Thursday, February 9, 2012

Does grace lead us into licentious sinning?

This is the second portion of the conversation I am having with a friend:

Yes, we certainly don't see eye to eye on this issue and that is perfectly alright. We are still loved by God :)

I am well aware that my stand on several Christian subjects aren't very popular and I am perfectly fine with it. After all, I am not in it to win a popularity contest. That is one of the reason I shy away from arguing/debating with people because I know most people aren't ready for what I am saying. I have long ago given up the idea that just because a lot of people believe in something, that makes it true.

Also, I am not trying to be edgy just for the thrill of it, neither looking to be famous. I always want to be a regular guy who is passionate about the truth.

I want to address a few things you brought up in your last email. By no means feel obligated to respond.

most of the theologians call it the difference in school of thought between a Calvinistic view point and Arministic view point

Honestly, I don't even know who these people are. I have heard of Calvin but never spent any time learning his teachings. It's interesting to me that people like to identify themselves with some famous theologians. It's a human tendency I guess. They like to call themselves Calvinist, Lutheran etc. I am not any "ist". If at all, someone wants to call me an "ist", call me "Paulinist". Because if Calvin or Luther learned any theology, they learned it from Apostle Paul. Isn't it? And we still have Apostle Paul's teaching available to us, then why not learn directly from his epistles instead of looking to someone who has only a second hand information?

However, before I close let me discuss one important aspect that is on repentance and obtaining forgiveness. I subscribe to all the Bible verses that you quoted, but all of these refer to a person who is to be a new believer. However, none of these tell us, what happens if a person who is saved commits a sin.

Since you brought up the issue of repentance, I want to clarify my understanding of it. There is only one true repentance - that is repenting of your unbelief. When bible talks about repentance, what it says is repent of your unbelief and believe in Jesus. It's not talking about repenting every time you sin. However, there is a place for repentance in our daily life. When we sin, we repent because we wronged (hurt) someone and then we go and ask forgiveness to them.

That is why bible says, "forgive each other as I have forgave you". Because God has forgiven us, we can forgive others. And forgiving others is a result of realizing (repenting) that we wronged them.

When you sin, God is not surprised. He knows! He even knows the sins you are going to commit in the future (because he is omniscient), but he chose to forgive us.

Bible says, "while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us and forgave us". See it didn't say, "when you repented, God forgave you".
Forgiveness was a voluntary act of God. He did that while you were still His enemy. That is grace! If God only forgives you when you repent, that is not grace. That is conditional forgiveness.

If one continues to stay on that path, such lack of repentance will only lead us to pride, arrogance, absence of love, possibly miss the fruits of the spirit and even lead us to a road of total denial of Christ.

That makes me grin. Not because it's funny but because I have heard this argument a million times. In reality, the opposite is true. The fact that God has forgiven all my sins and there is nothing I can do to lessen His love for me doesn't make me pride or arrogant, rather it makes me humble and grateful.

Jesus confirmed it, via a perfect model for prayer:
Luke 11:4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Yes, Jesus taught his disciples to pray that prayer. But when did he do that? it was before the cross. Things are different on this side of the cross. Jesus was born and taught under Jewish law. Remember he went to the temple on Sabbath, for example. But that doesn't mean that he expect us to continue to practice Jewish religion.

Cross changed everything! On the other side of the cross forgiveness was conditional. On this side of the cross forgiveness is done deal (In other words, totally unconditional). Let me explain.

This is the verse right after the Lord's prayer referred in Matthew:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Mathew 6:14)

Now, tell me if this is true on this side of the cross? that, we will be forgiven only if we forgive others? I want to you to think.

Don't forget "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness".

So, Jesus taught under the Jewish law and His ministry was to bring Jewish people (who were religious and thought their religion and self-made righteousness can save them) to the end of their ropes, so that they will understand their need for a savior. And then (only then), they will have the readiness to accept grace.

