The New Testament Believer's
Position In Christ (Pt. 1)
Rock of Offence Commentary
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
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The believer's position 'in Christ' is one of the most powerful truths in the Bible. We often read these words and think; "Yes, that's a great perspective about salvation". As a result, we tend to think that the phrase "in Christ" is only one viewpoint among many ... and that God is providing a variety of examples to help us better understand what His Son accomplished. However, when we carefully read the New Testament, a different story emerges. The believer's position "in Christ" is not just one of many perspectives ...
It is our Heavenly Father's
only perspective after the
Jesus stated that His primary mission is to make Himself, His Father and the believer ... ONE. We see this truth in the famous prayer of Christ to His Father shortly before His crucifixion:
"...I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as we are. (John 17:9-11)
"I do not pray for these alone (speaking of His disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (Christians living today); that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One: I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in One, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me." (John 17: 20-23)
Yet, most churches contradict
Christ's words by teaching their
members to view themselves - not
as 'One with God' - but separate
from God - and needing to earn
their salvation through righteous
living. Isn’t that strange?
This prayer of Christ in John chapter 17 is a powerful revelation of the yet future salvation purchased at the cross. We should meditate on His words until we fully understand the revolutionary truths they contain. It provides a preview of the powerful New Covenant salvation and the "new and living way" that started after the cross. A vast majority of the traditional teaching and evangelism in the institutional church does not agree with Christ's words found in this prayer.
Many are taught to view salvation as a benefit that must be earned through personal merit and righteous living. Yet, God designed His Son's salvation to operate in a way that defies natural human thinking. The Gospel and Christ's salvation is designed exclusively by God. It came from the mind of God, not from the mind of man. (Romans 11:33-35).
Saint Paul says it this way ...
"...No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man (or those who live
according to the dictates of human
reasonings) does not receive the things
of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness to him; nor can he know
them, because they are Spiritually
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we (speaking of all Christians) have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
That's why God's ways are different
than ours ... and why the Bible
refers to Christ's salvation
as "a mystery".
Saint Paul calls it ...
"God's Hidden Wisdom"
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8)
The New Testament truth concerning "the believer's position in Christ" (also understood as their "oneness with Christ" from our Lord's prayer in John chapter 17) is an example of the 'different way' God thinks, as stated through the prophet Isaiah;
(God is speaking) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
The spiritual benefits of Christ's
New Covenant are "imputed" to His
Church (the body of Christ) apart
from personal merit, because God
considers the believer "dead in
Christ" (Colossians 3:3). A dead
person has no merit to offer. This is
a unique Divine mechanism that Bible
scholars often refer to as "imputation"
which occurs when Christ's pre-paid
benefits and attributes (such as His
perfect righteousness) are freely
given through 'a faith apart from
works' to those who are undeserving.
(Romans 8:4-8 and 2 Cor. 5:21)
More information is available HERE
The New Testament reveals that salvation belongs exclusively to the Lord (Revelation 7:10). Therefore, the only way to possess salvation is to be "in Christ". After the cross, there is no other way to be saved according to God's viewpoint. If you are not “in Christ” - who is the sole possessor of salvation (or "one with Christ" according to John chapter 17) ... you will be disqualified. Unfortunately, this will happen to many good church-going people who seek to obtain salvation in a way that God does not honor. When anyone is "in Christ" God considers them to be "dead through His crucifixion", but also "alive through His resurrection".
As a result of this Divinely initiated blessing,
we possess everything Christ possesses because
we are "in Him" ... and we remain "in Him"
regardless of our lack of good behavior or by
failing to live as righteous as we should.
Romans 8:17 provides more details about the
believer's blessed position 'in Christ' by
referring to them as "joint-heirs with Christ"
Legally speaking, all 'joint-heirs' have common
ownership of the resources. In this unique
situation, Christ also enters into this
'common ownership' with His believing saints.
This means that everyone shares the ownership
of Christ's attributes and resources. From God's
perspective, this means that it's impossible
to be "in Christ" and fail to be everything that
Christ is, which includes possessing His perfect
righteousness. As a result, Jesus makes us
everything we are - which is why the New
Testament refers to all earth-dwelling
"The body of Christ" who will, upon arriving in
heaven, become ... "The Bride of Christ".
