(From my book titled, “But What If I’m Right?”)
Chapter Ten: Must We Live A Moral and Righteous Life?
This wasn’t one of my intended chapter topics but it jumped in here when I wasn’t looking. Since I am a salvation guy and desire just as our Father God in heaven desires, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9 Without a doubt, I will get push-back from this chapter, but that is good, realizing that someone is truly interested in search of the truth Let’s examine who God‘s children really are, what it is to be a child of God. Since so many modern Christians dispel the Old Testament’s relevancy in today’s teachings, only New Testament evidence will be used. Before I segway into that, though, keep in mind one very important fact. Jesus, our Messiah Himself, taught from the Old Testament Jewish Bible, as also did the early disciples, Apostles, and teachers of the time as the New Testament hadn’t been written or recorded and therefore, not available to them.
“’You are the temple of the living God.’ As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:16b-18:1
After reading that above passage, need anything else ever be written to describe who we are in Christ? That is about as personal identity with our Lord and Savior as ever there was. Forget all that saving-grace, faith, and all that other stuff that says you are saved by simply receiving His grace. Read that again and absorb it into your heart. I promise, we will get to “saved by grace through faith,” but I want you to really focus on that above passage. Lest I be accused of taking Scripture out of context, get your Bible out and read all of chapter six, and into the first two verses of chapter seven. It means exactly what it says.
Let’s devour what is spoken. You are the temple of the most-high living God. He will dwell in you, and He will be your Father as He walks amongst us. Aren’t you just overwhelmed by that? Earlier in a previous letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote something reinforcing that passage above: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Cor 3:16
Christians may disagree with me on certain topics of the Bible but I have never been accused of false teaching because I always use Scripture as the ultimate authority. No, I am not pious nor arrogant, but I do try to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess 5:21 After all, it is all our responsibility to teach the truth at a higher standard that is Bible-sourced. Warning, though, get ready; many of you will accuse me of false teaching because what follows may fly in the face of what you have been taught, what you believe, and what you think the Bible says. I am a big boy and can take criticism, but I am confident that Scripture will back me up, and Scripture should always be the ultimate standard by which things are judged.
Are you ready? The New Testament says we are to be holy and righteous, set apart from the world’s ways. That is how we become children of God. That is why God will reside in us through the Holy Spirit. “Oh, no, Mr. Author! But what about grace? What about ‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’” Rom 10:9,10 Did not Paul write in that verse above that I wanted you to digest that we are to “not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.”
A real conundrum there. That sounds like we have to be obedient for something, but we are taught that Jesus did it all for us on the cross. “Now, Mr. Author, you’ve crossed the line; that sounds like works doctrine you’re trying to teach…” I trust that you grabbed your Bible and continued from that above passage into chapter seven. I’ll go there for you: “Therefore, having these promises (of becoming His sons and daughters), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness, in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 7:1 This is an order from Paul that he received by revelation from Jesus Christ. Perfecting holiness? Works? In the fear of God? Yes, I fear God and what His wrath will be; just read the Book of Revelation.
In plain English, translated and approved as accurate for over 400 years, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote for our receiving, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, looking carefully, lest anyone should fall short of the grace of God.” Heb 12:14 Again, feel free to read surrounding verses but without holiness no one will see the Lord. Have you grace teachers ever read that and wondered how to overcome the conflict?
Without a doubt, as children of God, we are to live in this world but not of it. We are to live in the spirit, not in the flesh, not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Clearly, you cannot be holy while fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
Oh, boy; I have no doubt irritated a lot of people, but Satan does not want you irritated. He desires you to believe that the blood of Christ lets you do everything in the flesh. Satan has no power over the blood of Jesus! But, he has power in misleading people, just as he did in the Garden of Eden. Satan is “a liar and the father of lies,” Jn 8:44 and “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Cor 11:14,15 Do not be deceived.
Paul, the great grace teacher, wrote, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:24 Since you became a born again Christian, are you the same person you were prior to becoming a child of God? You shouldn’t be. Evidence of your truly born again state is that you are “a new creation; old things are passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 Frankly, if you have not repented and are doing the same things as before, you are probably not truly born again. The old things are passed away, dead. That doesn’t mean there are no struggles, falling back. We are sinful in nature. But don’t use that for an excuse to sin. Paul said he died daily to sin. That didn’t mean he sinned daily, but the urges and temptations were there.
