Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Sin and Faith

VIEWPOINT



Looking at the Bible verses in the FACT column, it becomes easy to understand why so many people feel complacent. All you have to do is pick out something that helps you define the your sin as the kind that does not lead to death. Or, better yet, you can just declare that the laws that define sin do not apply to you because you are "not under the law". That kind of thinking is common in today's churches, but does not conform to what God tells us in the Bible. Remember, the final judgment is not going to be done by your pastor, but by the One who made the rules we are breaking.

FACT


The Bible tells us that there is no human who has not sinned (Romans 3:10
10As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;"

, Romans 3:23
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

). According to the Bible, sin leads to death (Romans 6:23
23For the wages of sin is death

). However, the same Bible says that not all sin leads to death (1 John 5:17
17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

). And finally, the Bible tells us how to "get to Heaven" (John 3:16
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

).

But, it also says that it's not that easy to get in:

Matthew 7:13-14
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 13But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

and Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



The FACT box gives us a few things to consider if our goal is to spend eternity with Jesus and His Father.

The trouble is that very few people go beyond the simple thought, "I want to be in that group". They seem to feel that if they want to be there, that is enough to be included. What few stop to realize is that relatively very few people are going to be included in that special group of people. There are a number of factors that will cause this, and we are told about every one of them. None of them are hidden, but it seems that almost no one knows what they are.

Yeah, I know this sounds odd, but, please, just hear me out. First, remember what Jesus said about who will find the way to eternal life?

14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14)

Why would He say such a limiting thing if it was as easy as claiming to believe? There are over two billion people in the world who claim to believe in Christ. That is far more than "a few", so obviously not all of them have "found it", but only think they have. Maybe it's not that you believe, but what you believe. Many think that it is as simple as saying to yourself (or in prayer), "I believe that Jesus will give me eternal life." They pray for it, use all the Christian words like "Bless you.", "May God grace you with happiness.", "We're praying for you.", and other nice things that "prove" they love their neighbor. But, the one thing they rarely address is the main thing that will keep most people out of the Kingdom of Heaven - sin.

"Sin?? We try not to sin!"

OK, define sin. The first problem with those who say this is that most of them have no idea of what the word "sin" even means in their own lives. Oh, they know not to murder or steal or be an adulterer, but will not go beyond the ten commandments to see what sin really is. Even at that, they do not obey all ten commandments. The Bible clearly defines sin, but most who read or hear what it says immediately rejects the definition they are given as being for someone else. No, really! You will see examples in a moment.

"But, I have faith!"

The second problem is the use of the word "faith". People say, "I believe, so I will be saved!" Believe what? If you ask them, they will say something like, "I believe that Jesus will overlook my sins and save me!" Ask them why and you get something like, "Because He promised that He would." and then a quote of John 3:16
6For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

.

So people don't really know what defies sin, and they have faith in the vague idea that if they claim to believe in Christ, they will be saved. If it were really that simple, everyone would find salvation. The Bible tells us not only that this will not happen, but "few find it" (Matthew 7:14
14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

). What does that mean to you?

As was evident in Sodom and Gomorrah, people, even "Christians" have become so comfortable with sin that they have stopped searching the word for the will of God. If you do not seek something, you will usually not find it. Sin is clearly defined in the Bible, but modern Christianity has become so numbed to the way sin has become "acceptable" in our churches that they cannot see the sin in their own lives. They do not repent because they do not recognize it as sin. If you do not repent, you cannot be forgiven.

Yes, Jesus forgives, but that forgiveness is thrown away if you cherish the sin that initiated your need for repentance, thereby cancelling the forgiveness (Luke 17:3
3So watch yourselves. "If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

, John 8:11
11"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you,"Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

, John 5:1414Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."

, and worse yet Matthew 18:21-35
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"At this the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

). Contrary to popular opinion, one time forgiveness does not apply to future sins, only those in the past for which we have repented and have been forgiven. Otherwise, we would not need to forgive "seventy-seven times". (Matthew 18:22
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

)

What is sin?

