Are Believers Under Law Today?
Galatians 2:19 and Rom 7:14 seem to be saying that believers are no longer under the Law of Moses, or any law. When we become believers, we are set free from law. Have I missed the boat? ~RE, email
I think you have one leg in the boat and one leg in the water. Let’s see if we can get you fully back in the boat.
You are correct that believers are no longer under the Law of Moses (Rom 6:14; 7:4-6; 8:2; 10:4; Gal 2:19; etc.).
However, believers in the Church Age are under law. The Greek word is nomos. If you do a concordance study, you will find that the law which we are under is variously called “the law of liberty” (Jas 2:12), “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2), “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2), and “the royal law” (Jas 2:8).
What is this law we are under?
The commands of the NT.
Nine of the Ten Commandments are part of both the Law of Moses and the law of Christ. Only the fourth commandment, to remember the Sabbath (the seventh day, Saturday), is not part of the law of Christ. The commands we find in the teachings of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles are our law today.
Of course, we are not born again by keeping the law of Christ, or any law. But the law of Christ is part of our sanctification.
Though you did not ask, I think Romans 7 makes it clear that a fixation on the commandments, even the commandments for us today, will not result in godliness, but in defeat. Our focus must be on the Commander, not the commands. As we focus on Jesus, we fall more in love with Him and we long to please Him and we are transformed (2 Cor 3:18). Of course, we are to study the commands we are under and to pray for the Spirit of God to empower us to keep them. When we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we are admitting that we broke one of the commands and that we desire to keep it.
It is going too far to say that believers today are not under law at all. ~Bob
Forgive Us Our Sins
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
If Jesus died for our sins (past, present and future), why do we confess our sins and repent from our sins even after becoming Christians? If we are already forgiven, what is the point of confessing our sins and repenting from our sins? ~Anon., email.
You are absolutely correct that Jesus died for all of our sins. When we believe in Him for eternal life we receive the forgiveness of sins. That is what many call positional forgiveness. When it comes to our eternal destiny we are eternally secure and forgiven.
However, John is not talking about that. He is talking about having fellowship with Christ. There is a difference. You can see that this is John’s purpose just a few verses earlier (1 John 1:3).
If we want to have intimacy with the Father and the Son, we need to walk in a way that pleases them. When we sin, in order to maintain that fellowship, we need to confess our sins. We are then forgiven of those sins on a daily basis that would keep us from enjoying a close relationship with Him here and now.
An illustration might help.
When a child is born into a family, that child will always be a child (positionally). However, when the child disobeys his earthly father, the child needs to set things straight if a harmonious relationship within the family is to be maintained (there needs to be daily “forgiveness”).
Jesus taught this truth in the Upper Room with the disciples when He washed their feet. Even though they were His children, they needed a daily cleansing of their “feet” in order to have intimacy with Him.
I hope this helps! ~Ken
In your article, “Putting the Gospel Debate in Sharper Focus” you state the following regarding the Free Grace theology view: “Fourth, eternal salvation once gained can never be lost.”
Then, in your article, “The Range of Inerrancy,” you write about Bart Ehrman, who fell away from the Christian faith. Later you write, “I fear that there are many who will fall away from the faith due to being taught a broad view of inerrancy.”
Please explain the difference between losing one’s salvation (which you affirm is impossible) and falling away from the faith(which you affirm is possible).
Thank you in advance for your response. ~B.V., email
Most people think that if a person falls away from the faith, that is, commits apostasy, he will not get into Christ’s kingdom. Apostates, they say, will be eternally condemned.
Yet Jesus said, “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26). This is the promise of eternal security.
Thus if you believe in Christ today, that promise is true of you. As a living human being who believes in Jesus, you will never die. That means even if you apostatize in the future, you will retain everlasting life.
If Bart Ehrman ever believed in Jesus for everlasting life, then he is still born again today, even though he lost his faith.
Southern Baptists call this doctrine once saved, always saved. Theologians call it eternal security.
I need to make one final caveat.
A person who has never believed the promise of everlasting life may well identify himself as a believer and as an Evangelical Christian. If that person later falls away from his former beliefs and stops calling himself an Evangelical, we might legitimately say that he fell away, even though he was never born again.
