I just got a very nasty comment today on my God Promises the Power to Overcome Sin article I wrote a couple of years ago.
The person accused me of being an “arrogant bastard child”, “holy pontification”, “Satan’s child”, “arrogance and self-righteousness”, “disgust[ing]“, “not interested in truth”, and “interested in creating… strife and promoting yourself”.
Many times I am surprised how stirred up people get when you tell them they can’t walk in a lifestyle of sinning and be a Christian. While I admit the opening of the article is strong, and perhaps if I wrote it today I won’t make it that direct, but still what I wrote is the truth.
The following is what I wrote and then I listed a number of scriptures.
Now if you think I am pulling this daily sinning in word, thought, and deed out of thin air check out Question 83 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Answer: No mere man, since the fall, is able, in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them, in thought, word, and deed.
The false church has indeed changed the grace of God into a license for immorality when they teach the bad news that you can’t live a life of victory over willful sinning. In fact I will go a bit further it is mission of this false church to prejudice new Christians against the true gospel and equip them to reject the grace of God that can not only saved from the penalty of sin but the very power and love of sin.
They may not preach it over the pulpit that way but in the way they tolerate sin and counsel people that fall into willful sin that is the end result.
My Experience As A New Believer
I remember as a three year old professing Christian the first time I heard the Wesleyan teaching that Christ came to save us from our sins not in our sins. I smiled and asked the person if they were serious. I thought that was the most absurd teaching I had ever heard.
But what I heard next was even more absurd — you are not a Christian if you are living in a lifestyle of sinning. I think I laughed out loud. I can remember the conversation like it was yesterday. It was with brother Merle Smith from the Faith & Victory group at the Charis Campground in Chilliwack, BC, about 28 years ago.
At the time I had been struggling with smoking and just couldn’t seem to stop. I had prayed and cried and promised and threw my smokes out so many times it was not funny. I was ashamed of my habit and I hid it. I longed to be free as I knew smoking was sinful, unacceptable, and a very bad testimony.
While the false church had managed to convince me that I could be saved while walking in a willful life style of sinning they had not convinced me that I should just settle down and accept sinning as the norm. My heart had not became so seared that I felt comfortable in my sinning.
I talked to brother Smith and told him about my smoking habit. I shared with him how God had glorious saved me and delivered me from drugs, immorality, and a self-destructive lifestyle. How I loved my Bible, when to Vancouver every Friday night to do street witnessing, and carried a burden for the lost.
He patiently listened to me and when I was through talking he told me, “Bob, if you leave here and go back to your smoking you are not saved.” I shook my head in amazement. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Prayer & Victory Over Smoking
I asked to talk to him outside and as soon as we were out of view of everyone else I laid my head on his shoulder and started weeping. I told him I longed to be free from smoking and if we could go and pray somewhere.
We when down to the campground tabernacle (see picture to the right) and knelt there at the mourner bench and we both prayed. I got up from there and have never gone back to smoking. I was completely delivered even from the desire to smoke.
I am bringing this out to make a point. I didn’t defend my sin and rail on brother Merle and tell him he was arrogance, self-righteous, disgusting person and there was a reason. I didn’t love my sin, I hated it. I wanted to be free. Even when he insulted me by telling me that I was not a Christian if I continued sining that didn’t deter me at all.
Now I don’t want to leave a wrong impression. That was about 28 years ago and there have been many failures in my Christian walk since then. There have been several times where circumstances changed in my life and I struggled to get victory over giving into temptations that came with the change of my circumstances. There have been two times where I got so discouraged I quite professing Christ and when into open sin.
But that has not been the norm for my Christian walk. The norm for my Christian walk has been to walk in victory over willful sinning.
Why Such An Adverse Reaction To Holiness
So why do some people hate the sin-free message so much and see it as such a terrible doctrine. While they may have their excuses the bottom line is they have or have had willful sin in their own life and they don’t want to admit they have been living below the Bible standard or worse yet they are living a life of hypocrisy.
What brings out that ugliness in a professing Christian, like I quoted above from Bill, when they read or hear that you can live free from a lifestyle of sinning.
There are a number of different reasons.
1. There can be a misunderstanding of terms and what is meant by living free from sinning.
2. Some think the Wesleyan teaching will lead to hypocrisy or professing above what you are living.
3. Others feel it could discourage weak Christians and cause them to give up.
4. And some have concluded by their personal experience it is to high a standard and it is not livable.
5. In some cases they have given up the idea that they can ever be free from sinning.
6. And they have seared their heart to where they have little or no guilt when they sin.
7. And have settled down to enjoying their sinning and having a ticket to heaven at the same time.
The issue is not always that they don’t believe the Bible, their heart is seared, and they love their sinning. Some times they may have misunderstandings on your position or they have seen a similar position misused or wrongly taught.
How Can We Help Holiness Haters
We should not rail back. We should show concern for them. We shouldn’t condemn them and we should point them to the scriptures which promises victory and share our personal testimony of victory over sinning.
We should carefully define what we mean and what we don’t mean and we should be willing to answer all their objections.
However I think we need to be honest and tell them that if they are walking in a life style of sinning the Bible offers them no hope of going to heaven.
I have found when I have brought up the issue that I believe the Bible teaches they are not saved if they are walking in a lifestyle of sinning the conversation digresses many times into a proof texting match on Eternal Security vs Conditional Security or Salvation by Faith vs a charge that I hold Salvation by Works which goes no where.
Instead I try to keep things on the subject at hand and answer there objections with scripture and sound reason. The Bible clearly teaches God offers power to resist temptation and Christians can be victorious over all sinning in this life.
Posted Online: 02-17-2011 2:41p
Ranked In Google: 02-17-2011 2:44p
Ranked: #1 in Google for Holiness Hating Christians