The Sinless Life (1 John 3:6)

sinless

When the Holy Spirit came into your life the change in you was like night and day. It’s like you were given a heart transplant. Your old heart, which was captive to desires of the flesh and enslaved to sin, was replaced with a new heart with new desires and appetites. Your new heart beats with new passions and they are the passions of the Holy Spirit. This is why John can say outlandish things like this:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)

Before I understood what was new about me, I used to look at verses like this sideways. “No one keeps on sinning?! John, have you lost touch with reality?”

In a manner of speaking I think this is exactly what happened. John understood that there is no comparison between the life we had in Adam and the new life we have in Christ. Sinning is characteristic of Adam’s nature, not Christ’s. For us, sinning is a part of that old reality that died with Christ on the cross. It does not describe our new reality in Christ.

“But Paul, are you saying we won’t ever sin? Now you’re starting to sound like you’ve lost touch with reality.” Maybe I have. Maybe I have traded the flawed and false reality of my old life for the better and truer reality of his.

A promise, not a threat

So what is John talking about when he says no one who lives in him keeps on sinning? There are two ways to read this. Someone schooled in the sticks and carrots of the old covenant will interpret these words as a threat. “If you want to remain in him and stay saved, you had better stop sinning. Don’t be deceived. God is holy and intolerant of sin. Slip up and you’re outta here!”

What an awful distortion of God’s unconditional love! Can you imagine being married to someone who threatened to kick you out every time you made a mistake? You would be an emotional wreck. You would walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting your hyper-sensitive and ungracious partner.

Come to think of it, this is exactly how many Christians live. Since they don’t know what makes the new covenant new, they are filled with performance anxiety. They are ever fearful of enraging a temperamental God.

Look to the cross! If God loved you enough to die for you when you were a sinner, he surely loves you now. He didn’t stop loving you after you got saved and he will never kick you out. Your union with the Lord is not conditional on your behavior. In case we had forgotten this, John gives us a reminder:

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15, NKJV)

God abides, he dwells, he stays. The moment you acknowledged Jesus as Lord, he moved into your life and he will never leave.

John’s remarks about not sinning should not be read as a threat but promise. He is describing the new life that we have in Christ. Jesus didn’t sin and he never will. If you let him live his life through you, then without any conscious effort on your part you’re going to start talking and walking just like sinless Jesus. It’s inevitable. Live with someone long enough and you begin to resemble that person in manner and thought.

Sonful, not sinful

I am not saying your behavior will attain a level of sinless perfection this side of eternity. I am saying that living in fellowship with the sinless Son produces desires in us that are informed by his righteous nature. You are Sonful not sinful. This is how John explains it:

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

This is not about your performance but your pedigree. Look at the verse again. Three times John refers to your parentage; born of God, God’s seed, born of God. John is trying to tell us that while Adam breeds sinners, God does not. This comes out clearly in the Message Bible:

People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. (1 John 3:9, MSG)

Origin determines destination. In your old life you followed in the faithless footsteps of your father Adam. You walked after the desires of the flesh because they were the only desires you had.

But you have been taken out of Adam and placed into Christ. You have become a partaker of his divine nature. The evidence of this is the new desires and new ambitions you now have. As far as sinning goes, you are just not that interested anymore. Sure, you still have the capacity to sin. But you don’t enjoy it like you used to. Sinning makes you miserable because you know who your Father is, and when you know who your Father is (not a sinner), then you know who you are (not a sinner).

In the next verse John adds, “This is how we know who the children of God are” (1 John 3:10).

GITW_sideWho are the children of God?

It is those who practice righteousness, not because they have to, but because they carry the righteous DNA of their righteous Father. You don’t practice righteousness to become righteous but because you are righteous. You are a righteous branch on a righteous vine doing what comes naturally.

Extracted from The Gospel in Ten Words.

68 Comments on The Sinless Life (1 John 3:6)

  1. good one… I need to hear this everyday!!!

  2. Paul, love it! “Who are the children of God?
    It is those who practice righteousness, not because they have to, but because they carry the righteous DNA of their righteous Father.”

    Occasionally, I will hear someone say believers are “positionally righteous”. What that often means is that God sees us as righteous even though we are not. Therefore, we will basically keep sinning and God will keep on forgiving, all the while pretending we are righteous.

    Thank you for clarifying that those born of God have a righteous nature! It is not that we have a mere legal right standing with God, but that our nature is to be like our Father, who always does what is right.

    • I hate that phrase, positionally righteous. One with the Lord, we are as righteous as he is. He is the root and we are the branches. “If the root is holy (and righteous), so are the branches” (Rom 11:16).

