Last week I spoke about the topic of legalism and I made the assertion that most people will call you a legalist if you call sin, “sin”. How do we balance grace with works? John MacArthur says there are only two religions in the world. There is the religion of human accomplishment and there is Christianity. You can lump every false religion into the first category. This religion of human accomplishment says you must do this to make yourself worthy of heaven. You must do something to appease your “god”.
True Christianity says God came in human flesh and did the doing. He lived a perfect, sinless life so sinful man could be reconciled to God. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s redemption without the work of Christ.
No prayer, no amount of sacrifice, you cannot be “good” enough to earn God’s favor; you can’t be part of a special group. Jesus Christ went to the cross to drink the cup of God’s wrath to pay for the sins of those who would believe in Him that they could turn from their sin.
This IS the true gospel.
If you think you can do something to earn God’s forgiveness you are wrong. If you think that being baptized or saying the sinner’s prayer or being part of a certain religious group will save you from the terrors and torture of hell, you need to stop and consider, carefully what you are counting on for salvation.
The gospel tells us we are dead in sins and trespasses, unable to save ourselves (Ephesians 2:1). The gospel tells us we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The gospel tells us it is not of works so no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9). Clearly, we can do nothing outside of God’s work.
1 Peter 4:1-2 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
Here is the rub… This is the difference between false conversion and true conversion. Do you now cease from sin? If you claim to be saved and claim to be a follower of Christ, you must cease from sin.
Disclaimer, you won’t do this to perfection.
However, if you are not striving against sin, you are not saved. If your sin does not sicken you, you are not saved. I hope this sounds harsh. I would rather this be harsh and have you see your sin than live in a world of illusion and deception.
If you claim to be a Believer you will resist and fight against sin. It will be a lifelong battle but you will grow or you must examine your life.
Believer, you are under grace, you are no longer under the law (Romans 5:1-2). This is not a license to willfully live in sin. Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Are you striving against sin in your life? Hebrews 12:3-4 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
If this is a concept that is unfamiliar to you, I hope you will sit down and examine your life by the truth of God’s Word. God has supplied the world with the gift of His Word and the glorious sacrifice of His Son that some will be saved. If you are saved, you now have work to do.
8 thoughts on “Cease from sin”
Kevin, where can I find the church that has ceased from sin?
Frank, well that is a very good question. I’ve certainly not found one. Nor any Christian’s that have.
I wrote this article a long time ago, and I will tell you my mind has been changed. While I wrote and thought I understood the topic of legalism in hindsight I had no clue.
I appreciate you bringing it up, as I’ve removed some older articles that my thinking has changed, hopefully to a more biblical position.
This might be one that should go, or be reworked. Or the other option is to leave it, and see that God grows us in His grace.
I reread this article, and for the life of me, I don’t see the problem.
It’s biblically sound, and challenging. Should not the Christian cease from sin? We don’t of course, but shouldn’t our attitudes, priorities and energies be focused on this monumental task? Outside of the power of the Holy Spirit, we will inevitably fail, but I would think that a Christian (real, biblically saved) would detest his sin so much that he would run the other way, and when he did fall into his old habits, he would mourn and cry to God for help.
I hope that the years in this world, haven’t dulled your convictions, and allowed you to soften your stance. We need articles like this to sharpen us and awake us out of our complacency.
Please explain if I haven’t seen your point. Blessings brother.
thank you brother, that is very kind. I don’t believe that on a personal level I’ve allowed myself to fall into sin without loathing it.
I do hate sin, and in fact made that very point this past Lord’s Day in a sermon I preached to my family and a neighbor.
What I will say, is that I’m more sensitive to the ramifications of legalism and how pervasive they can be. I also re-read the article and while I think I made the point you have reinforced, I can also see that sometimes the tone can appear to have a bit of condescension to it.
You wouldn’t notice it as much as I would most likely, and the realization of the experiences I had at the time I wrote this have changed me and made me much more gracious. While we need to be biblical, we need to stand against sin, desire to be free from sin, I will quote what John Newton said.
“1. Know yourself – we are weak, needy, sinful, and we will notice these things about ourselves MORE, as we grow, and our understanding of our nature becomes clearer.
2. We will learn to prize the nearness of God – we feel His withdrawal as we sin, and we hate it, and we desire to avoid sin.
3. We have an increased gratitude toward our relationship with God – we become more reliant upon Him.
4. We learn to be meek and tender toward those that stumble – how to restore a believer in love when they’ve sinned.”
I’m very grateful for you note dear brother, you have consistently been a great encouragement to me.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you and your dear family, and may He continue to grow us in His grace.
We have all become a little more calloused in this life. We can’t help it. But what I have learned in my walk is that we glory in our defeats rather than our victories. For in our defeats, we run back to God. If everything was a victory, we would soon forget Him. I know I am helpless, selfish, and programmed to sin and turn away from God. This is a fact that will only die when our flesh dies.
Speaking of graciousness, this is something I have learned through God and how He treats me when I sin. He knows my frame. He knows my weaknesses. The best part about being a Christian is this: Man can do nothing to unsave himself, just as much as man can do nothing to save himself. My salvation isn’t dependent on my so called holiness, when my holiness is Christ-given, not works earned. I can go back to God and apologize for my sin and rebellion and know that when He looks at my record book (as it were), He sees a clean slate.
Man seems to have the innate desire to do something to earn God’s approval. Man can do nothing to get God’s wink of satisfaction. Nothing. Our best works are nothing more than dirty rags, dragged through the dredges of selfishness.
The longer we live in Christ’s shadow, the more we understand just how helpless and hopeless we are. That’s the best news ever though, because it means the worse we are, the more dependent we will be on Him.
Thanks for this opportunity. It feels good to be able to write at length and have it be a blessing to those near and dear to me.
Amen brother. You are so right…
I’ve had many opportunities to think long and hard on the issue of holiness. It’s a deep and complicated topic on many levels, but yet simple in others.
Yep…most Christians will say that holiness is a battle and it takes sacrifice, and hardships to get there. Yes and no. It takes nothing of our efforts, but submission to God’s crushing, smashing and conforming plan for us. We are on the Ever Narrowing Way, and that path is ordained by God for us specifically. My trials are mine and yours are yours. Our only responsibility is to submit. Anything else will be counted as our feeble attempts to gain God’s approval. It is simple once we realize we are powerless. Like a marionette. We lay there until God pulls our strings. Otherwise we remain as fools thinking we can move without Him.