Repentance, personal holiness and the big lie

by Mike Ratliff

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:7-10 (NASB) 

Repentance is not a large part of the paradigm that is the 21st Century version of the visible Church. The current trend to build Mega-Churches has as one of its main tenets that the prevailing culture within which the church resides must determine the content of the Gospel. In order to attract the largest possible number of people to be part of these churches, absolutely no emphasis is placed on living a life of repentance by the professing Christian. Instead, the way “church is done” is to bring the world into it, to not be threatening in any way to those who have no desire to abandon their flesh oriented lifestyles.

I once posted a piece I wrote about the fear of God. I was “corrected” vociferously by many who stated, “The Christian has no need to fear God!” Is this true? I contend that antinomianism has accomplished the goal its author intended. The result is that we hear preachers, pastors, church leaders, and their apologists pushing conformity to “the big lie,” which is that, “one can sin with impunity, and that there are no consequences for sin.”

The acceptance of this lie by a large percentage of professing Christians in our day is the natural consequence of the culture within which we now live. This is a day of relativism, pluralism, and supposed open-mindedness. You can test the “open-mindedness’ of these supposed liberal thinkers very easily. All you have to do is oppose them by standing firm on God’s truth. You will discover very quickly that they are ‘open-minded’ only in one direction and very closed-minded with anything having to do with God and His truth. However, the nature of genuine Christianity is that we are absolutists, particularists, and adherents to God’s standard of right and wrong and truth and error. Those not delivered from this present darkness will view us as closed-minded, judgmental, and narrow. This reasoning is the product of the corrupt foundation upon which their value system is based. These “worldlings” are also the ones who have believed the big lie while still clinging to their professions of faith.

Paul, in his agricultural analogy of sowing and reaping from Galatians 6:7-10 (above), applied metamorphically to the moral and spiritual realm, is presenting a universal truism. There are consequences to our disobedience of God’s commands. If people live immorally then they are sowing immoral seeds, which yield crops of corruption. This principle is taught throughout God’s Word (cf. Job 4:8; Proverbs 1:31-33; Hosea 8:7; 10:12). This truism or law is a form of God’s wrath.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. Romans 1:18-19 (NASB) 

The regenerate Christian must still contend with the flesh day by day in the battle to walk upright, moral lives. The Christian must still do battle against sin, however, there will no longer be a contentment with it being there for those who are truly in Christ. There will be a hatred of it and a deep desire to find the source of their drives to indulge the flesh in order to kill it. Also, the genuine Christian knows that with each deliberate sin they are participating in the very thing that nailed his or her Saviour to the Cross. This motivation is part of the regenerate nature. However, as we saw above, there are those in the visible Church in our day who teach that for those in Christ there are no restrictions on behavior. They say, “All things are permissible.” Really? This sounds more like a pandering to those who cannot repent because they are not regenerate but who still demand to be called Christians.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26 (NASB) 

This is very clear my brethren. The key word, in the Greek, for this warning is translated here as, “those who practice.” The Greek grammar structure of this is as a “present active participle.” The word is πράσσω (prassō). The word itself simply means “to work” or “to perform,” but with the “present active participle” construction, it refers to the object working or performing with continual or repeated action. In other words, this is describing a way of life. Who is the object? The object of this participle is that group of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The unregenerate live this way and this list of ungodly behavior is by no means exhaustive. However, this list gives us the general focus of the flesh. The person who is not regenerate will not be able to repent of living this way. He or she may indeed have pangs of conscience and may try to stop being immoral or to control their temper, but they will not be able to do it for long. Those not attempting to live a somewhat moral life, such as the reprobate, have seared consciences, and have no desire to deny their flesh what it wants.

On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit, which is produced in the regenerate Christian only, is the very character of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is how the Christian is called to live, but we can only do it as we walk by the Spirit. If we attempt to emulate our Lord by will power alone, we will fail. It begins by being Spirit-filled and then the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest in our lives.

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21 (NASB)

Here we have the proper focus of the Christian walk. It is a walk that is lived out of reverence for Christ and that means we cannot do this if we are walking according the flesh. Who walks unrepentantly according the flesh as a way of life yet claims to be a Christian? They are the ones who have an appearance of godliness, but deny its power.

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB) 

These have believed “the big lie,” and when confronted by our closed-minded, judgmental, narrowness they will lash out with statements like this, “I do believe in God. That is why i would like to say people like you should be prosecuted and held responsible for crimes against humanity and human sanity! The way to God is the way to knowing our very nature – which you never cared to do. I just feel indignation and disgust!” What we must do is not respond in kind. Our Lord’s life exemplified walking within the Fruit of the Spirit yet He stood firm against those who were enemies of God’s truth. We must emulate Him. He is our example. Therefore, when we are attacked like this we respond with God’s truth and always with direction to them on how to move from darkness to light to believe God instead of “the big lie.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

3 thoughts on “Repentance, personal holiness and the big lie

  1. Mike, I’ve been told that I’m being judgmental and that I’m “reducing God to a book.” Why? Because I keep saying that I love God, I love His truth, and I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, so I want all of us to be of one mind, striving together for the unity of the faith, helping each other to know the Word and walk in obedience. Go figure.

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