Last night I was hanging out with some friends and we ended up talking about the subject of Salvation. The conversation got very interesting because we ended up talking about the idea of whether or not one is truly saved if they live in continued carnality. When the brother who brought it up asked whether or not we believed someone was saved who walked in continued carnality, I was quick to say that it was not my place to declare whether or not that person was saved or unsaved, but I would tell them that it is my place to tell them they need to examine their lives in terms of whether or not their faith was genuine or not according to what the Scriptures teach regarding the fruit of genuine saving faith. I said that because I believe that while it is God alone who knows the heart, not man, man can, as Jesus Himself said, recognize a true tree, their own and others, by the fruit it bears. However, another person responded in a very different way. And in a way that I was and am so troubled by that it has actually lead me to come home and write this blog. He said, and I quote: “I know Christians who live in continued carnality; who are walking in continual sin.”It bothered me because I realized two things. One, that this brother, whom I love dearly and 100% believe is a true Christian, has kind of moved into what I will simply call the cheap grace camp, of which I will not explain, as that would be a whole blog in itself. (But if you’re not sure what it is google search it.) And two, that there are many people who have abused, misunderstood, or simply don’t want to accept what the Bible teaches us about the full doctrine of Grace and the doctrine of assurance. So this blog is really my attempt to try and explain those doctrines in a short and concise way, and draw a line in the sand to separate it from the false doctrines that so many itching ears seem to be subscribing to in the name of comfort.
“I know Christians who live in continued carnality; who are walking in continual sin.” This statement, while it may be mouthed and even believed amongst certain professing Christians, it is just not a statement that is Biblical. There is just not one example in the New Testament of a true Christian that lives this way. Now before you start jumping up and down and freaking out wanting to burn me at the stake saying that such a statement is not preaching grace, let me explain a bit. We sin every single day…all of us. And even the most righteous person is a used tampon (Isaiah 64:6) compared to God’s standard of Holiness and we are in total need of His Mercy and Forgiveness continuously and constantly. And I praise God for that because I need it every single day, and really am a rotten sinner who needs His mercy to indeed be new every morning.
However, the Bible is very clear to distinguish the heart of a true Christian and the heart of one who is not a true Christian, regardless of what they profess. The ironic thing about the statement made tonight by my brother in the Lord is that he actually used the word “walking”. Why is that ironic to me? Well…I will just share the Bible verses that speak so directly and plainly against such thinking, and in fact were originally written to correct such false teaching. It comes from the book of I John. In chapter one beginning in verse 5 John states plainly and directly that: “God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
John is clearly making a distinction here between sinning and living in sin, and he uses the verb “to walk” to make that distinction. Walking is a verb that says we are going somewhere. The question is, which direction is your heart walking in? Are you walking like the blind man in the darkness, or has the direction of your heart truly changed and are you walking in a new direction towards the light? Because if you are truly saved, your heart has truly changed and you have turned, and the direction of your life is now headed towards Jesus and into the light. Now as we walk in that direction, we, as I have already said, fall on our faces daily and we need to as John says in verse 9 confess our sins, and He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This picture is a clear one. It is a picture of the difference between sinning and living or walking in continual sin. If that is not enough for you, John has a habit of repeating himself to drive his point home, and uses the term “practice of sin” to make the same distinction just two chapters later (3:6-10) I say all that to simply say, that even though we don’t have the right to condemn anyone to hell and really can’t be sure of someone’s heart, we can say that the Bible is clear about the true Christian being one who does not walk in continued carnality but walks in the light as He is in the light. And anyone who professes to have Christ but their heart is not transformed and he or she continues walking in continued darkness, with no struggle in them at all to do so…without godly sorrow that leads to repentance, he or she is a liar and the truth is not in them…regardless of what they profess. That is not what many itching ears who profess Christ but run after teachers to suit their own passions, turning away from listening to the truth and wandering off into myths because they want the faith to be convenient, want to hear. It is however, the Truth.
I don’t write this with a heart of lightness but of heaviness. It pains me to see such doctrine being subscribed to and seeing God’s Grace being mistaught, misused and the hearts and minds of people I know and care about raped in the name of convenience. When one truly comes to Christ it is more than an emotional experience, it is more than a mental realization or understanding of our need for redemption. It is true regeneration. It is true transformation. It is turning away from the darkness, towards the light and walking in a new direction as a new and transformed creation with their eyes and hearts fixed on Christ. God’s Grace does and always will forgive the true Christian, and will forgive us on a continual and even moment by moment basis. But God’s Grace isn’t cheap. And God’s Grace doesn’t just forgive, it transforms us and sends us walking in a new direction, into the light, walking as Jesus walked. And anyone who has true and saving faith in Jesus, even though they will stumble along the way, will be walking in such a way…not walking in the darkness of continual sin. (I John 2:3-6)
The danger is that people will assume or mistakenly think John is preaching a Salvation based on performance or our ability to perform, and that is not what is being taught here at all. We need Jesus and His finished work on the Cross period. Why? Because we suck. That is why He came. He knew that and loved us anyways providing reconciliation through His work on the cross…not our work….but His. But He also loves enough not to leave us in that same state. And the true Christian is simply no longer a slave to the power of sin in their lives. (Rom 6) They have been freed and by the Grace of God, are now walking in a completely new life in the light of Jesus…which is not, and never will be perfection until we are with Jesus, but is a real and true shift of direction in our lives.
I know undoubtedly that there are people out there that will argue against the points I have made, and some who will even get angry about it. I know this not just because of experience but also because that used to be me. And I, just like those who argue with me now, used to try and avoid or explain away the obvious texts in the Scriptures, using a lot of the same arguments that people now use against me. But like me with my arguments of the past, they aren’t really making arguments against me, as I am not the one who wrote it, nor do I have the authority to say such things regarding such things, but argue against the Word of God itself. So in my heart I have drawn a line in the sand. A line not to be the one to cast the first stone, but to openly declare and separate myself from such a watered-down teaching of Grace which treats Jesus like a roll of toilet paper to be used leisurely rather than as both LORD and SAVIOR…
With all that said, I am thankful that God, by His Grace reached down from heaven and pulled me out of that deception and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart of obedience rather than convenience, and for anyone who is where I was, I pray for them that the same Grace is bestowed upon them…