THE GUILT AND POWER OF SIN
Copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
“Be of sin the double cure; Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.” — A. Toplady (1776)
- Does the expression “Jesus saves us” mean that Jesus forgives our sin, or does it mean Jesus removes our sinful nature, or does it mean both?
- If He does both, what role does Divine “grace” play?
- Is grace an alternative to our gaining victory over the actions of our sinful nature? Or is grace the means of our attaining to victory over the actions of our sinful nature?
Your thoughtful, heartfelt answers to the above questions may very well profoundly affect the kind of Christian life you pursue.
The guilt of sin and the power of sin are not the same thing. Yet in much of today’s preaching and writing, the distinction does not seem to be made. I do not understand why this is so, unless it is because it was not time for God to explain to us the fullness of the redemption that is in Christ.
When we say “the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world,” do we mean Christ takes away the power of sin as well as the guilt, or do we mean that Christ takes away only the guilt?
Is it important that we understand the difference? Indeed it is very important that we understand the difference!
I am not enough of a scholar to know how the difference between the guilt and the power of sin was made known throughout the centuries of the Christian Era. But I gain the impression that the general understanding of the Christian redemption was that the Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven to earth only to forgive our sins. If that belief is true, it might be well we never were born.
Just give this some thought. We hope for a new world of righteousness. We hope to live in communities where the people behave righteously. They are honest and just. They tell the truth. They are peaceful and kind. They are clean morally. They love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves.
Am I correct? Is that our hope? Our do we picture the new world that Jesus is going to bring into being contains people who are dishonest, unfair, liars, prone to violence, unforgiving, spiteful, harsh, unmerciful, and driven by lust and other demonic impulses? Now tell me: What kind of new world do you expect Christ to create?
The same question applies to our life in the spirit world, in Heaven, after we die. However, I am speaking primarily of the new world of righteousness that is to appear after the final Day of Judgment.
The Scriptures do not teach that we are to live in Heaven forever. Heaven is not our home, except temporarily while God is working with the future rulers of the world.
The reason for the resurrection of the dead is that man is destined to live on the earth in physical bodies. If this were not the case, there would be no need for a resurrection. We could remain happily (or unhappily) in spirit bodies if our final destination were Heaven.
I believe you and I probably are the same in our thinking. We want to live among righteous people, whether in the spirit world or on the earth, the present earth or the new earth of which the book of Revelation speaks.
Now, here is the point. Forgiveness does not accomplish our desire. What good does it do to forgive people if they are going to continue in their unrighteous behavior? What good does it do us if we must live with forgiven but sinful people? What good does it do God, who wants to have fellowship with us? Will God have fellowship with sinners who have been forgiven?
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
Does the above verse sound to you like God wants to have fellowship with people who have been forgiven but still are sinning? God has desires, none of which can be satisfied by people who have been forgiven but who still are in the bondages of sin:
- God desires sons, a family whom He can enjoy.
- God desires brothers for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- God desires an unblemished bride for the Lamb.
- God desires judges of men and angels.
- God desires an eternal temple in which He can settle down and rest.
The above are just a few of God’s needs and desires.
Can God fulfill His desires by forgiving people? Absolutely not! He must work with people until they have been released from all the power of Satan and filled with the righteousness and holiness that are Christ Himself.
I am not speaking of an imputed or ascribed righteous that we gain by being identified with Christ or having faith in Christ. I am referring to righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God that flows from Him who cries out, “I delight to do Your will, O God; yes, Your law is within my heart.”
What if the returning son, in the parable of the prodigal, continued to live a drunkard’s life after he came to his father. Would the father be pleased to live with his son’s dissolute behavior?
God gave us a new covenant because the Law of Moses does not produce the change in behavior that God insists upon. God does include forgiveness as part of the new covenant, because God will receive man only at the cross. But forgiveness is not the prime emphasis of the new covenant. The prime emphasis of the new covenant is the putting of the eternal moral law in our mind and writing it on our hearts. God has promised to do this for those who continue to obey Him.
How does God put His eternal moral law in our minds and hearts? By forming Christ in us. Christ Himself is the eternal moral law of God. As Christ is formed in us, righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God are formed in us. This is the new covenant. The new covenant is not the so-called “four steps of salvation,” which do not prepare people to live in Heaven or upon the earth. People created the “four steps of salvation.” God created the new covenant.
I realize that the new covenant is directed toward Israel. But every true Christian, Jewish or Gentile, is Israel. We all are the one Seed of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other covenant of salvation.
The one we have stuck together, the “four steps of salvation,” by removing verses from their contexts, is as flimsy as wet paper. The genuine new covenant is a mighty rock which never can be moved, no, not throughout the endless ages upon ages.
“I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”
The forgiveness of our sins is so God can receive us and begin the work of redemption. Christ did not come to earth to forgive people. Forgiveness accomplishes nothing that we or God desires. Christ, as well as John the Baptist, preached the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of forgiveness. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth.
