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Stop Hating on Sanctification! — 65 Comments

  1. Oh! Thanks a lot brother for this piece of article. It has enlightened me about Salvation. May what you are doing be a blessing to all like I have been blessed with!

  2. Yes Marcos you have said it all. Thanks. May God continue using you and bless you abundantly. That is the full package of salvation.Amen

  3. Thanks, Marcus. Now I feel comfortable with you, and will always read your contributions to this website.

  4. While the gospel certainly is about Jesus, it is not just about Jesus. It is, at the same time, about the lost but valuable people for whom He died. Just as with "law and grace" or "faith and works", the gospel of salvation is not either one or the other, but both.

    While we can in no way earn His love or His grace, we can not receive it without an exchange (Matthew 13:45-46), without discipline (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), without death to sin and self (Romans 6:7,11; Galatians 2:20)

    Yes, let us exalt the merits of our Savior, who alone is worthy of worship.

    "But though Christ is everything, we are to inspire every man to unwearied diligence. We are to strive, wrestle, agonize, watch, pray, lest we shall be overcome by the wily foe. For the power and grace with which we can do this comes from God, and all the while we are to trust in Him, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. Never leave the impression on the mind that there is little or nothing to do on the part of man; but rather teach man to cooperate with God, that he may be successful in overcoming.
    Let no one say that your works have nothing to do with your rank and position before God. In the judgment the sentence pronounced is according to what has been done or to what has been left undone (Matthew 25:34-40)." {Selected Messages, Volume 1, page 381}

    • ...and so John, Marcus says "dance with Jesus" in this relationship. Let Him lead us through the steps that will make us beautiful dancers. Don't try to do it alone...We can force ourselves into obedience without His leading but it will not bring the joy that comes with obedience from His leading...

    • Here is your rank, Brother:

      Hebrews 2
      10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.[g] 12 He says,

      “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
      in the assembly I will sing your praises.”[h]

      13 And again,

      “I will put my trust in him.”[i]

      And again he says,

      “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”[

  5. I'm glad you didn't try to dissect the Gospel. You just eloquently stated the facts of Bible truth in a simple and understandable way. Thank you very much!

    • That is excellent and to the point. Am done with the facts about grace,works and sanctification. It has been made bear for the me to understand. God mercifully bless and guide you, Marcos.

  6. Dear Marcos,

    Thanks for this series of posts and for sharing some of your personal experiences. You wrote, "When I came to Christ I was broken because of my addictions and sinful habits".
    When I learned about Jesus, I too was totally broken. Forgiveness is a wonderful gift we shall need throughout our whole life on earth.

    I find Christianity is a daily walking with Jesus, and He continues to show me my sinful attitudes and ways. Lately, He's shown me how bitterness has been in my heart, for over 30 years, due to some circumstances in my life.

    My bitterness in this case, has to do with why didn't Jesus do something to prevent bad things happening, like being an unwed, single mother? I thought if I gave a man what he wanted, maybe he would love me, because I just wanted someone to love me, not to get pregnant. Jesus could have prevented the pregnancy and He did for many women. Yet it was the very thing that brought me to Jesus and continues to keep me connected to Him because I always remember my mistake and my need of Love. Only Jesus can fill the heart need for Love.

    So although I have been a Christian for 34 years, all along this journey, there have been sinful attitudes and ways that Jesus has pointed out to me that have to go away. We can choose to hang onto sinful attitudes and motives yet the true Christian chooses to give up the sin. The heart has to get cleaned up from all the bad attitudes and motives. That's the process of sanctification: to get to the very bottom of the sin in our hearts and get rid of the sin problem. We need to be prepared that this process continues until we die or the second coming, which ever comes first.

    • To me, Jane, there seems to be many bumps in the road and I am glad that Jesus is there to smooth them out. When I hear of experiences like yours it gives me confidence that my case also has a solution and that God is still working on this stubborn old man.

      At times when I see how far I am from where I should be it is disheartening. I see the many, many failures in my life and at times it seems that there is no way that I can possibly be saved and yet when I read of the life of many of those in the Bible and how God worked with them and promised them salvation in spite of their faults it gives me hope.

      I also understand our thinking that sanctification will end at Christ's coming but I don't think it is going to stop there. Ellen White seems to understand and indicate that love will grow throughout eternity. For if love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13:10) because God is love and His law is a transcript of His character and yet our love will grow then our obedience to the law will also grow. That means to me that sanctification will continue to the end of eternity. It also says that I may not understand what this whole thing is about as I should and that I may have too narrow of a concept of sin and what it involves:

      And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise. (Great Controversy, p 678).

      Is there ever an end to the perfecting of our characters and approaching the perfection which is Christ? Maybe the controversy was only the start of an unending process for the entire universe.

      • Hi Tyler,

        Thanks for your reply and ideas. My understanding is that sin will come to an end and that for God's people, that happens before Jesus comes the second time. After that, of course we will keep learning and growing! I totally agree with you.

        There is hope for all of us, no matter how old we are and what shape we are in. God will continue to work with us as long as we don't turn our backs on Him. Hang on to your faith!

        • Jane, you know that I appreciate your loving kind heart and the struggles that you go through. I don't have that experience. My thinking is more like a machine, mechanical or analytical and at times my heart is just an anvil of sorts, hard and cold.

          Because of that when you and others say that, "sin will come to an end and that for God's people, that happens before Jesus comes the second time" I find myself asking, "Are those people at the end of time going to be saved by a different gospel than what was preached by Paul and others?" As Paul would probably say, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7 NKJ) "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3 NKJV).

          I fully realize what Ellen White had to say about the end times in which some hang their entire understanding of the issue on:

          Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. (Great Controversy, p. 623)

          There is a lot that could be said concerning this statement but for now I would like to balance that up with other statements she makes:

          Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. Satan lives, and is active, and every day we need to cry earnestly to God for help and strength to resist him. As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place, there is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained. (1 Testimonies, p. 340).

          The question of course is what does she mean by, "As long as Satan reigns?" Is she talking about the individual or is it about him being, "the ruler of this world" (Jn. 12:31 NKJV)? So here is another quote:

          Those who are truly seeking to perfect Christian character will never indulge the thought that they are sinless. The more their minds dwell upon the character of Christ, and the nearer they approach to his divine image, the more clearly will they discern its spotless perfection, and the more deeply will they feel their own weakness and defects. Those who claim to be without sin, give evidence that they are far from holy. It is because they have no true knowledge of Christ that they can look upon themselves as reflecting his image. The greater the distance between them and their Saviour, the more righteous they appear in their own eyes. (Spirit of Prophesy, Vol 4, p. 302)

          And another:

          It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. (Steps to Christ, p. 62)

          Taken together it seems quite obvious to me that the required perfection must come from outside of ourselves and mostly through justification. But while we are justified we are also sanctified both in a separation from the world and as a way of life yet I will never feel that I am without sin. Whenever I look at Christ, the perfect Son of God I will always know better.

