As we saw last time under the New
Covenant salvation from the wrath of God is provided as a free gift for
those who believe in Christ having been bought and paid for by the
blood of Christ and is not something one has to work for. Salvation
through faith in Christ is neither gained nor lost based upon a
person's performance. A person does not gain salvation by being good
nor does he lose it by sinning. Once a person has been saved they are
guaranteed eternal life and are eternally secure.
this idea has historically disturbed some people from the times of the
early church to the present. For what is it that prevents a person from
turning the grace of God into a license to sin. Jude writes, "Dear friends, although I was very
eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to
write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all
entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written
about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless
men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and
deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude 1:3,4
And from the fact that God's grace is magnified in his forgiveness of
our sins, Paul notes some making a false inference we read in Romans 3:8 "Why not say— as we are being
slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say— 'Let us
do evil that good may result'? Their condemnation is deserved."
Those people making those arguments are not saved. They don't embrace
the gospel, and consequently they are still under the sentence of
We saw last time that a cult had formed in the church at Jerusalem
which had added requirements to salvation. But clearly dealt with that
cult as recorded in the book of Acts and in his letter to the
Galatians. Yet since then there have been individuals and groups that
have misconceptions about the gospel and so they either add
requirements to it, which is referred to as legalism, or they advocate
that Christians should feel free to sin, which we call licentiousness.
Theologically it's called antinomianism.
But what is the answer to this latter position. Why shouldn't Christian
continue in sin. That's the topic I'll be dealing with today.
The idea that since the believer's salvation is not affected by sin
would lead such believers to live a lifestyle of sin simply never
actually occurs. It never happens. John writes about this in the first
phrase of 1John 3:9a "No one who has been born of God will continue to sin"
And he repeats this in 1John 5:18
"We know that anyone born of God
does not continue to sin." Yes there are believers who sin from
time to time, but don't continue in it. Sin is not characteristic of
their lives. Yet in the same letter he writes, "My dear children, I write this to you
so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who
speaks to the Father in our defense— Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1John 2:1,2a indicating that those
who have been saved might have less than perfect behavior.
And there are those who are "Christians" in name only who do continue
in a lifestyle of sin, but who were never actually saved to begin with.
Like those who left the faith of whom John wrote, "They went out from us, but they did
not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would
have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them
belonged to us." 1John 2:19
But no one who has been born of God will continue to sin. It just
The reason why it never occurs is because of what John says right after
that. The whole verse goes, "No
one who has been born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed
remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of
God." 1John 3:9 Because
he has been born of God. You see when a person comes to faith in Christ
not only are they given but they are also given two other things. The
book of Hebrews speaks of these three things given under the New
Covenant, "I will put my laws in
their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and
they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all
know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive
their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Heb
We spoke of that last thing previously - what we call justification -
the forgiveness of sins. But the first may be referred to as being
"born again". Jesus himself said,
"no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." John 3:3 And it's written in John 1:12 "To all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a
husband’s will, but born of God."
And Gal 3:26 "You are all sons of God through faith
in Christ Jesus."
Now the first time you're born what do you get? Among the things you
get is a body, a mind, a heart. When you're born again you get a new
mind, a new heart, and yes at the resurrection from the dead you will
receive a new body as Jesus did, and incorruptible body which Paul
elaborates upon in 1Corinthians 15 which I'll speak about at another
time. But right now the believer is changed inside. In fact it says in 2Cor 5:17, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" For example
Ezekiel prophecies, "I will give them
an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from
them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they
will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my
people, and I will be their God."
And notice this incorporates another thing you're given. As I
read from Hebrews 8 about what the New Covenant promised, it promised
also a personal relationship with God. Elsewhere this is associated
with the receiving of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the first
Christian sermon in Acts chapter 2 Peter promises, "Repent and be baptized, every one of
you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And
you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you
and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord
our God will call." Acts
2:38,39 The Holy Spirit is given to everyone who believes such
that Paul writes in Romans 8:9b "if anyone does not have the Spirit of
Christ, he does not belong to Christ."
So for those who have come to believe the gospel, God writes his law on
our minds and hearts, he gives us a new heart, an undivided heart and
puts his Spirit in us. All these things move us to do the things which
are right such that righteous behavior becomes more natural than
unrighteousness behavior. There is still a struggle involved though,
because we still have a sinful nature. Thus Paul writes, "live by the Spirit, and you will not
gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires
what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the
sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not
do what you want." Gal
5:16,17 Those who have born of God only sin reluctantly.
Regret drives us back into right behavior.
But there are those who only have a surface knowlege of Christ,
never having been born again of whom he says, "If they have escaped the corruption of
world by knowing about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again
entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they
were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have
known about the way of righteousness, than to have known about it and
then to turn
their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them
the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to
its vomit,' and, 'A sow that
is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'" 2Peter 2:20-22
There are people who get involved with Christianity merely to
reform their lives, but never coming to genuine faith in Christ and
thus do not become born again and while they know about Christ, they do
not know Christ personally. A dog goes back to its vomit because it's a
dog. That's its nature. A sheep doesn't go back to its vomit. A pig
goes back to wallowing in the mud because that's it's nature. A sheep
doesn't. Jesus said, "My sheep listen
to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 That's the natural
behavior of his sheep.
How can you tell whether a person has been born of God? By their
behavior. John writes, "This is
how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the
devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God;
nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10 And Jesus said said, "By their fruit you will recognize
them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad
fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear
good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and
thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not
everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.."
Mt 7:16-21 Here he is not
talking about how to be saved, but rather diagnosing
whether a person is saved. You can identified those born of God by
their behavior. Thus Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves to see whether you
are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus
is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5