  3. Kimberly Grigsby // October 27, 2016 at 1:06 am // Reply

    Amen Paul! I gotta tell you. I have been challenged lately on this very thing. When you tell people that they have a new heart and a new nature and no longer have a sin nature, it seems all you-know-what breaks loose. I’ve been told that I can not just look and read and behold Jesus alone because that’s not practical….that I have both the nature of sin and the nature of God in my body (which the capacity to choose sinful acts is in our body, but not our spirit), that I can’t go around talking about being righteous because that means I don’t believe I sin anymore etc. Even pastors say these things, but I am comforted to know that our covenant says God will teach each of His children to know Him. He will unveil the truth. People seem to equate Jesus coming in grace and truth as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are saying the truth is the bad things about you and the good things about you. I am so grateful to hear my husband’s voice say, “I am the truth that will be unveiled to you……I am the truth that you will be found in……I am the truth. Reminds me of Pilate saying “What is truth?” The truth is a WHO!!!! So grateful for the Spirit making these posts by your hand so that we all with unveiled faces can be transformed in His image from glory to glory! Thank you Lord Jesus for my brother Paul and all the saints!!! Beware of the dogs of the law…. a little leaven, leavens the whole lump.

    Quick question….what comes to your heart and mind when someone tells you that we have to be balanced with grace and we have “our” part to do and God does His part? Throwing it out to all the hyper gracers out there!

    • We definitely have a part to play. Our part is to trust in the Lord, to live from the confident persuasion that he who began the good work will carry it on until completion. That’s actually in the Bible (Php 1:6) but all those who prefer dead works will scoff at such “laziness.” They have yet to learn that there is no greater labor or striving than entering and remaining in the place of rest. Abiding in the vine does not come easily to the natural man. When all is going wrong, the great temptation is to slide back into dead works, to take Biblical principles and apply them with all the vigor of a Pharisee. “I will fix this. I will make it right.” Except you won’t. Sometimes it’s hard to stay in the place of trust.

      • Kimberly Grigsby // October 27, 2016 at 6:19 am //

        I love it when J Prince says, “Our part is to know we have no part!” We aren’t doing the work….He is and will continue to manifest His life in our mortal bodies. And Jesus told the crowds following him in John 6:29, Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

        Our work is to believe…..to trust…..to be fully persuaded and do not allow yourself to be put under a yoke of bondage. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. I am re-hearing all of this in a wonderful book by Dan Stone/David Gregory called “The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial gospel has worn you out”. If you haven’t read it, pick it up.

        Thanks Paul.

      • Question Alert: Paul, I keep running into discussion as it relates to the believer’s identity of “Now, but not yet” theology. Many of the scriptures used to bring “balance” to grace are ones like John 1:14 describing Jesus coming full of grace and truth. The reference here to truth concerns both the right and wrong things we do or that are in the world. Much like Jesus spoke to the woman at the well when he mentioned that she had 5 husbands and lived with another man now.

        What do you believe about balancing the gospel of grace and the “Now, but not yet” principle of the believer’s identity?

        I am studying this out as well and spending time with the Spirit on it, so I’ll let you know what comes up as well.

        Grace and peace, brother!

      • Do you mean those discussions that say we are “positionally holy” as opposed to actually holy and that sanctification is progressive? Those discussions diminish the cross, rob the believer of their true identity, and are usually used to promote dead works. So to answer your question, “not much”.

        “As He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:17)

  4. “You don’t practice righteousness to become righteous but because you are righteous.”
    What an awesome statement of truth that makes life so much more enjoyable. FREEDOM!
    It took me over 40 years but it sure is good to be eating from the Tree of Life instead of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    • It took me about that long too, Keith. Glad to get there in the end, though.

      • James Odewo // October 27, 2016 at 8:52 am //

        It has taken me shorter time to grasp this truth because of you Paul and Andrew Wommack. Thank you for remaining consistent in the message of grace. It’s so hidden. But once someone helps you see it, you can see it in every verse of the Bible.

      • Thanks James. I don’t think the message of grace is hidden as much as we tend to read the Bible through decades of carnal conditioning. The flesh craves rules and principles so that it can get to work fixing us. We have to unlearn those habits, renew our minds, and learn to walk in the new way of the spirit. But yes, it can take time.

  5. I literally just got into a huge debate at the church my bible study is being held at because I held fast to the fact that in Christ we are not sinners last week. They thought I was crazy, even though I quoted 1 John to them. Basically, I was saying this over and over, In Christ, you sin no more. He really took care of all your sins on the cross. You are a new person. Wow! They did NOT like that! It made me grieve for the church, but then articles like this confirming what I said, keep popping up everywhere to me this week. The old person has died, the new person has come!

    • About that Church Bible study reply: I’ve often found that Bible study is only allowed insofar as the ‘students’ agree with the line of the ‘teacher’. Any ideas deviating from the intended learning objective is pushed out and ignored. Trouble is, most of the group are often so indoctrinated that they go along with this suppression of hte Truth.

      I don’t go to Bible studies like that.😉

      • Adriaan Hattingh // October 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm //

        Agreed, Tony.
        I was a once asked to co-present a bible study on discipleship and suggested material aimed at growing in grace. The group leader’s suggestion, which was accepted, was Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Needless to say I was out of there in a flash as I could see where that was heading.

  6. Sanish J Thottan // October 27, 2016 at 1:40 am // Reply

    Ya righteousness will flow out of us since we are made righteous by faith in Christ—- not that we are doing right things to become righteous. Wonderful. Thank you so much brother for sharing.

