Pastor Robby Gallaty of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Tennessee posted Sunday on his Facebook page a testimony of how God worked in spite of a full-blown power outage that took place during their 11:15 AM service this past Sunday.
“We just encountered something I haven’t experienced before at Long Hollow or at any church for that matter,” Gallaty explained. He said the event happened while he was preaching on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, where Paul tells the Corinthian church: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We now with unveiled faces are looking at the glory of God are being transformed.”
Gallaty said halfway through his sermon, all the power went out. “The back-up lights continued to work for 15 minutes. Unbeknownst to us, the transformer caught on fire, and blew out at the substation right when I was ending my sermon. We heard a loud bang, and then, boom! We were sitting in pitch-black darkness.”
Having never been faced with this type of scenario before, the pastor said most people took out their cell phones and turned on their flashlights, lighting the room. Gallaty considered ending the service, thinking, The power is out, my TV is out, my mic is out, the worship team can’t play their instruments, so I’ll just close the service in prayer.
‘The Enemy Will Not Get the Victory’
As the pastor prepared to say, “Let me pray as we close the service,” Gallaty said something stopped him. Instead, he said, “We are not going to let the enemy get the victory today.” Gallaty said he listened to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and changed course. “What happened next was unreal,” he said.
Because the there was no electricity, the only power was the sound of his voice, so he began yelling so everyone in the auditorium could hear him. Gallaty invited anyone in the congregation to come forward who needed to be set free from addiction, resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt, porn, drugs, pride, or any other sin that might have a foothold in his or her life.
“There was a palpable presence of God,” Gallaty said, as he knelt to pray. The pastor began to uncontrollably weep as many in the audience also came forward to the altar and began to weep.
The powerful service ended without a trace of electricity and only an acoustic guitar and the voices of God’s people filing the room singing “Death Was Arrested.” “It felt like a Book of Acts service,” said Gallaty. “No lights, no frills, no electric instruments, no show; just the people of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Gallaty told ChurchLeaders.com, “I don’t think it’s any accident that while I was preaching the final sermon of the Holy Spirit series, during the final service, on the second to last line of the message, the Spirit manifested His presence. He definitely left a lasting impression on all of our minds.”
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation
in the knowledge of him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope
to which he has called you,
what are the riches
of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power
toward us who believe,
according to the working of his great might.
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, ”
As with most of Paul’s phrasing in his letters, his prayers are long, also. He desires for the church the same revelation of Christ that has been given to him, and so he speaks of his prayers for them in the first and third chapters of Ephesians.
He always gives thanks for the believers in the early churches and prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory would give them: “The spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;” Ephesians 1:17
Under this one heading, he explains how the Spirit by which the believers have been sealed (1:13) works wisdom and revelation in them. First, he prays that the eyes of understanding be enlightened so that they may know three things about God, the Father. He builds on each one to bring the believer to see Christ in his glory and the church as the fullness of him here on earth. (1:23)
“The eyes of your hearts enlightened that ye may know (these things)”
1. the hope to which He has called you. 2. the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 3. the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe
1. The hope to which He has called you. Paul has written earlier in this chapter of the dispensation of the fullness of time (1:10)when God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, “having chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (1:4). As new Christians, they were still learning what it meant to be adopted into God’s family (1:5). They did not yet know the wonder and glory of this supernatural birth through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They needed to know and grow in their new birth.
2. The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. This adoption (1:5) that Paul speaks of, brings with it an eternal inheritance. As a recipient, he knows the riches of the glory that God the Father gives to His children. He has experienced this inheritance already. He has spoken of this inheritance in verses eleven and fourteen and is praying that they experience more and more the riches of this spiritual inheritance that they received when they heard the word of truth, and trusted in Christ. They needed to understand this inheritance that begins here in their own life.
3. The immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe. Now comes the crescendo of Paul’s prayer as he is explaining how revelation, faith and believing, the calling, and the inheritance, are by the greatness of God’s mighty power. This power he explains, ~ “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Verse 20.
Itis a lengthy explanation that spreads over two chapters. Paul’s prayer begins in verse fifteen to the end of the chapter, without a period. The same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand is the mighty power that quickens the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin (2:1, 5). This is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, our eyes enlightened by this power for salvation.
