By Don Bantum
Many years ago, I struggled with the entire sin and forgiveness issue between God and myself. Although I was and had been forgiven, I didn’t fully understand just what that meant, because of how the truth of it had been distorted (and continues to be erroneously presented) by much of mankind’s organized “religion” and its related, sectarian, doctrinal teachings.
The first thing we need to address is, the definition of the word “sin”, in God’s eyes. What does Jesus say sin is?
John 16:5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in ME;
So as we can plainly see, one of the Holy Spirits duties is to, “convict the WORLD OF GUILT, in regard to SIN, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUDGMENT.”
So what’s the WORLDS SIN? Jesus said its, “unbelief in HIM”! That’s as plain as it gets. I don’t know how to emphasize that anymore than it is? This is an extremely important verse of scripture, you need to memorize, and never let loose of. The world’s sin is unbelief in Jesus.
We are NOT the WORLD we have in fact come to Jesus by GRACE, through FAITH. As it say’s in Paul’s epistle to the:
(Ephesians 2:1-9) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So since we belong to Jesus, by his mercy and grace, and through faith in him, we become brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus himself. So we are not the world any longer. And as it says above in verse 9, “not by works, so that NO ONE CAN BOAST.” We see also in verse 10, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
And again in:
1 John 3:9. No one who is 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.
Remember, God’s definition of “SIN” is unbelief in Jesus. Once you’ve come to the knowledge of the truth, you can’t return to NOT KNOWING. Salvation is life, and the life is Jesus Christ, who is GOD. Knowing that God raised Him from the dead, and placing saving faith in that fact, there is NO WAY to go back to not knowing what you know!
Once you’ve been saved, you are saved for eternity. Salvation is LIFE, and the Life you received is Christ’s life in you, and Jesus is eternal life. He said He will never leave you or forsake you. All the sin of the world has been punished at the cross. Jesus took ALL your sins and mine, and placed them on Himself, and the penalty for those sins is and was death. Jesus took that death for you, in your place at the cross, some 2,000 years ago. He cried out from the cross, “it is finished.” The only sin that remained was the sin of unbelief in Christ.
Consequently, any feelings of GUILT today are coming from Satan, not any person of the Trinity. Satan is the accuser of the brethren.
God’s total forgiveness is virtually impossible to fully comprehend, whether one is in Christ or not. God’s love is simply too deep and too wide for any human to understand its totality.
1 Corinthians 2:9. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” —
If you lack the knowledge and understanding of how God views you, the very next time you commit a sin, you’ll feel just as dirty and ugly, just as you did before you received Jesus, and Satan will make certain you feel as though you’ve not been saved at all. Even though you think you know your sins were forgiven, Satan-imposed guilt will fill you with doubt. Why? Because you have probably been convinced your sins were only forgiven up to the moment you received Christ into your life. This fallacy is what many members of the clergy teach, i.e., God simply made the down payment on your salvation by sending Christ to the cross, and now its up to you to keep yourself saved by continuing to make those salvation-maintaining payments. The idea being if you fail to keep your salvation account current, by way of perpetual confession, you’ll no longer remain a child of God and eventually be lost forever.
This is the kind of forgiveness being presented by many, if not most, of the proponents of organized religion and its hierarchy. They have either forgotten or never known the following:
Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
God puts our sins behind His back, as His word proclaims in:
Isaiah 38:17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.
We become the very righteousness of God. And as we read in:
Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
So you can live a guilt free existence before God, if you continue to walk in and by the same faith you had in Jesus at the moment of your conversion.
However, Satan isn’t going to leave you alone, and he’ll waste no time trying to get you back under the law of dead works, condemnation and guilt. So while he may no longer possess you, he is capable of robbing from you the joy of your salvation, and keeping you from telling others why Jesus came and what He has accomplished on their behalf. The guilt you feel, heaped on your back by Satan, tends to seal your lips.
God must keep renewing our minds with truth, and reminding us of what I cite on all my websites:
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember NO MORE.” And where these HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (Hebrews 10:17-18)
The message in that verse of Scripture is the primary reason I have a website, so I may publish the fact that we are all forgiven and there is no reason for us to hide from God. He isn’t looking for us so He can punish us. He has placed ALL our sins on Jesus, and the punishment he took for us, was death. Jesus died in our place 2,000 years ago. So the reason He is seeking us out is so He can throw his loving arms around us, calling each of us His very own child, and loved us as we have never been loved before. He will also give each of us a life pressed down and overflowing with grace and peace, joy unspeakable and blessings we’ve never known before.
In case you may not be aware of it, this is a description of God:
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
So when Jesus comes to live in each of us, we too can possess these qualities, if we’ll but yield to the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We need to resist Satan’s efforts to place guilt-driven doubts in our minds, and trust the Lord; as Paul has written:
”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Does Paul have a clear understanding here of what we’re all up against? You bet he does, because the same Satan, who is trying to make our lives miserable, did his best to make Paul’s life miserable, as well. He hoped to keep him from spreading the gospel of love and peace to a lost world. He was hoping to shut Paul’s mouth, because Paul was helping to set the captives free, which is what Jesus did long ago on the cross. Satan is counting on silencing our voices as well.
