Backsliding Saint vs. Unregenerate Sinner

Fredric A. Carlson

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6. Perhaps He wants to demonstrate to the world's evil spirits that He is able to keep those that He has justified, to give us ability to treat as dead the old man that Satan must have sown in Adam. Only in battle can we show observers how God is able to defeat Satan's temptations to our old natures, as He stimulates our new natures to draw other righteousness-hungry souls as they see Christ's power overcoming the sinful nature in His kids. Only victories prove the ability of Christ to fulfill His promises of power over the practice of sin.

7. One by one, God is playing out the events of His story in the best way that displays His glory. In order to demonstrate His forgiving grace, He first allowed the occasion to do so, the sinfulness of man. He determined to show mercy first by declaring sinners just by His atoning self-sacrifice, then making them righteous through giving them the new nature, then by breaking the power of the lawless one along with the power of the old nature. He further demonstrates His power to preserve His child's faith and relationship with Him by giving him freedom to refuse sin. And He will reveal a further brilliance of His plan and power when He removes the old nature at the death of the redeemed.

8. Regret for failure, and longing for righteousness and goodness are evidence of, not of God's rejection, but of the work of the Spirit drawing us to repentance (Romans 7).

9. While He leaves us here to give witness to His rescuing, restoring grace, he reminds us of the marvel of His gift of a new nature.

This is how I learned that the same Christ whose victory on the Cross provided atonement and forgiveness for my sin, by that same death also provided for my victory over sin's power (Romans 6:1-10; Colossians 2:13-15). Just as Jesus is my Savior from sin's guilt and penalty, He is my Savior from sin's mastery.

I sinned because I had not learned my new Master's method of refusing temptation. I needed to put to work Jesus' victory over the sinful nature that remained in me.

Putting the Piece in Place What is that method? What is the process of growth in the ability to say "Yes" to the new nature and "No" to the old? I found it in Romans 6:11-23. The same faith that believes God about His salvation gives mastery over sinful temptation. Impulse control, according to verses 11-14, is found in treating the old nature as having been crucified with Christ. "Count yourselves dead to sin" means consider yourselves, believe yourselves, realize that you are dead to sin. So I learned to treat my old self as dead, not as my master. I needed to learn to get dressed every morning in the spiritual armor that God provided to protect me from Satan's attacks (Ephesians 6:1018; see also 1 Peter 2:1; 1 Corinthians 3:2; Colossians 3:1-9; Hebrews 6:1-2).

In practical terms, what does all this mean to be delivered from the power of sin? It means that the living Christ has given my new nature the ability to say "YES!" to Him while it says "NO!" to my old nature's lusts (Titus 2:11). This is God's viewpoint of today's taste of "salvation." He has freed me from sin's absolute rule. My old nature can no longer force me to sin when I am tempted. I am free to say "NO!" "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" (Philippians 4:13). "All things" must include the ability to say "No" to temptation as I say, "Yes" to my Lord. He has given me self-control (Galatians 5:2223). Any time that I fail to exercise that freedom, it is my own fault for not receiving Christ's power to do so.

The same God that promised forgiveness on the basis of Christ's dying for me, promises Christ's death, resurrection, and living power to free me from bondage to the law of sin and death, and from Satan's power (James 4:7), so I can choose righteousness! Each time I do, He comes through and wins the battle.

The Cross and the Empty Grave
Jesus' work in my heart makes himself and his righteous name not only the true objects of my faith, but also my primary passions that overcome my selfish lusts. The integrating keys are my Savior's self-sacrifice and resurrection. He really did die to break sin's power, and He really is alive again to make that power real (Romans 6:10). In every tempting situation, He is saying, "Rely on my real and pure presence and power, keeping my word to give you supremacy over your temptation. This is the victory that I supply. Yes, it is the demonstration of my new life in you, the love for the righteous God that overcomes lustful love for self."

The result is praise to God, not only from my heart, but from those who observe His power in my life giving me victory over that old nature. He has peeled off another onion-layer of sinfulness, so as to make me a little more like Him (Romans 8:2831).

Why I wrote this
I share my experience as an encouragement to those who love Jesus, but who have failed Him by falling into sin. Instead of throwing you out as a failure, He is extending to you His forgiveness and His power to avoid future failure.

If you recognize that you, too, are "in Christ" (see the first two chapters of Ephesians), then your present need is to repent of your backsliding, and through honest confession (1 John 1:9) return to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul (1 Peter 2:25). Your gratitude for His patience, His restoring welcome, and the completeness of the salvation that He paid for in His own blood (1 John 2:2) will be in equal but opposite proportion to the despair that you may be feeling. Then this experience of near-despair will prove to be a true gift of God to you, constantly reminding you to treat your old man as dead as you grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Image Credit: stevepb; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation  | Biblical-Truth  | Personal-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published on 4-11-16