Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Drinking Dirty Water

In family devotions this morning, we were reading in Jeremiah and found some tidbits that relate to the current situation we have in our nation as well as in the church at large.

"Has a nation changed gods When they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory For that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this, And shudder, be very desolate," declares the LORD. "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:11-13)
This charge is true in many churches today. Professing Christians reinvent God to suit their own tastes, a god who has no expectations, a god who requires no repentance from sin, a god who will save them no matter how sinful they continue to be.

Witness the overwhelming success of The Shack. That book redefines God as a less-than-holy, do-anything-you-want-and-I'll-save-you kind of deity that is far removed from the God of the Bible.

And it's even more common to hear people claim that we have a blind god, that somehow God doesn't see them sin, because when He looks down from heaven, He sees Jesus instead of a sinner. Nonsense. Jeremiah has something to say to these people, as well:

"Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'--that you may do all these abominations?" (Jeremiah 7:8-10)
God is not blind. He sees what everyone does, and he sees real Christians as holy and pure, because we are holy and pure in reality.

As Jeremiah continued in chapter two, I found this interesting:

"Is Israel a slave? Or is he a homeborn servant? Why has he become a prey? The young lions have roared at him, They have roared loudly. And they have made his land a waste; His cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant. Also the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes Have shaved the crown of your head. Have you not done this to yourself By your forsaking the LORD your God when He led you in the way? But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of the Nile? Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the Euphrates? (Jeremiah 2:14-18)
Why did Israel want to go back and drink from the waters of slavery? It simply doesn't make sense. Yet, we see it in the church today, people who time and again revisit their sinful past.

Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:35-26)
Why would a professing Christian want to go back and drink the waters of slavery? They guzzle the filthy sewage of sin, and not only commit sin, but claim that we all sin, thereby making themselves feel better about drinking the dirty water.

Fellowship in the mire of sin doesn't help their case. It's still filthy sewage. But they ignore the taste, they endure the nausea, and they reinterpret the warnings of Scripture so they can keep imbibing in the swill that holds them in bondage:

For if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
And our nation is also drinking dirty water. Over two hundred years ago, we won a war that helped us break free from the shackles of tyranny. Since that time, we have sacrificed blood and lives to keep us free from facism, socialism, and communism. We swept out that dirty water and preserved the fresh water of liberty.

So what are we doing now? Apparently electing a president who holds to every ideal the dirty water stands for. This nation has forgotten what it was like to live under tyranny. It has forgotten the sacrifices we made to keep us from living under the boot of socialism. And now we have apparently turned on the nozzle to the sewage pipeline and are waiting to drink freely from the filthy water.

Why has this happened? I think Jeremiah provides the answer.

"Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you; Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter For you to forsake the LORD your God, and the dread of Me is not in you," declares the Lord GOD of hosts. "For long ago I broke your yoke And tore off your bonds; But you said, 'I will not serve!' For on every high hill And under every green tree You have lain down as a harlot. Yet I planted you a choice vine, A completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before Me Into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine? Although you wash yourself with lye And use much soap, The stain of your iniquity is before Me," declares the Lord GOD. (Jeremiah 2:19-22)
As Jeremiah indicates, God is not blind to sin. He sees the stain of iniquity. And it's interesting to note how this nation will likely be corrected ... by its own wickedness. As this country turns to socialism, we will bring about our own downfall. We will once again learn what it means to suffer under the yoke of tyranny, and when we learn that lesson, maybe we'll be able to cast it off once again.

Maybe.

Then again, maybe not. When we cast the yoke off before, many in this nation held to a semblance of spiritual truth. It seems that this Shack church society has lost any concept of truth and how it is derived and maintained. They look to feelings and not to God as He is revealed in Scripture.

Without the faith of the bedrock people of the land, when the boot of socialism presses down on our necks we might crumble and be blown away. Why? Because there will be too few left who understand the principles of faith in a God who is holy, just, and filled with wrath against sin. Only He can keep us from buckling. Only He can restore us, both the nation and the church, to the great institutions we once were.

But we have to sweep out the dirty water. Just as we cannot abide with socialism in our republic, we cannot abide with sin in our church. We cannot be like those Jeremiah derided, those hypocrites who stand at the altar and shout, "We are delivered," while lifting up their sin-stained hands. We cannot pretend that we have a blind god who cannot see sin.

We desperately need a new standard in the church today, one that strikes down the old banner across our doors that says, "Sinners, saved by grace." No, our banner should read, "Saints by the grace of God and in practice." For that is what we are called to be, saints who drink only the water of life, the life of true liberty, for we refuse to be bound by those chains again.