          • Tyler,

            Thanks for enlarging upon the topic of Christians who will stop sinning.
            I totally agree with you and this quote is helpful, especially to people who do feel better than others, and who look at themselves and say at the end of the day, "I haven't sinned today."

            "Those....will never indulge the thought that they are sinless. The more their minds dwell upon the character of Christ, and the nearer they approach to his divine image, the more clearly will they discern its spotless perfection, and the more deeply will they feel their own weakness and defects."

            And your own ending was excellent, "I will never feel that I am without sin. Whenever I look at Christ, the perfect Son of God I will always know better."

            Thank God for a Savior!

        • I would now like to clear up one other point that your statement brings up. That is, will those that go through the time of trouble be different than those that die in faith before that time, will it be a matter of sinless perfection which no one else has ever experienced.

          In a very extended study on the subject I did many years ago that I was considering writing a book on I came to the conclusion that the problems those people will face will not be over their "perfection" but over their faith in God's promise of salvation. They will experience the same basic temptations to doubt that Christ went through on the cross where, "Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice" (Desire of Ages, p. 753). Now to be honest there is more to this quote that I have left out for the sake of brevity. To me the main idea is that Satan was trying to get Jesus to give up the battle and in frustration rebel against what God asked Him to do.

          As I read the descriptions of that group of people I have realized that they are going to be tempted like no one else has ever been tempted before except Christ, of course. It will be an experience that John describes seeing in vision, "They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth" (Rev. 14:3 NKJV). Their experience will be such that, "The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger,—a faith that will not faint, though severely tried" (Great Controversy, p. 621). They will have to exercise an enormous amount of self control as Satan tempts them in ways that we can only imagine and under circumstances that place an unbelievable amount of stress on their faith. Their faith in God is to be tried to the breaking point but they will prevail just as Jesus prevailed on the cross against the temptations that He endured.

          The whole thing is about getting them to lose faith through discouragement and depression. As Ellen White so well said:

          As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes to so destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations, and turn from their allegiance to God. (Great Controversy, p. 618)

          If we believe in one of the definitions of sin that Paul voiced, "for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23 NKJV) we can easily see how keeping faith becomes equivalent to sinlessness. And it is their faith in God's promises that gives the victory.

  7. I have been enlighted and blessed with this article on salvation.stay blessed and continue giving us the word of God.

  8. Sanctification comes by faith through constant surrender and taking His yoke, which results in complete transformation of the sinner, changing the once sinful life into the likeness of Jesus at all times, in all places, with all people. Can we be fit to stand faultless before God (with exceeding joy!) otherwise? If we fail to appear in the wedding garment, we must be cast out into darkness.

    Only those who are sanctified will receive the inheritance. (Acts 20:32)

    Some will point to the thief on the cross. What about him? I believe he was sanctified as far as his circumstances allowed. Look at his testimony to the other thief, while before this he had spoken with offense. In that short time the transformation had begun, and will continue in the very presence of God for eternity, according to Jesus' promise to him that day.

    Look at the story in Mark 5:1-20. Could the testimony of the demoniac have been effective had he not been changed? When Jesus heals, you are healed. Fully.

    • Robert, to a degree I think you are right but you are moving this into a perfectionist theology. What do we do with texts such as, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn. 1:8 NKJV) and, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Phil. 3:12 NKJV). Are you willing to say that Paul was unsaved because of that? I would like to meet the person who honestly thinks he or she is perfect and if I did my immediate reaction would be to consider that person like the Pharisee praying in the temple who thought he was so good compared to the person back in the shadows praying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" (Lk. 18:13 NKJV).

      In short, if we do precisely as you say then most likely we will be in constant fear of having forgotten to repent of some sin or in fear of not confessing every little possible sin that we do. I think on this we need to remember that there was a sacrifice in the Old Testament that covered unintentional and unknown sin (Lev 4). To me the Lord is not counting every little thing we do to make sure there is a charge against us. He is merciful and gracious and even overlooks sins that we commit in ignorance (Acts 17:30). He is also fully aware of our bent to sin and all the weaknesses of humanity and pities His poor weak children who constantly go astray like sheep.

      It is only when we out rightly rebel against His authority that we get ourselves in danger of losing salvation. Any other time God is on our side as a mediator and intercedes in our prayers knowing that we don't know how to pray as we should.

      • No perfectionist theology Tyler, just God's "exceeding great and precious promises, whereby [we] become partakers of the Divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4, read the whole verse)

        What would you say to passages such as "Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling..."(Jude 24), "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48), "For it is God that girds me with strength and makes my way perfect" (Ps 18:32), "I write you that you sin not" (1 John 2:1), and "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, they shall not speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth..." (Zeph 3:13), just to share a few. How many times did Jesus admonish; "Go and sin no more"? Was this idle talk? Impossible command? What does Paul say he can do through Christ "who strengthens me"? What does Jesus say will happen if we abide in Him?

        None of this should lead anyone who knows God's word to feel they have arrived. You quoted Paul who speaks for all when saying he did not dwell on past achievements, but continued to press toward the mark.

        The lack of sinning means only that we surrender every known desire or impulse that would lead us to sin. Tomorrow might lead us to realize what we did not understand today. The sanctification process for those who will be translated will be complete before their translation. But being "sinless" is not to be our focus, our only focus is to be surrendered today. Just today. God will lead us faithfully "in the way everlasting" (Ps 139:24).

      • Hello Robert, well said. You know - I am perfect - but not because of sanctification but because Christ's death on the cross covers my sins and through justification I am considered as perfect as God is. Does that mean that I am literally without sin? Absolutely not!

        Furthermore I have never met anyone who thought they were perfect at the time of their death so I wonder what resurrection they will be in. What I do know is that when I die I will go the way all those before me went and if they saw no perfection in their lives I have very little hope of seeing it in mine. To me it's about faith in God who clears the slate and writes "considered perfect because I say so."

