Our happy little home experienced a rude awakening recently when we discovered the nightmare of toxic black mold for the third time in just one year. The first time we found it, the contractors remediated for 37 days and the landlord gave us clearance to return home. Everything looked good on the outside of the walls but within a few weeks, it was back. This time, a quick fix was said to solve the problem. Fast forward to a few months ago and it was the same thing all over again. After a year of dealing with toxic mold, and a combined eight weeks living a hotel, we were having a hard time believing that the root issue was being addressed. Though we wanted to take the contractor’s and landlord’s word for it, we chose to move out and move on. Ultimately, my wife and I may never know what caused the black mold to spread like an unstoppable fungal army, but until the core of the issue is discovered once and for all, it will be back.

Much like a bad case of black mold, the sin of sloth can be a serious reoccurring issue for your spiritual life. If you don’t get to the core issue behind the sin of sloth, it’ll keep blindsiding you with a vengeance. Many people may think to themselves, “I’m busy, and successful. Therefore, I don’t struggle with the sin of sloth.” But did you know that some of the busiest and most successful people are also the most slothful? The sin of sloth is not merely related to physical laziness as many wrongly assume.

DEFINING THE SIN OF SLOTH

The Bible describes sloth (or slothfulness) in both physical and spiritual terms. The picture you get in the Bible is no different than the picture in your mind of the animal, the Sloth. Imagine a plump, cuddly, sleepy eyed, furry animal that does nothing more than sit in a tree while snacking on leaves. A sloth doesn’t move much, and is motivated even less! Sound like your spiritual life sometimes? Scripture has plenty to say on the slothful sluggard and these can be easily applied to many aspects our daily lives:

  • Slothful people want, want, want. But never do, do, do.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.

  • Slothful people have a lazy work ethic which makes them a spectator to other’s success.  

Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

  • People will actually look at a slothful person and think, “Don’t be THAT guy.”

Proverbs 24:30-34 I passed by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; 31 and behold it was overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.

  • Slothful people watch their life cave in due to a lack of diligence.   

Ecclesiastes 10:18 Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.

Augustine defined sloth as, “The refusal to respond to our opportunities for growth, service, or sacrifice.” Michael Mangis defines sloth as, “The antithesis of worship. Sloth is the neglect of the greatest commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Sloth is essentially the sin of not doing the thing we ought to do in any given situation.

Neglecting to do what we ought to do manifests itself in various forms. Maybe we don’t feel lazy when we’re busy at work, but are we working on the right things? Maybe we don’t feel lazy when we wake up and tackle the to-do-list, but are we doing the right things first? The sin of sloth is a sneaky foe and feeds off one thing, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, here are just several ways that the sin of sloth rears its ugly head:

  1. Lukewarm faith
  2. Self-centered prayers
  3. Lack of empathy (apathy)
  4. Cowardice in doing the right thing
  5. Bitterness
  6. Boredom
  7. False busyness
  8. Complacency
  9. Excessive vacation
  10. Excessive recreation

That’s quite a list. It’s time to peel back the layers and see what’s ultimately at the root of this toxic sin.

DIAGNOSING THE SIN OF SLOTH

So what is the underlying core sin that draws us into the lazy lull of sloth?

The Worship of Self.  img

Sloth wants comfort, ease, and the path of least resistance in both physical obligations and spiritual necessities. Sloth wants comfort for self and indulgence for the flesh. Sloth ignores instruction, scoffs at legitimate needs, and rolls the eyes at self-discipline. Sloth causes indifference to the needs of others, not because we are too busy to care, but because we care more about ourselves than others. Sloth keeps us from picking up the phone to pray with others, not because we don’t know what to say, but because we selfishly won’t take the time to think through what to say. Sloth won’t let us off social media or the couch to tend to spiritual needs, not because we’re just lazy, but because we worship the mental departure that entertainment provides. Sloth prohibits us from true rest, not because we are appropriately busy, but because we put confidence in our own strength. We hold on to misery like a crutch, not because we’re a victim, but because we love the attention and empathy that misery brings us. This is the essence of self-worship and it’s brutally convicting when we realize just how much self we worship.

Thankfully, the cross of Calvary and the resurrection of Christ provided everything we need to push back against sloth and resist this deadly sin. 1 John 1:9 reassures, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

While turning to Christ is only spiritual solution to sloth, the Bible offers practical instructions for living in such a way that leaves little room for sloth. In a portion of Romans 12 on Christian service, we find 4 evidences of a transformed life, and 4 ways to get biblically busy. Think of this as both the heart transformation, and the behavior modification. If we aim to live our lives this way under the grace of God and with the strength He provides, we are proactively dealing with the root of sloth.

