Can Christians sin to the point that there is no mercy left? Is it normal for Christians to struggle with sin–even heinous or intentional sins? When Christians sin badly and for a long time, do we fall from God’s favor? Is there any comfort for the struggler? Jon and Justin consider all of this and more in today’s episode.
Semper Reformanda: Jon and Justin discuss the views of different traditions when it comes to apostasy and struggles with sin.
2 Corinthians 11:3
Ephesians 4:27, 6:12ff
James 1:13-15, 4:7
1 Peter 5:8
1 John 1:8-2:2, 3:8
Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, Justin and I talk about prodigals—those who have walked away from God. The question is, can they walk away so far that there is no grace or mercy remaining? And are prodigals normal? We look at passages in the Bible that warn us about the devil, how the devil tries to trip us up, and how we can often struggle against our own flesh and at times, lose that battle. What does it look like for a prodigal to come back into the good graces of God? It’s a lively discussion. We hope you enjoy.
Today’s conversation is really geared towards the biblical understanding of struggling with sin. We did a podcast a while back that said how much can a Christian sin? And for how long? And I would encourage you, if you have not heard that episode, you can go listen to that. We’ll put it in the show notes. This is kind of 2.0. We wanted to add to those thoughts and really provide some additional biblical arguments for those who, I think, have been influenced by bad theology for many years.
And then in our Semper Reformanda, we’re going to get specifically down into some actual documents. Semper Reformanda is the unfiltered/educational section of our ministry.
Justin, let’s talk for a moment about the Bible as it relates to this kind of situation: there is no question the person has professed Christ; they’re trusting in him, they understand that, received the sign of baptism, they are following in the biblical form of “faith alone”—and then they are ensnared into sin. First, is this a normal thing in Scripture or is this abnormal? Do we not have a lot of passages on this? How does the Bible guide us as it relates to—let’s just use a really common illustration: the prodigal. Is the prodigal a common situation amongst Christians throughout history?
Justin Perdue: Short answer: yes. It is a normal situation. With respect to the prodigal, one thought that popped into my mind is I think a lot of times people think that that parable only is illustrative of somebody coming to faith initially.
Jon Moffitt: The prodigal was not a son until he repented.
Justin Perdue: Right. He basically was not a child of God, and then he repented and became one. That’s actually not the way the parable is told. The parable is told that he is a child of God, he is a son, and he loses his senses and runs off into a foreign land, lives recklessly, and squanders everything. That, I do think, is a tremendous depiction of how we tend to struggle—even mightily—for seasons of our Christian lives. Then “comes to his senses” and says, “I’m going to go back to my father.” This is not a podcast on the prodigal son, but it’s just so encouraging the way that that parable unfolds, where the son has his pitch all planned that he’s going to come back to his father. “Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and before you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Just treat me as one of your hired servants. Let me work for you.” And of course, fast forwarding to that poignant moment when he’s approaching the household and the father sees him and runs out to him, the son begins to give his pitch. “I’ve sinned against heaven and before you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.” And before he can even get to the piece about letting him work for his father as a slave, the father says, “Bring the best robe in the house and put it on my son. Give him a ring and put shoes on his feet. Kill the fattened calf and let’s have a party because my son is found and he was lost. My son is alive again and he was dead.” It’s a beautiful picture. I think that this happens for people as they have trusted Christ, they’re living life in the church, and they fall into perhaps heinous sin, intentional sin for a season of time—they’re mired and they’re trapped in it, and are restored. God repents us. Amen. Praise be to His name.
I’m not going to bury the lead here, Jon. It is our conviction based on Scripture and the confessions that in that sort of season where we are mired in sin and trapped in it, and then of course, the restoration is coming in an obvious way as God repents us by His grace, but in that whole time, there is not a moment when we are not in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a moment where the Holy Spirit has left us. There is not a moment where we are lost and would go to perdition if we were to die in that moment. We would understand that God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable, and that as we have been united to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, as is signified by our baptism and even our ongoing union with him in the table. The Lord keeps us by faith, by His grace unto salvation.
The underlying message that we want to communicate today is that your sin, and you being mired in it as a Christian, is a normal experience. We’re not encouraging people to go sin. Of course, when we find ourselves in sin, repentance is what we encourage people toward and plead with people to. But we are wanting to continue to herald the fact that Christ has saved us even as we struggle and is inviting people back to their loving Father and to their Savior.
