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Deceitfulness of Sin

Living Pure

CHAPTER 11: DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

The following article is Chapter Eleven from my book “Living Pure in an Impure World.” The book is as available in both hard copy and electronic copy at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:12–15).

There are people who believe “once saved – always saved.” I don’t. “Once saved – always saved” says that once you accept Christ as your Savior you cannot lose your salvation no matter what you do. It’s based upon the theology of eternal security. It’s the foundation of the argument between what is called Calvinism vs. Arminianism. This is a major discussion that I believe is important, so I will take the time to discuss my point, which will bring us to the truth concerning the deceitfulness of sin.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

John Calvin is considered the father of Presbyterian Theology. He lived from 1509-1564. “Calvinism” actually came out of the Canons of the Council of Dort in Holland in 1618 from the followers of John Calvin. They were scholars such as George Whitfield and Charles Spurgeon. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) was pastor of the Reformed Congregation in Amsterdam, and Professor of Theology at the University of Leyden. In 1618, his followers submitted the five points of Arminianism to the church in Dort, and after 154 sessions lasting 7 months it was declared heretical. Arminianism was later revived through John Wesley. There are five main opposing points to both arguments.

THE FIVE POINTS OF ARMINIANISM THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM
  1. Free Will

The fall of man was not total – there is enough good left in man for him to accept Jesus Christ unto Salvation.

God enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom.

Each sinner possesses a free will, and his destiny depends on how he uses it.

  1. Total Depravity

Man is in absolute bondage to sin and Satan, and is unable to exercise his or her own free will to trust in Jesus without the help of God.

Faith is not something that man contributes to salvation, but it is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation – it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.

  1. Conditional Election

Election is based on the foreknowledge of God as to who would believe.

Man’s “act of faith” is the “condition” of his being elected to eternal life, since God foresaw him exercising his “free will” in response to Christ.

The ultimate cause of salvation is the sinner’s choice of Christ.

  1. Unconditional Election

Election is not based upon man’s decision, but the “free will” of the Creator alone.

In other words, God alone chooses who will be saved. His choice is not based upon any foreknowledge of response or obedience on man’s part such as faith or repentance.

The ultimate cause of Salvation is God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ.

  1. Universal Atonement

Redemption is based on the fact that God loves everybody, that Christ died for everyone, and that the Father is not willing that any should perish.

The death of Christ provided the grounds for God to save all men, but each must exercise his own “free will” in order to be saved.  

  1. Limited Atonement

Christ died for the “elect” to be saved only. He did not die for the “non-elect,” who will be lost.

His death was to pay the price for certain specified sinners only – whose salvation is guaranteed.

  1. Obstructable Grace

God wanted all men to be saved. He sent the Holy Spirit to “woo” all men to Christ, but since man has absolute “free will,” he is able to resist God’s will for his life.

God’s grace is not invincible, it can be, and             often is, resisted and thwarted by man.

 

  1. Irresistible Grace

The free will of man is so far removed from salvation that the elect are made spiritually alive by God even before expressing faith in Christ.

This call cannot be rejected. The Spirit causes the elect sinner to cooperate, believe, repent, come freely, and willingly to Christ. This grace is invincible, and never fails to result in salvation to those to whom it is extended.

  1. Falling from Grace

If man cannot be saved by God unless it is man’s will to be saved, then man cannot continue in salvation unless he continues the will to be saved.

Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by canceling their faith and rejecting Christ.

  1. Perseverance of the Saints

Salvation is entirely the work of the Lord and man has absolutely nothing to do with the process.

The saints will persevere because God will see to it that He will finish the work He has begun.

 

(Steele and Thomas)

As you can see, it is very evident that I am an Arminianist! Concerning each of the five points here are a few scriptures that show the involvement of man’s ability, will, and choice in salvation:

  1. Free Will (Arminianism) vs. Total Depravity (Calvinism) 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9–10).

 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

As we can see, man has free will concerning salvation!

