We will show three things: 1) Make introductory remarks, 2) Show areas where the experience and outward life of both Christians and sinners can agree, 3) Show areas where there must be a difference between the saint and the sinner.
- In order to decide what the true evidence of regeneration is or is not, one must remember what regeneration consists of; what regeneration is not and what is implied in the term.
- We must remember that both saints and sinners have similar constitutions since the sinner does not have a sinful nature as some false theories will claim. For that reason, we will find that there are similarities in both the saint and the sinner in some areas.
- When we see things that are common in both the saint and the sinner, we must assume that anything so common to both cannot be a true evidence of regeneration.
- We must realize that feelings or emotion have no real moral character on their own. We must also realize that regeneration is not a physical change in any way in the intellect, emotions, or the will itself. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
- We must realize that the feelings and emotions of the sinner are like the waves of the sea; they are susceptible to every kind of emotion and feeling that Christians have. They can even match our own emotions about the things of God.
- We could say the same thing about the conscience of both and of general intelligence, they both function the same since no constitutional difference exists between them.
- We must realize that true moral character belongs to the ultimate intention for all the feelings, emotions, intellect, or any other part of our being and actions.
- The thing that shows the difference between the saint and the sinner is a change that comes in the entire ultimate intention of the life.
- We must realize that it is the ultimate intention of a person that truly defines their moral character. If they do right for the wrong ultimate intention, they still have bad moral character even though the action was seemingly good.
- With all this being said we must then ask, “What are the evidences of a change in the ultimate intention?” Take a good look and see if there is any evidence that benevolence is the ruling choice of the life; the preference and intention of the soul! The question is plain and the answer must be easy and satisfactory. Plain questions demand plain answers. The problem is that there are errors in the definition of regeneration which leads to errors in the evidences of regeneration. We need patience, discrimination, and perseverance along with complete candor to get to the truth.
Let’s look at areas where the outward life of both saint and sinner may agree.
They may be alike in matters not pertaining to the will; this includes involuntary actions. For instance:
- They may both desire their own happiness. This is common to all men, both saints and sinners.
- They both may also desire the happiness of others. This is common for both saints and sinners and there is no more moral character in desiring this than there is in a desire for food and drink. One need only observe any individual who is happy if others are happy unless the happiness of another is in some way inconsistent with his own. This is the same for observing the pain of others where both saints and sinners have feelings for helping them out of their misery unless the sinner has a selfish reason for desiring the pain of another.
- Both saints and sinners may both dread their own misery and that of others. This has nothing to do with moral character as it is part of human nature. There are examples of people who had no desire to be saved themselves but when they heard about the truths presented in the gospel they wanted to warn their friends and family to flee from the wrath to come. The Bible tells of the rich man who was already in hell and he wished someone to tell his family and warn them not to come to that awful place. Some feel the same way when the state of their own will is selfish and they dread their own misery which leads them to use whatever means they can to prevent the misery of hell. It is not benevolence, but selfishness. They did not come to know God, they only sought for an escape from their impending doom. Even those who go to hell will grieve over the misery of those around them. They will see the misery of others that are in hell because of them and be filled with deep remorse and agony for those who suffer near or around them. We may say, then, that both saints and sinners wish their own happiness, the happiness of others and that they are also able to rejoice at the happiness and safety of others, especially those who get saved; they will also grieve alike over those who remain unconverted. Stories are told of people who are hardened sinners who rejoice when a friend or family member is saved by coming to God in repentance and faith. At times they will even weep for joy because someone they know received Christ. There is an example in the Bible of a demon possessed girl who followed the apostles and proclaimed to all who heard her that these men had the way of salvation. Yet, in the life of a sinner these feelings and desires are not benevolence, they are selfishness. The sinner is still lost. This is not evidence of regeneration.
- Both saints and sinners can desire their own sanctification and that of others. They may want sanctification as a condition of salvation for themselves and for others. That is no proof of regeneration.
- Both saints and sinners may desire to be useful as a condition of salvation.
- They may also both desire that others be useful as a condition of salvation.
- They may both desire to glorify God as a condition that exists in their salvation.
- They may both desire for others to glorify God as a condition of their salvation.
- Both saints and sinners may desire strongly that there be a revival in the area. The sinner tries to promote his own salvation this way by desiring his friends to be saved or to desire a revival.
- They may even desire that the truth and righteousness will triumph. They may want vice and error to fail because of the effects of these things on self and friends. These are constitutional desires and are natural to both saint and sinner under certain sets of circumstances. The sinner has no moral character but his selfishness takes on a religious flavor; it even promotes religion. He is still controlled by selfish desire, none the less.
- Both saints and sinners may approve right and disapprove wrong so that they both approve of and delight in goodness. Sometimes sinners weep at the goodness they see in the world or in others while they are not even saved themselves. It is only human nature. The Bible talks about sinners drawing near to God: “Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.” (Isaiah 58:2-4) “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” (Ezekiel 33:31-32) This sounds much like our “Christians” in churches today, doesn’t it? “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:22-24)
- Both saints and sinners may intellectually approve of but even get emotional over the characters of good men. Sometimes this is true of good men in their own time but it is more frequent that they revere men of a former age and distant country. This was true of the Jews that crucified Jesus Christ. They talked about their fore-fathers but they cursed and shouted the loudest for Jesus to be crucified. The problem for them is that they would not be easy around a man of God in the present day since their own sin would be exposed like the sins of other wicked with whom they may have acquaintance. The explanation for this is that a moral agent can’t help but approve of the good that they witness when not annoyed and convicted by it. God has made us all moral beings. They even have feelings of love and gratitude to God and respect for and sympathy for those who love God. They will even be offended at the thought that some may think that they are not sympathetic toward God and others. They may, because of such feelings and thoughts, think that they are Christians because they think that only a Christian could have such feelings and thoughts. They think that they are far from being depraved because of all these good desires and feelings. Don’t forget, saints and sinners may both agree in certain opinions, and intellectual views and judgments. So many false Christians think that they are saved because of certain desires and feelings but they have totally misunderstood their own character. There are many religions today that show great displays of emotions which, they think, prove that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Far too many false Christians have a hope that they are saved based upon desires and feelings that have nothing to do with being born again. These feelings are nothing more than human nature which all humans possess whether they are a Christian or not.
- Both saints and sinners may both disapprove of and become completely disgusted with sin to the point that they abhor it. It is part of a moral being deep within his own constitutional make up that he would abhor sin to the bottom of his moral fiber. They will both express loathing and disgust when they view sin. Too many preachers try to paint a picture of sinners loving sin and loving it like one would love food and drink but this is not the case. This contradicts the very conscience of the sinner and it leads him either to deny his total depravity because he does not think as it is portrayed or he may even think that he is saved because what is being said does not fit his own consciousness. If you who read this remember, it is not the sin that the sinner loves for its own sake but it is other things that they crave which leads to the indulgence which is sin. Adam and Eve only craved food and knowledge which are not wrong unless it is in direct disobedience to God. The sinner is the same way, he does not really desire to commit the sin, he only has cravings for self-gratification which leads to the thing which he may and often does loath. The Holy Spirit may come while a person is engaged in something that he knows is wrong and he may be deeply ashamed of himself in such a deep way that he would even spit in his own face. He may become so disgusted for a time that the feeling of disgust will overtake the feeling of self-indulgence. It is one selfish feeling becoming more powerful than another selfish desire. It shows nothing at all about his having any virtue since it is only a change in the form of selfishness being manifested in him. That is why Romans 7 talks about the man that wants to do good but can’t because it is sin that dwells in him. When the sinner has self-gratification as the ultimate end in view, changing from one form of selfishness to another does not change the ultimate problem, he has a sin principle; he has a sinful character. He merely changes from one form of selfish expression to another. This would explain why so many people seem to be saved when they have no abiding change in their lives. They get convicted, they begin to have fears awakened, they are disgusted with their own indulgences. They then abandon their indulgence in order to obey, not the law of God, but to obey their fear, disgust, and shame. They never really came to know God personally. The whole thing is really about them and their feelings, nothing more. Then, when they are no longer under conviction of sin, they go back to the same indulgences that they had before. The dog truly returns to his own vomit and the sow to her wallowing in the mire. This is why getting all emotional or depending upon feelings alone puts one in a very weak position. The sinner can change his feelings and even make a show of being a Christian for awhile but it is only because he has had new feelings that dictate a new behavior. It is not a principle inside him, it is only a result of excited feelings and emotions. The next day or the next hour, when self-gratification rears its ugly head and there is no one present to see his sin, he will return to his vomit again.
- Both Christians and sinners delight in or approve of justice. One only needs to view the courts of the land and they will find that even sinners have a deep appreciation for the administration of justice and a hatred for injustice. Sometimes the strong feelings against injustice are so strong that they burst out like a nuclear bomb and carry the fight against injustice to new heights. It results, many times, in blood being shed and wars breaking out in the interest of stopping injustice before it grows into a monster that no one can control. We see it in our time with the war against terror. Both sinners and Christians are alike against the injustices of cultures that harbor so much hatred and injustice to the point that they have designs to take over the world and foster their injustice on all who will succumb to the terror that goes before it like a mighty flood of evil. Both Christians and sinners alike enjoy the nation that we have, based upon Christian principles, that has become a model for the whole world to follow because of the principles of justice that we have founded upon the principles of the moral law with civil law having many of the same basics. This does not indicate that all who ascribe to Democracy or that hate terrorism are virtuous Christians because even a love of justice can be for selfish reasons and shows no regeneration of the heart. We can see similar examples all through society. Even an Islamic society like that of Iraq is now forming a Democracy because they have more hatred for the injustice of a Saddam Hussein than they do for the thought that this type of government may have Christian values at the core. It certainly does not prove that Islamic people are virtuous or regenerated.
- It is possible for both Christians and sinners to have a constitutional respect for and a delight in truth. Most people hate a liar, even sinners. Those that hate liars also love truth, this is constitutional. Liars do not love lying for its own sake, but because it is a way to promote self-interests, nothing more. The one that lies would probably hate someone lying to them but because they want that which the lie will obtain for them, some form of self-gratification, they don’t hate falsehood enough to eliminate the lust for that which created the lie in their mind and heart. Were they to look only at the lie and not at that which the lie obtains, they would hate the lying as much as the Christian but for a different reason, mainly because it makes them look bad.
- Both Christians and sinners love good men and they both hate evil men and devils. Islamic extremists call America the “Great Satan.” They express hatred for the devil that has deluded them into thinking that they are serving God. Their religion is a religion that gives self-gratification to their race because it is particular to Arabs in opposition to Jews and Christians of all other peoples. There is no living man, woman, or child that would act like the love the Devil unless it is someone who is a Satanist and even then the love of Satan is only for the purpose of self-gratification. They think that by praising Satan they can get “power” to work their magic and evil spells, all for selfish reasons. You won’t find, however, any average person walking down the street that would not exclaim deep hatred for Satan even though they are following him by the very self-indulgences that they live their lives for.