  7. hmm… and even if he doesn’t “clean up my life” as I might like him to… that’s ok. that’s his choice, too… I’m going to keep submitting all things to him and keep obeying him, whatever he says… whatever he does will be victorious! maybe he’ll lead me to crucifixion! but that leads to resurrection… we can’t lose! we get HIM!

    To live is CHRIST

    • But he has “cleaned you up”. as you keep focussing on that alone, you will see the fruit of unrighteousness beliefs falling off you by themselves!

  8. Grace can only be understood completely when grace has entered our heart. Have you ever listened to a historian talk about Jesus? He/She can only do so from a historical point of view. For someone who knows Jesus it is a very superficial understanding of Him. It’s the same thing with a law based person trying to talk about grace or criticize those who have a relationship with grace.

  9. Berris-Dale Joseph // October 27, 2016 at 4:04 am // Reply

    In my reflection no one has ever been kinder to share, to emphasize the gospel of God’s grace as effectively as I have felt in your ministry. You have spent quality time at the very life line to help humanity pause along our busy lives going nowhere, if, without a firm and vital grasp on the grace of God, which brings the nourishment of that heavenly bread to the very heart of needy humanity.

    Pray for me that I will abound in God’s marvelous grace exactly as I should. I see covert as well as overt manifestations of disgrace around me, which is one sad reality; for it can affect the spirit of the person who is getting free from that old misunderstanding.

    I read about what you stated when signing up to be a supporter of this ministry of grace: to see or not to see grace among the faces of disgrace and legalistic wretchedness. When we see and understand God’s grace it makes a difference in everything. When we don’t see GRACE, life could be disastrous.

    I see the need therefore, to add a vital aspect to this ministry, PRAYER, for everyone to see for himself/herself the true meaning and understanding of grace; to be spiritually enlightened that the light of this gracious truth may shine from one person’s life to the next. I need that prayer myself. And I need to pray for others. Pray for me.

  10. Erin Messina // October 27, 2016 at 4:41 am // Reply

    This is great thank you!

  11. Brandon Petrowski // October 27, 2016 at 5:15 am // Reply

    This is a fantastic post and a timely reminder. Thank you Paul. This articulates so well with thoughts I’ve been wrestling with.

  12. Amen! And another insight into this is that john 16 tells us what sin is, simply the refusal to believe in Jesus. This helped me understand what John was saying here, since it’s impolitely for you to not believe, once you’ve believed!

  13. Thank you, Paul, for such a great post. I have recently been studying this very subject especially in connection with the spirit, soul & body concept (I Thes 5:23). My best understanding is that when a person gets born again God creates a brand new spirit (II Cor 5:17), a perfect spirit, for the (perfect) Holy Spirit to reside in. That spirit is about the same shape as the physical body and is as perfect as Jesus, including every inch of His love, joy, peace, etc., and many other attributes. Even if I sin (miss the mark) my spirit, which is my new identity or new nature, remains totally righteous & united with the Lord (I Cor 6:17, I John 4:17). At the new birth my soul is unchanged but over time should get renewed (Romans 12:2) as I (hopefully) live out of my new spiritual nature rather than out of my senses (Romans 8:6). It took me many years even to arrive at this basic understanding. One of my frustrations in reading Christian literature is the failure to distinguish the sin of missing the mark from the sin of separation from God which affects the whole human race until one by one we get born again.

  14. I like what was written here. I always like your take on things Paul as it is always grace-based and with New Covenant thinking..

    I would like to add that the 1 John 3:6 and verse 9 as well as 1 John 5:18 is in the present tense in Greek which means that a sin that is done now is in the present tense. Whenever we sin it is always in the present. I think some translations didn’t know what to do with these verses and added “continually or habitually” sin because they knew that every Christian has sinned after coming to Christ and will sin in some form in the future.

    I believe these scriptures are talking about the new creation in Christ that is joined to Christ as one spirit cannot sin. It is the deeds of the body that we give in to when we yield ourselves to the flesh to do “it’s” desires.

    The more we see who we are in Christ – the more His life is manifested outwardly to reflect our true selves in Christ. We are the walking letters to those who are saved and unsaved. That’s why we are to put o Christ so that He will be glorified in us and seen by people in the world for who He really is.

  15. Paul, you ask, “Can you imagine being married to someone who threatened to kick you out every time you made a mistake?” No, but I have worked for someone who threatened to fire me every time I made a mistake. And you are right. I was “an emotional wreck,” “walk[ing] on eggshells,” “filled with performance anxiety,” and “ever fearful of enraging a temperamental” boss. So glad my gracious God is in no way like that!

  16. This teaching us so full of the life if God and live of the Father. Thank you for the words of life!

  17. Thanks Mr Paul may God bless u

  18. This is such a hard thing for us to get into our heads. We have been taught so long through the religious church system that we need to do something, we need to have a bahavior modification based on our actions to be pleasing to God. We forget that through Jesus we have been made righteous and holy. It is not by our strength or our doing but by what Christ has done and provided for us. Thanks for this article pointing out this fact.

