A Pattern of Perpetual Sin

“But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

It’s an indisputable fact of the universe: we will sin. The Bible even says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8).

Having said that, it doesn’t give us an excuse to go out and willfully sin against God.

Yet some Christians say, “I believe that once saved, always saved. And because I’m saved, because I’m justified, I can go out and pretty much do whatever I want to do.”

So, they live in a pattern of habitual and continual sin. Talk about missing the point. They have misunderstood and misused the wonderful biblical teaching known as justification.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

We see the word justification several times in the Book of Romans. Justification means that when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives all our sin. He also places the righteousness of Christ into our spiritual account.

One-way justification has been defined is “just as if it never had happened.” The problem is that some Christians stop at salvation. They don’t understand that the fruit of salvation should be evident in their lives.

Whoever continues in sin without remorse is not in danger of losing their salvation; rather, by their choices, they reveal they may never have had salvation to begin with.

The Bible tells us that “when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

God has justified us. And in light of that, we should want to live lives that honor Him.

God Tests YourFaith through Difficulties

“You are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident—it happens to prove your faith” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Do you ever have days when nothing seems to go right?

Even if you’ve never had a day quite that bad, you’ve likely discovered that life is full of problems, pressures, and stresses.

Did you know that the Bible says we shouldn’t be surprised by life’s problems? It says, “You are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident—it happens to prove your faith” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

If you are a believer, nothing comes into your life by accident. Everything is Father-filtered. The Bible doesn’t say everything’s good. But as Romans 8:28 says, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” even the difficulties, the irritations, and the interruptions. They all have a purpose.

We don’t usually realize it when we’re in the situation and may not want to admit it afterward, but every problem has a greater purpose: God does it to prove our faith.

So how does God want you to respond to difficulties? James 1:2-3 says, “Consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure”.

God uses difficulties to test your faith, and you increase in faith when you rejoice continually and keep a positive attitude in spite of things not going right.

When you remain grateful and positive and continue trusting God even in the middle of difficulties, your faith is stretched.

Live Your Message

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”Matthew 5:13

I believe in delivering sermons, but some things are preached and some things are lived. After you share your message, there comes a point when you need to start living it.

How? Good works. Do good things. Be the person who is known for kindness, cheerfulness, and concern for others. Be the person others can depend on. Be the person who will go the extra mile. Be the person who is known for hard work.

Someone might even say, “I don’t believe all the stuff they believe, but they’re trustworthy and honest and good.” Start there. Be the good person, the godly person.

Then wait for those moments that will come your way as a result. I maintain communication with people who are almost coming to Christ as well as those who are far from Christ. I try to encourage them, but I also try not to go too fast or too hard. And when I see them making a move toward Christ, I make a move to help them get there.

We need to pray for wisdom. We also need to be godly, loving, and fun people to be with—not judgmental, not hypercritical. Yes, there’s a time to draw the line when we don’t agree with things. But there’s also a time to just be that salty person.

Jesus said in Matthew 5, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? . . . In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (verses 13, 16).

As you’re being salty by not always preaching your message but living it, it will begin to stimulate thirst in other people.

Don’t Worry – Worship

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today’” (Matthew 6:31-34).

How do you know you’re not experiencing the love of God?

You’re worried.

You can’t simultaneously worry and worship God. Every time you worry, you’ve forgotten how much God loves you. Worry is really acting like an atheist. It’s pretending you’re an orphan rather than a child of God.

Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today’” (Matthew 6:31-34).

Jesus tells us there’s a truth that’s much more important than anything we’re worrying about: We have a heavenly Father who created us, loves us, wants what is best for us, and is watching over us. He is working for our good and has given us hundreds of promises of his faithfulness.

Worry is pretending you don’t know any of that.

My son Josh doesn’t like to fly when there’s turbulence. A few years ago, he was on a plane experiencing constant turbulence. He told me later, “I had to decide whether I would worry or worship. So instead of worrying, I put in my ear buds and put on a bunch of worship songs.”

You’ll either worry or worship for the rest of your life. You’ll either panic or pray. You’ll either look at your problems or look at God.

Which will you choose?

What Jesus Prays For You

He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference; He is praying for me.”

The Bible says of Jesus, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV).

What does Jesus pray when He intercedes for us? This is important to know, because in finding the answer to that question we can discover God’s plan and purpose for us. And that is the objective of prayer: to align our wills with the will of God.

In John 17 we have the greatest prayer ever prayed, which is Jesus’ prayer for us. In verse 11 Jesus prayed, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (NKJV).

Jesus prayed for our preservation. God wants us to be strong spiritually. God wants us to cross the finish line with flying colors. We all know people who have made a profession of faith and were growing so much spiritually that we may have even looked up to them as spiritual leaders. But then one day they crashed and burned. They simply walked away from the faith.

We think, “If someone like that could fall, then maybe I could fall, too. Am I next?”

The answer to that question may surprise you: it’s entirely up to you.

God wants to keep you, and God will keep you. He will keep you to the end. The question is whether you want to be kept.

