Tag Archives: sin

Grace: More Abundant Than Sin

God’s grace!  We are told that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.  We, as believers in Christ, know that we cannot “earn” God’s grace.  It is given out to whom He chooses to give it out to.  The wonderful thing is that God gives grace to all people (in different measures of course).  We do nothing to merit the dawning of a new day. We do nothing to merit the birth of a newborn.  We do nothing to merit safety from much danger in our lives.  And yet, grace is there to bless us, to save us, to walk with us and uphold us in this world of much sin and evil.

But, I think, that most Christians have no idea what God’s grace really is.  If they do know about it, they sure don’t act if they do.  God’s grace, to the one who truly acknowledges it and begins rightly to understand it, is like the runner who does not seem to labor in his marathon.  He seems to effortlessly glide along the path with no concern about the dangers along the way, the pain along the way, the struggles along the way.  Some would say he is “in the zone” or is experiencing the “runner’s high.”  God’s grace in the life of the believer is so much more than those chemical or mental experiences.  The runner in a sense “earns” those feelings and that state of mind through his activity.  For the believer this is not so!

If you step into most churches today you will hear a steady stream of moaning and bewailing of personal sin.   You will hear many people relaying their struggles with sin and the latest “remedy” they have found to combat their sin (the latest 12 step something, or avoidance technique, or meditation ritual, etc).  But at the end of the day, you will not hear much about the conquering of sin!  Where is the abundant grace that is more abundant than sin?  It seems, nowhere to be found in the modern church!  The modern day believer is so self-focused and sin-focused they couldn’t identify an act of God’s grace if it was handed to them on a silver platter with a sign attached to it!

The remedy though, I am finding out, is fairly simple and straight-forward.  You want to know what the remedy is? Sure you do!  Here it is, wait for it, wait for it, it is to  GIVE UP!   Give up trying to count and label your sin.  Give up giving it preeminence in your thoughts.  Give up trying to conquer it because in this fleshly body you will not conquer it (it needs no conquering!  Jesus conquered it for you on the cross!!!!!)  When you give up trying to eliminate sin from your life, grace is still there running on legs that never tire or ache.  Grace is there beside you, just waiting for you to accept powerlessness over sin and give yourself over to God’s love, mercy, His GRACE, and to carry you when you can no longer run!

Think about it for a minute.  If every time you thought about God’s grace when you sinned, about how your sin was wiped out by Jesus, about the love that God lavishes on you when you don’t deserve it, and many other like things, how long could sin keep you down?  How long would it take to realize that God is worth more thought and attention than the sin you daily espouse and bemoan?  How would your ministry to love others be affected by this new thought process and action plan?

I am on that journey of transformation.  I will arrive one day, at the end of the ages for sure, but during this earthly age, I am slowly learning that what we treasure in our heart (focus our lives on God’s grace, not our sin) will show us who deserves our time and attention.  Will you focus your attention on God and Christ or on sin and evil?  The choice is yours, my brothers and sisters, the choice is yours!  Make the right choice today!  (check out Paul’s letter to the Roman believers in the New Testament of the Bible, it will be a big help to you!)

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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Answer To Previous Post Plus The More Important Question

OK.  I can’t wait any longer, because the suspense is killing me (and I hope you, too!).  What was your answer?  Did you answer that the man became a millionaire when he realized he had money in the bank?  Or, did you answer that he became a millionaire when the money was deposited?  If you answered when the money was deposited you are correct!  Congratulations!

Now, to the more important question.  Ready?

When is a person free from sin (declared righteous in Christ and no longer guilty of sin)?  When Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for sin (which by the way was death, not eternal conscious torment in hell!) or when he/she, by faith, believes in Christ for justification/redemption?

I will let you chew on this for a few days and maybe on Sunday I can find some time to finish this out.  Do you agree that this is one of the most important questions for us to know the answer to?  What are the ramifications of the answer to this question?  Leave your comments below and help all the readers to gain insight from your wisdom!  Blessings to you!

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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A quick note about WWJD from a previous post

In this post (New Creation Christians Should Never Ask What Jesus Would Do) I mentioned that we Christians today should not ask what would Jesus do because that keeps us focused on our mortal bodies and repressing sin.  I wanted to spend a few minutes explaining a little more what I mean.

What was/were the main things that Jesus came to do?  Well, let me mention the most important first:  He came to seek and save the lost, to save all mankind.  OK, now with that said, how did He go about doing that?  Well, He fought sin, and death, and the Devil.  His fight with sin seemed to be primarily against the Jewish religious leaders.  He was constantly pointing out their hypocrisy and sin.  that did not endear Him to them and led Him actually to the cross.  He also fought against death.  He didn’t fight dying on the cross, but He fought death and won, for God, and for our benefit.  He fought Satan, as well, and conquered Him by paying sin’s debt (by dying a real death so we would no longer die spiritually) and becoming alive once again, rendering death for all no longer a thing to be feared, but welcomed.  That people no longer die spiritually and will eventually live with God eternally is quite a feat.  Yet in god’s infinite love, showing the power of His love, He resurrected the Son and made an embarrassment out of Satan and gave all mankind what He created them for before the foundation of the world; fellowship with Him.

