Do you currently find yourself or a close friend in the vice grip of sin? Whether that be bitterness, pornography, laziness, deceit, or worry, we were reminded last week from Scripture and Christian history that any Christian can experience a sudden or gradual fall from a repentant, spirit-filled walk with Christ and have a hard time recovering. Many genuine Christians in churches today experience no meaningful usefulness to God’s people and are crippled by their sin.
If this state of mind and heart describes you or someone you know, the important question to answer then is how to “get back up?”
I can verify from personal experience that there are many wrong ways to view and deal with sin. Fallen man and the adversary are quick to influence us towards those false remedies. We must always track back to Scripture first and identify our problem in biblical terms. If we do not define our sin and condition the way Scripture does, the possibility of being restored to a right relationship to God is unfeasible. If we allow the lies of the world and the adversary to penetrate our minds and hearts, recovery will become impossible. The truth is that Satan could even resort to using a wrong understanding of the Bible to confuse believers, which we will consider in this post.
I am so thankful that Scripture gives us a correct and honest assessment of our true condition before God. “Who God is and what He requires of us” is the most important question we could ever answer. I am so relieved that there is hope and light and great optimism in understanding God’s view of us in His Word and His offer of grace! When we correctly identify our condition, then true repentance and change can occur. This post is aimed at helping believers avoid wrong self-assessing.
Though you perhaps have entertained this thought at some point in your Christian walk, it is highly unlikely. Many over the centuries have fearfully wondered if they have ever committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
The best way to approach this subject with believers who fear this possibility is to help them see that the first question is not, “have you committed the unpardonable sin?” The first question should be, “what is the unpardonable sin?” After coming to a very clear understanding, then ask yourself if you fit into that category. This is the question we should ask about every passage of Scripture. Are we sure we really understand the one original meaning of the passage to its recipients? If so, then the second question should be how it applies to us today.
Who knows how many people have trembled at these words throughout history:
Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (Matt 12:31).
What exactly is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Our Lord’s reference to this blasphemy is directed to what the Pharisees were doing. Here are the elements: One the one hand, the Pharisees were acknowledging that Jesus was doing supernatural things. They were conceding Jesus’ superhuman abilities, for there was no denying His power. But secondly, they attributed His power to Satan. In fact, they blatantly did so in order to avoid accepting the claims of Christ as their Lord and Savior. In this passage they are attributing power to Satan that should be attributed to the work of Christ and the spirit of God.
Is that what you are currently doing? Do you sit in a service where God is clearly moving and speaking to your heart through His Word and attribute it to Satan? Do you hear a clear testimony of God’s saving grace in one’s life and attribute it to the work of Satan? Is that what you have done? I’m not talking about thinking it accidentally or fearing the possibility. Have you hardened and crystallized yourself in that position? That is the question you must ask yourself.
Wrong Self-Assessmnet #2: You are an apostate of the Christian faith and have lost your salvation.
The following two examples of warning found in Hebrews strike fear in believers concerning their spiritual state:
and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt (Heb 6:6).
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:26).
We must first characterize the nature of the sin under discussion in these passages. These warnings have to do with apostasy. Apostasy is not just turning away or doubting; apostasy is repudiating a former position. For the believers in Hebrews, it was the fearful prospect of returning to their former Judaistic system.
Apostasy today could be characterized by a professing Christian who at one point claimed grace through faith in Christ alone for salvation. It would include that person turning away from Christ to Catholicism or any other system of faith and repudiating/denying repentance and belief in Christ alone for salvation. The believers being written to in Hebrews were being pressured to renounce Christ, depart from Him and repudiate Him. Is that what you have done? Have you purposefully fallen away from faith in Christ alone and His finished work and embraced Mormonism, Islam or Catholicism?
May we be reminded, friends, that we don’t hold ourselves in the faith. The Father holds us in His hand (John 10:28-29). And when someone is a true believer, he is kept by the power of God. We are told with certainty that He who began that good work in you, will complete it (Phil 1:6).
I am not trying to take the bite out of the warning. I just want to help people understand if they truly fit in this category.
Correct Self-Assessment #3: You are not apostate Israel.
Secondly, we need to be very careful before we equate ourselves with Old Testament Israel. If all Christians read only out of the Major and Minor prophets, we would often find ourselves depressed! People sometimes read passages written to the nation of Israel, and they think the passage was intended originally for them.
For three transgressions of Judah,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,because they have rejected the law of the Lord,and have not kept his statutes,but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.
5 So I will send a fire upon Judah,
and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem (Amos 2:4-5).
Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence (Jer 14:12).
When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers I will not listen (Isa 1:15).
May we be reminded that the Scripture does not mean a thousand different things. Scripture means one thing, and you don’t have the truth until you have the meaning. It is true there are legitimate, true parallels between Old Testament Israel and us today. All Scripture is profitable to set us up straight and put the fear of God in our hearts (2 Tim 3:16). But on the other hand, those passages are dealing with an entire nation of people. And not all of those people were His people. Idolatrous apostasy was prevalent in that day, hence the judgment and unanswered prayers promised by God.
It is only appropriate to end speaking of God’s grace and mercy, for even in these passages, the whole point was to turn anybody who would hear to God. For instance, in these passages, look at God’s grace located in the following contexts:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isa 1:18).
Jeremiah 30-33 proclaims the New Covenant and God’s future work of grace in believer’s lives.
Seek good, and not evil, that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said (Amos 5:14).
All of the warning passages in Scripture are meant to point people back to God and the salvation offered by Him alone through Christ. The God of the Bible truly is compassionate more than any man could ever be. God’s mercy and His story of grace can be seen at every turn in Scripture. And God’s call to repent and turn to His way of salvation and getting back up is the remedy that Christ extends to you today if you are under the weight of your sin and under the realization that you cannot help yourself. Understand that there is reconciliation through the name of Christ alone this very day. Confess and forsake your sin and search the Scriptures in search of just how amazing God’s grace and mercy is!
May this post encourage every believer to correctly self-assess their own condition according to the Bible or find help from someone to do so. There is a remedy for every sin problem or spiritual fall, and that remedy is Christ and the forgiveness and grace He offers through His finished work.