Contrary to a popular yet false church teaching,
the Bride of Christ is not some special group,
chosen from among the body of Christ for their
high-level of devotion and righteous works--often
called 'overcomers'. According to this teaching
the group's high-level of merit and spiritual
performance is what qualifies them to participate
in the 'the rapture'...while the rest of the body
of Christ who are deficient in these works must
remain behind on earth for additional purification
during the Tribulation.
However, the New Testament declares that the rapture
is for everyone who is 'In Christ'; from the least
to the greatest!
(1 Cor. 12:27, Col. 1:18 and Eph. 1:22-23).
"For He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
Believers freely possess eternal life because Christ, in His position as Lord, exclusively owns eternal life - and freely transfers (or imputes) it to all those who are "in Him". We are freely given the very righteousness of God because Christ is perfectly righteous - and His righteousness is transfered (or imputed) to us as a result, once again, of our position "in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). We enjoy victory over death, because Christ was raised from the dead (with the believer being reckoned as "in Him"). Concerning New Testament salvation, our trust in Christ's glorious life and substitutionary death, allows God to consider us (and our works and behavior) "dead", but also "alive through the resurrection". Dead people have nothing to contribute to Christ's salvation. This is why Saint Paul made it clear that we are to receieve 'God's gift of eternal life' by Grace through faith ... and not through our works of righteousness. It is all about Jesus and what He accomplished for us at the cross - and not about us and what we can do for ourselves.
"...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
God Considers His Church to
be 'One' with Christ
Before His crucifixion, Jesus referred to this future position, as the believer's "oneness" with both Him and His Father (Read John 17:9-23 previously quoted). When people are joined in “oneness” (think about a bridegroom and his bride) they share all things in commmon. At the time Jesus made this statement, it was obvious that His disciples didn't understand what He was saying. It was a truth that was "way over their heads". Over 120 times, the Apostle Paul used phrases like; In Christ, with Christ and 'in Him' to describe this blessed "oneness" of Christ and the believer (the Church). Very few Christians understand this truth today. False religious teaching has cheated many out of this incredible benefit.
Oneness - or being 'In Christ' is a
totally unique New Covenant provision
that was not available under the Old
Testament program of the Law. These
blessings only became available after
Important Note: The word 'oneness' as used in
this commentary is not associated and should
not be confused with the error of “Oneness
In Christ - the Believer
is Freed from the Law
Because God Reckons Them
to be Dead
The Bible reveals that the Law only has authority over those who are alive. When death occurs, the Law (and the sin that draws its authority from the Law) no longer applies. Saint Paul says it this way:
"Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:1-6)
"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)
Under the New Covenant, our Heavenly Father considers all believers to be "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20). This is the way God views us during this present "Age of Grace". When God looks at an authentic Christian, regardless of how deficient they are in good works or righteous behavior, He doesn't see a sinful person - He sees someone who possesses the perfect righteousness of His Son; Jesus Christ. The New Covenant says it this way ...
"For ye are dead, and your life
is hid with Christ in God."
"For He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
While Jesus hung on the cross, God placed all future generations of believers "in Him" - and crucified all of them "with Him". When Jesus was judged on the cross, our sinful life (past, present and future) was also judged and punished, "In Him". When Christ died in this condition, all believers and their sinful lives died with Him.
When that moment arrived, Jesus cried out in
agony "It is finished!" Sin's power was forever
broken and could no longer be charged to our
Since the believer was 'legally executed' for
their sin through the body of Christ; God
now considers them to be living on the other
side of death. For this reason it is a
violation of God's justice if He were to judge
them again for sin. Anyone who claims that He
does such a thing is denying Christ's eternal
This is why our death "In Christ" forever
puts an end to God's condemnation concerning
any past-present-or future sin of all those
who have placed their faith in Christ.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk
according to the flesh, but according to the
Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus has made me free from the law
of sin and death."
