The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 117

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ [Gal.5: 19- 21, emphasis mine].

Many Christians actually think that they can sin so that grace may abound! They seem to miss the point that the injunction to ‘live’, wherever used, implies to ‘go on living”; to ‘believe’ implies to ‘go on believing’; to ‘have faith’ is to ‘keep on exercising faith’ and so on. Put simply, when Jesus said “Go and sin no more”, he implied “stop living as though you care not about your sin”. Notice that in all these biblical injunctions and exhortations there is the indispensable element of continuity. Bottom-line, we are really talking about lifestyle or daily living.

Paul talks about ‘living by the Spirit’ as distinct from ‘living according to the flesh’ (that is, our sinful desires). He points out that Christian character is produced when we live according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, not by the mere moral discipline of trying to live by the law. By the Spirit’s help we now have the freedom not to sin. But Paul goes on to issue the most serious warning to those who think they can do many forbidden things in the name of freedom. He says “those who practice such things (i.e.; those listed) shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. “Those” refers to Christians in the Galatian church, not pagans! Can this be plainer? May we twist the word of God for fear of losing the friendship of men?

Paul’s whole terrible list, when practiced by men, violates God’s will for them. People whose lives are characterized by such deviations from the will of God will be separated from him. Millions of modern day professing Christians are only just that - “professing”. They have not really possessed Christ. They live lives characterized by the flesh. They boldly proclaim their ‘standing’ (justified in Christ) before God, but refuse to attend to their ‘state’ (their recognition of sinfulness).

Does this mean that if you are guilty of one (or many) of these sins you can never enter the kingdom of heaven; that the door is forever closed to you? Certainly not! The Bible says that by repentance and faith anyone can be forgiven (1 John. 1:9). However, refusal to repent in spite of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, while still claiming God’s grace, will certainly bring about the disaster Paul warns about.

Repentance is not a one off action. It is a lifestyle of response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin in our lives.

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues