“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud’” (2 Peter 2:18-22).

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As I was taking a shower, sometime around 10:20, this evening, God said to speak of a counterfeit promise. I ended the post I published last night Eye of the Needle by referring to the counterfeit promise of freedom described in 2 Peter. “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud’” (2 Peter 2:18-22). I asked God, “God, am I writing another blog post tonight?”

I wrote in Hollow and Deceptive Philosophy:

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” Romans 5:18-19). If God finds fault with nothing, and accepts everything, then Jesus is irrelevant, because there is no need for a savior where there is no trespass. On the other hand, if God condemns as the result of any single trespass, then, again, Christ is irrelevant, because there is no need for a savior where grace does not abound. Finally, a god that finds fault with nothing, except for acts reserved as especially grievous by a society, is nothing more than an idol created out of collective norms. The human incarnation of God, Christ Jesus, demonstrates the true manifestation of the character and love of God.”

I can’t help thinking about what Paul said about the man caught in an affair with his stepmother in 1 Corinthians 5, to “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (5). In other words, turn the man back into the world, so that he may reap the consequences of his rebellion, along with estrangement from a loving association with the church. Under such distressing circumstances, if there remains a remnant of conscience, the rogue brother might be brought to repentance; a story not unlike that of the Prodigal Son. And like the Prodigal Son, when the offender in 2 Corinthians came to his senses, and repented (may have been the same man), Paul urged the church to forgive and comfort him, lest he be swallowed up with excessive sorrow and Satan gain an advantage. Grace admonishes; grace restores.

Grace is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. (1 Peter 2:16). I suspect the notion that “once saved always saved” allows continuing in sin is a lot like the controversy Paul was addressing in Romans 3. Paul’s response in verse 8 leaves no doubt about his position on abusing God’s abounding mercy: “Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—’Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!” I have been set free from sin and have become a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Therefore, I cannot unrepentantly persist in my old ways, for my old self is dead. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Grace is transforming me. Grace is not content in leaving me as I was before, and the world will recognize me by the fruits of that transformation (Matthew 7:16-20).

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