A BIBLICALLY TRANSFORMED LIFE

For committed Christians the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s residence in our life is a transformed life of worship. There is no way we can deal with the sin of sloth without first experiencing the finished work of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit through salvation. Then, and only then, will we ever have the desire to glorify God abandon our self-worship. Paul starts this beautiful chapter on Christian service the only way that makes sense – by focusing first on true Christian worship.

  1. Ponder Your Salvation

Romans 12:1a – “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God…”

Paul tells Roman Christians in need of deeper theological roots to find motivation for the following instructions by remembering their own salvation. Whether finding fruit or seeing our sin, pondering your salvation leads to motivation!

  1. Present Your Body

Romans 12:1b – “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

This is a once for all presentation! You don’t waiver on it. Like an Old Testament priest yielding the offering on the altar before God, this is an act of reverence. Acceptable means fully agreeable, and well-pleasing. So ask yourself? Do I vacillate back and forth on viewing my body as an instrument of holy, sacrificial worship? Is God smiling in full agreement with my presentation of praise, and my actions? How do I serve, socialize, and sleep? Christians who have a high view of God and the right view of self, will desire a life of worship that is pure. We will all miss the mark of holiness (Romans 3:23), but that is not a license to sin (Romans 6:1). If Christian men and women will live and look differently at the holy presentation of their bodies on both the inside, and the outside, our lives will look different than the world around us. The world declares, “Satisfy your flesh! Conquer what you most desire.” A Christian knows that the body is not for flaunting curves, or satisfying the flesh, it’s for worshipping Christ!

  1. Preserve Your Mind

Romans 12:2a – “And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Paul doesn’t add a lot of fluff here. He is plainly saying: don’t be conformed, be transformed. Satan’s singular goal is to pollute your mind in order to conform you to the worlds system. But for the Christian, union with Christ means we’ve died to the world’s system. You can look moral and act moral on the outside, but the mind is the last great spiritual battle ground! The word of God has to be your lifeline in this fight or you’ll be a casualty. The word for transformed is the same word that we get our English word, metamorphosis. It’s a wholesale change. That’s the Holy Spirit inside changing you by God’s word. When our life is centered on God’s word, it changes everything! Want the best remedy for sin? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The more God’s word fills your heart and mind, the less room for worldly-minded ways.

  1. Prove God’s Will

Romans 12:2b – “that you may be prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The #1 question asked of most pastors is, “What is God’s will for me?” There it is in the previous verses. Spiritual security, physical purity, and a mind full of God’s word.  If you look across the N.T., most passages on God’s will can be tied to one those three things. Nothing accomplishes God’s will in your life more than presenting your whole self to God as an act of worship.

Finally, let’s jump down a few verses to Romans 12:9-13 and summarize Paul’s instructions on service as application points. Volumes of commentaries have been written on Romans so this isn’t to oversimplify rich truth, but rather, to offer sloth-killing steps to getting biblically busy.

A BIBLICALLY BUSY LIFE

  1. Get Over Yourself

Romans 12:9-10 – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…”

As clear as it could ever be in the Bible: Love others, hate sin. In short, get over yourself. You won’t get that anywhere else but the word of God. Paul knew this was the best way to be a biblically busy Christian. The world says choose your gender, get yours, blaze your trail, don’t take no for an answer, and create your own reality. You. You. And more you! But Christians are called to be selfless.

  1. Get Involved in Ministry

Romans 12:11 – “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…”

Just a few verses prior Paul had explained that the body of Christ is meant to use spiritual gifts in the measure of faith that has been given. No wonder. The best way to push back against the sin of sloth is to get involved in selfless ministry.

 

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  1. Get the Right Perspective

Romans 12:12 – “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer…”

The sin of sloth of a comfortable, cozy, live-in-the-now way of life. When we’re in a trial, sloth wants to throw in the towel. When we are tired, sloth says prayer is useless. Beat it back by focusing on heaven and prayer! This is the epitome of the church. We are aliens, just passing through, bored with the temporal, passionate for the eternal, living for His reward, and trusting His word! Missions trips, evangelism, discipleship, benevolence, pioneering new ministries, community outreach, prayer meetings, children’s ministry, trials, suffering, persecution, and loss are all ways that God uses to refresh our perspective of Christ’s return and heaven to come. Sloth can’t survive where heaven is the focus!

