Saturday 22 September 2012
What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?
This is a most interesting question. I will address the issue from these two main standpoints:
Firstly, is the person living in sin or deep in his heart he wants to please God but falls into sin on and off?
Secondly, what is our view of God’s nature? This will affect our final conclusion. Do we see Him only as loving and merciful? Or do we see Him as a God of justice and holiness as well?
The apostle whom Jesus loved, the one who lay on His chest, reminds us our true nature — that we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness:
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”(1John 1:8-9).
We are all in the same boat. We are stricken by this “congenital disease” called sin, whether we care to admit it or not. It’s a disease we inherited from Adam.
However, we see a different scenario in Hebrews 10: 26-27: “Dear friends, if we deliberately (and willfully) continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.”
Such a person is deemed as one who lives in sin. He treats the blood of Christ with contempt: “Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us” (Hebrews 10: 29).
Whereas 1 John refers to sin which God forgives, Hebrews 10 speaks of sin which God will judge!
Now the question is this: “What if we keep on sinning, even seventy seven times”? The answer is found in Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
If God expects us to forgive others to such a degree, He himself will definitely surpass man in graciousness.
Does it mean, then, that we can exploit God’s “soft spot” for us? Do we capitalise on the fact that He will keep on forgiving us, no matter how many times we sin, on account of His grace, love and mercy?
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing” (Proverbs 29:1).
We can have such extreme views of God in our minds. If we embrace the notion that God is always loving and merciful, we think He is like an indulgent Santa Claus. But when we picture Him as holy and just, we think He is like a no-nonsense, strict Judge. The true picture is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes; a combination of these two attributes.
Actually, there are two sides to God’s character: He is loving and merciful as well as holy and just. If we are forced to make a difficult choice between these two sides of God’s character, it is better to err on the side of His holiness rather than on His mercy. We have everything to lose if we think He is an indulgent God and, finally, it turns out He is not!
Paul says, on one hand, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8) and, on the other hand, he says he has to be disciplined in running the race so that he will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9).
We need to have a healthy fear of God because He is coming again as the JUDGE (whereas He came as the gentle lamb whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins).
Living in sin, presumptuously relying on His forgiveness, will lead us to the road of damnation in the hereafter.
How do we know when we have reached the end of God’s tolerance for sin in our lives?
Nobody knows except God. But you can be assured He is a righteous and fair judge. He knows our heart’s true condition whether we are living in sin or deep in our heart we want to please God but fall into sin on and off.
Let everyone who confesses the name of God turn away from wickedness. For God knows those who belong to Him—those who are really sincere in wanting to please Him (2 Timothy 2:19).
SAVED AND SECURE?
Is there eternal security for believers if they deny God or continue living in sin?