This past Sunday, we took a look at a somewhat shocking passage of 1 Corinthians, where Paul begins to speak to the Church about their tolerance of outright sexual sin in their midst and how they should instead respond. We learned about the biblical teaching of a practice referred to today as church discipline, its end goal (restoration of the one being disciplined), and its rooting in the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 18.
One of my favorite parts of the sermon, which had wonderful and needed teaching on church discipline and the picture of leaven within this passage, was Pastor Brian’s rephrasing of the saying “Once Saved, Always Saved”, to a more biblical one: “Once Saved, Always Repenting”.
Throughout the New Testament, believers are called to on one hand live out a life as someone who is a sinner, saved by grace, deserving of death, and yet freely given the righteousness of Christ, which we could do nothing to earn. On the other hand, we are exhorted over and over again to live in a way worthy of this Gospel, and there are entire books and passages calling us to pay attention to what we say, how we behave, and how we treat others. (I John, Matthew 5:20-30, Ephesians 4:20-24, Ephesians 5:1-12, Colossians 3:1-10)
While some of us can cling to the rules we’ve established from these commands, feeling freedom in thinking we are keeping them all, and others of us are tempted to throw out the call to live a sinless life, feeling freedom because we aren’t saved by that, God calls us to a balanced freedom that can only be achieved by the practice of living by the same truths that saved us.
In the Spirit, we will no longer choose to live a life that reflects who we once were. In the Spirit, we will be convicted of the sins we commit daily, moment by moment, and choose to once again humble ourselves before God with the same truths that cleansed us from our sin.
The Christian life is not a sinless life–we look forward to one day seeing God and being free from this flesh and its mindset forever. Until then, we can rest assured in our salvation–that the very same Gospel that saved us from the punishment of sin will be what call us, through repentance, to acknowledge our daily need for grace.
Listen to the sermon here to dig deeper into the ideas of church discipline and the treatment of sin in our own lives. Until next Sunday, chew on these words from Milton Vincent’s small, but powerful book, A Gospel Primer:
Resting in Christ’s Righteousness
The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me. I never have to do a moment’s labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God! Freed from the burden of such a task, I now can put my energies into enjoying God, pursuing holiness, and ministering God’s amazing grace to others.
The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine. On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine.