An Open Letter to Hot-Blooded Young Men

Grace attracts sinners. Since I am someone who preaches radical grace, I get a lot of emails and Facebook messages from sinning Christians. Very few are looking for help in overcoming sin; almost all of them want an assurance that God will continue to love them despite their bad behavior. More often than not, these messages come from young men who are living as though they were married, even though they are not.

Since I grow weary of being an agony aunt for men who should know better, this post is addressed to all of you who are wrestling with sin, but particularly to hot-blooded young males. Here are my responses to five commonly asked questions:

1. Will God love me if I keep sinning?

Yes, absolutely! I know this is not what manmade religion has told you, but you need to know that God’s love for you is unrelated to your moral performance. He loves us because He is love. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son” (Joh 3:16). Are you part of “the world”? Then God loves you. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8).

There are many variables in life but God’s love is the one constant you can bank on. You can be certain that He loves you. A far better question to ask is, “Do you know and enjoy His love?” The prodigal’s father loved him constantly but the prodigal did not know and benefit from his love for as long as his attention was elsewhere.

Every one of us has needs. These needs are designed to lead us to Jesus (see Php 4:19). If you’re not getting your needs met in Jesus, you will make inferior choices – and this is where the trouble starts.

2. Does God’s grace mean I can continue to live in sin?

No. Grace brings freedom and yes, that includes the freedom to make poor choices, but if you use your freedom to enslave yourself to sin or religion, you have completely missed the point of grace (Gal 5:1).

A Christian who runs after sin is like a prisoner who has been released into the custody of gracious king, who then uses his freedom to re-offend and do all the things that got him imprisoned in the first place. Now our King is extremely gracious. He won’t send you back to prison. But you may send yourself there.

The King of kings didn’t give His life as your ransom just so that you run back to the clay-pits Egypt. That’s going in the wrong direction. Egypt is history. We’ve got places to go and grace is going to take us there. Move on to the Promised Land of His love for that is where life really begins.

3. Will I lose my salvation if I choose to keep sinning?

No. Jesus is your salvation; the Holy Spirit is your eternal guarantee (2 Cor 1:22). If sinning caused us to lose our salvation, then heaven would be empty.

But the question troubles me. Religion has got us so obsessed with making heaven and avoiding hell that we’ve put life on hold. The earth is not a waiting room for eternity. This is the place where Real Life begins (see Joh 17:3)! Don’t put your life on hold by living captive to the flesh. Salvation is not there and then; it’s here and now. God’s will is for you to experience heaven-on-earth today. But choose the way of sin – make dumb decisions, sow to the flesh – and you’ll experience hell-on-earth.

Religion would have us frame the questions of life in terms of good and evil. “Shouldn’t we do good and avoid evil?” But this is fruit from the forbidden tree; it is not the heavenly metric of grace. It’s not that the question is inherently bad, it just won’t lead you anywhere near the right Answer.

We don’t earn grace by doing good; neither do we forfeit grace by doing evil. If anything, His grace shines all the more when we sin (Rom 5:20). The purpose of grace is to give you life where sin has given you death. Grace is the antidote to the poison of sin. Now that you’ve been saved from death, stop drinking the poison. Drink instead from the well of His life.

4. If God loves me and my salvation is secure, then why can’t I keep doing what I’m doing?

Because sin is stupid. It’s like texting on the freeway. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. The world will tell you that “if it feels good, do it” and “as long as it’s harming no one, what’s the problem?” But these two mantras are flawed. Live from your feelings and you’ll end up enslaved to your appetites. You will be a shadow of your real self.

This is the true message of the cross. When we seek to save ourselves by doing what seems right in our own sight, we lose ourselves, but when we trust Him, then we really live. Understand that I am not calling you to take a vow of chastity. Aside from the fact that law-based solutions don’t work, this is not the life God has called us to. Following Jesus is not about starving the flesh – that’s asceticism and it’s as much a flesh-trip as any indulgence. Following Jesus is about reckoning yourself dead to the world and it dead to you and allowing Him to live His life through you. Trust me – His life is way more fun than yours!

“As long as it’s harming no one…” How do you know it’s not harming no one? Do you have perfect knowledge of the future? Do you know for sure that this lady you’re keeping house with is going to be your wife and not the wife of some other man? Will she be the mother of your children or the mother of someone else’s children? If you are certain that she will be your wife for life, then marry her. But if you’re uncertain, then stop playing games and grow up. Be a man. People are far too precious to fool around with.

5. I can’t help myself. I’m not sure that I could stop even if I wanted to.

That’s not a question; that’s a declaration of unbelief in the grace of God that empowers us to say no to ungodliness (Tit 2:12).

In the natural it may be true that you are enslaved to addiction. You may be so deep in a rut that you can’t see the sun. But that doesn’t mean you are without help and without options. Come on – your Helper is God! No one is beyond the reach of His transforming love and grace. I’ve met countless people who have been completely changed from one kind of person into another by His grace. In the kingdom of His grace this happens all the time.

But transformation rarely happens among those who don’t believe. So stop looking at yourself as a victim. Stop speaking lies over your life – that’s rampant unbelief in the Son of God who lives in you. Look instead to your Mighty Redeemer. Confess your true identity in Christ. When you get up in the morning and another day of sin beckons, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am my Father’s Son and He loves me! I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. As He is in heaven, so am I in this world!”

I’m not preaching faith plus self-effort. I’m preaching faith in His mighty grace!

