The first step to victorious Christian living is to understand the fact that we are sinful creatures, rotten through and through, and in constant need of God’s forgiveness.
Recently, I came across an article in CHARISMAMAG.COM about a prominent leader, Jim Bakker, who has apparently turned over a new leaf after falling from grace: https://bit.ly/2lqagGd
After browsing through it, I decided that it would be an interesting post to share with others on Facebook since it is a great story on God’s mercy and restoration. After all, when a leader falls, it's not necessarily the end of the story. Like the apostle Peter, he can make a comeback.
That was when I received a slew of responses from my Facebook friends, some calling into question Bakker’s repentance.
Now I am not here to debate on whether this leader has truly repented or not. I am not here to judge the validity of his repentance.
Whether a believer has truly repented is something unclear to man. But the Judge knows our heart ... and no one can fool Him.
No one needed to tell Christ about human nature for He knew what was in each person's heart (John 2:25).
And what is the state of the human heart? It is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt (Jeremiah 17:9).
Who are the ones most acutely aware of sin in their lives? Answer: Those who are most holy and spiritually sensitive.
God’s holiness reveals our sin and corruption:
Remember what the apostle Paul said: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all (1 Timothy 1:15).
And, lest we forget, the prophet Isaiah cried out when he saw a vision of God sitting on His throne, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5).
Referring to the ugliness of our sinful nature, the well-respected John R. W. Stott states: “Indeed, an honest and humble acknowledgment of the hopeless evil of our flesh, even after the new birth, is the first step to holiness. To speak quite plainly, some of us are not leading holy lives for the simple reason that we have too high an opinion of ourselves.” John R. W. Stott, Men Made New (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), p. 74.
In contrast, hyper-grace teaches that God has already forgiven all the past, present and future sins of believers and, as such, we should put the ‘sin issue’ behind us and banish ‘sin consciousness’ from our lives. https://bit.ly/2lPnYm5
Furthermore, hyper-grace asserts that we no longer need to confess our sins. When God looks at us, all He is going to see is Christ’s blood, not our sins. We merely rest in the ‘imputed righteousness of Christ’.
If we deny the reality of sin in the lives of believers, we are not only deceived but make God a liar. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).
Failure to understand the seriousness of sin in our lives has dire consequences. Didn’t Jesus tell us that unless we repent we will perish (Luke 13:5)? Let’s learn something which has largely been neglected over the pulpit today: Fear of God and holiness, without which no one can see God.
Didn’t Christ teach on the need to watch and pray so that we will not fall into temptation for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)?
Let’s recognise the fact we are sinful and corrupt and that we need to seek His forgiveness as and when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
Even the apostle Paul did not dare make the claim that he had arrived, spiritually speaking (Philippians 3:13).
Finally, who do you think found favour in God’s eyes in the Parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:10-14)? The former knew all about the law but was self-righteous. The latter, a tax collector, humbled himself and cried, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The answer is obvious.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES
A clear understanding of the ongoing battle between the “old man” and “new man” is essential before we can walk in victory.
SHOULD BELIEVERS BE SIN CONSCIOUS?
Once we commit our lives to Christ, our sins are forgiven. We who have been set free from the power of sin should no longer feel condemned. Having said that, should believers banish (completely get rid of) sin consciousness in our lives?