  1. Conditional Election (Arminianism) vs. Unconditional Election (Calvinism)

Based upon His foreknowledge, God chose us and predestined us to be conformed to His image (Ephesians 1:4-6, Romans 8:29-30). God offers salvation to all who call upon Him (Romans 10:13). Whoever desires, can drink of the water freely (Revelation 22:17).

As we can see, our will and choices, determine our election and salvation!

  1. Universal Atonement (Arminianism) vs. Limited Atonement (Calvinism) 

Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). He died that the whole world might be saved (John 3:15-17). He died to pay the price for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

It is evident “all men” are included in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin!

  1. Obstructable Grace (Arminianism) vs. Irresistable Grace (Calvinism)

We are justified (saved) by His Grace through faith (Romans 3:24-28, Ephesians 2:8-10). His grace is resistible and He can be rejected (John 12:48). The Holy Spirit can be resisted also (Acts 7:51).

If grace were irresistible why would faith be required?

  1. Falling From Grace (Arminianism) vs. Perseverance (Calvinism)

Many who claim to be believers are not (Matthew 7:21-23). Those who look back are not fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62). There are those who fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). There are brethren who end up departing from the Living God (Hebrews 3:12). In the latter times some will depart the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). There are those who, after they learn about Christ, escape the pollutions of the world, and then somehow turn from the holy commandment back to the filthy world just as a dog returns to its own vomit and a pig to its mire (2 Peter 2:20-22). There are those who were “once enlightened” and tasted of the good Word of God who fall away and find it impossible to get back to repentance (Hebrew 6:4-8).

If man doesn’t have free choice, then he is merely a puppet doing whatever God wants him to do. If we do not have free choice, then the hope of change or deliverance is but smoke in the wind that dissipates until it’s gone. It bases the goodness of God on luck and chance. You either have it or you don’t, and even if you do love and serve Him it may not matter at all. The dice wasn’t in your favor – sorry, you lose!

Reasoning why Calvinism is harmful:

  • Since man has no choice, and salvation for the elect is invincible, there is no purpose in preaching the gospel.
  • God loves only the elect – not the whole world.
  • Those who are saved are merely puppets without free will or choice.
  • The elect worship God only because they were made that way.
  • Healing, prosperity, deliverance, miracles, peace, joy, the fruit of the Spirit, are only available to the elect.
  • Since salvation is invincible, sinning is not an issue.
  • God is not offering man the decision of life or death. He has no choice in the matter.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

“He who overcomes,” is stated several times in the book of Revelation. In chapter three, verse five, the Apostle John states that “the overcomers” name will not be blotted out of the Book of Life. Jesus could not say this if it were not a possibility! Apparantly, some names will be blotted out.

5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:5–6).

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10).

We are to be diligent to make our call and election sure.

The Power of Free Choice

Evidently our will has a part to play for our future! Why is this so important? Many believe some types of behaviors are DNA and genetically related, and therefore, unchangeable. Most of the time this theory is based upon sexual preferences, substance abuse, and can include behaviors like anger and violence.

This theory creates many problems because if one type of behavior cannot be changed, then it must apply to all behaviors. For example, if the root cause of homosexuality cannot be changed, then it must also apply to sexual behaviors such as adultery, rape, fornication, pedophilia, polygamy, child porn, adult porn, bisexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, peeping, transsexuals, transgenders, cross dressers, streakers, exhibitionists, and the like. If it’s for sexual behaviors, then why would it not also be for substance abuse such as alcohol and drugs? What about physical abuse and violence? What about lying, stealing, cheating, bank robbing, cursing, murdering, serial killers, abortion, and so on? If these behaviors are unchangeable then man is not born with free choice, and he is merely a slave to ingrained behaviors and character. Also, if man does not have free choice with these behaviors, then God is unfair to call any of these behaviors “sin” punishable by separation from God and eternity in hell. If these behaviors are truly unchangeable then we need to change our legislation of law to reflect that because man is not responsible for these actions. If we disagree as to which behaviors are changeable and which ones are not, then who decides? Can man really decide fairly and with equal rights for all? If these behaviors are changeable and man does have free choice, then we do need to craft legislation appropriately.