So a person who falls away might be born again or not born again. It depends on whether he ever believed the promise of everlasting life. ~Bob
Losing Assurance Because of Sin
What do you do if I’ve lost my assurance due to sin? A life long struggle with pornography and a relapse after only 8 months of sobriety left me in despair. When I realized that I blew eight months of sobriety, an overwhelming feeling of panic and despair hit me and the first thing that came into mind was “I think I just lost my salvation.” That was 18 months ago and I still struggle with both my addiction and assurance. At some point I began to believe that if I didn’t overcome that sin, I would go to hell. So I believed recovery was my “last chance.” Part of me doubts my doubt, but I still can’t seem to shake that profound experience even if it was just a feeling of despair and panic. Now what? ~Anon., email.
It is probably safe to say that every believer has experienced some doubts about their eternal salvation at some time in their life. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. Sin can cause us to go through it. Being exposed to false teaching can do it as well. We may even read a passage of Scripture that we don’t understand andthink that it is telling us we can lose our salvation. And when we sin we are out of fellowship with God and this gives Satan an opportunity to attack us spiritually and cause us to question what we know to be true.
The answer to these doubts is to always go back to Jesus’ promise of everlasting life. If you believe you can lose your salvation because of sin, you haven’t yet understood Jesus’ promise which is conditioned on your faith, not on your works (whether good or bad).
There are many clear passages that tell you that once you have believed in Jesus Christ for everlasting life, you have it as a presentpossession. For example, you can read John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; 10:28; 11:25-26; and 1 John 5:13. Notice the only condition is to believe in Jesus.
If Jesus promised believers everlasting life as a present possession, and you believe Him, then what do you have as a present possession? Everlasting life.
You don’t have to wait until we “go to heaven” to get it. You cannot earn it or keep it by works. And, since everlasting life is ever-lasting, it can never end. Once you have it, it is yours forever.
In moments of doubt due to sin, turn away from looking at your sins and believe His promise instead.
Even when you lose your assurance, for whatever reason, you still do not lose your eternal salvation. However, as you have experienced, when you lose your assurance it can have a devastating impact on your fellowship with God. When a believer is not sure he is a child of God, by definition his relationship with God is not what it should be.
In my ministry I have counselled many young men. I have seen the strangle hold that pornography can have. I have seen it be a factor in many cases of adultery and in the break up of many marriages.
I have also seen men who desperately want to be free from this sin, but struggle with the bondage they are in.
You say that you have fallen in this area and want to know what to do now. As already stated, the first thing you need to do is to be assured of your eternal salvation. Read the verses I mentioned above. While your sin, as all sin, has serious consequences, there is no sin that causes us to lose our eternal salvation. Every believer sins on a daily basis. If we could lose our salvation, we all would be eternally lost. In reference to the sin that you write about, how many Christian men do you think look at women in lust and thus commit adultery on a recurring basis?
The assurance of salvation is critical because you need to know that you are a child of God and that God wants you to grow spiritually. If you continue to doubt your salvation and do what you do in order to earn eternal life, you are following a recipe that will result in failure. As a child of God you can boldly come into God’s presence and ask Christ to live through you to change you (Heb 4:14-16). Christ, through the Spirit of God, will help you in your weaknesses (Rom 8:26)—yes, even the weakness of looking at pornography.
I think one of the major problems we have as believers is that we often think we are solely responsible for straightening our lives outwhen we fail. We think that we are so bad we need to beg God for another chance. We are like theprodigal son in Luke 15. He wanted to return to his father after failing miserably and thought he could only do it as a slave. He would have to work, just for the privilege of being a slave for his father.
But the parable teaches us that God welcomes His wayward children back with open arms. He wants us to “succeed” spiritually. He wants to help us. He is more than willing to meet us half-way if we come to Him for help (Jas 4:8).
We do not have the promise that God will take away all our sinful desires. But if we go to Christ for help, we do know that He will give that help. He will help us in our struggles with sin and will continue the ongoing process of making us more like Him (2 Cor 3:18). ~Ken
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