is the biblical definition of a lost person. Protestants think that is ok because Christ fulfilled/fulfills the law for us, but Christ didn’t come to uphold justification by law-keeping, He came to end the law and all of the sin that is imputed to it—justification is apart from the law.

This fact also clears up a lot of confusion about the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant. The Old Covenant, though passing away (Hebrews 8:13), still has a function: all sin that condemns is imputed to it. When someone believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; the law, its condemnation, and all of the sin imputed to it are ended for that individual. They are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).

Another very important thing to know about being under law follows: it is where sin gets its power over people. Of course, if we believe Christians can overcome sin and live righteously, the belief that we are no longer under law is vital. The law’s ability to condemn is what gives sin its power:

1Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

What does it mean that the law “held us captive” before we were saved? That is answered from the book of Galatians:

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

So, the idea of being enslaved to the law is to be under its condemnation. Sin feeds on the ability to condemn. It is interesting to note that regardless of the fact that there is “now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1) for Christians, Satan is the “accuser of the brethren.”

Look, the issue of condemnation is a big deal. This is where sin gets its power. Watch out for condemnation. Gospels that keep people under the law will often be predicated by lots of condemnation. Do you now understand why, as a Protestant, primarily of the Baptist variety, that you go to church week after week and hear about what a bad person you are even as a Christian? That’s because you are still under the law.

Listen, it doesn’t matter if Jesus supposedly keeps the law for you, if you can’t keep it, you are still under it (See Romans 8, nothing is clearer). Any doctrine that indicates that all bets are off if you can’t keep the law perfectly, or that you can’t please God on any wise save obedience to the one idea that the former is true, is an under law/under condemnation very bad news gospel. In fact, many in the Reformed camp are often heard saying the following: the idea that you can please God by keeping the law is just, “more bad news,” “pretending,” and “trying to gain merit with God” etc.

But another bad angle on being under law and its condemnation is the fact that Christians are cut off from the life of the law. I only have ONE comment concerning all of the drama that is part and parcel with the institutional church: “under law.” That’s it. To be under law is to be cut off from bearing fruit for God. To be under law is to be cut off from its life and love. Please note the following:

Romans 7:7 – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

When Paul states, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me,” that isn’t a hypothetical or the law promising a pipe dream, it is a statement of fact: the law does promise life, and in fact gives life to those who are not under it. When you are under grace, the law gives life, when are under law, the law only bears fruits of death. What is more obvious in the Scriptures?

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Romans 8:1 -There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For 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, 4 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. 5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

This whole idea dominating the institutional church that Jesus keeps the law for us or, “Christ 100% for us,” cuts off “life and peace” from God’s people. This is why church is at worst boring, repressive, and depressing, and at best repetitious. You can dress it up with contemporary décor, programs, and praise music all you want to, but it will eventually go the way of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill dynasty. Why is it like this? Because you are under law and cut off from the law’s life and peace that comes from being under grace. Your sin is not ENDED, it is only covered by allegiance to the institutional church and its bogus authority.

Be sure of this: all of the rage about Joel Osteen is a pushback against 500 years of incessant condemnation. For the first time since anybody can remember, you can actually go to church without getting your weekly dose of deserved condemnation. Sure, he offers a cheap substitute for discipleship, and only time will tell where that will end up, but for now, this is what you are seeing. Susan and I went to an institutional church yesterday for a school project she is working on and we received our weekly dose of condemnation through the whole worn-out “forgive others as Christ forgave you” motif. It’s blank check forgiveness written on funds from the bank of moral equivalency. Basically, it teaches that all of humanity is equally evil; i.e., here we go again, “under law.” That’s where all of these ideas come from fundamentally. A transfer from death to life only regards a position in Christ and not a practical application in Christ other than the one obedience to the idea that we can’t keep the law perfectly so all bets are off.

There has been a lot of conversations recently on PPT regarding T-shirts, a lot of it is just pun, but seriously, let me recommend a T-shirt that will give you massive opportunities to present the gospel—especially to the Reformed. In big letters, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM PERFECT,” or simply, “I’m Perfect.” This will invoke comments from the Reformed like vultures are attracted to road kill. The conversations will go something like this:

Them: “That’s an interesting T-shirt you are wearing, what exactly do you mean by it?”

You: “Pretty much what it says, ‘I’m perfect.’”

Them: “Oh, you mean to say that you are ‘perfect in Christ.’”

You: “No, I am not only perfect in Christ, I am in fact perfect.”

Them: “Oh, so you didn’t sin today?”

You: “See, that statement right there tells me that you believe a false gospel.”

Them: “How so?”

You: “Because obviously, you believe perfection to the law is what justifies us when in reality we are justified apart from the law, and where there is no law there is no sin.”

Them: “No, I agree with you, there is no law in Christ.”

You: “No, you do not agree with me, you are saying that there is no law for us to keep because Jesus keeps it for us, but we are still under it; yet, it doesn’t matter who keeps it, we are either under law or under grace. Your very statement about sin indicates that you see sin against justification and sin against God’s family (or grieving the Holy Spirit; Eph 4:30) as the same thing—we are still under law in your mind. Sin for us is not ended, it is only covered by Christ’s obedience and not ours which also separates us from the life, peace, and fruits of the Spirit received as those under grace.

If Satan cannot hoodwink us into remaining under law, he will at least try to empower sin within us through condemnation. Be careful my friends, a critical spirit towards others is often the spirit of condemnation seeking to inflame sin within others. In the Old Testament, we have a very vivid picture of this:

Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

Presently, Satan is allowed access to heaven and he uses the privilege to condemn us. He is called the “accuser of the brethren.” The Bible states that Christ intercedes for us in regard to these accusations. Not only do we see this type of activity by Satan clearly in the book of Job, but we see Christ interceding for Peter while he was among the disciples (Luke 22:31,32). This is a ministry of intercession that Christ presently performs for us in heaven and is often confused with intercession concerning justification which is a finished work.

There is NOW no condemnation for us, and beware of spiritual bumper stickers that condemn us: “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” These are satanic ploys meant to condemn us and empower sin within us. Sin is empowered by the law’s condemnation.

We are NOT sinners, we are saints. If we do not know this, sin will reign in our lives—it will be empowered by condemnation. The first step to living a life of change is to know that we are no longer condemned. The idea that we are still sinners and need to return to the cross daily to keep our sins covered is the blue chip of satanic gospels.

Next week, we will look at the other concrete elements critical to the subject at hand. We have looked at “condemnation,” “perfection,” “life,” “love,” “peace,” and “law” this morning, we will also, Lord willing, look at “sin,” “flesh,” “weakness,’ “love,” and the primary crux, “desire.”

%d bloggers like this: