Christians today are far more accepting than they have ever been. It seems that everyone knows a “Christian” who smokes, gets drunk, has sex outside of marriage, gives into homosexual temptations, watches porn, etc… the list could go on and on. Those things that I listed are sins against God, against the body that He gave, and against the perfect will of the Father who redeemed His children from such chains1; and they only scratch the surface of the list of sins found in churches today. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21, God put forth similar sin lists: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God… Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 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.
The sin list that I gave and the lists that God gave do not define a Christian, as both lists given by God state that those who commit such acts will not inherit the kingdom of God. A Christian is a Christ follower, who seeks God’s will, and produces spiritual fruits like those listed in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean that they actually follow Christ: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)
I have to confess that, though I am a Christ follower, the list of spiritual fruits does not always define me. Too often, I see my actions in the lists of sins I read in the Bible, but by the grace of God, the sins that find me out today no longer have eternal victory over me. I have committed my life to Christ and He does not allow me to drown in my sins, but rescues me when I cry out to Him. For the times that I stumble in my walk with Christ, there are two scenarios that may happen.
Scenario one: Jesus takes me by the hand, lifts me up, and holds me tight until I don’t want that sin anymore. Within His arms, I know that I am saved. And though I am not grateful at first, His faithful hold and the tears that I see within His eyes serve to remind me how much I am loved. I have been bought with such a great price. Because of the blood shed by my Abba, my Savior, I have found forgiveness and life.
Scenario two: I am slapped upside the head and knocked to my senses, only understanding after the pain just how terrible was my sin and how great is my need for a Savior. I would tell you that Jesus was the one who slapped me, but it seems more like He allows me to be slapped or punished for my sins, so that I may more deeply learn the price of sin, and more deeply feel the love of my Savior… And if you think that God allowing us to be punished for our sins here on earth is unloving, then you have no idea what love is.
Love is dying for those who don’t deserve it. Love is crying when you are punishing your child for wrongdoing, because you hate to see them in pain, but you also hate to see them take a self-destructive path. Love is promising a thief a mansion. Love is taking the place of a murderer on death row. Love is perfect when the rest of the world is equating love with lust. Love is laying down your own life for those who spit in your face.
For God so loved us, that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.2 It is great and awesome that God sent His Son for us, but He didn’t send Him to sit on an earthly thrown and force His creation to be holy. God sent His Son to hang on a cross, to suffer pain and separation for the sins that His creation committed in order to save the lost. And more than dying, Jesus came to claim victory over sin and give the gift of His Holy Spirit to those who would believe on His name and follow His Way. The Holy Spirit within the sons and daughters of the King serves as a signature of Christ upon His followers, and gives strength, wisdom, and righteousness to those who follow The Way. Every follower of Christ has received an awesome gift, and therefore accepts the love that was revealed through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Now, if love only went one way, then only one side would ever feel the pain; only Jesus would feel the pain. But a Christ follower does not receive love without giving love. We love because Christ has loved us4 and that love for our Savior and for the lost will guarantee pain in this life.5 The world loves darkness rather than light6 and they want to snuff out Truth, but we must keep up the fight, because the world needs the Light that we have; and you cannot fight without feeling pain.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. (Romans 5:6-10)
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:2b-6)
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
Jesus went to the cross for me and for all mankind. He could have taken Himself down. He could have called down lightning from Heaven to destroy all those who sought His life. But He came to earth to die for His murderers and for every lost soul that would come after. Now, if Jesus suffered such things to destroy the hold of sin on my life, then shouldn’t I at least try to live for Him? Shouldn’t everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord seek to (and have a desire to) live for Him? Is it really so much to ask to be holy as our Savior is holy? If we had no Comforter (the Holy Spirit) and no Word of God, then maybe it would be a lot to ask, but we have no such excuses. And there are many people in the world’s history that had no Comforter and no Word, yet they kept the faith, even when their blood was poured out upon the same earth that their Savior’s blood would be (and was) poured out.
Perhaps some of you reading this think that I am condemning you to Hell for whatever sins you have committed today or at this moment, but ultimately, I cannot condemn you. I can tell you what God has said, but God is your ultimate judge; He alone has the power to save you if you seek forgiveness and He must stand by and watch if you refuse forgiveness and live in condemnation.3 If you call yourself a Christian, but are living in sin, then I can make judgments upon you based upon what God has said in His Word, but I cannot condemn you. And even though I judge you, I do it out of love and concern for the soul within you that desperately needs the love and refinement of an awesome God. Only you and God know if you started out walking on the water and got caught in the waves or if you were never in the boat and were just drowning with everyone else.
If you see your sins listed in this post, and you have refused to repent, then your very sin condemns you to eternal separation from God. So examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5). Is Christ in you?
