Church of Pensacola
Church of Pensacola

Teaching about righteousness

Sinner or saint?

The Bible clearly indicates in many places, that there are sinners and there are those who are truly righteous, who do not keep deliberately sinning (sins that lead to death as outlined in the Bible). For one small example, the Bible says, "...when we were still sinners, Christ died for us."


Yet the sad truth is that most of those who consider themselves to be among the "us" in this portion of scripture will actually gladly admit that they are still sinners now, in the false confidence that so many corrupted sinful preachers teach that all people are still sinners, and must keep sinning, and that none can actually stop sinning are be truly righteous in their life and deeds today, that only Jesus is truly righteous! They don't even notice that they are not part of the "saints", the "holy ones" to whom the promises of the Bible apply, and they never seem to even consider truly repenting from their own favorite sins and seeking God to know Him and the real Lord Jesus so they can live a truly godly and righteous and holy life pleasing to Him! 


It is true that if we confess our old self and sinful nature to be us, then so be it unto you according to your faith. If we will exercise our faith in Jesus and in our union with Him through baptism in His name, and confess that we are new creatures in Christ, crucified to this world and it to us, dead to sin, alive to God, and become partakers of His divine nature through appropriating these very great and precious promises, then we can be that new self which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.


It is true that God initiates our salvation, we do not earn our salvation by good deeds or even by repenting, we stop sinning after we hear and believe, but so many keep mistaking salvation and being saved with being born again. To as many as received, Him, even to those who believed on His name He gave the power to become sons of God. After we are born of God, we must keep believing and, as Steve said, then we are told to and must learn to humble ourselves and God will exalt us in due time, we are told to draw near to God and He will draw close to us, we are told to repent.I don't think these are divisive and minor issues that the early church did not address, these are very important issues that very few would have been foolish enough to argue against in the early church. I don't see people glorying in themselves or denying Christ in any way, but rather honoring Him by upholding the teaching that is accord with godliness. We better all fear God and listen and repent and live it or lose it, and be prepared if you continue in your sins to lose much more than any real or imagined rewards. Whoever doesn't listen properly will lose what little they had, it would have been better to have never known the way of righteousness than to have departed....


If we have to daily crucify our sin, that necessitates that we must come back alive to sin daily, which so many have no trouble doing because they are not really dead with Christ and alive with Christ.  It is not a matter of making sure we have repented from every sin and that maybe we have missed one, the Bible says what counts is a new creation. Jesus said that whoever sins is a slave to sin, and the slave has no permanent place in the family, BUT A SON LIVES FOREVER. Keep playing with sin if you insist, but be prepared to reap exactly what you have planted, the wages of sin is death, even for the 'believer'. You cannot actively believe, not the Bible word 'believe', while you are deliberately sinning. They are mutually exclusive terms.


Although many foolishly and to their eternal destruction twist the meanings of Romans chapter 7, it is a very real struggle we go through as we seek to be justified in Christ by our faith. We must learn the lessons of Rom ch 6 and 8 to overcome. James, why would Jesus tell us to go and sin no more if it isn't possible, or God's will? Why does 1 Jn 3:7-10 even tell us that this is how we can discern between who is a real Christian and who is not, whether they stop sinning or not? Why does our Apostle Paul, by the Spirit write to us: "COME TO YOUR SENSES AND STOP SINNING!" 1 Cor 15:34


I sinned off and on with horrible consequences for many years before I read and responded to God in faith concerning 1 Pt 4:1, 2 "Since Christ suffered physically, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because WHOEVER SUFFERS PHYSICALLY IS FINISHED WITH SIN, AND SPENDS THE REST OF HIS LIFE, not for human desires, but rather FOR THE WILL OF GOD." !!!!! I realized that 1 Peter 4 & 5 explain this process. It goes on to say that we have spent enough time foolishly wasting our lives playing with the very temporary pleasures and laziness of sin, warning us of the very real and very soon coming of the terrible Judgment Day, and then teaches us that we must share in Christ's sufferings as real Christians. "The righteous are barely saved, where does that leave the ungodly and the sinner?" (they don't make it!) Then it tells us to be submissive to our elders and to clothe ourselves with humility. Jesus humbled Himself and OBEYED GOD, and Paul told us in light of this that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And we are told clearly to "MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO MAKE YOUR OWN CALLING AND ELECTION SURE."  How can folks keep ignoring the clear truth? "You err because you don't know the scriptures..."

