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Can We Sin And Still BE Saved?

When the subject of eternal security is discussed, generally the objection is that to teach this doctrine encourages one to feel free to sin with no fear of any consequences. This, I believe, is where most of the confusion comes in, not understanding the difference between the Judgment Seat of Christ and the judgment seat of the Great White Throne of God. When these two separate accounts are lumped into as being one and the same, then it would be confusing in trying to fully understand how God can be a just God. If God did not give rewards according to merits, then it would not be just to give the same rewards to one who continues to live a life of sin opposed to one who gave a life of dedication towards the Lord. I believe this thinking is why so many seek legalistic churches in an attempt to find justification for this seemingly unjust theology. However, legalism does not balance the scales of justice; in fact, it brings forth another sin, the sin of pride. Believing one is earning rewards while the other will pay for their lack of commitment is what the Pharisees thought, and should not be the attitude of any Christian. I believe many who are of the legalistic mind set are not even aware of this fact, but is a result of not having a full understanding of God’s justice, mercy and grace.

Is it Sin That Sends Man To Hell
Or Is It The Rejection Of Jesus That Sends Man To Hell?

If you are of the legalistic mindset, this is a very hard question to answer, isn’t it? It cannot be both ways now, can it? To say it is sin, then that is to say that Jesus did not die for the sins of all men on the cross, past, present, and future. This contradicts the many verses that say otherwise. One for example, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29) Either Jesus completed this on the cross, or He didn’t. If He didn’t, then which sins did He not die for? And if He didn’t die for all the sins of man, then His death was in vain, and His sacrifice was not sufficient for your and my sins, and in Him we have no hope. But, if Jesus did pay the penalty for all the sins of man, then we can rest assured that His sacrifice was sufficient and we have eternal life because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

There, You Just Said It...
We Can Just Sin At Will Now Because Of What Jesus Did On The Cross

This is how fast this line of thinking can deteriorate the gospel of grace and lead into legalism, and it is at this point an explanation is in needed to show that grace does not automatically mean we can sin at will without consequences and justice being served. Justice is not revenge; it means doing what is right, or just, or what is fair. Too often legalists seek retribution, which means punishment, just like the Pharisees in desiring to stone the woman caught in adultery, too eager to have blood on their hands and feeling justified in doing so, not regarding the fact they are just as sinful as the woman caught in adultery. The only way man can remain humble before the Lord and towards others is to never forget the fact that nobody is more deserving of salvation than any other, and is no more righteous in themselves than anybody else. The field is level; we are all guilty and deserving of death. Too often does the legalistic mindset begin to think they are special and above the rest, and “anointed” to point out the sins of others.

The parable of the splinter in the eye of others and the need for the removal of the beam in one’s own eye is appropriately applicable in this context. (Matthew 7: 1-5) The Bible says to esteem one another as better than themselves and in humbleness and meekness to restore one back into fellowship that is overtaken in a fault, lest you also be tempted. (Phil.2: 3 & Gal.6: 1-5) One can be restored back into true fellowship only if it is done on an eye to eye level, otherwords, not from someone setting themselves above others. Anything other than that will only drive others further from fellowship and the Lord at the same time, which is the fruit of legalism. Those who may not be driven away will just hide these things within themselves, and the problem they are wrestling with will not be resolved. If someone conforms for the sake of approval and acceptance, or out of fear, guilt, and intimidation, no lasting heart change will ever occur.

What Do You Mean I Am A Pharisee?

I recently conversed with a lady who took offense to my suggestion that legalism is the spirit of the Pharisees, and is not the gospel of Christ. The discussion went similar along the lines of what I had previously written. She insisted her beliefs were not legalistic, but that God had called her into a ministry to bring people into a life of holiness. I suggested that what she considered a ministry is in fact, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, and that it was not the calling of any mere mortal sinful man to point out the sins of others. I do believe she did not understand the difference between restoring one back into fellowship with humbleness and meekness and the belief of having earned the right to point out the sins of others. This attitude cannot come about unless one believes they have obtained a life of perfection, which qualifies one to sit in judgment of the motives and the hearts of believers. If this sounds like a harsh response, let me quote from the last letter received and you be the judge of whether it is the spirit of Pharisaism or not.