- Both Christians and sinners are often very fair in business and have great business etiquette. They are equally interested in having a good name in the business community. It may be for a different ultimate intention, but outward they would appear the same.
- As the above remarks will indicate, many times benevolence in the Christian and selfishness in the sinner may produce much the same results. In some ways one can not tell the difference except for the ultimate intent that shows where the heart really is.
- When an impenitent person desires Christian principles enough to influence his will without coming to know God, he will make an outward show of being a Christian by openly acting as if he is obeying the moral law. His feelings are so strong that he thinks he can copy the Christian by doing the same types of things and putting on the act that he loves God and others. Even in this his outward show comes from a purely selfish ultimate intent while the Christian has only his personal knowledge of God and his love of obeying Him as a principle in his life. The thing that will show the difference is time. The true Christian will stand the test of time. He will persevere to the end of his life. The impenitent sinner, however, since he has no root in him from a personal relationship with God, he will return to his former ways in direct proportion as his feelings and emotions subside. The true Christian will show a personal relationship with God that cannot be shaken, full of love and expectation of God doing great things in His life. This controls his intelligence, his feelings, and his will as prompted by the Holy Spirit to his own spirit.
- Many times both saints and sinners love and hate the same things and yet for differing opposite reasons. They may both love the Bible, the saint because he knows God and loves anything that he can learn more about the lover of his soul, and the sinner loves the Bible for selfish reasons as a tool that may be used for proving a selfish position or that he is a Christian when he has never repented and come to God as a sinner to place his life in God’s hands both now and forever. They may both love Christians and yet for opposite reasons; the saint loves them because they are part of his family in Christ and he loves anyone that loves Jesus; the sinner because he thinks that since they are going to heaven, to be associated with them helps his self-esteem so that he feels that he is bound for Heaven along with them, they are his particular friends, they benefit him, and their goodness is a benefit as well. As one could observe, both the Christian and the sinner have the same constitutional feelings toward many things. For instance they are both affected with the character of God, with truth, the church building, the duties of a Christian, and the plan of salvation. They may also both hate the same things for different reasons, such as infidelity, error, sin, sinners, and selfishness. A sinner can actually abhor selfishness in others and in himself but still continue to live from selfish motives and ends.
- Selfishness in the sinner and benevolence in a Christian may lead them to form many similar resolutions and purposes in life; they may both wish to serve God, avoid all sin, do their Christian duty, do right, be useful, persevere in well-doing, live for eternal values, set good examples, put high priorities on Sunday worship and other things about religion, and to support their local church.
- Saints and sinners may agree in views of doctrine and of measures for living for God and reaching the lost; they may both be zealous for the cause of God and of religion; they may both be equally well-informed; they may both experience delight in prayer and in religious meetings; yes, they may both delight in religious exercises in general.
- Both may be changed in feeling and life, one from knowing God personally and the other from trying to emulate Christians for selfish reasons.
- Both may give all their goods to feed the poor, or to support the gospel, and to send the gospel to the heathen.
- Both may go as missionaries to the lost, but for entirely different reasons.
- Both may have convictions of their sin and their sensibilities will both be affected by these convictions in similar ways.
- They may both have great sorrow for sin, and they may both loath self because of it.
- They may both feel gratitude toward God, one because he knows God personally and the other only because he knows about God but has never turned from self to God for a personal relationship.
- They may both appear to show Christian graces, one from personal knowledge of God and the other because he could not allow himself to look like a sinner.
- They may both be confident that they are going to heaven.
- They may both have new hopes and fears, new joys and sorrows, new friends and new enemies, new habits in life.
- They may both be comforted by promises and awed by threatenings; one because the promises and threatenings come from the God that he knows personally and the other from a hope that the promises are for himself while hoping that the threatenings are for someone else.
- They may both claim to have answers to prayer.
- They may both appear that they have renounced the world; the Christian because he has come to know God and the sinner because he hopes that this action shows that he knows God, though he does not really know Him personally.
- They may both practice self-denial. The Christian truly denies himself but the sinner only appears to deny self in the process of denying one form of selfishness in behalf of another.
- They may both believe in miracles. Who has not seen a Catholic that does not believe in the miracle of Fatima. Yet the scriptures say, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”– 1 Corinthians 13:2.
- They may both suffer as martyrs for completely different reasons. No one will deny that Islamic extremists will willingly give their lives, but it is for selfish reasons to promote their self-gratification religion where the picture is a paradise of self pleasure. This is not disinterested benevolence. This is selfishness to the very depths of evil. This is also true in the Christian realm. Many are the examples of like sacrifice for selfish reasons in the name of Christianity. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)
- Both may be confident that they are saved and die with the hope of being with Christ and yet God will say to them as we see in Luke: “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” (Luke 13:26-27)
- We can now see a great list of similarities between those who claim to be Christians but who do not have disinterested benevolence as their best end in life. They don’t know the Lord personally or they would have a different motive for all that they do in their false show of faith. So many people stumble in false hope. They do what they do from constitutional desires and through the waves of emotion that causes them to give up their selfish will and ways one moment and then return to it in another form the next. They get all emotional about the things of Christ and living for God and they even give themselves up to the feelings they have and begin to promote the cause of Christ for a time, until the going gets rough. This is true in great revivals where so many are truly turning to Christ and others make a show to imitate the true converts. They are governed by feelings so that when feelings change, they change as well, back to the vomit from which they came. When they have warm feelings toward the church and toward God, they make a show of being a true Christian but when these feelings subside or they feel that God has “let them down” then they revert to their old self-seeking ways.
- The impenitent unsaved have stumbled at seeing what they thought were Christians only to be put in doubt because they lived lives that were totally inconsistent with the claims of Christ and of disinterested benevolence. These non-Christians have come to think that there is no such thing as a true Christian with the love of Christ. They also, as a result of such experiences, come to the conclusion that there is no one that manifests the true love of God. They, as a result of such experiences, grow to reject and despise all religion as hypocritical and insincere.
- Because some are not able to discern between activities or attitudes that are constitutional in all moral agents and those that belong only to a regenerated Christian, they have stumbled. Those who are non-Christians, impenitent sinners, have found that they had certain feelings and desires which they think indicated that they were born again, they think that they have a spark of holiness that only needs to be cultivated and it will grow to the point that they will become fit for heaven.
- There are some things that are said of impenitent sinners that causes them to feel that they are not in such a state. Because they fear total depravity, they look at themselves as not really hating God and good men and that since this is supposedly a sign of being impenitent, they think that they have been saved. Their response is that they don’t have feelings of hatred toward God but rather they have feelings of respect, veneration, awe, gratitude, and affection towards God and good men. They even obey these feelings, they pray and sing praises to God; they sometimes deeply revere and respect good men; they do men favors and other things which, to them, shows that they have something in their heart. Many unrepentant sinners make this mistake. They will listen to t he typical definition of sinners as people that hate God and men, which have an appetite for sin like eating food, and because they have no such feelings or appetites, they feel that they are Christians. The theology that we have discussed relating to constitutional depravity causes sinners not to see the real truth of their religious but lost condition. They will either be driven into gross sin or they will feel that they are Christians and obtain a false hope because they don’t have the attitudes and desires of one that supposedly has a constitutional moral depravity. A minister who preaches total depravity as constitutional sinfulness can’t tell the sinners that they are only having constitutional good feelings but that they are not virtue, they are not proof of becoming a Christian. These good feelings toward God and man have no moral character. These sinners are still steeped in selfishness. There are, however, some sinners who do hate God and all that pertains to ministers and Christians or anything that has to do with revival or a good report for the kingdom of God. These sinners get saved and they then make other less evil sinners who are religious but lost enter into a false hope because they make it sound as if all sinners were in their same rebellious condition. It makes the more subtle sinner at ease in Zion, as it were. All sinners need to be shown that they are living by feelings that control the will. Either they have feelings of love toward God or they have self-indulgent feelings. Either way they have had selfish feelings and they change those feelings as it fits their selfish intentions. The thing that lulls them to sleep is the teaching about constitutional sinfulness so that when they don’t see themselves as hating God and others it gives them a false sense of feeling that they have been saved. They are totally selfish but are asleep and will stand before God one day as condemned and bound for hell. The reason is that the things that they think are only common to saints are also common to sinners so that they have a false impression of their state before God. It is a warning for all that a man should not think more highly of himself than he ought to think.
- A final result of false teaching and thinking regarding the evidence of regeneration is that many true Christians have stumbled and been kept in bondage; they have lost their comfort and they become almost unfeeling about the things of God. They try so hard to have extreme feelings that their emotions become exhausted and their feelings subside. When this happens they think that they have grown into unbelief and bondage, merely because they don’t get excited enough. Satan says that lack of strong feelings is proof that they are no longer sincere. They judge their spiritual position by feelings which are the emotions of the soul and have nothing to do with true spirituality. They think that unless there is excitement that they have lost spirituality. At other times they have feelings and emotions that they consider to be sin and they resist these feelings and begin to blame themselves for even having such feelings. Now they are in bondage again even though they really hate these feelings and don’t truly indulge them. Both classes of persons need to have clearly defined ideas of what it means to be sinful or holy. The false philosophy of moral depravity and the use of the will has put many in the world in gross darkness; few truly understand sin and holiness, regeneration and its evidences; true saints are kept in bondage by many of these false notions and unconverted sinners have a false hope as to self-deceived ministers.
Areas where Christians and sinners, or deceived professors, are totally different.
We will discuss this in two areas: 1) Introductory remarks, 2) Point out the characteristics that are distinctive to a saint and those distinctive to a sinner or false professor.
- The Bible only shows two different classes of mankind, saints and sinners. All those who are regenerated are in the first class, no matter what they have attained for God. The second class of persons is unregenerate persons, no matter what they profess or what gifts, station or experiences they have.
- The Bible also says that the differences between the two are radical, fundamental, and complete. There are no gray areas. Impenitent sinners have no goodness according to the Bible; they are dead in trespasses and sins. Saints, on the other hand, are said to be dead unto sin and alive to God; they are sanctified and it is in God’s eyes as if they never sin at all, or to live in sin is to prove one is not a saint. There is never a statement that a saint never does even one sin, or any sin at all.
- The Bible defines the differences between saints and sinners as being clearly displayed in their lives. It says that men are judged by their fruits and it gives the fruit of the saint and that of the sinner in very clear terms. The Bible is very plain in discussing this subject.
- As we discuss this subject we will not give evidence of high levels of spiritual life obtained only after years of walking with God, but we will discuss what the differences are at the beginning when a person first comes to know the Lord and is thus no longer a sinner, but a saint.
Point out characteristics distinctive to a saint and those distinctive to a sinner or false professor.
- All unregenerate sinners, without exception, have only one heart, one end of life, they are selfish; this is their whole character. They are totally devoted and only devoted to self-interest or self-gratification. The unregenerate heart within them consists of a selfish disposition filled with selfish choice. This sinful selfish choice is the foundation of all activity and it is the reason for their entire existence. There is one, and only one, reason that motivates all that they do; there is one reason for what they omit from their lives, there is one reason for anything that they suffer, one ultimate intention for all that they do, remotely, directly or indirectly, and that is to gratify self.