  19. I Currently believe that the understanding of “born again” is questionable, based on the double meaning of the Greek word “born”= to bring forth OR “to beget” ie the mother’s role vs the father”s role
    The Jewish understanding of “knew ” is that of begetting…”and Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and brought forth a son….” Later Jesus says. ” Depart from me you wicked, I never knew you…” Nicodemus heard Jesus say “born again” and he took it to mean the mother’s role based on his response…BUT EVERY SEED REPRODUCES AFTER ITS OWN KIND….NEED I SAY MORE?
    Neil, in Canada

  20. Hey Paul. I have a hard time understanding things. I’m a little worried about stuff with God and things. Please bear with me.

    Those things about not practicing sin stuff kinda scares me. Remember, I have a hard time understanding things.

    I believe that Jesus is God’s Son. What I’m struggling is that I think i am refusing to change, to not let God do what he wants. Refusing to stop sinning I think. And that refusing to let God do stuff for me, I don’t believe. I believe God is good and has the best for me, it’s that I don’t think I am willing to accept it or willfully receive it.

    anlther thing that bugs me. That if I refuse God in certain parts of my life, I may be blasphemy the Holy Spirit. Also that I am looking for an excuse to continue to sin. That with intentions of wanting to do wrong is evidence that I am not saved, or have a new heart or desires.

    Remember I have a hard time understanding things. What are your thoughts, Paul?

    • Roshan J Easo // October 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm // Reply

      Ryan, which Jesus are you trusting? Baby Jesus who was born to die. That’s good news but not good enough. Is it Teacher Jesus who was kind and friendly to sinners. That’s good news but it’s not good enough. Is it crucified Jesus. That’s certainly good news but a dead savior saves no one. Is it the Risen Jesus. That’s good news! And that’s good enough.

      You may reject Jesus, but Jesus has accepted you. He’s on the thrown and he’s through with sin. He’s coming back for those who trust him, not for sinless self-righteous (but he hugged them on the cross.) Look up the post “Which Jesus are you Trusting?” in the search box. Know also that saints before you have struggled with blasphemy. Did you know that Jesus is forever defending you in heaven? You have no need to worry about the Father’s love for you. Your righteousness is always before him. Sin has consequences, and it grieves the Holy Spirit, but He will never break your heart. It’s YOU he cares about.

      • Thank you. By the way, I accidently typed the wrong name. I was thinking about something else when I was typing this and put in Ryan instead of my middle name.

    • Roshan J Easo // October 29, 2016 at 11:48 pm // Reply

      “They should call it sin-day, not sun-day.” There are so many great tools here that you can use. but in the end whether you sin like a sinner or flee like a pharisee, you’re not enjoying yourself. Jesus loves you. Period.

    • Ryan, Paul E. quoted 1 John 3:6, regarding the sin issue and rightly so, as this is “trade mark” of a Christian. But the most important part of that verse is; “… who lives in him”. If you sin, its not the sin that’s the problem (the wages of sin is still death) but the real problem is that of “faith”. See, its by grace, Through faith, that we then can, “live in him”! So, don’t pick and chose these, as you say; “…certain parts of my life,… “! Believing in Christ is an all or nothing proposition! So, stand on the sure “foundation of God” for if you name the name of Christ, then depart from sin, 2 Tim. 2:19. Ware this “trade mark” on your sleeves, as this shows one a Child of God and not a child of the sinful one, 1 John 3:10. Any other life would be deceitful, 1 John 3:7. Bottom line, your either a Christian or your not
      Roshan layed it out pretty good, huh! Sure. So, the best place to start is change your confession of having hard time understanding to just, I believe. For whosoever believes will be saved! That’s you Ryan. “,,,Stand fast in the faith, be bold like men, and be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.

  21. If you look at sin mathematically then sin is an equation , Sin is the transgression of the law , so (Law + Transgretiin of law = Sin) The law is only for those under the law ( unsaved ) . Galatians 3:24-25 KJV
    [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
    The law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ after which we are no longer under it (law) Therefore removing the law voids the sin equation in the same way removing a 30mph speed limit sign , the Transgretiin exists , 50mph, but does not produce sin , for where there is no law there is no sin, Rom 5-13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.)
    Therefore “we cannot sin” because the law is removed , our transgretions simply do not produce sin ! But we don’t drive at 50mph Simply because the 30mph sign is removed , we drive at 30 mph because we know it pleases out father !

  22. Thank you Paul.  Tonight at Bible, being that it is Halloween.  This is “All Hallowed Eve,”  a time to celebrate being God’s saints, who ain’t zombies! our grace take and what we’ll share about tonight – We all holy in our Jesus as you say so well!   I copied out your article on Are there levels of judgment article, which includes your  comment that there are no zombies in the Kingdom.  I put together that article with another about the servant beatings in the Scriptures-NOT, article with this.   And we’ll sing a song that my sister Jackie wrote about the feelings of being haunted by the old “dead man” we each sometimes deal with, and how Jesus settles that lie for us, and has given us His direction to send him back to the grave where he belongs, as in the Ro 6:11 glory truth we can stand in!   Just wanted to share with you about the night we’ll be having tonight and how you’ll be there by His Wisdom shinings through you!   I wrote up a article I forgot about and in it had mentioned zombies too, I just discovered when I went to find the little sound wave I did on this song.  It is attach in that article I just found in the email I attach with both in here for you.  And the song updates.   I pray this will be some of Bread cast upon the waters come back to be some blessing to you today!    Love in our Graced Life and Love Jesus, Lynn

  23. Listening to Andrew Wommack just now for the past few days. Realize sometimes we struggle because we focus on the fear or the anger or whatever instead of the Word. It’s true we are healed here. and then we are inspired or compelled to share. but just because we are seeming foolish or sick in that endeavor, we are still clean because of the word. When you decide to believe by faith through grace, you can get going Christward without fear of man! Specifically the word of His grace, as Joseph Prince explains. Stay positive in Christ, and give cheerfully without necessity!