My friends, God hates sin; it is separation from Him, and ultimately could lead you into the eternal fire in hell. That’s pretty blunt. Ever hear, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”? That, brethren, is not Biblical. In fact, that is a quote from Mahatma Ghandi’s 1929 auto-biography. Even a non-Christian Buddhist understands that God hates sin!
James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved (What? Approved? Some kind of moral testing here?), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Jas 1:12-15 That’s a pretty concise description of sin and the consequences. “Brings forth death.”
That, my friends, is spiritual death, separation from God. Hundreds of books have been written on both sides of this topic so this chapter can only touch the surface, but I will try to do so in depth quickly, using Scriptures to substantiate this important salvation issue. From early Christianity, this didn’t seem to be a problem, understanding what God desired His people to do. The Bible, from the very first chapter to its end, is filled with all kinds of rules and obligations.
Many of these obligations come with warnings from God regarding His kingdom and His desire that His people be obedient, repent when they sin or were disobedient, and when they break any of His laws, commandments, or ordinances. For many hundreds of years, the Bible was “hidden” from most ordinary people, either by the scarcity of manuscripts or by language barriers. The Church hierarchy, primarily the Catholic Church, carefully concealed the Bible from those regarded as unworthy of reading it. It was the Church’s for the dissemination and proclaiming its “truths” to its people. Without a doubt, this involuntary illiteracy of the Bible allowed much misinformation and many non-Biblical doctrinal practices to flourish.
Various early factions of Christianity knew God wanted His people to be holy, righteous, and set apart from the world, a “peculiar” people. The first time the word “Christian” shows up in the Bible is Acts 11:26. The Greek word Christianos simply means “follower of Christ.” That sounds a bit vague in today’s vernacular, but it was understood that to be a follower of Christ, one was to be totally committed to Him, believing that He was the promised Messiah, the only one who can bring salvation. That is the simplest definition, to be totally in for Christ! Willing to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.” Matt 16:24 The “saved by grace” doctrine is one of the most contentious of all Bible understandings. For practical purposes, it began when Martin Luther, a Catholic, posted on church doors his famous 95 Theses, protesting many of the doctrinal practices such as indulgences (payment for absolving sins), purgatory, and the Catholic Church’s “works-for-salvation” doctrine.
This sparked the whole Protestant Reformation movement in the sixteenth century that continues through today. The key verses that poured gasoline onto the embers of the whole works controversy was Ephesians 2:8,9: “Ye are saved by grace through faith; it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (KJV) Many Protestant preachers proclaim it only requires faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, that the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ has fulfilled all for us. We cannot be good enough, do enough good deeds, live a good enough life, a wholesome life of obeying all man’s laws, to earn our way into the kingdom of God. I believe that to be true. Anything that puts us in charge of determining our own righteousness by earthly standards falls short of being in the presence of all God’s glory.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” Jn 14:6 Not through Buddha, not through Mohammad, not through Santa Claus, not through your own ways, but through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
I believe that today’s mainstream Protestants have so much disdain for Catholics that they take their own doctrines to extremes and error in doing so. Where is the love they profess to preach so much? Aren’t we all supposed to be one Body of Christ, The Church, united through our faith in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior? “Hold fast that which is good….” 1 Thess 5:21b The controversy really begins with defining “works.” Let’s try to do that, keeping it simple, because this can get way too deep very quickly, with debates abounding. The word “works” in this passage means “deed, doing, labor, work.”2 That was simple; now comes the tricky part. The actions described as “works” are often lumped in with keeping the “Law.”
The “Law” is defined as “regulations (specific of Moses), principles.”3 The Law is typically known as the Mosaic Law, though there were God’s laws before Moses dating back to creation in the Garden of Eden. God told Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then later, Cain murdered his brother Able. The Law as typically understood by theologians consists of three divisions: the great universal moral law (The Ten Commandments), religious ceremonial law, and civil law. Some scholars include a fourth health law, but it is important to note that these classifications are man-distinguished, not God’s.
