freedom from slavery

This lesson is bound to bring up interesting questions.  One question I foresee is: since we are adopted into the family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, if and when we fall back into "slavery" to the former things, whether it be idols, Law, or addiction, do we lose our salvation?  I have been taught that to turn back to the worldly system after salvation, is to fall back under the Law.  Falling from grace back to the Law would not be considered a loss of salvation, but rather a loss of freedom in the heart and mind of the child of God.  What are your thoughts?

Another question could be; If we are saved by grace, what role does the Law have?  Of course, in Romans Paul says grace does not mean that we are free to live recklessly.  I understand that through faith in Jesus, I have received the Holy Spirit in my spirit who is a guide to live a life of sanctification. Doesn't the Word and the Holy Spirit continue to instruct us how to live? And is the Word a separate entity from the Law?  Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it, and summed it into two directives; love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  

One of the questions in the student booklet of the adult lesson we use asks "What rules and traditions have we added to our faith that often become obstacles for new believers?"  Upon profession of faith, our church asks do we renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of sin.  If a church requires traditional marriage (heterosexual), members who are living together to be married, and adulterer to give up the affair, would that be considered as adding to salvation by grace? 

I am reminded of Peter who rebuked the liars (Annanias, Saphira) in the early church and the Holy Spirit dealt with them in a stern way.  Is that an example of salvation by faith, but falling back into former ways of living?  Do you think we will we see them in heaven?

Comments

  • edited February 18
    I believe your questions are excellent for our entire study of Galatians this month. I want to feature them, and I still hope others will pitch in with their thoughts and questions.

    Regarding your first question about losing salvation, three thoughts come to mind immediately:

    1. God gives warnings in the Bible that are serious and meant to be heeded. Our taking God’s warnings seriously are one of the ways God preserves true Christians in faithful obedience to the end of their lives.

    2. Once God has adopted a Christian into His family, God will preserve them in His family to the end. Those exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ should not fall into the danger of carnal security. Remember Jesus’ parable of the soils. No one should say, “Well, I’m saved; so, it does not matter how I live; I can always repent.”

    3. True Christians will persevere in their faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ to the end of their lives. They will not be perfect in this life, but they will be conscious of committing sins, of repenting, and returning to obedience. Throughout their walk with Jesus, they will know about hard choices and struggles to follow Jesus Christ faithfully.

    You asked, “If we are saved by grace, what role does the Law have?”

    Many, I am sure, but here is the one that means the most to me as I think of my years as a pastor. When someone gets confused about matters of the spirit and obedience, the Law should help those who are saved by grace know right from wrong. The Holy Spirit will never contradict the Law of God (the Law of Love as expressed in the New Testament in many and various ways). For example, the Holy Spirit would never tell someone to steal, murder, commit adultery, or tell lies. If someone thought the Holy Spirit were telling them to rob a bank or steal someone else’s wife, the Law should remind them that the Holy Spirit would never tell them to do this. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Christians can use the Law of God to help those confused about the Spirit’s leading, sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil obey the Law of God as revealed in the Bible instead of disobeying God. 

    Regarding your third questions, I think my above answers have some application.

    Paul taught that the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament no longer applied to Christians. The Bible upholds the moral law, which is consistent with natural law before the Fall. We know enough from the natural law that remains evident and the moral law as revealed in the Bible to be able to distinguish between manmade ceremonies, rules and traditions and the moral law of God, the Law of Love. No doubt, there are some manmade laws that are obstacles for new believers, but the moral law can also be an obstacle for some new believers. Whereas it may be beneficial to set aside some manmade laws, we must never set aside the moral law, because there are consequences as serious as setting aside the law of gravity. I surely approve what your church asks upon a believer’s profession of faith. 

    Ananias and Sapphira served as a warning to others not to lie to the Holy Spirit. We do not know the state of their hearts (remember the four soils). Perhaps God enabled them to repent before they died. Edith Schaeffer often told the story of the atheist cowboy who fell off of his horse one day and came off the ground as a believer. When asked why he believed now, he replied, “Something happened between the saddle and the sod.”

    I know this is a long post, but I hope others will share their thoughts!
    May God bless your Bible studies and teaching!
    L.G.

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