Paul could have inserted a parenthesis in verses twenty to twenty-three in which the roles and purpose of Christ and the church are revealed, but it all fits together. It is a matter of wisdom and revelation, and requires study and meditation, for believers to understand how we are related to Christ and the church; and how we get there. Christ having been raised and seated at the Father’s right hand, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Verses 21-23 The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, is the only one who can reveal Himself to us. He does this when he opens our eyes to see his Son, head over all things, and given to the church. His body of believers that He brings to life by the power of His Holy Spirit continues to experience His filling, the inheritance in the saints.
Dear Father, thank you for this prayer that you inspired Paul to write, not just to the early churches, but also for us. We pray this prayer for your people everywhere, that we will experience this filling, and together, this fullness of Christ. Pour out your Spirit upon us for new revelation, for we shall never have all the wisdom and knowledge here on this earth. Prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
When Abraham Lincoln was twenty-eight years old, he spoke these prophetic words to an assembly at the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois:
We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.
In this national election, some of us have some disappointment with which to deal. I believe the results of this election are far more revealing about our country than our candidates. Much of what many people want to do troubles me greatly. I do not want to whine and cry and say, “Now what can we do?” Instead, I want to take hold of the one thing that can change us and change our land.
The gospel will have a greater impact on our country than anything else. The gospel message will be more life-changing than any other message we give to people. We may be trying to get people to go to church, turn over a new leaf, or do some other good thing, but the gospel is far more effective. It is not up to us to just tell it in the church-house, but to tell it in the highways and hedges, our workplaces, schools, among friends and family. Have you given the gospel to your friends? Family? Work companions? You may say, “I never have the right time,” but you do not have to have the right time you just need to give it. One day, every person we have ever met will meet God with their sins. What have we done to prepare them for that day?
THE GOSPEL IS
What is the gospel?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God.”Romans 1:16
The gospel is the power of God. The same power that created the universe is the same power that God demonstrates in the Gospel. When we are tempted to complain sometimes, just remember – we have the power of God at our disposal. Because I am a recipient of the gospel, I know what it can do for others.
THE GOSPEL DOES
What can the gospel do?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”Romans 1:16
The gospel brings salvation. Salvation brings a change in life. It is strong and powerful, but many times we keep it locked away, like a ferocious, powerful lion locked in a cage. We talk about it. We even say, “Look at how powerful the gospel is! It is strong! It has the power to save men’s souls! It has the power to change lives!” But we cage it up and close it off so that it can do nothing in our lives or in the lives of those around us. If we want to see what the gospel can do, we must let it out.
THE GOSPEL REVEALS
What does the gospel reveal?
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17
Our faith is not in faith. The object of our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. The righteousness of God is revealed “from faith to faith.” I became a Christian because someone gave me the gospel. That is how God designed it to work. Do you remember who told you the gospel? Someone told you and you ought to tell others. People say, “I want to make the world a better place.” How would you like for the righteousness of God to be revealed at your job? In your home? In your nation? Millions of people in America vote in a national election, but most of them could not tell you the way of salvation. These same people could go to a voting booth and be concerned about ungodliness and unrighteousness iftheir lives were changed by the gospel.
What can we do now? Stop the religious work that consumes our time, money, and effort and separate ourselves to the gospel. Nothing apart from the gospel has the “power of God unto salvation” to change lives. I want to complain sometimes and yell at the television or get mad at the news person. Maybe some of them are reporting with great prejudice, but the real issue is not them. The real issue is I am not doing what I have the power to do because I have received Christ as my Savior.
What would happen if we started talking to people about how to know Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and started giving people the gospel? The righteousness of God would be revealed in their words and deeds. May the Lord work in our lives to separate us unto the gospel of God.
The Garden of Eden had a river flowing through it that had 4 branches. The Lord God had kept the river to nourish the entire garden.
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there as well. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Genesis 2:10-14. NASB
The Anointing of the Holy Spirit is like the experience of being in a river. Eden is compared to the Presence of God and the Garden to the Church. From this we gather that the river of the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Presence of God and nourishes the Church.
The 4 branches of the river in the Garden of Eden were:
The meaning of Pison is God’s strength. Jesus was filled with the strength and power of God during His time on earth. With the help of God’s strength, Jesus went about doing good in every place He went to. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:38.