Briefly, I’ll break these down, keeping in mind we’re looking for an answer to the title of this chapter, “Must We Live a Moral and Righteous Life?” God planned from the beginning that the religious ceremonial laws would cease at the cross because Jesus the Messiah, the true Lamb of God, would be sacrificed for us. The animal sacrifices all pointed forward to Christ’s death on the cross, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” Heb 9:22 Up until the blood shed on the cross, the blood of animal sacrifices covered sins. Jesus is the substitutionary, unblemished, perfect Lamb of God, that we may have a path to salvation. For us to offer animal sacrifices today would be a sacrilege, saying that Jesus did not die for our sins. “He (God) has delivered us from the power of darkness, and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son (Jesus) of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13,14 “He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Col 2:13b,14 These two verses should push aside any arguments contrary to what Jesus had done for us, including dissolving the requirements of keeping the ceremonial laws.
The Jews respect 613 laws that they must observe and atone to. About 100 of these are related to the blood sacrifices in the Law, although most Jews today have suspended the temple sacrifices until their Messiah returns and sits upon His throne before His new tabernacle. Most of the remaining laws are recognized as obedience to God and must be followed to this day by the Jews. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the ancient years around the time of Christ were essentially the religious law-leaders, interpreters of the law, and prosecutors, interpreting every jot and tittle of their laws, as well as intermixing many other ordinances and statutes. These included civil laws. We would know them today as guidelines to an organized society, like traffic laws, property laws, taxes, etc. Though we are not obligated to recognize these civil laws of Jewish substance, we are not to disregard any law that is relevant today that does not contradict the moral authority of God. In other words, if a state trooper pulls you over and tells you that you were doing 90-mph in a 55-mph speed zone, your plea to him that you are no longer under the Law will not carry any weight.
Are we saved by grace and therefore are no longer under the Law or commandments that will guide us to righteousness? And, through faith, can we live a sinful life because “faith is accounted for righteousness…to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works”? Rom 4:5b,6 The Bible says we are no longer under the Law. It is a dangerous thing to pull a verse or two out of the Bible and say you have an “ah-HA!” moment. In the flesh, in our carnal bodies, Christians try to find Scripture verses that will justify and confirm their salvation so that they can continue living a sinful life in their flesh apart from God.
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is deep in Christian theology and leaves opportunity for all kinds of interpretation. It does take diligence in study of it to decipher what Paul is actually saying as, on its surface, he seems to be all over the place. Rest assured; there are no contradictions. The Apostle Peter said, “As also our beloved Paul, according to wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Pet 3:16 Untaught and unstable people…. Simplified, Paul is enforcing that the new Christians in Rome were contending for their faith but were torn between keeping the traditional laws enforced by the Pharisees and Sadducees and trusting in faith. Through all the minutia, Paul enforces a necessity to commit to Jesus through faith, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with.” Rom 6:6 Paul does not say that we have a license to sin.
”Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it (your flesh) in your lusts. .What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? So now, present your members as slaves of righteousness to holiness, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:12-22
Sin is still death, whether under the law or under God’s gift of grace. To choose between faith over the Law does not mean sin is non-existent outside the Law, “for as many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law…” Rom 2:12 Paul is talking to Christians here.
“But Mr. Author, the Bible says, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Rom 3:23 Therefore, none of us are expected to be sinless.” Okay, that’s what your preacher told you. Incidentally, that is past tense: all have sinned, before you have received the Holy Spirit for a life lived by that Spirit so that you live in that Spirit.
Let’s look at what our Master said to an invalid at the Pool of Bethseda (Jn 15:15) and to the woman adulteress whom the people were ready to stone (Jn 8:11): “Go; sin no more.” Would Jesus tell them to do something that was impossible? Or, did Jesus have a brain cramp and say something He didn’t really mean? Or, did those commands of Jesus die on the cross? No, no, and no. We just like to hear our religious leaders convince us that sin is normal in today’s culture and that we should all just try our best. After all, we are saved by grace, not works. We flock to pastors who tell us we are okay with God in our present state. Jesus also said this: “Be perfect, just as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48 Again, is Jesus telling us to press toward something we can’t be? Preachers try to water that down by saying things like this, that “perfect” does not mean what it says because He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. They say, “perfect” simply means to be “complete.” Yes, the Strong’s Concordance does say that “complete” is one of the definitions. But being complete is the fullness of what you should be as a Christian, and that completion means you are a new creation in Christ, and that creation in His image is what? His image is perfect and complete. Here we have a problem. If someone reads the Bible without any outside influence like a Bible commentary or a preacher, and reads that Jesus said, “sin no more,” and “Be perfect, just as my Father in heaven is perfect,” is he/she not supposed to believe these mean what they say? If that’s true, he/she would have to question everything else he/she reads as potentially not meaning what it says.