This is where we get into the battle of genes verses demons, learned behavior, attitude, personality, the will of God, and whether God created us with free choice or not. Let’s read the context of Deuteronomy 30:19.

11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,
18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:11–20). (emphasis added.)

In context, Moses (instructed by God) has just presented and declared the written Law of God before the people. I find it interesting that God not only wants His people to know about life and good, but also death and evil (verse 15). In verse 19 the terms used are life and blessing, and death and cursing. God loves His people so much that He tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth! He does not hide the evil or deceive the people that blessings are the only choice. He also states that there are consequences for not listening, drawing away, and taking the wrong path. The most amazing and important principle I see is God is telling His people they have free will to make ANY choice they want. We can choose evil or good. As a matter of fact, if we choose to rob a bank, murder an innocent person, commit adultery, rape, pedophilia, lie, cheat, or be unfaithful to your spouse, God will allow it. Why? Because we were created with a free will – that’s how much He loves us. God has given us free choice! If not, we are under total bondage to whatever He made us – mere puppets. People, however, will argue about DNA, genes, personality, behaviors, and so on, using the “born that way” argument.

My Genes Made Me do It!

Many call this “Scapegoat Biology.” I am not a scientist, biologist, or DNA specialist, however, and am a theologian. In addressing the theory that DNA dictates behavior, it would be improper for me to make scientific claims. I can, however, ask questions from a biblical perspective which I believe will bring some conclusions to the answer. My answer may not satisfy those who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, so in order to accept my conclusion one must believe in God, and must believe that the Bible is His Word written through man and to man.

Does genealogy and DNA dictate personality, behavior and character? My conclusion is it does not matter – the question is irrelevant. Why? Because God says in His Word that evil behaviors are sin. He very clearly states and defines what those behaviors are. He clearly states what Godly behavior is and is not. He clearly states that ungodly behavior is punishable and that the community of man should craft and adopt laws accordingly.

My theological questions:

  1. If God did not create man with free will concerning choice, character, and behavior, then how could God state laws of behavior that would be impossible to follow? Either God is a righteous, loving God, or He is a tyrant that created puppets for His dictatorship.

My point is we are not slaves to sin in any matter whether it be inherited, DNA, genes, temptation, upbringing, or abuse (physically or mentally)! We are all free to choose death or life, and if we choose life, the Spirit of God is there to assist us to live free from sin and live our life in godliness. Becoming a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) by accepting Jesus as our Savior and being filled with His Spirit, overcomes all your past, any abuse, any temptation, any genes or DNA. But – even that is not against anyone’s will – you always have free choice, so walking in the Spirit instead of the flesh is a daily process of your faith, conscience, and decision. No one will be able to stand before God and say “My genes made me do it.”

  1. What’s wrong with “Scapegoat Biology?”

It makes no one responsible for their actions. This would include any adulterer, homosexual, fornicator, rapist, pedophile, and so on. If we give legal protective rights to any one of these behaviors, we need to give protective rights to all of these behaviors. If we do, the boundaries between right and wrong are no longer the declaration of God, but become the independent decisions of man. Man becomes his own God, and that is not a good idea!

  1. What about demons?

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick (Matthew 8:16).

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour (Matthew 17:18).

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases (Luke 9:1).

1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,
4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones…

15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid (Mark 5:1–5,15).

