Is my Faith Genuine?

I felt to blog my current understanding of Salvation – the Christian journey – and what it means to be “saved”.

If you have read any of my other posts, you will see that I have grappled with making sense of God’s gift of Salvation and redemption, when considering the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, with verses like:

Without Holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14)

– 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mat 7:21-23)

…against the current prevalent teaching in large parts of the church that “Jesus did it all for me on the cross, and there is nothing I need to do except believe that I am made right with God”.

Well, Jesus did do it all on the cross and when I put my Faith in Him at that time (confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that He died and rose again – Rom 9:10), then I was Justified or “made right” with God.  The penalty was paid for all my sins by Jesus who freely gave His own life for me.

However, I was not transformed in the blink of an eye into the new creation that the Word talks about, because this is a process called Sanctification.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17).  But did you note the condition: “if anyone is in Christ”?

And…Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. (1 John 3:6 NET)

I have come to strongly believe, based on the Word of God, that Sanctification is needed before we can “be in Christ”, and that sanctification is not an optional part of Salvation, but rather, is a key part of it.

So I asked God to show me in the Word, proof of my hypothesis that Sanctification is a key requirement of salvation.  Then He showed me this verse from James:

Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NET)

James talks about genuine faith being evident in an external way. (But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works – James 2:18).

So it would seem that the Word of God says that it’s not by faith alone that we are saved (this is the start), but it’s by (genuine) faith, in conjunction with grace (which the Strongs Concordance defines as “a divine influence on the heart, with its outworking in the life”), where the grace enables us to overcome the temptations and sin.  And then, after being tested and passing this test, we inherit the crown of life. (James 1:12).

So the teaching that says: “Jesus died on the cross, took all my punishment and sin and shame and now God sees me as righteous. There is nothing I need to do except believe because it has all been done for me”, is a dangerous and false one that actually encourages sin.  (Even if inadvertently or subtly, because it denies the opportunity for believers to examine the “brutal facts” of where their life is at in their walk with God).

So according to the scriptures, FAITH is one element of salvation, but if it’s missing the SANCTIFICATION element, our faith may not be genuine and our salvation and inheritance of eternal life (according to James 1:12) will not be there either.

You see, sanctification requires that we acknowledge the “brutal facts” of where we are at, but at the same time maintain an absolute faith that Jesus will complete the work He started in us and save us (remember: there are 3 tenses of salvation: we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved https://lifebythespirit.org/2009/11/23/when-are-we-actually-saved/).

So we know we have been justified by faith, but genuine faith will lead to sanctification by relationship with Holy Spirit, and produce good fruit and eternal life.  Genuine faith will production actions that are consistent with our proclaimed “faith”.  Remember that He is faithful to complete the work He started in you (Phil 1:6).

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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).

Also see: https://lifebythespirit.org/2013/01/21/are-we-still-under-the-law-of-god/ and https://lifebythespirit.org/2012/05/07/the-secret-of-salvation/.

The secret of Salvation

Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. (1 John 3:6 NET)

If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. (1 John 4:15 NET)

How can this be? If I sin, then I don’t reside in God, but if I confess Jesus as the Son of God, then I reside in him? Sounds like a contradiction.

When reading the Word, we need to understand the full counsel of God.

These two apparently contradicting verses string together to reveal one thing: FAITH.

When we start our Christian journey, we are still staves to sin but God let’s us into His house anyway. However, even though we may still practise sin at this time, we have FAITH in Jesus and FAITH that God will complete the good work He started in us, transforming us into sons – permanent members of His household.

Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the family forever, but the son remains forever. (John 8:34, 35 NET)

[Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. (John 8:34, 35 KJV)]

This is a call to repent and proof that we must overcome sin to be true sons of God. (And it is by Grace that we overcome).

God is very faithful and gives us time to repent, including us as members of His household even as we are “slaves” (to sin). But He goes on to say that slaves are only temporary members of a household (are these the ones who will say on the last day “you taught in our streets, we did miracles in your name etc and Jesus says ‘depart from me you who practise lawlessness’?). But those who OVERCOME are true sons of God and will reside in His household forever!

Let us have the fear of the Lord, for we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling – but at the same time have faith that He will save us and give us the Grace to overcome. (Hint: be completely honest to yourself and God about the sins you secretly like. You probably lie to yourself saying you don’t like these sins but really do. This is one of the great deceptions in the last days – deceiving ourselves. Confess our sins to one another and pray for each other that we may be healed. God gives grace to the humble, which is salvation through faith and the power to overcome.)

If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. (John 15:6 NET)

We are saved by faith and grace.

