Is it God's will for me to sin? Man, what a great question.
For those of us that have been on our faith journey for quite some time, this questions is not one that we consider very often. Not that this is an elementary concept, it's just that we don't really think about it that much. The conversation involving God's will for us and our mistakes as human beings is a very complex and complicated issues. It has been a greatly debated topic since the words of Paul in Romans 8 concerning predestination.
If you're struggling with this idea or question, welcome to the party. You are joining the multitude of Biblical giants who have wrestled with this concept.
This week's discussion will simply be that: a discussion. I'm not claiming to know everything there is to know about Scripture and I want you to test every single thing I say with Scripture.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, no a result of works, so that no one may boast."
- Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)
When discussing the topic of grace and sin in our lives, these verses are always an important reminder. Absolutely nothing we have done or didn't do has given us salvation. It was not our "good character" or the fact that we went to church or didn't struggle with _____ particular sin. It was only by the grace of God and through His sacrifice on the cross.
So if there's nothing that we can or can't do to earn God's salvation (other than accepting it), is there anything we can or can't do to lose it?
This is also a highly debated conversation within different denominations of the church. I am in the "once saved always saved" camp. There are several verses to support this position but one passage in John comes to mind.
"Jesus answered, 'I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
- John 10:25-30 (NIV)
Then the next natural question that is asked is if there's nothing that I can do to earn salvation and once I have accepted it, and there's nothing I can do to lose it, what prevents me from doing whatever I want if God will just forgive my sins (that He already knew I was going to commit)?
While I believe there is no sin too grievous that can physically take away your salvation, I do believe that you can walk away from Jesus and walk away from your salvation. You didn't lose it, you made the choice to no longer accept this free gift. In my opinion, to live unchanged after hearing the Gospel and to continue on sinning just because God will forgive you, is walking away from the free gift of salvation. It is an abuse of the grace of God.
Jesus commands us to, "deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23 NIV) What does it mean to deny ourselves and take up our crosses?
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19 NIV)
Take up our cross and denying ourselves means repenting and turning from our sins. It means we are made new in Him and we work each and every day to walk in our newness of life.
One final Scripture for you to ponder this week:
"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray." (1 John 3:4-7a NIV)
What does this mean for us? That because we love Jesus and we strive to know Him, we fight against sin each and every day. This Scripture is not saying that if we mess up, we never really loved Jesus. If we continue to live in sin and live unchanged because of the goodness of God in our lives, then did we truly ever love Him or know Him?
But what about when we mess up? Dear one, it is called grace. Next week, we will delve into the topic of grace and examining the implications of grace on our lives and, more specifically, our sin.