"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?"
Jesus Luke 6:46
The Bottom Line
| "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that
through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption
in the world caused by evil desires."
2 Peter 1:3-4
Paul implored us to come back to our senses and "stop sinning." Most believe that this is impossible; instead they try to tell me that I should come to my senses and realize that I can't stop sinning. However, this is completely the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
Many consider the very notion of not sinning to be so incredible, so radical that it can't be true. To the natural mind it is foolishness; to many, the power of God is merely a theory. Come with me and examine why people call him Lord, and yet do not obey his commands.
Ten Thoughts About Why
1) Perhaps you don't love him. Our Lord Jesus said "If you love me, you will obey my commands." This is the bottom line. If you are not willing to consider what it means to love him and obey his commands, the following won't be of much concern to you.
2) You may consider it too legalistic. However, this is not about legalism. legalism involves trying to obligate people to man-made commands and traditions which actually interfere with obedience to God. The following is about expressing love for our Lord and for our neighbor.
|"The impossible is often the untried"
3) Perhaps you think that you have valid reasons for calling him Lord while not obeying his commands. I beseech you to consider with me whether they are valid or not. As a person of rational mind, at least consider the possibility of consistent obedience. Nothing is impossible with God.
"Take the case of Peter. When the disciples saw Jesus walking upon the water, Peter requested permission to come to him on the water. Christ told him to come. Jesus' invitation was a promise that if Peter attempted it, he should be sustained. Except for this promise, his attempt would have been tempting God. But with this promise, he had no reason and no right to doubt. He made the attempt, and while he believed, Jesus' energy bore him up. But as soon as he began to doubt, he began to sink. Just so it is with the soul; as soon as it begins to doubt the willingness and the power of Christ to sustain it in a state of perfect love, it begins to sink. Take Jesus at his word, make him responsible, and rely on him. Heaven and earth will sooner pass away than he will allow such a soul to fall into sin."
|"For we will all stand before God's judgment
4) You may have heard the opposite message for so many years that you have a hard time even considering the possibility of having been mislead. Perhaps people like "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff have become your mind, and you do not even think for yourself . If so, then all the more reason for you to make this a matter of great concern. Imagine Christ himself asking why you personally do not obey his commands.
5) Perhaps you are not here to consider why. Perhaps you are on a witch hunt, and think that I might make a good target. But if you are only looking for that which is wrong, is your heart in a place where you can find that which is right?
"I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of."
Michael de Montagne (1533-1592)
|"Ignorance of ones ignorance is the greatest
6) The possibility of obeying God all the time sounds so outrageous that you cannot even consider it. However, emotional reactions are subjective; therefore, I encourage you to lay them aside and make an effort to be objective.
7) Maybe you don't think that this is even important. Consider this: what if the only immigrants allowed into America were those who were criminals, and who believed that they had to continue being criminals? What if they were told that becoming an American implies a desire to follow the laws, being thankful for acceptance into our country... but they were also told that the laws are unreasonable, and that they must break them daily? What do you think would be the result? Do people need encouragement to commit crimes? Yet this parallels what many try to pass off as theology. They are not teaching that we are dead to sin, nor are they teaching redemption. It is no wonder surveys say that the lifestyle lived within the Church is not much different from that lived without.
8) You may not want to consider the possibility because you have some precious sin that you do not want to give up. I hope that you will reconsider. I ask you to judge your own heart. There are basically two kinds of people: those who want to be free to love, and those who want to be free to sin.
|"There are two ways to slide easily through
life: to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us
9) You might not like to think. You may not believe that you have the capacity to think and pray through these issues. You may have left that up to a particular teacher or pope. If this is true, you have in effect put your faith in someone rather than in Christ. He told his disciples that his spirit would lead them into all truth (John 16:13). If you are his disciple, you need to trust him and seek the truth. The following does requires thought, but the issues are plain enough that you don't have to be a scholar to think them through.
|"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2|
10) Perhaps it is peer pressure that has you in its grip. In the context of discussing the "Counterfeit Revival," Hanegraaff has said that peer pressure can be so powerful that people will often ignore the evidence when the deception is exposed.
"The peer pressure that caused them to participate in the first place often keeps them from acknowledging that they were participants in a spiritual lie."(1)
In the following, I will often quote Hank Hanegraaff. Why him? I have chosen Hank because he is very respected in the evangelical world; therefore, he is well able to represent the other side of the debate. I hope that by demonstrating his best excuses to be false, it will make the issues clear in your mind. You will see that I often use principles that he commonly expresses in order to contradict his own conclusions in this area. I intend to demonstrate that while Mr. Hanegraaff does quote the Scriptures, he sometimes teaches the exact opposite. Some will consider this tantamount to attacking the pope; but ultimately we must call no man teacher. Hank himself often tells people to compare his teachings to the Scripture - which is just what I have done. On this issue, the Bible speaks for itself to any and all who will listen. I will not judge his heart, and have benefited from some of his his teachings; but I believe this issue is important enough that the Church should think through all that it involves.
Charting the Course
There are, to my knowledge, three main issues that need to be discussed when considering sanctification:
1) Holiness Defined - What does God require of us as Believers? What exactly qualifies as sin?
2) Holiness Expected - Does the Bible represent God as imparting to Believers the ability to do everything that God requires of them?
3) Holiness and Experience. - Have any Christians truly stopped sinning? Do we have any examples?
With all the authority of God, the Bible tells us to stop sinning. But many, while claiming to teach the Bible, say that this is impossible. They not only disobey the injunctions of Scripture, they don't even think we should consider the possibility of abiding consistently in Christ! In the Great Commission, Jesus told us to make disciples and to teach them to obey all that he had commanded. Despite this, Hanegraaff seems compelled to teach the exact opposite. He instead teaches people that they cannot obey all that Jesus has commanded. It is assumed that for all practical purposes, the lifestyle of a Christian is still the lifestyle of a sinner. I want to show you the arguments that are used to support this and why they are wrong. I hope to show you how the Scriptures have been misused in relation to holiness. Ad I aim to demonstrate that they have made excuses much like the ones that the apostles had to contend with.
The apostle Paul taught me that I am dead to sin and should not live in it any longer. But Hanegraaff told me that "We are riddled with sin!" and that "As long as you are living and breathing, my friend, you will sin."(2) Paul said that I should stop, but people like Hanegraaff insist that I must continue. To whom shall I listen?
Summing it up
Many believe that the obedience God calls us to is a wonderful ideal, good advice, and nice platitudes, but impossible to follow. They believe that, despite God's power and grace, it is unreasonable to expect someone to live even a whole day without sinning. I believe that what God requires is very reasonable and very possible to obey. It is my purpose to show that this is very clearly taught in the Bible, and that the opposing arguments are faulty. Ultimately, we will each stand before God for what we believed and how we have lived; but we must consider it love to challenge each other on this vital issue. It is the purpose of this writer to echo the word of God when it says "STOP SINNING."
1. Hank Hanegraaff, Counterfeit Revival, (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1997), 230.
2. Hank Hanegraaff, Live program, (San Juan Capistrano, CA: The Bible Answer man Broadcast), 1 March 95.