The Two Wages of Sin

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The Two Wages of Sin

James R. Aist

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

A great many Christians find it much easier to accept God’s forgiveness of their sins than it is to live free of the stains of those sins: guilt, shame and condemnation. In Romans 6:23, Paul correctly declares that the wages of sin is death, but, for many, these lingering stains are another wage of sin that needs to be dealt with. In this article I will show that a better understanding of how God responds to our confession and repentance of sins can help remove the stains of sin once and for all.

Let’s begin with the key verse, above. Notice that if we confess our sins to God, He will respond by doing, not just one, but two, things: first, He will forgive our sins;  and second, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness associated with those sins. These are not two ways of saying the same thing, but two very different, but related, things: forgive and cleanse. So, let’s focus on this cleansing from the stains of sin for a few moments.

In Isaiah 43:25, God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins, and Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds will I remember no more.” Here again, we see two things that God does in response when we confess our sins and repent: First, he no longer remembers our sins, meaning that He will no longer bring them to mind and hold them against us; and secondly, He will “blot out our transgressions”, meaning, in effect, that He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the book of Hebrews we find the same process of removing the stain of sin referred to as “cleanse your conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14) and “cleanse them from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22). Finally, we see the same theme recorded in Ephesians 5:25-27, “…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, and that He might present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” And, concerning specifically the stain of condemnation, Paul had this to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1a).” Clearly, God has promised to cleanse us from the lingering guilt, shame and condemnation when we confess our sins and repent, and He has surely done it. So, God, for His part, has released us from these stains of sin, but the question is, have we accepted His release as the final word on the matter and released ourselves from the stains?

How, then, can we be released from these stains left by sins? I believe that the first thing we must do is to forgive ourselves as God has forgiven us. This means that we must “remember our own sins no more.” In other words, we must no longer bring our sins to mind as if God still holds them against us! After all, it is to God, and Him alone, that we must give account (cf. Psalm 51:4), so why not let Him have the final say in the matter? And, we can have a very active part in letting go of the stains. Satan likes to remind us of our sins by putting evil thoughts about them into our minds, thoughts of guilt, shame and condemnation. But we do not have to allow ourselves to dwell on these evil thoughts until they consume us. Remind the devil that God has cleansed you from all unrighteousness. James exhorted us in this way, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).” Keep on resisting these lies of the devil until he doesn’t bring these accusations to mind any more. In this way you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2), and you will no longer have to struggle with an “evil conscience.” You can do this; God will help you, if you will trust Him!

(To read more of my articles dealing with biblical topics, click HERE)

Healing, Forgiveness and Demonic Indwelling/Oppression

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Healing, Forgiveness and Demonic Indwelling/Oppression

James R. Aist

“…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

The Bible is a remarkable resource of spiritual revelations that can rightly inform us of otherwise-hidden truths that can greatly affect our lives. This article focuses on a set of interconnected spiritual truths that, I believe, are not common knowledge within the mainstream of modern Christianity but are, nevertheless, important to our living as “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37). I will present three pertinent scriptural truths in bold lettering, followed by biblical references that support each one, respectively.

Demonic indwelling and infirmity are often causally related

Matthew 9:32-33. As they went out, they brought to Him a mute man possessed with a demon. And when the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke…”

Matthew 12:22. Then one possessed with a demon was brought to Him, blind and mute, and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

Mark 9:17-27. One in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. Wherever it takes hold on him, it dashes him to the ground. And he foams at the mouth and gnashes with his teeth and becomes rigid. So they brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit dashed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. He rebuked the foul spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more.” The spirit cried out and convulsed him greatly. But it came out of him, and he was as dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Luke 4:40-41a. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had anyone sick with various diseases brought them to Him. And He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons came out of many, crying out, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Luke 13:10-16. He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years and was bent over and could not straighten herself up. When Jesus saw her, He called her and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” Then He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. …should not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bondage on the Sabbath?”

Acts 10:38. “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Forgiveness and healing occur together

James 5:15. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”

Luke 5:17-25. Now some men brought in a bed a man who was paralyzed. They searched for ways to bring him in and lay him before Him. When they could not find a way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his bed into their midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” He answered them, “Why question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” He said to the paralyzed man, “I say to you, rise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

Something causes forgiveness and healing to occur together

I have yet to find direct, biblical evidence for this scriptural truth, yet I do believe that the evidence is in the Bible. For example, consider the case of an unbeliever who is indwelt by spirits of infirmity, and gets saved. This new Christian is instantly forgiven of all past sins (we call this “justification”) and is made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Holy Spirit then indwells the new Christian, and any previously indwelling demons will be cast out, because the Holy Spirit will not abide co-habitation of any evil spirits in the new believer (Psalm 5:4; 1 John 4:4). Thus, one may surmise that when the sins of a newly born-again Christian are forgiven, healing may follow because spirits of infirmity have been cast out. This is a causal relationship that would bind forgiveness and healing together, which is exactly what we were looking for.