        I think Marcos has presented a very balanced view of sanctification where we are on a journey moving toward the fullness of Christ and while on that road we occasionally stumble yet we are covered by grace. I don't think I will ever be in a position where I can say that I have made it because the gulf is too great between the perfect God and wretched me. And for me to keep track of all the little details in an effort to be like Jesus in everything is just plain exhausting. I suppose we could keep a Bible in hand and read it constantly all day long but I think that is impractical and is being like Martin Luther was before he finally saw that "the just shall live by faith." (Gal. 3:11 NKJV; Hab 2:4).

        As for your texts show me in the Bible one person besides Christ that complied perfectly to any of those commands. Did Paul who said that he could do all things through Christ? To me those are goals that can only be attained to when Christ covers the gaps.

        • Thanks for your comment, Tyler 🙂 I just want to comment further on this:

          And for me to keep track of all the little details in an effort to be like Jesus in everything is just plain exhausting.

          That it's "exhausting" is not the only thing wrong with that mind set. Focusing on self in order to perfect self is still focusing on self - which is precisely what transformed Lucifer into the devil. And the devil knows it still works to transform humanity into his image, rather than the image of Christ.

          The only way any of us will ever be saved and sanctified is to focus on Christ and His love and righteousness, and by beholding Him we will be changed into His image "from glory to glory." 2 Cor 3:18

          • When I was in the seventh grade in a one-room country school in a small tightly associated community, an older guy, in his late teens, known for his wild and violent ways, went to a revival meeting and got saved. He was so happy to be saved, he went out that night and got drunk and got into a serious fight resulting in serious injuries and his arrest.

            What happened? Where was he on the path to salvation?

            I think what always happens in discussions like this is that we fail to understand the implications of the words and illustrations we use. Starting with Sanctification, which many people use to mean that with great and continuing struggle against sinfulness we can make ourselves worthy of salvation. Others use the word to describe what Christ does in us apart from our own struggles, that we are somehow changed automatically by viewing Christ. Some place it somewhere between. Some equate it with "saved," that we need to do nothing at all. Christ did everything for us. All, I think are grievously wrong.

            Taking the word back to its origins we gain a different perspective. The NT Greek word generally translated as "sanctification" is hagiasmos. That word comes from the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew qodesh, which is used in the OT to describe any person or thing dedicated to the service of God, more specifically, often for service in the tabernacle/temple. The root meaning is "dedicated" or "set apart for a holy purpose." So the proper NT understanding of "sanctification" is not that we gradually become better and better Christians, but that God has taken us from the kingdom of darkness and placed us, set us apart, in his kingdom of light. That has nothing to do with our behavior, only with our new relationship with God.

            So, much of our confusion in the topic of sanctification is a matter of linguistic drift. Words do, unfortunately, often change their meaning over time. What we commonly call sanctification should more properly be called "growing in Grace."

            Reference is sometimes made to Romans 7 & 8 as the life before meeting Christ (ch 7) and the life after meeting Christ (ch 8). That is in fundamental error because it fails to include chapter 6. The three chapters are an integral unit describing the phases of the Christian life. In chapter 6 the person meets Christ and is baptized into his death and resurrection. That is, he has experienced hagiasmos. Properly understood, he has been sanctified, taken from the world of darkness and transplanted into the kingdom of light. That does not make him a completed Christian. It merely sets him into a new spiritual environment where he will be led and helped to grow in Grace. Chapter 7 then describes the difficulties and failures of trying to accomplish that growth on our own power, and Chapter 8 describes the spiritual victories gained by submitting to and relying on the Holy Spirit.

            So the life changes described in Ephesians are not the process of Sanctification, rather the process of growing in Grace -- after we have been sanctified, set apart for God's kingdom. Whatever failures we may experience along the way (ch 7) are rectified and subsumed by our developing relation with God experienced under the guidance and help of the Spirit (ch 8).

          • Thanks much for your perspective, Ben. It makes sense in regards to interpreting the written words of Paul, and it makes sense in terms of experience.

            Just to clarify, "focusing on Christ" was meant to contrast with focusing on our attempts to obey. It is not a do-nothing stance, but an active focus on nurturing our relationship with Jesus through talking to Him (prayer), listening to Him (through the Bible and the Holy Spirit) and working with Him (i.e. doing what He tells me to do). But the focus is always on His work for me and in me and through me, not on my work aka obedience.

        • But Tyler, did you notice the bible verses I shared? Did you notice WHO was saying this about those redeemed sinners? (read Zeph 3:12,13 again) Does God lie? Shouldn't we be filled with great hope, wonder, amazement, gratitude, joy, humility and more? Shouldn't it increase our faith?

          It's not our place to look at ourselves, Inge has it right. We are to be ever looking to Jesus, taking His yoke (this means forsaking our self-dependence) and following Him "whithersoever He goeth." Will Jesus lead anyone into sin? "God forbid" as Paul would say.

          I don't know about you, but it gives me hope to believe that I will one day stand before God faultless. No trace of sin ever in my life. This is the justification offered in Jesus, and sanctification is the sure result.

          We cannot be like Peter and take our eyes off Jesus for a moment. Without Him we can do nothing.

          Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

          You want a list of persons who have gained this promised victory? Start in Hebrews 11, and hopefully, add your name to the list. 🙂

          • Robert, I think we can both agree that there won't be sin in Heaven and that the law is important to keep. Certainly there should be no disagreement over those things. The question here is whether or not we will be literally perfect before the Second Advent. To me we are already perfect in a forensic sense but you seem to think that we will be actually perfect in a very literal sense.

            I made the statement that no one was ever perfect in the Bible to which you rebutted that I should consider the list in Hebrews 11. I have done so and this is what I have concluded from the list:

            1) The chapter is not about perfection but about having faith in God's promise of salvation.
            2) To quote what it says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11:13 NKJV). What promises didn't they receive? I would like to suggest entrance into Heaven at that time.
            3) God accepted their faith concerning His promise, "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Heb. 11:16 NKJV).
            4) "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, 'and was not found, because God had taken him'; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Heb. 11:5 NKJV).
            5) What pleased God was his faith in God's promise, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6 NKJV).
            6) For the definition of faith given in the first verse is, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony" (Heb. 11:1-2 NKJV).