Beliefs need to be spoken and acted upon for them to become real in our experience. The world will try and tell you that you are the product of your choices and behaviors. But God says you are His dearly beloved son. So choose who you would listen to and be who you really are.

This is not the place where I talk about overcoming sin. If you would like help in that direction, I recommend this post and this book by Bill Gillham.

e2r_windowFor now, I will end with this: Any theology that doesn’t empower you to overcome sin is worse-than-useless. It leaves people worse off because it saddles them with guilt and condemnation. This is why grace is infinitely better than law-based religion. Grace is not a set of rules that condemn, it is a victorious Overcomer living His overcoming life through you.
___
Related posts:
– Who can take communion?
– Do NIV readers have a sinful nature?
– What is the unforgiveable sin?

Comments

  1. Well, I am not a man, hot blooded or otherwise, but I still am tempted with sin–ultimately the sin of unbelief. I am inclined to trust myself, telling myself that I know how to get what I need instead of trusting Him to lead and provide for me. I know that your intention for this post addresses sexual sin, but it’s the same for any sin. Every time we tell ourselves that God’s way won’t work, doesn’t know what He’s doing, my situation is different, etc., we take another bite of the same fruit that tempted Eve. We make another Ishmael. We are like Saul of Tarsus, acting zealously self-righteous as we charge ahead, opposing God’s plan. But God loves us like He loved those people, and He provides every day new opportunity to receive the Bread that falls from Heaven. Pure grace, strength, mercy and love in the person of Jesus.
    Loved this post! Very well said! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What an EXCELLENT post! A great word for anyone really. I’m so glad you wrote this Paul.

  3. Rick Shafer says:

    Grace brings “better believing” which causes “better behavior”. With that simple statement about 3 of the world’s questions are answered; others are journey questions: ask, believe, ask again, rest, praise, give thanks, ask once again, be thankful, I have learned that we are always walking “in Grace”; we “see differently”, we “feel differently”. Why are we under attack so hard and so long? Let’s try this, you hunt deer (why I dont know) but you see standing together 2. But one has 21 points or tips and the other only 12. Which will you take home for mounting? The 21 point of course–why? The biggest, the best, really stands out. Well, in this dark world, who stand out the most? That is the person Evil attacks simply because Evil does not like loosing and Evil will do anything to discredit you to somebody anybody who at that moment was thinking of Jesus, yet not a Believer. Evil can’t have the herd grow now can he. So every arrow comes at you; some you never saw before Jesus sent His Spirit to reside in you to comfort, to teach, to protect. Personal Ex: I only have 38% of my lungs left after a toxic fumes accident. Mayo Clinic said I had 12 months November 15, 2004–if you dont know it is 2012! One of the ways they tell me I will die is a rather painful collapse of the esophagus thereby closing all passages to get air to the lungs. My body will look like a fish out of water. I will last about 30 seconds. Well, I stand IN GRACE and I have prayed far more than once for Jesus to lift this from me, but like Paul’s prayer 3 times, I too get the words, “We shall discuss this no more”. One night this year, I had my first completely stretched closing of the entire throat. It literally threw me down to the floor where my wife said I thrashed about like a fish out of water. I don’t remember that. What I DO remember is that inside, deep inside I knew 1. I was smiling, 2. I was completely at peace, 3. I was completely calm and at rest, and 4. The Glory of the Spirit moving so fast the eye could not see yet each twhich, each thrash, each jerk slowing began to stop; of course, by then I remembered the 30 seconds and I remember looking straight up–not into any light or face just up–smiling and so thankful that I would rest that night in the arms of my Savior. My wife tells me when the thrashing and jerking ended a huge breathe was taken and I just laid there smiling with closed eyes breathing deeper and easier. Later, I had asked how long was the attack, that seems like an hour, was only but about 15 seconds. My God is KING and in Him, I have no fear. Yes I sin, Yes I break “The Law” but after talking with The Father, Jesus and The Spirit (we have talks, studies, and conversations around the table with the Father at the head, the Son to His Right, the Spirit to His Left and I am at the end of the table) after our talk and I have realized and learned and was shown how I fell or how I let in; my belief INCREASES for there is NO Condemnation just Love and smiles (now I may and do cry but My God smiles and laughs so richly.
    No it is NOT anything I DO! It is all the finished work of Jesus; and I believe, trust in that and that alone. For Jesus is still here with me even after running away from Him as if there was not even The Law for over 20 years. He still whispered, He was still there, and He was there when the madness and the darkness left; He was there to catch me when I started to fall–just as when Peter started to sink into the Galilee. And then my storm was over.

    • Wow!! Thank you for sharing. What an incredible powerful testimony! I am very encouraged.
      And thank you Paul for your acute perception. Each reading helps fill in the missing pieces in ‘the puzzle of life’. I like the reasoning that any battle we are in we standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesus. Gods artillery far exceeds that of the enemy, we just need to know clearly how to utilize what is ours.

    • tonycutty says:

      Brilliant, great testimony!

