Can We Get Away With Sin After We Are Saved?
By Billie Marie Zal
The “popular Gospel” that is preached today is not “Paul’s Gospel.” And in God’s Word, Paul himself states, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).
And then again, in the following verse: “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).
In this book (Galatians), which is one of Paul’s letters to the converts, he also reprimands them when he says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel, which is not another; but there are some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).
How can this man so boldly state that anyone who preaches contrary to what he preaches can be and should be “accursed?” Because not long after the Lord Jesus left this earth, and sent down His Holy Spirit to convince us all of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, the people who had followed Him began to see that to obey His Word meant isolation and often times separation from loved ones and friends. The world would indeed hate them. Jesus said so. And the Apostle Paul fulfilled that Word when he was treated with contempt and persecution most of his life.
People do not want anyone to hate them. We have a soft society, a society of individuals who know nothing of sacrifices, of living a holy life in an unholy world.
We should be ready from the moment we are born again by revelation from God Almighty to be treated exactly like Jesus Christ was treated when He walked this earth in human form. The Jewish nation had their own religion and a system that made certain individuals within their religious world less than the “higher up” ones - the Pharisees. They were the ones who hated Jesus most because His life threatened their own importance and pride. They didn’t want to lose “the system.”
Even after His resurrection from the dead, and after appearing before upwards of 500 people, the Jews still rejected Him.
But they had one last chance. There was a man named Saul, a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” as the Bible tells us, who hated those who had turned to the Lord Jesus Christ. He believed them to be blasphemers, and helped in having them executed. In fact, Saul was a consenting witness at the execution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stephen had been brought before a council to be accused or charged with speaking “against this holy place and the law.” If you want to see this for yourself, read the book of the Acts of Apostles. It’s in the Book!
Saul, upon hearing Stephen’s answer to this charge, of saying that his countrymen always opposed God, believed that God could actually live in a Temple, and betrayed and killed the Messiah, made Saul so filled with hatred that he was “consenting unto Stephen’s death, and held the clothing of those who stoned Stephen until he died.”
We can’t really fault Saul; he knew nothing of this “new group of people” who gave up their lives for the sake of the Gospel. To him, everything that he held dear - the Law, the Temple, the traditions of his people - were at risk so he set about to help wipe them out. How, he thought, could a man who had been hanged on a cross (where even the Scriptures say that, “a hanged man is accursed by God”), be thought of as a Messiah?
Paul later wrote, “I persecuted the Church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13).
But look at what happens, and see how God works! Saul, no matter what he thought, or felt, or believed, was elected by God to receive the Mystery of the Church, something that had never before been revealed to any man. And Saul, a man who had persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ, now became Paul, after the Glorified, Risen Christ appeared to him on the Damascus Road, blinded him with His marvelous Light, and gave him the new birth.
Paul did not go immediately to any man. Instead, he went to the desert where he remained, some say, for up to seven years, receiving the doctrine of the “Heavenly Church” from God Himself by spiritual revelation.
When he did finally come back and visit with the Apostles who had been with Jesus in the flesh, he knew something that they had never known, for they belonged to the “Hebrew Church,” God’s elected people throughout the ages.
So Paul was forced with the reality that he could never “belong” to that company, except to love them as brothers in Christ. He was a chosen man for a chosen generation from that time on. And we are part of that chosen generation.
We try to follow the “law” whether we realize it or not. We find it difficult to really believe that Jesus Christ BECAME sin on our behalf, then went to the grave after shedding His blood as the perfect sacrifice for the Father’s acceptance of all of us, and then arose and we arose IN Him. We are a new Body, and Christ is our Head in Heaven where He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father’s Throne, ever living to make intercession for us.
If all of this is too difficult to comprehend, ask God’s Spirit to open the reality of it, and give you that joy which accompanies the revelation of being already IN Christ, in Glory.
This revelation makes us “outsiders.” We don’t belong to this world, only to the next. We suffer ridicule, poverty (often times because other Christians do not understand us or what we are doing), and it would be so easy to compromise God’s Truth and join the crowd. It’s lonely out here.
But this is where Christians who are born again often stumble and never regain that joy that is theirs at the moment of salvation or the new birth.