We no longer need to emulate Christ in these areas because they have been taken  care of forever by Christ.  Sin is vanquished and no longer the focus of the Christian’s life, Christ is. So if we must cling to the modern abbreviation of WWJD, at least make it mean something true and define it by extending His love to others, not trying to always crucify the flesh (that’s a done deal already!)  Death, the penalty for sin, is paid.  END OF THE STORY.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  All those who aren’t, will face a time of painful restoration to Him, but their end is as sure as those who believe in this life!  AMEN!  Hallelujah!  And, maybe best of all because it shows how strong and deep and unfailing God’s love is toward ALL created beings, Satan will one day bow in adoration and praise for the God who will one day redeem even him!  Can you think of any greater love than this?  Can you imagine a being so powerful in His love that even the tempter will succumb and his heart will be made new again and he will be with us praising the one True God?

If you want to Do as Jesus Did, remember those people He loved and touched in miraculous ways, like the lame, the adulterers, the sick, etc.  When you are thinking along those lines you will have very little, if any, time to focus on your stumblings!  Christ and the Father’s love to you all!

Craig

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Don’t Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body

Here is my provocative question for this post.  When you read what Paul wrote in Romans 6:12, “Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts.” (CLV, Concordant Literal Version), do you:

A. Believe this to mean “stop sinning” and refers to the “acts of sin” OR

B.  I will never stop sinning in my mortal body but thankfully as a new creation in Christ my sins have been removed and sin no longer tells me what to do, I tell it what to do! (get lost!)

If you choose A., then you are in league with the whole modern church today.  You believe just as most every other believer today because you believe that Paul is telling you to quit committing acts of sin, like adultery, swearing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  It also means you will probably seek to remove all appearances of evil and sin from your life.  Example:  We don’t believe it is a sin to drink alcohol, but we require our leaders to abstain from drinking alcohol because we do not even want to give the appearance of sin, or cause even the least of our brothers to stumble.  Or, I have been “saved” by God and in my past have struggled with pornography, therefore, when I want to rent a movie from Netflix, I search only G-rated movies because I do not even want to be tempted to sin.  Or, I know overeating is a sin, but I have a lust for pizza so, as a believer, I will never go down the pizza aisle at the grocery store, nor will I go to parties where pizza is being served.

If you chose B., you look back at my last paragraph and say, “Wow, I am glad I am not like those sinners over there!”  No, I am only kidding!  But seriously, you probably realize that Paul’s whole case in Romans is not some theological treatise for the seminary classroom, nor for the making of super saints!  It is for everyone, saved and unsaved alike.  It is especially for believers who understand that they will never be NOT sinning in this mortal body but thankfully Jesus paid it all, paid for every sin, past, present, and future, on the cross and in his resurrection.  You realize that you are not defined by your sin but by your identity with and in Christ.  When you realize you sin, and you realize it is an anomaly, that because you treasure His grace, you stop and say, “No more,” and you continue on reveling in the grace that super-exceeds the sin you just committed.  Then, rather than being sad over your sin, and letting sin ruin your disposition, you push it aside and focus on the grace of Christ, His ever and over-abundant love for ALL OF HIS CREATION, and go about praising Him the rest of the day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which kind of person do you want to be?  Think about it!  Send me your comments and let’s dialog about it.  Questions?  Me, too.  Let’s help one another find answers! As always,

Love in Christ,

Craig

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“New creation” Christians should never ask what Jesus would do!

No new thoughts here today from myself, but stunning truth from Martin Zender, who I am seeming to relate to more and more.  Here are some comments from him that totally resonated with me and make sense out of the Scriptures.  Martin talked about a passage from Paul’s writings, 2 Cor 5:14-17.

 

14 For the love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently *all died.
15 And He died for the sake of all that *those who are living should by no means still be living to themselves, but to the One dying and being roused for their sakes.
16 So that we’, from *now on, are acquainted with not one according to flesh. Yet even if we have known Christ according to flesh, but nevertheless now we know Him so not longer.
17 So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the primitive passed by. Lo! there has become new!

We are no longer living for ourselves.  We have been made completely new and compare more to Jesus’ resurrected state than we do to the world’s state, flesh, what we used to be.  Verse 17 says the old has passed away (the primitive).  What is the old?  The old is the world’s system, the Israelite system, everything Old Testament and everything pertaining to Jesus’ instructions to the Jews that He came predominantly to instruct.  Think about it.  We are so self-absorbed.  And no, I am not talking mainly about the unsaved in this life. I am mainly talking about those who should know better, believers in Christ.  We Christians are so self-absorbed that all we seem to think about is how much we sin, how badly we sin, how much more we need to be like Christ in our actions, how much better we are than other believers, how much less we are than other believers, and on and on, gag me!  The more we talk about, as Martin puts it, “surrendering the self”, the more we find ourselves having to dig out our old creation from the grave it was buried in with Christ and propping it up, and then abusing the old man (who is dead) and trying to make that corpse understand how bad it is, how much it is not following Christ, etc.  News flash!:  the old man is dead and CANNOT do anything  for he is dead.  He doesn’t hear nor understand your constant instructions to do better!