“I am sorry, but you are all mixed up with the grace of God for salvation, obedience to His will, abiding in Him and tolerating of sin due to lack of power to overcome, and /or due to disobedience ..etc.”

“Preaching the gospel, but denying the power thereof.”

“Although I am not a Seventh Day Adventist, I rather be affiliated with Sabbath keepers, (Observing a day for the Lord is not no sin) than with believers who have a high tolerance for sin and using an excuse for it, saying grace is sufficient.”

I did not respond to this letter, because it was at the end of a long series of exchanges, and there was no budging from her position anyhow. I didn’t point out to her that Jesus said that His grace was sufficient, even though that may get in the way of her particular theology. “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (11Cor. 12: 9) I may add that the Pharisees had a low level of tolerance for the sins of others as well, and that Jesus came to save the sinner and not the (self) righteous. (Matthew 9: 11-12) A sinner is quite aware of his sins; the self-righteous see no need for repentance to receive salvation.


So Where Is The Balance?

I believe many misunderstandings arrive from the lack of understanding of the difference between the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne of God.

We (Christians) will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we did in the flesh after we received salvation. (Romans 14: 10-12) Our works will be tested with fire, (which means tested according to God’s righteous standards) and what remains, if anything, will be our rewards. In reading Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians, this is made very clear. The foundation we build on is Jesus; (Vs.11) and what we build on this foundation will be gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble. (Vs.12) The wood, hay and stubble (which are the things done in the flesh and not in the spirit) will be burned up with fire. (Vs.13) Gold, silver and precious stone will withstand the judgment of fire because these will be the things done in the spirit with the right motive. Some may have nothing but wood, hay or stubble, and will have no rewards other than their salvation. (Vs.15) The amount of gold, silver and precious stones is what will determine our status throughout eternity. This is the motive for living in the spirit rather than living in the flesh, and God will be just and give rewards accordingly. Any good work with the right motive and in the spirit is possible only because of what Jesus did for us, and even those things we cannot boast about. Those who will be standing before the judgment seat of Christ will be there because they are saved, not for condemnation. (Romans 8: 1) Those who are condemned will be standing before the Great White Throne of God, which are those who rejected Jesus and are standing there on the merits of their own works of righteousness. (Rev.20: 11-15) Their works will be judged and will not stand the test of fire, because our own works of righteousness are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64: 6)


Are There Consequences For Sin In This Life?

Yes, without a doubt. Just because I am saved does not mean that if I break the law I will not go to jail. I will pay the consequences. In the spiritual realm, it will hinder my walk with the Lord and will effect the rewards I may have obtained. Also, many destructive habits will effect my health and I will pay the consequences in this life. Other sins such as lying will destroy one’s ministry and relationships with others, so yes; sin does have its consequences. However, I do know for one to point out my sins and use legalistic threats to get in line will not bring about a heart change either, but in fact, will have the opposite effect. Sin is sin, and the sin of pride is just as harmful as any other sin I might add. A judgmental spirit is a sin as well, and harboring resentment and hatred towards others is a sin. Most like to focus on the outward sins and ignore or deny the inward sins, which are not so easy to spot, but nevertheless are sin. God knows the hearts and the motives of men and He alone can judge and give just rewards, for nothing is hid from Him. (Hebrews 4: 13)


Here Is The Good News!

The word gospel means good news, and here is the good news. Jesus paid the penalty for sin, which is death, and gives eternal life to those who receive and accept the good news of what Jesus did for us on the cross, no longer counting our sins against us, for if He did, who could stand? In Him, there is no sin, for we are clothed in His righteousness, for only He is holy. Salvation is a free gift for those who believe and only by grace are we saved.

 

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