15 comments:

Araken said...

That is so true. I'm watching as the student body around me crumbles as values are ignored and darkness takes ahold of their lives. A few friends of mine and myself are trying to be positive influences, but I find that very few care. My pastor referenced a scary statistic: 65% of the grandparents' generation were active believers, but only 4% of my generation are. I think the key factor is that there is no fear of the Lord in their lives--and if they don't respect God, why should they respect earthly authority?

sally apokedak said...

Bryan, maybe next time you can discuss what is Paul saying in the following passage:

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Bryan Davis said...

Sally, thank you for the comment. I'm trying to figure out why you want me to write about that passage. I will assume that you think it might contradict what I said in my post regarding holiness.

Apparently some members of the Galatian church were being taught by someone within their fellowship that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Paul takes issue with that, and later claims that those who hold to this cannot be true believers.

As he wrote,

"Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness." (Galatians 5:2-5)

It seems clear that the "foolish Galatians" are those seeking to be justified by the Law and therefore are not real Christians at all.

True Christians are justified by faith alone, and in response to that faith, God regenerates the believer. So the proof of the regenerating work is their obedience to Him.

As the Bible says,

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

This is the evidence of salvation, not the prerequisite for salvation. So someone like me who says that holiness is the necessary outcome of salvation is not claiming a works justification. Far from it. Salvation is by faith alone.

It is clear, however, that the proof of salvation is obedience, and those who do not keep God's commandments, and yet claim to be Christians, are liars, as the 1 John passage plainly states.

sally apokedak said...

Thanks for answering, Bryan. Yes, I did think that you were seeking to be justified by works. Glad to hear you aren't. However this part:

"Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"--

Seems to indicate a journey. A sanctification process. A place where we are perfected--as if we aren't perfected at the point where we believe.

In regards to the 1 John passage, either I'm a liar or I know in part--I see through a glass darkly. A day will come when I will know him fully even as I am fully known. But, no, I don't fully know him now and I don't fully obey him now.

Bryan Davis said...

True, Sally. It does seem to be a process or a journey, but the question is, "From what beginning to what end?"

I believe the Galatians 5 passage makes it clear that those who are seeking to be justified by works aren't true believers. I'm not sure Paul could have used more blunt terms to say so.

Therefore, I think it's wise to interpret the Galatians 3 passage in the light of the straightforward text from chapter 5.

I'll quote the two verses from chapter three that I think are most relevant.

"This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

This question arises in my mind. If those who are trying to be justified by works are not true Christians, then what does it mean to "receive" the Spirit and to have "begun by the Spirit"?

Is Paul saying that such people once had the Holy Spirit and then they were severed from Christ? That would be a reasonable interpretation except for the fact that Paul is talking about people who were "seeking to be justified" as the passage in chapter five indicates as well as chapter 2 verse 17, which leads up to Paul's remarks in chapter three.

It seems to me that people who are seeking to be justified aren't saved yet, and Paul's statement that they are separated from Christ would corroborate that assumption.

So, I am left with a clear (at least clearer than what I'm about to examine) indication that Paul is talking about unsaved people.

With that in mind, what does it mean to receive the Spirit? Could Paul be talking about a general, corporate reception, i.e. "Did you (people) receive the Spirit ..." which could mean that the Spirit was received in the real Christians in the group? I think that's possible, and there's at least one more possibility to consider.

Could this reception of the Spirit be something other than a saving reception? Perhaps a reception that understands the conviction the Holy Spirit brings upon unbelievers? (John 16:8-9) Could conviction of sin be the beginning of the journey? That seems possible to me, too, though the use of that word more often means a saving reception.

Then what would the end of the journey be? Since they are seeking to be justified, then it would be justification. Would this be the same as being "perfected"? I think so. The word means to complete something, as in coming to the end of a journey. So, finding what they were seeking (justification) would be the completion Paul had in mind.

It's also possible that Paul was asking a rhetorical question and not stating that they had really received the Holy Spirit. Since it's in question format, it might not be wise to assume he was claiming they had the indwelling presence of the Spirit, especially in light of the clear facts I already mentioned, (1) They were seeking justification (2) Paul makes it clear in chapter five that they aren't really saved.

My view, therefore, is that the foolish Galatians are people who weren't real Christians yet (seeking to be justified), but who had some conviction from the Holy Spirit that started them on their journey toward salvation.