The meaning of Gihon is the Grace of God. The grace of God helps us to move forward in our spiritual lives. The Scripture teaches us that God grants His grace to those who are humble. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6. It is a gift of God to mankind.
The meaning of Hiddekkel is wisdom of God. What do I mean by this? It means God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know Him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, it pleased Him by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But, for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24.
The meaning of Euphrates is the holiness of God. Peace and holiness run in parallels. We grow in God’s holiness when we follow peace with one another. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14. God has called us unto holiness and not to uncleanness. and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. Ephesians 4:24.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-30
Mounting up with wings as eagles
Greetings! Friends, How are you this day? Are you feeling tired and weary? I know the answer for many is a “No” because they have just witnessed God breaking through for them as they were passing through the storms of life. However, some feel tired and weary because the journey has been challenging for them. They don’t think they have any power in them to continue to fight and push through till the end.
Well, I am here this day to encourage you and tell you once again that you are not alone in this battle; God is with you and for you. As I was meditating last night, I felt weary and exhausted, and I kept asking God the same question, when will the end of these trials comes to an end. For a moment, I felt that I don’t have the power to go on and finish this race. As I was entertaining this thought, the Holy Spirit started ministering back to me and reminded me of Isaiah, chapter 40, from verses 28 to 31.
This chapter begins with proclaiming comfort for the people as quoted in the scripture below:
Our God says to you:
“Comfort, comfort my people with gentle, compassionate words.
Speak tenderly from the heart to revive those in Jerusalem, and proclaim that their warfare is over.
Yes, the warfare has ended, even though it seems hard, but God is proclaiming this day that the fight has ended. In this chapter, God reveals Himself as our Shephard, who has gone ahead of us and has made every crooked path straight, every mountain and hill low, and every valley leveled. He has cleared the way ahead of us, and not only that, He has promised to give power to the weak and increase strength to the weary.
However, there is a part we need to play for us to continue to finish this race. We have to wait patiently in the Lord, in His presence through prayer, praise and worship, tithing and giving offerings, serving in the house of God, and so on. There is a promise that God gives to those who are weary and, tired yet, continue to wait silently and patiently in His presence.
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40: 31 AMP
According to the above mentioned scripture, God will renew our strength and power as long as we continue to wait in His presence. We will receive new strength like never before, and we will mount up with wing as eagles and soar very high, we will run and not become weary, we will walk and not be faint.
I got very excited and felt energized after meditating on this verse, I felt revival entering my soul, and I was overflowing with joy to continue and finish this race. May I encourage you this day to meditate on this chapter and allow God to fill you up afresh with His strength and power so you can mount up with wings like an eagle and start soaring high once again and run your race like never Before!
There is the power that comes with meditating on the word of God as we learn in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12
For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. AMP
May I also end this post with this quote from Nehemiah Chapter 8 verse 10.
Then Ezra said to them, “Go [your way], eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.
NEHEMIAH 8:10 AMP
I hope you found encouragement and inspiration to continue to wait in the presence of God. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read—many blessings to you. God loves you, and He is with you and for you.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The question we will tackle today is how do people who have experienced the miracle of the new birth deal with their own sinfulness as they try to live in the full assurance of their salvation? That is, how do we deal with the conflict between the reality of the new birth, on the one hand, and our ongoing sin, on the other hand? How do you balance the danger of losing assurance of salvation and the danger of being presumptuous that you are born again when you may not be? How can we enjoy the assurance of being born again, and yet not take lightly the sinfulness of our lives that is so out of step with being born again?
John’s first letter, more than any other book in the Bible, seems to be designed to help us in this practical, daily battle. Consider 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” This book is written, he says, to help believers have the full assurance that they have been born again—that is, that they have new, spiritual life in them that will never die. John wants you—God wants you—to experience something in this letter that makes you profoundly confident that you have passed from death to life.