            Nowhere can I find a statement that they were perfect in compliance to God's law but that they were promised salvation in spite of their horrendous acts of sin because they acknowledged them as sin and got back up to engage in the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:11-12) which we are expected to do. None of them liked what they did and put themselves on the side of God the same as Paul did:

            For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Rom. 7:14-23 NKJV)

            I would like to suggest the we all read carefully what Ellen White had to say in Testimonies to Ministers, p 91-94. It is a section titled "The Message of Justification by Faith" and is a very well balanced presentation of the subject that does not diminish the importance of the law but emphases a focus on Christ as being everything to us.

          • Now concerning Zephaniah. The same general outline can be seen in both Jeremiah and Isaiah. All three list the sins of Israel along with those of the surrounding nations. All three described the reasons why the children of Israel were taken into captivity. All three also give hope of restoration that excluded the problems they faced as a nation.

            A good example is the last part of Isaiah 65 that traditionally has always been considered a post apocalyptic vision but there are problems with that interpretation. One of them is, "They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isa. 65:21-22 NKJV) which clearly refers to the problems they faced in that age of tribal conquest and domination. The same also goes for the statement, "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed" (Isa. 65:20 NKJV). Certainly that statement can't be true for Heaven!

            Such are the messages of all three prophets who were dealing with getting the people to understand why things happen and to give them hope of something better. None of them left their witness of God in a depressing vision but consistently lifted up their audience to the glories of Heaven by giving them reason to have faith in the God of love.

          • Tyler, I believe what the Bible teaches on this subject concerning the last Remnant of God's people who will be alive and translated to heaven without seeing death. I believe the promises of God concerning those who are faithful in that hour. Read the descriptions of the 144,000 in Revelation 7, 14, 15. Read also Early Writings pg 71.

            Can we doubt the promises of God or the words of prophecy?

            Can God really transform a sinner into the likeness of His Son? Is the prayer of Paul in Eph 3:14-20 a vain prayer? What are we to believe? Was Enoch a one-time experience only?

            This is a subject I prefer not to debate, but only to present the promises of God to those who will believe them.

            His grace is sufficient.

          • Tyler, I meant to comment on the quote from Romans 7. I see this brought up often when this subject is discussed, but we must realize that Romans 7 is part of an explanation that concludes in Romans 8. They are not separate.

            In brief, Romans 7 is the sinner struggling with the law before meeting Jesus, Romans 8 after we meet Jesus as our Savior. Try to look at it from that perspective. If Romans 7 is after we meet Jesus, then we fail to have faith in the power Jesus promises to all who ask in faith.

            What is Jesus offering Laodicea in the white robe, the gold and the eye salve? A continuing struggle with sin or victory that overcomes the world by cleansing us from all unrighteousness?

            • Robert, there are different ways of looking at Romans 7 and 8, and I don't see that Romans 7 describes the sinner before meeting Christ. That's because before meeting Christ, most people experience little genuine struggle against sin.

              If you see Romans 8 as describing the sinner after meeting Jesus, are you saying that as soon as a sinner meets Jesus, there is no more struggle with sin (considering that the function of the law is to reveal sin)? Is that your experience?

              I understand that Romans 8 is the answer to the struggle in Romans 7. The answer is to look away from the Law that condemns and look to Jesus who is our Righteousness. The answer is to trust Jesus fully and ask Him to put His mind in us, so we will be transformed from the inside out. This is the truth that I believe Marcos is sharing in his essay - that a trust in Jesus releases us from the debilitating struggle to be perfect. It releases us from the "but" version and the "light switch" version of the gospel. (See his previous essays, as linked at the end of this one above.)

          • Inge, let me ask first, is this about some "struggle to be perfect"? Doesn't Jer 13:23 reveal the futility of that struggle? This is the point of Romans 7.

            I see in Romans 7 & 8 the struggle with the law's condemnation while being in fact a helpless sinner, who then finds Jesus who is our "strength and...redeemer". Is Jesus able to keep us from falling? What is the result of being no more at enmity with law, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds to actually love the law? (Ps 119:165) What does this mean to any who are no longer alone, but yoked together with Jesus? The only struggle we can have success with is the struggle to surrender self through faith in our Strength and our Redeemer. That is our work isn't it? Not to be "perfect", but to be perfectly yielded to God's will above our own. He then works in us to will and do of HIS good pleasure. Will He lead us to sin, or can He actually keep us from falling?

            Are these matters still such a mystery to people with such great light? Is there still agreement with Satan's claim the law cannot be obeyed in the life of creatures created in the image of God, who have been promised His power? Didn't Jesus put that idle claim to rest as one of us?

            Romans 7 is struggling in futility with the law. Read the passage and see the constant failure it reveals. Romans 8 is the fight of faith to put to death the flesh(self) and rely on the Power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.(Rom 1:16, Gal 2:20) Power to be the Sons and Daughters of God, found complete in Him.(John 1:12,13)

            Please, no focus on being "sinless", but focus on being surrendered to the Savior. He makes no idle promises and gives no commands we can't obey IF keeping our trust in Him.

            Referring to my experience, what does it matter to anyone while God's promises stand as written to us? Would any failure in the most exalted "saint" today make God's promises void? Jesus simply invites all to "follow Me". Will He lead to failure? Does He lead us to or from the path of temptation and sin? My experience, if you must know it, is not in Romans 7 any more. That ended long ago when I found the experience shown in Romans 8. Is there still a struggle? YES! Every moment I am awake, I am tempted to be my own "boss" where God's will is concerned. Isn't that were it started with Eve, then Adam? This struggle is the fight of faith, not the fight of being "perfect" Sanctification is a gift, not something we work on ourselves. The struggle is in accepting the gift according to the conditions given for it's reception. The struggle to exercise faith in God's promises.

            Please, do not look to me or anyone other than Jesus only. He never said "follow Bob". Aren't you glad?!! 🙂

          • Robert, there was a good reason I asked you for your testimony regarding the truth of your interpretation that "Romans 7 is the sinner struggling with the law before meeting Jesus, Romans 8 after we meet Jesus as our Savior." Paul writes about his experience, and when we interpret his writing, I believe it is valid to compare our experience with his. In fact, Jesus puts a high value on the testimony of our experience when He says, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." (Revelation 12:11) It is integral to not just our own salvation but the salvation of those whom we introduce to Jesus. It is valid for others to ask, "But does it work for you?"

            So I asked you

            If you see Romans 8 as describing the sinner after meeting Jesus, are you saying that as soon as a sinner meets Jesus, there is no more struggle with sin (considering that the function of the law is to reveal sin)? Is that your experience?

            You replied, among other things, "Referring to my experience, what does it matter to anyone while God's promises stand as written to us?"