The regenerate heart, on the other hand, is a heart of disinterested benevolence or Godly agape love. They love the God that they have come to know and they love all men, both lost and saved. They love the lost and want the best end, the salvation of their souls. They love the Christian and want the best end, growth in the knowledge of Christ and success in winning a lost world to the Savior. They have one ultimate reason for their existence, God and others. They know Him and want nothing more than to please Him in all things and to bring others to Him and to grow in the knowledge of Him. They live for the same end that God lives for, disinterested benevolence.
Now lest some would try to say this whole line of reasoning, which comes from the Bible, is works for salvation, we only need to say that the difference between the sinner and the saint is that the sinner must “manufacture” virtue while the saint practices virtue spontaneously as one that is in touch with the source of life itself, Jesus Christ. The two could not be more opposite as we described earlier in “Positions of Salvation”; they are at opposite ends of the spectrum as it were. The ultimate end of the saint is to glorify his greatest friend, Jesus. The ultimate end of the sinner is to glorify his greatest friend, himself. The saint is supremely devoted to Jesus and wants nothing more than to please Him in all things. The sinner is devoted to himself and even his religious activities are merely an act to make himself look like a Christian. On the surface, one may see them both and think that both are Christians because of the things that we mentioned in the last chapter about things which are the same in the sinner and the saint. However, as we have said from the beginning, the moral law is about ultimate intention and intrinsic value of the best end. For the saint it is the glory of God that has the most intrinsic value and second to that is the good of his fellow man. With the sinner, appearances are everything and from a selfish view point, he does all the things that he thinks makes him appear like a Christian. He even believes that he is saved. He said a prayer, albeit a selfish one, to ask Jesus into his heart. There was no real sorrow over sin, it was selfishness from the beginning. He never really came to know God and has no intention of living for God except as it makes him look as if he were a Christian. He covers up his true feelings for fear that he will be exposed for what he really is inside. He even convinces himself that these are his real feelings after all. Remember our discussion of total depravity. It is many times the most religious that are the most depraved. Forget about the false premise that all men have a sinful constitution, they don’t. The sinner can show from a constitutional goodness that he is not much different from the Christian but for different ultimate reasons.
- The difference between them has nothing to do with the fact that the saint has had a physical regeneration. As we have pointed out, regeneration is spiritual through the agency of the Holy Spirit. He has nothing different about him constitutionally. His greatest difference is possession of the Holy Spirit that came in at the time he repented and came to know Jesus personally.
- The difference is not that saints aim to do right and sinners aim to do wrong.
- The saint loves God and he loves his neighbor because of the love of God that is shed abroad in his heart. He wants the best for both as an end which he chooses for its own sake.
- The sinner is selfish, and though it may seem he is religious and almost like the Christian, he is choosing self-gratification as the end in his life.
- The saint chooses right, not as an ultimate end but because right will bring the best end to God and to others.
- The sinner makes a wrong choice but he does not choose wrong as an end; it is his selfishness that makes the choice wrong even if it has the appearance of good.
- Both the saint and the sinner are choosing what is valuable in their own mind and heart. The saint chooses the good of being in general for its own sake. He only seeks the best for all as much as he can within his own power and with the help of the Holy Spirit. We must realize that the choice of best ends starts at home, with wishing the best end for immediate family as a priority; next would be the best end for relatives who are close; next would be the neighborhood or friends within one’s acquaintance. Then would be strangers in local, state, national and world communities in that order of importance. These are all ends of relative value and a person will wish the highest end for each one as he has opportunity to make a difference in some way. The law of God only requires that we promote the best end of that which is with our reach so we can give our attention to those with whom we can have the greatest influence. When the Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves, it does not mean that we love the guy down the street or in Africa more than we love our own family. Many stumble at this principle. God only expects us to do what is within the scope of our nature and relations. That does not mean that we are not to love others, but they are to be love in proportion to their relative value to us and to our ability to make a difference in their lives within reason. To go to a foreign country to minister to the natives while leaving ones own children to fend for themselves with no parental love and guidance is not loving according to the relative value. The proper thing to do would be to make the family the greatest priority first, and then as the situation provides to minister to others, even in the foreign field. Whatever talents we possess or money, influence, possessions, or the like we have should be used to the fullest of our ability to secure the best end of all that we are able to influence. We should not be haphazard about our being a benefit to others. We should do what best fills a need with the abilities and talents that we have so that our talents are not wasted on meaningless exercise that produces few results. We need to do the greatest amount of good. We need to be efficient in our exercise for good and for God.
- We have been having this discussion in a general way so that we can approach a more specific subject, namely, what are the evidences of a truly benevolent heart or state of mind in the spirit? We need to be careful that we don’t make too strict an application of the benevolent state of mind so that we think we need to treat all interests around the world with the same intrinsic value that we do our own relative interests and those of others closest to us. Not even God is that strict. God chose the nation of Israel and dealt with them more closely than the rest of the world. Christ said he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. God chose Abraham before all other men making them a special subject of effort and spiritual cultivation. He gave prophets of that nation the oracles of God, the scriptures; no other nation has the scriptures. As with God, so with all moral agents. Their best effort and influence is to those closest to them and then others further away in varying degrees. Thus when one hears the command to love God and then ones neighbor, it applies to those closest within our reach and sphere of influence.
- The Christian has God’s love in his heart so that all his life as a Christian is based upon the development of this love so that both inward and outward activities are constantly being improved and cultivated to secure the end to which God’s love is fastened, the highest glory of God and the best to all within our realm of influence.
- By contrast, the sinner is selfish; he is constantly finding new ways to secure his own self-gratification. Self-interest is his constant end. Based upon what we have said about the sphere of influence, etc., it could be that the saint appears selfish by securing the best end only of those closest to him and yet the sinner could appear benevolent for a flamboyant show that appears to be disinterested love. The saint pursues his own good, and that of his family and his sphere of influence in a disinterested way. The sinner pursues his own gratification and that of his family, not for universal good but for the good of himself and his family and friends as part of himself as well. The appear almost the same, promoting the interests of self and family. The difference is the ultimate intention; the difference is the reasons for what they do. When the sinner is doing his best to secure a heavenly and eternal interest for himself, friends, and family he may look much like the saint in his outward experience. One could barely tell the difference between the saint and the sinner in such an example.
While we showed how they are both alike in the previously, now we will show how they are different:
- Fundamentally they are opposite in ultimate choice or intention. They are devoted supremely to opposite and different ends. They live to promote those ends.
- The saint is governed by the Holy Spirit who teaches him the moral law and it shows in universal disinterested benevolence as his law. This is a law of the heart and it is spontaneous in the saint, written in his heart through the conscience and the influence of the Holy Spirit. The law of the believer is the law of his heart which is committed to what he ought to be and do; he is conscious of this and he gives evidence to others whether they are willing to receive it or not that his heart, will, and/or intention is conformed to this conviction of his duty to God. He sees a path of duty that he should take and follows it to the best of his ability. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit he knows in his spirit what he ought to will and do and for the most part he does it. He has such a desire to walk with God and obey the scripture that he is known to others as a satisfied, observing and loving person that displays the love of Christ. The spirit of a believer plays a huge part in the difference between a sinner and a saint. Because of the uncreated life of God dwelling in the believer there is another dimension that is missing in the sinner which cannot be duplicated even by the best effort. This is not a constitutional situation but a spiritual one.
- The sinner is compared with the Christian in stark contrast. He is not governed by reason or principle but by feelings, desires and impulses. Sometimes his feelings and his intellect work together but more often they do not. Even when there seems to be a connection between feelings and intelligent thought, the lack of Holy Spirit influence leads the feelings to have control and the principle of self-gratification rules in his life. Even if his conscience tries to move him in another direction he finds it easier to follow feelings and emotions. Even intellectual thought is missing the spiritual influence that a Christian feels as the Holy Spirit speaks to his spirit. The sinner is dead spiritually and has no real communication through his spirit or with his spirit. Only the conscience is alive but because of years of neglect and because there is no Holy Spirit at work, the sinner is left to the only resources that he possesses, his intellect, emotions, and whatever will power he can muster as he attempts to reason without the aid of the spirit. The lack of influence of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with constitutional sinfulness but it has to do with spiritual darkness which causes a sinner to operate without the guiding light of God in his life. This is why the two are so opposite. The sinner has the law of God revealed to his conscience and in his mind he knows what he should do at times but he is not governed by spiritual principles since he has never submitted to the Spirit of God. The result is that he must rely on human elements that are vastly inadequate compared to spiritual knowledge. He thus relies on his mind, his emotions and with no spiritual awareness he is puzzled as to why his view of things is so emotional and lacking in wisdom. Many times when he is involved in religious meetings or activities he is able to duplicate the actions of believers and the excitement of the meeting or revival moves his emotions to act as those Christians around him do but there is no law written in his heart, no Holy Spirit to guide and instruct through the Word of God. The Bible is a closed book for the most part. He is controlled by impulses and not by spiritual principles as taught and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Others can see it as well. He will manifest some traits of Christians but mostly they are emotional and without spiritual foundation. At times the impulses are a stark contrast to the spiritual insights of believers so that they begin to clearly see that he has no light inside through the Holy Spirit. There are times when he can converse with the best using the same phrases and zealous activities full of feeling as a believer does. Then, like the air being let out of a balloon he is mystifyingly silent or he misses some spiritual truth that is quite obvious to others but he seems to be in a completely different world on the issue. He is a person who gets excited about the things of God for a season and seems to be zealous with the best of them but then there comes a time when he loses his excitement about the things of God. He begins to be silent on spiritual matters. He is swept along by other things that grab his emotions and his lack of the Holy Spirit is quite evident. He may find himself involved in politics, business, sports or other amusements, as the new excitement of his life. It is the topic of his conversation and his life moves along in another direction as a result of these excitements. He remains in this state until another wave of religious excitement comes into his life and then he confirms his delusion that he is a Christian and on fire for God. Christian friends see this and not knowing that he is only a sinner that is excited emotionally but with no true spirit of Christ living in him consider that he is prone to backsliding.
- The true believer has a completely different distinguishing characteristic. As the scriptures say, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (Proverbs 24:16) It is spiritual principle that rules in the heart of the believer. He may stumble at times as the Bible says here but his overall governing direction is to live life for the glory of God and from principles that are taught by the Bible and through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The true Christian is not enamored with popular excitement, music, applause or anything that others need to keep them excited. He can be just as fervent for God on the back side of a desert place as he is in the midst of huge crowds. He does not need a Bible conference to charge his battery as it were, he is charged by his daily walk with God and his meditating upon the Word of God. The spirit rules in his life over his emotions and intellect so that he manifests a more consistent and stable approach to life. He is not rising and falling with every new wave of popularity, music or ideas. He does not blow with every wind of new religious excitement and does not allow his emotions to control his life. His life shows stability; there is not a time of following the law of love and listening to conscience by the impressions of the Holy Spirit and the law of love and then another time of complete emotional instability where he completely denies God and his laws. He does not care for the popular things of the day. He would never ask the question, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” He actually fears and shuns the waves of popularity that sweep through society with all the temptations that accompany these waves. When he does feel a temptation from such excitements his spirit within him groans and his will resists these things. Even when he falls into some of them, he is not long before he renounces them and is again back on the path of consistency. These waves of popular excitement are not what he lives for, but they are more of an ailment and grief to his life. If these things do influence him even in the slightest way, it actually becomes a source of embarrassment to him. His guiding principle is the Word of God and the indwelling voice of the Holy Spirit through truth. He hates to live by feeling but rather feels comfortable with simplest truths that are the foundation of his life. A life of principle is far more appealing than a life of emotion and excitement. We must remember that it is moral law, knowing God, the law of love, and not mere feelings that are the governing principle of his life.