First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life.” Jesus says in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” So John and Jesus are jealous for us believers to know that judgment is behind us, and death is behind us, because our judgment happened when Jesus was judged in our place, and our death happened when Jesus died in our place. And therefore, new life is in us and this life cannot perish and cannot be taken away. It’s eternal. That’s the assurance John and Jesus want for you. “I write these things to you . . . that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
The Folly of the False Teachers
But something is going on in the churches that John is writing to that concerns him deeply. Whatever it is, it threatens to destroy this assurance. There are false teachers who are saying things that may give the impression of good news and strong assurance, but will have the very opposite effect. In dealing with these false teachers, John shows us how to deal with our own sin in relation to fighting for assurance. What were these false teachers saying?
First, they were saying that the pre-existent Son of God, Jesus Christ, had not come in the flesh. They did not believe in the full union of the pre-existent Son of God with a fleshly human nature like ours. Here is what John says about them in 1 John 4:1-3: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
Disconnecting Christ and the Flesh
There is a lot we could go into about this early Christian heresy, but I only want to focus on one thing. These false teachers disconnected Christ and the flesh. See that in verse 2: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” They did not like the idea of the pre-existent Christ being united with human flesh.
Now here is the reason that’s relevant for our question today. This view of the person of Christ not being united to physical, bodily, flesh evidently had a practical, moral effect on the way these false teachers viewed the Christian life. Just as they disconnected the person of Christ from ordinary physical life, so they disconnected being a Christian from ordinary physical life.
Disconnecting Christians and the Flesh
One of the clearest places to see his is here in our text: 1 John 3:7. John says, “Little children, let no one deceive you [so he has the false teachers in view]. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” What’s he saying? He is saying beware of the false teachers because what they say is that you can be righteous and not practice righteousness. “Let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous.”
In other words, John opposes not only their view of Christ, that they disconnect his person from his ordinary bodily life of doing things, but he also opposes their view of the Christian life when they disconnected our person from our ordinary bodily life of doing things: “The flesh didn’t really matter for Jesus; what mattered was that somehow, in a spiritual way, he was the Christ and there was no real union of the pre-existent Christ and the physical man Jesus. And our flesh doesn’t really matter either; but somehow, in a spiritual way, we are born again, but there is no real union between that new creation and our physical life that does righteousness or does sin.” Which led directly to the error that John points out in 1 John 3:7, that you can berighteous in some spiritual way, and yet not do righteousness in your ordinary physical life.
Now John has three responses to this false teaching.
Christ’s Incarnation Lasts Forever
First, he insists that the flesh of Jesus and the person of the pre-existent Christ are inseparable. First John 4:2: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Notice it does not say “came in the flesh,” as though that union with flesh and bones happened for a while and then stopped. He says “has come in the flesh.”
This incarnation lasts forever. The second person of the Trinity will forever be united with human nature. We will always know him as Jesus, one like us, and infinitely above us—the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). God did not, and does not, despise the physical creation that he made. He has comein the flesh. And the Son of God remains in the flesh forever. So John’s first response to the false teaching is to set straight their view of Christ. His physical being is not a mirage. It’s not secondary. It’s not unimportant. That he has a body marks and identifies him forever.
Christian Doing Confirms Being
John’s second response to the false teaching is to deny emphatically its teaching that spiritual being can be separated from physical doing. John, in fact, insists that spiritual being must be validated by physical doing, or else the spiritual being is simply not real. That’s what we saw in 1 John 3:7: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” The deceivers were saying: You can be righteous and yet not practice righteousness. John says: The only people who are righteous are the ones who practice righteousness. Doing confirms being.
That is what John says over and over again in this letter. For example, in 1 John 2:29, he says, “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” In other words, the doing of righteousness is the evidence and confirmation of being born again.
Not Practicing Sin: Evidence of the New Birth
Or consider 1 John 3:9: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” The practice of sin is the evidence and confirmation that one is not born of God. Doing confirms being. Not practicing sin is the evidence and confirmation of being born again.
And the reason the new birth inevitably changes the life of sinning, John says, is that when we are born again, “God’s seed” abides in us, and we “cannot keep on sinning.” That’s how real the connection between the new birth and daily physical life is. The seed may be the Spirit of God or the Word of God or the nature of God—or all three. Whatever it is specifically, God himself is at work in the new birth so powerfully that they cannot keep on practicing sin. God’s seed cannot make peace with a pattern of sinful behavior.
These false teachers who think they can separate who they are spiritually from who they are physically do not understand either the incarnation or regeneration. In the incarnation, the pre-existent Christ is really united with a physical body. And in regeneration, the new creation in Christ has real, inevitable effects on our physical life of obedience.