After the list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6 comes a verse that describes what it means to have an affirmed faith in Christ (verse 11): And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Are you washed? Are you sanctified? Are you justified? If you proclaim to be a Christian, then why are your chains not in the past tense? And such were some of you. Amen!
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display at the proper time—He Who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. (Hebrews 12:1-6)
If you are a Christian, then you are not lost, you are not blind, and you are not alone. If you are a Christian, then you are Christ’s, He is yours, and the life you lead should bring glory to Him… I say “should,” because that is not always the case.
Sometimes, we seek our own pleasure above God’s glory, even going so far as justifying the lusts of our flesh, rather than confessing that we are unholy and only God is just. Because of this, the world has been fed a warped view of Christianity. Too many “Christians” seek to justify their sins and the sins of those around them, saying that they are “accepting” and they “don’t judge anyone.” In God’s sight, no flesh is justified,7 so there is judging for you. And we, as Christ followers, are called to judge those who call themselves Christ followers; As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) Though there is a certain amount of judging that we must undertake for brothers and sisters in the faith, we must address outsiders in a different manner: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Those outside of faith in Christ, and not claiming to be His followers, desperately need to see God’s love and hear of His forgiveness and grace, so we cannot forsake them. Those who are believers, but unrepentant of their sins, have known the truth and chosen to reject it. It is at that point that we must shun them from our spiritual lives and only associate with them as we would with an unbeliever, not allowing their sins to affect our lives, but shedding on them the light of the Gospel of Christ. We need to – and are called to – associate with the world, serving as a light and example to them, showing them a better Way: the Way out of their self-destructive sin. And we must also tell the truth, that God will judge them for their sins, and that He has the power to forgive them and cleanse them. We cannot condemn anyone to Hell, only God has that authority (as I already addressed earlier), and their sin seals their sentence.
It is only by the grace of God that any human being may be forgiven and saved from their sin, but what if forgiveness is never asked for? Do we expect God to forgive what we don’t consider as wrong? Faith in Christ does not work like that. You either believe God’s Word or you do not. You either repent at the feet of the Word made flesh or you spit in the face of the One Who died for you. To justify yourself is to call God a liar, and, quite frankly, calling God a liar is a terrible idea.
Yes, we all come to Christ as sinners, born within sin, but our purpose in life is not to sin. God made us to be holy and to live a life in pursuit of Him and His kingdom. So, let us stop seeking to satisfy our lust and start seeking to glorify the One Who has brought us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
In case any of those reading this post are worried about their salvation… it is a good thing to worry about. But let that worry have its perfect work. Dive into God’s Word and read for yourself His truth. Do not simply live by the mantra “Once Saved, Always Saved,” because that is no way to live at all. Jesus is more than a “Get Out of Hell Free Card,” He is the active deliverer of His children right here and right now. You have been called by God to do His works, praise Him, and reflect His glory. If your life is defined by your sin, if your are trapped in guilt and shame, if you are denying the truth found in God’s Word, then please, for the sake of your eternity, repent, and turn to the One Who loved you from the start.
I will not say that if you died in your sin today, you would go to Hell, because only Jesus knows for certain those who have believed on Him. I too have needed to receive the grace of God and I have felt overwhelmed in His grace. In that moment, the scales of blindness to my sins were lifted, and God opened my eyes to my own depravity. He did not tell me that I was condemned, but He told me that my fellowship with Him was not full. My relationship with Him had been poisoned, and that poison needed to be uncovered and washed away. God’s grace and mercy goes beyond my understanding, but I cannot use that grace and mercy as an excuse to sin. Rather, those gifts serve to humble me, because I know that those gifts, so freely given by Jesus, I could never possibly deserve… And I hope that those gifts will humble those reading this as well. If you are in the boat with Jesus, then trust that He is the master of the waves. If you are not even in the boat, then cry out to Him and He will draw you in.
I wrote this post because I have seen in myself such terrible sins that I don’t want to have dominion over me. First and foremost, I want Christ as the head of my life and I want my flesh – my sin – to be cut off. Recently, I got a haircut and I donated fourteen inches to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Though I thought my long hair was beautiful, and it was easy and convenient to take care of, yet cutting it blesses someone else, and this shorter hair is flattering on me and far neater most of the time because I have to actually put in some effort to make it presentable every day… The point of this illustration is that it is easy to get comfortable with your sin and you may even think that your sin is attractive, but God has a better plan for you. Yes, it takes a little more work and it is not so “easy” to live in the light, but God has given you the tools to do His work, and the resulting masterpiece of your life will be worth the time, sweat, and blood. It is not worth gaining the whole world if you lose your own soul.7 Amen.
1. 1 Corinthians 6:18
2. John 3:16
3. John 3:18
4. 1 John 4:19
5. 1 Peter 4:12-19
6. John 3:19-20
7. Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16
8. Matthew 16:24-28