- The sinner, who may also be a deceived professing Christian, is completely different than the true Christian. Excitement is the basis of his life. He has no moral principles, only theories which he considers intellectual in his mind. Truth, law, spiritual principle, and wisdom are not as important to him as some form of excitement. He is motivated by this excitement and it does not embarrass him to live in this way. He is also prone to move from one form of excitement to another with no concern for his making constant changes in his life. If he is religious, he seems to gravitate toward the new music of the day and the drama and other exciting things that have a basis in emotion rather than spirit. His ship is driven by first one wind and then another, changing course with the times. He seems to feel that we are in a new age and one must be open to new methods and excitements to keep with the modern trends in society. The best way to move someone like this is through the feelings. His view of truth is only theory and unrighteousness holds back the true knowledge that would come from God. He may admit certain things as being right but he fails to put those things into practice in his life. His heart is far from what he knows he should be mentally. The only way to motivate him is by excitement in one form of another. His feelings are his law.
- The Christian has been justified by God and the peace in his soul glows out throughout his life. He consciously obeys the Holy Spirit that is speaking to his conscience through the spirit. He has a peace of God that passes all understanding and keeps his heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He may, at times, have conflicts with feelings and desires but unless these overcome him and he groans inwardly or outwardly, his peace remains firm. The Christian bases his peace not on his feelings but on the firm assurance of the Word of God and the revelations of the Holy Spirit within him. His comfort in justification does not rest in his minor failures but in the confident assurance that God witnesses in his heart through the Holy Spirit. He is confident that he is saved, forgiven, adopted, and a child of God. He knows that he is bound for heaven. His spirit cries, “Abba, Father.” He is conscious in his spirit that he pleases God and actually feels the smile of God on him in all the trials of life. The love of God fills his heart and his conscience causes him to smile that he is at peace with God as he as God’s partner pursues the same ends in life and with the same means. He has no collision or controversy with God and has no desire to gratify self and cause injury to God’s creatures. He is not anxious about his own salvation because he has placed the fate of his soul in the hands of God both now and forever. He fears only sinning against God and so he concerns himself with promoting the highest glory of God and the good of being for all those around him. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) The true Christian knows the spiritual truth that being justified makes us “just as if we had never sinned” and he rests in a spiritual rest that only a true Christian can have.
- The sinner has a completely different experience than that of the true Christian. He is under constant condemnation, so much so that he has trouble deceiving himself even on his best religious day. He finds it hard to imagine that he has acceptance with God or even with his own conscience for that matter. There is seldom a time when there is not some degree of restlessness and misgiving within himself. Even when this professing Christian is engaged in Christian activities he is not satisfied even with himself; he feels that something is wrong. He feels a struggle to please God and do what is right. He is not sure why it is difficult but he is not governed by the comforter, the Holy Spirit, in his conscience. He does not have the sense of being governed by the law of love and of the will of God. His conscience does not smile, as it were. There are times when he is conscious of a deep sense of feeling in saying and doing obedient acts but he is still not satisfied in his conscience. Even with the outward show, there is an inward void and he is wretched, after all. He really does not have true peace with God or in his own spirit. He is not justified and does not feel it in his spirit. Even his best performance for God leaves him feeling that something is missing within. He is conscious of his sin even in his holiest duties and the more his conscience is enlightened the more he is sure of his failure. He may feel some form of temporary peace but it is not lasting. He is not enlightened in his spirit but he thinks that this is the experience of all Christians. He still feels that he has some degree of holiness and conformity to the will of God, yet not enough to appease even his own conscience. He feels not the smile of God upon his poor soul. He feels that he has some religion and some obedience and feels like a true, though imperfect saint. His obedience does not satisfy his own sense of duty nor does it satisfy God. Justification with him is a doctrine, a theory, an article of faith of his church; it is not a living reality in his soul; it is not an experience that has changed his life and given him a peace and rest in the soul. It is more of a pleasing and dreamy delusion that props his assurance even while he doubts his own salvation.
- I don’t know if people really comprehend what this moral law concept is all about. It is a law of love. When two young people fall in love, one shows love for the other and then the other responds in kind. The Bible says that God commended his love toward us. It means that God showed us His love. The Bible also says that knowing the love of Christ passes knowledge and also that knowing Him is life eternal. I don’t think that people in our generation, especially theologians, realize that moral law is a law of the heart where the love of God is so overwhelming that it slays the heart of the sinner to a point that the sinner gladly receives that love and with it the salvation that it provides. So when we talk about doing the will of God what are we saying. God’s will is that no one perish but that all come to repentance. God’s will is that we love him and love others. We are not talking about the entire U.S. Constitution here, we are talking about something that, if you have met God, takes no thought whatsoever, love. It is spontaneous and it is like a bubbling well springing up into everlasting life as the Scriptures say. Jesus told the woman at the well that if she believed in Him she would never thirst. She would do the will of God, as she did in the story, willingly and lovingly because her heart would have fallen in love with the lover of her soul. It was no more of a strain to obey the law of God for her than for a man to buy flowers for his lover in fulfilling the law of love for his lover. The law of love is never hard. Jesus said to take His yoke upon him because it is easy. The law of love is not like the iron law of the law but it is Christ’s yoke which is easy. With that said everything we discuss here in this book is about the moral law, the law of love, the yoke which is easy and a Christian has no problem with doing the will of God, keeping the moral law. The only one that has a problem with the moral law is the sinner who lives for self-gratification. The Christian has made this law of love his law and needs no other reason to do the will of God than that that it is what God wants. He is therefore happy to do whatever it is that God wants, he loves God and wishes for nothing more than to fulfill God’s every wish and desire. As the Holy Spirit teaches him through the Bible, the true Christian sees new truths every day and as he sees them and comprehends them, he is more than happy to do whatever it is that God has revealed anew to him. There is never a day in which a true Christian plans to sin. Sin would be self living and he is far too happy in living for God. He does not look at the Bible and pick and choose which of the revelations that God shows him will be obeyed, he loves them all. He never expects to sin; he does not plan to eat too much, being a glutton; he does not plan to drink alcohol, being a drunk; he does not plan to take advantage of his neighbor, being a common thief; he does not expect to indulge in secret sin or open uncleanness; he does not expect to lust after another than his wife or to commit adultery; and he no more expects to exaggerate a statement than to tell an outright lie or commit perjury. All sin is an abomination to him and how could he possibly do anything that would make his wonderful Savior disappointed in him for his sin? He is so happy when he knows the will of God and he just can’t wait to make the greatest effort to fulfill that will. He does not ask God why he is not allowed to indulge in some form of lust or sin, he would not even think of it. He doesn’t consider serving God and Mammon. He is God’s man, God’s subject, God’s child. All his sympathies are with God and what Christ wills, he wills; what Christ rejects, he rejects. All he needs is, “Thus saith the Lord” and it is done.
- Now compare this true Christian with the sinner or false professor, the deceived one who has his own will and it is not God’s law. He does what “feels” right no matter what God thinks of his life. If he does the will of God at all, it must be exciting, never boring or he would not feel like doing anything. He treats the will of God as a cafeteria meal; he takes what he wants and leaves what he does not want. His purpose in taking or leaving has nothing to do with the will of God at all but what will make him happy. He certainly is not trying to avoid every form of sin in his life. He has not renounced sin with his heart and the will of God is not his guiding principle. He makes his own choices as if God were his servant and he can pick and choose which of God’s precepts he likes and he will obey them if it makes him happy. He has not embraced the whole will of God. He sees some sins as little sins and there is no problem for him to commit them. This is his problem; he should see all sin as big in the eyes of God. He avoids commandments that demand entire obedience and seriously thinks that all Christians are like him, that they seriously don’t expect to obey the whole law of God. He actually expects to sin every day against God and does not think that this is inconsistent with being an imperfect Christian, but a real one. He knows that he indulges in sin, he expects to do so. He has never repented of them and put them away, but he thinks all Christians are the same way. If he does avoid a sin it is because to indulge in that sin would ruin his reputation. He indulges in evil thoughts as a substitute for outward sins which would ruin his reputation. He does not mind taking advantage of his neighbor in small ways but would never think of being a common thief or a pirate on the high seas. This sinner will some day cry out with Paul in Chapter 7 of Romans, “O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” They are satisfied with outward morality while their heart is filled with selfishness.
- Christians are generally interested in evangelizing the world and any other effort to reform mankind, promote truth, and promote righteousness in the earth. A Christian always wants what is best, the good of being, the best end, that which will glorify the Lord and make a way for the gospel. This is not just theory, but the desire of the heart of a true saint. This is one thing that identifies him as a saint. It is not just theory to him, it is a matter of the heart, which is the direction of his life. As saints Christians have no wicked heart, they have been born again, born from above, born of God, they cannot sin, they have a new heart, they are new creatures, old things have passed away, all things have become new. The evidence is clear, they are holy and sanctified. One who is truly regenerated no longer has a wicked heart. He is born again. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. His seed remains in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God. He is holy and he is sanctified. The representations of the Bible and the nature of regeneration make it certain that one who has been regenerated cannot have a wicked heart. Because the new ultimate end of the saint is the highest good of God and of the universe as an end, because he now knows God, he could never go back to living completely for self-gratification again. The very nature of regeneration makes it unthinkable that one could have a wicked heart at the same time he is regenerated. A Christian is very conscious not only of the end in view but of what it takes to reach that end. The means and the end are ever clear in the mind of a believer. They are constantly devising new ways to reach the lost world with the gospel. Why would they destroy the very end for which they now live by having a heart like those who they wish to save? Not only do they have the right end, but they are constantly devising new means to reach this end which is ever before them. There is such a difference between a true saint and a sinner when it comes to these issues. Christians love reform, no matter what the cost or the amount of sacrifice to attain the reform it seems a small price to pay for the results that will be obtained. They are glad for anything that will result in more good. They wish to rid the world of as much sin as possible. They will work for the overthrow of the forces of evil in whatever way possible. Remember, a Christian is truly benevolent and earnestly contending for the best end for all, the highest good of being. Christians have always been reformers. It is always most appropriate to be politically active when it means that the best end will be achieved. Christ or the apostles may not have said it in so many words, but Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple twice which would have been the most politically disastrous thing one could do. The Jewish rulers, the politicians of the day, never forgot it and in the end it was the political pressure that made the then ruler, Pilate, give in to the murder of an innocent man, Jesus Christ. For the lack of comment about being activist in these arenas, it was Christians of the days of Abraham Lincoln and during the time of the first publishing of the book that this one is taken from that caused the end of slavery. As one looks down through history, there are milestones that have been brought about by Christians who have campaigned for better conditions, better freedom, and better rights for all men. The end of the dark ages came at the invention of the printing press when the first book in print was the Bible. So many other changes have come in countries around the world. Head hunters have been civilized. Cannibals are no longer eating human flesh. Primitive cultures have been educated and are producing doctors and scientists by the thousands. Corruption and sin of all forms have been fought so that good principles are the norm in many countries where destruction and misery used to be the norm. The best end has truly been promoted by Christians of all ages. Books have been written, scientific discoveries have been made, governments have been made more humanitarian, and the list goes on. Moral law and the principles in this book have been the earmark of the Christian since the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Even early Rome saw the end of the persecution of Christians because so many good citizens were dying needlessly to the point that the Emperor Constantine made a proclamation that Christianity would become the state religion and all persecution ceased. This, then is the trait of a true saint, a reformer, one who fights the corruptions of his day and gives all he has to make a difference.