            And I answer, It matters a whole lot!

            I'm glad you did share your own experience thus:

            My experience, if you must know it, is not in Romans 7 any more. That ended long ago when I found the experience shown in Romans 8. Is there still a struggle? YES! Every moment I am awake, I am tempted to be my own "boss" where God's will is concerned. Isn't that were it started with Eve, then Adam? This struggle is the fight of faith, not the fight of being "perfect" Sanctification is a gift, not something we work on ourselves. The struggle is in accepting the gift according to the conditions given for it's reception. The struggle to exercise faith in God's promises.

            I identify with your experience, beginning with "Is there still a struggle?" But because of what you say re Romans 7 and 8 I have to ask whether I should understand from this that, even though you struggle, you now live a life of continuous victory over sin?

            It seems that what we see differently is Paul's testimony in Romans 7. I don't believe that a sinner struggles with keeping the Law before meeting Christ. I believe Paul felt quite confident in his law-keeping before meeting Jesus (beginning with the stoning of Stephen), just as the rich young ruler felt confident in his law keeping before meeting Jesus. It was only when he met Jesus that he began to feel his lack and asked Him, "What lack I yet?"

            I am concerned that interpreting Romans 7 as a pre-conversion experience, as to many do, leads to a lightswitch understanding of salvation. And that is very discouraging and not the path to victory, even though really strong-willed people may be able to handle it.

            By contrast, I have found that accepting the assurance of my salvation in Christ Jesus with "no condemnation" allows me to "walk at liberty" as I rest in His promises and allow Him to transform me from the inside out. It allows me to experience the joy of salvation, and with the joy comes power to obey. Neh 8:10

          • Inge, I think we would both agree that the self-righteous will not be having any struggle. Not Romans 7 as those feeling condemned and determine to "straighten themselves up", not Romans 8,the fight of faith. No struggle. They are only busy thanking God they are not sinners like the others.

            As for the question (paraphrased)"are you now sinless?!", why is that always the question? Who is keeping score or wanting to know about other people's successes or failures? I know this is often where such discussions lead, but isn't this the wrong question to ask anyone who is pressing on the upward way themselves? Shouldn't the question be "Does God keep His promises?"? I think that is the only question for anyone searching for victory over sin in this life in preparation for the life to come, because the promises are there for all to receive. Paul simply stated "I have fought a good fight" and didn't elaborate on the outcome of each battle with self. One battle does not win or lose the war.

            Victory is not dependent on what someone else does or does not achieve, but on faith in the promises of God and the full surrender of one's will to Him (faith in action).

            So what is the (unsuccessful)struggle in Romans 7 depicting? It's not the fight of faith, which overcomes. Romans 8 is clearly the fight of faith. I believe Paul makes it clear to us when he says (paraphrasing) "I was doing great until the law convicted me I was a sinner".

            Now previous to this, Paul wrote to the Galatians that the law (which reveals our need) leads us to Christ (our solution). Would this be the same person who is now struggling (about 3 years later)in Romans 7 with the law, concluding he needed deliverance from the "body of this death"? Is Paul really speaking of his own post-Damascus road experience in Romans 7? Not if we read Romans complete. Not if we understand Galatians.

            How many of our generation were told "you need a better attitude" without being told how to achieve it? Righteousness by faith was never a topic on the table, only "you better stop doing THAT and start doing THIS if you want to be saved". I don't remember hearing/reading about faith being the victory until years later when searching for Truth to follow it.

            I believe Paul was writing a more detailed version of the Galatians letter to the Romans, and in chapter 7 illustrates the futility of trying to find salvation by the Law. Works don't work. "Only by Faith" was the cry of the reformation gospel. Isn't this the 3rd angel's message "in verity"?

            As I have shared before, notice the rewards Jesus offers in Revelation 2 & 3 "to him that overcomes". Overcomes what? How?
            These are the questions that Paul answers aren't they? Doesn't Romans 6 emphasize this overcoming of sin?

          • Robert, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought you were saying that that Romans 7 refers to "the sinner struggling with the law before meeting Jesus."

            That doesn't make sense to me, because sinners do not usually struggle with sin (which is what the law points out) before meeting Jesus. And what concerns me is that your interpretation would lead people to conclude that if they have a struggle with sin, they are unsaved. That would appear to lead to a "light-switch" view of salvation.

            I don't hear anyone saying that God's promises are not sure any more than I hear anyone saying that we are saved by works.

            The problem we need to address is how does this teaching look in real life? Do real Christians struggle with sin? Yes or No?

            If people struggle with sin, what is the solution? Do you agree with Marcos's post or not? (I may be wrong, but I seem to read a "but" in your comments.)

            You say you have moved from the Romans 7 experience to the Romans 8 experience. If you disagree with Marcos, can you show others how to do it better than Marcos did?

            I don't think we need a theological treatise, just a straightforward, simple explanation.

          • Inge, such an idea about Romans 7 being about Paul's experience before conversion doesn't make sense to me either because from Rom 7:15 to the end of the chapter with very few exceptions the verb forms are all in the present tense indicating that he was discussing his experience at the time of writing. If Paul was talking about something that happened in the past he would have used verb forms indicating that - but he didn't.

          • Hebrew 11's cast of characters make the Bible's most faithful list not because of their personal perfection but because of the trust they showed in God and the belief they had in His goodness, His Supremacy, and in His his promise of salvation. David was an adulterer and a murderer, who even on his deathbed, plotted revenge on his enemies and arranged for them to be killed upon his death. Yet, we are told he was a man after God's own heart. Why? How does this all fit with the idea that we need to act perfectly or we aren't really saved.... It doesn't. I have always taken hope from Hebrews 11, not because of these people's perfections, but rather their imperfections. If God can love and rescue a group of slave-holding, bigamist, murdering, misogynistic, lying, adulterers then I must have faith that His love is great enough to cover my sins as well. All I must do is, like these faithful biblical heroes, put my trust in the one who's blood covers all of my sins.

      • Tyler, regarding "It is only when we out rightly rebel ....", please re-read Matthew 7:21-23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. How many will be lost because they were not out-right in their rebellion, but were self-deceived?

        Because "the heart is deceitful" (Jeremiah 19:9), David prayed Psalm 19:12-13. We would do well to pray that prayer also. That Psalm has a wonderful balance of confidence toward God and caution toward self.