    Choosing pure grace, LIFE, … Jesus who is the life.

  24. I don’t have new desires or appetites. The very first paragraph in this article tells me that I’m not saved. For whatever reason, no matter how much I try to believe and ask God to save me, it doesn’t take.

  25. All I have is the halting conviction that God’s justice is satisfied by Christ, that He’s propitiated. That’s all the faith I have is to know that.

    • Rob, I think you are just a victim of bad teaching as I was and as most of us have been. Our Father, who is full of grace and love; who is the source of all grace and love. The most loving and graceful Father we could ever imagine and even more than that. He would not turn you away on a technicality. You have expressed your will to accept His gift and that’s all He needs. His has a burning desire for all people to accept His gift. The only thing that could stop it is the free will He has given us. Just rest in His goodness, His faithfulness, His completed work, and His life in you. That’s all there is. When you rest in these things, the fruit you are fretting over will manifest without effort. Grace and peace to you.

      • In the first paragraph of this post it says, “Your old heart, which was captive to desires of the flesh and enslaved to sin, was replaced with a new heart with new desires and appetites.”
        That is not true of me. That has never been true of me no matter how much I seek, implore, etc.

      • Adriaan Hattingh // November 4, 2016 at 10:02 pm //

        Rob I agree with LJP, do yourself a huge favour and get God’s Astounding Opinion of You by Ralph Harris

      • Rob, if you have the latest, greatest iPad and try to run it on iOS 1, you’re not going to enjoy the benefits it is capable of. Our old operating system was willpower and our new OS is Life. Jesus said, “he who abides in Me bears much fruit”. Abiding in the Vine involves putting self effort to rest and allowing His life to operate. That “allowing” is based on belief or trust. So if you are unsure of His goodness, His faithfulness, or His completed work ask Him to teach you. Wherever we seem to lack, He doesn’t seek to condemn, He seeks to provide.

      • Rob, I just wanted to clarify that I’m not saying fruit has anything to do with determining whether you are saved. I’m actually hoping you will agree that the two are separate. I believe you are saved and I was hoping l could encourage you to enjoy the benefits that you said you haven’t experienced yet. Blessings

    • Rob I have learned that if we go by sensations and feelings we stay stuck in the web satan wants us in. It might be that you are not saved but the remedy for that and reassurance that you are saved are found out using the same method. (Please forgive me if this ends up exceeding the comment word limit)
      Test yourself. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says that we will know that Jesus is in us unless we discover we are not saved after all. Happily by our testing we can get saved. It is a win-win no matter what you end up discovering. But how will testing help if we are not saved? Won’t we just get depressed all over again? No because we are not going to test ourselves by our feelings, lifestyle/behaviors or even if we have Christian looking “fruit”. We are going straight the truths of God’s word.
      First Romans 10:9-10. What does it say there saves a person? Believing and saying that Jesus is God and that He was raised from the dead. Nothing more nothing less. John 3:18 adds that if you believe in Jesus you are no longer under condemnation. Yeah but what is faith? A conviction that what you have heard/read is the truth. It is not a feeling or a behavior. You don’t ask beg or try to get saved. You either are convicted by the truth or you are not. This is salvation unto eternal life. Even when you do not feel like it or look like it this truth is true for you. The next step is to fill your mind with the other bible truths regarding salvation, sin, life changes and have faith that they too are true even thought they do not feel-look like it yet. You can choose to stand on the truth despite feelings and appearances or you can choose what you see and feel.

    • Rob, my heart goes out to you. I like what you said: “All I have is the halting conviction that God’s justice is satisfied by Christ, that He’s propitiated. That’s all the faith I have is to know that.” I think the key word here is faith. You have faith that Christ is the satisfactory sacrifice (propitiation). That is great. He did that because He loves you (John 3:16). The faith that you have came by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
      The faith for anything else, like assurance for salvation comes the same way. Faith is our connection to the truth. If we are feeding our souls on bad teaching or lies (like we are not saved or not good enough), then it will contradict the work of faith in us. I recommend speaking God’s word out loud and listening to grace filled gospel messages so that faith will come.
      I am speaking from years of experience as I have gone through many trials where I could not rely on feelings or what I saw in the natural world. Declaring God’s word helped to bring faith and combat the resistance to God’s life giving truths (whether that resistance be from the enemy or the flesh). The more the truth saturates us, the more the lies have to leave.
      I pray that God would give you revelation of who He is and who you are in Him, according to Ephesians 1:17-20.