No, I am not perfect; no one is. But that does not mean that we should not strive toward that perfection in Christ. The sanctification process is taking us to holiness in His image. “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Jas 1:2-4 Notice in that passage, perfect and complete are used together. Despite those who argue that Paul says grace covers everything through faith, Paul is consistent with his revelation of the effects of sin in one’s body. One of Paul’s mantras is to live in the Spirit of Christ, for “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to Spirit, things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom 8:5,6 “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Rom 8:10
“I say then, ‘Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’” Gal 5:16-21
Paul is clearly saying that if you do any of those things in this list of things contrary to living in the Spirit, you are destined for hell, unless you have a behavior modification, a Biblical-mandated repentance. Even most non-Christians have an internal moral compass to know that doing most of those things are wrong. Some things are just plain obvious! But many Christians think they get a free pass because they claim that believing in Jesus is enough; all things beyond that are “works.”
I personally witnessed a Sunday morning preacher teaching through Galatians 5:19-21, that the warning “will not enter the kingdom of God” was not a salvation message and many in the church applauded, “Amen!” Sadly, that is reflective of what is taught in many churches, and people in the congregations agree with it! If you hear a lie often enough, it transcends into a truth, a false truth, at that (an oxymoron there). What does that mean, then, that one will not enter the kingdom of God? That they won’t be able to golf with God at His country club, or what? Paul repeats similar warnings in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, Ephesians 5:3-5, Colossians 3:5,6. Does this sound like a guy who is saying grace allows all sins to be committed with no fear? Certainly not!
Many mainstream grace teachers promote that “grace” means “unmerited favor.” Again, I defer to the most respected Strong’s Concordance. Nowhere does it claim the word means “unmerited favor.” But it sounds great to all the wanna-do-whatever-I want Christians. Now this is what is in the Strong’s, this most respected reference, that charis means divine influence, among other meanings (unmerited is not included). Every place you read the word “grace” in the Bible, try substituting “divine influence” and you will begin to recognize and feel more power in His word. Also, in most places the word grace appears, it makes more sense when read in context to substitute divine influence. That is where our power in the Holy Spirit comes from, His divine influence. This is worth repeating for emphasis: God’s power He has given us in the gifts comes from His divine influence—power. A third time: divine influence! Hallelujah!
Throughout his writings, Paul warns: “Do not be deceived.” God knew there would be a stampede of deception, even amongst those Christians who are supposed to know better. The Moral Law is universally accepted as the Ten Commandments that most understand today. Nine of the ten are reaffirmed in the New Testament, the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath the only one absent. (There are those that argue that the Sabbath was never abolished and frankly, I find their reasoning defendable). So then, do we need to obey the Ten Commandments, or is that considered following the Law? I will answer that the way Jesus did.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“ Matt 22:37-40
Think about it. If you obey those two commandments alone, you will not be able to breech any of the other commandments! That’s very powerful and insightful of Jesus, but who would have expected less from the Son of God? Notice, too, that He doesn’t say the rest of the commandments are null and void. He even goes so far as to say that on those two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.
“By this we know that we love Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar., and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. He who says he abides in Him ought also to walk just as He walked.” 1 Jn 2:3-6
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1
So, how do we imitate Christ? By living unrighteously and unholy, by satisfying the lusts of the flesh? Walk just as He walked. “Abstain from all forms of evil.” 1 Thess 5:22 There is good news; the list of disqualifying sins does come with hope. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:11
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as others.” Eph 2:1-3 The underlined emphasis above are all past tense words, that you are no longer doing those things now that you have the Spirit of God residing within you. If you are still doing those things, then maybe you need to do a personal soul-search. “Examine yourselves whether you are of the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, indeed, you are disqualified.” 2 Cor 13:5
Question for you, the reader: What do you think this means, “If you live in the Spirit, then you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”? There was a presumption, and a hope, that at least 50% of the readers of this book would be non-believing Christians because the theme of the book is that skeptics and non-believers should take a look at all the either-or decisions we all have to make during our lifetime; no in between, a choice of salvation in Christ Jesus, or the alternative, eternal existence in the torments of hell. That being said, I believe that even unbelievers are aware of what living in the Spirit, not in the flesh means. My personal survey of unbelievers has shown that living in the flesh means doing the things that satisfy us with things in the world, (contrary to God’s desires), but they choose not to give them up.
