By John Lysaught
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it ” (Romans 7:15-20, NIV)
Those verses written by Paul in Romans chapter 7, to me, are powerful and remind me that, yes, I am human, and I am not perfect. Being a Christian, sometimes I think that I have to be perfect, and if I’m not, then I’m a failure in the eyes of God. This is a thinking error on my part, and I believe a lot of Christians and those investigating whether to follow Christ fall into this error of thought and it turns them from following Christ. This verse reminds me that I’m not perfect but that by grace I’m saved and through Christ — I’m redeemed, justified and forgiven.
You see we are of sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis) when they ate the forbidden fruit. Since that event, sin has been part of the human species. Sin is a natural occurrence and to disregard the laws of God is a byproduct of our sin nature. We should not dwell on that we are of sin. We must dwell on the knowledge of grace, salvation, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, and if you think you can earn faith, that is a thinking error also.
For example Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” I have to remind myself every day that it is by grace and faith that I am a child of God. What is faith and what is grace? Well, faith is belief in the unseen. When Jesus was manifested as a man on the earth, many didn’t recognize him as the Son of God even though they saw Him in the flesh. Since He ascended to heaven, we do not have the luxury of seeing Christ in the flesh. I may not see Christ with my eyes but my heart sees him continuously each day. As for grace, it is God-given through Christ. Grace is empowerment from God that enables us to be who He created us to be and to do that which He has called us to do according to the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. Grace gives us the will and desire to follow Christ and do His will according to His plan for each of us.
I don’t dwell on sin too much nowadays. I acknowledge that I’m of sin and that sin is prevalent and that it is always trying to sneak into my life. But I don’t focus my energy on sin. I focus my energy on Christ, grace and salvation.
Look forward, not backward. Look forward, not sideways. Look up. Focus on God and the temptations of sin when it is presented to you, and it will flee from you when you call on Christ. For me, when I’m faced with a temptation to sin I will quickly pray for strength to resist those things I don’t want to do — but have the urge to do, as Paul stated. I hold fast to my faith and remind myself that temptation of sin only leads to dismal outcomes and moves me away from my relationship with Christ.
Let’s be honest though, we all sin, even when we try our hardest not to. For most people committing sin it is in minor things every day-not extreme events like robbery or murder. Daily sin occurs in actions and thoughts, like shown in Mathew 5:27-28:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Even thinking about a sinful action is the same as committing the sin. But don’t fear, even the great apostle Paul struggled with this as he stated in Romans 7:15-20.
For my unbelieving brothers and sisters and even my Christian brothers and sisters, I want to assure you that grace is the overshadowing blanket that covers us through faith in Christ. If you don’t have faith in Christ, if you’re not saved, then you are unfortunately left out of grace and ultimately heaven-destined to hell. I know this sound harsh, but the Bible states this numerous times throughout the New Testament.
For example, Romans 5:21 states: “So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
You see, sin is death and grace through Christ is life, eternal life in heaven. If you do not believe in Christ and believe and that he died for your sins (John 3.16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”), you will perish to hell for eternity.
Can you imagine eternity out of the presence of the Holy God, forever? What a horrid thought that forever and ever, you are separated from the love of Christ. Christ does not want this for you, friends. Christ wants all of His children, His redeemed to be with Him in heaven. It is not a hard choice. Either you believe that Christ died for your sins or you don’t. Your salvation is not in the hands of God, for Christ freely offers it to all and has already died for your sins. Your choice is to accept the salvation offered to you or to not accept it.
I hope that this choice scares you. It scared the heck out of me when I learned of Christ and salvation. That is why I choose Christ in my life. I want heaven. I want eternity with my Creator and eternity, with love. Hell is eternity without your Creator close to you and is without love. Satan, whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy will use all his trickery to try to convince you that you do not need Christ to go to heaven. He will distract you, trick you, and do his best to convince you that Christ is not the way, that Christ is not real, that Christ is, well, not Christ.
Listen, brothers and sisters to that little voice in your heart. That little voice in your heart is God calling you to Him. He wants you. It’s your choice though. God gave us the free will to choose whom to follow: Christ or the world and Satan. I’m not saying that if you don’t believe in Christ that you are a Satanist. I’m saying that if you don’t believe in Christ, who died for your sins, you are not a child of God by default. If you are not with Christ then you are against Christ.
Matthew 12.30: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
The choice of believing in Christ or not will ultimately determine if you will spend eternity with Him or eternity in hell with Satan and his minions. Don’t think you are too sinful to come to Christ. He died for the sins you committed. Don’t think that you can’t live a Christian life because you may sin in the future, for Christ died for those sins, too. We have every day grace through Christ. Just believe in Him. Pray. Pray to Jesus that you know you are a sinner and that you want His redemption and blood to cover your sins, past, present, and future. Pray that you want Him in your heart and to guide your life to lead you to heaven.
You don’t know when death will come to you, so make your choice now. You could expire at any moment due to an unknown disease, an accident, or some other action. No one awakens in the morning and says, “You know what? I’m going to get in a car accident today and be killed.”
So make your choice NOW.
Your eternal destination is dependent on your choice to serve Christ or not.
When you accept Christ, you will be a changed person. You will be saved and will spend eternity with Him. You will look back at your life as you progress in your growth in Christ and you will be extremely relieved that you accepted Christ into your heart.
God bless you.