Did Satan’s plan work and silence St. Paul? On the contrary, it did just the opposite. It caused Paul to take that message of love and grace still further, and that message has eventually spread all over the world, even to us.
So when you find yourself under attack by Satan, sing praises to Jesus the King. That’s the perfect time to find somebody to witness to about the love and grace of Jesus Christ and what it is that He has done for YOU; i.e.,
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Be BOLD, not timid. Tell somebody about Jesus every chance you get, that’s what we are to be doing, because we have been made priests of God, ministers and ambassadors of the New Covenant, upon which we have taken our stand.
That includes every believer in Jesus the Christ. Not just pastors and those gathering in “church” buildings. YOU are a minister! Each of us should be promulgating the same message we heard when we came to Jesus.
You say you feel unworthy? You’re right; you are unworthy. We all are unworthy. Worthy is the Lamb of God, not the sheep. We are God’s sheep. We have all gone astray, and we all need the love and grace of God. It’s time to impart that same message of love and grace to others. Tell them of the hope within YOU, and how it is you came to Jesus for life, and received that life, through faith in His word.
Share your testimony with people you chance to meet. That’s how the kingdom grows, by word of mouth. We have the privilege of sharing the gospel message with others, so they too may come to faith in Jesus Christ, and receive His free gift of life. We may have WORKS that will follow us right into heaven itself. You may not have written a book on the subject as did the apostle Paul, or have a website, or have a church like some. But you have a MOUTH; open it for Jesus’ sake! If you don’t speak, who will? You may be the only “Bible” or sermon some people will ever read or hear; so speak the truth in love, just as someone, for Christ’s sake did for YOU. You responded to the message you heard, and there are many others that will respond to that same message of love -- through your witness.
Speak to those around you, and leave the results in God’s hands. Allow your message to be full of God’s word, as HIS word will never return to Him void, but will instead reap a harvest of love. All you need do is bring that message with YOU where ever YOU go. God didn’t instruct us to go any particular place and preach, but rather to preach the word of God as we go, in the life He provides us.
You need not be a missionary in darkest Africa to be God’s witness; you just need to witness to somebody close by. Open your mouth for Jesus’ sake, and especially when our enemy, Satan, is attacking you. Don’t allow the devil to defeat you, or keep you from delivering the message entrusted to YOU. You aren’t to hide your light under a bushel, which is what Satan wants you to do. Every time he comes at you with guilt, and condemnation, let that remind you through Jesus Christ, all your sin and guilt have been taken away, by the very blood of Jesus. Pass that same message on to somebody else who is also being attacked, and who needs to hear that they, too, have been forgiven, and have been provided everything they need for life and godliness.
When you err, and you will, as do I, you will be assailed by the accuser of the brethren to make you feel ashamed and put you under guilt and condemnation. Do you want to defeat the devil? The only way to do that is through the blood of Jesus, and Jesus will do it all for you. However, if you want to keep the enemy at bay, you may choose to try what I’ve just suggested. Share, the message of life, not just with friends and people you know, but also with total strangers.
When Paul was traveling the world for the sake of the gospel, he didn’t know any of those people, but many came to believe his message. What a great way to grow your family, as well as the family and kingdom of God.
We fall victim all the time to guilt and condemnation, because we are always screwing up. That’s no surprise to God, he knows we’re just human, and as such, we are given to failure in this body of flesh.
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
Therefore, if none is righteous not even one, do you think it might be easy for Satan to find victims to harass on a constant basis? We are ALL easy targets, but we, unlike the lost world, HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN! And we’ve learned to REST in that fact, as Paul writes in,
(Galatians 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Such “bondage” is the affect of the law. We aren’t under law, but under grace, and we have been set free from the law of sin and death. So don’t allow yourselves to be beat up so easily, just remember the one who set you free, and the price He paid to make you a gift of that freedom. Stand firm in the grace of Jesus Christ.
More often then not, when Satan is accusing us of not being forgiven, saved, or even a real Christian, he uses our own voice to attack us. By placing those thoughts in our minds, they sound like our thoughts. But they aren't, he’s putting them there. It seems like we are accusing ourselves, but it’s the enemy. We need to recognize where these thoughts are coming from and dismiss them at once. Satan is and was a liar from the beginning.
If that isn’t working, he'll enlist our own family members or friends against us. They can be upset themselves and say horrible things to us, as we do to them and others, when we are being controlled by the flesh or Satan instead of the love of God. We don't even realize we’re being used at that moment as a tool of the devil. How sad it is, when God’s own children are being used by Satan to discourage or verbally abuse and attack one another. When we ought to be praying for and encouraging one another. Instead all to often, we are abusing each other, saying mean things to our own brothers and sisters, when we need each other’s help the most. James tells us in his epistle:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Is that good news or what? All we need do is resist. I’m sorry to say there just doesn’t seem to be enough resisting taking place. I hate to admit it, but we’ve all been used by the enemy to beat-up our own brothers and sisters in the Lord, at a time when they may have been at their weakest point. We need to be more sensitive to the people around us, because we are all under attack. So let’s pray for one another, and not be afraid to let people in the Lord know we too are under attack. This way we can lift one another up in prayer, and encourage one another with God’s word.
God will continue to bless us all according to his riches in glory. We are blessed of all people. Believe this, and stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ. †††
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