  26. Thank you all for the helpful comments. I will go over them a few times to grok your thoughts. Still, when I read things like Paul said in his post, about how faith in Christ will bring “new desires and appetites;” I can’t help but to be discouraged, since my walk is so unlike what a christian’s should be. I realize that the New Testament indicates that real virtue comes not from self-will but from the experience of grace, but mine is a brutal conscience, probably with OCD figuring in. I don’t do well in life, I can’t handle stress without lashing out at people and at God.

    • Rob,

      I am grateful to God for you. I too once battled OCD tendencies and perfectionism and performance anxiety. It is apart of my flesh pattern and I deal with the temptations toward it from time to time. A counselor once told me that:

      Appearance + Performance = Acceptance

      This is the equation of the world system. And we all have to detox from that equation in this life continually. The Lord tells us to renew our minds daily. This is the wisdom from the Spirit for Jesus to tell his children that we are not of this world. We are in it but not of it. So I have divorced myself from this system and this equation.

      The new way….new equation is:

      Jesus’ appearance + Jesus’ performance = Acceptance in the Beloved

      You are accepted, deeply loved, abundantly favored and given new mercies every morning on account of the One who died to give you His abundant life. We get the blessing of looking away from ourselves and away from all the other voices both in our heads and outside of ourselves to Jesus. He is the author of the faith you spoke of as a “halting recognition that He is the propitiation of your sins”. And He is also the finisher of that faith. That’s His promise to you. He will finish in you what he started. Outside of time, He already has. The more you hear this (faith comes by hearing), the more you will experience it and see what He’s already done in you.

      You are a precious son of God. Receive that your Father sings over you and says, “Rob is my beloved son and I am well pleased with him.” Just as you are. Right in this moment.

      “As Jesus is so are we in this world.”

      Glad we are on the journey together friend and I am thankful to call you brother.

      Grace and Peace to you in our Lord Jesus.

      ❤️

    • Sozo is a Greek word meaning salvation, which is many faceted. Peter brought forth this in one verse, by unction of the Spirit when he wrote :”Who (Jesus) his own self bare our sin’s on his own body, on the tree that we being dead to sin’s should live unto righteousness by whose strips you were healed”. That’s saving of our souls and healing together, as Sozo implies. So, believe the full range of this work of God on the cross (Psalm 103:3), as his blood has no limit to one that believes all things 1 Corinthians 13:7. God came for, I don’t do well in life, kind of folks. Just up yours, mine and the rest of us, ally.
      Just as brother Long said; “faith is our connection to the truth”. and the truth shall make you free!

  27. But I just can’t get past what Paul said in this post: “Your old heart, which was captive to desires of the flesh and enslaved to sin, was replaced with a new heart with new desires and appetites. Your new heart beats with new passions and they are the passions of the Holy Spirit.” That’s not true of me. That’s never been true of me. I have read the above responses, but I know that nothing will change for me; it just doesn’t take. The best I can do is hope that I don’t go to hell. The gospel promises “peace and joy;” “rest for your souls;” “abundant life;” etc. I have experienced none of those. Ever.

    I won’t push this further because I’ve already run it into the ground, but I wanted to have my say about it. The Good News has been more a torment to me.

    • Check out this book Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor. It is not a Christian book but it will help you see why your mental processes seem stuck, un-renewed and without new passions. It has nothing to do with a faulty gospel but with harmful patterns our brains have developed to protect ourselves from emotional trauma and stresses and how to heal your brain and it’s responses. The only reason I dare to suggest something so different is that your pain sounds a lot like mine a few years ago. What the bible and gospel said did not match my reality. God seemed mythical and out of touch despite my years of trying to learn and live the correct things.

    • “it just doesn’t take”, maybe because you have not took, Jesus as your savior. 2 Corinthians 5:17 speaks of this “new heart” Paul referred too. It’s the work of Gods Holy Spirit.
      You said it, “nothing will change for me”. This does not line up with scripture and all salvation is is confession, Romans 10”9,10. Confessing that in fact, Jesus is Lord. So, what you need to do is, a Romans 10:9,10 and a John 3:16 . If you truly believe, this is the question. Even Paul admonished 2 Corinthians 13:5, to both examine and prove to our selves that Jesus is in our hearts.
      Philip said to the eunuch when he asked to be baptized, “If you believe with all your heart you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:37. We are justified and made “peaceful”,children of God, by faith, Romans 5:1. So, come to faith by this confession and hold on to it through, giving attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13.
      The only scripture that speaks of this torment you have is Matthew 18:34,35. It’s a result of forgiving not every one of their trespasses ! I only mention this because you did. But hay, just release these trespasses that ‘you may’ be holding on to. It is not hard to do when you think of the trespasses we have already been forgiven! Thanks

    • Thanks Rob, I was hoping something I said would resonate in your heart, but I realize you don’t really know me or anyone on this site. Please realize that nothing anyone says and nothing you read will have any effect unless you believe it. So just go to the great teacher, Himself. If you look to Him to persuade your heart of His truth, He will surely do it. The actual, undiluted Good News will not involve any torment.