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

Demon/devil (KJV): daimonion: 

  • “Demons” are the spiritual agents acting in all idolatry. The idol itself is nothing, but every idol has a “demon” associated with it who induces idolatry, with its worship and sacrifices, 1 Cor. 10:20-21; Rev. 9:20; cf. Deut. 32:17; Isa. 13:21; 34:14; 65:3, 11.
  • They disseminate errors among men, and seek to seduce believers, 1 Tim. 4:1. As seducing spirits they deceive men into the supposition that through mediums (those who have “familiar spirits,” Lev. 20:6, 27, e.g.) they can converse with deceased human beings. Hence the destructive deception of spiritism, forbidden in Scripture, Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:11; Isa. 8:19.
  • “Demons” tremble before God, Jas. 2:19.
  • They recognized Christ as Lord and as their future Judge, Matt. 8:29; Luke 4:41.
  • Christ cast them out of human beings by His own power. His disciples did so in His name, and by exercising faith, e.g., Matt. 17:20.
  • Acting under Satan (cf. Rev. 16:13-14), “demons” are permitted to afflict with bodily disease, Luke 13:16.
  • Being unclean they tempt human beings with unclean thoughts, Matt. 10:1; Mark 5:2; 7:25; Luke 8:27-29; Rev. 16:13; 18:2, e.g.
  • They differ in degrees of wickedness, Matt. 12:45.
  • They will instigate the rulers of the nations at the end of this age to make war against God and His Christ, Rev. 16:14.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).

Obviously, demons can have great influence toward man with sickness, torment, and evil. Does this mean we are hopeless and doomed under their influence? No! Jesus said He had all power and authority (Matthew 28:18-20). He then gave this power to His disciples and instructed for them to use this power… to first cast out demons, then to speak with new tongues, take up serpents, and lay hands on the sick (Luke 9:1-2, 10:19)! This means that through Him we do not have to be the slaves of demons either! Again, we have free choice!

17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17–18).

Galatians 5 (subtitled “Christian Liberty”) defines the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are all points of choice and not genes. If they were genes then some of us could never have joy, or the ability to work on patience. Love would be impossible to those without the “love” gene. If love, joy and patience were genes then so would hate, depression, turmoil, impatience, meanness, badness, unfaithfulness, violence, and lack of self-control. It’s obvious “self-control” and all the others have to do with “self-choice!”

Instructing the woman caught in adultery in John chapter eight, Jesus told her to “go and sin no more.” If genes made her commit adultery, then He would have been asking her to do the impossible! The young man of Proverbs chapter seven and the adulterous woman – both are instructed to make a choice. What about a pedophile, a murderer, a serial killer, a bank robber, and a glutton? Even if demons are involved, we still have the ability of choice. If not, then no one would be accountable for any of these actions!

Sexual preference can be changed by choice. Demons can be cast out by choice. Lying, cheating, and stealing can be changed by choice. If God is the one who declares the definition of sin – then it would be unfair if He did not give us the freedom (and ability) to choose how we want to behave.

This is why the “born that way” argument holds no water. I feel sorry for those who believe they cannot choose for themselves. They are slaves under eternal bondage!

  • Born that way = no choice.
  • Learned behavior = choice. You can relearn!
  • Attitude = choice (did it come from our parents? – remember the Kings of Israel? One was good, his son was evil, and his son was good, and so on. If it was due to DNA then family lines would all bear the same identity of behavior, but they don’t. Anyone can change their attitude and behavior.
  • Demons = choice – they are lying and tempting you to make the ungodly choice.
  • The voice of the Holy Spirit = choice. He is wooing you to make the moral and godly choice.

Sinful acts are ungodly behaviors as defined by God. Righteous acts are godly behaviors as defined by God. Heaven and hell are real. It will pay to listen to the will of God (His Word).

Following are four lists from the Bible defining immoralities and sicknesses: if one is due to DNA and genes then all are DNA and genes that some would say equal “no choice.” If some are demons, attitude, or learned behavior, then all are demons, attitude, or learned behavior that can obviously be chosen or denied.

  1. Immoral Attitudes: Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, envy, revelries, coveting, prejudice, laziness, etc.
  1. Immoral Actions: Lying, stealing, cheating, murder, abortion, serial killing, divorce, substance abuse, alcoholism, unfaithfulness, physical abuse, violence, cannibalism, etc.
  1. Immoral Sex: Adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophilia, rape, bestiality, etc.
  1. Physical ailments: Sickness, disease, depression, mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.

