Vol.XII No.III Pg.7
May 1975

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Is the person who commits one sin of the flesh lost, outside of Gods grace, until he confesses his sin? RG


This is but one of dozens of like questions that come our way. If I am driving 5 miles over the limit and have a fatal accident? If an unusual temptation overtakes me? and so, on and on. Why do not these brethren lay aside the trivia and get to the core of the matter? Must I remain faithful to the Lord? Whether they realize it or not, the theology that spawned this current rash of such questions is the P of Calvins TULIP — Preservation of the elect. Others know it as security of the believer or impossibility of apostasy. Can not our brethren see that the emotionalism, rationalizing, and hypothetical cases that would excuse, ignore, or count of no moment one sin, would, viewed with a like subjectivity, do the same for all sins.

We can receive Gods grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1). I fear some in and out of grace statements have given a connotation to grace that is contrary to N.T. usage. God loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8) but we must come to Christ for His blessings. Grace is extended to erring saints, in that Christ intercedes for those who call on Him (Heb. 4 :16).

Sins of the flesh are still sins, and an improper attitude toward any sin is a rejection of God (Jas. 2:11). But one who questions each deed of his life, and seeks to find in the doing some assurance of salvation, may be suspected of a reliance upon himself that could be characterized as a walking after the flesh. It seems to me a life of faith, of trust in Jesus Christ, is far more positive and optimistic than that. Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14).. At the same time, it is difficult to conceive of one who is walking after the spirit or in the light as trying to excuse any sin.

It seems to me that 1 Jn. 1:8 makes it clear that one who claims to be a Christian, striving to walk in Gods light, will sometimes fail. Walking in light is a manner of life, a general pattern, which is not canceled by a specific or single act; for despair and frustration at our own weakness may yet remain, and ones desire and further effort may yet be in the direction of right (Rom. 7:21-24). But an effort at self-justification is a further step in the wrong direction — a giant step toward darkness. So John urges us to continually confess our sins (present active); an expression of attitude like rejoice evermore or pray without ceasing, and analogous to being faithful to the Lord. With such an attitude we can be assured that Christ will forgive our sin (1 Jn. 2:1; Heb. 7:24-25). Knowledge of this was enough to make Paul rejoice (Rom. 7:25). We should remember, this was the Paul who buffeted his body to keep it in subjection.

Finally, remember that God knows our heart, and judges righteously.