(Read Romans 8:1-4)
God's Justice was served by giving us the death sentence for our sins, which was carried out (by proxy) through the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus took our place and punishment, which allows the believer to go free. Unfortunately, many Christians are taught to ignore this important truth. Yet God as ... "the righteous Judge of all the earth" will respect His Son's sacrifice that takes away our sins for all eternity - regardless of what the critics think and say. Any minister, evangelist, church or denomination that disagrees with this Heavenly Divine proclamation and tries to place sin back on a believer's life is unknowingly in "contempt of God's court". The removal of our sins is not a benefit that ends, like many preachers suggest ... the next time we sin. God proclaims that our sins are gone forever and are no longer held against us by Heaven's court. The following Scriptures will give us boldness and confidence that God will not change His mind.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,
Not imputing their trespasses (sins) to them,
And has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God 'In Him'." (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Our Heavenly Father follows some important spiritual rules (known as the New Covenant) ... whether overly religious people agree with them - or not. First, the Bible tells us "the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible). The King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase "without repentance", which is the "old English" way of describing 'irrevocable'. This means that God doesn't take back the gifts and callings that He gives to us. Under the New Covenant, eternal life is given as "the gift of God" (Romans 6:23 & Ephesians 2:8).
Many Christians and the churches they attend reject this "irrevocable" characteristic of eternal life. They are offended when anyone reminds them that God's Word clearly states that eternal life is given apart from our works and behavior - which is one reason God considers it to be 'irrevocable'. This clear Scriptural language is hard to refute. Yet, many labor to disprove - or even discredit this blessing in order to protect and affirm a popular (and dominant) false theology. If you'll meditate on these four Scriptures, it will help to expose these misguided efforts, which the Apostle Paul condemns in his New Testament epistles.
As a result of Christ's Divine act,
God can now freely declare us
"righteous" because Jesus Christ is
righteous and we are "In Him" and
"One With Him". In other words, the
righteousness we possess under the
New Covenant does not come from
our devoted works and religious
performance. From God's perspective;
dead people have no performance to
It is Christ's very own righteousness (also known as the righteousness of God in 2 Corinthians 5:21) that is assigned to us because of our position 'In Him'. When Jesus rose from the dead, He (along with all believers that God now reckons to be 'in Him') is now alive from the dead ... but our old sinful self and life (Paul calls it "the old man") remains dead and in the grave. This is why the New Covenant assigns Christ's perfect righteousness to all believers as "a free gift" (Outlined in Romans 5:15-21) despite the fact that nobody, regardless of how hard they try, can satisfy God's requirements to live perfectly righteous and sinless. If we insist on trying to obtain righteousness through our own efforts and behavior ... then God's laws must be kept perfectly, all the time, with no mistakes - for our entire earthly life. Under this popular theology, one insignificant or forgotten sin will disqualify you - and no place of repentance will exist. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no place of repentance because you refused to receive Christ's freely imputed 'gift of righteousness' - and chose instead to embrace an Old Testament program of righteousness that God no longer honors (Hebrews 8:6-13). Under the brand of theology, Christ's righteousness is not available and you must now strive to be perfect in order to achieve heaven. The Bible warns that this effort will fail - and God will not 'give you a pass'. However, according to the New Covenant, those who place their faith and trust in Christ ... the very righteousness of God now freely belongs to them, as a result of their position "in Christ", regardless of how deficient they are in good works and righteous living.
Many professing Christians reject this liberating New Covenant truth. These folks believe, with all their heart, that they're the only "true Christians". One day, when they stand before God to give an account, many will be shocked to discover they were wrong. Unfortunately, it will be too late to change. Remember that we're not talking about some fringe movement or group. Many are taught that their efforts to achieve a sinless life will satisfy God's requirements for righteousness ... if they try hard enough. Yet, these efforts will end in disaster, which is why Paul gave this warning ...
"Examine yourselves as to whether
you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Do you not know yourselves, that
Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless
indeed you are disqualified."
(2 Corinthians 13:5)
Paul Warns the Church to
Avoid Israel's Error
A serious misconception involving righteousness exists nearly everywhere within the Christian Church. As a result, Saint Paul sounds a sober warning about attempting to obtain righteousness the wrong way:
"Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law
for righteousness to everyone
who believes." (Romans 10:1-4)
Paul reveals the correct New Testament way
to understand and receive righteousness
after the cross.