  4. Tom NeSmith says:

    Paul… c’mon… theology doesn’t empower anything. It’s all about the relationship with Someone who is crazy in love with us. Sin becomes irrelevant.😉

    • When you fall prey to sin enslaving you it won’t seem quite so irrelevant then. For me, I choose to hunt sin down and show no mercy. It has shown no mercy to me. My relationship began with me hearing and believing God’s promises, which is theology (theo-God, ology-learning about). I usually don’t take time to respond to asinine comments but you need to rethink some beliefs about having an active enemy out to get you [roaring lion stalking for the kill]. As it is, or at least seems to me from one brief [photo] encounter of who you are (I know this is not a complete representation of who you are) I feel love for you, a brother in Christ, and just wanted to caution you because I have been ‘so’ burned by the attitude that ‘sin is no big deal’, it’s just irrelevant. Sin is a monster, it lives inside you and me and Andrew Farley. Don’t cut it any slack. Chip away at it on every opportunity. Don’t let sin define your relationship with God, but don’t underestimate its destructive potential either.

      • Roshan Easo says:

        Marsh, you’re going to deal with a lot of other problems believing that way. You’re giving life to sin, but no life to Christ.

      • Patrick KWH says:

        I Peter 5:8……the devil walks about LIKE a roaring lion, The devil is no lion; only Jesus is the Lion of Judah. The devil pretends to be God (the Lion) roaring at you making you think that God is angry with you when He is not. All God’s anger on sins is exhausted on the body of Jesus on the cross once and for all eternity. Amen.

        Note: Proverbs 19:12 The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion….

    • Jesus put an end to law and sin. Sin is now a non-issue, it no longer exists.
      We do things that “miss the mark” (the literal meaning of the word) and still have to sort out the consequences of that, but God doesn’t see it, Jesus wiped the whole paradigm – its gone.
      Maybe for some of us that is just semantics in the end, but its the most powerful aspect of the new covenant.
      Because sin and every concept of it is gone, we are free to embrace our union with God, completely guilt and shame free. We then live in our intimate love relationship with him – the way it was always intended, and in that place of being loved, we live loved. Every thing we do becomes an expression of love.
      If we do something that isn’t from love, then its ok, but we will have to sort out the consequences of that – but God will even love us through that!
      Its a huge paradigm shift, and is the absolute core of everything Jesus did. If we don’t see it like this we will never be free.
      Its scary, because the security of law is gone, and we can think it a license to do whatever we want. But its no more a license to sin than saying a lover would do something to hurt their partner – why would they even think like that, it would be absurd. For those in love, if they do inadvertently hurt each other, love and compassion covers the hurt and sorts out the cause and effect.

  5. Great Post! Posted a link to this in response to a post from a friend in ministry yesterday (“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring confession and repentance.”)…I agonized a bit over a non-confrontational response then dropped it. This was in my inbox today – I think a God-given gracious response. Sadly there are still so many otherwise good ministries (this one focused on healing) that still don’t seem to fully embrace Grace. Thanks!

  6. Paul, this is perhaps one of the clearest and best explanations I’ve ever read on this topic. In the past whenever I struggled with this topic, somewhere I knew in the back of my mind that there is a harmonious balance to make sense of what seemed like a contradiction. It took a long time for me to eventually understand it. It has been a few years since I started to see how it fits, but your explanation articulates it as clear as I’ve ever seen and better than I could have expressed it. It says exactly what the Holy Spirit has been showing me but didn’t really know how to put into words. I have been praying for more clarity on how to express it. This was an answer to prayer.

    Tom, if sin was irrelevant, we wouldn’t need Jesus or the work of the cross. You are correct that it’s about relationship. That’s what we were created for, but any relationship that is abused suffers and does not experience the fullness of joy that is possible. If I were married and lying to my wife or cheating on her or abusing her, I guarantee that would be pretty relevant to her no matter how much she loved me. She might even forgive me, but I guarantee the relationship would suffer damage and not function at the highest level possible unless the wrong she suffered was dealt with. Jesus dealt with it at the cross, but what He accomplished for me will not fully benefit me if I act like a dog in returning to my vomit that I’ve been freed from. Jesus loves me all the same, but I also want to experience the fullness of what He accomplished for me.

    • Brandon, Thank you for your example of a relationship suffering and not being all that God wants it to be. To glorify HIm is always the intent so all relationships (starting with our relationship with God) should always glorify God. It’s a simple test that we can apply in our daily lives.

  7. Another word in season,,,thanks Paul…and praise God who gives you !the wisdom and insight

  8. @”Any theology that doesn’t empower you to overcome sin is worse-than-useless”
    sad but true!
    worst, most theology today makes us concious of sins.

    • Yes true,wrong theology if it is out of balance, but even right theology only takes one so far. The empowerment itself as I see it is partly of the action of oneself and partly of ones connection with the body (i.e. the church). They cannot be separated. There needs to be harmony between the two. As I see it, it is a fault of both myself and the way the imperfect institutionalized church operates in todays mad rush society, and for whatever other reasons. Being isolated from a supportive body is not where it is at, if we are to walk in true Christian growth. The battle is not only in having God being with us, but also with supportive brothers and sisters alongside, living and acting in supportive love for one another. My personal battle is to play my role in the church using the gifts I have been given. Alas, I am weak, circumstances and choices mean I am failing.The outworking of good theology should address these issues if we are to honestly overcome.

