Imagine an organization chart as it might look from a Biblical perspective. In God's kingdom today, He simply puts us into one of two categories: wheat or tare. For the sake of word/meaning clarity, I will use two other Biblical terms here: sinner or saint.
If definitions are required, then a sinner is one who is unsaved while a saint is one who is saved. Quite simple.
Yet the saint category may be further broken down into two sub-categories. There are saints who are asleep and those who are awake. Again these are both Biblical terms but I will clarify them with some other Biblical terms to keep them consistent with the sinner/saint theme.
A sleeping saint is one who is walking, to some degree, in unconfessed sin. They are not right with God. An awake saint is one who is walking in the Spirit without any sin and they are right with God.
I shall not delve into the arguments that this may bring on regarding the Biblical existence of these states. That is not the purpose of this particular posting. I have posted on them prolificly in the past. The purpose of this post is to present these four simple states (and I can find no others) and ask a question.
To which category do you belong?
When you read your Bible, do you really believe what you read? Or do you read a passage like Psalm 51 and say, "That can't possibly mean me!" Some Christians do say that perhaps for one of two reasons:
1) they claim to be under grace and therefore any sin is already dealt with, requiring no further action on their part
2) they claim that the Old Testament has no binding authority upon them as New Testament saints
If either of these are true, then ask yourself, what category do you fit into in the Biblical organization described above?
Let's take a look at these two reasons above and examine them in light of Hebrews 10:26-31.
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
To whom is this written? God wrote it to the saints who are without sin. It is a warning to them. This is a New Testament angry God. This is a saint with the potential for sin. What are they to do with it?
God answers that in I John 1:8-10, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
Note some very important things here. God's condition states, "If we say we have no SIN (emphasis mine)...." He does not say, "If we say we are not a SINNER...." He does not say that because He knows it is no longer true. Do you?
What does God mean then? What is the difference between a sinner and a Christian with sin?
God answers that through Paul in Romans 7:17, "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." There is no clearer delineation in all the Bible than this. Paul clearly shows the difference between himself (a saint, not a sinner) and sin (the nature within). Otherwise Paul would have to say something like, "I do it because I am a sinner." A sinner cannot help but sin. It is their very nature.
Is this nature still in the saint? Yes. But it is overcome by the blood of Jesus. It is overcome by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is overcome by the will of the saint to reckon him/herself dead to that sin and its very nature by the resurrection power of Jesus. That is the whole point of Romans 6.
(Okay, so I went ahead and covered the old ground anyway. It was necessary to make the point rather than have you skip around looking for old posts.)
If at this point you are still not convinced, then there are perhaps only two possible explanations. One, you are a sinner and simply cannot understand, or: two, you are a sleeping saint. There is no other room in the Bible to squeeze in, hide in, shed light on, or otherwise fit in categorically. In other words, no one can say, "This part of the Bible does not apply to me." Or, "Surely this part of the Bible cannot mean me!"
We cannot remain woefully or willfully ignorant of the Truth of the Bible in hopes that it will just go away. The Bible is still the Truth even if you don't believe it or don't want to believe it.
You see Christian, I focus of those of you who are truly the Church, the saved Body of Christ. Specifically I focus on those of you who are asleep. I am called of God to help wake you up. We have much to do in this kingdom before it ends. We have no other job. Perhaps soon I will write a post on what these things are. But for now, we focus on waking up. The number one reason to do so is for the glory of God. Sleep is caused exclusively by sin. I don't know your particular sins but they are the ones that have put you to sleep and that is a disgrace and dishonor to God. The consequences of falling into the hands of an angry God are incalculable.
God says in I Corinthians 15:34, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not...." What to do when you're awake? Like I said, that's for another day. Your work right now is to wake up. God will not do it for you. But His Holy Spirit is willing for a time to continue prompting you to do so. Take a look at Isaiah 51 and 52. Three times God uses the expression, "Awake, awake." (51:9, 51:17, 52:1)
Further He says in Romans 13:11-14, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
And in I Corinthians 11:28-30, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
Christian, have you ever tried to worship with sin in your life? Tried to pray? Tried to offer sacrifices of praise, joy, or thanksgiving? God looks at it this way, "The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?" (Proverbs 21:27)
But this passage cannot possibly mean me! Sin? Abomination? Wicked? Me???
If these Words of God do not apply to you, then whom?
If we say these things apply only to sinners then answer this question:
What is the difference between the sin of a saint and the sin of a sinner? From God's perspective there is no difference. He treats it all the same. He judges it all the same with only one exception: The saint will not lose their salvation. They still get heaven as their reward (though their rewards/crowns in heaven I fear will be severely diminished). The sinner is still dead in trespasses and sins, condemned to hell and separation from God for eternity.
So the difference in the penalties of sin is only in the beyond of this present life. But in this present life, there is no difference whatsoever. But the severity of judgment upon the saint is much greater for they should know better. They know the truth. On the other hand, the sinner does not know better. They do not know the truth. In fact, their conscience is so seared with sin that they do not even feel the negative effects of it. They are numb to it for they are completely used to it. They have never known any other way.
But God admonishes the saints in I Corinthians 6:9-11, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
You see dear friends, we cannot readily accept just the good verses like these, the goodness of God, without also accepting the bad verses (about us) and the judgment of God. These parts of the Bible DO mean us. There is no escape as He says in Hebrews 2:1-4, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"