Let's take a closer look. For this page, let's keep the definition of sin within the Christian definition. How does the Bible define sin? The most direct verse is 1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

. Written well after the death of Jesus (about 85-95 A.D.), this definition contradicts nearly every pastor on the planet by confirming that God's law still matters to "everyone". Notice that this verse does not say, "Every Israelite who sins...". The commonly accepted understanding of the audience for this letter is "believers" (from the Introduction to 1 John in the NIV). If John is speaking to believers after the death of Jesus and linking sin to breaking the law, then the law still applies to Gentiles as well as Jews. In fact, the opening line in 1 John 2:1 tells us the purpose of the letter:

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Clearly, his point is that the ideal is to not sin. If sinning is breaking the law, then his point is not to break the law. If you do break the law, then recognize the sin and repent, then we have an advocate with the Father. Hopefully, this "deep philosophical reasoning and logic" from the Bible is not above the heads of those reading this. Now, what laws are the ones we are not to break?

If sin is breaking the law...

Well, since John is not specific with any kind of list, that leaves us with "the laws of God". How do we know this? The second half of the verse above describes who is offended if we break a law - the Father. If we do sin, "we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus". Here is where everyone nods solemnly and walks away as though justified in continuing to sin because "Jesus will save them" if they simply repent and ask forgiveness when they sin. Now, this is a true statement, up to a point.

But wait! Moving down two verses to verse 3 of 1 John 2, we see this:

3We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Add that passage to Matthew 18:21-35
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"At this the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

, and you will see what most Christians are not taught in their churches.

"I can't live like Jesus, He was a Jew..."

Jesus kept the commands of the Father, and so we must also. Now if you ask anyone where we can find the commands of the Father, what are you told? Usually, the answer is, "In the Old Testament." Immediately, they will try to add, "But, we don't have to follow those any more!" So, John is lying to us? When these same people are asked, "Based on what verse?", they send us to Galatians or Hebrews and magically twist a statement that says, "the law alone will not save you" into, "See? We don't have to follow the law!" When asked, "Says who?", the answer is most often, "My pastor! And, he studied, so he is smart!"

If you think about this, that means that some of the writers of the Gospels tell us one thing, and the other writers are supposedly contradicting them. I guess all we have to do is pick the opinions we like and we are all saved anyway. According to that, no matter what we choose to believe, we are all in the right place? That doesn't make any sense when you compare it to Matthew 7:14
14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

. There is only one road to salvation - the narrow one following Jesus - and, again, "few find it".

Someone is wrong

OK, let's take a look at that. In just a few verses, John tells us that sin is breaking the law, the law is from the Father, Jesus followed the law, we must live as Jesus did, and few will do that. Jesus kept the Sabbath, did not eat unclean "junk food", did not mix paganism with His worship, kept all of God's holy days, and taught everyone around him to do the same. When He saw people trying to lead others astray by changing God's laws with traditions, He made a very loud point of it. (Matthew 23:13
13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

)

If your pastor teaches that the law doesn't apply to Gentiles, he is calling John and Paul liars. That pastor's traditions are contrary to what the Bible teaches, what John said, what Paul said, and what Jesus did. Following any of that pastor's un-Biblical traditions will lead to sin, so you should make a loud point of it the same way that Jesus did. Easy? No way.

But if we don't stand up for Jesus, He will not stand up for us (Matthew 10:33
33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

).

Let's find out who's wrong

Now, what does the Bible teach that must be identified as sin in today's world? Not following any one of God's instructions qualifies, but there are an important few that really stand out. How about keeping the Sabbath according to the fourth commandment? Yet, there are very few pastors in this entire country that encourage their flock to do that very thing.

Disobeying God is wrong...but, maybe God changed His mind

Are these pastors right? If you disagree with keeping God's Sabbath, find anywhere in the very Bible that you claim to believe where God said not to keep His holy day holy. You won't find it. If you ask a pastor, he will find passages that are out of context and twist them to convince you that they really mean what he says. The only problem is that, in order to see them his way, you must have his education, knowledge, and experience, all of which he received from someone else who did not follow the Bible. And, if you believe that pastor, you must deal with the contradictions that arise with other Biblical verses. If that's the case, why do we even read the Bible if we cannot take it for what it actually says?

Not obeying is one thing, but defiance by changing His command is another

Even worse, they say that they have chosen Sunday to keep because Jesus rose on that day, instead of keeping the day God made holy for worship and rest. In other words, they keep Sunday instead of the Sabbath because they want to - with no command or even a release from God to do so. The only "celebrations" commanded by God for a on the day we call Sunday is the Feast of Firstfruits and Pentecost (Feast of Weeks), both kept only once a year, not weekly.

