Monthly Q&A: November 2020

Q: If God’s Spirit is in us, (a) why do we still have sickness and ailments, (b) why don’t we hear God speak to us more clearly, and (c) why do we still sin?

A: You’ve asked several good questions. I will try my best to answer them as thoroughly as I can.

  1. The Holy Spirit does indeed dwell within every believer and Jesus did indeed take the wrath and punishment for ours sins. However, we shouldn’t confuse temporal consequences and ailments with eternal punishment. Just because Christ took away the eternal consequences of our infirmities (in the sense of our sickness of sin) doesn’t mean that all earthly consequences were taken away. Scripture says in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed for man to die once and then face judgment. That is true for believers as well. We are still mortal in our flesh as we have not yet been physically resurrected and therefore are still appointed to die and stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for our lives. Our sins are forgiven but we are still living in fallen bodies until the end of this age.
  2. In terms of hearing God more clearly there are several reasons this can be the case. The primary reason we may not hear God very clearly is because we have unconfessed sin in our lives. If we want to have uninterrupted fellowship with the Father we must be confessing our sins and keeping short accounts. When we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit which can certainly account for our inability to feel His promptings and leadings. In regards to answered prayer, sometimes no answer is an answer. We can’t assume that God’s every answer to our every prayer is yes. Sometimes what is best in His eternal plan may result in a no to the prayer request we have placed before Him.
  3. Christ did indeed pray to the Father that we would be one. And the Church is one. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to meet fellow believers from across the world you know that it is a strange and mysterious, yet precious thing to meet them and feel as if you’ve known them for years. That is because we are all baptized into one Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). So, we are one in the sense that the entire body of Christ is knit together by the indwelling of the same Spirit of God.
  4. The presence of God’s Spirit in us does not automatically remove from us the threat of temptation and sin. In fact Jesus, who was God Himself, was tempted in every way that we are tempted (Matthew 4, Luke 4, Hebrews 4:15). So, if Satan could tempt God Himself, how can we expect to not experience temptation when we just have His Spirit within us? The Christian life is a journey toward perfection. Perfection is not achieved in this life (Philippians 3:12) and we are still tempted to sin. However we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide and direct us as well as plead to God on our behalf when we do sin. Paul himself struggled with sin (Romans 7). It is a battle we will fight until we are called to our heavenly rest and are fully glorified as is our Savior Jesus Christ.

 


If you have a particular question you’d like to have answered, feel free to submit it via the contact page.

Monthly Q&A: September 2020

Q: If believers are free from the power of Satan (Col. 1:13), then why do they still sin?

A: In Colossians 1:13 it says that God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. In order to better understand what God has rescued us from it is helpful to go back to the original Greek. The Greek says that God has rescued us from the “ἐξουσίας” of darkness. This term refers to power and authority over something. What Paul is saying here is that God has saved us from the power that sin has over us; we are no longer dominated by sin. Before the rescue described in this verse we were slaves to sins (Romans 6:20). In Romans 6:20 Paul helps clarify the meaning of this Colossians verse. He says that while we were in slavery to sin we were “free” from righteousness in the sense that we were not slaves of righteousness. In other words, we had no choice in the matter, it was our natural state to be sinful. However, because of Jesus we are freed from the domination and “power” of sin that leads to spiritual death and compels to act. Now we are slaves to righteousness. We are free from the “power” or domination of our previous sinful lifestyle.

However, it is very important to note that we are not free from the “temptation” and “ability” to sin. In fact, Jesus himself was “tempted” to sin (Matt. 4:1-11), but he withstood the temptations. Jesus even instructed his followers, in the Lord’s prayer, to pray daily for forgiveness of sins just as they prayed for daily bread (Matthew 6:11-12). He would not have included that in a daily prayer if daily sin was not a possibility. It is important that we keep in mind the difference between “justification” and “sanctification”. Justification is the judicial declaration of our innocence on Christ’s behalf and is instantaneous when we put our full trust and faith in Jesus.

Sanctification, however, is a life-long process in which we become more like Jesus Christ. We will never reach perfection in this life and will never be free from the temptations and capacity to sin while in this body. However, we are free to fight sin and to fight the temptation to sin and we are expected to use every weapon possible, even to the point of radical measures if necessary (Matthew 18:9), to fight the fight against sin. If, in this battle, we do sin “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1) and “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The believer ill still struggle with sin throughout their earthly life (see Romans 7 for Paul’s battle with sin). But God has rescued us from the “power” that sin had over us and we are now free to swim against the current that once carried us mindlessly along.


If you have a particular question you’d like to have answered, feel free to submit it via the contact page.

Monthly Q&A: May 2020

Q: What did Paul mean when he talked about “ascending” and “descending” in Romans 10:6-7?

A: When determining the meaning of Romans 10:6-7, as is important with any biblical text, we have to look at context. The whole of Romans 10 is centered on Israel’s need for
righteousness and their inability to find it solely through the law. So these two verses, 6 and 7, have to be understood within that context. Paul is not talking about people going to heaven or hell. He is instead using personification to explain his point. Paul is attempting to demonstrate that the faith needed for righteousness is not found in the law but rather it is found in Jesus Christ. Verse 8 helps to unlock the meaning to this verse by saying that “the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”. Therefore, based on the fact that verse 8 is a counterpoint to verses 6 and 7 and speaks of the word being  close to our mouth and hearts, we can infer that what Paul is doing is trying to explain that one does not have to search long and hard for righteousness that comes from faith. God has not hidden that from us or made it difficult to find. John MacArthur, in his study Bible, has a footnote that sums this up well. It says:

“Paul speaks of the righteousness based on faith as if it were a person and puts in its mouth a quotation from Dt 30:12,13. His point is that the righteousness of faith does not require some impossible odyssey through the universe to find Christ.”

Paul is saying that the truth regarding the righteousness required by God is found in the word preached about Jesus Christ. One does not have to search high and low for it. All they must do is “confess with [their] mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in [their] heart that God raised Him from the dead, [and they] will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NASB).


If you have a particular question you’d like to have answered, feel free to submit it via the contact page.