Singing through the Darkness

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25)

The world watches with great interest when a Christian faces adversity. Every one of us faces hardship. Every one of us loses loved ones. Every one of us faces sickness. Every one of us encounters difficulties and hardships in life. But when it happens to Christians, nonbelievers watch to see if our faith is genuine. That is the time to show them what Christ can do, even in hard times.

Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas, who were thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. Their backs had been ripped open with a whip, and at midnight, in the most unsanitary of conditions, in a filthy environment, with their legs stretched apart in shackles causing excruciating pain, Paul and Silas held a worship service. The Bible tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (verse 25 nkjv). Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison, their shackles fell off, the walls came down, and they were free to go.

The Philippian jailer, assuming they were free, knew he would be tortured and then put to death. He took out his own sword and was ready to kill himself. But Paul said, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here” (verse 28 NKJV).

Then the jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (verse 30 NKJV). Paul and Silas made impact on him.

In the same way, there are people watching you right now. They’re developing an opinion about God on the basis of your life. It has been said that a Christian is an epistle, written by God and read by man. You are the only Bible that some people ever will read. They will be looking at you, and that may determine the course their lives will take.

His Strength In Your Weakness

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I didn’t have an easy childhood. I came from a home that was broken many, many times over. But I can look back on my past today and instead of moaning about it, I can say, “I went through that, and now I can comfort others.” It has become a tool to help others.

I wouldn’t want to go through that again, of course. Nor would I want anyone else to go through the same thing. But I’m thankful that God can take my past and use it for His glory today. I’m thankful that He can take that hardship and use it for His glory. He can do the same for you.

Maybe at this time in your life, you’re going through some hard times, and you’re wondering why. God will use it. It’s hard to believe now. But just remember that it won’t last forever.

As 1 Peter 1:6–7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Trials don’t last forever.

I’m reminded of a sign posted at the end of an airport runway that reads, “Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger and a danger to those who are flying.”

You can take that same statement and apply it to the Christian life. Keep moving. Don’t give up. Don’t abandon hope. You are going to get through that valley in your life. There will be an even greater mountaintop beyond it, with great lessons you have learned as God demonstrated His strength in your weakness.

Through The Fire

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.

Years ago my wife was cooking a steak, and as she often does, she threw it on and then went and did something else. But on this particular occasion, she forgot about the steak. Then she said, “Something is burning. What’s that smell?”

Let’s just say it was well done.

I’m glad that when we go through fiery trials as believers, God doesn’t get distracted, forget about us, and leave us there.

David wrote in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (verse 4 NKJV).

We must remember to cast our problems on the Lord, turning them over to Him in times of need.

When the people were griping and complaining about Moses, the Bible tells us that Moses cried out to the Lord. When Hezekiah received an intimidating letter from a king who was threatening to destroy him, he spread the letter out before the Lord. When Mary and Martha saw that their beloved brother Lazarus was sick, they sent word to the Lord.

When trouble comes your way, cast it on Him. Spread it out before Him. Call on Him. As the Scriptures say, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV).

Most of us would like to avoid the valleys of life, so to speak, but there are some lessons we learn there that we cannot learn anywhere else.

God doesn’t promise to keep us out of all trouble. But He does promise to be with us in the midst of it. It’s a great thing to know that when the Lord lets His children go through a fiery trial, He always keeps an eye on them and an eye on the thermostat.

A Better World Ahead

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Deep inside us, there is a sense of something more in life that drives us on. No matter what experiences you’ve had, no matter how wonderful they were, they were just a glimpse of what is still ahead. You are really homesick for a place you have never been before, and that place is Heaven. You were wired this way.

The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). This simply means there is a sense inside of us that there is more to life. That is what keeps us moving forward.

It is sort of like the homing instinct we see in the animal kingdom, like the salmon making their way upstream with such determination. We see it in the way the swallows return every year to San Juan Capistrano. It’s a homing instinct that drives them.

We have the same thing, but it is a homing instinct for a place we haven’t seen yet. It is a homesickness for Heaven. Until that day, there is nothing that will completely satisfy our lives. No matter what happens to us on Earth, it pales in comparison to this great hope.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).

This is the hope of the Christian—the hope of a place called Heaven. There is a better world ahead. There is something greater than what we’re experiencing now.

A Reason to Rejoice

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation

It’s been said that worry is the advanced interest we pay on troubles that seldom come. We try to justify worry, of course: “It’s okay for me to worry because I’m in a difficult situation.” In many ways, we all are—some more than others. But maybe we all just need to lighten up a little when we can. You might think, “Easy for you to say.”

I want you to consider the following words of the apostle Paul, who was writing under adverse circumstances. Paul was under house arrest. There was the possibility that he might be acquitted, or he might be beheaded. He didn’t know what his future held. Yet he gave us some of the most inspiring words found in the pages of Scripture:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6 NKJV).

I love these verses. Paul wasn’t sitting in some ivory tower, spinning up practical theories. He was not lounging on some beach in the Mediterranean, eating falafel and having an iced tea. This was a man who was incarcerated, yet he was able to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

By the way, that is a command from God himself. To put it another way, to not rejoice is disobedience to God. Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when we’re facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death and then we rejoice, we are obeying God.

God is on His throne. He loves you and is watching out for you. So rejoice in the Lord.

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