Day 56: Intentional Sin vs Grace
IS OUR SALVATION IN QUESTION?
"Am I really a Christian? Does God still love me? Am I truly going to Heaven?" These questions can haunt us as we reflect on the sinful acts we have committed. These questions bog us down and make us doubt if we should really bother changing at all. With such overwhelming evidence that we are sinners, how can we possibly be saints? Even scripture seems to condemn us:
Or 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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. -1 Corinthians 6:9-10
When I read a verse like this, especially while I was still struggling with sexual sin, I automatically interpreted it one way. Verses like this one led me to question my salvation with a terrible sinking feeling that I was no longer a Christian, no longer walking on the narrow path, no more one of the select chosen. We’ve already talked about how wrong this viewpoint is in previous lessons. We should now understand that scripture clearly teaches that those who are in Christ are forgiven of their sins. There is nothing that can separate us from the unconditional love found in Christ Jesus:
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39
Remember that the conviction we feel in our hearts when reading this verse is well placed. Also remember that conviction is different than condemnation. The enemy will condemn us, whispering things like, "You're too far gone, don't even think about showing your face at church, you should just give up!" Conviction from The Holy Spirit builds us up rather than tearing us down. That still small voice leading you back to a place of repentance is the Holy Spirit keeping us in check, making sure our motivations are in accordance with the heart and will of God. He is on our side here, pressing us to hold on to only what is good:
God’s will is for us to be free from every form of sin, especially sexual sin. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient to pay your penalty. The kingdom of God is void of room for the unrighteous, those who know the truth and yet deliberately disobey. They declare to know Christ, but their hearts are far from him. Does this describe you? If you’re taking this course, trying to find freedom, it is unlikely that your heart relates to this. In your struggle you have an opportunity to draw closer to him.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous,rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. -2 Timothy 3:2-5
If your heart is right, and you’re truly seeking freedom from sin, pray to God in this moment and seek His wisdom regarding your sexual purity. We'd also recommend that you take this opportunity to start a prayer journal. If this is the very first entry, great! Documenting prayers reminds us later of how God intervened and answered those prayers.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. -Titus 1:16
At times I felt “unfit for any good work” simply because of how dark my life had become. God rebuked this lie from my heart, and showed me the reality of the cross. The cross of Christ paid every debt for me. If I had continued in a mindset of failure and defeat, a verse like this would have wrecked me.
When reading 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 what we should realize is that this is referring to an identity issue - those who have been mastered by sin. As Christians, we might contend with the temptations of those things, and perhaps even the guilt of giving in to them, but as soon we turn back to Christ he immediately renews our identity and righteousness. Even if its the millionth time, as soon as we turn to Christ in honest repentance, we are no longer primarily adulterers, immoral, idolaters, homosexuals, thieves, coveters, drunkards, swindlers, perverts, or addicts - we are sons and daughters of the Most High, wrapped in the righteousness of Christ. If it seems unfair, you're thinking about this right - God went to extreme lengths to ensure his love would supersede any blemish left by our sins. So if it's a lifestyle, it's a lifestyle that refuses to be forgiven.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little. -Luke 7:47
When you have been redeemed by God after a lifestyle of darkness, it strengthens your testimony. If life for a Christian becomes easy, not needing forgiveness for much, then they have less capacity to love. We ought to rejoice when a multitude of our sins have been forgiven as now we are more patient with those who stumble around us. Our capacity to love corresponds to how much we are allowing grace into our lives. Sometimes, we may give in to sin intentionally. Even this, is forgivable. If we honestly repent and turn, we will be shown grace. It is about identity, not our past. When we give in, we become a law-breaker, but the power of the cross sets us free from the condemnation of sin.
Day 56 Application
Based on what we’ve learned previously, to what kind of lifestyle is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 referring to?
Test your heart today. Are you desperately seeking freedom? Or are you deliberately pursuing sin for personal pleasure? Bear in mind that you are here, and you haven’t given up at this point.
Even if we do sin intentionally, what is God's stance towards us when we turn back to him? What implications does this have for how you understand your relationship with him?
What has been working against your sexual purity? Have you been able to discuss those things in your accountability meetings? If so, what have you learned about that?