Let me rant for a second about sin and the Believer:
I sometimes wonder how someone who calls himself a devout follower of Jesus can knowingly, willingly, and seemingly pleasurably continue in sinful actions. I understand the hooks of sin and the snares of Satan, but I know the redemptive nature of the Lord even more "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). The Good News of Christ is that we can be delivered from the grip and power of sin (1 John 1:7). It was the Apostle Paul, who said, "I will not be brought under the power of any" (I Corinthians 6:12). The NIV renders it, "I will not be mastered by anything." Sin is not our master - Jesus is! How can one say that Christ's cross has fully redeemed them from the bondage and yoke of sin and simultaneously hold on to sinful lusts and wicked ways? How can one love Christ and sin at the same time? How can we not settle any bitterness, offense, immorality, etc. if we truly believe and adhere to the supernatural power of Christ's redemptive work on the cross? We desire to be pure, clean, and refreshed by the Spirit. Intimacy with Christ is cherished and anticipated. The separation that sin creates grieves us and our pursuit for oneness again with the Lord motivates us towards repentance and restoration. We who are in Christ desire freedom from sin. We can have it! After all, 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it". We walk in the Spirit so we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
One thing is for certain though about sin: the longer you continue in it, the greater the chance of it hardening your heart. Hebrews 3:12-13 says that we should, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Ezekiel 36:26 says God grants us a heart of flesh instead of stone when we are saved. Those who are saved should be running away from sin instead of towards it. We should be embracing the ways of the Lord instead of embracing the ways of the flesh.
I think about those who at one time trembled in awe and holy fear when they heard God's Word. When Scripture was read or preached, they melted under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They lived a life that begged God to search and know them. They were quick to repent and confess sin. Every sermon, they believed, was directed at them. Every scripture was a bulls-eye at their heart and motives. They were once people who listened patiently and intently to the Spirit. These people now play around with sin like a mad-man playing Russian roulette. They toy with sin like it cannot harm them and even when it does they are momentarily saddened but not eternally convicted. Soon, even the sadness subsides and they are numb to the Spirit's conviction and prompting to repent. What happened? They now sit through sermons and the reading of Scripture untouched, unmoved, and unrepentant.
They have lost the holy awe and Godly fear they once possessed. Sin has hardened their hearts. If they had Godly fear, it would quickly reveal that their heart is slowly growing hard. They presumptively set boundaries for their pet sin, affirming they wouldn't let it take them beyond certain limits. They attempt to tame the beast. They put a collar and leash on the monster foolishly attempting to choke it under control. The truth is they have only enslaved themselves and have come even closer to searing their conscience. They die spiritually more and more each day. If only they would humble themselves, repent, and return to their First Love.
They have embraced contentment and complacency. Conviction of the Spirit is a sign of salvation. Complacency and contentment with their sin marks their unregenerate soul. When a true Christian sins, it makes them miserable until they confess and repent. The vile poison within must be vomited out. Someone who says they are saved while willing participating in sin and refusing the Spirit's conviction should wonder if they are in the faith. Why don't they forsake sin instead of the Lord? Galatians 6:1 says they should not continue in sin to gain grace. They should take the salvation test of 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” When you look at this verse, it is horrendously frightening to assume one can be saved apart from Lordship. Saying Jesus is Lord precedes salvation. Living out Lordship also proceeds salvation. In reality, Lordship permeates those in Christ. It radiates and illuminates their lives. Obedience is the mark of the believer (Colossians 2:6). Romans 10:13 goes on to say those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. We are saved unto Lordship. There are not two classifications of Christians - those merely saved and those who sell out for Lordship. Salvation is intertwined with Lordship. Change to be like Christ is the desire of the believer. Sin no longer satisfies - it repulses. Sin not just convicts but leads one to repentance.
When Jesus said come follow me, repentance is a given - we automatically turn and repent. To follow Christ is to loath sin. When Christ asks us to come and follow Him He shouldn't have to beg us to give up sin. We eagerly and joyfully trade in the wretchedness of sin for the serenity of salvation. For example, when you ask someone to "come here" you don't have to say to them, "turn around and come here". The "turn around" is implied and understood. When you say to them, "come here" they automatically turn around. When Christ calls us to come to Him we lay down sin and pick up His righteousness. Repentance is necessary to follow Jesus. We who claim the name of Christ cannot abide, rest, live, or snuggle up with sin any longer. How can we who died to sin live in it? (Romans 6:2). We consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). We who are in Christ are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18).
We who are saved do not enjoy things like gossip, hate, envy, and greed. We hate to miss church and fellowship with other believers. Petty excuses do not keep us away. Obstacles that stand in the way of our discipleship challenge us to pursue with adventurous faith the Christ we desperately desire. We strive to listen to the Word at all cost and especially do not skip out on the message when the preacher is preaching - after all, it is aimed at us - we need it personally. We desire the Word and cling to every Scripture. We eagerly await the next time we can engage in fellowship and devour the Words of the Lord. We passionately long for prayer and worship. We run from sin, knowing the devastating enslavement and demolition it brings. We run to Christ, knowing the fulfilling freedom and sustenance He alone can bring.
I pray that the Lord returns the joy of His salvation to those away from Him, those who are not saved, and those bound by sin. I pray that the Holy Spirit quickens them with true repentance and brokenness over their sinful state. I pray that they see themselves as sinners in need of a Lord and Savior. You can be free from sin! “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).