This is quite different from this one time salvation that many have believed in, where you get 'saved' once and for all and now you cannot lose it, only rewards! No fear and trembling in that! God does it all, we can't obey God and keep from sinning, we must sin! Continuing in 1 4, then finally, Peter, a witness to the Lord's horrible agonies and death, tells us that this humbling ourselves in daily obedience will cause us to suffer, but that God will then strengthen us and take us to the next level of becoming like Christ, from strength to strength, grace to grace, from one degree of His glory to the next, being transformed NOW into His likeness with ever increasing glory of the Holy Spirit. "...Resist him, standing firm in the faith, knowing that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing THE SAME SUFFERINGS. And then God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, AFTER YOU HAVE SUFFERED A LITTLE WHILE, will Himself make you strong, firm and steadfast."

So we can see that unless we learn to share in Christ's sufferings,  WITH MUCH PRAYING AND YES, FASTING!!!, AND BY TURNING OFF THE TV AND MOVIES THAT FILL OUR HEARTS WITH EVIL AND LUST AND WICKEDNESS, AND WITHOUT MAKING A STAND FOR JESUS WITH THE FEMALES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN OUR LIVES, AND AT WORK, WE WILL NOT OVEROME! God's grace is sufficient, let us prepare our minds for action and get busy, never lacking in the zeal and spiritual fervor of the Lord.


There is a very great danger in the common belief and very popular teaching that Paul was describing his own give and take battle with sin in Romans ch 7 while he was an apostle of the Lord Jesus. That is a great lie from the Devil. Paul said that he had lived in good conscience up till a late point in his life, and he said, "you yourselves know how holy and righteously we lived among you..." He was not a sinner at all, and taught completely otherwise. We are not talking about some kind of absolute sinless perfection, but saints are not sinners, and sinners are not saints. The sinners don't make it, so repent and reckon yourself dead indeed unto sin once and for all, and as Paul said, "Stop sinning!" (1 Cor 15:34)  Those who think that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" still to this day can use their misunderstanding to comfort themselves after they have sinned again,



I do thank God that when I was still regularly sinning that the Lord remained faithful and didn't give me the final boot I deserved. I still was cut off in my fellowship with God, I reaped what I sowed, and yet God is restoring the 'year of the cankerworm' so to speak! It wasn't without some major fasting and praying and going back around the mountain to re learn those lessons I didn't want to learn. Yet I am finding that the Lord's yoke is not too hard and that His burden is not too heavy, that His commands are not too burdensome or grievious. And I am certainly learning the Father knows best and really loves us. I died to the law and I died to sin by my union with Christ through baptism into him and his death to the law and sin.


I learned to actually do something that seems silly: to believe what the Lord was telling me in the Bible and to do what the bible says to do. Then when I got to the place in Romans ch 6:1 where it says,... :YOU DIED with Christ when you were buried with Him in baptism, I FINALLY REALLY BELIEVED IT, BEFORE I WAS ACTUALLY LIVING IT! Then when it said, 'THEREFORE RECKON YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN AND ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST, I actually was silly enough to do that too. "I believed and therefore I spoke" (2 Cor 4:13). I said outloud, many times, I AM DEAD INDEED TO SIN AND ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST, I AM A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST, SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER ME FOR I AM NOT UNDER THE LAW BUT I AM UNDER GOD'S GRACE. Well, it didn't happen immediately, but when I learned to pray outloud regularly, according to God's will as recorded in the New Testament, and to fast on just water till it hurt, I overcame by the grace of God, God's Word works!!

When I reckoned myself dead with Christ and turned off the TV for good, I was eventually thereafter able to get my faith to work right and finally to obey and to live sexually pure. I learned to stay away from the wrong people and not to be... a 'wrong people' myself. "Since Christ suffered physically, arm yourselves with the same attitude, becausee WHOEVER SUFFERS PHYSICALLY IS FINISHED WITH SIN and spends the rest of his time on earth...for the will of God." 1 Pt 4:1,2 That just said we can be finished with sin and spend the rest of our lives doing God's will. Look it up, I didn't make it up!! It is time to fast and pray and to overcome now, before the huge hurricane that is coming hits


Why would the Bible say, "stop sinning" (1 Cor 15:34) to us Christians if we could not sin? And why does the Bible actually tell us that we can tell if somone is a real Christian or not by whether they keep sinning or not (1 Jn 3:7,8). That one of the real tests of orthodoxy in the Bible, not whether someone believes in the trinity or that Jesus is literally God! "Whoever is born of God does not continue to sin. Whoever continues to sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. This is how we know who the children of the Devil are and who the children of God are." Jesus would be unrighteous if He told us to do something impossible!