In fact, according to Isaiah, one of the main works of Christ, Head and Body, will be to establish justice on the earth. The world of today is filled with injustice. The purpose of the return of Christ is to bring justice to the afflicted of the earth. He would have brought justice to the earth two thousand years ago, with the help of God’s angels. But Jesus wants to share the inheritance with His brothers.
So we have the two thousand years of the Christian Era, the purpose of which is to create saints who can work with Christ in establishing justice on the earth.
But it is obvious that people who themselves are still bound with sin and self-seeking are not able to bring justice to afflicted people. The people of the suffering nations have been afflicted by people who are driven by sin and self-will. How can they then be delivered by people who themselves are driven by sin and self-will, who are seeking their own glory, as is true of many church people?
During the two thousand years of the Christian Era, it appears we have lost sight of the message of Jesus and John the Baptist. We are preaching going to Heaven instead of the Kingdom of Heaven coming to the earth. Along with this, we have in many instances ignored the power of the new covenant to make us new creations of righteous behavior.
It can be said truthfully, I believe, that today’s Christian teaching and preaching is quite far off base, being an accumulation of errors and traditions. Obviously, the current emphasis on grace-Heaven-rapture is not scriptural. How do these three emphases concern the new covenant? And since when is the scriptural goal of salvation that of going to Heaven in a “rapture”? It appears we are in sore need of a reformation of Christian teaching and preaching.
I would suppose that many Christians believe that God somehow will remove the power of sin from us. They certainly do not expect to find sinning people in Heaven when they die. So some unscriptural solutions to release us from the power of sin have been offered. One unscriptural solution is that when we die, we are released from sin. It is true that when we count ourselves as dead with Christ and risen with Christ, we are free from the authority of the Law of Moses. But this is not what people mean. They mean that physical death frees them from the sinful nature. This would make physical death our redeemer instead of the “last enemy.” There is no basis in Scripture for this belief. When the Scripture speaks of being changed “in the twinkling of an eye” it is speaking of the redemption of our body.
The truth is, sin began in the spirit world and came to earth from the spirit world. If a pure environment would deliver us from sin, then Adam and Eve would not have sinned. They were living in Paradise. Yet they were willing to disobey God. People do not change by virtue of living in Paradise!
Another commonly held solution to the bondage of sin is that at the coming of Christ, we will be delivered instantly from the sinful nature. But the parable of the talents reveals that this is not sound thinking. When Christ came to the steward who had buried his talent, Christ did not forgive him and deliver him from his wickedness and laziness. Rather the Lord removed his talent, gave it to another, and sent the wicked, lazy servant into the outer darkness.
Thus, there is no scriptural basis whatever for the two prevailing notions that we will be set free from our sinful nature by virtue of physical death, or that Christ suddenly will remove our sinful nature when He appears.
There were seven feasts of the Lord. It is the sixth feast that symbolizes the reconciliation of man to God through the removal of man’s sinful nature.
Incidentally, I believe that the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has commenced in the present hour and will continue until the final Day of Judgment. The final Day of Judgment will take place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, popularly known as the “Millennium.” The Day of Atonement, which is Yom Kippur for the Jews, is the most solemn of the Jewish holy days.
What is particularly meaningful to this present article is that there were two goats utilized during the observance of the Day of Atonement, or, as I like to term it, the “Day of Reconciliation.”
- The first goat was slain and its blood sprinkled before the Mercy Seat, the Lid of Reconciliation. Thus atonement was made for Israel.
- The second goat also was referred to as an atonement, according to the Scripture, although its blood was not offered. Rather the sins of Israel were laid on its head and this “scapegoat” was led away into the wilderness.
Here we have salvation from both the guilt and the power of sin.
In the first instance, the blood of the innocent goat was offered before the Lord. This removed the guilt of the sins of the people.
In the second instance, the sin itself, not the guilt of the sin, was symbolically removed from God’s people.
The plan of salvation is proceeding in steps, beginning with the blood of Jesus Christ, as symbolized by the Jewish feast of Passover. We have been forgiven at the cross. We have been filled with God’s Spirit. Now the time has come for all sin to be removed from us, because there can be no new world of righteousness as long as we merely are forgiven but not released from the presence of the sin itself.
But where is the biblical basis for the removal of sin from God’s people? Please consider the following passage carefully, for it tells us about the removal of sin from the Kingdom of God:
The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:37-43)
The good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.
The weeds are the people of the evil one.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
So we have the time this will take place — at the end of the age. The term “angels” means messengers, and can be spirits or human preachers.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. We see that at the end of the age God, will remove evil from His Kingdom. We must realize that many people who profess to be of Christ are not truly part of Christ’s Kingdom. How can we identify them? By the fact that they enjoy and practice sinful behavior. They claim to be “saved by grace,” but their actions tell us they are not actually saved from sin.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. First, everything that causes sin, that is, the power of sin. Christ will remove the power of sin from His Kingdom. Second, all who do evil. As I said, this will not be the work of an instant. The reconciling of man to God and God to man has begun now and will continue until God is satisfied that it is time for the final Day of Judgment.
- First, the removal of the power of sin from all those who are willing to cooperate with the Spirit of God as He helps us put to death the actions of our sinful nature.