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned -- (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the Grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man's (Jesus Christ) righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:12-19)
Within seven verses the words "free gift" or "gift" are used six times when referring to our righteousness. Do you think maybe our Heavenly Father wants us to see an important truth?
"And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under Grace (Note: Grace is God's unmerited and undeserved favor)." (Romans 6:13-14)
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God In Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The Few vs. The Many
Jesus taught a parable to His audience in Matthew 22:11-14 about a man at a King's wedding feast that wasn't wearing a wedding garment. He was bound hand and foot and thrown into outer darkness for his error. Concerning this incident, Jesus made the statement, "many are called, but few are chosen". Countless numbers of professing Christians are taught that our Heavenly Father is directing this parable at the New Testament believer. Yet earlier in the same chapter, Jesus indicated that His comments were directed at an entirely different group of people (The Jewish people) who were "under the authority of Old Testament Law". In other words, there is a context in this story that must be observed, or we arrive at a wrong conclusion that will take us astray in our faith. In addition to this parable, there are two other Scriptures that are commonly quoted:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
The key phrases to observe in these passages are:
- Counted worthy
- Few there be that find it
- Few are chosen
A shocking number of Christian’s are taught that God limits eternal life to only a few who can achieve an acceptable level of good works and religious performance, which makes them worthy enough to be included in "the chosen few" or, to escape the coming tribulation that Jesus spoke about in Luke chapter 21. They use these Scriptures and others to support their beliefs. They never stop to think about the context of God’s Word and the contradiction connected to this belief. If eternal life is limited to a “chosen few” who achieve some high-level of religious performance that somehow makes them “worthy” - then eternal life can never be called the “gift of God”. If eternal life is limited to a “chosen few” who achieve some high-level of religious performance, which somehow makes them “worthy” - then we can never be “saved by the unmerited Grace of Christ”. This “performance-based worthiness” that so many think is binding upon the body of Christ - actually contradicts the New Covenant that began after Christ's crucifixion.
Ignoring the context of the Bible is now an almost universal problem within Christendom. When you remove a Scripture from the context where God placed it - and reinsert it into a context of your own design - what used to be God’s Word is now a false teaching of man that carries the illusion of coming from the Bible. Under Old Testament religion, righteousness (or worthiness) is achieved by how well you keep God’s laws. Diligently keep the rules and you will be judged “worthy”. Fail to keep the rules and you will be considered “less worthy or even unworthy”. This kind of performance-based righteousness continued from the Old Testament, through the Gospels and into the book of Acts. The Gospel of Matthew has the highest concentration of "performance-based worthiness" and "self-earned (works-based) righteousness", because it was primarily directed at Jewish people living under the Law - and not the blood-bought Church of Jesus Christ.
The cross of Christ "divides" between these two different religious systems. This is why the apostle Paul told his disciple Timothy that the Word must be "rightly (or correctly) divided" if he was to teach it properly. However, most churches today mix it all together into one message or theology. By refusing to respect this division found in God's Word, horrible Scriptural misinterpretations occur that carry many unintended consequences. Jesus literally changed all the rules. He changed the way “worthiness” is acquired and made it freely available through a "faith apart from works' (Romans 8:4-8). He cleared the way so that many can now receive eternal life, rather than “the few” who were restricted to a performance-based righteousness and a "self-earned worthiness" under Old Testament religion. The first Adam, through disobedience, placed the entire human race under the condemnation and dominion of sin. Jesus (also called the last Adam by the New Covenant) restored what the first Adam lost. (read 1 Corinthians 15:45-49) This is why you must ask some important questions when reading the New Testament.
Much of what Jesus taught before the cross was correctly aligned with Old Testament Law - because, at the time, He hadn’t died to pay the price required to end the authority of the old system. What Jesus called His “New Covenant in blood” (Luke 22:20) couldn’t start until His blood was shed, meaning that everything changed following Christ’s crucifixion. A totally new system that the book of Hebrews calls, “a new and living way”, began. (Hebrews 10:19-20) Professing Christians who fail to observe this important rule of context will always misinterpret the Scriptures. Preachers who ignore context will enthusiastically give false teachings, while believing, with all their heart, that they’re preaching the truth of God’s Word. This has been a mainstream problem in the Christian Church since the first century.