        • John I would like to suggest that those texts are talking about "out right rebellion." They don't have a love of the truth, don't even care for it, and attempt to cover themselves by their own concepts of righteousness that allow them to do what they want to do.

          The point that I was making in that statement is that we are not lost by the occasional misdeed. It takes more than that - to the point of the unpardonable sin where we are in actual irretrievable rebellion against the principles of Heaven.

  9. I really appreciate the whole series of articles on the salvation issue that Marcos has presented. I think it is a most important subject to understand.

    To me, in a way, it is easier to understand justification than it is to understand sanctification. Unlike justification the New Testament presents sanctification as both static and dynamic. We are both sanctified (completed past tense) and yet we are under the process of sanctification (present, active, ongoing).

    When Paul wrote to those in the Corinthian church, "who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (1 Cor. 1:2 NKJV) and later said, "But you were washed, but you were sanctified" (1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV) he was using the term statically in the past tense as in something that had already happened. It is like a rancher that cuts out of the herd animals for a particular purpose or like people who separate bad fruit from the good. In this sense to be sanctified is to be separated from the world for a special purpose - it isn't an ongoing process but something that God has done as a matter of proclamation similar to justification. This is also the general meaning of the word "sanctuary" that in the Greek uses the same root word. It is something has been set aside for a particular purpose and that is essentially what the church is; a group of people set aside for a special purpose.

    On the other hand, the process of sanctification is fitting us for Heaven which takes time, a lot of it, and seems to be the main thrust of Marcos' article. There are theologians that don't like to emphasize this aspect of sanctification because it seems to include man too much in the salvation process that is not a done deal but I don't see any way to get around it. We have choices to make and one of the biggest is in accepting Jesus as our personal savoir and example and in accepting Him we also accept what He stands for. That means that we also accept all the principals of Heaven embodied in the Commandments of God and have decided to live by them.

    Because of our inherent weaknesses God must do for us what we cannot do for ourselves which amounts to almost 100% of everything (Jn 15:5). But, we still have to make the choice and that is the one power we have been given to exercise.

    • Amen. Thank God for His grace, and for the power of choice, the power to love. I'm also thankful that we may grow in grace, growing to be more like Jesus, growing closer in communion with Him, growing in ability to share His love, and thus to also experience His joy. (This growing is, to me, a big part of the ongoing aspect of sanctification you mention above.) God is so good!

  10. I am so appreciative of everyones thoughts I hardly dare to add a thing. Everyone seems to be starting and ending with faith. It really gives me confidence that the latter rain is being poured out.
    I thought to maybe add just a couple of encouraging thoughts: I don't think Jesus wants us to fear that we might have forgotten to confess something, that there might be something between us and Him. Jesus taught us to pray just a generic prayer in times when nothing specific to confess or ask help with comes to mind, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." If some sin really is hindering our relationship with God, His Spirit is ready, willing and able to make it known to us. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." (KJV)

    I think Christian perfection for us in our present estate boils down a readiness of mind to accept what God reveals to us concerning our own neediness (wretched poor, blind,and naked -Rev 3:17-18) and a heart that is willing, or at least willing to be made willing, to let God work His marvelous change in us. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (KJV) "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." (Phil. 3:15 KJV, context is found in vs. 13-14 quoted in some other peoples replies above)

    God doesn't want you to worry about whether He loves you, but to trust in His love for you! 🙂

  11. I to see many of the comments the same as Inge, EXHAUSTING. I have made note before,the use of texts to support an opinion is not a problem. I can take the best known text, John3:16, and use it to support a number of different theological views. I have to give Marcos credit for being well read. The question that remains however is, who can use any or all of the measuring formulas outlined, in determining their assurance of salvation? Isaiah 61:10 says to me, that what ever our formula or determination of how to be right before God, it is inadequate, and we still need Christ's robe of righteousness to cover our sin stained characters. I see faith as the most needful gift, because it is the basis of our desire for, and understanding of, salvation and the means where by we will attain. Very familiar text, Ephesians 2:8.

  12. What is salvation?
    When I was young twice I came near to drowning because I was adventurous and got into trouble, praise the LORD, both times there was a man who saved me from drowning!

    The angel said: call his name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.

    How does he save us from our sins?
    1) gets us a pardon for sins we commit 2 Cor 5:19-21
    2) gives us divine power to partake of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:3-4

    Why does he save us from our sins?
    Because He love us and wants us to live with Him John 14:1-3 in a perfect world. Rev 21:1-7.

  13. Wow, but I have to agree with Tyler and Ingee. Robert talks about how hard it is to be saved, than denies being a perfectionist. It is not hard to be saved. Desire the Truth. Give of yourself to Christ wholly. Giving of yourself wholly is not so hard when you remember that He already owns you. Christ bestows His power on us to get rid of our bad habits, if we ask. It's called surrendering to Him, and/or appropriaring His merits. Seeking salvation is not so hard either. Christ has promised, seek and ye shall find Me. Jeremiah 29:13. The more we seek the closer we get to the attitude of, I,d rather die than miss one daily walk with Christ. Another way to make the yolk light is to pray one of the many prayers of David. "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24.

    • Hard to be saved? With all those "exceeding great and precious promises"? Why is it hard John?

      Notice what John is shown in Revelation 14:12 concerning the remnant of God's people just before Jesus comes. It doesn't say "here are they who TRY to keep the commandments" or "who keep failing to keep the commandments".

      By God's grace and power of the indwelling holy spirit, the remnant "keep the commandments". What does that mean?

      How difficult was it for Peter to walk on water? How did he fail? How did he succeed?

  14. I thank Jesus for sending the holy spirit to help change us and understand why we should worship our Lord who is Heaven. It was just a ticket also for me and I didn't understand why we should worship our Lord and sill was living in sin but when I decided too take salvation more seriously my life began to change. Life change not through me but by God.

  15. I wish to commend Marcus and praise GOD for the beautifully written and balanced three part presentation of the Gospel in clear layperson's terms. There is certainly nothing more l can add or subtract from it. Yet l should like to have the privilege of sharing a few words. Every fibre of my being resonated with the series, especially with part three "stop hating on sanctification". It is such a joy and a privilege to have JESUS as my personal Saviour from sin (Matthew 1:21). To dance happily with JESUS feeling and being secure in HIS love (Zephaniah 3:17) after being battered, bruised and betrayed by people who l loved and trusted.
    Having said that l agonise and groan and cry out to GOD to be delivered from my imperfections and shortcomings daily. But I do not obsess about them because it's not my work, but GOD's work according to Philippians 1:6 and Philippians 2:12,13.