- Second, the removal of those people who refuse to participate in the work of redemption.
They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who love and practice sin. There are many people in the Christian churches who are claiming to be “saved by grace,” or that God sees them through Christ, or that salvation is unconditional, or that God’s love is unconditional, or that God is too merciful to put people in Hell or in the Lake of Fire — they will be thrown into the blazing furnace. Then these suffering people will scream in their agony, realizing that they have been deceived — sometimes by preachers who are seeking their own glory.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. These are not people who are righteous by imputation. They are righteous in their behavior. The world cannot see a testimony of ascribed righteousness based on our belief in Christ. The world wants to see honesty, truthfulness, mercy, kindness, gentleness, generosity, caring, helpfulness. This is the true light of the world.
“Rapturing” God’s people into Heaven will not help the world one bit.
So we see that the time has come for God to begin to remove the sinful behavior from us. He has forgiven us totally. But that forgiveness will be removed if we do not continue to obey God.
The present concept that the Father loves us and accepts us even though we are disobedient, will not stand the test of Scripture. Actually, we should know better than this.
We have known of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us are becoming acquainted with the Spirit of God. Now it is time to come to know the Father. Christ is not the way to Himself, but the Way to the Father. We can come to know the Father only by strict obedience to Him.
The Kingdom of God is at hand, the Kingdom that will enforce God’s will throughout the earth. Let each of us Christians repent of any area of our life in which we have not obeyed God, and turn now to receive the eternal life which God is offering to us through Jesus Christ.
The work of reconciliation is working throughout the Body of Christ. If we want to perceive properly what God is doing, we must recognize that the program of redemption is taking place in the spirit world, where most of the Body of Christ is in the present hour. The members of the Body on earth are relatively few in number.
The New Testament speaks of the Bride of the Lamb being without blemish, and of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit operating until “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Also: “From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
It is obvious that on the basis of our physical death, we are not removed from our membership in the universal Body of Christ. It is obvious also that the standard of perfection is not attained to in the present world, with the possible exception of a few fervent souls.
Perhaps we need to revise our concept of what goes on after death. Certainly with dedicated disciples, the program of redemption proceeds in full force until the desired perfection is attained to. And why shouldn’t it? How else is the Lamb going to have a perfect Bride?
The idea that this perfection is attained to by imputation is unscriptural, unrealistic, and, in fact, ridiculous. What good to the Lamb is a bride who remains a forgiven, self-willed sinner, as is the case with numerous believers today?
Peter writes concerning the members of the Body in the spirit world:
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)
The concept that redemption occurs in the spirit world may be new to some of us. However, we need to give this idea serious thought. It is possible that in the fairly new future there are going to be many deaths in the United States. We are well advised to take a more scriptural, reasonable view of life in the spirit world, than is true of the “mansion” concept heralded so widely today.
If we are to survive throughout the coming chaos in America, and help others to survive, we must learn to be citizens of two worlds — of the present world on the earth, and also of the spirit world, which is a much more real and lasting environment.
If people are to be reconciled to God, a very long period of time will be required, not the relatively few moments of our “shadow” career on the earth
By the way, I am not speaking of ultimate reconciliation in which every person born on the earth is saved to the new world of righteousness. Unfortunately, some people will continue to defy God’s will. They shall be incarcerated for eternity, becoming ever more a part of Satan as the ages roll on.
Because life and redemption continue after death, God will shake the heavens and the earth.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (Hebrews 12:26)
Daniel also speaks of the host of Heaven being cast down to the earth:
It [probably Antichrist] grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:10)
The tail of the dragon will pull down many who had thought themselves secure in Heaven:
Its [the dragon’s] tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. (Revelation 12:4)
It is entirely possible for someone more diligent than we to take our crown of life and authority. We need to keep this in mind and increase our diligence.
Now, what is it that makes the inhabitants of Heaven vulnerable to the shaking? It is self-will. How many Christian pass into the spirit world whose will never has been crucified? They had been forgiven, possibly filled with the Spirit, may have worked miracles in the name of Jesus, but still retained their will. They may be termed “Christian”, but in their hearts they are rebels against God’s will.
Notice this fact in the following verse:
Because of rebellion, the LORD’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:12)
“Because of rebellion”! From the days of Adam and Eve, mankind has chosen to live its own life. The idea that we are to walk humbly with God, always seeking to know His will and to perform it in every aspect of our being and behavior, is not acceptable to most people — even Christian people. Yet, the only acceptable individual, the person reconciled to God, is the man or woman, boy or girl, who gives over his or her life so that the will of Christ is done in the smallest detail.
Why the crucified-risen life is not preached more often I do not know. But it is a fact that this is the way of the Kingdom of God, and nothing — absolutely nothing — else is acceptable.
And so, as I have said, the program of reconciliation to God will continue until every person whom God is willing to accept as a citizen of the new world of righteousness rejoices at the thought of being totally obedient to Christ, and through Christ to God.
To be forgiven but not delivered from the sinful nature will never satisfy God or us.
(“The Guilt and Power of Sin”, 3530-1, proofed 20211114)