I had that joy and believed that it would never go away. But as the weeks went by I realized that I had a battle on my hands, something unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I did not WANT to live in sin again, ever. But what I did not realize was, that SELF is still very much alive because while our spirits have come alive, our bodies are ruled by the “soul” and we must, by faith, refuse to accept the “old things of the flesh” and look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
We are “newborns” and we need help and nurturing. I wanted so much to live a holy life, so I went to everyone I knew who professed Christ as Savior. One pastor told me that the people who say that we can live “above sin” are fanatics. Another pastor told me I was crazy to believe that I could make God my Father the Source of my daily needs. One woman who was a church counselor told all of us that to love a married man was alright, love is love, and comes from God. Of course I did not buy that one.
But I was miserable. My thinking was, if this is all that a new life gives me - misery, because I cannot do the things I used to do, and don’t want to, yet I feel unable to overcome them - if this was all, then what WAS Christianity?
Thank God He never gave up on me. He knew all along that I would find that victory, and I did. I have mentioned it over and over as I write of the Holy Spirit’s power to convince us of sin, of righteousness (the righteousness we now have in Christ), and of judgment. Whether we are “saved” or not, we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ where all of the things we have done will be “tried by fire” to test as to their worth, depending upon our motives. That’s why the Scriptures tell us that sometimes a man can do many good, noteworthy things, even to the giving up of all of his goods, but if he does not have Love, which means if he is not POSSESSED by God’s eternal Love, then those works will be burned. It’s a serious thing, and few believers ever think about it.
I found that peace, rest, and victory over daily sin when I received the spiritual revelation that I truly am crucified with Christ. I live by His faith, not mine (Galatians 2:20). Then I received the spiritual revelation that I had actually received the power to become the daughter of God, the God who made heaven and earth and all there is therein (John 1:12). I
could keep my own identity and ignore God’s demands upon my life, but if this happened I would never have the fellowship of His Holy Spirit and realize the power that comes from belonging to Him.
The problem with my new life was simple. I went to people who told me that I could go on sinning after I was born again. They said that my sins had been forgiven in Christ today, yesterday, and forever. I did not buy that, thank goodness. It would be so tacky to take that great grace of God, receive His forgiveness and cleansing, and be ruled by self rather than by my spirit, in subjection to His Holy Spirit within me.
The plain truth is that we cannot go on sinning after we are born again and be new creatures. A tree is known by its fruit, Jesus said, and if the tree does not bear fruit, it’s of no value. It is usually cut down and burned. We must bear fruit, but again Christians today have been deceived into believing that “the fruit we bear involves how many souls we have reached and led to Christ.” This is a deception and whether we save souls or not, the fruit in our lives is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
If you have been deceived about the Mystery of the Church, and have been told that you can sin, and “it’s already forgiven,” you can be sure that you will fall. God’s Word makes this very clear when we read, “This, I say then, walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the thing that ye would.
“But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, factions, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and the like; of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self control; against such there is no law; and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5: 16-24).”
If you never believe anything else in this world, BELIEVE that God’s Word concerning willful, deliberate sin is firm. If we continue in sin then we do not really know the Christ whom we claim is our Savior. We can exercise our wills, aided by the Holy Spirit, and we will do the right thing in whatever situation we might find ourselves.
It is a hard life, a battle, really. Satan, God’s eternal enemy, will do anything to cause an individual to disgrace God and become of no value to the warfare that is waged upon the Body of Christ without let up.
It is an uncomfortable life. We are “the King’s kids,” true, as so many evangelists tell us. But the King is not crowned yet, in His Kingdom, and until then we are pilgrims and sojourners in this world where flesh dominates mankind.
But it is a glorious life, well worth any sacrifices we might make for love of Christ. We can live with ourselves without the demonic spirits of doubt invading our thoughts and making us less than what God grants us His unmerited favor to be.
It is a life that marks us as “different,” and people really don’t know why. To try to explain to them would only make things worse. Once I found the Scripture, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me . . .” (Job 9:20).
That settled the issue for me. Even if I tried to explain to others why I live in a certain way, unless that person is in fellowship with God’s Spirit, there would be nothing accomplished. And I don’t expect people in general to understand. Jesus says even today, “If the world hated me, it will hate you.” So that is that.