  1. Get More Relational

Romans 12:13 –“contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

Paul uses a communal word that conveys sharing with, sharing in. When someone is in need, Christians are benevolent, when Christians have abundance, they’re responsible for finding needs to meet. Practicing hospitality is crystal clear, and Paul has in mind a pursuing love of strangers! In the church, people need you and you need people. Outside the church, people need you and you need to reach them. There is no such thing as lone-ranger Christianity. The sin of sloth lies and whispers, “You deserve this, this belongs to you, every man for himself, keep to yourself.” Satan knows he can infiltrate our ranks through indifference to others and preference for self. Kill slothful self-worship by focusing on others.

An evangelist once urged a crowd to passionately live for Christ’s purpose above their own. His words beg the question. Will you trade the world’s self-centered and slothful system for the glory of God through the Great Commission? He asks,

“What will you be like as a Christian ten years from now? Many will be walking with Christ and serving Him in various capacities around the world, but for others there will be a tragedy because ten years from now they will have lost their burning zeal and love for Christ. Not necessarily because they wanted to or because they set their heart in rebellion against God’s will, but because they set their life by the world’s agenda. Then Christ and His Great Commission gradually dims.”

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Posted by Costi Hinn

Costi is the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Mission Bible Church in Orange County, CA. Costi is married to the love of his life Christyne, and has two children. You can follow him on Twitter @costiwhinn.

8 Comments

  1. Great word! This is a topic that is not discussed enough. I’ve been noticing more and more Christian people getting lazy or slothful. Thanks for sharing this man!