Firstfruits is a short ceremony held minutes after sundown on the Sabbath following Passover, thereby showing that the Sabbath is still to be kept. This feast foreshadowed the resurrection of Christ. This is not a congregational gathering on Sunday morning at 11:00.

Pentecost is an annual special Sabbath feast during which you are not to do any regular work, regardless of which day of the week on which it falls (see Leviticus 23 for a description of the original feasts). This one Christians never keep even though it is the "birthday" of the Christian church by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Keeping Sunday is not a sin as long as you also keep God's Sabbath. But putting your wishes above those of God, by doing your will instead of His, is called idolatry. That will keep a person out of the Kingdom of Heaven (Colossians 3:5
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 9nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

).

Mixing paganism with Christianity

How about mixing paganism with Christianity by celebrating Christmas, Easter, and Halloween - all pagan holidays adopted by early "Christianity"? Any pastor worth his salt knows that these are pagan holidays adopted by Christianity to make peace with the Romans back in the third and fourth centuries - and even as early as the second. Yet that same pastor will try to justify it, as does John MacArthur, by saying they are only using these holidays to teach people about Christ. You can see what I mean in a 1 minute video by MacArthur at Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?.

"But, I have a good reason...!"

In that short 1 minute video, Mr. MacArthur justifies ignoring God's clear commandments in Deuternonomy 12:2-4, 31-32
2Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

4You must not worship the Lord your God in their way.

and

31You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
, Deuteronomy 18:9
9When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

and Jeremiah 10:2
2 This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.

, by saying that if you have a "good reason" you can disobey God. He even acknowledges the pagan origin of Christmas, yet feels it is fine to use a pagan ritual to "Christianize" pagans that was first used by the pagans to "paganize" Christians. All this after these pastors know that God said not to do so. I guess the fact that you disagree with God is good enough reason to defy Him. Then again, isn't that the definition of disobedience?

Faith

The second part of this issue, though closely related to the first part, is faith. Most people calling themselves Christian will insist that they have faith in Christ. Just to tie this in with the discussion above, faith can easily be misdirected even when one thinks he is following God. The discussion above about John MacArthur endorsing paganism in Christian worship is a perfect example.

"I love you Lord, so - No! I won't do what you say!"

He is certain that disobeying God is the perfect way to demonstrate his faith in God. Did you get that? He has faith that God will commend him not only for disobedience, but in the teaching of others to disobey. The God I know from the Bible does not want us to show our love for Him by disobeying His commands. So, is that faith that MacArthur claims really a faith in Someone that is real, or in something that he has created in his own mind and church?

"It's not sin if I change it to not be a law."

Another example of misplaced faith is that John MacArthur has faith in his own ability to change the ten commandments to make one of them, the fourth one, temporary. I guess that should have been the nine commandments and the ceremony. He said that the Sabbath, formerly covered in the fourth commandment, is a ceremonial festival and no longer a commandment to anyone (you can see this at Grace to You). He "justifies" his stand by tying the Sabbath commandment to the sacrificial system with some magical threads, thereby taking a day that God made holy at creation and discarding it as no longer sanctified. And he does all this without one word from God to do so. Oh, he quotes verses from the Bible, but his claims that they support his argument require a narrow interpretation of the dozens of reference texts. When viewed that way, they cause contradictions with other Biblical texts.

Pope John MacArthur?

He twists the meaning of Colossians 2:16-17
16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (ESV)

NOTE: I have used the ESV here because it interprets the Greek correctly instead of adding the past tense shown in the NIV, "These are a shadow of the things that were to come" (emphasis added), which changes the meaning of the verse. Paul was speaking of things of the future, not something that was already done.

, Romans 10:4
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

, and Galatians 5:1
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

to justify a meaning those passages do not even address. Rather than telling them not to do these things, Paul can also be speaking to the people who observe these things properly, telling them not to let anyone judge them for it. Since the Feast of Tabernacles is going to be mandatory for the nations during the Millennium (Zechariah 14:16
16Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

), Paul can't be telling people not to worry about keeping the feasts or the Sabbath.