Jon Moffitt: The prodigal in Jesus’ illustration is a horrible repenter. He just is. We love to think about it in such a way that he repented but, no, he didn’t. He repented with penance. He realized what he had done was wrong, but he was coming back to the father with penance. I’ve said this before, but my illustration is the son starts to say to the father, “I know I’ve sinned against you and against heaven…” And then the father goes, “Okay, great, great, great. Hold on a second. Hey, can someone bring the robe? What were you saying? Hold on. Before you finish that, can someone bring the ring? Oh, and by the way, let’s get the calf going.” The reason I mention this is that the father knew what that son was about to say. The point of it is, “You are my son. Therefore, there are no requirements to remain my son.” There is a difference. Jesus uses this illustration.
To the self-righteous who won’t cling to Christ, he just gives him more law. But to the sinner, like the woman at his feet, it says your sins are forgiven. Why? Because she was trusting in Christ with her sins, which were many. And I want to say that to the believer who has found their rest in Christ, they say, “Okay, I know I can’t earn my righteousness. I know it’s by Christ’s death on the cross and his righteous imputed or given to me.” To that person, Christ says, “You are in my hand and I am in the Father’s hand; no one can take you out.” There’s nothing that can separate us from God, which is in Christ Jesus. There’s no condemnation.
Justin Perdue: Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even our sin.
Jon Moffitt: Of any kind.
Justin Perdue: Right. We will not out-sin the grace of Christ. For those of us who have been united to him by faith, we will not out-sin the grace of Christ, and God will keep us into the end—this is what we believe. The confessions bear that out and the Scriptures do as well.
Jon Moffitt: And as confessional Calvinists, we believe that the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit—once it brings to life, it cannot be snuffed out. That’s what we’re saying.
Justin Perdue: Jesus doesn’t break bruised reeds and he doesn’t put out smoldering wicks. That faith—and it might be a faint flicker—Jesus will fan that flame and he will sustain it. He’s not going to snuff it out.
Jon Moffitt: Safe in Christ literally means you are protected from condemnation because you are robed in Christ. Nothing can touch you. Now that is the reality of your final status. We always say you are saved, you are being saved, you will be saved. The illustration of our standing before Christ is declared as finished, we are being transformed into his image, we are being saved, and one day we will finally be saved, which is our glorification. Now, in that process of us remaining here on earth, there are warning passages in the New Testament. It is something we need to talk about.
Justin Perdue: It is very clear in the New Testament that Christians can sin, Christians can be mired and trapped in sin, and that to sin and to be trapped in sin is terrible for us on every level. The revealed will of God is that we would not sin, and that we would battle against it and flee from it, etc. Yet the Scriptures bear witness to the fact that we will do it, and there are words to us about such things. This might not be the one that you were planning to lead with, and that’s fine. I’m just going to throw some stuff out, and you throw some stuff out, and we’ll just see where this takes us.
1 John is great at this. 1 John 1, there’s the acknowledgement that, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We are sinners and we do sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him,” God, “a liar, and his word is not in us.” But then, 1 John 2:1-2 that comes immediately after that, John says, “I’m writing to you so that you might not sin. And if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” So in this one passage, there’s a few verses. There’s the acknowledgement of the reality of our sin, there is the acknowledgement that everybody is a sinner, and if we deny that about ourselves, then the truth is not in us. The goal is that we wouldn’t sin. But when we do, we have an advocate who is Jesus Christ, the righteous, who pleads for us before the Father—when we sin, not once we’re over it. I think that matters.
Even that passage—it’s not a warning passage so much, but it’s an acknowledgement of this reality that the believer’s life will be an ongoing fight against sin, and sometimes you’re going to sin. Christ has you then because he pleads for you in that moment.
Jon Moffitt: This is not an exhaustive list. We’ll provide these for you in our notes if you want to go read them yourself. I think we would do well to understand that once we are in Christ and his Spirit lives within us, the flesh that we now live in is not done away with. Not only that, Satan has not been finally bound where his influence is not to be seen. So to the New Testament writer who has the Spirit within them, we hear passages like 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If he couldn’t devour someone, meaning to trip them up or entangle them, then Peter wouldn’t write such words—and such strong words with such vivid pictures. Ephesians 4:27: “And give no opportunity to the devil.” What does he mean by that? Later on, he begins to explain. But the point of it is that you can be ensnared or entangled with the devil of James 4:7. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 1 John 3:8—I think you already talked about that one. 2 Corinthians 11:3: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Justin Perdue: Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This is quite a battle that we have on our hands. It’s not just against our flesh—though that’s intense. We also battle against Satan and the cosmic powers over this present darkness.
