Jul 9, 2013
Satan seeks to attack us with lies. But the truths of God’s Word are swords by which we can destroy Satan’s lies (Eph 6:17).
Two crucial swords are God’s promises of perseverance, and His warnings against sin.
God’s promises of perseverance help slay the lie that we might not make it to heaven. They are found in passages like Jude 1:24-25; Phil 1:6; Jer 32:40; and John 10:28-29.
God’s warnings against sin help slay the lie that we can go on sinning willfully without risking heaven. They are found in passages like Mark 9:47-48; Rom 8:13; and Heb 10:26.
But many of us struggle with how these fit together. We wonder — How can God promise that I will be in heaven, and at the same time warn that I might face hell? As a result, we are confused about the promises and the warnings, and aren’t able to use these swords to destroy Satan’s lies.
Here’s what I mean —
“You Might Not Persevere”
Let’s say you wake up one morning fearing that that you might fall into willful sin, that you might not persevere, and that therefore you might face hell.
That’s a lie that can be slain with God’s promise that He will keep His people persevering all the way to heaven.
But maybe you don’t see how that promise can be true, since God also warns that continuing in willful sin means we could face hell.
And so your confusion blunts that sword. You can’t use it to slay the lie that you might not persevere. And so you are left fearful, despairing, powerless.
“You Can Sin With No Eternal Danger”
Or let’s say you want to pursue an affair with a woman at work — believing that even if you pursue that willful sin, you can still be fully assured you are saved and on your way to heaven.
That’s a lie that can be slain with God’s warning that if you continue in willful sin, then you could face hell.
But maybe you don’t understand how that warning can be true, since God also promises that every saved person will enter heaven.
And so your confusion blunts that sword. You can’t use it to slay the lie that you can sin with no eternal danger. And so you will not be as strong in battling that temptation as you could have been.
So we have to ask — what do the promises and the warnings mean, how do they fit together, and how do we use them to fight these lies?
What The Warnings Mean, And How To Use Them
So there you are, wanting to pursue an affair with a woman at work.
You could think there’s no problem. Because, after all, hasn’t God promised that nothing can pluck you from His hand (John 10:28-29), that He will continue the good work in you until heaven (Phil 1:6), and that He will bring you to heaven (Jude 1:24-25)?
Yes, that’s what God has promised. But those promises are only true for those who have been saved. And the only way we can be sure we are saved is because we are trusting Christ.
But if you are pursuing an affair, you are not trusting Christ, because Jesus calls you to be faithful to your wife.
So while you are moving towards this affair, you have no reason to think God’s promises apply to you, because you have no reason to think you have been saved.
Now you might in fact be saved. It’s possible to be saved without having assurance that we are saved. And to regain assurance you would only need to turn back to Jesus by faith and cry “Help!” And He would be running to help you.
But until then you can’t be assured that you are saved and that God’s promises of perseverance apply to you. Instead, because you are pursuing willful sin, God’s warnings apply to you.
So use the sword of God’s warnings to fight this temptation. Preach God’s warnings to yourself —
If I willfully sin by pursuing an affair with this woman, then I can’t be sure I’ve been saved. I have no reason to think God’s promises of perseverance apply to me. And I have every reason to think that God’s warnings do apply to me.
So, listen. If I pursue this, there might no longer remain a sacrifice for my sins (Heb 10:28), I might die eternally (Rom 8:13), I might not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:23). In other words, I might face hell.
So turn back to Jesus — NOW!
What The Promises Mean, And How To Use Them
So there you are, fearful that you won’t avoid willful sin, fearful that you might not persevere, fearful that you might face hell.
After all, God’s Word says those who pursue sin willfully and deliberately won’t have a sacrifice for their sins (Heb 10:28), they will face eternal death (Rom 8:13), and they will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:23). So shouldn’t you fear that this could happen to you?
No. Because those warnings only apply to those who are pursuing sin willfully and deliberately. But that’s not you.
Not that you are perfect. But you are turning from everything else and looking to Jesus by faith. You are battling sin. You are praying “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). You are trusting Christ to help you, forgive you, change you, and satisfy you.
And so, because you are trusting Christ, God’s warnings against sin don’t apply to you. But God’s promises of perseverance do.
So use the sword of God’s promises to fight the lie. Preach God’s promises to yourself —
Because I am turning from sin, and looking to Jesus Christ by faith, I can be sure I am saved. And because I am saved, God’s promises of perseverance apply to me.
So this means God will not let anything pluck me from His hand (John 10:28-29). God will continue the good work He started in me (Phil 1:6). God will surely bring me to heaven (Jude 1:24-25).
So trust God’s promise — He will not let me fall away, He will not let me pursue willful sin, and I will surely be with Him forever in heaven.
Use Your Swords
Think deeply about God’s promises of perseverance, and about His warnings about sin.
Understand that the promises of perseverance apply to those who are trusting Christ, and the warnings against sin apply to those who are willfully sinning against Christ.
Then use whichever applies to you, the sword of the promises or the sword of the warnings, to destroy Satan’s lies.
Slice ‘n dice ’em.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Can I Deliberately Keep Sinning And Still Be Forgiven?
- Can A Believer Lose Salvation?
- My Response To: “How Do I Know I Am Saved?”
- How To Be Forgiven By God
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