There are several examples in the Bible proving this point. Jesus told them to cut off their arms if their arm cause them to sin. Jesus told to pluck their eyes out if their eyes cause to sin. Jesus said, adultery is not just the physical act, but just having lust in the mind. Murder is not necessarily killing someone, but just having anger in our mind is considered as murder. Jesus told the young ruler to give everything to the poor.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said all this? He was literally showing them, righteousness is not merely an external cleanliness. Remember, Pharisees were very clean (externally) people. They followed all the law. Yet Jesus reserved some harsh words against them: "white washed tombs", "brood of vipers". Because those people were arrogant thinking that they are following the rules and obeying God's commandment and focusing on mere external cleanliness, cleverly obscuring their dirty minds.

You had mentioned, if we think all our sins are forgiven and there is no need for repentance, it can make us arrogant and pride. Now do you see who is actually arrogant? The Pharisees who did the "right" things (went to the temple, prayed the prayer, tithed, fasted, never committed adultery, murder or anything, followed the 613+ Jewish laws) were arrogant whereas the Zacchaeus (tax collector) was not. The woman caught in adultery was not. The woman at the well was not. The thief on the cross was not.

So, who is more arrogant, the one who receives God's unconditional forgiveness and grace or the one who thinks they are doing all the right things and obeying all the commandments and doing the works of the Lord?

If one continues to stay on that path, such lack of repentance will only lead us to pride, arrogance, absence of love, possibly miss the fruits of the spirit and even lead us to a road of total denial of Christ.

I want to address one more thing here. I don't want to sound like there is no earthly consequences to sin. Of course there is. When you sin, you suffer the heartache of it and the one you sinned against also feel the pain. So, of course we need to realize that our act was not aligned with who we are in Christ (perfectly holy and righteous) and take the steps to bring reconciliation with whomever we wronged. But the point is, we are not condemned by God when we sin. God isn't shaking his head in disappointment when you sin. He always knew you would sin, but chose to love you and while you were still His enemy He chose to forgive you. He doesn't keep the records your wrongs. He has forgiven you unconditionally. He has not only forgiven you and he has also forgotten your sins. He took them away, never to see them again.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

Truth sets us free. It really does. Christ did not come so that we can be confined inside the four walls or an organized religion or institutional church. He came to abolish religion and set us free from the oppression and bondage of it.

I know, it's kind of scary. Freedom is scary.

But we are created to be free.

"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." - Grace Murray Hopper

We think if when we give people freedom, they will go crazy. So people love the "security" of the organized religion, the popular belief. It is just a false security.

Have you seen the movie Madagascar? It's a children's movie, but there is some amazing truth in that movie. It's about a group of animals getting out of a zoo. Those animals were "safe" and well fed in the zoo. They were entertaining to the people. But were they created to be inside the four walls of a zoo cage? They are created to be in the wild!

When they escaped, they didn't know what to do. They were terrified. Because it's been a long time since their freedom was compromised. They forgot how to live in their natural state. Then they had to re-learn how to live in freedom and while doing that they had to unlearn a lot of stuff they have been taught and believed for several years. The lion had to learn how to hunt. At times, they were tempted to even go back to the zoo.

The state of so many Christians is very similar to those animals in the zoo. They put on a great show. They entertain, and live in the coziness of the institutionalized church, not knowing what they are missing in the wild. They do all their Christian acts - prayer, bible study, Sunday school, tithe, charity, soul winning, you name it.

Brother, I was there once. Not anymore! I am detoxing myself from religion. It's a painful slow process but I will stand firm in my freedom. I don't want to go back to the dead religion, I want to live the adventurous life of freedom Christ has given me. When we live in freedom, He also teaches us how to handle it. We don't go crazy and indulge in sin.

It is not the law, rules, do's and don'ts what teaches us to live a rightous life. It is the grace what teaches us to live a righteous life.

Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" - Titus 2:12

So, unlike many people think, this freedom doesn't lead us to arrogance, pride or licentious sinning. The opposite is true.
It is the law what stirs sin in us, not grace. ("The power of the sin is the law" - 1 Corinthians 15:56)

I want to conclude with one more note. I want to share my story (you can call it testimony or whatever) I wrote back in May 2009 on my blog. If you would like to read, here is the link.

Again, don't feel pressured to write back or anything.

Have a great day!

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