The argument that concludes DNA and genes cause behaviors without choice is unbiblical. Since we can resist devils and cast them out, we have the ability of choice. People can make healthy or unhealthy choices and reap the results either way. We can change our attitudes – forgiveness and love or hatred and anger. We can change our behaviors (actions). We can change what we do sexually. We can also cast out demons (sickness and disease, uncleanness, immorality) if we choose to do so! Unhealthy choices obviously affect our health to a great degree!

A recent email sent to a friend:

Deuteronomy 28:61 says that every sickness and plague is part of the curse of the Law. Galatians 3:13-14 says Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law that the blessing of Abraham might come upon us.

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 says that we have the ability to choose death or life. This means we have choice – choice to live or die – choice to be sick or well – choice to be in bondage or to be free.

We are free and have the choice for life and blessing, or death and cursing because God has given us the freedom and the ability to choose. Isn’t He wonderful!

Either we have free choice or we don’t.

Either we are free or we are not.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free (Galatians 4:31).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1).

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:15).

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… (Joshua 24:15).

As Christian’s we are no longer “slaves to sin.”

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin (Romans 6:6).

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:16–23).

I rest my case!

What is the deceitfulness of sin?

Sin cannot be deceitful unless it is real. When asking whether we should continue in sin that grace may abound, the Apostle Paul said “God forbid” (Romans 6:2 KJV). This brings us a new challenge – how do we define sin? What is sin? Who should define them? Why are they deceitful?

But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

Sin: GK [harmartia]: to miss the mark.

  • Sin is deceitful.
  • Sin is missing the mark.
  • The deceitfulness of sin is the deceitfulness of missing the mark.
  • Deceitfulness is to be full of deception. Sin (missing the mark) is full of deception.
  • If sin is deceitful, then sin is real.
  • If sin is real and deceitful, then sin is real deceitful.
  • If sin is real deceitful, then sin is real deceitful for both sinners and Christians! Sinners and Christians can miss the mark.

We need to define “the mark” so we will not be deceived. Sin is missing the mark; however, if we don’t know what the mark is, we don’t know what to shoot for. If we don’t know what to shoot for, we will never know what mark to hit or whether or not we missed it!

Who should define sin? 

If man is the one who should define sin, then there will never be a conclusion! Since God is the only one who can forgive sin, then God is the only one who can define sin!

Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7). 

God has given us several lists to help define sin. 

 The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17):

Slide1

 The Two Commandments ( Matthew 22:37-39):

The Two Commandments

 The Romans List:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:18–32).

The 1 Corinthians List:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

The Galatians List:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21).

The Colossians List:

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them (Colossians 3:5–7).

The 1 Thessalonians Comment:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). 

The Book of Revelation List:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

My Definition of the Deceitfulness of Sin:

Continued and practiced sin creating a guilty conscience which hardens the heart over time and gives strength to a dangerous and vicious cycle eventually leading to death, and even spiritual death..

How do we keep from being deceived? We must first submit to God and allow Him to define sin. Then, by faith believe through His Divine Habitation, we have the ability to break the cycle and walk in the Spirit! It will take submission to Him and faith for who you are in Christ to do so.

We are living in the “Sexual Revolution.” This revolution has challenged intimate relationships outside of marriage and the guidelines of God’s Word:

  • Adultery
  • Fornication
  • Marriage between one man and one woman
  • Divorce
  • Abortion
  • Other unmentionable behaviors. 

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Does this apply to Christians? Why should we be concerned if we are already forgiven?

4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:4–8).

What is “the mark”? It is God’s standard between sin and righteousness – holy and unholy and right and wrong. The mark concerning sexual immorality is in marriage between one man and one woman only – period! Sexual immorality is missing the mark through fornication, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, divorce, etc. Divorce is somewhat more complicated because it takes two to decide to honor the covenant and do the right thing. Fornication, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, however, only takes one person to choose to obey God. But some say “these things are not hurting anyone!” The fact is these things are destroying lives every day, and the impact on future generations and families is devastating. From John the Baptist, to Jesus, Peter, and then Paul – the message is still the same: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

What is Submission?

