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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How Promises Of Perseverance Fit Warnings Against Sin

2 SwordsSwords To Slay Lies

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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Category: God's Promises, Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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17 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    Great post, and very relevant for so many that fill our churches every Sunday.

    “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    Romans 7:21-25

    In the book of Romans, Satan’s name only appears once, and it’s towards the end of the book. Paul knows our biggest enemy is our sinful nature, or what is commonly called our “flesh” in God’s word. Sin is so deceitful that even convinces us that we can go on in willful disobedience to God’s word, and still be under grace. Our biggest problem is not that we commit sins, which we certainly do, but that we are sinners, our sins are the by-product of our sinful nature.

    The man who leaves his wife and family for the other woman, who has tasted the goodness of the Lord, and has been enlightened, is under the power of sin, Satan can tempt, but he can’t cause us to sin, we apart from being in Christ, are evil through and through. The longer I walk with Christ the more aware of how much I’m like the man Paul describes in chapter 7 of Romans. Our only hope is in being in Christ, and being dead to this world, and alive in Him.

    That is why God gives us these warnings, our hearts are sin factories, producing idols, and twisting our desires so we won’t glorify God on this earth. But thanks be to God, who has sent His Son, to rescue us from this sinful nature, but we must fight for our faith, the remaining corruption that dwells in us is like a virus, feed it and it grows stronger, or choose to keep killing it with God’s word, it’s up to us.

  2. Luke says:

    Steve you truly are blessed with wisdom from God and the gift of teaching. I’m so thankful that God lead me to your blog a while back which has been such a valuable resource to me in my life with Jesus. Thank you for sharing this with me and everyone else.

  3. Lorraine Kashdan says:

    Joyce Myers covered a similar subject on a podcast I listened to today. I feel glad that the mainstream church is clarifying this issue because the wonderful truth of grace has been distorted in many churches and results in a kind of faithlessness toward God’s promises to keep them. We need to be aware of all the ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us, including God’s ability to kept us from sin. If we never give the spirit opportunity to show us how he works then he never will…the church is letting so many people down on this front. I’m glad this subject has been covered clearly.

  4. Simon says:

    hello,
    two questions.
    1. imagine a case in which a person who has been doing Gods work all his life. but at a much later stage in his/her life (lets take Mr. Steve as an example: just an example), & some situation happens and Steve back-slides and lives for e.g a year in sin. Then recovers and continues his life of doing good.
    Does that mean that he was never saved? Even before he hit the bad streak?
    2. Referring to the above, just say the person in their late life doesn’t recover, does that still mean that they were never ever saved?

    Thank you

    • Steve Fuller says:

      These are important questions, Simon. Thank you for asking them.

      If I had walked by genuine faith in Christ, but then had a year in which I fell away, and then recovered and continued faithful to Christ, what would that mean?

      I believe it means I was genuinely saved before the year of falling away, and the fact that I came back is because God fulfilled His promise to not let me stumble (Jude 1:24-25).

      Then you also ask — what if I didn’t recover? In that case, because I was walking by genuine faith in Christ, I was and would continue to be genuinely saved; but I could not have assurance that I was genuinely saved until I actually did recover.

      I hope that helps. Let me know —

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • Simon says:

        Hello Steve,
        Thank you for both the answers.Thats the question that has been bugging me for a long time.
        What you have said is clear and makes sense.
        Its because today, we see many who seem/are strong in Christ sometimes go through a rough patch for a period. Then recover & pick up the pieces and move on.

        you’ve helped alot.
        Thank you.

      • Becky says:

        Greetings to you Steve,
        The Answer to the First question that Simon asked is very clear.

        But I would like to expand on the second question using a scenario to get some clarification.

        In the case that a person (Just taking Mr. Steve as an example)dedicated and doing the work of Christ for over 28 years, through the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s, has walked the narrow road and has grown from strength to strength over the years.
        But a bad situation befalls him and he back-slides.
        He then loses his life 3 weeks after he Back-slid in a situation (just say accidentally gets knocked by a car).
        Note that he did not repent within the 3 weeks.
        Note also that he passed away within the 3 weeks in a back-sliden state.

        Can we say this person was Never saved?
        ….Even through his 28 years of ministry?

        • Steve Fuller says:

          Hi Becky,

          This topic is so important. I appreciate your desire to get clarification.

          So with the second example, if I was genuinely trusting Christ for 28 years, that would show I was genuinely saved, which means God will not let me fall so far away that I end up not saved. So even if I fell away for 3 weeks, and was hit by a car before repenting, I would still be saved.

          BUT while I was falling away for those three weeks, I would not be able to have assurance that I was saved unless I repented. Because the main way we can tell if we are saved is because we are turning to Christ right now.

          I hope that helps, and thanks again for your follow-up question.

          In Christ,

          Steve Fuller

  5. Becky says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thank you for the answers to the question. I now understand the explanation. Very true God will not let us fall so far away that we shall end up not being saved

    The end explanation said : the main way we can tell if we are saved is because we are turning to Christ right now.

    I am thinking Turning to Christ as mentioned above is a continuous process.
    Please do Advise. From that part, I’m a right to think that being saved is a continuous process of Turning to Christ? like in 2nd Corinthians 2:15, 1st Corinthians 1:18 and 15:1-2

    God Bless

    Becky

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Becky,

      The word “saved” sometimes describes a past event (Rom 8:24; Eph 2:5,8), sometimes a present ongoing process (1Cor 1:18; 1Cor 15:1-2; 2Cor 2:15), and sometimes a future event (Rom 5:9,10).

      So there is a very real sense in which the first time you turn and trust Christ you are saved. From that moment on everything is different, and always will be. Your sins — past, present, and future — are all forgiven. Your eternity is secure. You are adopted into God’s family, and will know him as Father forever. God’s power will keep you from stumbling until you enter heaven. You have been saved.

      So how do you know whether this has happened to you? The most clear way is because you are now trusting Jesus Christ — you are trusting Him (not perfectly, but earnestly) as your Savior, Lord, and all-satisfying Treasure.

      That’s how you can be assured that you HAVE been saved.

      At the same time, God keeps the saving process going throughout your life, growing your faith and obedience.

      And when you enter heaven, you will be freed from all sin, and experience the fulness of salvation.

      I hope that helps some. Aren’t these glorious truths?

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Becky says:

    Hello Steve.
    Thanks for the detailed explanation. It has helped uplift me. These are surely glorious truths.
    Thank you again and God bless.

    Becky

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