“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).
“But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—’Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:5-8). In response to the objector, in the hypothetical argument Paul is posing here, the apostle says outright that the condemnation of people who engage in this kind of thinking is well-deserved. A slanderous claim leveled against the gospel of grace then, and in much the same way, continues to be propagated today. Paul finally crushes this egregious abuse of God’s grace later in Romans 6.
How to preach the Good News is no mystery. God has provided His people with a pattern to follow in scripture. If we, the church, would share the Good News, in word and deed, to those outside the church following the pattern of the first apostles, and similarly, would deal with those inside the church following the pattern of the first apostles, then yes, we would surely offend many, the self-righteous along with “the unrighteous”; we would likely lose congregates, we would certainly be made uncomfortable and suffer unpopularity, but we would be operating in the Spirit and no longer walking in the flesh. However, a hurdle we, the church, must overcome, first, is our love of our own wickedness, and that’s going to sting a bit. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20). If we, the church, are walking in the Spirit, then we won’t be able to help being fruitful, because God will be fruitful through us. The lost will be drawn to us, and the weeds will fall away; the fire will bring our work into the light (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).
When I came to Christ, I brought all my sins with me. I was not worthy then, and I am still not worthy now, at least not in of myself, but Christ has made me worthy through Himself. “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25). Some people believe that the struggle Paul is describing was prior to his conversion, while others believe that he’s referring to struggles as a believer; the Christian struggle. Precisely where the struggle Paul wrote about falls, within the grand scheme, I may never know on this side of heaven, but what I do know is that I can relate. The freedom from sin accomplished for me in my spirit manifests as repentance in my physical life.
Those of you touting a counterfeit Jesus, you’re spiritually blind—those who heard the gospel but have no love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 2 Timothy 2:25-26). You’re much like the slanderers Paul addressed in his day. Therefore, your heart is not in the right place; your intentions are not good; no, you’re content in your own wickedness. “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:20-21). My heart yearns heavenward, while my flesh yearns earthward, and that conflict is painful; I confess that so many times I stumble. Yet I find the struggle cause for encouragement, for it testifies to the Holy Spirit’s work underway within me. Sanctification is a process; a theme found throughout scripture (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Peter 3:18). I’ve written before that some people say that prayer doesn’t work, but I have a callus on each knee that says it does.
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