Friday, August 05, 2005

The Civil War of the Born Again Believer p2

If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1John 1:8-10

So, you thought that because you’re a Christian, life would be easy, that life would be all rosy with no problems at all. I wonder who told you that and why did you believed it? I do have good news though; salvation has nothing to do with how you feel. You thought you could do good all by yourself didn't you? Haven't you found out by now, that you fall short? If this is a reality to you, then you are in the place that God wants you to be. Your salvation is self-revealing. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, God wants us to recognize that we are sinners, that our salvation does not require anything from our part. Once you realize that, then you can begin to understand how to walk in the Spirit. Secondly, God does not want us to hide the fact that we sin. In fact, it is the most important thing that God wants us to understand; that we sin, even though we know that salvation is ours and we believe in Jesus Christ.

You see, it is not because of our own free will that we do good. In fact, we're not capable of doing good on our own free will. I'm sure by now the question you're probably asking yourself is “what does he mean by doing good”? Surely you believe that you are a good person don't you? You've helped with the poor, taken care of the sick, offered your time and money, consoled friends or family in times of crisis, had compassion on those who were injured or shunned, never harmed anyone. These are but a few examples that most people think of when they consider; what is a good person. But guess what? Even those who do not believe in Jesus Christ do all these things.

I was not one of those people who grew up in a church environment, and so, I was not indoctrinated with the various things people claim that Christianity is. Many people go through their whole lives thinking that Christianity is something that will deliver them from all their problems, that God is so good to them that he would remove their problems because they have believed in him. The problem with this thinking, is that it will cause people to consider the fact that their problems have not changed, or even that their problems may have actually increased. This realization is what begins to cause people to question their faith. Or to put another way, to question their salvation. Don't be fooled by emotions and feelings. Christianity has nothing to do with these things.

In a way, it is good to question your faith. For one, it drives home the point that salvation has nothing to do with your feelings, emotions, how much charity you perform, or how good you are. Salvation has nothing to do with rituals people perform, the church they attend, various ceremonies or traditions they may observe. These things are simply, man-made religious things, and all its really good for are the senses. Man-made religion can do nothing to resolve our inner most perplexing thoughts and issues. Doing what is good does not bring salvation, nor does it bring assurance of salvation, as our thoughts always get in the way of what is true.

Okay.. I agree actually! God does want us to do the things that are good and pleasing to him. However, doing good only reveals our faith, it is not the basis of our faith. This is to mean, that which we do, is because of faith, not because we are good hearted and loving people. You see, there is nothing that you can do that can bring salvation, and there is nothing that you can do to be considered a good person in God's sight. All fall short of perfection. If you have realized this simple fact, then you will understand what I mean by 'the civil war of the born-again believer'.

To be born-again simply means, that your new nature is now able to witness your old nature, that these two natures are contrary to each other, and struggle one against the other. I'm not talking about those things that we can change, such as hair color, clothing, lauding praises, kind words, etc, etc...

No, I'm actually speaking of the two natures that all born again believers have present within them. One reveals our desire for the flesh, the other reveals our desire and longing for the Spirit. Each are at war with each other because they are contrary to one another. These two natures will remain with us for the rest of our natural lives. The realization of our two natures, the old man and the new man, is the revealing work of the Holy Spirit. God's work is self-revealing, as it convicts the heart, the mind and the soul.

The question probably arises: “since I am a good person, how is it possible that I do the things that I do not want to do, that are contrary to God”? Such as lying, joking about people, holding grudges, being mean-spirited, partaking of the things in life that at the time, seem exciting and fun, such as drinking, smoking, doing drugs, sexual fantasies, gambling, listening to all kinds of crazy rock music, partying till you drop, smoking dope, etc, etc... The list is only limited to our humanity and wandering imaginations.

The problem is not our belief in salvation. That has already been provided and completed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said “it is finished”. Our part requires reaching out in faith and trusting that Jesus Christ alone can save us from judgment of sin, that He finished the work God sent him to do. Sounds too easy does it not? I mean, surely there has to be more, right?

The problem in questioning faith comes when we realize that we still have our old nature and that nothing has really changed, even though we have a new nature. You are still the same ole person you have always been and you see no change, right? Welcome to the realization of our need to walk in the Spirit. This is God's work, as he is the author and finisher of our salvation and has enabled us to complete our walk in faith, through his Spirit.

You trusted God and have called out in faith. You trusted in salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Yet, you continue to sin, and each time you sin, it bothers you all the more. The more times you do those things that you would not, the more you become convicted of your sin? You begin to feel that something is not quite right, that sin really does bother you? You're probably wondering how I know all that? Well friend, that is true for me as well. Since this is true to me, then it's reasonable to assume that I'm not the only Christian to think this way.

Sin should bother us and we should be convicted that we are sinners, and that no matter what we do, we continue to sin. Here is the Good News - this is the self-revealing work of the Holy Spirit. The word of God declares to us that we walk by faith and not by sight. Do you understand what this means? It is so important to understand that it's all the difference between true Christianity and false Christianity. That is to mean, true assurance of forgiveness of sin. Realizing salvation is only the beginning of entering that Strait Gate and walking down that narrow path.

True Christianity is the realization that we as sinners are saved by grace. False Christianity is based on feelings and emotions that claim some sort of visual or emotional experience is needed to prove our salvation. If this were true, then there would be no need to walk in the spirit. Have you ever thought about that? I have.. But, we'll have to wait until the next article to look at some of these things that make us question salvation. Or to say it another way, to question whether or not God really knows we exist. The truth is, He does know we exist.

To believe in God, one must believe first that He exists. Once we believe that, then we must believe in faith that his promises are sure and true.

part 3

Walking in the Spirit by Dr. J Vernon McGee

Copyright Wendell Leahy
published by


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