Jon Moffitt: James 1:14: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” We know our own desires are sinful. The reason we read all of this is that those warning passages are not given to unbelievers. What you also do not see in those warning passages is, “If you, who is a believer who performed such a thing, are going to now be an unbeliever.” As a matter of fact, 1 John 1:8 flat out says that if you say you’re without sin, you’re a liar. I always love to say that God, from all time, from the fall of Adam until now, has expected Christians to sin because we are dual nature now. Now we have a Spirit within us and we have our flesh. This is Galatians 5:17: the Spirit wars against the flesh, the flesh against the Spirit. This is a battle that’s going on. And it’s very clear in indication that Christians have and do fall snare to those temptations and do get devoured, meaning that they cannot be snuffed out, but they can absolutely be entrapped by sin.
Justin Perdue: I know that Galatians 6:1 has been referenced already where when any one of you is trapped or caught in sin, those who are among you who are spiritual should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, keeping watch on yourselves, lest you too fall or be tempted. But the implication of that is that this is going to happen in the church, and that then what needs to happen is such a person needs to be sought after and restored gently. And again, I think you’re having to read into the text that until that person is restored, they are apostate and are thereby in a state of damnation and condemnation, and God has left them. Where do we find that in the Scriptures that God leaves those who are His for a season of time because of their sin?
So, yes, we absolutely want to uphold the biblical teaching on sin, falling into sin, being trapped in sin, and then needing to be restored. Amen. But that period of time between the falling, being entrapped, and the restoration, that’s not a season of time where the believer is lost.
Let me just read this from the 1689 London Baptist Confession. This is chapter five, paragraph five on Divine Providence. This is a wonderful paragraph as to what we believe about God and the ways that He works and keeps us even through sin and really, really difficult times of failure. ” The perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows his own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations in the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does this to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitful illness of their hearts so that they may be humbled. He also does this to lead them to a closer and more constant dependence on him to sustain them, to make them more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes. So whatever happens to any of his elect happens by his appointment, for his glory, and for their good.” It’s a wonderful paragraph. God remains God, He remains our Father, He remains sovereign and purposeful and faithful even when we are faithless and floundering.
Jon Moffitt: Not only that, but He uses our floundering as a means to expose us to our weakness.
Justin Perdue: And to cause us to depend all the more on Him and to be humbled, lest we be self-righteous because we all tend to be.
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. There are two people that we want to talk to today for the remainder of the podcast.
Justin Perdue: Can we do just two more passages of Scripture, or at least refer to them? We haven’t cited these yet because we reference them often, but if somebody is going to press us in terms of where we go as our last bastion of defense in arguing for what we’re arguing for, it’s clear. There are two places: Galatians 5:17, which is where Paul says that the flesh and the Spirit are opposed to one another, and it keeps us from doing what we want to do, and then obviously Romans 7:15 and following, where Paul writes such famous language about wanting to do good but not being able to do it, not wanting to do evil but finding himself doing it, that whenever he wants to do good, evil lies close at hand. He doesn’t understand his own actions because he delights in the law of God and his inner man, yet he finds himself sinning. He then cries out in desperation, “I am such a wretched man. Who’s going to deliver me?” Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. It’s a very clear witness of Scripture that Christians often find themselves in that reality, in that place, and that we are dependent completely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and his righteousness for us. That’s true for us not just on our best day, but also on our worst day. Christ remains our hope and stay, our advocate, our intercessor, our righteousness, our atonement, all of that.
Okay. Now who are we talking to the rest of the time?
Jon Moffitt: There are two groups of people that we want to talk to: one, to give a warning to, and two, to give comfort to. I think the podcast has really drawn in two types of people, and then there’s going to be those people who have these in their life. The first one I want to talk to are the people who have a lot of confidence in their own flesh, they have a lot of confidence in their own discipline.
Justin Perdue: You’re talking to the self-righteous in that regard.
Jon Moffitt: Yeah. The self-righteous in that regard. I’ve been doing a lot of work and thought on this lately, and we’re not going to get into this today, but the danger I find for some people is they put their confidence in things, traditions, or rituals that have been handed down to us that are not based on Scripture. I find them enslaved into sin and often not willing to admit it, and are embarrassed of it, because they have done all the right things according to whatever the tradition says, and yet they find themselves enslaved in sin. And they stay in that sin for a very long time because self-righteousness cannot allow for weakness. It just can’t.