As we previously read in chapter ten, John Maxwell states the following concerning the word “submission”:

There are two kinds of submission: one that is helpful and positive, and the other that defeats our spirit. There is submission that comes from a crushed spirit where someone powers up on another individual and has pushed them down against their will and broken their spirit and their heart. This is not a healthy submission. Then there is the kind that is voluntary. The kind where I recognize for me to be a learner and a grower, I must have a humble and submissive spirit which will allow me to come under, and appreciate all situations, and all people. I’ve often referred to the right type of submission as being broken in the right places, and the wrong kind of submission as being broken in the wrong places. For you, I would hope that you would willingly submit, learn and have a humble spirit and that you will be broken in the right places. (J. Maxwell, johnmaxwellteam.com)

18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:18–19).

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

How do we obtain faith and a good conscience? By continually hearing the Word and submitting to God. These two things (faith and submission) will enhance the power of Divine Habitation within you! It’s the balance between repentance and faith!

16 What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor,
18 And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:16–18 AMP).

It’s not “works for,” it’s “works because” of who we are in Christ.

9 What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house.
10 Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation!
11 Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.
12 Take particular care in picking out your building materials.
13 Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing.
14 If your work passes inspection, fine;
15 if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive – but just barely.
16 You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?
17 No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred – and you, remember, are the temple (1 Corinthians 3:9–17 The Message).

The Amplified puts it very clear calling our body the “very sanctuary” of the Holy Spirit.

19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,
20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 AMP).

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians calls us (corporately) a building put together for a dwelling place of God.

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19–22).

Christ is Praying for All of Us!

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:20–26).

We have been bought with a price. Are we ready to change our lives and live for Him in return? Are we willing to give Him our bodies for service and honor to Him?

12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:12–20).

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Man Fully Alive is the Glory of God – St. Irenaeus (185 AD)

My rendition:

Man – inhabited and filled with the Spirit of God and fulfilling His Will – is the Glory of God in the earth.

The word “glory” in Colossians is the Greek word “doxa.” The Louw Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says it means many things, but what I find interesting is one definition, “remarkable appearance.” We know from Ephesians 4:6 that God is above us, through us, and in us. I believe the more we “grow spiritually in Him,” the more glory (or remarkable experience) of God is manifested through us. One definition Vines Expository Dictionary gives “doxa” is “manifestation of Glory.” Christ in us – the hope of glory (manifestation of glory).

So, when we talk about going from glory to glory (doxa to doxa) in 2 Corinthians 3:18, what does it mean? I believe in context it means we have (past tense) gone in “the spirit” from the Old to the New in completion, but in “the soul” we are presently in process. This is why the word was translated “are being transformed.”

The Message Bible says it very nicely. It shows both the “complete” and the “process” of spiritual growth and change in our lives for the better:

All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him (2 Corinthians 3:18 The Message).

The deceitfulness of sin is designed to trap you into committing sin with the excuse that no one will know or find out, and there are really no consequences. There are consequences! You will reap what you sow whether it’s good or bad. Bad seed can only produce a bad crop. Sin has the great privilege of ruining your life through condemnation, lies, guilt, STDs, loss of a job, divorce, poverty, stress, sickness and disease, fear, and so on. Don’t be deceived – you will reap what you sow!

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:7-9).

We must allow God to direct our behaviors. If we make a mistake we must repent and like the woman caught in adultery – go and sin no more! Remember – sin is deceitful! It is out to destroy Christians – and the way out is through repentance and faith!

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:6).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it (Matthew 7:13).

As you can see, I do not believe in “once saved, always saved.” I also believe there is balance between sin and grace. I believe in grace – thank God for it! However, should we continue in sin that grace may abound? Like Paul said in Romans 6:1, “God forbid.” Remember, sin is deceitful – it has an ultimate purpose – destruction and death.

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