Dear saints, I trust that the Lord Jesus has been preserving and blessing you🙂. I had been discussing the origin and nature of sin. For today, I‘d like for us to look into deliverance from sin. Many theologians simply refuse to believe that Christians can be delivered from sin and stop sinning. However, that’s exactly what the bible tells us (1 John 3:9-10). Please understand that I’m not preaching sinless perfection. Because, if saints do sin, and many may, we have an advocate with the Heavenly Father who’ll forgive our sins (1 John 2:1-2). This is to merely ascertain the biblical truth that total deliverance from sin and a sin free life is possible. Deliverance from sin can be instantaneous as it was for Stephen (Acts 6:8) or can follow a prolonged wandering in the wilderness of sin (Numbers 32:13). The former is instantaneous sanctification which combines both water baptism and baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). If any of you received instant sanctification, or as some term it “slain in the Spirit”, then you needn’t read any further🙂. But, if like me, you’ve experienced or are going through the process of progressive sanctification, then I hope you’ll read on.
I’d like organize my discussion along the following topics: recognition of sin; struggling with sin; deliverance from sin. A moral person would never need God. This was the rich young ruler’s problem (Matthew 19:16-22). This young man was legalistically perfect that he wanted to know what he was still lacking. Immoral or imperfect people don’t need to be told what’s wrong with them. They’re quite aware of their problems. Isaiah knew that he had a dirty mouth (Isaiah 6:5), while David knew that he had committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:13). Before a man or woman can come to God and accept their salvation and sanctification, they need to realize that they’re spiritually and morally bankrupt (Romans 7:18). This is also why pagans find it so difficult to accept the Lord Jesus as the only True God as they feel that all world religions expound pretty much the same thing. However, as we read in Matthew 19:21 the Lord Jesus dug deeper and exposed the young man’s greed and covetousness. The entire gospel of Matthew, especially chapters 5-6, is an exposition of the law in its spirit and not just substance. Adultery is no longer having immoral intimate relations with someone other than your spouse, it’s also the intent to do so (even if it doesn’t manifest physically). Murder is no longer the physical act of killing, but merely being angry with your brother qualifies as murder and so on. So, the first step in being made whole and right with God is realizing our own unholiness in God’s sight (Romans 3:10, 23; Isaiah 64:6). This conviction of sin doesn’t come through self-enlightenment, but being consciously brought into God’s Holy Presence by the Holy Spirit. Psychology rationalizes sin away. Only the Holy Spirit convicts one of sin (John 16:8).
The second phase is what many Christians, and those that backslide, find themselves in. Struggling with sin is an excruciating and miserable experience. Although, most new converts find themselves in this situation spiritual maturity and not age matters more. In Romans 7:7-24 the Apostle Paul narrates in graphic detail the agony of combating sin. There’s a period of rebellion during which some new converts (I certainly when through that phase from 1992-1997) intentionally and deliberately sin against the Lord. It’s as if one enjoys “defying God” and “likes sinning”. The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) describes this self-inflicted misery or “rebellion” against God. I have to quickly point out that the prodigal son knew he was rebelling against his father, unlike Satan who’s become a law unto himself. Further, the prodigal son was miserable and knew it (Luke 15:4-17), whereas Satan is devoid of all conscience. This period of rebellion can last as long as forty years as was the case for the Israelites or could last a mere four seconds. The Holy Spirit is always convicting us when we backslide, but we have to be just as pro-active in responding and repenting. This rebellious phase could also be followed by a phase of “incapacity or inability” to break free from sin (much like escaping gravity). Saints may walk away from certain sins or addictions for months or years, only to find themselves drawn back to them. This is the phase of frustration where a saint wants to break free sin, is determined to do so, but is simply unable to avoid sin. The Apostle Paul sums it this struggle up so eloquently: “What a wretched man I’m. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ out Lord). Backsliding happens because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). To overcome sin and be rid of backsliding, one needs power and that too from the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). Many saints are worried that maybe they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit. When a sinner is baptized in the “Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost”, the redeemed saint automatically receives the Holy Spirit. Walking in the Holy Spirit and tapping into His Power can either be instantaneous or progressive.
The final stage in progressive sanctification is being delivered from sin. The realization dawns on the saint that “I am saved!” That realization of entire or supreme sanctification is one of both pure joy and sheer unbelief”. Even the most stubborn and hard-hearted person will exclaim, like the disciple Thomas, “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28). This is the end of progressive sanctification when God removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh though the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26, John 3:3). This relief is also accompanied by the constant assurance of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14). The persistent re-assurance from the Holy Spirit is the evidence that a saint has been totally delivered from sin. The saint has also mastered the art of relying entirely on the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). Sanctification is not the end of spiritual struggles; it just means that one’s not seduced by sin as before. The sanctified saint will face a new set of challenges and temptations that aren’t to sin, but to fight God’s battles and do His ministry. That’ll be the topic of the next discussion.
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any among you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.