    Reply

    1. Glad you found it helpful Alex!

      Reply

  2. May I offer a differing opinion based on the Gospel. There is an underlying theme in many church systems (the church organization not the body of Christ) that the church – the body of Christ – must get themselves right before God will move for them – that they must examine themselves for sin and be constantly on guard in order to be pure before God and that they must question their salvation which is a promise and the will of God for those who have faith in the One whom He sent. And as I stand in the power of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – I tell you that this is not the message of the Gospel – that this message and messages like these place the church back under the curse of the law – and any teaching that claims self examination is the way, the truth and the light denies the cross and the grace, mercy and plan of God for the church. I encourage you not to take my word for it but examine your bible as I will give some examples to why I am saying what I am saying.
    First, understand that there are truths and relevant truths in the bible and while everything in the bible is profitable, not everything in the bible is meant for the church. Old testament truths – such as the examples you provided are no longer relevant truths for the church today because of the exchange at the cross. The church, which was created after the Jews rejected Jesus as their King, is under a new covenant – the Melchizedek Covenant or Covenant of Grace. The church was never under the Mosaic Covenant of Covenant of the Law, this was fulfilled by Christ Jesus – paid for by His sacrifice on the cross for us. So the question is: Is Slothfulness a sin – well – definitely yes – because you can see the scripture stated above. Then the question is: If sloth is a sin then what do I do as a Christian? The answer is quite simple, but lets look at a few other things first. In the old testament, the law is introduced to the 12 tribes of Israel in Exodus 24 when God called Moses to the summit of Mt. Sinai where he stayed for 40 days and 40 nights. In Exodus 34, Moses was presented the tablets of the law. During the time of the Mosaic covenant – until the exchange at the cross – the Jews lived under the law – therefore the Jews were bound to the rules of the 10 commandments, the traditional law and the ceremonial law. During this time the rule of law dictated to the people of Israel – do good get good – do bad get bad. That is a truth of the bible, but it is not a relevant truth today after the cross. In Deuteronomy 6:3-6: “Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” Pay attention to who God is speaking to: Hear O Israel – He is speaking to the nation of Israel – the Jews, not the church, from the principles of the law that they shall love the LORD (One who holds covenant with man) your God with all your heart. He was not speaking to the church – the body of Christ – because it did not exist at that point in time and it is not meant for you today. In Matthew, Mark and Luke – the expert of the law, presumably a Pharisee Rabbi, stood up and asked Jesus: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment of the law?” Simple question – but look at it more closely – the so called expert – only saw Jesus as teacher – Rabbi – not the Lord God. The question was a test – not a confession – not revelation. So Jesus, answered the man what he already knew – the law. The expert was not looking for a Savior, did not recognize the King of Kings who was standing in front of him, who had come for the lost sheep of Israel to establish His kingdom on earth in the heart of Israel – Jerusalem. If you look at your bible you will see this theme with everyone who approached Jesus as something less than He was – Lord God. The Pharisee – the young ruler – the Sadducee – none saw Jesus for who He was. Even the woman from Canaan, who begged for her daughter approached Jesus as King of the Jews – Son of David to which Jesus correctly replied – I come for the lost sheep of Israel. Only when she approached Him as Savior did she receive His grace and mercy for her daughter. And that mercy was instantaneous – without qualification – without justification – without confession – and without repentance (as most churches define repentance today). So if loving the Lord God with all our heart was not meant for the church: then what does apply to us – the church. So here it is in all its beauty – so beautiful I am brought to tears when I read it: Ephesians 5:24-28 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. Can you see the sacrifice – what God gave up to reconcile us to Him – what perfect love Jesus had for us when He was crucified on the cross and exchanged His life for ours. Did you notice in the scripture it says nothing about wife love your husband, but rather for the wife to submit – but only submit to a husband under God, who loves his wife as he loves his body. Therefore, it is easy to submit to someone who loves you with all their heart. Now see the relationship of our Lord Jesus with us as His bride – it is the love of Jesus – who loves us with all His heart which brings us to submit to Him – in love – in purity – in faith. It is His love for us which floods our spirit until our cup runs over and when we submit to Him our Bridegroom can we allow that abundance of love to flow from us to our loved ones – our wife – our husband – our children – our friends – strangers – each other.
    So what does this have to do with the sin of slothfulness? Everything. Our relationship with the Father, through faith in Christ Jesus, is the will of the Father – John said it and Jesus said it when asked, “What must we do to do the works of God.” Jesus answered: “Believe in the One in whom He sent.” Yes it is that simple – believe in Jesus – have faith in the word made flesh and you are seen as obedient, perfect, righteous, holy and your name is not blotted from the book of life. It is not nor will it ever be about your self examination of your life and what you must do to change it – you cannot do it by yourself or with your friends or get a self help course to improve your life anyway – because Jesus is the vine and you are the branch. You can do nothing without Him. So doctrine which has you self examine your actions is actually denying the exchange at the cross – it is saying the blood isnt good enough to save you – that you must change yourself in order to be pleasing to God – and that JUST IS NOT TRUE. Sin is not what separates us from the Lord God – but self works will because it denies the cross. Look at the story of Cain and Able. Cain worked the fields and brought God tributes of his own works which did not please God – Able who tended his flock brought the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb (see the type and shadow). Cain’s works were noble but his sacrifice to God should have been a pleasing sacrifice of innocent blood and not his works – this cannot be more clear.
    1 John 1:9 reassures, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Here John is speaking to a body of Christians who are being subjected to false teaching – to the point that the church is being taught that there is no sin. So, how do we reconcile Gods promise to remember your sins no more to what is stated in 1 John 1:9? Look at 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. Romans 3:23: All have sinned and fall short of glory. What John is combating is the false teaching that there is no sin and if we accept that teaching we are saying that God is a liar (impossible) and that His word is not in us – questioning the salvation of the church (body of Christ). So then how do we reconcile Hebrews 8:12, where God promises: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”. to what John says about confession – why confess what God no longer remembers? Did God lie about this? Certainly not! What John is telling this church, is that one who has faith in Jesus has humbled themselves by acknowledging, declaring, speaking out freely that we have all sinned (the verb), we are all sinners (the noun) without the Savior. John is speaking about the transition from being a Jew or a Gentile to profess one’s self faith in Jesus Christ as a believer. That is your confession of faith – Lord, I cannot do this on my own, I need you, I have faith in you who was sent by God, who is fully God, was crucified on the cross, dead and buried, raised to glory on the 3rd day and ascended into heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father. This is not confessing your sin from sin to sin – if you believe that you are falling prey to the false belief that the promise of God is actually a lie. And as faithful Christians, we know that we can only count on the promises of God. Even the blood of bulls and goats was good to atone for one year. The blood of Jesus washes us clean continuously and forever. So these things are a fruit of the relationship with God the Father through faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus was obedient in our place, He was industrious in our place, He died poor so we could be rich, God turned His back to Jesus so that we would ever see the face of our Father – so the fruit of the relationship through faith in Christ Jesus are things like, love, obedience, patience, engagement in good works, perfection, holiness, righteousness, and worthiness. If you see a brother or sister who may be falling victim to slothfulness – help them find their way back by reminding them of who they are: A good example is how Paul corrects the church at Corinth. He reminds them that THEY are the saints who will come back with Jesus to judge the world – that they will judge the angles. So Paul thought the best way to correct the church was to remind them who they are – not have them self examine which would put them back under the law and self works.
    1. Get Over Yourself – agree – look to the cross and have faith in Jesus that His works are finished and you may rest in His arms. Rest does not equal do nothing. However, your faith in Jesus and the relationship He builds with you will produce good works.
    2. Get Involved in Ministry – yes – Start with your family – never step over family to do for strangers – start with family first, The best person to teach your children about God is you – the faithful believer.
    3. Get the Right Perspective – deny self works and perceive that Jesus has finished the work for you and produces the fruit of good works in you.
    4. Get More Relational – The relationship starts with the Father through faith in Jesus. It’s dependence is on Him not on you. You benefit from His love, His righteousness, His Holiness, and His finished works.
    Lukewarm faith
    Self-centered prayers
    Lack of empathy (apathy)
    Cowardice in doing the right thing
    Bitterness
    Boredom
    False busyness
    Complacency
    Excessive vacation
    Excessive recreation
    None of these things, listed above separate you from the Father through faith in Christ Jesus, because it isnt your sin which separates you from God. However, if you take the introspective approach of self examination, self help or self works then you are back under the law – even the smallest leaven flattens the bread. You no longer are resting in the finished works of Jesus and your are denying the cross – your sacrifice becomes your own works just like Cain and without Jesus as your sacrifice – there is no sweet smelling aroma to go up to God.