- The sinner has no real interest in reforming anything except for selfish reasons. He is not really opposed to sin although he may act like it at times. He may put on an act of reforming the world but he is certainly not doing it for any disinterested love to God or to man. A typical example is politicians who will cater to special interests that are aimed at helping the selfish needs of a select group but have nothing to do with what is best for all or that which will glorify God. The reforms of a sinner will always have an “angle” that is aimed at some form of self-gratification, self righteousness, or self-indulgence. Even when they team up with Christians for a just cause there is a self-righteous purpose in the whole endeavor. We see this with the current situations in our day of the Tsunami and the Hurricanes that devastated New Orleans. Christians rose to the task through various missions and brought food and relief as well as the gospel to the needy areas. Those who were not Christians also gave money and did other things by way of personal activities. These were not what we call disinterested benevolence in the purest sense of the word; they were instances of yielding to the emotion of the moment and rising to the occasion. This would never be the norm for most who gave from this emotional impulse to help those in need. The point that can be made is that the sinner is not opposing sin in all of this for there is never any effort to point people to God and away from their sins. A good example is a news item that came out during the rebuilding of New Orleans. It was said that a certain business that featured women who danced and stripped for men was one of the first to flourish and the patrons were police and firemen. One can immediately see that they were helping from the emotion of the disaster but there was no desire to fight against the sin that had sprung up from the ruins as it were. No reasonable person would deny that there is a huge effort to restore the city of sin back to its old wicked deeds and even more. A sinner will only reform to a limit but he is really never opposed to sin as this illustration indicates. These sinners that we are discussing are not opposing sin as such but gratifying their self-righteous and ambitions spirits. This spirit is a spirit of pure selfishness.
Generally it is easy to measure the difference between the true Christian and a sinner or someone who is deceived into thinking that they are a Christian. These are self-indulgent through and through whether the self-indulgence takes on one form or another. Sure they don’t oppose every branch of reform because they don’t get offended by every true reformer speaking against something that they love to indulge in which would cause them to reform in their own lives. We see it particularly in politics where there is a party opposed to another party who is doing its best to make laws to help people in the country and to lead the nation against terrorists or appoint judges that are true jurists and yet an opposing party will create complete havoc in opposing reforms that would be championed if they were the leaders in the reform. It is pure self seeking recklessness the way that they will lie, cheat, and even try to dig up evils from the past purely in an effort to discredit a good effort simply because it opposes their selfish goals. Aside from politics the general populous thrives on jumping on the band wagon, as it were, of many reforms as long as the reformers don’t intrude into their own particular sin. For the most part, the average citizen will be critical of any reform measure that is championed by Christians because they know that there may be other measures from the same Christians that will seek reform in an area that is abrasive to their sinful life-style. A good example would be that of tobacco. For years Christians have been preaching and working to get certain measures passed that would limit the sale and promotion of such an evil product because of what it does to the health of individuals. This was done with much opposition from sinners and even from so-called Christians in the areas where farmers needed the revenue for their livelihood. Now, suddenly, the world at large is opposed to that which the Christians were against all along. They have succumbed to popular emotion in an area where they were vehemently opposed in previous years. The same thing could be said about alcohol. It was illegal in this country until opposition became so great that it was decided that legalizing liquor would keep the crime gangs from controlling the industry which was going on “underground.” There are even churches today that are in favor of alcohol in the communion service. What a shame! It only shows that they are fake Christians. They defend the use of something that they love to indulge in outside the church. It is one of their favorite indulgences. It is seen in England where there is a pub on virtually every corner and now there is hardly a church member who will not vehemently defend the use of alcoholic wine in the communion service. Why? Because it is acceptable with scripture? No! Absolutely not! It is because they love to drink! They have a selfish reason for even changing the Bible to suit their lust for the bottle. They prove that they are lost and bound for hell. They are religious, they are false professors. A true Christian would never desire that which is expressly a symbol of the pure body and blood of Christ. Since leaven and alcohol are both symbols of sin in the Bible and since the body and blood of Christ are represented in the two parts of the communion service why would anyone wish to make something so unholy as to use a symbol of sin for the sinless Son of God? The only reason that can explain it is that they love their own sin so much that they would have to give up their self-indulgence in order to do what is holy and right. They would certainly never entertain a campaign against all alcoholic beverages to the point of eliminating alcohol from the public markets. It matters not to them what the good reasons of a reformer are, they will find unbelievable reasons on every hand and from places where one would never expect to find a reason to be opposed to such a reform as eliminating alcohol from the public marketplace.
Just look at the case of abortion in this country. The reasons given by the abortion advocates are that a woman is in control of her own body. When one listens to the logic, the reformer would answer that if that is the case, then the woman should control her licentious life style and not be in a position to be with child. The murder of a baby is never as simple as taking out an appendix. One could never make the argument that an appendix or a tumor will eventually grow to become a living human being. Yet that is the logic behind abortion; they say it is just cutting out a part of the mother’s body. Killing the unborn is the highest form of looking the other way so that sinners may indulge themselves in sinful practices that result in pregnancy. It is a case of killing innocent life so that self-indulgence can have full control in a person’s life. If, as they constantly affirm, the promoters of abortion are for the right of “choice” then they should be advising young girls to make right choices BEFORE they become pregnant, not after the fact. This is a classic example of the difference between a Christian and the sinner or false professing Christian. A Christian would interpret “choice” as making choices which are for the best end for all concerned, even for the little baby. Take a serious moment to think about it! Is it not best for the woman, the baby, and for society in general if a woman would choose to love God and want the best for themselves and the men in their lives that they would withhold all licentious activities completely from their lives? Would it not be better to marry and provide a place and home for a child and security to the woman and a responsibility to the man? Of course it would! Then why is it that the advocates of abortion are so adamant in their campaign against Christians? It is because they are trying to protect what they call a “right” but it is not the right to kill the baby, though that is surely the result. It is the right to live in open sin with no consequences and then protect the sinner while they kill innocent life. It is curious that the battle is one between “pro choice” and “pro life.” The choice and the life are actually one and the same. The true debate is between self-indulgence and best end for God and the mother and child. That is precisely why God instituted marriage. It is the best end for all. God is not trying to harm people as they pretend, he is trying to protect the mother, the father, and the child from all the evils that are associated with this vicious crime against humanity and against the institution of marriage. One would think that marriage is the plague when it is only God’s way of protecting all and giving them the best end. The only reason that marriages don’t work out is that they are entered into as a legal form of self-indulgence and when the selfish needs and desires of one or both are so powerful that they can no longer stay together, they break up a marriage to form another sinful union. Marriage is one of the best tests of Christianity that there is. Two truly disinterestedly benevolent persons will get along in bliss and harmony and even go through some rough times and yet stay together, while self-indulgent couples will ultimately part ways.
The discussion of abortion leads to another evil of our society, namely, child molesters. The child molester is a prime example of one that is given to self-gratification to the extreme so that he will find gratification in any conceivable manner. The victims of this gratification are the poor children that are either molested or killed or both. We have no problem identifying the wrong that is done by a child molester who is so bent upon self gratification that they will go to the very bottom of the sewer in order to satisfy their lust for something which is not sinful within the bounds of marriage, namely sexual relations. This problem is only the tip of the iceberg of a far deeper problem that exists in the modern day era. We have thought that freedom of speech includes the freedom to seek self gratification by way of the press, television, movies, and in other ways including strip clubs and pornography. How strange that every form of vice and evil is acceptable as a part of the freedom of speech or of liberty and the pursuit of happiness and yet when a child molester gets stimulated through other means such as pornography until his God given appetite to do what was intended for marriage roars out of control, then we as a society can’t understand what it is that has created such monsters. I can tell you who is to blame. The perpetrator is to blame because no one is born with the nature of a child molester, it is through the process that we discussed in another chapter on moral depravity. The sinner has sunk so low that nothing is out of the question, only the fulfilling of the most basic of all human desires, sexual gratification. He is guilty to be sure. Why can we not then also blame those others in society who want no less than self-gratification and for that reason are allowed to produce filth that has the effect of exciting uncontrollable sexual passions. So much of what immorality is present in society is not because of a sinful constitution but because of an unprecedented display of graphic temptations in every corner and by every means of communication. We couch it all under the umbrella of freedom of expression but we should call it freedom of self-gratification. The indictment is not just against the molester but against those who have taken freedom of expression to unheard of excesses and they have helped to create the monster. This nation is on the brink of disaster because self-gratification has become synonymous with freedom and that is a major problem especially in light of the fact that while sexual expression goes on largely unchecked, freedom to speak about or bring God into society is being gradually phased out. Can we see what is being done here? We are replacing the moral law with the law of self-gratification. We are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. We are preparing a generation for the fires of hell and many of them are professing Christians. What a shame when they will share a devil’s hell with sinners from every segment of society. Making freedom equal to self-gratification is not really freedom at all, it is slavery and destruction.
