Christians who look for loopholes in the Bible to allow them to keep sinning have a reasoning that usually goes: “Romans 6 says I’m dead to sin, which means that sin doesn’t stick to me anymore. So even if I fall in the weakness of my flesh now and then, all I have to do is brush myself off and keep on going because I’ve been baptized into Jesus’ death, and clothed in His righteousness – I’m all good!” They’d never openly say that sinning is a good thing. They say that holiness, self-discipline and self-sacrifice are good, but they think they can get by without them. They’re already washed in the blood, they have “good hearts,” (as if we can judge our own hearts) and they’ve prayed the sinners’ prayer – that’s their criteria for salvation.
So we find “good Christians” with “good hearts” hanging out in bars, cheating on their spouses, letting profanities slip every now and then, unable to kick a cigarette habit, or a weed habit, or a gambling habit, a porn habit or whatever. They’re the nicest, friendliest, churchgoing people who sing worship songs with gusto, who have settled for a life on par with their unbelieving neighbors with no fear that they may not even be saved at all. That’s the scary part. They rely so heavily on this safety net of God’s grace and mercy, that they stifle their consciences – the inner voice of the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin.
Demonic activity usually hovers around them. Marriages are full of strife and some collapse completely. Their teenagers have contempt for their parents’ faith, some becoming rebellious and some developing serious emotional problems. These Christians get mired in gossip and grudges, even within their own churches, and can’t see their own fault in all the drama. They see the mess of their lives, shrug their shoulders and blame others. Since everyone’s saved and everyone’s a sinner clothed in righteousness, they figure that’s life. It’s as good as it gets.
Imagine a kind shepherd, trying to guide his flock uphill to pure water, when his lazy sheep ignore his voice and prefer to drink from an open sewer. That’s a picture of Christians who settle for mediocre. James says that the Holy Spirit “yearns jealously” for us. He grieves over sheep who disregard Him and think they know better. God calls out to us every day through His word, through nature, through our circumstances, proclaiming that there is so much more for us! So much joy, abundance and peace. But the path to find it looks dull and painful. “Pick up your cross daily and follow me,” and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” are the words of our Good Shepherd calling us uphill to where the pure water is.
Tolerating sin has terrible consequences, but the root of it all is a refusal to have a real relationship with God. It’s treating faith as a formula, a scheme to get what we want for the least amount of effort. That’s no relationship – that’s a business deal. God yearns for children, a relationship, a family, and dying to sin is what allows us to join His family. When we love our spouse or children, we naturally seek out ways to strengthen our bonds, to express our love and appreciation. Putting effort into a loving relationship is work, but it’s also great fun with great rewards and worth every bit of effort. Every happily married couple knows that. Why don’t Christians find joy in the effort to build bonds of love with God? Why do they prefer looking for loopholes for sin, to get salvation at a bargain? They want to live in a way that hurts Him, and say that they love Him in the same breath.
Stop and think about the motives for your prayers, why you think God should let you into heaven, and why sin is still so easily entangling you. Maybe it’s because you’ve never sought a true relationship with Him. You may not even see God as a real person, but as a mystical being who thinks your “good heart” is just fine. Sorry to say, you don’t yet have salvation because Jesus is not yet your Lord. Make sure to change that today.
But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (1 John 3:8-10 NLT)