    Amen,
    J Arnn
    Jewish studies for Christians

    Reply

  3. John,

    Thank you for your extensive response and unique perspective. I completely agree that we need to look at sin in light of the gospel. Great truth! That being said, one unfortunate oversight makes your aforementioned opinion obsolete since we agree on the premise: the entire post is, in fact, in light of the gospel. In the final portion of your response you failed to include the prefaced section from Romans 12:1-2: A Biblically Transformed Life. Perhaps you overlooked it? I hope this brings comfort to you and affirms that the gospel is held in the highest regard when examining our sin and testing our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

    On another thing to note is that you’ve contradicted yourself in saying,”First, understand that there are truths and relevant truths in the bible and while everything in the bible is profitable, not everything in the bible is meant for the church. Old testament truths – such as the examples you provided are no longer relevant truths for the church today because of the exchange at the cross.you’ve stated that everything in the Bible is profitable for the church, but not every is for the church.”

    I assure you that Paul disagrees. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Most scholars are in whole-hearted agreement that Paul has the OT in mind here since the NT canon is clearly not completed. Therefore, the OT is relevant to the church as it is useful for training. Furthermore, considering the passage I’ve used is from Romans, this text is FOR the church so it’s use is appropriate. Finally, I’ve used the OT to merely help shed light on the definition of sloth. This is fits precisely into the relevant use that Paul instructs us to employ.

    Grateful for your comments John. They always sharpen us here at ETS and ensure that we are considering the whole counsel of God when we write.

    God bless you brother!