“For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man's (Jesus Christ) righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)
For more insight into this exciting
"new and living way of Christ",
see this additional commentary:
The Spiritual Revolution of Christ
A Wrong View Of Sin
Most of the Christian Church deals with the human sin problem using Old Covenant (or Old Testament) principles. It is a direct result of mixing the covenant program of Old Covenant of Law ... with Christ's New Covenant, which is 'Grace-based'. This practice creates an unbiblical doctrine that is now treated as "one covenant with one unified message". Yet, it actually consists of two sets of rules that contradict each other (salvation through the Law and salvation by Grace). They are contradictory because Law demands works and merit before providing its benefits - but Grace provides its benefits as 'God's gift' apart from works and merit. Mixing these two covenants together violates Saint Paul's warning in 2 Timothy 2:15 to "rightly (or correctly) divide God's Word". Instead of teaching that our sin is permanently dealt with by Christ's sacrifice, churches and preachers shift the sin burden back on the shoulders of the believer. This brand of theology subtly suggests that Jesus didn't provide a complete salvation and the Christian must finish the work in order to possess and keep eternal life. Paul warned that this belief comes from allowing the demands of Old Covenant law to pervert the New Covenant Gospel of Christ - by mixing them together. It's a popular doctrine that has dominated many sectors of the Christian church since the first century.
Some preachers claim that God is going to judge Christians because of their failures, lack of religious performance, worldliness, and sin. It is suggested (but never openly stated) that Christ's blood didn't finish the work and therefore isn't sufficient, which is why we need more purification. Under the New Covenant, Christ bore our total judgment Himself and eternally set us free. The freedom we enjoy through our position "in Christ" was not available under the Old Covenant that governed before the cross. Once again, this false theology, which shifts our sin away from Christ and places it back on the believer, results from the failure to observe the Bible's context. Ignoring or abusing the context of God's Word creates a dangerous heresy. Both the Old and New Covenants are recorded in our Bible. Yet, concerning salvation and eternal life, only the principles and rules of Christ's New Covenant are binding on the Church.
The Believer's New Covenant Position
"In Christ" Exposes the Error of the
"License To Sin" Argument
Like it or not, Christians are involved in an intense spiritual war, where an enemy focuses on "high value targets". The truth concerning God's Grace, provided by the New Covenant, is at the top of his list. Whenever the subject of our freedom in Christ is discussed, there are always those that attempt to cast doubt by asking cleverly designed "loaded questions". The Pharisees took this same approach with Jesus when they tried to "ensnare Him with His own words" (Mark 12:13-17). Matthew 22:15 says, "Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk." This is one tactic that our opponents use in this war. In every situation, Jesus refused to play the game according to their rules. As any experienced politician knows, attempting to answer a "loaded question" is a bad decision in any debate. You will almost always lose unless you can skillfully expose the deception within the question, while giving your answer. Christian leaders and theologians skilled in the art of persuasion know these tactics well. Those within the mainstream Christian Church attempt to discredit God's Grace by asking questions like: "So, you're saying that grace gives us a license to sin?" or "You believe someone can be an authentic Christian - even if they continue to sin because they claim to be under God's Grace?" These same questions can be asked in various ways. Yet, the underlying goal of "ensnaring us with our own words" remains the same. These kinds of tactics angered the Lord Jesus Christ - and it does the same thing today.
In order to properly answer these questions, we must expose the false premise (and the hidden mainstream religious agenda) on which it is based. As we previously stated, most Christians today are taught to look at sin from an Old Testament Mosaic Law perspective, simply because it is found within the pages of the Bible. Most of the worldwide Christian Church embraces this belief. However, when Christ's crucifixion initiated the New Covenant - we're no longer living under the principles of Old Testament Law - since the Law can only be applied while you live. However, after the cross the Bible reveals that we are now "crucified with Christ" - and dead from God's perspective. The crucifixion of Christ in the New Testament - and the "New Covenant" that His blood set into motion - changed all the previous rules about how God deals with our sin.