    The declaration of being righteous and holy or unjust and filthy in Revelation 22:11 comes from heaven, so the question of who is perfect is redundant because it is outside the realm of human knowledge.

    Look at Job 9:20,21 if l justify myself my own mouth shall condemn me, if I say I am perfect it shall also prove me perverse. Though l were perfect yet would l not know my soul.
    Yet we have in Job 1:8 GOD (unknown to Job) making this declaration to Satan ' have you considered my servant Job...a perfect and an upright man, one who fears GOD and avoids evil?'

    So l believe with us. When are we perfected in CHRIST? Certainly like Job we won't know or even be aware of it. All we know, the work will be completed or finished before JESUS comes according to Philippians 1:6 and that the declaration of it is made in heaven according to REVELATION 22:11.

    Many thanks again for this lovely presentation, from the comments and discussion it had generated it is most timely ( like most your posts Marcus) I shall certainly be sharing this with others. Richest blessings as you continue to rejoice and grow in the LORD.

  16. Inge, I am replying to your comment above with this new thread.

    I have been replying to comments brought to my original comment. I am not disagreeing with the original post as I understood it. Perhaps I should read it again.

    Years ago, while living up north, we had two evangelistic series about 2 years apart. One saw about 25 baptized and the other about 30. In both cases, most of the candidates were baptized around week 3 of a 5-6 week series. In both cases righteousness by faith was never presented, only the law vs sin. So these were sinners who were now confronted with a law they were convinced was valid, and not just for the Jews. In both cases very few remained in the church 6 months later. In the larger group of about 30, only one couple remained in the church and did so for all the years while I was still a member there.

    The struggle in Romans 7 is the sinner vs the law. God's way vs their way. Natural inclinations of sinners vs the Righteousness of a Holy God defined as a law. What sinner will win that struggle by himself no matter his desire to measure up?

    Paul said clearly "I am crucified with Christ", and "I die daily". This is not the Romans 7 battle, but is clearly the Romans 8 solution; death to self, life by the Spirit. Righteousness by Faith.

    Which battle are we fighting each day? Only one works according to Paul. No matter what is said about verb tenses, personal pronouns, or original Greek definitions, the passage in Romans 7 clearly depicts the losing fight of a sinner trying to live apart from Jesus. It is doomed to fail, as clearly described by Paul. He was speaking of the sinner's folly of trying this method(which Satan loves to promote), and yes, spoke in the first person for illustration. In Galatians Paul is clear about which battle he was daily fighting.(the letter to the Galatians was written before the letter to the Romans)

    I don't yet know how to explain it better than this, and can only repeat myself if saying much more. I hope this helps to explain what Romans says to me. After many years, it has not changed it's meaning.

    We can either try by our own might and power, or we can die to self and let the Spirit of God plant Jesus in our heart by faith(Zech 4:6, Eph 3:17). What then will flow from our heart out to others? A dead sinner no longer sins. Isn't that what Romans 6:2 tells us? A new heart(filled with Jesus) will have new words and be the well-spring of new actions.(2 Cor 5:17)

    Try this, circle every "I" in Romans 7, then circle every "Spirit" in Romans 8. This will help show why one works and one does not.

    • Well, Robert, I don't see Romans 7 as "the losing fight of a sinner trying to live apart from Jesus." Most sinners trying to live apart from Jesus simply are not struggling with sin! This interpretation does not meet the test of real life as I see it around me.

      On the other hand, I recognize Romans 7 as the struggle of the Christian who tries to keep God's law "with the help of Christ" rather than focusing primarily on Christ and trusting Him to live out His life within us. I can testify from personal experience that that is how it has worked and is working for me.

      Christ has promised to finish the work He has begun in me, and I trust Him to do that as long as I look to Him as Lord - meaning that I spend time with Him and listen to His voice. When I forget to focus on Him, I fall back into the Romans 7 experience. But that does not mean I lose my salvation (as your interpretation of Romans 7 would imply - and what Marcos calls the "light switch version" of salvation). He raises me up again (as He did when Peter sank when He took His eyes off Jesus) and reminds me to trust Him.

      • Inge, I appreciate your consistent view of the Romans 7 experience. A person who has not met Jesus will have no concern about committing more and more sins. He is more likely to enjoy it. It is the Christian, the tempted and oft-falling Christian, who is living this chapter, experiencing self-disgust and regret. As noted elsewhere, the Sinner has met Jesus in Chapter 6, and his sinful past is removed from him as he accepts his place in Christ's death and resurrection through baptism. But old habits still exert their force, and devoted Christians often fail to do what they know they ought  – Chapter 7. But Chapter 8 gives us the assurance that we can overcome those failings, that they do not remove us from Christ's care, through our continuing dependance on the guidance and support of the Holy Spirit.

        • Ben, could we possible say that the sinner who is confronted with the Law would in fact have this struggle of Romans 7? If we read it, that's exactly what Paul says. He never mentions Jesus until he answers the dilemma with the only solution there is: Jesus. Paul is not addressing the worldly "fool" who says there is no God, thus no rules to answer to. It's the Law that starts this struggle, not meeting Jesus.

          I think Paul has explained this whole issue very clearly. No struggle until the law comes to the forefront and with it the threat of punishment which many will fear to meet, and so they will begin this legal struggle with the law.

          How many have come to baptism as legalists? I once heard a vice president of our conference (up north) confess he had been baptized a legalist and tried that struggle for 20 years before being converted to Christ. The Law, not Christ, had been preached to him, as well as many others through the generation before and after 1888.

          Remember, Paul writes to the Galatians that the law leads us (out of necessity) to Jesus as our only hope. Before that meeting takes place, the personal struggle with the law exists.

      • Inge, how does Romans 7 read? Did you count all the "I"s in those verses that describe this great struggle? Where is the Rest? (Matt 11:28) In Romans 8 we find the Rest don't we?

        I see Romans 7 as the legalist's struggle. Trying to keep the law alone. There is no mention of Jesus in that fight anywhere is there?

        So if someone intentionally lies after being "saved" they remain saved as a liar? God will save me in my sins? The Bible simple tells us "the soul that sins will die." (can we agree this is about sins I consciously choose after clear conviction, confession and repentance, and not those we have not even known were sins until God leads us to that conviction? I'm referring to a harbored sin: I know it's sin, I've been convicted, but still cherish and harbor it.) God doesn't add "unless you professed to accept Jesus as your Savior". That clause is nowhere. Peter fell into the water alone, and except for turning to Jesus, would have perished. Yes, he had walked in faith prior to the fall, but that previous victory was useless until faith was again exercised in the cry for help, knowing he was unable to save himself even with his previous success.