I don’t think that the reader will fail to see the logic in what is being said. A sinner will only act like a reformer when it suits his own selfish interests and the saint will be a reformer in all areas because he knows God and wants the best end for all the universe. The truth is that if allowed to do so, all the reforms of present and past days and years would be eliminated if there were no saints to oppose such measures. Our society is now having a problem with even the mention of the name of God in the public arena as if that were some form of plague that will destroy us all. Why is that so offensive? The answer is that the self-indulgent members of society know that God is opposed to their selfish ways which are called sin in the Bible. But one should then ask the question, why is God opposed to such self-indulgence? It is because God wants the best for them and living a life of self-indulgence is a prescription for the disaster of anyone in society. God only wants the best. Our country was formed by those who wanted the freedom to even allow the mention of God in the public arena. The formers of the constitution made statements in writings during their lives that showed that they had a profound respect for God and knew that unless God is involved in all phases of our lives that we will be men most miserable. They laid a foundation that allowed the free expression of moral principles and of the One who is most holy because it would only tend to bring out the best in our country as a whole. Now we see a trend to eliminate God from the public eye. What will be left if that is accomplished? The same could be said of any number of measures that have made society more tolerable and less savage in general. If left to themselves, the self-indulgent of our society or of any society in the world, will make society as a whole a living hell. One only need to look at societies where dictators or religions with immoral principles rule. In those societies, the human rights issues are staggering! Don’t let the fact that Islam is a religion sway your thinking. Look at their vision of “paradise.” It is a dream of the male chauvinist self-indulgent life where women have no rights and men wake up to a brothel called paradise. Can anyone who reads this possibly think that this religion is of God? Or is it now time to realize that Mohammed was a self-indulgent maniac who preyed on the innocent and left death and misery in his wake which is still going on today. Any society which embraces Islam is destined to lose all the rights and freedoms that we enjoy in our Christian based society. So, why, may I ask, is it so much of an agenda that we allow self-indulgence to control us? Do we not see the ultimate results of such a disaster? Yet the sinner cares not what the end result is; he only wishes to be self-indulgent at all costs. In the end, it will cost him his soul in hell.
Another area where there is a vast difference between the saint and the sinner is in the area of homosexuality. It is becoming common in our society to treat the homosexual as another race or special interest group like the blacks who were freed from slavery. My question is this: what slavery are homosexuals being freed from? The answer is that they want to be able to practice their form of self-indulgence with no consequences from society. We discussed the fact that there is no such thing as a sinful constitution. Men are morally depraved because of two things. We are physically depraved in that we have the death sentence of Adam and Eve. We do not, however, have any excuse for choosing self-gratification over good to God and the universe, or to knowing God personally. Homosexuals were not born with any different constitutional desires than any other person. They have just allowed self-gratification to run free in their lives to the point that they have found perverted ways to fulfill their lusts. It is so bad that now there is an effort to redefine marriage to something other than what God has defined it to mean. You may ask, what is the harm in that? Please remember that the moral law seeks the best end for God and the universe. If marriage were redefined, the reason would be that some in society have self-indulgences that are prohibited by the definition of marriage. It will not stop with defining homosexuality as marriage, it will continue on until polygamy and all other forms of licentious life styles will be considered a legal bond. The only reason for any of these continuing redefinitions of the marriage the God instituted when he put Adam and Eve into the garden of Eden is that one or another form of self-indulgence is now considered a “right” in society and any to dare to tread upon that right will be considered lawbreakers and we will have allowed our Christian based society to become one that the early reformers from the days when America was formed fled from in order to have the freedoms that we now enjoy. The truth is that sinners always are against reform and they will work day and night and fight through years and centuries in order to reverse that which reformers have built that has given these self-indulgent savages the rights that they now have to practice their own self-indulgence. Their effort to legalize homosexuality as marriage is not an effort to give them their rights, it is an effort to allow self-indulgence to be a legal right that is diametrically opposed to moral law. Imagine having a law that now has sanctions for any who would practice moral law! We are dangerously close to the precipice of sending our own society over the edge of Niagara to perish on the rocks below, but the professing Christians among us and the sinners who work with them are leading the march as it were in the interest of “rights” which will result in a loss of everything that we hold dear and destroy us all. That is why I am writing this book, to give us all notice that we need to take a good hard look at our lack of moral principles and return to the moral law or we are all doomed by a society of self-indulgence which can only result in moral depravity beyond the imagination and the destruction of us all. Don’t let the sinner fool you about how the fundamentalist Christian is against certain rights or that fundamentalism will destroy a nation. It is just the opposite. Moral law, the law of love, will never destroy a nation, but a lawless disregard for moral law will; it will lead way to a society where moral depravity is law and the sanctions are punishment for any who would dare to live by the moral law and rewards for any who would live a self-indulgent life style. The depth of such a pit will certainly put us back into the dark ages.
One more example should be discussed. That would be the removal of the ten commandments from the courts of this nation. One judge was even removed from office for allowing a granite example of the commandments to remain in the lobby of the court. The reason given was the separation of church and state. We need to redefine this as the separation between moral law and the law of self-indulgence. The ten commandments are no more than an expansion of the basics of moral law which, as we have said, even God keeps and even God cannot change. It is the law of love. Are we now saying that there can be no expression of love in the court room? Are we saying that other commandments which our legal system is founded upon are no longer valid? Should we not completely restructure our whole legal system because there must be a separation of church and state? Should we, rather, make a legal system that defends self-indulgence with sanctions instead of having a moral law with sanctions? We are making a grave mistake when we make the case that moral law is the establishment of religion which it is not. Moral law is what we have stated in the beginning of the book when we originally defined it and all its subsequent meanings.. It is a law of reason, it is a priori and it has no need for explanation or proof. All living human beings know down inside that the moral law is the law of reason and there is nothing about moral law that establishes religion. It is a law of love and of wishing the best ends for all the universe. If we make the case that moral law is establishing religion then we must take it further to state that loving is establishing religion. We also must state that being unwilling to practice self-indulgence is the establishment of religion. We must further state that wishing the best for one’s fellow man is the establishment of religion. We must, finally, state that knowing God is the establishment of religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sad thing is that if you make the case that all these things are true, then you must go further and state that the only way to ensure the separation of powers is to allow self-indulgence to be equal to the separation of church and state. It means that now when we come into the court room, there should be sanctions for any who will not practice wholesale self-indulgence and penalties for any who would practice love or disinterested benevolence. That would then make any case against a rapist or child molester illegal since they are only practicing self-indulgence a wrongful case, but a case against a person who wanted to give his wife a valentines gift would result in imprisonment. Is this where we wish to go in our society. Do we really want to eliminate moral law and put self-indulgence in its place? Yet, this is precisely the reason that so many have objected to the commandments. Why? The ten commandments are a constant reminder that their self-indulgence is wrong and that it will result in sanctions which they wish to reject. They actually think that eliminating the commandments from the public sector will absolve them of the sanctions against their self-indulgence but it will not. Eventually everyone will pay the ultimate price for failing to turn to God. Those who are championing this line of legal maneuvering are proclaiming loud and clear that they are not Christians at all. They have never repented nor are they regenerated. They have not the Spirit. They will not escape the wrath of God one day. They may deny God but God will not fail to levee the sanctions against them that moral law requires, an eternity without the God that they refuse to believe in and trust, in hell. Why? Because they would rather have their self-indulgence than the love of God!
One final example will make all objections against moral law disappear. When one brings up the evils of Islam it is always the Crusades that are made part of the discussion. Let’s look at the two sides who were involved in one of the most senseless wars in the history of mankind. The Crusades were between two societies that were controlled by self-indulgent leaders. Those who believed in Islam have the dream of a brothel in paradise, the ultimate of self-indulgence. All other facets of Islam, though they mention a “god” named Allah, are easily exposed as various forms of self-indulgence in a religious way. There is no true God that would be in favor of killing innocent people for any reason. Moral law is a law of love. God loves all men of all races and nations. He does not advocate killing heretics. This is one of the sides of the Crusades. Then we have the Roman Catholic Church which is also a self-indulgent religion. At the time of the Crusades the Catholic Church was actually selling “Indulgences.” It was a way to live a self-indulgent life style and if you paid enough money to the church a “prayer” would absolve you of your sin. The priests were supposedly celibate but history will reveal that they were far from that. There are excavations where secret passages between monasteries and nunneries show secret burial places for children born to self-indulgent priests and nuns. We have almost a similar situation today. We have priests who have been exposed for their self-indulgent practices with young men, having molested them and done it all under the protection of this same self-indulgent religion. Now there is a war between two self-indulgent societies and it is always the excuse of the sinner that if we allow Christians to have too much influence we will open ourselves up to a religion like that of the “Christianity” of the days of the Crusades. Nothing could be further from the truth. That was not Christianity any more than Allah is the God of Israel and of Christians. If Allah were a god for all people he would never promote the destruction of those who follow the true God, Jesus Christ. As sure as I am writing this today, the sinners among us will be objecting in numerous ways and with reasoning’s of the mind to what is being said that will create many pages of objections against these truths. The objections are not really against me or what is said here, however, they are objections to the consciences of those who are affirming that what is said here is true and without question. The only thing that an argument against these statements proves is that the person making the objection is not a regenerated Christian. After all, that is the subject of the discussion and those who have never been regenerated cannot comprehend what has just been said. They have not the Holy Spirit to guide them and it is obvious to any true Christian that they who object are exposing themselves as to their true colors. They are sinners! They are not regenerated! They are selfish and they are morally depraved. Bring on your reasons, it only exposes you more. Your heart is really one of selfishness and the more you reason you prove that there is no Holy Spirit teaching the spirit within. As we have been saying, the difference between the saint and the sinner is quite obvious.
- Christians overcome the world. The following is an extract from a discourse by Charles G. Finney in the Oberlin Evangelist:–
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”– 1Jo_5:4.
FIRST. What is it to overcome the world?
(i.) It is to get above the spirit of covetousness which possesses the men of the world. The spirit of the world is eminently the spirit of covetousness. It is a greediness after the things of the world. Some worldly men covet one thing, and some another; but all classes of worldly men are living in the spirit of covetousness, in some of its forms. This spirit has supreme possession of their minds.
Now the first thing in overcoming the world is, that the spirit of covetousness in respect to worldly things and objects, be overcome. The man who does not overcome this spirit of bustling and scrambling after the good which this world offers, has by no means overcome it.
(ii.) Overcoming the world implies, rising above its engrossments. When a man has overcome the world, his thoughts are no longer engrossed and swallowed up with worldly things. A man certainly does not overcome the world, unless he gets above being engrossed and absorbed with its concerns.
Now we all know how exceedingly engrossed worldly men are with some form of worldly good. One is swallowed up with study; another with politics; a third with money-getting; and a fourth, perhaps, with fashion and pleasure; but each in his chosen way makes earthly good the all-engrossing object.
The man who gains the victory over the world, must overcome not one form only of its pursuits, but every form–must overcome the world itself, and all that it has to present, as an allurement to the human heart.
(iii.) Overcoming the world implies overcoming the fear of the world.
It is a mournful fact that most men, and indeed all men of worldly character have so much regard to public opinion, that they dare not act according to the dictates of their consciences, when acting thus would incur the popular frown. One is afraid lest his business should suffer, if his course runs counter to public opinion; another fears, lest if he stands up for the truth, it will injure his reputation, and curiously imagines and tries to believe, that advocating an unpopular truth will diminish and perhaps destroy his good influence–as if a man could exert a good influence in any possible way besides maintaining the truth.
Great multitudes, it must be admitted, are under this influence of fearing the world; yet some of them, and perhaps many of them, are not aware of this fact. If you, or if they, could thoroughly sound the reasons of their backwardness in duty, fear of the world would be among the chief. Their fear of the world’s displeasure is so much stronger than their fear of God’s displeasure, that they are completely enslaved by it. Who does not know that some ministers dare not preach what they know is true, and even what they know is important truth, lest they should offend some whose good opinion they seek to retain? The society is weak perhaps, and the favour of some rich man in it seems indispensable to its very existence. Hence the terror of this rich man is continually before their eyes, when they write a sermon, or preach, or are called to stand up in favour of any truth or cause, which may be unpopular with men of more wealth than piety or conscience. Alas! this bondage to man! Many gospel ministers are so troubled by it, that their time serving policy becomes virtually renouncing Christ, and serving the world.