To broaden this causal relationship to include all born-again Christians, one need only to remember that the born-again Christian is not indwelt by spirits of infirmity (because, that is impossible; see above), but only oppressed by them so as to cause infirmity. In this case, the evil spirits would not be literally cast out, but, instead, bound (i.e., expressly forbidden to continue oppressing the Christian and ordered to leave him alone. See Matthew 18:18).

Note that, in either scenario, forgiveness and healing occur together, because the influence of spirits of infirmity have been removed.

Practical Significance

To me, the Scripture passages quoted above clearly demonstrate that healing, forgiveness and demonic indwelling (or oppression) are variously interconnected. Knowing this can inform us how to best approach the task of ministering to people in need of healing. Of course, we should always be quick to lay hands on the sick and pray for their healing, believing that God can and will do it; He often does. But, leading a person to salvation can also be effective in bringing about healing, because forgiveness of sins (justification) is an essential component of the salvation work that God does in the new believer, and healing may follow. Finally, because evil spirits can cause various infirmities to manifest, it may be that, in order for healing to come, such spirits must first be either cast out or bound. We know that born-again Christians have both the authority and the power to minister in these ways, because Jesus said so: “These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18). So, let’s be bold and use the God-given power and authority that we have as believers, and see what God will do!

Further Reading

Morris Cerullo. Receiving and Ministering Deliverance. (click HERE)

Derek Prince. Spiritual Warfare: Demons of Sickness and Infirmity. (click HERE)

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Mechanics of Salvation

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The Mechanics of Salvation

James R. Aist

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)

I love to hear detailed accounts of how God has saved different folks. The details vary, but there are some aspects that are apparently universal. Of course, God knows exactly how He is going to save every one of His chosen people, and He does whatever He pleases in order to do it. Nevertheless, He has chosen to reveal to us, in His written word, some of the universal aspects concerning how He goes about saving people. This article is intended to provide answers from the word of God to an often-asked question, “How can I be saved?”

Firstly, we must recognize that we are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God (Romans 3:10-12).

Secondly, we should understand that God is in control of whom He will and will not save; salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8; Revelation 7:10; Revelation 19:1). In fact, God chose whom He would save before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Thirdly, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). No one can believe in Jesus of their own accord, apart from the Father’s influence. And all whom the Father influences in this way will be saved. One universal aspect of the Father’s influence in this regard is that He uses believers to tell unbelievers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14).

Fourthly, a person can think their way toward Jesus under the influence of the Father, but it requires a direct and singular act of grace by the Father to get them all the way to saving faith in Jesus: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And, finally, just as we are not in control of our initial salvation experience apart from God’s intervention, so also it is God Himself, not us, Who keeps us saved by His own power (1 Peter 1:4-5) and by the presence (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14) and activity (Philippians 2:13) of His Holy Spirit in us. In fact, the Holy Spirit in us is God’s guarantee that we will spend our eternity with Him in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-15).

Thus, the mechanics of salvation can be summarized in this way: We are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God. God is in control of whom He will and will not save. No one can come to saving faith in Jesus unless the Father draws him. Saving faith in Jesus is a gift from God, not a product of our efforts apart from God’s influence. And, just as it is God who saves us, it is also God who keeps us saved.

So, if you want God to save you and keep you saved, then purpose in your heart to end your rebellion toward Him, confess your sins to the Father, ask Him to give you the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ and commit yourself to put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God is faithful and just to forgive your sins (cf. 1 John 1:9) and to grant you the gift of saving faith (Romans 10:8-10). Rest assured that He will do it (John 5:24; Romans 10:13), because He chose you for salvation before the foundation of the world!

If you are interested to know how God saved me, then click HERE.

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE.)

When Grace Is Not So Amazing

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When Grace Is Not So Amazing

James R. Aist

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise!

“Grace” can be defined as receiving something good that we haven’t earned. It can be given by one person to another, and it can be given by God to anyone. Most notably, it is by the grace of God that sinners are saved from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:8), which is the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). And this is what is so amazing about grace: that the penalty for our sins was paid by God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may not perish (i.e., go to hell), but have everlasting life with God in heaven. For our part, God only requires that we believe in the One He sent, Jesus Christ, in order to receive this amazing grace (John 6:28-29). This is the real and complete Gospel of Jesus Christ in a nutshell, as summarized beautifully in John 3:16.

Sadly, false teachings and damning heresies concerning grace have crept into the Christian church. Something that is absolutely essential to the Gospel – the grave consequenses of sin – is being increasingly ignored or even denied in some of today’s Christian witness concerning grace. Many contemporary teachers and preachers are leaving sin out of their message of grace, yet calling it the Gospel. What they fail to understand is that where there is no sin, there is no need for grace. In such a scenario, grace would be neither amazing nor necessary.

At this point, I believe it would be helpful for me to provide some prominent and current examples of the kinds of “gospel compromises” I have in mind:

Abortion. Abortion clinics are being dedicated to God by clergy who claim that Jesus approves of them, whereas the Bible clearly teaches otherwise (click HERE);

Fornication. Unmarried couples living together are being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, whereas the Bible clearly teaches that they are not qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13);

Foul language. Cursing, swearing and profanity are being practiced increasingly by some Christians, sometimes even by pastors, whereas the Bible instructs us to refrain from such misuses of the gift of language (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 12:35-37; Ephesians 5:4; James 3:10);

Homosexuality. Openly and actively homosexual people are not only being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, but they are conducting homosexual “weddings”, against all that the Bible says about the sanctity of biblical marriage and the sinfulness of homosexual sexual relations (click HERE).

Of course the grace of God is available for all kinds of sin, but God will not be mocked! When evil is called good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), the grace of God does not flow, and sin remains. Moreover, if we cherish sin in our heart, God will not hear us when we call out to Him (Psalm 66:18), and that is not a good place to be in! The true Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise! And if you are wondering if obedience really fits in here, remember that Samuel said to Saul, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, a listening ear than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).” And .Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The grace of God does not make obedience optional!

So, here is the fatal flaw in such perversions of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: all have sinned and come short of the righteousness that God requires (Romans 3:23). Mankind has a “sin problem” that must be dealt with effectively before the grace of God that brings eternal life is even available. The grace of God (manifested by forgiveness) comes into play only after we have confessed our sins (i.e., we have agreed with God that what we did is a sin) and repented of that sin (i.e., solemnly resolved to not repeat it). God has offered us no other way to restore a right relationship with Himself. And when we confess our sins and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrightneousness (1 John 1:9); faithful, because He promised to forgive, and just, because Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Those who preach and teach a gospel that ignores or denies the sin problem (or specific sins) are not presenting the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a perverted counterfeit of it (2 Corinthians 11:4). The sad result is Christian churches that are becoming more like the secular world instead of more like Jesus.

The true Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with the bad news of our sinfulness and ends with the good news of God’s forgiveness of our sins. What many don’t realize is that it is the grace of God that brings both the bad news and the good news. The following phrases in the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace, state this truth wonderfully, “’twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.” Moreover, Jesus gave us an example of God’s grace bringing first the bad news and then the good news to the woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The bad news was that she had 5 ex-husbands and was currently shacking up with another man out of wedlock. Once He got her attention with those Words of Wisdom concerning her sinful ways, He was able to then move on effectively to the good news that He had for her, and many were saved because of her testimony.

Before I close, I would like to share with you a vision God gave me that reveals His heart toward people who are among the “down and out” of our society. I was sitting in my car one day, waiting for my wife to finish having her hair “done.” Along came what appeared to be a homeless man. His clothing was dirty and tattered, his head was down and he had a slow, plodding gait, as one defeated by life. As I watched him pass in front of me, suddenly his form became somewhat transparent and another man’s form was superimposed upon his. This other man was clean, well-dressed and walked with his head held high. After they had taken a few steps in unison, the image of the second man disappeared, and then I saw just the homeless man as he walked out of sight. For just a few moments, God had given me a glimpse of who He saw walking in front of me: not a disheveled, defeated and hopeless man, but a happy, successful man full of hope, the kind of man God wanted him to be! Then I received the interpretetion (i.e., the message) of the vision: There, but for the grace of God, go I!

When we speak of God’s grace to someone, let’s be sure not to water it down by compromising what it really is. When sin is at issue, tell them that God’s grace brings first the conviction of sin, and then, following confession and repentance, the forgiveness of sin. Anything less than that is not really God’s grace, and it is not amazing at all. So let us always be obedient to this instruction from the Apostle Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)