God And Sin
Dr. James Fowler | 2021
He Reveals What Is Important To Him
If we are walking with the Lord, we should proceed with what we are doing and trust God to identify the issues of importance to Him. Too many Christians get waylaid in a self-concerned paranoia that keeps asking, “Is this me, or is this Jesus?” Since Jesus forms the basis of our new spiritual identity in Christ, we should be able to trust that Jesus is doing what He wants to do in us, as we remain open and available to Him.
The new covenant concept of “obedience” is not a law-based obedience that focuses on keeping rules and regulations, as the old covenant concept did. In the new covenant dynamic of the living Lord Jesus, the Greek word for “obedience” is hupakouo, which is to be translated “to listen under.”
Christians are responsible to “listen under” the Lord to allow Him to reveal what
He wants to do next in their lives.
As Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:1-16). When we perceive His direction by personal revelation, we can then respond in the “obedience of faith” (cf. Rom. 1:5; 16:26) that says, “Yes, Lord,” and continues to be receptive to His activity, allowing Him to manifest His character in our behavior.
Only the Lord has the right to reveal sin and direct our Christian lives. Beware of any individual or religious group that attempts to usurp the Lord’s prerogative to expose your selfishness or sin. If someone comes to you, saying, “The Lord has told me that you have this or that problem,” disregard their intrusive input, explain that you have a personal relationship with the Lord that does not require intermediaries, and continue to listen to what Christ is revealing to you.
If a religious group seeks to engage in the collective catharsis of identifying sin in one another’s lives, excuse yourself from participation in such. There are too many religious folk who seek to engage in the self-appointed position of attempting to “play Holy Spirit” in another’s life.
On the other hand, be advised that when God does direct you to address an area of self-orientation or sinfulness in your life, it is only for you! Do not set out to apply to others what God has revealed to you. It is “personal revelation,” not general revelation. Selfishly we are tempted to seek to involve as many people as possible in the crime. If we have been caught in the trespass of God’s character, we think others should be exposed also, and sometimes set out on a crusade to “lay a guilt trip” on others for their similar attitudes or behavior.
Do not try to conduct God’s business! Quietly let the Lord deal with whatever issues He brings to your attention, and allow Him to do the same in others.
Remember, “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
God’s Grace Activity
The tragic misrepresentation of contemporary evangelicalism is their preoccupation with religious attempts to deal with sin and express righteousness by human self-effort. Their acceptance of the humanistic premise of an “independent self” that is allegedly capable of self-generating character in Christian behavior is a wholesale repudiation of God’s grace.
When grace is mentioned in modern evangelical teaching it is often defined by the acrostic, “God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense.” Grace was indeed “realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), and His incarnation and redemptive death serve to reveal God’s grace, but grace must not be limited to the historical foundation of the Christian faith.
Going a step further, many recognize the personal experience of God’s grace in spiritual regeneration, “for by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Someone has called this “the threshold factor”15 of God’s grace in the Christian life. But when Christ, the groom, carries another member of His bride, the church, across the threshold of initial regeneration, He does not “get them in the door” and then declare, “Now, straighten up and live like a Christian. Consider what I would do (WWJD) and live in accordance with My example.” As Paul exclaims, “May it never be!”
Grace has a much broader and more dynamic meaning than is often projected in the teaching of the contemporary church.
Grace is the totality of God’s action in total consistency with His own Being and character.