  28. Thank you all for your replies. I’ll leave this alone now.

  29. Enjoyed this post and hope Rob will be helped,though I don’t think convincing one that they have no sin nature will prove helpful (concerning believers).I believe that believers do still have the sin nature. To me, much that is written to believers would be non-sensical or completely unnecessary,if we no longer had a sin nature,but only the new nature.Why would we be told to not be conformed to this world,to live by the Spirit,keep in step with the Spirit,to put on the armor of God,to let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus,love one another deeply,not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good,etc.,etc.,?All that would not be needed if there was no longer a sin nature and only the new nature.We would automatically be doing those things. Also if we no longer have a sin nature once we receive Christ,and then we sin….wouldn’t we be re-aquiring one,falling just as Adam did? Not trying to be argumentative and appreciate others view that is different than mine. John commented on” positional righteous”,and how that basically is just us sinning,God forgiving over and over,all the while pretending to be righteous.I do not view it in that negative light at all. I believe christians understanding their positions in Christ is the key to spiritual living,not playing a game of make believe where we fail over and over.I think law-living,works/flesh energized ministry is due to lack of understanding of the believers positions in Christ.The more we comprehend who we are in Him,the less we will sin,but I don’t feel our sin nature was eradicated and that it helps anyone to think that.

    • Very good lay out of truth, as we are to take the whole council of God. But You missed one of the, “why would we be told”, when speaking of, ”…if we no longer had a sin nature, but only the new nature”. This being important as, both Paul and John “told” us we are; “to sin not”, 1 Corinthians 15:34 and 1 John 2:1.
      We that name the name of Christ, are certainty to have this, that we are dead to sin, Romans 6:2 and 1 peter 2:24, but alive to righteousness, if one is to comprehend who we are in Him. We are dead with him, crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live (in this sin nature flesh) yet it is not us but Christ who lives, and that by faith. Colossians 2:20. And “as Christ is so are we in this world”, it makes since, Peter saying, follow in Christ steps, “who did no sin” 1 Peter 2:21,22, we too are to do, no sin.
      Interestingly, why are we told to do all these (following His step), if indeed we cannot achieve them? I contend that God knows, that we are more than able to, through His Spirit!
      But, we must, like clothing, put off the old, and put on Christ, Romans 13:11-14.
      “Put him on as Lord to rule us, as him to save us, and in both as Christ, anointed and appointed by the Father to this, “ruling saving” work.
      “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, ‘be diligent’ that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14.

  30. Hi Rob,

    I understand you said you were going to leave it but if you do return I feel I have something helpful to contribute.

    I just want you to know that I and I am sure many have faced what you are facing – you are not alone.

    The temptation with some of us is to look within for some sort of inner feeling as evidence that God has loved us, accepted us and indeed saved us.

    Now the Word of God is true, irespective of feelings / emotions / or voices in our minds. It is Eternally true, spoken by God who cannot lie. Now if our mind / emotions and feelings don’t line up with the Word, that just means that they are deceiving us and trying to keep us from the knowledge of our Wonderful, Glorious, Loving, Forever Merciful Father, God Almighty.

    So when the Son of God Yeshua (Jesus) says that :

    “Whomever believes in me has Everlasting life” – TRUTH

    and

    “No-one can come to me, unless the Father (God) enables them.” -TRUTH

    and

    “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me” – TRUTH

    and

    “Whomever believes in me, believes in the one who sent me (GOD – the Father) and I will raise them up on the last day (eternal life)” – TRUTH

    and

    “I am the ressurection and the Life – Whomever believes in me, even though he dies, he will still have life.” -TRUTH

    Thoughts, Feelings, emotions, fears, anxieties, guilt can all decieve us and make us feel condemned and fearful. Well, I want to tell you that nothing in all of Creation can keep you from the love of the Father through Jesus Christ. NOTHING!!! – not even you.

    None of these negative things actually tell one where their relationship with God is at. If you believe in Jesus Words and believe in Him as your Saviour – You are saved my friend!!! you can take that to the bank.

    Thats not all, The Holy Spirit will come into you and will witness to Your spirit that you are His child and are Saved for eternity. You are in Christ from that moment on and are forever joined to Him! Hallelujah!!

    God Bless,

    Brent

  31. Paul, I am struggling with the idea that being declared holy by grace and consciously keeping God’s law are necessarily opposed to one another. There can be debate about the idea of positional righteousness (from my point of view), but even if a Christian is fully holy right here and now, having been declared so by faith / grace, doesn’t that mean the same thing as he keeps God’s law right now? Isn’t holiness essentially the keeping of God’s law, whether it is kept on the basis of grace or something else?

    When a believer gets a new heart, doesn’t that mean he has a heart that wants to keep God’s law? When a believer is given new desires, what are those desires for? Would he desire to commit adultery or dishonor his parents? Wouldn’t his new desire rather be to keep God’s law, since God’s law is so intrinsic to God’s very being and character, and since the purpose of salvation is to make a person holy for the glory of God?

    Your wrote: “If you let him live his life through you, then without any conscious effort on your part you’re going to start talking and walking just like sinless Jesus. It’s inevitable. Live with someone long enough and you begin to resemble that person in manner and thought.” I strongly agree with this statement. However, is it necessary to refrain from “conscious effort”? Why would it be wrong on the basis of absolute free and full grace to consciously keep the law? Resembling Jesus means keeping the law (the law is eternally intertwined with his character and being). Why, then, would it be anti-grace to strive to keep the law? Remember, this would not be an effort to be saved. We agree that justification happens only by grace. But this conscious keeping of God’s law would be on the basis of already-obtained grace.