But only “believing” is not enough (even the demons “believe” in Jesus and tremble at His name).

Salvation giving faith and grace is to remain in Him, be connected to Him, to seek, knock and find until you experience that life transforming grace for yourself where old things drop away and joy fills our hearts instead! This is what it is like to be in the kingdom of God – which is now!

So back to 1 John 4:15, the inference here is that if we truly have Holy Spirit residing in us and we have FAITH He will complete His work in us, we wont be able to do anything but practise acts of righteousness, obeying His Word – meaning that we reside in Him!

This is how we know that we will not become a dead branch that gets cut off from the vine and burned in the fire. It is FAITH working through Grace (which changes us into Jesus likeness).

Be aware of the enemies tricks

One of the tricks that the enemy has used against me in my journey, is to give me dreams of me doing the very thing I have repented of or am being delivered of, so that I think to myself “well, I made the wrong choice in my dream, so I may as well just do it in the natural as well”.  It’s a way to defeat us, and make us want to give up.

While I believe that God does test us in our sleep (Psalm 17:3), Satan uses the bit of ground he is losing to trick us into giving it back to him.

2 Cor 2:11 “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes”

Because Satan is a legalist (and because the consequences of the law still apply today), he looks for any ground that we give him to maintain or gain ground in our lives.

Let us be aware of the enemies tricks and not become a victim to them!

You messin’ with me?

Have you ever noticed that the enemy accesses our emotions and autonomic responses to make his ways feel right, and God’s ways feel impossible to walk in – let alone better!?  He does this because we are born into sin and because we are under the consequences of sin.

We need to agree that Gods ways are right (and better!).  We need to agree with God and not the enemy. When we sin we agree with the enemy over God.

The battle occurs in us.  We are the battlefield.  Our thoughts, our actions and our responses.  This is the battlefield – between good and evil.

Our bodies lie to us with sinful yearnings – telling us that satans ways are nice and good, and that God’s ways are impossible to walk in.

“Go and sin no more”

When the new testament commands things like “go and sin no more” (John 8:11), this is actually a challenge to draw us closer to Jesus, because as we try and sin no more, we come to realise how inadequate our efforts are, and how much we need Jesus.  I believe such statements exist, similar to the old testament law which was put in place to show how far from God His people were, that we need Jesus.

In otherwords, for those who take God’s Word seriously and try to put in to practise such a command, they soon discover that they can’t and it leads them straight in to the arms of Jesus.

Once we truely surrender to Him in His Grace towards us, He sets us free.  Amen!

Warning!  Beware of the deception that sins in your life (e.g. 1 Cor 6:9-10) don’t matter because we are saved by Grace.  Grace is the power to overcome those sins, and you need to believe that you will overcome them and that involves faith that He will complete His work in you.  On the flip side, we mustn’t give sin strength by trying to “earn” our salvation through obedience to the law.

Real faith

The greatest step of faith may be to push on in our relationship with Jesus even though we know that there are unresolved sin areas in our lives, knowing that God hates sin.  (This is where Judas went wrong – he thought there was no way forward and killed himself.)

For although there are all the warnings in 1 Cor 6:9-10, we praise Him that He has given us faith that He who started this work in us is faithful to complete it.  Amen!

God’s law and grace

God showed me that although we are saved by Grace, the consequences or effects of His law still apply today.

There is a deception in the church today that says: “saved by grace – no consequences to pay”.  But this is not true.

For example, if you were to go out and get a girl pregnant, you would get a baby.  You can/are forgiven for the sin of fornication, but the consequences – the baby – are not dealt with by forgiveness (grace).  There is a consequence.  You would need to live with this consequence and work through it, even though you have been forgiven.

So grace does not take away the consquences of sin, and one of the reasons God doesn’t want us to sin is because of the consequences!  The other reason is because He wants us to be like Him!

1 Peter 1:16 “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'”

Note: it is ONLY through grace that we gave the ability to walk in God’s ways, and not sin.  Trying in our own strength to overcome sin will only serve to bond you to it more.

1 Cor 15:56 “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Root cause of sin struggle revealed

Current struggle root cause that has been revealed:  The human heart is extremely deceptive. (Jer 17:9).  It plots things and sets me up, and I believe it!

At times I know it’s lying to me, but I want to believe it (so I don’t have to take responsibility?), and that’s part of the problem.  Part of me still likes sin and strives to find ways to get it.

There is also a lie that says something like, “God can not sustain me.”  I walk with God but then seem to run out of steam.

The other lie is that God has given me more than I can bear, and that they only way out is to sin.