The Apostle Paul was accused of many things, even by those who should have had spiritual discernment of God’s great work in his life. He was accused of arrogance. Why not? Who ever before had the audacity to say that if any man obeyed not his Gospel, let him be accursed? But Paul knew who he was and what God had done in his life. He knew that there was a Mystery, and God explained to him what that Mystery was. And so, of necessity, Paul could not live by the law, by rituals, by the “usual methods” of those who worshipped in this way. And he suffered for his message and for his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He was executed, yet while he awaited his execution he was writing to his beloved converts, urging them to be strong, to keep the faith.
The issue then, is settled. No, we cannot go on sinning after we are born of God, and get away with it.
Do we become spiritually perfect? No. Not until these “vile bodies” as the Word calls our mortal bodies, are glorified.
But we can fight the good fight of faith, refuse to give in to seducing spirits, study the Word of God so faithfully that at any given time, that Word will see us through and give us an answer.
Let us, therefore, study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed. And let us love Him as He so deserves to be loved: with all of our hearts, souls, strength, and minds. . . AND our neighbor as ourselves. It’s a tall order but God provides the grace to do it.
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We would encourage all of you to read Billie’s message slow and with careful thought. it’s a message that may be a little harder to understand, depending on where you are in your walk with Christ. But it will no doubt benefit all of us, regardless of where we are in our faith, and we would like to hear what you got from this message.
I’m convinced that God wants trust and faith in Him, above all other things. We were reading in Deuteronomy and I suddenly realized what God, through Moses, was telling the people. He was taking them out of a land where everything grew easily. There was the River Nile watering the flat land. In spite of being slaves in Egypt life in some ways was easier there. It took no faith to grow a vegetable garden in Egypt, and throughout their journey to the “Promised Land” they continuously wanted to go back. But God was bringing them to a land of hills and valleys, and a land dependant upon rain.
I now understand more fully why the old prophets Elijah, Jeremiah, etc., were always threatening the people with a draught if they continued the worship of idols.
In Chapter 11, verse 12, Moses says, “a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” After all it was the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was a land where they would need to obey God and depend and trust in Him completely.
That is something that man does not do easily. Its so much easier to do what we think is best. What if God doesn’t come through with the “rain” when we want it? Isn’t it better to go back to Egypt with all it’s fertile ground and plenty of water? Whatever is the “Egypt” in your life, that’s the easiest place to go to. But God won’t be with us. He wants a people who trust and lean on him in ALL circumstances. And in the end that’s where our peace and joy is.
Before the ice storm hit us we had begun to look forward to spring. And we had plans for what would be planted where and what trees would be pruned or cut down. And then we awoke one morning and everything was a disaster all around us. God allows such disaster so that He may “humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart” (Deuteronomy 8:2), and so that you won’t say in your heart, “my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17).
And all the while this testing is going on, year after year, maybe, or however long, He means “to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8: 6).
Prayer Requests for March, 2009
For Henry Buckaloo, McAlester, Oklahoma, who is having blood pressure and heart problems.
For Robin Harris at Cushing, Oklahoma, that God will use him to help bring unity between the races there, and that God’s will be done regarding his parole.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon. He is making progress with forearm crutches.
For Mickey Ray Reil at Atoka, Oklahoma.
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas, who will have his case argued in the Arkansas State Supreme Court soon.
For Jimmy Huff at Colorado City, Texas, and for his sister, Wanda, who is in a nursing home, and for his nephew who is in prison and not doing well.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, that he makes parole this year.
For Earl Oswalt, Jr. at McAlester, Oklahoma, who has Malignant Melanoma.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his health.
For Michael Small at Menard, Illinois, and also for Michael’s Son, Derek, his Mother, Suzanne, and his niece, Amelia, that they all find peace of mind, and find their way.
For Jerry Herring, Huntsville, Texas, who has a parole hearing in April.
For Willie Harper at Joliet, Illinois, that he will stay “cancer free.”
For Ed Ewing in Tulare, California, who is 88 years old and has severe diabetes.
For Anthony Grayson, Fallsburg, New York, who is working on a new appeal.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock. Several of the nuns have been ill and this has caused a heavier workload for Sister Ann.
For Freddie Lee Lot, Galesburg, Illinois, that his cancer stays in remission.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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