Their desire to follow a path of works, however, made them stray from the path of faith, and the work of grace that began by the Spirit's conviction could not be completed, severing them from Christ and making them fall from the grace that had brought them this far.

I think, Sally, that this interpretation is not in violation of mainstream thinking, though I have been known to swim in the tributaries. :-)

Jo Lynn said...

Okay when you said

"a god who will save them no matter how sinful they are."

I got confused because God will save you no matter what you did I mean look at Moses he was a murder and then there's Paul, who knows what he did, but did you mean that God wants us to turn from our wicked ways because if so then I totally agree with you.
I just wanted so clarification.
Please and thank you.

Bryan Davis said...

Jo Lynn, that's a great question. I see how my statement could cause confusion. I will go back and make it clear in the original post.

I meant that some people profess to be Christians and believe that they can go on being sinful, that God will save them simply because they profess Christianity with their lips.

Nathan Petrie said...

Okay...I get it now...that's right
Christianity isn't fire insurance...it's a relationship with Christ.
lol I thought you were going along the lines of work salvation at first too.

Thanks for the emails...it's a big deal

Jo Lynn said...

Okay thanks for the clarification.

sally apokedak said...

But just to be clear, Bryan, you are saying that Christians do not sin at all after they are saved, aren't you?

I'm a little confused because you say that Donita Paul is a Christian. But I would guess Donita would tell you she stills sins.

So...I just want to make sure I understand you. Do you believe that Christians don't ever sin anymore once they are saved? I thought that's what you believed.

thanks.

Bryan Davis said...

Sally, regarding Christians and sin, I believe what the Bible says:

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18)

Regarding Donita, she professes to be a Christian. Who am I to say that she's not? I make no unnecessary individual judgments, and I don't assume that anyone sins.

If I am in a situation where I have to make a judgment, such as whom I should trust as a teacher, and I see for myself that someone is in obvious sin, then I will make the judgment for the sake of the necessary decision, but I still will likely not make a public statement regarding a person's lack of salvation. The judgment would be for the sake of a necessary personal decision. It wouldn't be for the sake of tearing the person down.

If, however, I am personally counseling someone who confesses sin and wonders what to do about it, I will suggest becoming a real Christian, because, as the Bible says, Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. True, Bryan. He cleanses us from past, present, and future unrighteousness. God is not limited by time.

Consequently I disagree with this line of thinking from your original post: it's even more common to hear people claim that we have a blind god, that somehow God doesn't see them sin, because when He looks down from heaven, He sees Jesus instead of a sinner. Nonsense.

God isn't blind when Jesus's blood washes my sins away. It's an actual condition. I am washed—of all my sins, past, present, and future. The truth is, ALL my sins were future to Jesus's death on the cross. Why is it so hard to see that His forgiveness isn't dictated by some moment in my life?

Something else. I know from I Corinthians that some people even in First Century churches walked in sin, and were proud of it. They had no intention of confessing and turning from sin.

In no way is that attitude in agreement with anything Paul taught. He was horrified that people might think more sinning was good because it meant more grace. Yet he himself admonished believers all the time.

Take Euodia and Syntyche, for example. He makes it clear they were Christians, identifying them as women who had shared his struggle in the cause of Christ, "along with the rest of my fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life." But he admonishes them to live in harmony in the Lord. He tells his true comrade to help them. Not living in harmony flies in the face of the unity Paul enumerated in chapter 2 of Philippians. In other words, these Christian women were sinning.

That's only one of many examples. Here's just one more.

After acknowledging the faith of the Thessalonians and saying how he rejoiced before God on their account, Paul turns around in the next chapter and admonishes them: "we request and exhort you ... to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother."

He goes on to say the same thing about loving their brother—you do, but excel still more.

So when is perfect obedience perfect enough? In other words, some of us look at the space between doing and excelling still more as sin. It's not something we condone. It's something we confess and turn from. And sometimes fall back to and confess again.

It's part of the excelling still more process ... part of the sanctifying process. It doesn't make us liars or not Christians because we admit that we haven't got the excelling still more conquered.

Paul didn't have it conquered either. He admitted as much: "Not that I have obtained it [the righteousness he describe in verse 9 of Phil. 3], or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

Interesting discussion. I do enjoy talking theology. ;-)

Becky

Bryan Davis said...

Becky, I also enjoy talking theology, but I wish we could do it face to face, read each other's kindness and compassion (and even passion) and get quicker feedback through raising clarifying questions. Back and forth comments on a blog post makes for a lousy way to proceed.