A lot of times those confidences are in how long they have been going to church, or how often they read their Bible, or how much Scripture they have memorized, or the disciplines of not doing this or that. Then they have a lot of confidence in saying Satan isn’t able to trip them up because their confidence is in such and such things, whether it is their own abilities to do whatever. I’ve even heard people say, “I am so shocked that I did this,” or, “I can never forgive myself for what I have done.” Which means they had a higher expectation of themselves than they should have, because to say that you can’t forgive yourself means that you knew better and you did it anyway. Paul says, “Well, but for the grace of God.”
Justin Perdue: Amen, bro. “There go I.”
Jon Moffitt: I will tell you, Justin and I are very weak men, and we walk around like weak men who are very scared of sin. I am terrified of sin. I know that Satan absolutely wants Justin and I to stumble. I feel it daily.
Now, am I having little demons jump around all over the place or am I having these demonic experiences? Me, personally, no. But my flesh and the temptation of the world is real, and I know Satan has put those there to trip me up.
Justin Perdue: Everybody is like this. I think. But for me, the battle against the flesh is always on my mind. In certain seasons, it’s obviously more heightened and more pointed than others. There are plenty of things that happened in my life that I regularly think the only thing I can chalk these experiences up to are (a) the curse or the fall in general, or (b) spiritual warfare where clearly Satan and the cosmic powers over this present darkness hate me, hate my family, hate the church. And I think those things are real. We all battle this stuff. Anybody who has read the Scripture and has tried to assess these things in his or her mind is going to conclude that this battle is intense and we are in way over our heads here. We are punching far above our weight and were it not for the grace of God, and frankly, the protection that the Lord promises to us by His Spirit in His Son… You read it earlier: John 10:28-29. Where do we pillow our heads? It’s the fact that Christ has us and is never going to let us go. He says no one can take us out—and that includes Satan, and that includes our own stupidity. We are not going to pluck ourselves from Christ’s hands and that’s the comfort. We walk around weak and we walk around vulnerable all the time.
Honestly, Christians out there, open your eyes to not only your own struggles, but the struggles of the people around you in your own local church. My goodness. It’s so clear that we are fragile and frail on our own, and the only hope that we could ever have is Christ and the fact that he’s got us.
This matters, I think, because in having this conversation about warning the self-righteous, the kind that you mentioned is legit where people who are Christians are trusting in their own performance somehow, or their own disciplines, or whatever.
There’s another kind of self-righteousness though, because self-righteousness by definition means that I’m trusting in myself, that I’m good. There are people who find themselves caught in sin, perhaps, but then they don’t want to call it sin. And so they say, “Well, I don’t really care what the Bible says about this. I don’t think it’s sin.” Conclusion.: “I’m fine. I don’t need mercy, I don’t need grace because I’m good where I stand.” That is a kind of self-righteousness that’s frightening. That is when we need to come in with the word of God, and even come in specifically with the law of God, to warn such a person that it doesn’t matter what they think about what they’re doing. Here’s what the Lord has said about it, and it’s not okay, and it will lead to their ruin lest they trust Christ.
Jon Moffitt: When 1 John says if one goes on sending, that’s what he’s referring to. If you’re rejecting the mercy of Christ and seeing what you’re doing is sin.
Justin Perdue: You’re rejecting the mercy of Christ. You don’t think you need it because you have convinced yourself that what you’re doing is not sin. Or perhaps you say, “Yeah, it is sin and I don’t care, which is just another way of saying I’m done with this and I don’t need the mercy of Christ.” This is the thing: sinners who know and acknowledge that, “I am in desperate need of grace, I’m in desperate need of mercy, and I need Christ because he’s the only one who has done for me what I could never do for myself,” to those people there is comfort. But to those who think they’re good, either in their own strength, in their own discipline, or just don’t need Jesus because they think what they’re doing is fine, there isn’t comfort there.
Jon Moffitt: We won’t see these in petty sins. People aren’t going to say it’s okay to lie or to steal or to murder. Where we do see this the most is in sexual conduct.
Justin Perdue: Totally. It almost always has to do with sex.
Jon Moffitt: That’s where you’re going to see it. Even the Bible will speak of that where the debauched nature will go and change the very nature of God to justify their sins. I think in the United States—and we’re not going to get into this today—but I think this will become an interesting place where we, with grace and mercy and kindness, uphold the law of God here; I think there could be some form of persecution as it relates to that.