Rejecting Any Notion of Sinlessness in the Born Again
John’s third response to the false teaching is to reject any notion of sinlessness in born-again people. Evidently, the way this false teaching was working was that, by disconnecting “being righteous” from “doingrighteousness” (3:7), they were then able to say, “Well, even if your body does some things that are sinful, that’s not really you. The real you is the born again you; and that real you is so above daily physical life that it’s never defiled by sin.”
So this disconnection that the false teachers made between who you are and what you do had led them, evidently, to say that Christians never really sin. How could they? They’re born of God. They’re new creatures. They have the seed of God in them. So John levels his guns at this error three times. It’s important that you see them.
1) There Are No Sinless Christians.
First John 1:8: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We! We born-again Christians. In other words, don’t let the deception of these false teachers work its way into your own self-deception. There are no sinless Christians.
2) The Born Again Have an Advocate.
First John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In other words, John does not assume that if you sin, you are not born again. He assumes that if you sin, you have an Advocate, Jesus Christ. And only those who are born again have this Advocate.
3) There Is Sin That Does Not Lead to Death.
First John 5:16-17: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.”
Notice that last clause: “There is sin that does not lead to death.” This is why you can see your brother committing sin. He is your brother. He is born again. And he is sinning. How can this be? Because there is sin that does not lead to death. I don’t think he has particular kinds of sins in view, but rather degrees of rootedness and habitual persistence. There is a point of confirmed sinning which may take you over the line of no return and you will be like Esau who sought repentance and could not find it (Hebrews 12:16-17).
How Do the Born Again Deal with Their Sin?
Now we come to the question we raised at the beginning: How do people who have experienced the miracle of the new birth deal with their own sinfulness as they try to live in the full assurance of their salvation? My answer is: You deal with it by the way you use John’s teaching. John warns against hypocrisy (claiming to be born again when your life contradicts it), and John celebrates the Advocacy and Propitiation of Christ for sinners.
The question is: How do you use these two truths? How do you use the warning that you might deceive yourself? How do you use the promise, “If we do sin, we have an Advocate”? The evidence of your new birth lies in how these to truths function in your life.
Here’s the way they function if you are born again:
1) Fleeing Presumption, Flying to the Advocate
You are slipping into a lukewarm, careless, presumptuous frame of mind about your own sinfulness. You are starting to coast or be indifferent to whether you are holy or worldly. You are losing your vigilance against bad attitudes and behaviors—and starting to settle in with sinful patterns of behavior.
When the born-again person experiences this, the truth of 1 John 3:9 (“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning”) has the effect, by the Holy Spirit, of awakening him to the danger of his condition so that he flies to his Advocate and his Propitiation for mercy and forgiveness and righteousness. He confesses his sin and receives cleansing (1:9), and his love for Christ is renewed and the sweetness of his relationship is recovered and the hatred of sin is restored and the joy of the Lord again becomes his strength.
2) Fleeing Despair, Flying to the Advocate
You are sinking down in fear and discouragement and even despair that your righteousness, your love for people, and your fight against sin are just not good enough. Your conscience is condemning you, and your own deeds seem so imperfect to you that they could never prove that you are born again.
When the born-again person experiences this, the truth of 1 John 2:1 has the effect, by the Spirit, of rescuing him from despair: “My little children [he wants to be tender with their consciences], I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John’s warning of hypocrisy calls you back from the precipice of presumption. John’s promise of an Advocate calls you back from the precipice of despair.
The Redemptive Power of God’s Word
New birth enables you to hear Scripture and use Scripture helpfully, redemptively. New birth doesn’t use the promise “We have an Advocate” to justify an attitude of cavalier indifference to sin.
New birth doesn’t’ use the warning “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning” to pour gasoline on the fires of despair. New birth has a spiritual discernment that senses how to use John’s teaching: The new birth is chastened and sobered by the warnings, and the new birth is thrilled and empowered by the promise of an Advocate and a Propitiation.
May the Lord confirm your new birth by both of these responses to the word of God. May he grant you to embrace both the warning and the comfort and put them to proper spiritual use in preserving the full assurance of your salvation.