Overcoming the world is thoroughly subduing this servility to men.
(iv.) Overcoming the world implies overcoming a state of worldly anxiety. You know there is a state of great carefulness and anxiety which is common and almost universal among worldly men. It is perfectly natural, if the heart is set upon securing worldly good, and has not learned to receive all good from the hand of a great Father, and trust him to give or withhold, with his own unerring wisdom. But he who loves the world is the enemy of God, and hence can never have this filial trust in a parental Benefactor, nor the peace of soul which it imparts. Hence worldly men are almost incessantly in a fever of anxiety lest their worldly schemes should fail. They sometimes get a momentary relief when all things seem to go well: but some mishap is sure to befall them at some point soon, so that scarce a day passes that brings not with it some corroding anxiety. Their bosoms are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
But the man who gets above the world, gets above this state of ceaseless and corroding anxiety.
(v.) The victory under consideration implies, that we cease to be enslaved and in bondage by the world, in any of its forms.
There is a worldly spirit, and there is also a heavenly spirit; and one or the other exists in the heart of every man, and controls his whole being. Those who are under the control of the world, of course have not overcome the world. No man overcomes the world till his heart is imbued with the spirit of Heaven.
One form which the spirit of the world assumes is, being enslaved to the customs and fashions of the day.
It is marvelous to see what a goddess Fashion becomes. No heathen goddess was ever worshipped with costlier offerings or more devout homage, or more implicit subjection. And surely no heathen deity, since the world began, has ever had more universal patronage. Where will you go to find the man of the world, or the woman of the world, who does not hasten to worship at her shrine? But overcoming the world implies, that the spirit of this goddess-worship is broken.
They who have overcome the world are no longer careful either to secure its favour or avert its frown, and the good or the ill opinion of the world is to them a small matter. “To me,” said Paul, “it is a small thing to be judged of man’s judgment.” So of every real Christian; his care is to secure the approbation of God; this is his chief concern, to commend himself to God and to his own conscience. No man has overcome the world unless he has attained this state of mind. Scarcely any feature of Christian character is more striking or more decisive than this,–indifference to the opinions of the world.
Since I have been in the ministry I have been blessed with the acquaintance of some men who were peculiarly distinguished by this quality of character. Some of you may have known the Rev. James Patterson, late of Philadelphia. If so, you know him to have been eminently distinguished in this respect. He seemed to have the least possible disposition to secure the applause of men, or to avoid their censure. It seemed to be of no consequence to him to commend himself to men. For him it was enough if he might please God. Hence you were sure to find him in everlasting war against sin, all sin, however popular, however entrenched by custom, or sustained by wealth, or public opinion. Yet he always opposed sin with a most remarkable spirit, a spirit of inflexible decision, and yet of great mellowness and tenderness. While he was saying the most severe things in the most severe language, you might see the big tears rolling down his cheeks.
It is wonderful that most men never complained of his having a bad spirit. Much as they dreaded his rebuke, and writhed under his strong and daring exposures of wickedness, they could never say that father Patterson had any other than a good spirit. This was a most beautiful and striking exemplification of having overcome the world.
Men who are not thus dead to the world have not escaped its bondage. The victorious Christian is in a state where he is no longer in bondage to man. He is bound only to serve God.
SECONDLY. We must inquire, who are those that overcome the world?
Our text gives the ready answer. “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” You cannot fail to observe, that this is a universal proposition,–all who are born of God overcome the world–all these, and it is obviously implied, none others. You may know who are born of God by this characteristic–they overcome the world. Of course the second question is answered.
THIRDLY. Our next question is, Why do believers overcome the world? On what principle is this result effected?
I answer, this victory over the world, results as naturally from the spiritual or heavenly birth, as coming into bondage to the world results from the natural birth.
It may be well to revert a moment to the law of connection in the latter case: namely, between coming into the world by natural birth, and bondage to the world. This law obviously admits of a philosophical explanation, at once simple and palpable to every one’s observation. Natural birth reveals to the mind objects of sense, and these only. It brings the mind into contact with worldly things. Of course, it is natural that the mind should become deeply interested in these objects, thus presented through its external senses, especially as most of them sustain so intimate a relation to our sentient nature, and become the first and chief sources of our happiness. Hence our affections are gradually entwined around these objects, and we become thoroughly lovers of this world, ere our eyes have been opened upon it many months.
Now, alongside of this universal fact, let another be placed of equal importance, and not less universal; namely, that those intuitive powers of the mind, which were created to take cognizance of our moral relations, and hence to counteract the too great influence of worldly objects, come into action very slowly, and are not developed so as to act vigorously, until years are numbered as months are, in the case of the external organs of sense. The very early and vigorous development of the latter brings the soul so entirely under the control of worldly objects, that when the reason and the conscience come to speak, their voice is little heeded. As a matter of fact, we find it universally true that, unless Divine power interpose, the bondage to the world thus induced upon the soul, is never broken.
But the point which I particularly desired to elucidate was simply this, that natural birth, with its attendant laws of physical and mental development, becomes the occasion of bondage to this world.
Right over against this, lies the birth into the kingdom of God by the Spirit. By this the soul is brought into new relations, we might rather say, into intimate contact with spiritual things. The Spirit of God seems to usher the soul into the spiritual world, in a manner strictly analogous to the result of the natural birth upon our physical being. The great truths of the spiritual world are opened to our view, through the illumination of the Spirit of God; we seem to see with new eyes, and to have a new world of spiritual objects around us.
As in regard to natural objects, men not only speculate about them, but realize them; so in the case of spiritual children do spiritual things become, not merely matters of speculation, but of full and practical realization also. When God reveals himself to the mind, spiritual things are seen in their real light, and make the impression of realities.
Consequently, when spiritual objects are thus revealed to the mind, and thus apprehended, they will supremely interest that mind. Such is our mental constitution that the truth of God, when thoroughly apprehended, cannot fail to interest us. If these truths were clearly revealed to the wickedest man on earth, so that he should apprehend them as realities, it could not fail to rouse up his soul to most intense action. He might hate the light, and might stubbornly resist the claims of God upon his heart, but he could not fail to feel a thrilling interest in truths that so take hold of the great and vital things of human well-being.
Let me ask, Is there a sinner, or can there be a sinner on this wide earth, who does not see, that if God’s presence were made as manifest and as real to his mind as the presence of his fellow men, it would supremely engross his soul, even though it might not subdue his heart?
This revelation of God’s presence and character might not convert him, but it would, at least for the time being, kill his attention to the world.
You often see this in the case of persons deeply convicted; you have doubtless seen persons so fearfully convicted of sin, that they cared nothing at all for their food nor their dress. O, they cried out in the agony of their souls, what matter all these things to us, if we even get them all, and then must lie down in hell!
But these thrilling and all-absorbing convictions do not necessarily convert the soul, and I have alluded to them here only to show the controlling power of realizing views of divine truth.
When regeneration has taken place, and the soul is born of God, then realizing views of truth not only awaken interest, as they might do in an unrenewed mind, but they also tend to excite a deep and ardent love for these truths. They draw out the heart. Spiritual truth now takes possession of his mind, and draws him into its warm and life-giving embrace. Before, error, falsehood, death, had drawn him under their power; now the Spirit of God draws him into the very embrace of God. Now, he is begotten of God, and breathes the spirit of sonship. Now, according to the Bible, “the seed of God remaineth in him,” that very truth, and those movings of the Spirit which gave him birth into the kingdom of God, continue still in power upon his mind, and hence he continues a Christian, and as the Bible states it, “he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The seed of God is in him, and the fruit of it brings his soul deeply into sympathy with his Father in heaven.
Again: the first birth makes us acquainted with earthly things, the second with God; the first with the finite, the second with the infinite; the first with things correlated with our animal nature, the second with those great things which stand connected with our spiritual nature, things so lovely, and glorious as to overcome all the ensnarement’s of the world.
Again: the first begets a worldly, and the second a heavenly, temper; under the first, the mind is brought into a snare, under the second, it is delivered from that snare. Under the first, the conversation is earthly, under the second, “our conversation is in heaven.”. . . . .
He who does not habitually overcome the world, is not born of God. In saying this, I do not intend to affirm that a true Christian may not sometime be overcome by temptation; but I do affirm that overcoming the world is the general rule, and falling into sin is only the exception. This is the least that can be meant by the language of our text, and by similar declarations which often occur in the Bible. Just as in the passage: “He that is born of God doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” Nothing less can be meant than this–that he cannot sin habitually–cannot make sinning his business, and can sin, if at all, only occasionally and aside from the general current of his life. In the same manner, we should say of a man who is almost universally truthful, that he is not a liar.
I will not contend for more than this, respecting either of these passages; but for so much as this I must contend, that the new-born souls here spoken of do, all of them, habitually overcome the world. The general fact respecting them is, that they do not sin, and are not in bondage to Satan. The affirmations of Scripture respecting them must, at least, embrace their general character.
What is a religion good for that does not overcome the world? What is the benefit of being born into such a religion, if it leaves the world still swaying its dominion over our hearts? What avails a new birth, which, after all, fails to bring us into a likeness to God, into the sympathies of his family, and of his kingdom, which leaves us still in bondage to the world and to Satan? What can there be of such a religion more than the name? With what reason can any man suppose, that such a religion fits his soul for heaven, supposing it leaves him earthly-minded, sensual, and selfish?
We see why it is that infidels have proclaimed the gospel of Christ to be a failure. You may not be aware that of late infidels have taken this ground, that the gospel of Christ is a failure. They maintain that it professes to bring men out from the world, but fails to do so; and hence is manifestly a failure. Now, you must observe, that the Bible does indeed affirm, as infidels say, that those who are truly born of God do overcome the world. This we cannot deny, and we should not wish to deny it. Now, if the infidel can show that the new birth fails to produce this result, he has carried his point, and we must yield ours. This is perfectly plain, and there can be no escape for us.
But the infidel is in fault in his premises. He assumes the current Christianity of the age as a specimen of real religion, and builds his estimate upon this. He proves, as he thinks,–and perhaps truly proves–that the current Christianity does not overcome the world.
We must demur to his assuming this current Christianity as real religion. For this religion of the mass of nominal professors does not answer the descriptions given of true piety in the word of God. And, moreover, if this current type of religion were all that the gospel and the Divine Spirit can do for lost man, then we might as well give up the point in controversy with the infidel; for such a religion could not give us much evidence of having come from God, and would be of very little value to man,–so little as scarcely to be worth contending for. Truly, if we must take the professedly Christian world, as Bible Christians, who would not be ashamed and confounded in attempting to confront the infidel? We know but too well, that the great mass of professed Christians do not overcome the world, and we should be confounded quickly if we were to maintain that they do. Those professed Christians themselves know, that they do not overcome the world. Of course they could not testify concerning themselves, that in their own case the power of the gospel is exemplified.