      • this is the kind of conversation that stirs my blood. you are absolutely correct about the institutionalized church. in my case, none have preach the gospel, none have taught good theology. not even worthy to be labelled institutionalized church.
        I do believe in “right believing leads to right living”. but I also believe in “right theology leads to right believing which leads to right living”.
        you are also right when you said about the supportive body of brothers and sisters.
        in my case, I have been treated as if an enemy. we use to be in the church but now I am exposed to the gospel, it is as if I have become an alien to them. we are despised, called false teachers, mocked, insulted. and the sad part is that they are hurled by those whom we though to be brothers and sisters.

        wooot… got carried away.. long comment:)

      • Rick Shafer says:

        How sad it is the Churches (buildings for gathering) have become so political, so segregated so unfriendly. There will be ever so many “Pastors” that their “heaven”, should even they know Christ, will be on the far back corner and wondering for eternity why. The Church (you and I) has also a little apathy, smugness, Praise to the Spirit Who has risen up people to come together, truly worship, truly learn, truly serve, and truly love each other. I know they exist; I just have not found one yet therefore our “gathering place” is the internet and purchased tapes, dvds from Prince and with such joy, returning to the very books that when read as an enemy of Christ calmed my soul, tore down defenses, and the Light of Glory did come in.
        Finally, and most sad of all, is that the buildings the denominations, the individual Pastor is far more interested in selling you stuff that he is showing you the blood thread from Genesis to Revelation. Pastors living in houses 50x bigger than their average congregate; Pastors with personal jets and runways in their backyard. Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia are no doubt weeping for they see no Paul rebuking. Remember the historical revivals? If you lived in the 50’s, remember Billy Graham’s Crusades–why he was on TV in prime time; do you remember the old missionaries coming home for the last time from some pit in which they labored with such grand stories of then and now only to look out to blank faces and then resigned faces when the offering plate was passed. Prince calls this the last generation, the Benjamin Generation; just started to study that; but one thing I do know, The Black Horse is Riding. Last year the Pale Horse thundered from the furthest point on West Africa to Syria–The Brotherhood, The Muslim Spring–as if there is re-freshing happening in the Muslim world. The Pale Horse and still rides; and now The Black Horse comes to reap what has been sown and to wreck the “manna” God has always supplied in abundance for 2/3ds of the world–our wheat, corn, oats parched, dried, dead. I do not think the building Churches know it yet nor will recognize it unless someone tells them; but the gathering here in the caves and underground of the net, the warning, the discussion, the realization, the just pure fun of seeing Jesus and just talking with The Father, The Son and The Spirit sitting with them around my table as I read and then ask or just bring my bowed shoulders for Them to relieve. The Black Horse is riding and it will affect the Church, but it is the surety, the certainty that Jesus is coming. For The Father must shout “Enough” or the ashes of Sodom will cry out. The Father, who wants all for His Son, in His great Grace holds back one more day. But remember, Jesus said, “not even the Son knows the day or hour”—He said nothing about month and year.
        Have fun with your Lord today! Just laugh and drive the evil crazy.

      • Well “Savedby grace’ I hope you, like me, find your place in the body, the church. I don’t know your personal circumstances and that is part of the online community, but never become too cynical or bitter, thats always a danger and not good for anyone..for me mostly, I accept others shortcomings, I have plenty:-), don’t worry about what others think too much, all we need to worry is what God thinks and we know that He loves us. (Both Paul’s express clearly & expand on this) I see all people of various denominations as my brothers and sisters with all the abounding differences, so long and “If” we can say in unity “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead …we will be saved… together!!..to me that is what unites us. (there is probably a label for my kind of thinking). Then it also comes down to our own individual faith, walk, relationship etc, that keeps one strong and growing. if anyone wants to undermine you without love, rather than encourage you, it is most likely their lack of maturity of where they are at, or some other personal problem.

      • James, thank you for the encouragement. i think i am getting the shock of my life when i realized that being a chrisian is a bed of thorns, at least in this world.
        i have gone discouraged and quite honestly been thinking of shutting down.
        i do understand circumstance does not necessarily need to align with the word of God.
        so thanks again for those encouragements

      • @Rick Shafer

        well crafted comment.

        almost instantly i felt bitter when you mentioned about those pastors with jets and living in houses 50x times bigger than their congregate.

        i may have misunderstood you, but i feel a bit scratchy.

      • Rick Shafer says:

        My Dear Friend SavedbyGrace.
        For a moment there, I felt as if we were inside Hinds’ Feet on High Places one of my favorite books and now also my grandchildren.
        I do not know what is making you a “bit scratchy” I am assuming on this statement: “Finally, and most sad of all, is that the buildings the denominations, the individual Pastor is far more interested in selling you stuff that he is showing you the blood thread from Genesis to Revelation. Pastors living in houses 50x bigger than their average congregate; Pastors with personal jets and runways in their backyard. Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia are no doubt weeping for they see no Paul rebuking.”
        I took a shower after the memory of those Pastors re-entered my world. I knew them all and half are still at it–from “for your love gift of $XXX we will send to you in your very own genuine plastic vial approximately 1″ with of course a cheap chain to wear around your neck, the actual soil from the Holy Lands. Why just think beloved you can imagine Jesus walking on that very soil”
        I need another shower. Of course so my TV pastors, evangelists, speakers, are selling survival food for 3 days; trips to Israel, even Bibles. We have always had them: Ananias and Saphira (sp)
        the man who came to Paul to buy the power to do miracles, Balaam’s donkey, all over the place.
        BUT whatever you do STOP casting your eye on them almost constantly and then wondering about yourself, your relationship with Jesus, is Jesus even real, is this whole thing a joke. The is ultimate deception that the Evil one wants to get you to–and ever so many people LET HIM just because they “mouth it”. Just a your blessing from the Father is in your mouth; your attacks from Darkness start with your mouth. Forget about them, I had until your reply so I trust I write what you needed to hear. I came to Jesus 1973; I ran from Jesus and church in 1980 because of all the lies, deceptions, wickedness I saw during those years working in Christian ministry. 1981 I joined the world and worked in the world and was of the world until 2005. The Voice that I talk, discuss, and laugh with now was still there and I did hear it; I just chose MY way. Listen, when “I” and “MY” become a large part of your vocabulary The LAW has beaten you silly. But that day that a breath of wind, the sun, the snow, something will begin the fill your heart, your eyes and you fall on your face weeping, groaning, begging for forgiveness—until you hear a soft voice “Rick, I already have forgiven you. Look at my hands, my side. I did all this when I chose YOU during my prayers to My Father in the Garden when I did not want to do it; but then I saw you, and I chose you to carry and bear and heal you by my strips and give to you freely life with Me forever and ever. I just never left you; I still held on.” I hang on now and shall never let go! Jesus, the Son of the Living I AM, Giver of the sweet Holy Spirit is all that I need and forever want. Why your name says all you need to know! And because Jesus, The Lord God, has so freely, simply given you His Grace and gave you that name; that is all you need to know; except maybe with every step, every word you are living, breathing, walking INSIDE and ON GRACE; and the sweet part is, you could never do anything to get it. So stop your fretting, your scratchy; Grace o how sweet the sound, the walk, the talk, the quiet. The restful night. And that “great gettin’ up morning” just over the next sunrise.