But, the result MacArthur seeks is to take one of the commandments of God and make it of no effect by twisting the word of the very God who set the commandment up in the first place. So, according to him, the best way to remove sin from your life is to declare that it is no longer a law so you can go ahead and break it. His faith seems to be in his own power to change God's commandments into suggestions and yet supposedly stay in the will of God. Where have we heard of anyone doing this before?

"God didn't say it, but He must have meant that..."

But, shouldn't we check with God before we redefine something He set up? You will not find a single place in the Bible that changes the ten commandments, yet all Sunday pastors deny that breaking the Sabbath is disobedience to God. If you do any historical research, you will find that the Catholic Church actually takes credit for the change (see copy of the letter here
, or you can see it at Blow the Trumpet) and laughs at the Protestants who follow their lead. Maybe people should take a look at Revelation 13:3
3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.

. While the Catholic Church may not be the antichrist, they are setting the stage for when he comes on the scene. If people are already disobedient to God, how hard will it be for him to lead them further astray?

Faith in who?

Most Christians have faith in Jesus, at least the Jesus they hear about in the sermons. But, Jesus has at least two sides that we know about - the Loving God and the Just God Who will judge the world. If you have faith in only the "Good Guy" Jesus and do not respect the "Judge of the world Guy", then you do not have faith in the real Jesus - He is both. The Real Jesus expects us to stay in the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

). You can't get any more blatant than that.

Worship the real God of the Bible

Faith in anything that comes between you and the real God is called idolatry. Idolatry is sin and will keep you out of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9
9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

). To set yourself up to directly contradict the word of God, and teach others to do likewise, smacks of idolatry.

While there are many other examples of sin, we should all make sure that everything we do is in God's will. If we find out that we may be wandering outside the lines, according to the clear word of the Bible, we need to correct the situation or be prepared for the consequences (2 Corinthians 10:5, Hebrews 10:26-27
5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.(2 Corinthians 10:5)

and

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26-27)
). If the Bible says it is sin, then we should not be doing it. If the Bible says it is sin, and our pastor says it is OK, we need to seek another church. It is difficult to make this much more clear than that.

Those rules "aren't for us"?

Sin is whatever God has said it is, and it is so for anyone who does it. Unless He changed the rules, all of them still apply. Some say that God only gave some rules to the Israelites, but they don't apply to the rest of the world. Well, if we can see that some of them do apply to the Gentiles, and they were given only to the Israelites, how do we decide which to disobey?

Take the situation in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. There was a Gentile man breaking a rule God set down in Leviticus 18 that was not even in the ten commandments. Paul was reading the Gentile church the riot act because they were proud of their actions in supporting the man. Paul even claimed outright that he had judged
3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.

the man "in the name of our Lord Jesus" and he wasn't even there!

If that one applies...

So, if God only gave Leviticus 18 to the Israelites, but Paul applied it to the Gentiles to identify sin, what does that mean to us? If God gives something to the Israelites so they can glorify Him to the rest of the world, why wouldn't we want to follow and do the same thing? Following the law doesn't make us legalists unless we do it without faith (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

). True faith is demonstrated when we show that we understand God's message and stay within it by being obedient. We should obey because we are saved, not in order to be saved.

So, what is the bottom line?

Sin is breaking God's law. Faith is believing that Jesus and His Father know what is best for us and following them will keep us from sin. Wanting to hear something that makes you more comfortable but does not fall into these guidelines is a confirmation of 2 Timothy 4:2-4:

2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Note the opening verse above. Paul doesn't say "coddle, tolerate and overlook", but "correct, rebuke and encourage". He is saying that when you see people going outside the lines, point it out and help them to return to God's will. This is another way of saying that in the last times, people will become comfortable with sin and turn away from the truth. Look around you, especially in your church. It is happening. You, as the one who recognizes it in the church, are the one to take this action that Paul is recommending to Timothy - and to the rest of us. If you cannot help the offenders because they will not listen, then you should consider another church (1 Corinthians 5:11
11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

).

Identify sin, make sure you are on solid ground, but stand firm!

Don't be one with itching ears who looks for a comfortable sermon. Paul told Timothy, and Jesus warned, that life in Jesus will not be easy (2 Timothy 3:12
12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

, Matthew 10:22
22You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

). Make sure you are not led astray by pastors who say what you want to hear out of a need to keep their pews full. There are plenty of them out there, and they are as popular as sin.







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