We should only say we are not sinners if we are not sinning each day. Remember, we are not talking about sins that lead to death. Deliberately doing what your conscience knows is wrong. When you are truly led by the Spirit you are not under... the law of sin and death. You find the freedom to actually obey the Lord every time, and it snowballs, and we become slaves to obedience which leads to being slaves of righteousness which leads to holiness which results in eternal life. "But thanks be to God that although you used to be slaves to sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you. Being then made FREE FROM SIN, YOU BECAME THE SLAVES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS...leading to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Rom 6:17

When we are being snatched out of the fire of loving this world and living in sin, thinking we are really real believers with eternal life, it doesn't feel like love from those who are doing the snatching (Jude 23), until we really repent and are safe and then see what is coming on those who are still under the wrath of God. THEN we recognize the love of the snatcher!


We confess our sins and God forgives us. But sad to say I got pretty good at that, and then I had to recognize that I was insulting the Spirit of Grace and treating the blood of Jesus as an unholy thing when I kept sinning. I realized I had become a slave to sin. As it says, "If anyone escapes the corruption that is in the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and is again entangled and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them to have never known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to have turned their back on the sacred command that was passed on to them..." I read in Psalms: "WITH YOU THERE IS FORGIVENESS, THEREFORE YOU ARE FEARED." I finally feared to keep on confessing the same sins that I knew the scriptures well enough to know that Jesus died on the cross to save me from.


We can go and sin no more

These things were written that we would not sin. Yes, thank God IF we sin, not WHEN, but if we sin we do have an advocate in the Lord Jesus.


But, You cannot aspire to daily repentance unless you plan to keep sinning daily! Christ died to sin once and for all. Reckon yourself, therefore, to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus...


Thanks be to God that although you used to be slaves to sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching that was delivered to you. Being then made free from sin you became slaves to righteousness...leading to holiness and the result is eternal life. Come to your senses and stop sinning. Whoever continues to sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. This is how we know who the children of God are and who are the children of the Devil.


And please don't tell me you believe that "There is none righteous, no not one" still applies today! George, it is a lie that we cannot stop sinning. You are not listening to the Word of God. "Stop sinning" 1 Cor 15:34, "Go and sin no more" Je...sus, "Stop sinning lest something worse come upon you." George, if you will please open your heart, the Lord would never tell us to do something that was impossible, that would be unrighteous! Although that verse in 1 Jn is almost universally misunderstood, I will try anyway: If you will notice the context, 1 Jn ch 1 is about those preaching the gospel: "...this we proclaim... vs 1, "and we proclaim to you..." vs 2, "we proclaim to you..." vs 3, "this is the message...:" vs 5, and then it deals with people who respond wrongly to this message:... "if we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie..." And then: "If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves." And we are not even talking about whether we 'not having sin', we are talking about not deliberately living in sin that leads to death.

This is talking about people who claim they don't need to repent and be forgiven of their sins, they say that they have no sin. IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT NEGATE THE REST OF THE BIBLE'S TEACHING THAT GOD'S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR US TO STOP DELIBERATELY SINNING SINS THAT LEAD TO DEATH. IF we sin, not when we inevitably sin, we have an advocate, thank God for Jesus.


Some think that verses like this, in First John, are an excuse to keep sinning. Jesus said that whoever sins is a slave of sin, and the slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son abides forever. The Bible says in 1 Jn 3:7,8 that whoever is born ...of God does not (continue to) sin, yet the child of the Devil keeps on sinning. It even says that this is the distinguishing mark of both, that this is how we can know who the real children of God are and who are children of the Devil. I realized when I was still sinning that the scripture cannot be broken, and when I read this in 1 Jn 3 I just said to God something like: (even though I knew that I had been born again and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit and I still believed, I mean I really "believed" as much as any sinner could) "Dear God, I must have gone back to being a child of the Devil, because I am still a slave to lust..." Well, I cried out to Him for deliverance, and through His grace helping me to keep seeking Him, praying alot, fasting alot, and turning off the worldly TV shows and movies, He heard my cries and answered me. I learned to speak my faith: I am dead to sin and alive to God, I am in Christ, a new creature in union with Him, sin shall not have dominion over me because I am not under law but grace, Jesus is the Son of God and I overcome the world in Him! God's word works when we devote ourselves to prayer and get ready to share in Christ's sufferings. You wont make it in these last days if you never fast on water and learn how to pray outloud according to a good understanding of the New Testament in your heart.


