By Peter McPherson
1) Are We To Continue In Sin That Grace Might Increase? Answer: “‘May it never be!” (Rom. 6:1-2). The very purpose of the sixth chapter of Romans is to explode that wrong notion and to positively teach otherwise. It shows what the gospel of Christ is all about. It is to really change lives and make them “servants of righteousness.” Since, then, the Christian is not to sin even though he is under grace, the fundamental next question has to be . . .
2) What Is Sin? Answer: “Every one who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4). That is clear and plain. Sin is any violation of the law of God whether it be by way of rejection, addition, subtraction or substitution. But the next question now arises. . .
3) Do Christians Never Sin? Answer: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). Then we all do sin, at least occasionally. But then. . .
4) Are Christians To Sin? Answer: “My little Children, I am writing these things unto you that you sin not”(1 Jn. 2:1a). The gospel of Christ not only offers forgiveness of our sins but also releases power and has incentives for man to actually deal with the practice of sin. “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:14). Read also Romans 8, Colossians 3, Ephesians 1:19; 3:16-21 and especially Titus 2:11-12.
5) Whenever Christians Sin Are Their Sins Simply Overlooked Because They Are “In Christ”? Answer: Writing to Christians Paul informed even them that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “The man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (Rom. 4:8) is “the man” “whose sins have been covered . . . . . .. whose lawless deeds have been forgiven”(Rom. 4:7). Whenever our sins are “forgiven” (and that will be many times-Mt. 18:22; 6:12) the Lord “remembers (those) sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).
6) What Are Christians To Do ‘If Anyone Sins”? Answer: “If anyone sins” we are instructed to use our “Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1). We are to “repent” of sins (Acts 8:22), and “confess our sins” (1 Jn. 1:9) to our Forgiving Father. The blessed result is that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Note that a Christian’s sins forgiven make him cleansed from “all unrighteousness.” Then he is only “righteous” as long as he “sins not” (1 Jn. 2:1). When he sins he is “unrighteous” and “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). But, thanks be to God, he has access to the cleansing blood and he can be made “righteous” by availing himself of this rich gospel provision.
7) Does Not “Walk In The Light” and “Walk In Darkness” in First John And In the New Testament Merely Describe Two General Life Styles? Answer: It is true that John’s statement that “whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (Jn. 5:18) means habitually. A. T. Roberson says that the “sinneth not” is “lineal present active indicative, ‘does not keep on sinning,’ as he has already shown in 3:4-10.” Further, John had already stated that “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). In general terms it is true that the world sins and Christians do not. That is why Christians are never referred to as sinners in the New Testament but as saints (sanctified ones. . . people set apart from the “whole world (which) lies in wickedness” 1 Jn. 5:19). Yet the Christian’s single sin is sin and needs to be repented of and taken before the Father in prayer (1 Jn. 1:8-10).
8) Are There Any Gospel Provisions For Forgiveness Apart From A Specific Repentance And Confession Of A Specific Sin? Answer: We know that the Bible teaches us to repent and confess every sin that we are aware of to God. Also we are to even ask God to “forgive us our debts” (Mt. 6:12). That would include “unknown” sins. And further we are to always manifest a prayerful attitude in life i.e. “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Of course in all of this we are “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
We know that the gospel of grace includes an ability” clause (Mt. 25:15) as well as it has affixed a “growth” rider (I Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). What does this mean? It means that we can necessarily infer that there is a provision (conditional of course as will be shown) for all of us due to our mental limitations and conditioning. For example, we are all commanded to grow . . . to “add to our faith” the following: Virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). The full-grown Christian in all of these areas would be perfect . . . 100% . Are any of us perfect i.e. 100% ? Rather, we are somewhere between zero and 100 percent in each of them depending on our own abilities and/or time-growth. But if I (and here are some of the human effort conditions) “press” (Phil. 3:14) and I “buffet” (1 Cor. 9:27) and we “apply all diligence” (2 Pet. 1:5) then God treats me with acceptability. I am, like Abraham, walking by faith and thus I am, like he was, continually “justified.” As long as, during my total ability-growing time (my lifetime) I have the attitude of David and plead to God to “cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Ps. 19:12). I am “righteous.” My attitude is that I am still an “unprofitable servant” w1file striving to do “all those things which are commanded” (Lk. 17:10). Even after having “done that which was our duty to do” we need to recognize that we fall short and, like David, scripturally ‘plead the blood’ (Ps. 19:12; 1 Jn. 1:7). In all of this there is no “boasting” (Eph. 2:9) for we are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10) and be His total plan for us applied personally and humbly accepted it is in this manner that “God . . . is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). Surely no one will say that they do not need or want such grace benefits as above discussed. It is only by appi ying and accepting all of grace’s provisions that we may be “present(ed) . . . perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).
9) Will False Theology And Doctrinal Error Taught AndlOr Accepted Cause A Christian (A Babe Or Otherwise) To Be Lost? Answer: Jesus said that there would be “blind leaders of the blind” and that “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mt. 15:14). Yes, one of the “hard sayings” of the Bible that many do not accept is the fact that a person can honestly “believe a lie” and still be “damned” (2 Thess. 2:11; Jn. 6:60; Gen. 3:4; Mt. 7:23; Lk. 11:52). Sentimentalism, emotionalism, humanism and materialism have all played their part in the positions now being advocated’to restructure the church into a non-doctrinal denomination. But it is exactly at this point where the grace-fellowship-unity advocates and adherents get into deep trouble and come into condemnation. They are setting forth a false theology and are thus on the wrong track aitogether. They will never grow into the truth because they are going into the wrong direction! It is like a Baptist reading Acts 2:38. He will not likely see the truth plainly taught in this verse, namely, that baptism is “for the remission of sins” because he has accepted the false concept and theology on the subject of salvation. He has already been taught and therefore embraced the idea that salvation is by ‘faith alone.’ It is not a matter of growth or ability here but rather of direction and aim. The Catholics have their theology that teaches them that “tradition” of the Church is as important as the teaching of the Bible and therefore they do not arrive at the truth even though some of them might read the Bible. The same is true of the Calvinists, Materialists as well as our institutional brethren of the past and present. With an institutional concept of the church in mind one is blinded to the truth.
Whatever hangups and problems there might be associated with the old restoration ideas, it still has to be the right aim and direction. It is imperative that we be headed back . . . back to the Bible and that our direction be towards the pattern . . . the New Testament pattern. Jn. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:1-6; 1 Pet. 4:11; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jn. 9; 1 Cor. 4:6; 1 Cor. 14:37; Jude 3; Rev. 22:18-19 etc.
10) Are Sins Of Ignorance Ignored Or Overlooked By God Under Grace? Answer: Read answer again to No. 8 above. Life has been given to us as a time to prepare for eternity (2 Cor. 5:10-11; Eccl. 12:12). It demands constant change from wrong to right and God’s grace is the guiding light (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 3:19-21; 8:12). Ignorance due to a failure to know and to grow in God’s will for us is no excuse for sin and in fact is sin itself. The following verses ought to show conclusively that ignorance is not a bliss but rather a curse: Lk. 12:47-48; Acts 3:17; Acts 17:30; Mt. 15:14; Lk. 11:52; Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 10:1-3. God’s word has been given to “enlighten” men in their sinful ignorance. Again, whatever implications this might have it is not ours to speculate and to announce clemency to the ignorant. Rather, we are to accept what God has said knowing that this is the only way we can know when we are in harmony with His will. So, let us be making the most of (our) time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
Truth Magazine XX: 31, pp. 490-492
August 5, 1976