Someone asked me on My Facebook,
“While you two are busy going at it I would like to ask Jesse a question. Do you believe in works salvation? If not, do you believe that God helps a believer stop sinning…if he wants to stop? Or do you believe a person can stop sinning without God’s help?”
I do not believe in works salvation. We are saved by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in Christ, none of which is “works.” Repentance and faith are states of the heart, not works that we perform. We could never merit or earn our salvation. It must be by God’s gracious and merciful forgiveness through Christ.
Also on the issue of “works-righteousness,” Paul is clear that Abraham was justified by faith without the works of the law. The Torah didn’t exist yet as that came through Moses. So Abraham’s righteousness was not works of the Torah. It was his faith or confidence in the promise of God. God imputed or considered Abraham’s faith as righteousness, so he has a faith based righteousness not a works of the law based righteousness. And by his faith he obeyed God. So Gentiles do not need to obey the Torah to be saved, but to put their faith in Christ. We are justified or made righteous by faith, not only because faith is what God considers or imputes as righteousness, but because true and living faith will result in a righteous life. The same faith that justifies is the same faith that sanctifies. Faith works by love, purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and results in good works. That is justifying faith.
Second, I believe that God helps us to not sin. The Bible says He is able to keep us from falling. His grace is not a license to sin, but by His grace we can overcome sin and not be under its dominion. God has given us a free will, so we are without excuse for our sinning, but we have all used our free will to sin. So God’s grace is necessary, not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but to overcome our unwillingness and bring us to a place of repentance and submission. Without God’s grace, man would continue on in his free choice of living a carnal life.
When we are converted, we turn from a carnal life to a spiritual life – from serving sin to serving righteousness, from being sinners to being saints. We are born again new creatures in Christ.
Every day we must make choices. Its possible for us to sin but it is also possible for us not to sin. If we overcome sin, we thank the grace of God. If we sin, we shouldn’t blame a lack of God’s grace but our own free will. So there must be a synergy between man’s free will and God’s grace for a holy life. If it were all of grace, we would never sin again and if we did sin we could blame grace. We must choose to submit to the influence of His grace and not resist it. Every day we need to choose.
If a believer sins, God is gracious and merciful and will forgive us our sins through Christ if we repent. If we do not repent, we have to fear His indignation and wrath as that is what God has for the impenitent.
They then asked:
“If there is no such thing as a sin nature we war against, then why do people live carnally without God if they have free choice? In other words, that deck is stacked against those who don’t have the Spirit of God helping them. If a sin nature doesn’t exist, what is stacked against us?”
Adam and Eve choose to become sinners and they had no sinful nature. They lived in a nearly perfect environment and only had temptation from Satan. They knew God personally.
We have many disadvantages compared to him. We are born outside of the Garden, outside of the presence of God, into a sinful world full of devils and sinners who tempt us, etc. We have the world, the flesh, and the devil tempting us to sin.
Our flesh itself is not a sin, but it has natural desires given to us by God which the devil temps us to gratify through sin. Sinners establish their own pleasure as their ultimate aim in life (carnally minded) as they live for their own carnal appetites. It is not that our nature is itself a sin, but that we have misused and abused our nature. Our flesh was never meant to be our god, but to be used as an instrument to serve the living God.
Adam and Eve became carnal because they choose to live for themselves and their own desires instead of for God. We are all just as guilty as Adam and Eve. We have done the same thing.