Obeying Christ is something practical, it is not too hard. God is not expecting some kind of absolute perfect obedience, this is why He has given us the freedom of His grace in Christ, but when we have truly died with Christ, we fin...d that we have truly died to the Law of sin and death, and now walk in the new way of the Spirit, where we do not sin. You cannot justify your completely unbiblical doctrine of daily repentance, because daily repentance does necessitate daily sinning, or there would be no need for daily repentance. Only sinners who are on the road to destruction think that Christ's righteousness KEEPS COVERING THEIR UNRIGHTEOUS LIFESTYLES of continuing to deliberately sin after they have received the knowledge of the truth. They have banded together in the last days to agree that continuing to sin while admitting it is the real way to believe in Jesus and to have their hope in His righteousness and not their own works of righteousness. Real believers who are sons of God learned that from the beginning, and have gone on to appropriate Christ's righteousness as their own, learning that only he who does what is right consistently is a child of God, whoever continues to sin and then keeps trying to repent, like Esau, who fell for sexual immoraltiy, the ol okee doke, and then could not find genuine repentance later, even though he sought it with tears.


We acknowledge our great need for God and our Lord Jesus by the quality time we spend with Him in praying for what we need. You have not because you ask not. It seems that so many people in these last days imply that God requires and demands an impossibly perfect standard of us, which is not true. Jesus did not tell us to do what is impossible or too hard. He said that His yoke is not too hard and His burden is not too heavy. Let us come to Him to know Him and we will see this to be true. The Bible says, "And His commands are not too burdensome", and it is true. In fact, this was the only time I ever argued with the Lord, I said, I know I am wrong, but it sure seems like your yoke and burden and commandments are too hard. Later I learned that "The way of the transgressor is hard". Give the devil an inch and he'll become your ruler again. If we become entangled in and overcome by the things we were supposed to be reckoning ourselves dead to and being obedient to flee from, so as not to give the devil a foothold, then we will end up worse off than at the beginning. Yes it would have been better for us to never to have known the way of righteousness than to have fallen for the deceptions of sin and to have believed the last days ear tickling warped teachings that accomodate 'just a normal amount of sin, after all we are only human, we are all sinners, don't worry Jesus righteousness is what we are trusting in, not ourselves'.

I have been born again since 1976 and received the gift of the Holy Spirit right afterward. But I backslid quite a few times until I learned who the real Jesus is and how to speak my faith, to identify with Christ, to fast and pray earnestly in order to finally overcome, thank God for Jesus and for His grace.


It seems every sinner loves to tout the perfect obedience of Christ to cover over their lack of obedience, as if Christ's obedience automatically makes up for their lack. We are already in full agreement that only Christ and His perfect obedience is acceptable to God the Father in satisfying God's righteous demands for our redemption and salvation. I was talking about OUR actions here as we seek to be completed in Christ. The Bible says that Jesus has become the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (Heb 5:9?). I don't believe that this obedience the Bible is talking about must be an absolutely perfect sinless obedience, and that is just one of the great blessings of God's grace toward us. Not just by Jesus' righeous life (for if that were the only criteria everyone would automatically be saved, because it says that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world), but (by God's grace) my faith in Jesus, as I learn to obey Him, causes me to obey the leadings of the Spirit each day and night.

My point was that I didn't think that God expects some kind of impractical ABSOLUTE, that was the word I used in its absolute sense, obedience on our part. I was saying that I didn't believe that it was some kind of absolute sinlessness in this life where we will never again raise our voice too much at our wife or children, or where we will always every time do the good we know to do like putting things back after we have used them, etc., where we have an absolute righteousness in total perfection. God has made Jesus to be our righeousness, but now that we have been justified by our faith there is a matter of OUR righteousness. I know that scares every sinner, but Jesus' righteousness MUST become ours in practice. Jesus said that unless YOUR righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees you will in no way enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus also said that THOSE WHO ARE COUNTED WORTHY of the age to come will neither marry nor be given in marriage. There is a worthiness we must, by God's grace through our faith, attain to. 

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© Tom Heiden