  9. Doug Cohenour says:

    Paul, good post, but I have a question.
    In 4 &5 above, isn’t it possible that people who respond like that don’t really know God at all? If we can make room in our thinking for false disciples, isn’t it possible that those who have not come to even a basic understanding of grace have not come to know Jesus?

    Lots of people use Christ for absolution of guilt, and yet do not have any concept of a life in the “grace space”, where they have access to God because of the blood of His Son. It seems to me that there are two possible alternatives. One might only know law and not grace, or one may know neither and simply want relief for the guilt of sin without any sense of the Christ who paid with His Blood.

    I am curious if it is always a misunderstanding of Grace? Not that you implied that, just asking…

    • Doug, it is certainly possible but I don’t know what we gain by judging people by their behavior. I’ve seen sinners act like saints and saints act like sinners. No doubt there have been times when I, as a new creation, have acted in the old ways of the flesh. Perhaps you have too. The remedy for sinners and saints who act like sinners is the same – preach the gospel. Many Christians have just enough grace to get saved but not enough to live well – they’re striving in the flesh. Jesus only gave us one message to preach and whether I’m dealing with old saints or hot-blooded young men I’m going to preach it.

  10. abiche adejor says:

    Hi, bro. Paul. I’m grateful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for His mercy and the revelation He has given to you about GRACE. I have two questions for you please: 1. These hot-blooded young men who are cohabiting with women who are not legally their wives. With reference to what the Bible says in 1 Cor. 5 :9-11, What should the church do with these hot blooded? Though the brother had had his sins forgiven, yet he was disciplined.
    2. Since forgiveness is what God has done through the finished work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ once and for all sin and sins. Does that mean that a believer who commits sins today should not tell His forgiven and Loving Father that he/she is sorry what he/she has done? Thanks.
    Emmanuel.

    • 1. If the church disciplined every sinner in its midst, it would spend a fair chunk of it’s time disciplining people. How about, instead, we reveal the grace of God that empowers people to sin no more and leave the disciplining to our heavenly Father?
      2. You can certainly do that if you wish. Feeling sorry is a perfectly normal response to acting stupidly.

      • Rick Shafer says:

        Paul, I am surprised at such (it sounds like) a flip statement; sort of a I am Pastor see my degree you cannot disagree with me. I do not in any way believe you meant it that way but that is how it came across at least to me.
        Now I would like to address ABICHE ADEJOR, rather interesting name, at least for this American to pronounce. Trust your day has been well or should you be out there west of the Pacific then I hope my tomorrow was good for you.
        You ask as to what WE or the Church should do about Believers who still live in a “pet” sin. First, are his/her sins forgiven? Of course! Does he need forgiveness again? Of course NOT! Why? Should anybody who had claimed, accepted the Lord Jesus, believes that He shred in Blood for our complete forgiveness, has been given the Holy Spirit (dont worry here I am not saying you have to wait in an upper room somewhere; the Spirit comes when Jesus comes in), I think I would cry out to the mountains to cover me. Because Jesus will NOT be crucified AGAIN and AGAIN each time one of His Children falls, stumbles, messes up, whatever you want to call it. Is it still sin? YES! Are we now in our new Bodies, are we know changed and caught up, are we living with Jesus and worshiping him and The Father every second? Of course not! I do not insult your intelligence, but I certainly can say “there is NO condemnation in those whom the Lord loves; for we have the Righteousness of God freely given to us by Jesus the Son of the Living Holy God from that CROSS”. No condemnation now, no condemnation tomorrow nor the day after that. But wait for it….do you think that such a Believer will remain in his sin? I think not; simply because the Holy Spirit within him will groan, moan, weep, and punch (trust me on that one) you back into remembering your FIRST Love.
        When will Believers, people who call themselves Christians, Pastors, “speakers”, radio/TV some time snakes, when will we realize THE LAW FOR US IS DEAD FOR WE ARE DEAD TO THE LAW! Why must we always judge, condemn, gossip? Why do we not love first, open our mouths to pray instead of punish, and then just get out of the Father’s way and let He and Jesus and the Spirit handle it! Who is suppose to be in charge anyway?
        My goodness, folks, have you forgotten the ONLY 2 Commandments Jesus gave to us: Love the Lord your God with all your might,,,,and I give you another, And to LOVE one another.

