Good morning, and a most blessed Thursday to you.
In our time of devotion together today I want to address something on my heart.
We just completed a small group study on various cults that claim to be Christian, but are not. Some of them deny the trinity. They don’t believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Or they deny salvation through Christ. Or they deny the two natures of Christ; that he is fully God, and fully man. Or they deny the Bible is God’s Word; our only source of truth.
One aspect of these cults has been on my mind lately. It has to do with how these members find or view salvation. Also, knowing that they may use a lot of the same words we use, but they define those words very differently than true Christianity.
Here’s a perfect example from the teachings of one particular cult we studied in this class. This cult has a sort of program for salvation. And part of that is to confess sins, and repent. As a Christian people we would agree with that. We are called to confess and repent of our sins. And we are promised that God forgives us our sins, and we are freed from our sins through Christ; through the work that he has done for us on the cross and in his resurrection. But where this cult goes off the rails is in their definition of repentance. They teach that repenting is confessing your sins, and then never committing that sin ever again. They must be absolutely perfect from then on.
But we know that as Christian people we will be tempted. We know that when we are tempted, that by God's grace and mercy and his indwelling Holy Spirit, he gives us strength to stand. But there are times we do fall. Paul writes about this in Romans, where he says, “I do the things I don't want to do. And I don't do the things that I do want to do.” It’s that struggle that we have constantly. We are simultaneously both saint and sinner. We struggle between the old Adam and old Eve, and the new creation that we are in Christ as children of God. And this side of heaven, we will always have that struggle between spirit and flesh. This cult teaches not only that you should be perfect after repentance, but also that if you sin again, the guilt and weight of all the sin you previously repented of, come piled right back on top of your head.
As a pastor and theologian this false teaching deeply concerns me. My heart aches for those people who are caught in that cult; whether they were born into it, or deceived into it through cult missionaries. It breaks my heart to think that these people have no comfort or source of hope, because they're told that when they turn to the Lord (which they denied the Triune God) and ask for forgiveness, if they sin again then they are denied forgiveness of the sins that they already asked for forgiveness for. That's not what God's Word says. That's not what God's Word teaches us. That’s not who God is.
In Psalm 103:12 we read. “As far as the East is from the West, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” When we confess our sins… when we repent of our sins, they are gone. They have been covered with the blood of Jesus Christ, and we are forgiven. He has already risen triumphant over our sins. We have been baptized into that salvation… into that promise that our sins are forgiven.
I am so thankful that we know the true God. We know God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that we have been given the source of all truth. I am so thankful that our hearts have been opened… that our ears have heard the call of the Lord. I’m thankful that the Spirit has indeed called and gathered us to be his own… to know the truth… to know Christ, and to know God the Father and the love that he has for us. I’m thankful that we have this in our lives. I am thankful that God has promised to use us to serve him by sharing his truth with those who have not heard… and have not experience, and not known the true gift of the Gospel. So in our time of prayer today, I want to pray for those souls who have been misled and misdirected and continue to be punished daily… because they cannot be perfect in the weight of their sin that they must carry with them. I hope that God will use us, and give us the opportunity to share the freeing truth with these people who haven't known God as he truly is; and as he is and the loving and merciful God that he is.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you so much. We thank you for your goodness. We thank you for your eternal goodness and sovereign grace. Lord, we thank you that you have called us to be your own. We thank you that you have washed us in baptism… forgiving us of our sins. Lord, we thank you for freeing us from the penalty and guilt of our sin. And we thank you for freeing us from the eternal wrath and punishment of our sins. Lord, we ask that you would help us to speak your comforting truth… your comforting word to those who have not heard it… who have not known you as you are Lord, we ask that our eyes would be open to those that you bring into our lives who need to hear your Word… that our eyes would be open to those suffering unduly, when they can be freed through your son. Lord, we thank you and we ask that you would lead us every day. Guide us to do your will. Guide us to love the people around us, and guide us to proclaim your goodness everywhere we go. When we are tempted to sin, use your spirit to give us strength. And if we do sin, we ask that you would give us assurance that our transgressions are removed as far from us as the east is from the west, by your Son alone. Lord, we thank you and we praise you; giving you all glory in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have an amazing rest of your week, and I will look forward to worshiping the true God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, this Sunday with you.