        Or am I reading it incorrectly?

        • Robert, I wish that you would understand Paul's theological argument in the first half of the book of Romans (chapters 1-11). He starts out by showing that Gentile unbelievers are under wrath and then in Romans 2:1 he proceeds to show that those who believe in God are also condemned for those who consider the pagan, athestic Gentiles as lost are no better, "for you who judge practice the same things" (Rom. 2:1 NKJV). He ends that lead in to his main thesis by saying:

          Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written (Rom. 2:17-24 NKJV)

          His whole thesis is about righteousness by faith; that we become righteous by faith in a gift rather than by anything we do because we can't do it. That is the same point Paul is making in Rom 7-8. He shows that he is unable to be righteous by his own efforts and ends chapter 7 by saying, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin" (Rom. 7:24-25 NKJV). It is his faith in God that saves the day and in Chapter 8 he shows why that is true:

          For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-5 NKJV)

          But his mind was not "on the things of the flesh" but on "the things of the Spirit" therefore he tells his readers, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:9-10 NKJV) which is exactly where Paul was according to Rom 7:25.

          In the entire first half of Romans is an apologetic against the Jewish idea that one must work at law keeping in order to be saved (Acts 15:1), to them that was the basis of their salvation - save myself through my own works. In the course of discussion Paul shows that we are unable, as fallen beings, to keep the law and because of that the only way out is to have faith in God, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5 NKJV).

          • I believe I do understand Paul's purpose with this letter to the church in Rome, and it seems you have understood it as well. I would say we agree, yet it seems we don't. Not sure why.

            The legal battle is futile. Faith works.

            Faith does not focus on the law, but on Christ who is the "end of the law" for everyone who believes.

          • To me it seems that the question concerning Rom 7 is whether it is the "legalist's struggle" as you say it is or the "good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12 NKJV) that Inge is talking about.

            Paul was not a legalist yet he testified of the battle he had with sin. To him his victory was in the free gift of justification and to me that was the point he was making. He set his mind on the things of God, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:5 NKJV). That is how Paul was walking "according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:1 NKJV). "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10 NKJV ref ). Not by our own righteousness but by the righteous we obtain through justification; the covering of our spiritual nakedness.

            "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:22-24 NKJV). "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:2-3 NKJV). That is the only victory he saw and yet toward the end of his life he confessed to that ongoing struggle between his mind and his body, "I have fought the good fight" (2 Tim. 4:7 NKJV). "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14 NKJV).

        • Robert, I think this view of Romans 7 is incomplete because it does not reflect the teachings of Romans 6. The person who has not met Christ will have little concern about his relationship to the law of God. Sinners typically enjoy sin, without reservation or regret. Those same "pleasures" become "temptations" to the person who has met and accepted Christ. Prime example: adultery. In other words, Romans 7 must refer to the life of the Christian—meeting, and sometimes falling to, temptations, while Romans 8 tells how we overcome those temptations -- through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

          • Ben, what had been Paul's experience before meeting Jesus on the Damascus road? What was the ongoing experience of most of the leaders and people of the Jewish nation? Romans 7 is clear on the point of the law being the focus of the sinner once convicted of it, and thus the struggle. Many SDAs have had the same struggle and recognized their futile struggle in Romans 7, and were thankful to learn of the Romans 8 experience of faith in Christ.

            Romans 7 speaks clearly for itself and I believe it makes the clear point that we cannot focus on the law or works of the law to overcome sin, describing the continual failure of the unsanctified heart in overcoming it's natural corruption. We are directed to Jesus as the sinner's only hope as the One who creates a clean heart and a right spirit in the sinner who dies to self, believing God's promises.

            Concerning the reflection of Romans 6, that is the very point Paul is making in chapters 7 & 8 isn't it? He goes on in 8 to describe this death to self that must take place and the life lived in the Spirit's power. 7 shows the futility of self-dependence which many hold to when even one sin is being harbored.

  17. Thank you so much for the Powerful Post, God Bless You. It is important for us to take note of what God said first before He gave the Law (Decalogue)..."I amthe LORD Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" - Exodus 20 vs 2. This clearly shows that salvation comes before the law. Indeed we don't keep the law to be saved, but we keep it because we are saved. This is truly an inevitable response to the outworking of God's love in our lives. God Bless You.

  18. Create in me a new heart my Heavenly Father and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10. Therefore I am this instant further down the road of sanctification. Grace has pardoned, grace has changed. Obedience has become a joy. Am I transformed? Yes, because I have surrendered to Christ. Paul surrendered when Christ, told him it is hard for you to kick against the pricks. Not completely, immediately, but just the same he followed through with his surrender. Christ does not want us to raise white flags because our very existence is threatened, rather He wants us to give of ourselves to Him without reserve.
    Happy Sabbath.

  19. Thanks for enlightening us all about this well-debated topic. It is unfortunate that the phrase "once saved always saved" became sort of like a motto by some especially in soul winning. It is attractive to anyone who are seeking salvation but the emphasis on the process of sanctification have been totally bypassed.

  20. I do believe new members stay because there has been 6 members they can comfortably associate with, love, and trust. I do believe that if we step back after giving our new friends our explanation of law and washing robes in the Blood of The Lamb, and let the Holy Spirit take over, miracles will happen. Again The Holy Spirit does use us to be trusted friends of new members.

  21. I grew up as a baptist being taught the whole "once saved, always saved" deal and truth be told, it nearly brought me to my demise. It is a very dangerous misguided teaching. I think you know you are on the right path when you can honestly say and feel, with every ounce of your being, what Marcos said. It couldnt have been explained any better.

    "And I am so thankful today that Jesus didn’t just forgive me. I am thankful that he also changed me and set me free from the power of sin that was ruining my life. Am I still a sinner? Of course, but grace enables me to daily transcend my carnal self and live a life of integrity and purity before God and man. Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. But this I can say: When I look at my past I don’t like what I see. When I look at my present I don’t like what I see. But when I look at my future, all I can see is the promise “that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Praise God!

    I am forgiven. I don’t have to continue as a slave to the garbage that enslaved me. I am free from sin’s guilt and free from its power and I cannot wait until the day when I will be free of its presence – and that day is nearly here."

    Amen Marcos!


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