      • Not glib, just brief, as I prefer all comments to be on these threads. I sincerely meant every word.

      • Rick Shafer says:

        Sorry Paul. I will do better and shorter.

      • @Rick “My goodness, folks, have you forgotten the ONLY 2 Commandments Jesus gave”
        ….. that is still the Law.

      • Rick Shafer says:

        And Jesus came to fulfill the Law and did finish it on the Cross. I do not believe for 1 sec that these 2 statements of Christ are the LAW; surely Love One Another finishes and completes The Law #2-#10

      • Patrick KWH says:

        Your first love is not your love for God but His love for you!

  11. Terry Moore says:

    Paul I took this posting, studied what you had written and adapted it into a message. As a pastor of a very small church plant who works another job for support, this is some of the best writing I have read. This morning I saw folks freed from guilt that had taken them under. When you work with folks who have been on the wrong side of every law known to man, to see them set free by God’s grace and then reminded that it is His grace that keeps them, you should see their faces. You should see my face since I have started preaching grace and the finished work of the cross. What was what I thought a ministry ending, has been a life renewed. Keep talking about grace, keep explaining it for folks like me who need to share it with folks who have almost given up on a redeemed life. I like living in the fields of grace. When you can pray for a new work called GracePoint. Thanks!!!

    • Hi Terry, that’s wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to share. Religion seeks to bind the free but the gospel of grace is good news for the captive!

  12. @Rick: I think what savedbygrace meant by “law” was that, if you strive to follow Jesus’ 2 commandments rather than trust in Christ to live these 2 commandments, then you still place yourself under legalism.

    If you allow Christ to transform you effortlessly, you live under grace. But if you think about these 2 commandments every day and remind yourself, “I must love God and love my neighbor as myself,” you still live under the “law” mindset.

    I do agree with you, Rick, that love is the fulfillment of the law.

    • Rick Shafer says:

      Angel: thank you so much for the reply. I do not think these 2 statements (granted the first spoken by The Father IS the Law) but the statement of Christ is the fulfillment of OT, the reason for the agony in the garden and the sin-bearing, redeeming and casting where God does not remember nor see. I do not establish any ritualism to these 2 statements. I rush to say though that one saved by GRACE cannot LOVE, His Savior, His Father first and loving each other springs from that. Thx again, I learn from every reply.

  13. Hi Paul, I have been enjoying your posts and studies which I have been sharing with my group. I am just avoiding the question Will a Christian lose his salvation? Because I am aware that Jesus also said that not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. I would really like your answer regarding this, thank you.

    • My answer is: No. But I have found that many aren’t satisfied with such a short answer, so I cover it in a bit more depth in my book and here. In Matt 7 Jesus is referring to people He doesn’t know – they are not saved. They are not in union with Him. They are not “somebody I used to know” and they are not ex-s. They are people who put on a good show but he never knew them. If you are wed to the Lord relax, for Jesus doesn’t believe in divorce.

  14. Roshan Easo says:

    Christ was not a man like me. I am a man like Christ.

    • Roshan Easo says:

      hmm….I think someone took me for a loop on that one. I think it should be backwards..Jesus I am so sorry for upplaying your humanity. Since you WERE a man JUST like us.

  15. Rick Shafer says:

    Paul: I just read your reprimand for which I accept, but I also re-read the post that caused it; especially this section: “How about, instead, we reveal the grace of God that empowers people to sin no more and leave the disciplining to our heavenly Father?” You have lost me. The Grace of God is Jesus and while all our sins are completely forgiven and forgotten, there is NO human man who can sin “no more” for we are still in the “flesh” and in the “flesh” there is no good thing; and did not Jesus say Himself, Go and make disciples. What are you reading that I have not?

    • Rick, my point was that we in church leadership have historically taken a very hands-on role with disciplining saints who sin. Problem is, most saints sin! There is a right-way (empowering grace) and a wrong way (rules, accountability) to do this. My view is that we should put less emphasis on behavior management and more emphasis on unconditional love. Let the Father discipline his own kids.

      • Rick Shafer says:

        Paul: As you know, Right believing will always lead to right living; a Believer knows the trick has been pulled he mourns within or just feels lousy. The Spirit moans & brings it to us; what we do with it depends entirely how much we believe the Father and the Son. Paul, the other one years ago, writes about bringing before the Elders; I have always felt those were the big stuff: predator, murder, Wall Street; I once heard a Pastor talking with a wealthy man (why do some Pastors always crawl to the rich; or when they themselves become rich, want more and more pleading to his usually mega-church); the Pastor was denying the Blood, all you have to do is be baptized and give to the church once and awhile. When the rich man paused at public baptism the Pastor merely said not to worry, you have a pool and we could have dinner to further discuss my bond project. That was my Pastor and I quit & just “gave it up”, I wanted nothing to do with “church” people,Pastors, TV fakes. I agreement w/your position on behavior management (a fancy name for The Law maybe?). When I was a child, doing something wrong at my neighbors it brought an immediate spanking FROM THEM; one at home; another for father and no food that night. They always came in 3s.
        Let’s let the Father choose whom He will send to the sinner—lost or sealed. For the Gospel still must be told; the Church must hear the truth of Grace.

