Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: There Is No Genuine Conversion Without Genuine Conviction of Sin

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

There Is No Genuine Conversion Without Genuine Conviction of Sin

“5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:5-16).

There is a deep, unsettling shallowness within much of professing Christianity. The depth of this shallowness goes much farther than the mere ignorance of the Word of God and apathy towards the things of God. This ignorance of the Word of God and apathy towards the things of God manifested in this shallowness are merely symptoms of a much more serious spiritual problem. That problem is the problem of self-deception regarding pseudo conversions and false professions of faith in Christ. The primary reason for this shallowness is the reality that many people have prayed a prayer, walked an isle, and been dunked in some water when in reality they are still lost in trespasses and sin. The problem is a false sense of conversion because there was no real heartfelt spiritual conviction of sin.

This problem of pseudo faith and false professions is not new to the Church Age. It has been the problem that is the distinguishing characteristic of failure at the end of every dispensation of God. Each Dispensation ending with the transitioning of God’s people from low expectations to no expectations. This is what ultimately defines apostasy resulting in the reprobation of succeeding generations of people who call themselves children of God without any real conviction of sin, no connection to His expectations of how they live, or having owned the responsibilities that belong to those who have been redeemed.

We fine this to be true at both the endings of the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of Church Age. We find this to be a spiritual constant throughout Scriptures of the dynamic of apostasy as Christ answers the question why He spoke in parables. We also find it is this same dynamic of apostasy that will exist at the end of the Church Age with the “lukewarm” apostate church of Laodicea. In both cases, we see some readily recognizable characteristics of apostasy.

“10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (those who had rejected the gospel in the Law and apostated themselves} it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (Matthew 13:10-17).

“14 And unto the angel {messenger or pastor} of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).

There is an obvious pattern that we can see in Matthew 13:10-17 and Revelation 3:14-22 regarding the primary condition of professing believers who are false believers at the end of these two Dispensations. The reason this shallowness, that manifests a false profession, continues to go unchecked is primarily the fault of well meaning preachers who tend to prop up people living obviously shallow lives by giving them a false assurance of salvation by teaching them the doctrine of eternal security when they should be teaching them to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (II Corinthians 13:5)? Every dispensation of God seems to end with the leaders of God’s people progressively lowering God’s standards of separation and holiness allowing for ever decreasing expectations of those who call themselves children of God.

This is clearly what the Apostle John does in his first epistle. He, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives a number of ultimatums regarding the reality of a person’s profession of faith and the resulting regeneration. These statements of the Apostle John are not intended to add Moralism or Ritualism to the requirements for salvation. They are intended to provide us with spiritual evidences of the manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).

“3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4).

“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now” (I John 2:9).

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).

“Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (I John 2:23).

“4 Whosoever {habitually} committeth sin {habitually} transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him {habitually} sinneth {linear present active indicative} not: whosoever {habitually} sinneth {linear present active articular participle} hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man {habitually} deceive {present active imperative} you: he that {habitually} doeth {present active participle} righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that {habitually} committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth {linear progressive present active indicative, “he has been sinning from the beginning”} from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not {habitually} commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever {habitually} doeth {linear present participle} not righteousness is not of God, neither he that {habitually} loveth {present active participle} not his brother” (I John 3:4-10).

The Scriptures are permeated with warnings regarding false faith, hypocritical professions, false teachers, and false believers. The purpose for these hundreds of warnings regarding these issues is the warning about self-deception and about being deceived by others. If Satan can accomplish a false sense of security in someone’s live through deception, he has accomplished more than he ever could through causing doubt. When someone doubts, they continue to look for security. When someone is deceived into a false security, that person rests in that false security. He wrongly thinks he is safe from God’s judgment. The Apostle Jude warns of these false teachers and three patterns of apostasy.

“11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1:11-23).

In Jude 1:11, we find three revealing characteristics of those who live in the pretense of a false profession of faith. These three characteristics reveal in detail what defines spiritual apostasy.

1. “gone in the way of Cain”: murderous hatred for all those that stand for Truth and who are true to the Word of God (this is manifested by attitude more than actions; these people to not like believers whose beliefs are anchored to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures intent upon living those Truths in a jot and tittle manner before the Lord)
2. “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward”: Balaam covetously used his position and calling as a prophet of God to advance his own agenda and gain wealth for himself (these are the Mega Church gurus of fluff & stuff Cotton Candy Theology; these jokers see people as merchandise and Church services as their personal harvest field)
3. “perished in the gainsaying of Core”: Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company, in Numbers 22 is the rebellion against the way God wants things done and putting one’s own way of doing things in place of what God commands (this is the pragmatism that measures God’s approval by the results/numbers produced rather than by unity in doctrine, purpose, and practice)

What can this kind of pseudo-Christianity expect from the Lord? It can expect the same response to apostasy that God had patterned for thousands of years. It can expect judgment. We are standing upon the horizon of a repeat of history. We can expect that God will soon separate the wheat from the tares and begin with a new remnant of faithful believers.

“1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:1-9).

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