But I'll give your comments a quick reply. I have debated this issue for 25 years, so it would be difficult for you to raise a Bible passage that I haven't dealt with a number of times. I have come to my beliefs through hundreds of hours of diligent study, and since my conclusions are against the tide of modern-day evangelism, it would be a lot easier in a social sense to change my mind and go with the flow. But the overwhelming evidence of Scripture makes me hold fast to what I have learned.

First, I have never seen any indication that justification include future sins. Actually, that thought is directly contradicted in Hebrews 10:26 and following.

Cleansing of sin isn't just forgiveness, it is removal of sin. If you are cleansed from all sin, sin is gone. There is nothing future to be cleansed.

It is true that Paul warned many in the church about sin, especially those who were proud of their sin. But they were churchgoers, not true Christians. Paul's warning that they would not inherit the kingdom is clear enough proof that he knew they weren't genuine (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:21). He admonished fakers, hypocrites, not real believers.

It's true that Euodia and Syntyche were true believers, but Paul never said they were sinning. He merely urged them to live in harmony. Perhaps they had a disagreement, both fully convinced of their position, much like Paul and Barnabas. Someone might urge you and me to live in harmony in spite of our differences, which are real and sincerely held on both sides. That doesn't mean we're sinning.

Regarding the Thessalonians, Paul clearly tells them that they are walking in a manner that is pleasing to God. Such conduct cannot possibly be called sin. Yet, Paul urges them to excel more. Great. A pep talk. Words to renew our strength. I love that. But that doesn't mean they're sinning. Far from it.

Sinning is knowing what is right to do and not doing it, or knowing what is wrong and doing it anyway. (James 4:17) Growth in knowledge and our capacities is completely different. Remember, the wages of sin is death. I don't think you can call something sin unless it is action against knowledge, because you would have a situation where God is condemning someone to hell even though he or she knew no better.

Regarding the Philippians 3 passage, Paul said he wasn't perfect in knowledge. It wasn't about in obedience. Then, in context with a standard of obedience, he called those who were perfect in that standard to maintain an attitude that they still had progress to make in knowledge.

Lacking knowledge is not sin. The real sanctification road is learning to know Jesus better, not learning how to stop sinning.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Hi, Bryan

I respect you a ton. And I respect your diligent study over the years. But honestly this discussion gives me an uncomfortable chill in the pit of my stomach.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not arguing for a license to sin. I don't want sin in my life. I don't want to do anything that violates God's standard. I just want to know Him better and serve Him until all is made clear in heaven.

But having said that, I've heard you argue your position a few times, some to me, some just in my presence. And I guess I just can't fathom your stance.

I did a study of Hamartiology a number of years back for a Bible Study group I led. Wish I'd have saved my notebook from that series. But one thing I remember is that sin (hamartia in the Greek) literally means falling short or missing the mark. This is the word that Paul uses in Romans 3 when he writes "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." The standard is God's holy perfection. That's why we all need saving. We just can't do it on our own. So far, I suspect you agree.

But once saved, you would argue that Christians do not sin, right? I've even heard you say that it should be relatively easy for Christians not to sin at all. And yet, the standard has not changed. The bar is still God's holy perfection. We're told to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. We're told to love our enemies. We're told to love our neighbors. God defines love for us in Himself, but also in 1Cor.13.

By that standard and by that definition, it sure doesn't seem likely that we'll maintain that for the rest of our lives. Empirically speaking, I don't know if I've ever met any Christian who lives up to that standard.

To support that from the Bible, I see that Paul refers to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Romans, the Colossians, the Ephesians, etc. as brothers.

Paul a servant of Jesus Christ...to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints... (Romans 1)

Paul, called to be an apostle...to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy..." (1Cor1)

Paul, and apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ...to the churches of Galatia." (Gal. 1)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus... (Eph 1)

Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God...to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ..." (Col. 1)

Clearly each audience Paul addresses in these letters is bonafide Christian. In fact, reading on in the letters, we see Paul refer to the audience as "brothers" over and over again. There is not grammatical or syntactical shift from brothers to nonbrothers in these chapters. Not even when Paul is critical of their actions.

The Corinthians struggled with sexual sin, as well as, with putting too much stock in human leaders (I follow Paul, I follow Apollos). The Romans had faulty theology. The Galatians had allowed old Customs and Law regulations to infiltrate their faith. The Philippians: pride and selfishness. The Colossians: a distorted view of faith due to Gnostic influence.

Each church struggled with its sin, and yet Paul calls them Brethren.