  16. ‘Can a person be saved and a homosexual at the same time?’ There is so much information and opinions about the subject of homosexuality it can be frustrating and confusing to understand why God would create then condemn homosexuals… In my search for salvation I came across your site and really feel differently about myself, I don’t think I will ever change much like a heterosexual would change or a leopard would change its spots. My feelings of the old catholic ways, condemnation, dogma and ceremony have jaded me and the guilt is slowly lifting, As a former catholic I was never taught that forgiveness was something that encompassed me before I was born and would continue to the end of my days. Since reading your passages I have hope now. I feel much better about me, A sinner yes, needing God to save me yes, not having faith because I was not in the grace, Still I have doubt or questions about salvation and being gay, my studies on the subject and the bible indicates there was no real understanding of the tern but were more familiar with the genre in the days of Peter and his writings, i.e. nether idoliters, murderers, fornicators or homosexuals will get into the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor 6:9. The original word pornia was used as the verb to describe temple prostitutes which were used in the temple of fertility from what I gather the word was changed in 1948. What are your thoughts on this hot topic.

    • My answer to your question is “Yes” but not for the reasons you might think. Your question is premised on the assumption that God is responsible for your homosexual orientation. I don’t want to start a flame war by reminding you of the creation story but I would say that it may be simplistic to attribute to God all that happens in our lives.

      As a preacher of grace I receive a lot of correspondence from homosexuals. I appreciate that the mainstream church has, for the large part, treated homosexuals abominably. Is it a stretch to say that homosexuality is the modern day leprosy? This pattern of condemnation and rejection is unChristlike. The avoidance of sinners reflects a loveless, legalistic mindset. So to all my gay friends reading this, I say “Welcome to the House of Grace!” I can’t defend what the Bible condemns but I’ll defend you, Glenn. I’ll speak up for you. Jesus does. He lives to intercede for you. If your trust is in Him you’re saved.

      What I say to homosexuals is this: Christ is your life; Christ is your identity. To identify yourself in any other way is to settle for an inferior way of life. Whether you think homosexuality is “curable” or permanent, I cannot understand why anyone would choose to define themselves on the basis of their behavior and then justify it by calling it an orientation. This “do-to-be” mentality is fruit off the wrong tree. You don’t need the identity that comes from the accepting culture of homosexuals and lesbians; you need the love and acceptance of your heavenly Father. You don’t need to buy into the lie that says “I feel this way therefore I must be this way.”

      Rightly or wrongly, the language of homosexuality sounds to me a lot like the language of addiction. Every one of us has imperfections, areas where we don’t measure up. Self-consciousness lies at the root of many of these problems. The solution is not to take the Bible apart in a futile attempt to justify our self-deception. It’s to know Christ. God-consciousness is the cure for self-consciousness. An addiction to his righteousness will often deliver us from lesser addictions.

  17. Paul, thank you for your response. Help me if you will to understand your comment assuming Gods responsibility for me being gay, I am not sure I totally understand that statement. I have always felt different about myself as far as I can recall… What I realized in your readings and cross referencing about the different passages on the bible not only in my search about what was interpreted about being gay, straight, transgendered, handicapped, a person of color or creed etc. but rather all people, IS God loves us all. Coming across your site affirms a LOVE that I don’t get from others in the name of Jesus Christ. In my search for a church to go to this year was futile, after discussing my discontent with the Catholic Church to a few pastors and preachers and my sexual preference I was told by several church leaders is; “I would never be a part of their ministries, that I would not teach in bible study and that my lifestyle is not affirmed, accepted or condoned”. My intention earlier this years was to find a church that would accept me as I am, help me in my search for salvation, it was never my intent to teach or lead in bible study, not that I am opposed, at this time I do not feel qualified yet to instruct the word of God, I would rather attend and learn. As far as being a participant in the eulogy or Eucharist that was never my intent either. At this point I am search of a place to go to learn and grow in the fellowship of God. My understanding at this point as a result of my research is “I am the church, the temple”, and going to church is like saying the church is going to a building to worship. Thank you for your positive affirmation in my acceptance in Jesus Christ, it definitely helped me to see a place of self-acceptance in the spirit of God, it will take a little bit to undo the Catholic dogma, but I am sure now about what is means to be forgiven and saved. I am in recovery of 22 years and understand addiction, finding acceptance in persons, places and things, thank you for that analogy it affirms my understanding that it is to me to lift my conscious and quit justifying myself, my existence, my being. God Bless. I will continue to read from your site and study. Thank you Jesus for your guidance. Glenn

    • Glenn, what I meant was I don’t accept the convenience of the excuse, “God made me this way.” I have no doubt you have had these feelings a long time, possibly since birth. That doesn’t mean God made you gay. God made Adam and Eve and everything that happened since has reflected that divine starting point + Satan’s lies + man’s sin + Christ’s redemption. It’s simplistic and unbiblical to say God is the cause of all that happens (see 1 John 5:19) and you really have to twist the Bible to say homosexuality is part of God’s great plan.

      In any case, how you got here is not as important as who you are and where you are going. This is my beef with the identity issue. I hate the phrase “gay-Christian” because it seeks to add to what you and I have in Christ. Isn’t it enough to be known as a Christian? I understand the awful rejection that gays have faced and I understand the affirming acceptance that is offered by the gay community, but that acceptance and identity pales in comparison to the acceptance and identity we have in Christ. Christ does not accept or reject you on the basis of your behavior, lifestyle, or orientation, but on account of his radical grace. God loves us all because He is love – our behavior does not come into it. And we are to accept one another as Christ accepted us (Rom 15:7).

