I have written quite a bit about what the Lord is speaking to me and, on some occasions (not all), He allows me to share. Some of what I have written has been inspired by studies, a devotional, a word from a book, a comment made at church, a family event, or during my quiet time with Him amongst others. Some of you have provided feedback and, while constructive, I appreciate your candor. For this writing, I will be broaching a topic that some may disagree – some potentially at a deep level. This topic was recently discussed in an Online Men’s Ministry that I am a part of and unfortunately reached a level that caused two of the men to disengage from the ministry.
These men did not disengage because of disagreement, they disengaged because they were called out, by name, by other men as being wrong and in need of counseling – sort of like an “intervention”. Rather than handling the situation brother to brother, these two men were called out in a very public way. I know that this will not happen here. (Matthew 18:15-20). Therefore, due to what I suspect may be controversial in some circles, this write up is very methodical, detailed, and longer as a result. As hard as I argued with my spirit, I could not cut this write up down – it is just too important.
First, I want to share what I “believe” to be the difference between an opinion and a belief. An opinion is something that a person develops based on their rational and logical mind as defined by one or more of your senses (see, hear, touch, taste, and smell). An opinion can, but not always, expand a part of your belief system but every opinion is foundational to your belief system. Opinion is mentioned 4 times in Scripture (NASB) as gnṓmē which means “to discern” in the NT or as dēa which means “knowledge” in the OT; NASEC indicates “what I think”. An opinion is based on what you think to be true as discerned from knowledge – which is based on some form of truth as you know it at that time. Along a similar line, the word “think” appears in scripture 39 times (NASB). I know that there are hard core KJV’ers out there, but I referred to the NASB predominantly in this write up (with a little NKJV tossed in).
Rom 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
1Cor 7:40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.
A belief is something that we fully accept as truth, typically based on personality, training, experiences, and dare I say “faith”. Our beliefs are the most important things that we hold true that may not be a product of fact or reason – no empirical evidence (world view). You can believe in something so concretely that nothing can change it, yet you do not necessarily require any of your five senses to support it. A belief is something you hold within your heart. Belief, or believe, is mentioned 152 times in scripture (NASB). In the OT the original Hebrew is aman which means “to confirm, support”. In the NT, the original Greek is pisteuō, which means “to entrust” or “has faith”.
Act 8:37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Rom 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Scripture indicates that a man “thinks” based on what he “believes”. Jesus encourages us to think, as it encourages our belief system, or may identify the condition of our heart.
Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Luk 10:36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”
Matt 22:42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
Therefore, opinion=mind; belief=heart. Generally speaking, opinions can change quickly based on new data that is trusted by the receiver, but beliefs tend to take more time – the more mature the individual, the longer it can take for a belief to change. While I mean this in a spiritual sense, our beliefs may also be what make us human. Often described as motives, the instrumental forces that drive and direct our behavior are based on a series of tacit beliefs that we have about ourselves. Our beliefs, more than our opinions, determine what we do, how we do it, and how we see our accomplishments in relation to the rest of the world. Bringing it back to a spiritual perspective, our Christian beliefs will determine how we worship, where we worship, who we worship with, what we allow to enter into our hearts, and how we view our relationship with our Almighty Father. How do you “believe” that God see’s you?
Before I was born again, I lived in the mistaken belief that I was a self-contained unit and that I did my own thing and made up my own mind and went my own way. The Bible makes it clear that I was really a slave of Satan and a slave of sin. It was the one who was living his life out through me, leading me into thoughts of self-worth, anger, revenge, lust, etc. Even after I was saved I continued with the misconception that I was a self-contained unit right over into Christianity and made a decision that I was now going to live for Jesus. I thought I was going to live… Nope. I have been crucified in Christ who lives out through me. It is not me living, any more than it was me living as an aetheist/agnostic. It is the Holy Spirit living His life out through me. Except on those occasions where I get in His way.
The ironic challenge is that we, as humans, are fundamentally flawed. The fall of Adam has allowed this condition to be a reality for us. If our beliefs make us human and our opinions are based on our rational mind versus spirit – from what source do we then shape our behavior and shape our reality? I pray that we ALL agree that our source for our behavior and our reality is our belief in Jesus Christ and that He has risen from the dead. More importantly, and more relevant, that He died for me, you, the world. He has set us free, but, we must be in lock-step with Him.
1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
The question raised is “As a Christian, are we still considered a sinner?”. I hold the belief that I am not a sinner, the Lord does not see me as a sinner – I don’t receive that, I don’t accept that, I rebuke that. Let that sink in for a bit. For this statement has been condemned by many. I myself must continuously remind myself that the Lord would save, and loves, a wretch like me.
By constantly saying, “I’m a sinner—but I’m so thankful God saved me and forgives me!” we live with a sin consciousness. If we are living according to the revelation of grace, our hearts should instead be focused on a right standing with God consciousness. As a believer, you may still sin, but you are not a sinner. ~ John Bevere
It is easy to be so caught up with the affairs of life that we totally lose our awareness that Christ is living within us. We find ourselves skimming the surface and not discerning the spirit and heart at all. The important thing is not the means but the end: I am, and must, consciously affirm my union with the Lord.
There is no sin in the risen Christ and, if you are a believer, Christ is in you. Christ and sin cannot exist in the same space; therefore, if Christ is in you, you cannot also have sin. However, our bodies, our flesh, are still of this world – the world that is going away – and therefore still fighting the carnal temptations of sin. In this context, while our bodies still contain sin our spirit man does not – as long as we believe.
Rom 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him
1 John 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him
The Amplified …..No one who abides in Him [habitually] sins…..
Jesus came to the earth to sacrifice Himself for sinners and turn them away from sin.
Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins
John 8:11 …… And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more”.
All of the negative connotations of this world – shame, guilt, condemnation – will hinder us in this life, but our Father wants us to succeed; He is rooting for us. It is the evil one who wants you to fail and he is working hard to convince you that you are a sinner. The good news is that with Christ in us, He leads us to freedom from the power of sin. Note however, Jesus did not die on the cross to give you a license to sin. He will convict you, correct you, and restore you to fellowship – but we must repent.
1 John 2:1, 2 ….if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father……..He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – not only for our sins but the sins of the all the world.
We should not wonder where the line is before we cross it, we need to focus on how we can get closer to the Father. As we get closer to Him we get closer to His grace, which then allows us to live righteously.
Now, we are flawed, as mentioned earlier – but this flaw is in the flesh, not in our spirits. His Spirit is with our spirit which has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom 8:2). Romans 8:9 continues to remind us that we are not controlled by our sinful nature (our flesh), we are controlled by the Spirit. Therefore, if we remain in obedience to Him and walk with him at ALL times, He will correct us before our fleshy temptations condemn us to an act of sin. But the struggle is real; Paul reminds us:
Rom 7:17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Rom 7:22-23 I love God with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me.
The good news:
Rom 7:25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord….
1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
But Marcus, you can be very rough around the edges and can be aggressive or passive-aggressive. You ask – “You say that Christ is in you but your behavior does not support what you are writing about?” Yes, on occasion, but when this occurs, watch how quickly I recognize this, feel a deep conviction about it, repent, and move on. Also, are you aware of how often this feeling/emotion works its way up in me and the Lord catches it before this behavior can manifest? Do I sin? Yes. Am I a sinner? No. Because I believe in Jesus, He is in me, and I belong to Him.