Again, feel free to challenge this. But I also hope that you give me scriptural arguments so I can study it too.
Duncan’s second question is something a lot of Christians struggle with, including me. But God has been amazing in answering me as I humbly asked Him how to reply to Duncan:
What happens to people who take advantage of the fact that God is no longer imputing sin unto them (2 Cor 5:19) because by one sacrifice he perfected forever them that are sanctified(Heb10:14) and they continue CRAVING 4 SIN not just falling short,they go out looking for it?
From personal experience, people who continue in sin are those who never really fully understood that the ability to say “no” to the sin is also from Jesus. They think that God’s work ends in forgiving, and living the holy life is something that they must do on their own. And when they fail — which they will, sooner or later — they get discouraged and give up.I guess they forget that the Holy Spirit came to live in us and empower us to obey. Jesus died, rose again and returned to the Father. But he did not leave us orphans. He sent the Holy Spirit.
I love how Ptr. Prince reminded us of what Jesus said the Spirit will do: He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8) Ptr. Prince reminded us that because we have accepted Jesus’ work on our behalf to save us, and follow Him as Lord, we will no longer be convicted of judgment and sin. What the Holy Spirit does now is to convict us of righteousness: the righteousness we have in Christ.
In Ryrie, to convict “means to set forth the truth of the gospel in such a clear light that men are able to accept or reject it intelligently.” So when we share the gospel, it is the Holy Spirit who opens their minds and hearts to see the truth of it, but He will not manipulate them to accept Jesus.
For Christians still enslaved to sinful habits, I believe with all my heart that what they need more is to be reminded that they are forgiven, and if they ask it, they will be strengthened to live in the freedom of obedience.
Although sometimes, it is other christians who make it more difficult for the struggling brother or sister. Some sin bondages took years to gain mastery over the person, and so there are times when the experience of freedom from that bondage will take a long time to manifest. Sexual sin, for example, has been found to be possibly rooted in childhood exposure to sex, whether by molestation, exposure to pornography (accidentally, sometimes–if child walks into the TV room and Daddy or older brother was watching porn), or (in my case) accidentally walking into the bedroom while daddy and mommy are having sex. Spiritual freedom from this bondage is instant: Jesus’ blood washed away that sin, done. Period. But experiencing the freedom from the habit will not always be instant. Sometimes it’ll take years of struggle to make the right choice, to choose not to look at those pictures, to choose not to fantasize. But every time they choose to rely on the Spirit and say no, they get strengthened. They may fall back, but it doesn’t always mean backsliding. Simply that the enemy is putting up a fight. He knows he cannot have the saved soul anymore, but he can make it ineffective by distracting it with feelings of guilt and self-condemnation for failing — again — to resist the temptation.
What happens to them? They get more discouraged and turn away from the church in shame, and indulge in it even more. As you said, they go out looking for it. I believe that these people are still saved and will still get to heaven (and be very surprised that they made it!), but they would have missed out on the wonders of living their earthly life by God’s grace, and helping other people out of the same bondage. I believe that these people need help. They need to be reminded that God is not offended by their sin for two reasons:
1) Because He is all-knowing, He has already seen that you will fall, so He is not surprised or shocked by it;
2) Because Jesus has already died and paid for the sin, rising again to show that the death sentence for sin has been fulfilled, He forgives every instance of sin. EVERY.
I have found that the best way to strengthen them is to be willing to expose our own weakness and dependence on Jesus’ Holy Spirit. I don’t mean tell them all your past sin. But sometimes the Spirit leads you to talk about a certain experience that will show them that they are not the only ones who have struggled, and that if Jesus helps you, of course He will help them overcome as well. “I am not more special than you,” I would tell them. “And you are definitely NOT less special than me.”
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will not lead me into telling them about my past. Sometimes He will just make me ask leading questions that help them discover the truth for themselves: that they ARE forgiven, and that God is not angry with them even if they fall again because even that fall has been covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross, and that the experience of victory is not always instant. Sometimes, He works to establish a new habit to replace the old, and that’s not an instant thing. I encourage them to focus on how the Spirit has caused them to be victorious more than how they have failed.
Ptr. Prince calls that being Jesus-conscious instead of sin-conscious. Because it is true, that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. So if they keep focusing on how they are “failing” God, guess what they’ll think of themselves: failures. And more often than not, they’ll stop trying to do the right thing and give up. But if they focus on Jesus’ finished work for our forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s continuing work for our holiness, then how will they see themselves? Forgiven and holy. And without having to struggle to be forgiven and holy.
Let’s help them see themselves in Jesus as Jesus says they are: saved, forgiven, holy and pleasing. Let’s assure them that every failure, every falling back to the old sin is forgiven, and that the Holy Spirit is willing and able and powerful to help them overcome. If there is anything they can do, it’s to persevere in faith: keep believing the truth that they are forgiven, that they are now righteous, that God is pleased with them because of what Jesus has done on their behalf. They are ALREADY ACCEPTED. If they believe these about themselves, then surely — even if slowly — they will eventually experience the victory that has been theirs all along.
When you believe the right things about yourself (things that Jesus say you are), you will find yourself doing the right things that God has prepared for you to do, and you will be amazed!