The Way to Avoid Being a Slave to Sin
By Christopher, Philippines
My name is Christopher, and I’m a pastor of a house church in the Philippines. In 1987, I was baptized and turned to theand then by the Lord’s grace, in 1996 I became a pastor in a local church. At that time, I was not only working and preaching in many places around the Philippines, but I was also preaching in places such as Hong Kong and Malaysia. Through the work and the guidance of , I felt that I had inexhaustible energy in my work for the Lord and endless inspiration for my sermons. I would often offer support to brothers and sisters who were feeling negative and weak. Sometimes when their nonbeliever family members were unfriendly toward me, I was still able to be tolerant and patient; I didn’t lose faith in the Lord and believed that the Lord could change them. So, I felt like I had changed a great deal since becoming a believer. However, starting in 2011, I was no longer able to feel as strongly as before. I gradually lost new enlightenment for my sermons and lacked the strength to break free from living in sin. I could not help losing my temper with my wife and daughter when I saw them doing things I didn’t like and scolded them out of anger. I knew that this was not in keeping with the will of the Lord, but often I could not help myself. This was particularly distressing for me. In order to free myself from a life of sinning and then confessing, I put more effort into reading the Bible, fasting and praying, and looked everywhere for spiritual pastors so we could seek and explore this together. But all of my efforts came to naught; there was no change to my life of sin and the darkness within my soul.
Then one evening in spring 2016, my wife asked me, “Christopher, I’ve noticed you’ve been really troubled recently. What’s on your mind?” I told her what was troubling me, “I’ve been wondering these last few years why I can’t break free from living in sin despite being a pastor and having believed in the Lord for many years. I’m no longer able to feel the Lord—it’s as if He has forsaken me. Even though I go all over the place to preach, as soon as I have a moment to myself, especially in the dead of night, I always feel a kind of emptiness and anxiety, and this feeling is just growing. I think about how I’ve believed in the Lord all these years, I’ve read the Bible so much, I’ve listened to so many of the Lord’s sermons, and I’ve often resolved to bear the cross and conquer myself, but I’m always bound by sin. I’m capable of telling lies to protect my own interests and face, and I fail to live up to ‘And in their mouth was found no guile’ (Revelation 14:5). When facing hardships and refinement, although I know these happen with the Lord’s consent, I still cannot stop myself from complaining about the Lord and misunderstanding Him. I utterly fail at willing self-renunciation. I’m afraid that, living in sin this way, when the Lord comes, I won’t be able to enter the kingdom of heaven!”
Hearing this, my wife said, “Christopher, how can you think like this? You must have faith; you are a pastor! Although we live in sin and have not broken free from the binds of sin, the Bible says, ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved’ (Romans 10:9). ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). As long as we keep reading the Bible, attending gatherings, praying to the Lord, and we bear the cross, unerringly following Him until the second coming of the Lord, we’ll be able to enter the kingdom of heaven and receive the Lord’s blessing.”
I then said to my wife, “I thought so before, but in 1 Peter 1:16 it says: ‘Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.’ I have believed in the Lord for thirty years, yet I cannot keep to the Lord’s way and, living in sin, I am still capable of often resisting the Lord. I don’t remotely meet the Lord’s requirements. Ugh! How many times have I resolved to obey the teachings of the Lord, yet I haven’t been able to put His words into practice. How could I be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven this way? The Lord Jesus said: ‘Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). According to the Lord’s words, entering the kingdom of heaven is not as simple as we think. The Lord is holy, so how can people who cannot practice His word and who frequently oppose Him be raptured into the kingdom of heaven? Only those who have transformed and who do God’s will can enter the kingdom of heaven!”
My wife thought for a moment and said, “What you’re saying makes sense. The Lord is holy and we are still sinful. We are not worthy of entering God’s kingdom. It’s just that … I suddenly remembered … didn’t Pastor Liu invite a Korean Pastor Kim to the church? How about we do some seeking on this issue?” I said: “Yeah, that’s a good idea. The Lord Jesus said: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). As long as we seek, I believe that the Lord will lead us. As a pastor, I have to consider the lives of our brothers and sisters. If I’m cavalier in my faith, I’ll be doing them as well as myself a disservice. Let’s wait until Pastor Kim comes and then seek from him on this issue.”
Since I was planning to seek out Pastor Kim, I wanted to know a little about his background. I went online to search for the Korean church he was with. On the pages that popped up, I saw the website https://www.holyspiritspeaks.org. Opening it, these words drew me in: “Man received much grace, such as the peace and happiness of the flesh, the faith of one member bringing blessing on an entire family, the healing of sickness, and so on. The rest were the good deeds of man and his godly appearance; if man could live on the basis of these, he was considered an acceptable believer. Only believers of this kind could enter heaven after death, which means that they were saved. But, in their lifetime, these people did not understand at all the way of life. All they did was to commit sins and then confess their sins in a constant cycle without making any path toward changing their disposition: Such was the condition of man in the Age of Grace. Has man received complete salvation? No!” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in ). These were so well put that I absolutely had to keep reading: “Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word and thereby give him a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for it would fail to extirpate man’s sinful nature, and man would come to a standstill at the forgiveness of his sins. Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading this was incredibly exciting for me. Although I couldn’t entirely understand it and some of it was even puzzling for me, these words allowed me to see some hope. I felt that within this I could find a path to purify and change myself. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for hearing my prayer. As I went on reading, I felt that these really were wonderful words that watered and shepherded my thirsty soul. I saw this on the website: “If you can’t find the Gospel Hotline in your country or region, please leave us a message and we will contact you as soon as possible.” I took a quick look and didn’t see a hotline for the Philippines, so I immediately left a message, and wrote down my contact number and email address with no hesitation.
After I got home that evening, I told my wife about it and after hearing what I had to say, she was willing to seek as well. I really thank the Lord that they responded to my message the next day and arranged to connect with us online that very same afternoon. That afternoon, we spoke to Sister Liu and Sister Su. From that conversation, I felt that they spoke simply, deftly and with insight. My wife was even more anxious than me and said, “Do you mind if I ask a question?” They enthusiastically said, “Of course.” My wife replied, “On your church’s website it says, ‘God of the last days has done a stage of the work of judgment and chastisement.’ My husband and I know that no unholy person will see the Lord because He is holy, but in Romans it says, ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved’ (Romans 10:9). ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). If we believe in the Lord Jesus then we are already saved and can enter the kingdom of heaven, so why is God of the last days doing a stage of the work of judgment and chastisement? I’m not really clear on this and I hope to hear your thoughts.”
Sister Liu replied, “Thanks be to God! Let’s fellowship together and let God guide us. Let’s first take a look at what ‘being saved’ means here. In the latter period of the Age of Law, people had all grown far from God and no longer had God-fearing hearts. They had become more and more sinful and went so far as to offer up blind, lame and diseased livestock and birds as sacrifices. The people of that time no longer upheld the law and they were all in danger of being condemned to death for violating the law. Given the situation, in order to save those living under the law from certain death, God Himself became flesh and undertook the work of redemption, and was ultimately crucified to redeem the whole of mankind from sin. People could be forgiven of their sins by believing in the Lord Jesus, thus becoming qualified to come before God in prayer and enjoy the grace and blessings of God. This is the true meaning of ‘being saved’ in the Age of Grace. In other words, ‘being saved’ is nothing more than a person’s sins being forgiven. That is, God doesn’t regard people as being tainted by sin anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not inherently sinful. Therefore, being saved does not mean that we are completely purified and have attained complete salvation. If we want to be purified, we have to acceptwork of the last days.”
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