Illustration: Fashion Designer

Fashion-Designer-2Suppose you dream from an early age that you want to become a fashion designer. You do the research, and pretty quickly realize that in order to be successful you’re going to need to move to Italy, the fashion capital of the world.

So during school, you work harder than everyone else. You make sure your grades are high. You get part-time work on the weekends. You save as much money as you possibly can. While everyone else is out partying, you’re working. Then you finally get to university. Again, you study harder than everyone else. You take part-time jobs and save your money.

By the time university is finished, you’ve got enough money to get to Italy and set yourself up for the first 12 months. You’re well on your way to becoming a world-class fashion designer.

Then the unthinkable happens. There’s a financial crises and you lose everything. All your savings are gone. Your hopes have been shattered. There is no possible way you can get to Italy.

About six months later, you are surfing the internet and you come across a site run by a wealthy business woman from Italy. She describes how much she loves Italy and how she would do anything to help others experience life in her country. So she puts out an offer: If anyone wants to come to Italy, she will pay for their flights, put them up in an apartment, and find them a job. It seems ridiculous. Too good to be true. This is obviously some kind of scam. But you’re desperate. So you take a risk. And you send off your details and to your surprise she contacts you the next day with the flight details.

You’re still not sure if this is legit or not. You’re half expecting something to go wrong. But you decided to step out in faith and rock up to the airport. To your surprise the ticket is valid. You jump on the plane, arrive in Italy, and meet this incredibly generous business woman. She welcomes you to Italy, gives you keys to an apartment, and introduces you to a guy who is happy to give you a job in the fashion industry.

Now what did it cost you to go to Italy?

It cost you nothing. You did nothing whatsoever to deserve it. It was absolutely a free, unconditional gift.

But it cost you everything. Your old life in your home country had to die. You had to give up your native language. You had to give up your customs. You had to give up living with your friends and family.

Going to Italy cost you nothing, except your old life.

The same is true for us when we become a Christian. It costs us nothing. Jesus has paid for our ‘ticket’ in full. He has promised to take care of us. He gives us a purpose in life. It is absolutely a free gift. We do nothing to deserve it. But at the same time, it costs us our old life. The moment we become a Christian, we receive the Holy Spirit who wages war against our sinful nature. Our life is no longer our own, we now belong to God.

Becoming a Christian cost us nothing, except our old life without the Holy Spirit.

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FAQ: Can we live a life of deliberate sin and still go to heaven?

tumblr_m2f7eczPF11qaol32The Problem…

If it’s possible to live a life of deliberate sin and still go to heaven, then some Christians might choose to take advantage of God’s grace and devote their life to intentionally sinning every day.

If it’s not possible to live a life of deliberate sin and still go to heaven, then some Christians might spend their life wondering if they are going to hell because of their ongoing struggle with sin.

Why we can live a life of deliberate sin….

1. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, can we live a year of deliberate sin, or a month of deliberate sin, or a week of deliberate sin, or a moment of deliberate sin? Where do we draw the line? And what happens if we have a bad week or a bad month or even a bad year?

2. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, does this mean that Jesus only paid for accidental sin? If so, is it even possible to commit an accidental sin? Isn’t all sin to some extent deliberate?

3. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, what do we do with sins of omission? The Bible teaches that sin includes both sins of commission (i.e. doing wrong things) and sins of omission (i.e. failing to do right things). A day spent avoiding doing wrong things is not necessarily a day without sin.

4. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, why did Jesus expect us to sin daily? In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says: “Give us today our daily bread”. So we know that this is a prayer that Jesus expects us to pray daily. He then says: “Forgive us our sins”. So no matter how much we may try not to sin, Jesus fully expects that we will need to confess our sin daily.

5. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, how do we make sure we don’t start thinking that we deserve heaven because of our willingness to avoid sin? The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace “so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:9). If our willingness to avoid sin affects where we spend eternity, we would have grounds to boast because we would feel that we are better than those who don’t avoid sin.

6. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, why does the Bible teach that some Christians will get to heaven and have nothing to show for their life, but will still be saved? “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

7. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, how could the Bible teach that we receive eternal life at the point of salvation? If the level of our sin affected where we ended up, our eternal destination could only be determined at the end of our life.

8. If we can’t live a life of deliberate sin, what do we do about the fact that our sinful nature continues to crave sin? “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:18-20)

What God does to motivate us not to sin. 

The Bible teaches that there are lots of reasons why Christians won’t want to live a life of deliberate sin. It’s just that none of these determine our eternal destination.

1. God motivates us not to sin by giving us the the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to wage war against our sinful nature. There is no way a person can receive the Holy Spirit and stay the same.

2. God motivates us not to sin by reminding us of what He has done for us. We love because Jesus first loved us. We serve because Jesus served us. We forgive because Jesus forgave us. We live for God because Jesus died for us.

3. God motivates us not to sin by reminding us that sin is destructive. When a person becomes a Christian they ‘repent’. Repent means to change our mind. We know longer see sin as something to be embraced. We realize that it is destructive and that it destroys our relationships and our lives.

4. God motivates us not to sin by reminding us that He’s willing to discipline us. The Bible teaches that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves” (Proverbs 3:12). If we continue to embrace sin without any hint of repentance, God will discipline us so that we will get our lives back on track.

5. God motivates us not to sin by reminding us that there are rewards in heaven. The Bible teaches that where we spend eternity is determined by how we respond to Jesus. But our experience in eternity is determined by how faithful we were with the opportunities to serve God.

Conclusion

So in theory a Christian can live a life of deliberate sin because Jesus paid for all our deliberate sin. But in practice, there are many reasons why a Christian will find themselves not wanting to live a life of deliberate sin.

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ILLUSTRATION: Birthday Cake

tumblr_m74l4yO4jN1rrh9gto1_500Suppose this year for your spouse’s birthday you want to do something really special. So you decide to make a birthday cake unlike anything your spouse has ever seen. You do the research. You bake some ‘practice cakes’. And then finally after weeks of preparation, the cake is ready for the big occasion.

On the day of the birthday party I come around to your house early to help set everything up. I see the cake and think that it looks amazing. It is by far the most impressive cake I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m so overwhelmed with how good it is, that I take it upon myself to add my own finishing touches.

I grab some whipped cream and pour it all over the cake. I then carefully place marshmallows all over the top. Then I finish it off by pouring out three large packets of m&m’s onto the cake.

Now of course this whole thing is a disaster. Firstly, it is incredibly rude for me to look at the amazing cake that you’ve made and feel like I’ve got to add to it. Secondly, the cake now looks terrible. In my attempt to add to what you have done, I have actually destroyed what you have done.

The same thing happens when we try to add to what Jesus has done on our behalf.

A lot of people believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin, but they don’t believe that His work is complete. They feel that they need to add to what Jesus did to make us righteous before a Holy God. So they end up trusting in a combination of Jesus’ work plus their own works to get them to heaven.

And again, this whole thing is a disaster. In the same way that it’s incredibly offensive for me to look at your amazing birthday cake and feel like I’ve got to somehow add to it, it’s also incredibly offensive for us to look at Jesus’ perfect sacrifice and feel like we’ve got to somehow add to it. And just as my attempt to add to your perfect cake actually destroyed it, any attempt we make to add to Jesus’ perfect sacrifice actually destroys His work on our behalf.

There is nothing wrong with doing good works. Christians are called to do good works in response to what Jesus has done for them. But it’s an entirely different thing again to look at the perfect Son of God and His work on the cross and conclude that it’s not enough to save us.

Jesus said: “It it finished”. We need to rest in that.

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