Wednesday, 18 July 2018

T The restoration of God's people

Persisting in sin

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At several places in the Bible God speaks about sin and about persisting in sin. Many teachings about this topic have left people with such an understanding of condemnation, that they believe there’s no hope left for them. I’ve been there, at the point where I actually believed that there was no more hope. At the point where people looked down at me, as that awful and dirty sinner. But how totally different was the attitude of God towards me, in contrary to many of His children. His grace turned out to be sufficient. But still sin is an issue. 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
Hebrews 6:4-6

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
Hebrews 10:26-27

These are familiar verses about condemnation and the exclusion of grace. An awful future for the people who are being described. But is that you? These verses clearly show that there is a group of people who are heading towards this destiny, so it’s not just a metaphor. Yet these verses are so commonly abused by religious people and by the devil, without any compassion or love. 

In the first place we have to make a clear distinction between falling for sin and persisting in sin, because there is a huge difference between those two. Basically this is an issue of the heart. In the previous study (How sin enters our life), I mentioned the process of how sin is able to enter our life. It starts with sinful thoughts. It demands an action from our side. Do we reject the thought or do we start to consider it as an option? When we start to consider it as an option, then it starts to root in our heart. 

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James 1:14-15

While our focus is on Jesus Christ, there are still desires in our flesh. These desires can and will tempt us, as these verses tell us. But watch closely to the process. There is temptation. Then there is the drawing away of our focus. Then there is the considering of the desire as an option. As a result, the desire can conceive. Then the first deed follows. And then it is followed by the second, third, fourth deed, and so on, until it is full-grown. In the end, the result is death. We know that we all are coming from sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10

This makes it clear that we all have been there and at times still are at a point of sin. This means that we all have fallen and have been drawn away by our own desires and enticed, to the point where the desire was conceived and gave birth to sin. Not a pleasant thought, is it? Yes, this can happen to the righteous as well. No one is better than the other. We are all just as guilty and are all in need of grace, including those who know to pretend very well. However, what happens from this point makes a big difference in our life. 

At the point where we’ve committed sin, our Friend and Helper, the Holy Spirit, comes in action. Then we start to hear His whisper, telling us that what we did was wrong. Convincing us that what we did was a sin in God’s eyes. At that moment, again we have a choice. We can choose to be convinced and listen to His voice, or to discard His voice. And even when we discard His voice, He will try again several times. So there are plenty of opportunities to listen and to do the right thing, which is to repent. Whatever you do, you will be convinced of sin. No doubt about it. But then you have to make a choice. How will you proceed from this point? 

Option 1: Repentance

The first option you have is that you listen to His voice and you let Him do His work in you. You let Him call you to reason. Then you repent, you confess your sins and you are forgiven. At that point the sin is still committed, but it will not be able to become full-grown. Even more, because of His grace and forgiveness, your sin is blotted away. As if you have never did it. 

Option 2: Repentance while in bondage

When we commit a sin, then it doesn’t always immediately brings us into bondage. But if we have lived a lifestyle of sin on certain areas, while doing the same sin over and over again, it definitely brings spiritual bondage. In that case we no longer have the liberty to stop with it on our own power. Yes, that can be very frustrating. Especially when you don’t want to do it, but fall for it each and every time. In this case you still need to repent each and every time, while each and every time making the decision in your heart that you don’t want this in your life. At the same time this is not just going away by repenting each and every time. What you need is deliverance of the spirits that are holding you captive to this sin. So go to your pastor and ask him to help you to be delivered from these spirits. If your pastor can’t help you or if you’re not part of a congregation, then ask God to help you to find someone, and start searching until you’ve found someone who is able to help you. If you do this together with God, He will let you find someone. Don’t give up!

Option 3: Persistence in sin with knowledge

And then there is this last category of people. They were renewed and once truly repented their selves. They were delivered from all evil spirits that were holding them captive. They were educated by the Holy Spirit and received the revelations of the Truth (which is Jesus Christ). They were friends of the Holy Spirit and acted in the gifts of the Spirit. They rose to high spiritual levels and witnessed things only a few have seen. And then they fell for sin. Along came their best Friend, the Holy Spirit, to help them to stand up again, since He doesn’t give up His friends so easily. But they refused His help. Willingly and knowingly they choose to persist in their wrong doing, and to be led in bondage again. With the full knowledge and understanding of what they were doing, they persistently choose against the Truth, and thus they choose against Jesus. By doing that, the Word of God says that “they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” For this there is no forgiveness, only condemnation. 

As you can see, you would actually have to do a lot to get at the point where you can no longer be forgiven. On the way to that point, the Holy Spirit will keep on drawing you, convincing you and calling you. Along the way you have plenty of chances to repent and to be restored. But once you have reached the point, as described in option 3, there is no way back. Those who are at that point know where they are and in what condition they are. They are no longer our brothers and sisters. But while reading the options above, I think you know in which category you can recognize your situation. Deep down inside, in your heart, you know at what point you are. As long as you still hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit and as long as you are still being convinced of sin in your heart, it means the Holy Spirit is still working in you. And that means that you haven’t reached the point of the unforgivable sin yet. Let hope arise in you, my friend. God isn’t finished with you yet. Full restoration can still be yours. When He forgives, He forgives 100%. When He restores, He restores at least 100%.

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