We Would Love to Hear From You
Today we will begin to look at the second of our three key truths that lead to the blessings of the Higher Christian Life. As we have learned, the first truth declares you must believe God is able (He possesses the power and ability) to keep you from falling or faltering in your life of holiness (Jude 24). And once God’s ability is firmly settled in your mind, the second truth takes the first one and makes it personal. The second truth states you must remove from your mind all doubt and fear that He is not willing to keep you from stumbling. That’s right. Now the first truth must be applied to your life in a personal way. It is no longer about what God can do for others. It is about what God can do for you. And this is where many falter. We believe God is able to bless anyone He wants at any time He wants, but just not for us. We even believe He is willing to bless His children, but again, just not us. And as strange as it may sound, this is like wondering if God loves you as much as you love Him? Which is both absurd and incredibly sad. Let me explain.
Sometimes there are children of God (Rom. 8:16) who feel so bad about themselves they cannot conceive of anyone, including God, loving them as much as they long for. They walk with their heads down, depressed, unsure, insecure, often filled with self-loathing. And, although there are many reasons for them to feel this way (an abusive home life, fractured relationships, a dysfunctional family, rejection, betrayal, etc.), for the Christian, it usually stems from their unwillingness to forgive themselves for their sins in the past and the paralyzing guilt they often suffer from. For some reason, their sins or failures loom larger than the grace and forgiveness of God. And this unhealthy mindset often is why they mentally shun any idea of God loving or forgiving them, and they reject any attempt He makes to do so.
Quite honestly, this spiritual disease is far more widespread than you would think.
Let’s think about forgiveness for a moment.
One of the Christian faith’s key tenets is the offer of God to forgive our sins (past, present, and future) due to the sacrifice of His Son and our simple faith in Him. Jesus did all the work to secure our forgiveness and erase the guilt and consequences of our sins, and all we have to do is believe. It’s like winning the lottery with a ticket someone gave you.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:4-7.
There is no downside.
As we dive deeper into Jude 24 and the first of our three truths we must believe in order to experience the blessings of the Higher Christian Life, we find ourselves today faced with one all-important question: Is it possible for me to live a holy life? In other words, can I experience victory over my sin and shortcomings on a permanent, daily basis? Can I feel the pleasure of the Lord as I allow Him to live His life through me and therefore reflect the character of the Holy Spirit? And if Jude 24 does teach that God will “keep me from stumbling” in my pursuit of a life of holiness, what part do I play in this odyssey? Is God’s ability to “keep me from stumbling” passive in my life, or is it active? And if God does provide me the ability to live a holy life, why do I not see more change in me?
These are the types of questions that, once settled by faith, can literally change your life. They are liberating and freeing, and will impute confidence in both the Lord and you as His child, once they are settled in your mind. But until they are firmly settled, doubts, fear, and failure will continue to plague your spiritual walk and hinder you from experiencing the Higher Christian Life.
Before we go any further, let’s deal with the elephant in the room, so to speak. Just like our salvation, God’s sovereignty is paramount up until justification, when you become aware of your salvation and God declares you righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). This is all His doing. And after that, our free will in choosing to live, or not live, the sanctified life kicks in, and God is glorified by our choices to “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). God provides for us a choice, but He doesn’t demand we choose His way. Nor does He make us choose to walk according to the Spirit, like robots who are forced to do something they don’t desire to do. God is not glorified by making His creation worship Him. He is glorified when His creation chooses to worship Him. We are always free to give in to the lusts of the flesh and experience the consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit. And we are always free to walk in the Spirit, to surrender to the Spirit, and to obey the Spirit in a way that pleases Him. The choice is always ours.
In the same way, God does not force us to live a sinless life after we come to faith in Him. He desires it, provides for it, and has given us the Holy Spirit (emphasis on Holy) to live His holy life in us, yet the choice is always ours. So is it within God’s power to “keep you from stumbling” in your life of sanctification? Absolutely! Anything less would limit the power of God. And as a sovereign, omnipotent God, He can do anything He desires (Ps. 115:3), to anyone, at any time, without asking permission. So can God force me to never sin again? Yes, He can. He has both the power and ability to do so. But He never will. God does not force His will on us to do something He expects us to do of our own free will. And you will never go a day without sinning. You, on your own, cannot live a sinless life, no matter how much you pray, fast, read your Bible, or go to church. Why? Because we still live in fallen, lustful, selfish, unredeemed bodies “eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
But the good news is that you can, absolutely, live a life of holiness and be pleasing to Him. And you can do that today.
We have been looking at the first of three truths that must be believed before you can progress into the Higher Christian Life. Believing these three truths provides you with the confidence of knowing that God not only can, but will “present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). The first truth reveals how big your God is compared to how big your problems are. And this cuts deep into the object of your faith. Is your faith centered on God? Or is it on your past experiences, both good and bad? The first truth states that “You must believe God is able (He possesses the power and ability) to keep you from falling or faltering in your life of holiness.” Period. Non-negotiable. For an overcoming life of lasting victory over sin, you must believe God is bigger than your sin and your flesh.
Last time we unpacked the beginning phrase of Jude 24, “Now unto Him who is able,” showing God is able (dúnamai – to be able, have power and strength by virtue of one’s own ability and resources) to do anything He desires. Why? Because He is sovereign, the Ever-Present One, the “I Am Who I Am” (Ex. 3:14), and there is none like our God (Is. 46:9). He is God. And as God, His holiness and omnipotence (God is All-Powerful) are some of His key character traits. And the trait of sanctification (holiness) has now come unto us in Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30) and is imparted to us by the Spirit. As we have said, it doesn’t get any better than that.
But nevertheless, some questions remain.
What is God able to do exactly? I know He spoke the world into existence (Gen. 1, Ps. 33:9) and all of that. I got that. But what can He do regarding my inability to live a holy life? How can His omnipotence reach down to me in my daily struggle with sin? Is God only concerned about the big things in life, like creating the world in seven days or parting the Red Sea? Or does His power and grace extend unto the little things in my life, the daily things? What can God do for me and my constant struggle with my flesh? Where can I find hope to live more like Him?
Let’s take a look, once again, at Jude 24, especially the description of what God is able to do.
Now to Him who is able (dúnamai – to be able, have power and strength by virtue of one’s own ability and resources) to keep you from stumbling (áptaistos – from falling, losing our sanctification, no longer being blameless), and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy – Jude 24.
This passage clearly states God is able to “keep me from stumbling” in order to “present me faultless.” But what does “stumbling” mean? Is this a salvation message showing “once saved, always saved”? Or is this a sanctification message, because the end result is my holiness, my being presented “faultless” before His glory? Or is it both?
These are very important questions. Let’s look at them one at a time.