Continuing on the topic of God’s love–
Many people, including myself, have described God’s love as “unconditional.”
This is a great description of His love. God’s love isn’t for anything we have done or will do. It can never be earned or merited. It will not change. God’s love is a complete gift, given to the most unworthy people, and until you understand that, don’t go anywhere else.
But there is a misconception or a wrong way to understand this word “unconditional.” That would be an understanding that says, “God loves me no matter what I do, so I can do absolutely anything I want.” This view might be “backed up” by verses like, “He who began a good work in you will surely bring it to completion.” God’s love is unconditional and unchanging – so we can sin as much as we want without fear?
Let me give you a simple, blatant No!
Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
It is easy to take Pauls words in Philippians out of context: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. But keep in mind that Paul is talking to a specific church and to the congregation as a whole. So is it applicable to us? Yes, God will complete every work He begins, but this isn’t an assurance that you will always be in God’s will—even as your sin runs wild.
The Bible is full of encouragement to “press on” and “run the race set before you.” We need to keep ourselves in the word. We need to keep ourselves in prayer. We must work out our own sanctification with fear and trembling. And we can never shrug or wink at sin, never.
If you can continue in sin without conviction, you ought to be very worried. We as Christians are dedicated to God, called to lay down our life and take up our cross. We have died to the flesh. So we cannot yield to it.
Let me clear just a few things up.
Will Christians ever sin? Of course we will. We have died to the flesh, yet we are not freed from the flesh. We will sin, we will fail, and we will never stop sinning until we reach heaven—but will we continue in sin? Will we lead a sinful life style? No. The Christian life is one of constant turning to God, constant repentance, and constant forgiveness. We cannot continue in one sin for long, God is always faithful to bring us back to Him. How long is long? Not for me to say.
What about Perseverance of the Saints? Remember that the acronym *TULIP was originally formed to counter beliefs of the Arminian church. In all simplicity, Perseverance of the Saints should never be taken as “I was saved before, I’m good.” Yes, saints will persevere, so if you are not, you need to examine your life and take it to the Lord.
What if I don’t know if I’m saved? You (and not just you) feel like you aren’t saved—so how do you know if those feelings are attacks from the flesh, or truths from God? One simple question—are they pointing to you Christ? God will always point you to Christ, so if He is, run to Him with everything that is in you. If those feelings are driving you to despair and sin? Run to Him even harder. You need Christ alone. We always need Christ. Pursue Him until you know that you are saved. This is a matter of eternal life and eternal death.
Should I go out and try harder to avoid sin? Trying harder won’t cut it. Prayer and reliance on God is our only hope. Only God can help us.
I need this reminder just as much as anyone. I have often been guilty of pointing to my salvation “It was a complete change of view! It was amazing! I have to be saved.” But an experience or a prayer is not assurance of salvation. The Fruit of the Spirit is what we are looking for.
Also, as we grow in God, He shows us our sin more and more, which is another reason we are always repenting. But we should also see growth, and God is always faithful, even when we are so faithless.
One thing I want to work on this year is being tough on myself and tender to others. I’m very bad and incredibly lazy at being tough on myself. I’d really appreciate prayer. I’m praying for you all.
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)