      Can you see that I am drawing a Grand Canyon-sized line between you and what you do? You are acceptable; you are loved. Your choices are a separate matter. Do you see that I can support you 100% without supporting your choices? Isn’t that what a true Father does? He loves us even while our choices break his heart.

      I find it is difficult to discuss this distinction with gays because many cling to their orientation relentlessly and when I speak bluntly I am written off as someone who doesn’t understand. The truth is I don’t understand what it’s like to have these feelings but I have other feelings that I know are unhealthy. It’s no sin to be tempted; it’s what you do when tempted that releases life or death.

      PS: I trimmed your comment because of my policy of keeping things short and because this is not the place to debate what the Bible writers may or may not have had in mind on the subject of homosexuality. It’s an important topic; this is just not the place.

  18. Thank you, what little I have read on this site has helped a great deal, truly a little truth goes a long way. I do understand where your are coming from. God “is” bigger than anyone or anything in my life, affirming that in to the people, places and things in my life makes more sense to me in contrast to how big I thought everything was bigger than God, Truly I am turning a new leaf for the better, Glenn

    • God is big and he is good. When we get a revelation of his bigness and goodness, every inexpedient thing just fades away.

      If I may pick up on one small thing, Glenn, don’t think of this as “turning over a new leaf.” That’s the dead language of resolve and will-power. I’ve turned over a new leaf hundreds of times and all it’s left me with is a pile of dead leaves! Think of it in terms of Galatians 2:20 – which is the single most important verse for Christian living. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This isn’t about saying No to homosexuality or whatever other temptation you may be battling with. Yes, grace empowers us to say no to those things. But our focus is not on saying No to that but Yes to Jesus. Get up each morning and tell yourself, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Cor 5:21). This is one of the ways we put on the new man that we already are. When we respond to grace – however we may do that – it becomes a part of us. Talking the living language of his grace and righteousness is a great way to respond. It is a way of giving expression to the new life that is already within us.

  19. Thank you, I am blessed. – Glenn

  20. Wow, to me all this discussion shows that we are all really missing the absolute depth of the simplicity of the gospel.
    Its first and foremost relationship. That’s it!! The rest is just interesting stuff and possibly helpful but not essential. I know that really gets up a lot of people’s noses, but if it aint that simple then we are just wasting our time. If we want to delve deep and get the theology going etc, that’s great, because we are all created with different passions and some of us just have to know these things.
    But there is no such thing as too much grace. There is no “balance” Its ALL grace. Why? because only grace will allow us to embrace our intimacy with God – not theology or correct doctrine. God couldn’t give a stuff about our doctrines. He wants US. He wants us to experience every ounce of love he can pour into us and let it overflow to all around us. We don’t have to think about sin/law/principle etc, they are a non-issue. Yes we will “sin” (like we do the wrong thing in any relationship) but that’s already sorted, already forgiven, its not an issue.
    Its just relationship with Love himself, that blows all doctrines out the window.
    We are so obsessed about what aspects of sex are right or wrong, if being gay is a sin, blah blah. I have worked with Living Waters in Aus and NZ for nearly 20yrs off and on, and seen so many people, myself included, battle with these issues. But I can tell you, its all hot air until you just sort out your love affair with Him – then nothing else matters. Its not a matter of struggling to resolve sin, sorting out doctrines/theology to get the correct understanding/ground rules etc. Its purely and simply helping each other to intimacy with Jesus, nothing else. He’ll sort out anything he has a problem with – that’s what Holy Spirit is for.
    I could ramble on for ages – its what I’m passionate about – RELATIONSHIP!

  21. if we use logic, the only way one could lose salvation is if we stop believing in him, and stop relating to him personally, as this is the way to salvation. If we said the sinners prayer in 1982, and from 1983 onwards started believing in buddha, or something else, how can we be saved? iTS NOT SIN THAT LOSES US SALVATION, ITS OUR LACK OF FAITH IF ITS DEAD

    • We aren’t saved by what we do. We’re saved by what God did.

      We experience God’s realm when we allow Him into our lives.
      So many people experience salvation… then get so excited about, they start listening to people who give them rules for how to experience salvation. Then the rules become their salvation… and God is out of the picture.

      You don’t have to become a Buddhist to lose the experience of salvation. Loss of that experience is the standard Christian modality.

      And that is the reason Dr. Michael Brown has his panties in a twist. He represents fleshly thinking.

  22. I read somewhere that everyone who lives in sin (has a sinful lifestyle) is not under grace and has not received the gift of “no condemnation”. Paul, you seem to be saying that the gift of “no condemnation” is for all who accept Jesus as their savior, even when a person has a sinful lifestyle. Is this correct?

    And can you – or anyone else – tell a bit about how God disciplines his children? Personally I find it hard to recognize what thoughts are of the Holy Spirit and what are my own.

    • It wasn’t me but the apostle Paul who said there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1). I have written several articles on the Holy Spirit and on discipline. You can find these in the Archives>Subject Index.

  23. Thank you Paul for you answer. This is really happy news!

    Could you – or anyone else – please help me a bit further to understand how Rom. 1:8 relates to Rom. 6:14: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”. I hope this text doesn’t mean that if you are under grace you can’t have a sinful lifestyle, or vice versa, if you have a sinful lifestyle you can’t be under grace.

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