Justin Perdue: Totally. There are a number of reasons why this is going to come to a head in the church and this is not that podcast. We’ll talk about that later. Just to be very clear, what we’ve tried to do in talking to the self-righteous for a moment is to be clear in what we’re saying, and also what we’re not saying. We don’t want to be misunderstood. All there ever is comfort for people who are sinning and just don’t care, or who are sinning and don’t think it’s sin, or to try to comfort people who are trusting in their own righteousness somehow. That’s not the point. That’s dangerous. But now I think we’re going to pivot to talk to another group of people that I think is much more common, at least like in the Theocast Facebook group or amongst our listeners. It’s those who are struggling and those who know that they’re sinners who are really questioning, “Could I be struggling like I am and legitimately be in Christ?”
Jon Moffitt: For the person that I think is putting a lot of confidence in themselves… because you have performed in these ways, you’re trusting in your own works and in your own discipline, these warning passages that we just read about falling into temptation and being aware of the devil, those are not disconnected from the rest of those sections, which then gives you the conclusion of how you’re protected. For instance, in Hebrews, he says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it’s called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” How is it that the writer of Hebrews says this is how you aren’t deceived by sin? It’s the exhortation of believers. We could even go to Ephesians 4 where he says when the church functions properly—the administration of God’s Word to the public, teaching and preaching is given to the church to do the work of the ministry—so that they will not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. They will not be deceived by Satan. Those are just two examples and for the sake of time, we’re not going to keep going. But those are examples of our confidence found within the local body where we are administering God’s word appropriately. That’s where we find our safety.
Justin Perdue: Our confidence is found in the local body where we’re gathering together, and we’re. partaking of the means of grace together, and we’re encouraging one another and living life together. What you’re saying dovetails beautifully with what I wanted to say here, too. What is the antidote for the person who is really struggling and is thinking, “My gosh. I’m sinning, but I don’t want to sin, but I am. I don’t know if I’ve got enough faith.” And all of these kinds of things. “Am I really in Christ? Would I struggle this way if I’m a Christian legitimately?” The antidote is never to look within whenever that happens.
You mentioned a couple of great passages. I’m going to mention another one also in the book of Ephesians. We already read Ephesians 6:12, talking about the battle that’s on our hands against cosmic powers of this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, ala Satan, and all of the powers that make up the powers of the air—to use the language earlier in Ephesians. It’s a big deal.
So then what does Paul say? “Therefore put on the armor of God.” And we’re going to do a podcast soon on the armor of God. But in short, when Paul says put on the armor of God, the exhortation is put on Christ. This war that we’re fighting against Satan and the cosmic powers over this present darkness is real. Y’all better put on Jesus because he is the only way to stand against this kind of warfare. And the things that he exhorts us to have nothing to do with us. It’s called the armor of God—I think that’s significant—but even the things he lists like having fastened on the belt of truth. Well, whose truth is that? Not yours; it’s God’s. Truth about what? Himself and us, and ultimately about redemption—and that truth centers on Christ. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Well, whose righteousness is that? It isn’t yours, I promise you. You’re going to wage war against the devil with your own righteousness. Good luck with that. But what he’s talking about clearly is the righteousness of Christ that’s been counted to us by faith. So that’s where we’d look. Put on as shoes for your feet the readiness of the gospel of peace. Well, what is that? The good news of peace—peace with God. How? Through the Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. It’s not you. Take up the shield of faith. Notice that it’s not the shield of faithfulness; it’s not your fidelity to God, it is who you are trusting? I don’t care how imperfect it is either. You might very imperfectly and weakly be trusting in the Lord Jesus, and yet the object of your faith, namely Christ, saves you. The helmet of salvation. Well, whose salvation is that? Salvation is of who? The Lord. We could go on.
That’s an antidote though: don’t look to yourself; put on Jesus and look to him, trust him, cast yourself upon him. And I think that in time, comfort will come as you continue to remind yourself of this daily, but ultimately, as you gather with saints and you sit under preaching that hopefully is going to point you to him.
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. This last few minutes that we have, Justin, I think we need to get down into the dirty section of this, to where it really gnaws at the conscience of some people in the self-righteous camp and those who are ensnared in sin. I’m praying that this podcast will be sent to people who find themselves trapped, who want to repent but they have had really bad theology given to them. Penance is what they think is necessary.
A couple of passages that we want to talk about that we alluded to in the beginning… Let’s start with 1 John 2. It says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation,” or the payment, “of our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” What is important is that every time John or the writers speak of sin, you never hear them throw a caveat, or a list of sins, or “this except for this sin”. Some people would even say that if someone commits suicide, then that sin cannot be forgiven. Then that means there’s something that can separate you from the love of God, including your own actions, which cannot be the case. Otherwise, Paul wouldn’t have said that multiple times.