On the contrary, I have found that many Christians ignore the profound importance and depth of what it means to live in the Spirit of God because they believe they live under the blood of Jesus for all sins, past, present, and future. If that alone doesn’t give them the free will to choose to continue in sin and still go to heaven, then God’s gift of grace will be the secondary, or maybe even the primary assurance of eternal security, or so they think. Fact is, they, just like the unbelievers, don’t want to give up their lusts in the flesh. “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thess 4:7,8
Many people who don’t believe in God or the Bible look at so-called Christians in wonderment, recognizing that these “saints” are living no different than themselves, so where is the change that is supposed to take place within one’s self when he/she becomes a Christian? Paul said, “Shall we continue to sin then that grace may abound? Certainly not!” Rom 6:12 “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin.” Rom 6:12
I can’t take credit for this but a radio preacher said, “Be a Christian, not act like one.” Simple, yet very profound. We know that actors “act” in a character not of themselves, but when the role is done, they go back to whom they really are. Christians should always be a Christian, being an example of what God’s Word says.
To try to live righteously? Bah, humbug! Christ imputed all righteousness to believers! (I am being facetious, for sure.) Be careful not to put all your faith in one, or just a few verses, out of context. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of heaven? Do not be deceived.” The very last book of the Bible, Revelation, attributed to John about 30-40 years after the Apostle Paul died, says this: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev 21:8 That’s pretty harsh, and there is no mention of anyone doing those things will be rescued by grace.
“Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Jas 1:22 Step up to the plate, and do what the Bible says—these are commands from God!
Several years ago, a rubber wristband was promoted and worn by several Christians that had the inscription, “WWJD,” an acronym for “What Would Jesus Do?” Many thought it was corny, but what would Jesus do? The wristband was a simple reminder of the fact that God is in your very presence all the time; would Jesus approve of what you are doing, watching, or thinking? If you are a true Christian, we truly “have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor 2:16 Are you living like you have the mind of Christ? “…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….” Col 1:9b,10 Sounds pretty basic and simple to me; what would Jesus do?
“For the wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of me, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, in meekness and fear.” Rom 1:8
There it is, suppression of truth… Today, we don’t want to hear about the wrath of God—that’s Old Testament. Preachers and teachers of the “grace covers everything” teaching often defend their position: “Satan wants you to believe that grace does not cover everything and those who teach this don’t understand the power of the blood of Jesus.” Friends, I do know the power of the blood of Jesus. But I also know the deceptive powers of Satan, free will, and our natural desire to live in the flesh contrary to living in Christ Jesus and gravitate toward any religious philosophy that justifies our abhorrent, or less-than-Godly behavior.
Don’t think it is possible to live a holy, righteous life? Then you are denying that you have the mind of Christ, a new creation in His image. You also deny His very presence and divine influence within you. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 Jn 4:4 Now, the questions. If you do not believe in God and think that you are good enough by your own self-judgment and examination to get to heaven, if there is a heaven, then good luck to you, as we have already crossed that bridge and its consequences in chapter two.
If you, as a Christian, believe that the blood of Jesus, along with His grace, covers everything, and believe that a lifestyle of living in the flesh and living contrary to God’s holy Commandments are not disqualifiers for entering the kingdom of God (heaven), gosh, I hope you are right because I’m going to heaven right along with you then, too. But What If I’m Right? Both of us can’t be right. I don’t believe the Bible says that living under grace gives you the freedom to live contrary to God’s standards He has set before us, and sadly, you will have been deceived and will have your part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. On the other hand, I, along with other repentant and obedient believers, will be in heaven in the presence of our Almighty, Glorious Father God! You only get one shot at it; don’t blow it!
“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning, for it would have been better not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened according to the true proverb: ‘a dog returns to its own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” 2 Pet 2:20-22
If that describes you, there’s still time to confess your sins to God, repent, strive to live like Jesus did, and turn it back around. Is that “works”? So be it. Emphasis again, But What If I’m Right?