    Costi Hinn

    Reply

  4. Costi,

    When Paul is writing to Timothy, he is speaking to a Pastor – that context must be maintained. So the agreement is that Paul is teaching a young Pastor – Timothy that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness for the Pastor so that the Pastor can understand, correctly divide and teach according to the Gospel – Paul’s Gospel as Paul stated. God promised the land to Israel – God inspired, profitable, good for training in righteousness – but not for the church. The church is not promised the land nor is it promised the Kingdom of Heaven. Profitable to know, but not for the church. The law was given to the Hebrew Tribes – to the Jews – but the law was fulfilled by Jesus – no old wine in new wine skins. Profitable – good to know why the Jews rejected Jesus – but the law does not apply to the church nor is there any value in teaching the law to the church because the power of the law is sin – it is bondage – and Jesus fulfilled the law for us. Again, profitable to know but folly if you think it should be used in training for righteousness or even applied to the church. Part of your post eludes to self examination, continued confession of sin, and self works to remove oneself from sin. If, that is what you mean by 10 items you listed then the Gospel disagrees with you – those traits would not separate a Christian from God – nor would those traits be viewed by God as sin, when God looks upon the believer and sees the perfection of His Son, even in your darkest sin. Again see the example of Corinth, where they were committing unspeakable sexual sin – Paul did not tell them to get it right – he reminded them who they were. And I have not overlooked Romans 12, but to understand the “Therefore” you have to go back and read Romans 11: And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Just a sample so you can see why Paul said what he said in Romans 12:1-2. That God is not throwing away His people – that there is a plan for the Jew and the believer – that the renewal of the mind through reading the word of God, having faith in Jesus makes you a new creation – that the faithful do not conform to the world that they live in but do the will of God by believing in His Son. No – I did not overlook that – doing the will of God – which is believing in Jesus makes the believer righteous, holy, pure, obedient, and perfect in the eyes of God. 2 Corinthians 13:5: Paul is not telling to church to self examine, through self works – but the examine Jesus against the signs, wonders, works of Jesus and the promises He made to the church. Paul wants to abolish any thinking other than the church having a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. It is an examination of the Gospel, of the teaching of Paul. Paul of course quoted and taught from the OT, but he clearly knew what was meant for the Jew and what was meant for the believer. Paul knew how to rightly divide the word because Paul’s wisdom was from God and the Holy Spirit. I do not disagree that the OT can be used to profit the church – because you can see the type and shadow of things to come – but the truth of the OT is not the relevant truth of the new covenant after the cross. For example – Do you teach the law to your church – meaning must your church adhere to the law in order to receive salvation and insure they remain free of judgement in the Day of the Lord? Many churches (the system) do. Many Christians believe that if they do not adhere to the law or confess their sins that they will be judged on the Day of the Lord. This is a lie of Satan and it does not conform to the will of God nor the plan of God for the church. The believer is under protection, has received grace and mercy on the Day of Salvation, and although we live in this world, we are not subject to nor suffer the consequences of this world because of the protection we received on the Day of Salvation. We, the church are the righteousness of God through our faith in Jesus and we know through scripture that the law is not for the righteous. Therefore, teaching your church that their own self examination of their sins – whatever they may be – is by definition a fruitless self work which denies the cross. Just like Paul – the best way – the Gospel inspired way to bring a believer back to the fold is to remind them who they are, how precious they are in Jesus and that by focusing on the cross, washing their feet with the word, and trusting in Jesus that He will bring them back. I fear too many pastors have their church so sin focused that they are not focusing on the cross and the finished works. I can never say this enough to believers – your sin does not separate you from God – it does not diminish your standing with Him and you will not lose your salvation for it. However, if you are so sin focused and believe that self examination, self works, and deprivation is what will bring you back to right standing – you have missed the point of the sacrifice.

    Amen,
    J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

    Reply

  5. “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.
    Matthew 5:17

    So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    Philippians 2:12

    Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.
    James 2:17‭-‬26

    Pretty much all the New Testament shows the Church how we ought to think, act, and speak. Most of what is written are command statements which means there is a call to action on our part as believers. Faith in the finished and redemptive work of Christ is first and foremost. However, our love for Christ moves our works to glorify Him, not ourselves. Jesus, commands us to be holy as He is holy.