If we are no longer supposed to live to ourselves, and we are not, vs. 15,  we are also not to know Christ any longer according to the flesh.  Craig, what do you mean?  I mean, we live to Christ, not self.  We live to Christ not in the flesh but in the Spirit.  Analyzing self all the time, like we are told to do in the traditional church today, is against what Paul said we should be doing.The pre-occupation with flesh goes back to the age-old problem the church has had.  The church believes that unless people’s sins (flesh and fleshly living in particular) are kept ever before the average church members’ eyes, they will forget how awful they are and simply do whatever they want to do and begin to think the church irrelevant.  They will leave the church for other things.  Then the church will not have money to pay for pastors’ salaries and buildings and you name it.  So, pastors must always preach sin rather than grace.  In all the churches I have been a part of, sin was always more prevalent than grace.  So, instead of Romans 5 and 6 ruling the day (especially “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!), it is Satan’s stain of sin, Adam’s downfall casting all of mankind into sin and eventually eternal conscious torment in hell (which I don’t believe is true!), and then all the guilt we should feel about the fact that we are filthy sinners deserving of hell and torment, rather than new creations in Christ, enjoying the abundant grace that surrounds us at every moment.

Think more about it.  We say we stand condemned before God because we are sinners, and when we are saved do we feel any less condemned based on what you hear in church every Sunday?  Hell no!  Paul says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus is our condemner, yet He died for us, and He was resurrected for us, and He is pleading our case to the Father, and so, are we still condemned?  Hell no!  We are no longer acquainted with Christ in His flesh but in His Spirit and in His resurrection and we stand no longer condemned.  We are free in Christ to love Him more abundantly than ever.  It no longer is the desire of the Christian to align himself with the shoulds (i.e. I should follow the 10 commandments, I should go to church more, I should give more, etc.) but aligned with wants (I want to love God more because I am no longer under condemnation, and I want to love His creation more, and I want to show my love to others in Christ, and I want…).  Let me sum it all up this way.  No matter how much I may sin (though my desire to sin diminishes and really should not even be a concern), God’s grace is covering over that in such a greater way that it obliterates the sin and focuses my desire more and more on His grace and love rather than wrath that I will not experience!  Christian, quit analyzing your every behavior, which is self-focused, and focus on God’s abundant grace that comes in measures that would blow your mind!

Sorry for rambling on, and I hope this makes some semblance of sense (it sure does in my mind!).  But, as always, my comment box is open and I would sure love to hear what you have to say, questions, comments, etc., especially the newer ones coming to my blog.  Grace and peace to you!

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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Why Didn’t God Tell Adam and Eve About Hell?

I was discussing some biblical things last night with my youngest daughter and I told her one of the turning points in my beliefs about God and the outcome of man was this one:  If hell is eternal conscious torment forever (I know tat is redundant!), and it is the most horrible outcome that a person could suffer, why didn’t God tell Adam and Eve about it?  All we have recorded on this important topic of what would happen if they sinned was that in the day they sinned they would surely die.  Not one word about hell.  We have a few words about the pain they would suffer in this life and the fact that they would one day die physically, but not one word on hell.  Curious, isn’t it?

If you answer that in the Old Testament everyone who died went to Gehenna, or Abraham’s bosom, a kind of holding place or, if you will, a kind of purgatory, (not the Catholic one where people are waiting to progress into a better state due to prayers and giving of their still alive loved ones) why didn’t God command the New Testament authors to include hell as part of their preaching of the Gospel.  I have heard preachers say that the Good News (of the Gospel) can’t be good unless there is also some bad news for those who refuse the good.  Not one of the sermons by the Apostles nor any of the recorded disciples in the New Testament ever warn us about hell for those who do not accept the Gospel of Christ.

Yes, I know the hell-teachers of today will quote many verses that they support the teaching of eternal conscious torment ( I have addressed many if not all of them in my book review series that is still incomplete, Hell Under Fire on this blog).  However, why don’t they ever offer some explanation of why we teach the “turn or burn” Gospel today?  Why did that come up and where did it begin (hint:  go back to the days of Augustine, because I think we have him to thank for it, though it was not really taught before him, and yes, the soon-to-be Roman Catholic church took his teachings and ran with them for awhile)?  For awhile I thought pretty highly of Augustine, especially when I was so steeped in more traditional reformed theology.  However,  after re-considering who Augustine was, looking over seminary notes on church history and reading many other church history works, Augustine was not, and is not, someone we want to hang our theology on!  I encourage you to read about his life and decide for yourself if it was wise historically to put so much trust in his teaching.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some food for thought on this Monday morning.  Have a blessed day and remember, we are free in Christ to relish the grace given to us and to give it out super-abundantly to others.  For you believers, the summary of our lives in Christ is this; we confess Jesus is Lord, we love God with all our being, and we love our neighbor as ourselves (as we want to be loved).  Much more than that is typically legalism run amok!

Blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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