Paul said it this way ...
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."(Romans 8:1-2)
We will always have people around that abuse benefits and privileges. Our news programs are filled with these things. It doesn't matter whether it's religion, social programs, taxes, laws or finances. One thing is sure: Some people believe that the rules apply to everyone ... except them. Christianity is not exempt from this destructive human tendency.
One of the themes of this Internet ministry is, "Our liberty in Christ", which is secured by a correct understanding of "the truth of the Gospel". Yet, it's a fact that there are some Christians who continue to live a sinful lifestyle and use the message of God's Grace to excuse their practices. We do not want to focus our attention on this group, since they exist in every area of society. Instead, we want to look at a much more serious problem. True believers in Christ always look for a way to stop sinning. Yet, the Bible reveals that Christians will never experientially reach this goal in this life. God will eventually deal severely with those who use His Grace as an excuse to sin. Our Heavenly Father knows how to discipline His children. Yet, He will never change the liberating truth of the New Covenant and its "free justification" to stop those who abuse the blessing.
A common characteristic of the many forms of false theology found within Christendom is that of 'people control'. Some Bible scholars refer to this kind of church government as "authoritarianism". It is currently sweeping throughout the Christian Church. Twisting and misapplying the Holy Scriptures in order to control your audience through fear and guilt is an incredibly destructive practice. Jesus warned that His leaders are to use spiritual authority to serve - not to dominate the lives of His children (Read Mark 10:42-45 and 1 Peter 5:2-4). Yet, repeatedly we see God's cardinal rule that governs authority in the Church violated.
Various ministries and movements misapply and redefine the Scriptures in an attempt to manipulate those who abuse God's Grace by using the fear of losing salvation. As a result, the gospel is changed so that those who sin are prohibited from obtaining or keeping eternal life ... until they stop sinning (often referred to as 'repentance'). This "modified or perverted gospel" is then preached as the authentic Gospel. They use the abuse problem to hide their real agenda, which is to change (or redefine) Christ's New Covenant gospel message of "free justification" (Romans 3:24-26). As a result, the Christian is required to 'clean up their life and stop sinning'. Once again, the demand to 'stop sinning', under this brand of gospel, is often called repentance and must be satisfied before salvation can be obtained. Yet, under the Grace principles of "free justification" God tells us to receive salvation while we are sinners - after which the blood of Christ cleanses us of all sin. As a result of now being cleansed from all sin by the blood of Christ, 'the righteousness of God' is freely assigned (or imputed) to us. All of this takes place apart from works and personal merit. However, the demands of the 'perverted gospel', as Saint Paul calls it, are different and creates a very dangerous and misleading spiritual environment. According to the Bible "all have sinned" ... and will continue to sin in various ways for the remainder of their time on earth. As a result, the condition that we must 'stop sinning' in order to obtain salvation sounds good and pays lip service to Christ's salvation ... but sets conditions that no one can satisfy if they want to keep eternal life. Even if we could 'clean ourselves up" enough to be initially saved (Note: The God of the Bible says that we can't) - we would still lose salvation the next time (and every time) we sin. Even worse, what if we committed some minor sin or sins - that occurred without our knowledge?
Can you see the bondage connected to this popular way of believing the Bible? It creates a group of professing Christians who desperately desire salvation - but are convinced that they must feverishly work toward obtaining a sinless life to possess it.
While looking 'Biblical' and possessing
an outward 'form of godliness' this does
not represent the beliefs of those who
are "In Christ".
It is impossible to have any assurance of salvation under this kind of church teaching. Yet, the Apostle John encourages us by saying;
"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you might know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:11-13)
And Paul writes ...
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him (Jesus Christ) who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:4-8)
The reader should not misunderstand our position. We agree that all believers should make a sincere effort to avoid sin. On this same subject the Apostle Paul said, "are we to sin that grace may abound? God forbid" (Romans 6:1-2). But, redefining the gospel, regardless of your reasons, is condemned by God and carries severe consequences.
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to continue.
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