I think it’s important that when we’re talking about the story of the prodigal son… he pretty much committed some serious heinous crimes against the father. We look at the apostle Peter and David. Let’s just pick out the three big ones: two being legitimate real men, one being hypothetical. You look at every single one of those stories and you don’t see God rejecting them or pushing them off for calling into question the legitimacy of the relationship of the adopted child. Just thinking about the apostle Peter… it wasn’t just cussing.
Justin Perdue: He denied the Lord Jesus Christ but Jesus is clear before it even happens: ” Satan wants to do this, he wants to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you.” There’s Christ’s intercessory work. “And when you’ve turned again, strengthen your brothers.” It’s not as though between Peter’s denial of Jesus and his turning, which I think happens pretty much instantaneously by the way, because when Peter looks at the Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus looks at him when Peter was standing in the courtyard upon his denial, he knows what he’s done. He said he would never do it, but the thing he swore he would never do, he’s done—and he’s wrecked. It’s not as though Peter’s relationship with Jesus was ever in question.
Jon Moffitt: Nathan the prophet doesn’t question David’s faith in God other than his blindness to his own sins. When you think about ensnared, devouring, deceit, there’s a cloak and dagger kind of a deal going on here. There are shadows and hiding. I think, from what we have seen from Scripture, hopefully your confidence can be in two things: one, that if you are in sin, you can have confidence in the Advocate, not yourself. You can have confidence in God’s promises. There is nothing in Scripture that would indicate of one who is in faith in Christ, even if they’re trapped in sin. If your faith is in Christ, there is no sin you cannot repent of. 1 John does not indicate in chapter one or two that there is a limit to your repentance, or that there is a sin that you cannot repent of. The only thing you can’t repent of is unbelief and that is given to you. So if you have the gift of faith that’s been granted to you by the Father, the second gift that’s been given to you is endless repentance. I know that sounds radical. They hear me say ” endless repentance” and what are they thinking I’m saying? What they’re thinking is, “Jon, if you say that or emphasize that, then people will just sin however they want.”
Justin Perdue: And there will be no skin in the game and people won’t feel the need to repent.
Jon Moffitt: You read those warning passages and how horrible sin is… that’s not the case. What I’m trying to say is that there are people who are listening to this podcast right now, and they’re like, “There’s no hope for me. I can’t do it. I’ve gone too long. I’ve gone too far. There’s too much required.” No, the kindness of the Father is leading us to repentance. His grace is sufficient. His mercy is there. You can be restored to the intimate, loving relationship, into the body of Christ.
Justin, this is why even in church discipline, at moments when a Christian is being so fooled by sin, that we have to treat them like a non-believer for a while to shock their system. It’s as if we are saying, “Do you realize what you are missing out on? The glory and the joy of the body of Christ. We’re going to have to let Satan have his way with you so when you are fully sapped and you’re dry, we’re going to refresh you with mercy again.”
Justin Perdue: Even in that sense, church discipline is a means of restoration, and that’s how God gave it to us. It’s not a weapon to bludgeon people with. It’s an instrument of restoring sinners because that’s what God’s in the business of doing.
Jon Moffitt: Justin, going over, we have already discussed that there are traditions that have different opinions on this. Some of these traditions are very old; some of them are new. We’re going to look at the varying traditions that have different perspectives on apostasy and assurance. That is going to be a part of our Semper Reformanda podcast, a.k.a. class.
For those of you that would like to join what we are doing, you can do so by joining Semper Reformanda. That is a ministry that has two parts to it. It’s a podcast where Justin and I continue the conversation on a deeper unfiltered level, where we let you in on the backside of the conversation. And then number two, we have groups that you can join either online or locally, where you can then discuss this podcast with other listeners in your area. These groups are being formulated and we should be launching them by now. If you would like to start one or be a part of one in your local area, just go to theocast.org, and you can learn more about that.
Justin, it was a good conversation, my friend. We have a lot coming our way. I’ll just throw this out there. You and I are getting ready to do a book study or a book review of Lordship salvation with John MacArthur’s book. That’s coming up.
Justin Perdue: Or at least an episode on Lordship where we’ll talk some about it.
Jon Moffitt: Yup. And then armor of God. We’ve got some good stuff. I just wish that we could record more than once a week, but this is what we can do.
We’ll see you guys next week.
Justin Perdue: See you.