    For example, why is wrong on the basis of grace for me to consciously avoid committing adultery? Why should I not remember that God has law against adultery? Why would striving to obey that command post-salvation somehow nullify full and free grace?

    Though so much of what you say resonates with me (God’s grace is absolutely overwhelming and wondrous and it does alone function to save and change the human soul), it seems that the pitting of law against grace makes God out to be almost schizophrenic. In a courageous effort to combat religiosity and legalism, which I highly commend, is it possible that you’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater?

    • Hi Jason, thanks for your comment. As Paul says repeatedly in his epistles, the law is good but we are not to live under it. The law serves an important purpose in inflaming and empowering sin, which is why he calls it a ministry of death. Grace and law are like hot and cold – both good, but mix them and you’ll get the benefits of neither.

      An illustration will help. Do you love your wife? Of course you do. On what basis do you live the life of a loving husband? Do you spend conscious time each week consulting a book of marriage rules? Do you spend 30 minutes a day saying “I must not commit adultery?” Do you write this law on your forehead and gatepost? I hope not!

      A healthy relationship is born in love-giving not law-keeping. Love your wife and you will keep the law effortlessly, indeed, without even knowing what the law may be. But put yourself under law and you will stir up sin. You will make promises to yourself, strive to obey (ie: walk in the flesh) and the result will be total failure (Rom 7:22-24). You will minister death instead of life to your marriage.

      Define obedience or holiness in terms of law-keeping and you’ll set yourself up for failure and inferior life. The abundant life Christ offers is so much more than this. Be blessed!

      • All true about the law, but then why do we encounter these sign’s from Paul, John and Peter, “do this, don’t do that, cant you read the sign?” Did they miss something?
        For instance, on loving the wife Paul say’s “Husbands love your wife” Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19, then on sin Paul say’s “sin not and depart from it” 1 Corinthians 15:34 and 1 Timothy 2:19.
        We may not be Defining obedience or holiness in terms of law-keeping, but certainly in instruction in righteousness Titus 2:11,12. Any resemblance between them is strictly only coincidental, as we surely do not “work” our own righteousness. But when one comes to faith, one must work (do) righteousness, 1 John 3:7. Really cant see how it can, somehow, “nullify full and free grace”! Thanks

      • Exhortations, not laws-that-must-be-obeyed.

      • Sin not refers to unbelief , ie believing you have sinned when you have not ! Sin under the old covenant was acting in a way contrary to what God wanted you to do. God removed the law therefore the act does not produce sin as law + transgretions of law = sin , driving at 40 mph where there is a 30mph sign = sin. However do the same thing but take away the 30 mph sign and it’s no longer sin , we are freed from the law of sin and death . Now we are in a new covenant were faith is required instead of law , so believing your act has produced sin when we are no longer under law is unbelief and is doubting what Jesus has done . That which is not of faith is sin ! Doubt is sin to the new covenant in the same way breaking the law is sin to the old covenant ! He that is born of God ( faith ) sinneth not because his seed remain etc in him . (Seed of faith by which we are born again , were saved by faith ) it’s not telling us not to sin , it’s telling us we can’t produce sin with our actions as the 30mph sign is gone , we cannot sin . That’s why the sin of unbelief is the only one the father can’t forgive ! Therefore sin not !

  32. Thanks for responding Paul, and for your thoughtful response. Nice illustration from marriage. I guess I’m still confused because when Jesus summarizes the greatest law, he does it in terms of love. To love God and to love neighbor IS what it means to keep the law. My point is that it seems loving my wife effortless is really nothing more or less than keeping marriage rules in a relational way, heart-felt way.

    We agree on much (I reiterate). Scripture is clear that flesh-fueled effort (dead works) to keep the law leads nowhere except condemnation. But the point I want to make is that loving and trusting Christ shouldn’t be pitted against a desire to keep his law. I just don’t see the necessary (hot/cold) conflict….

    The more I ponder, the more I appreciate the “hyper-grace” movement for its strong and positive correction against legalism. But also the more I think the baby is being tossed out with the backwater (sorry to cliche again). Correcting an abusive use of God’s law does not require the belief that God’s law (i.e., the Ten Commandments) has no positive role to play in a believers life. I may not have to be conscious of keeping “marriage rules” in relation to my wife, however, I still need to keep those rules. They are still in effect.

    • “The Law is good, if one uses it lawfully” and its lawful use is for the “those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners,” etc (1 Tim 1:8-9). To apply the law to those who have died to the law is to resurrect your old man and commit spiritual adultery (Romans 7). We died to the law so that we might live for Christ (Gal 2:19). You simply cannot trust Jesus’s law-keeping performance and your own law-keeping performance – it’s one or the other.

      Is the law holy, righteous, and good? Absolutely. Does it serve an important purpose? It does. Does it play a positive role in the believer’s life? Absolutely not.

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