    Reply

    1. Hi Brian,

      I would like to comment on a couple of things in your post:
      First the context in which Paul writes the Philippians : Wherefore–Seeing that we have in Christ such a specimen of glory resulting from “obedience” ( Phl 2:8 ) and humiliation, see that ye also be “obedient,” and so “your salvation” shall follow your obedience. What makes us obedient to God is the belief in His Son having completed the works and exchange at the cross – but in this letter Paul is referring to the obedience to his Gospel which was entrusted to him through Christ Jesus. “As ye have. . . obeyed–“even as ye have been obedient,” namely, to God, as Jesus was “obedient” unto God
      not as, &c.–“not as if” it were a matter to be done “in my presence only, but now (as things are) much more (with more earnestness) in my absence” Paul is not referring to obedience for salvation but to be obedient to his teaching and his Gospel that the church present the truth as Paul had taught and to continue the teaching as if Paul were present. “work out–carry out to its full perfection. “Salvation” is “worked in” ( Phl 2:13 Eph 1:11 ) believers by the Spirit, who enables them through faith to be justified once for all;” You see – it is by faith, not works, by which we are justified – nothing else can justify us and God is not asking us to work for justification (salvation) “but it needs, as a progressive work, to be “worked out” by obedience, through the help of the same Spirit, unto perfection ( 2Pe 1:5-8 ).” Paul is stating that the Holy Spirit can help the church be obedient to the truth by giving wisdom and that the church should not let any false teaching come into the truth. “The sound Christian neither, like the formalist, rests in the means, without looking to the end, and to the Holy Spirit who alone can make the means effectual; nor, like the fanatic, hopes to attain the end without the means.” Paul is stating the Gospel has a purpose and the means are made purposeful by the Holy Spirit unlike the formalist who relies on law or the fanatic who hopes to attain the end without the truth. The emphasis is on this. “Now that I am not present to further the work of your salvation, “work out your own salvation” yourselves the more carefully. Do not think this work cannot go on because I am absent; “for ( Phl 2:13 ) it is God that worketh in you, In this case adopt a rule different from the former ( Phl 2:4 ), but resting on the same principle of “lowliness of mind” ( Phl 2:3 ), namely, “look each on his own things,” instead of “disputings” with others ( Phl 2:14 ) salvation–which is in “Jesus” ( Phl 2:10 ), as His name (meaning God-Saviour) implies. Again, Paul subscribes to the belief that Jesus is the way to salvation and therefore continue without me to teach this truth in obedience to what Paul had taught them with fear and trembling–the very feeling enjoined on “servants,” as to what ought to accompany their “obedience” ( Eph 6:5 ). So here: See that, as “servants” to the word of God, after the example of Christ, ye be so “with the fear and trembling” which becomes servants; not slavish fear, but trembling anxiety not to fall short of the goal which is to continue to preach the truth – without mixture of works, without mixture of what is for the Jew and what is for the church – to correctly divide the word and teach it as Paul had taught them. The fear and trembling is in the context of teaching the word of the Gospel incorrectly rather than the pure Gospel which Paul had taught the church. At this time Paul was in prison and he tells them of Timothy’s visit and warns them against false teachers and Judaic Christians who continue to teach the law – which again, is a warning against false teachers. This is not about doing works to earn salvation.
      Faith without works in James 2:14-26 places a practical guide to faith and the good works that faith produces. It is not about dead works or works for salvation which is stated to be a free gift. Now, seriously think about it – if you have to work for it – is it free? No matter what it is? If you worked for your christmas present from someone else – then is it truly a gift? No – you worked for it. But God says that salvation is the free gift – you can earn it – you cant work for it – you have faith that is is done by the grace and mercy of God through faith in Jesus – now that is a free gift. So what does James mean? James 2:14-16: Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? Here we see an example of someone who is hungry or without clothes who comes to the Christian and the Christian merely tells them they are blessed but lets the stranger go hungry or go without proper clothing – what good is that to them – what then do they think about God – about the believer? This is not about works of salvation – that was done for you – this about the good works which is the fruit of your faith in Jesus. In the old testament, there are instances where the Priest made a heave offering – moving the item up and down and a wave offering – waving the item back and forth – this motion creates the image of the cross and was a sign to God and man about the cross. The heave offering is that which is between man and God – up and down – heaven and earth. The wave offering – although a sign to God – are those things between man – side to side – man to man. The fruit of faith comes from God to man through Christ Jesus – the fruit of good works come from your faith but the good works it produces is shared with those around you – side to side or the wave offering. Abraham was obedient to God – and God tested Abraham’s faith because there was no intercessor for Abraham – only God and Abraham. Today we have our High Priest Jesus who continuously intercedes for us and when God looks upon the believer He sees His Son who is in us and us in Him. Therefore – because Jesus was judged at the cross – we are no longer judged – because Jesus stood in our place – our debt is paid in full and therefore there is no need for God to test us – because the One who stood in our place was tested once and for all times – unlike Abraham. God being a Holy Judge and incapable of lies – cannot retry us for a crime that has been tried and the victim sentenced. We are reconciled once and for all time through the sacrifice of Jesus and God is not going to judge you again – because that would make God a liar – and God is not a liar nor can His word come back void. But look what it says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” It was Abraham’s faith in God which justified him to God and not his works. So we are not of just faith – but faith produces good works just as the vine produces fruit on the branches – these are the fruits by which you will know a tree – by the fruits of good works produced by faith in Jesus. This is what James is saying – not that you have to work for your salvation – that would make God a liar when He said that the gift is free if it is not free. But the gift is free and the works are good works – the fruit of your faith not your actions – even your actions are a fruit of your faith and trust in Jesus. We dont work our way into heaven and good works do not qualify or justify us – because many non-believer do many good works but none of our good works will get us into heaven without having faith first.

      Amen,
      J Arnn
      Jewish Studies for Christians

      Reply

  6. Costi,

    Just a couple more thoughts on this as I study the Gospel. Rom 15:25-27 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. Paul says that the Gentiles are partakers of those spiritual things of the Jews – not overtakers but partakers as they become believers. This is very important to know when you read Hebrews 8:7-13 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. From Abraham to Moses is the Abrahamic Covenant between Abraham and God – from Moses to Jesus’ death is the Mosaic Covenant between the people of Israel and God – from the resurrection of Jesus to present day is the extension or continuation of the Abrahamic Covenant through Christ Jesus who brought grace and truth to the world. God made the promise to establish this new covenant and remember the sins of Israel no more to the Nation of Israel – remember that He came for the lost sheep of Israel first – but since Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah – the church age came in and as the Gentiles became Believers they also became partakers and can partake of the salvation, grace, mercy and truth of the new covenant. This is the present purpose of God – that all who believe in Jesus will partake of the new covenant of God and have salvation, redemption, grace, mercy, and life everlasting.
    So now, lets define Christian liberty, Christian Redemption, and Christian Deliverance through the Gospel. Is it something we work for? Or is it something we as believers are given through our faith in Jesus?
    Gal 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the free woman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:

    “Rejoice, O barren,
    You who do not bear!
    Break forth and shout,
    You who are not in labor!
    For the desolate has many more children
    Than she who has a husband.”

    Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. We, those who are of promise, believers in Christ are not born under the law, but are we are of the free. Not by our works or lack of works, but because of our faith. In the OT story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar – Ishmael represents Mount Sinai where the law was given to Moses and 3000 perished – and Isaac represents Zion where grace was preached and 3000 were saved.
    Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Therefore, because you are born out of promise through faith in Jesus stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. Do not go back to the law – do not place the fruit as the root – keep the correct order – the root then the fruit. So by scripture, Jesus gave us liberty by setting us free from the yoke of bondage under the law. Our faith gives us liberty through Christ Jesus.
    Gal 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. So Christ, not our works, not our sin – not any sin, has redeemed us from the curse of the law and reconciled us to God. And now, through our faith we can receive the promise of God which we receive from the Holy Spirit because we have become partakers of the spiritual things of the Jews. What is the promise? That God has created a new covenant and their sins and iniquities He will remember no more. So today – the sin of sloth is not imputed to the believer by God – the Gospel is not about morality, or ethics, or behavior, or obedience, or right living – it is about faith – and it is faith in Jesus which brings the Holy Spirit to dwell in the believer and transform that person through grace and truth (Read Timothy) which transforms them – which produces the fruit of morality, ethics, good behavior, obedience, and right living. Not the other way around. It is not about reformation – it is about regeneration – becoming a new creation. We are redeemed by faith in Jesus.
    Rom 7:5-6 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. It is the law which arouses sinful passions – but through our faith in the finished works of Jesus at the cross we have been delivered from the law – having died with Christ and then raised with Christ so that we would be a new creation of the Spirit and not bound to the letter (the law). We no longer do good to get good. Under the law God said – If you do right, I will. Under Grace, God says, “I will”. We are delivered by Jesus and our sin no longer separates us from God.
    Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. It is not nor will ever be our works which save us – which make us right – obedient – healthy – moral – sinless – fruitful – none of this we do – However His mercy saved us and through the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit do we transform and produce the good fruit through faith in Jesus. We do not make these things happen to get right before God. We are saved by Jesus so the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews us and produces these fruits in us.
    2 Peter 1:5-11 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How do we add these things to our faith? By faith in Jesus and His finished works on the cross and that through the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed into a new creation and these are the fruits of our faith in good works which glorify God. These are not roots but rather fruits of the Holy Spirit and the transformation of the believer. And if you lack these things it is not because you are performing self works it is because you forgot that you have been forgiven of your old sins (old sins doesnt mean your past sins and that your still being judged by your new sins – it means you were forgiven of your sins a long time ago) – It is a bit of Hebraism translated into Greek. So when you percieve that members of the church are slothful – its not because they’re just lazy – they have forgotten they have been forgiven a long time ago at Calvary – remind them of this – blessed one you are forgiven – you are a new creation that the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews to bring forth good fruit. Remind them who that are – not what they are or are not doing.
    Rom 4:24-25 It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. “It” is righteousness – righteousness will be imputed to us who believe in Jesus – sin will not be imputed to us. He, who was without sin was offered up to the cross in place of those who were sin – now He is raised because of our justification through our faith in Him who reconciles us back to God. This truth is the root.
    Rom 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Because of His death and resurrection we are justified by faith in Jesus and because of that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a fruit. Because of the cross we have peace. Because of our transformation by the Holy Spirit we are not slothful because we know we were forgiven at the cross a long time ago – and if we are not being transformed or slip back into sin – it is because we have forgotten how forgiven and pure we are.
    Deu 8:18 “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. If you were wondering where the scripture was that directly linked the Abrahamic Covenant with the New Covenant of God in this present day. Also – take note that it is the power of God for you to obtain wealth – be careful when you slam the prosperity Gospel – yes I agree some go beyond scripture and teach incorrectly – but the power to prosper you is from God. God will prosper you when you establish His truth in the new covenant that you teach His people in your church system.

    Something to think about,
    Amen
    J Arnn
    Jewish studies for Christians

    Reply

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