When Paul confronted Peter (Gal. 2: 11-19 and Acts, he says Peter is to be blamed. Certainly, Peter was not very loving to the Gentile believers he had spurned. Surely hypocrisy is sin.

Paul tells the Colossian believers, "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world (they are Christians), why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules (Sin).

If Christians will not sin once they are saved, or even if they might sin, but mostly won't, or even if sin is a real danger for real Christians, but we should be able to lick it pretty easily, then what's the point of most of the New Testament? Why all the urging us not to sin? Why all the urging to be holy?

And what about the sinful flesh we live in? I don't see anywhere in Scripture where we are taught that salvation takes away the flesh? It's my understanding of heaven that it is there that we will receive glorified bodies that have no inclination to sin. But here, Paul seems to describe a very real battle going on inside of each and every believer.

And what about Christians who battle addictions? Certainly God can and does heal some people of these addictions once and for all. Those are beautiful and inspiring accounts. But for many, many others, the struggle goes on. Being drunk is sinful, and by extension, so is using any addictive drugs. Are these struggling folks just not really Christians? I don't mean do you think they aren't Christians, but would you say the Bible would say these people are not really Christians?

And what about so many Christians serving God all over the world who believe differently? Are we all just deceived? And if we are, does that mean we are bound for hell?

Well, to conclude, Bryan, I love you. I don't know if I've met anyone who lives his faith like you do. I just don't understand your stance. And I feel very threatened by it.

Bryan Davis said...

Wayne, thank you for your comments. I understand they are heart-felt and sincere.

As I wrote to Becky, it's so difficult to conduct doctrinal debates in this format. We really need to sit down and talk.

So after this comment, I will be closing this post down for continued debate. If you want to email me to continue, we can give that a try.

Regarding the standard, yes, God's holy perfection is the standard, and Jesus calls us to be that perfect. "

Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48).

If Jesus commands it, then it is possible. And He said that if we love Him, we will keep his commandments. (John 14:15). This isn't a maybe. He says we will do it.

You point to several epistle introductions where Paul is calling the church in general saints, brothers, etc. But that in no way means that everyone in the church is a true Christian. I don't know of any church that is 100% Christian. And many of his statements later in the books bear this out.

For example, in speaking to the church at Galatia, he says, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4)

It's clear that those who are having problems are not real Christians.

Again to the Galatians: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

As we can see, those who partake in the deeds of the flesh are not going to heaven, even if they are part of the church Paul was addressing.

To the Corinthians: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This is to the same church he referred to in general as saints. He clarifies quite well that he knows the truth, that the sinners in the church are not really saved.

And I could show similar proofs in the other books. It is clear that Paul considers those in the church who engage in sin to be unbelievers.

Paul urges church members to be holy, because lack of obedience will destroy the witness of the church and it will mean that they aren't real believers.

It's crystal clear in Hebrews chapter ten that those who know the truth but still sin are not going to Heaven, as I have referenced before.

I could easily turn the question around. Why urge people to be holy if you think they can't really do it? That makes no sense at all.

You wrote, "I don't see anywhere in Scripture where we are taught that salvation takes away the flesh?"

But it does say that quite specifically.

First, the flesh has been crucified in all believers: "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24)

Second, the flesh has been removed: "And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." (Colossians 2:11)

In Romans 7 and Galatians 5, Paul does describe a battle within, but this battle occurs within an unbeliever. The flesh is removed in a true believer, so the battle is over.

Regarding professing believers with addictions, if partaking in the addictions is sinful and if they are truly Christians, they have the power to stop immediately. And I believe, according to the Bible description of true believers, they will stop.

I don't know what to say about people who believe differently. I don't know why they do. The Scripture seems very clear to me.

It says, "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18). That is a virtual repeat of 1 John 3:9. And Paul says, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2) And he states several times that we are dead to sin and freed from sin.

Jesus says that anyone who commits sin is a slave of sin (John 8:34), and since real Christians are free from sin and not slaves, the conclusion is easy to make: Anyone who commits sin is not a real Christian.

This truth is trumpeted throughout the New Testament, so I don't know why people disagree.

Here are the facts. I love God. I hate sin. The flesh is crucified. The flesh has been removed. The Holy Spirit is always present within me. There is no temptation that can overpower me. We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.

There is absolutely no reason in the world that I would sin. It makes no sense.

I can't speak to the threatening part. That's not my doing. I love you, Wayne. I would never want to hurt you. I can only speak what I have seen in the word and live it out by His power.