In view of facts like these, I have often been astonished to see ministers setting themselves to persuade their people, that they are truly converted, trying to lull their fears and sustain their tottering hopes. Vain effort! Those same ministers, it would seem, must know that they themselves do not overcome the world, and equally well must they know that their people do not. How fatal then to the soul must be such efforts to “heal the hurt of God’s professed people, slightly; crying peace, peace, when there is no peace!”
Let us sift this matter to the bottom, pushing the inquiry–Do the great mass of professed Christians really overcome the world? It is a fact beyond question, that with them the things of the world are realities, and the things of God are mere theories. Who does not know that this is the real state of great multitudes in the nominal church?
Let the searching inquiry run through this congregation–What are those things that set your soul on fire–that stir up your warmest emotions, and deeply agitate your nervous system? Are these the things of earth, or the things of heaven? the things of time, or the things of eternity? the things of self, or the things of God?
How is it when you go into your closets? Do you go there to seek and to find God? Do you, in fact, find there a present God, and do you hold communion there as friend with friend? How is this?
Now you certainly should know, that if your state is such that spiritual things are mere theories and speculations, you are altogether worldly and nothing more. It would be egregious folly and falsehood to call you spiritual-minded; and for you to think yourselves spiritual, would be the most fatal and foolish self-deception. You give none of the appropriate proofs of being born of God. Your state is not that of one who is personally acquainted with God, and who loves him personally with supreme affection.
Until we can put away from the minds of men the common error, that the current Christianity of the church is true Christianity, we can make but little progress in converting the world. For, in the first place, we cannot save the church itself from bondage to the world in this life, nor from the direst doom of the hypocrite in the next. We cannot unite and arm the church in vigorous onset upon Satan’s kingdom, so that the world may be converted to God. We cannot even convince intelligent men of the world that our religion is from God, and brings to fallen men a remedy for their depravity. For if the common Christianity of the age is the best that can be, and this does not give men the victory over the world, what is it good for? And if it is really of little worth or none, how can we hope to make thinking men prize it as of great value?
There are but very few infidels who are as much in the dark as they profess to be on these points. There are very few of that class of men, who are not acquainted with some humble Christians, whose lives commend Christianity and condemn their own ungodliness. Of course they know the truth, that there is a reality in the religion of the Bible, and they blind their own eyes selfishly and most foolishly, when they try to believe that the religion of the Bible is a failure, and that the Bible is therefore a fabrication. Deep in their heart lies the conviction that here and there are men who are real Christians, who overcome the world, and live by a faith unknown to themselves. In how many cases does God set some burning examples of Christian life before those wicked, skeptical men, to rebuke them for their sin and their skepticism–perhaps their own wife or their children–their neighbors or their servants. By such means the truth is lodged in their mind, and God has a witness for himself in their consciences.
- The sinner does not overcome the world. For the sinner, the world is in complete control in one way or another; the cares engrossments, pleasures, business, politics, influence, riches, music, styles, trends, and new age thinking are his master. This same sinner may decide to shut himself up in a monastery or nunnery; he may decide to live the life of an ascetic, a recluse from society and even in that pristine environment the world still has mastery over him; it holds him in a state of banishment from its domain. He is never truly free of the world; the monastery makes him think that he has overcome the world but this is further evidence that the world has overcome him so completely that the only way he can escape its grasp is to remove himself from the world completely and to hide from it within the walls of a stoic society. They don’t really have the world under their feet at all; the world has them in its grasp so strongly that it has banished them from it and no matter how strong the call of God to labor in the world, they have exited from it completely. These are obvious sinners who have missed completely the stronghold that they can have in Christ Jesus while living in the world. They have made a statement, not that they have overcome the world but that it has mastered them so much that the only way for escape is not “in Christ” as our illustration a few chapters has shown, but instead they have made a physical exist into a monastery or nunnery. They have only escaped to the caves and dens of the earth. They have escaped to man-made religion. It is such a shame that they have made a fatal mistake in thinking that they have overcome the world and all the while they are examples to the whole world that the world has overcome them and put them in prison to “escape” its influence. They are a testament to the fact that were they to enter back into the world, it would once again master them openly as before. We see the same, in a way, in our Christian school systems across the world. We have sought to protect children from the influence of the world which is good to a point, but the telling tale of the state of their heart is shown when they leave the confines of the protection that shielded them from the influences of the world and we find that they have been mastered by the world all along. There are countless examples of former Christian school children that live in complete bondage to the world. They were “saved” when they were five but their heart was always in tune with the world. They will find out, one day, that they have never been saved and that they are sinners still. It is sad that their parents had thought that they made them victors, but in reality they had only fled from the enemy only to be captured by it at the ultimate end. They never did knot that they could overcome the world by faith.
Though we have talked about escaping the world through monasteries, nunneries, and Christian schools, that is not the normal way that sinners behave in relationship to the world. Normally they live in and love all the things of the world. They willingly submit to its embrace and its iron yoke. They feel comfortable with all things worldly as in our illustration of “Positions of Salvation.” This is where the greatest difference is seen between the saint and the sinner. The saint lives in but is not under the control and bondage of the world. They both mingle in many of the same scenes and engage themselves in similar affairs but the difference is that the saint does not have a selfish end in view. He is not the slave of the world, but rather he is steadfast in his service of the Lord. The saint does all, not for a selfish end, but for the glory of God. The saint provides for himself and his family but it is done as to the Lord. He thinks of himself as not his own but the property of God. He is a steward of the Lord and even in business, he counts it as God’s business and not his own. The world does not belong to him, nor does he belong to the world. He does not bow to it nor serve it. God has chosen him out of the world and even while living in the world his position is still, in his spirit, in Christ as a servant. never mastered by the world but free from it while living in it.
This is not the mindset of the winner. As our chart on positions of salvation shows, he is in the world and feels comfortable there. He feels that his life is his own, he is not owned by God. Everything is his to win or lose. Successes are his successes, losses are his losses. Living for the Lord is only theory and not part of daily living. He may even go to church and claim to be a Christian but his living is that of a sinner and he serves himself and the world completely. God is only an afterthought. The world is part of his life of self-gratification. The saint lives in the world but his the mind of his spirit makes him see himself as “in Christ.” The sinner sees himself as possessing all that he has for selfish pleasure and enjoyment. The saint uses the world but does not abuse it. The sinner abuses the world and uses it to his own selfish gratification and lust. The saint overcomes the world because it is not a tool to his own self-gratification but it is something that he turns toward use for God while the sinner uses it only for himself.
- The true saint overcomes the flesh. Here we mean not only the sensibilities but also the liter bodily appetites. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal 5:16-24)
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:1-4)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:1-14)
With a saint it is not just a statement of their duty that they are to overcome the flesh, but they do actually overcome it in a real way. They grow in grace and part of that growth is a continual growth in victory over the flesh so that he sees himself as “in Christ” and is delivered from the bondage of the flesh while introduced to the liberty of the children of God. The Bible says that a true saint does not obey the flesh. Their God is not their belly, they do not mind earthly things. The Bible talks about saints as not being slaves of their appetite; they are not bound by passion or lust in any form; they are the Lord’s freemen. The very nature of regeneration makes what the scriptures proclaim to be true in experience. If a Christian does not overcome the flesh and have the victory then we must assume that there is a problem with their profession of faith. We are not talking about the experience of the mass of professing Christians who show no true change in their lives. We are talking about true saints, those of whom it may be said that they truly do overcome the world and the flesh. Their life is to live in the flesh but not to walk after the flesh. If a person is overcome by the world, the flesh and the devil it will show in their daily lives. The whole concept of regeneration is the turning away from sin and self. Our problem today is the same as it was in the days of Charles Finney who wrote the original of this book. We think that we can believe what is said here in theory, but in practice we think that we can live as slaves of sin and be daily overcome by it. The problem is that the Bible makes many statements that contradict this assumption by the nominal Christian who does not truly know the Lord. It walks about how saints, “do not sow to the flesh,” they “do not live after the flesh:” nor do they “mind the flesh.” They “do not war after the flesh;” but “have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts;” they “through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body;” and they “keep under their bodies and bring them into subjection.” This is not just what “should be” the character of a true Christian, but it is an absolute “must” for anyone who is truly regenerated IN CHRIST.
- The sinner is overcome by the flesh. Unlike the saint, who cares little for the things of the flesh, the sinner has self-indulgence as his law. His life is constantly filled with impulsive behavior all based upon the self-indulgent mind set that he lives under. He literally “lives in the flesh and walks in the flesh.” This sinner “fulfills the desires of the flesh and of the mind” while he is “carried away with his own lusts and enticed.” The sinner truly says, “his god is his belly.” He can’t stop sinning and he is thinking constantly of and overcome by earthly things. He has a bondage to his flesh that cannot be broken. With the sinner, conquering the flesh is not performance or experience, but just duty, opinion, and theory. The sinner knows what he ought to do in theory; he knows that he should overcome but does not. He denies in practice what he knows his obligations are. He knows what a Christian should be and even admits that he is not what he should be. He may even profess to be a Christian and yet he freely admits that he is not what a Christian ought to be. He assumes that a person can be a Christian in name and yet fail to life the life of a Christian in his daily life. He truly is what we call a “Sunday-Go-To-Meeting-Christian.” The Bible says it very well, “They profess that they know God but in works they deny Him.” There is a strange state of mind in those who profess to be Christians; it is almost an infatuation with the “idea” of being a Christian; it is such an “idea” that they have a strong intellectual apprehension of what a Christian should be and yet they don’t even consider it important in the least that their life does not match what they claim to be. They don’t have a heart that knows God, only a mind that knows “about” God. They don’t realize that without a proper heart, no man will see the Lord. They will actually admit that they are not free but that they are in bondage to sin. They see what the truth is and at times vow to overcome the flesh but they fail as soon as the flesh brings them again into captivity. He tries to do good but he finds evil in his heart. His experience is that of Romans 7 where he finds himself being brought into captivity to the law of sin which is in his flesh. He tries to do good but evil is present in his members. He, like so many other false professing Christians, takes the position that when the Apostle Paul wrote this that he was speaking about himself as being a Christian and yet still being enslaved by the flesh. He does not see that Chapter 7 is the experience of a lost man who is trying to act like a Christian but that Romans 8 is the experience of a Saint who has found the victory “in Christ Jesus.” He does not know that the spirit of life in Christ Jesus can make him free of the law of sin and death. One need only read Romans 7 and Romans 8 and there is such a contrast that should be clear to any who are true saints. The problem is that a lost man who is deceived has not the Holy Spirit to discern the difference. Since this man has never been regenerated, his habitual sin is never broken by the power of God. His idea of regeneration is really only conviction of sin but there is no life-changing experience. They still struggle with the flesh and when they resolve to conquer it, they cannot. How can anyone call this regeneration? What a sad indictment on most of what we have in the Christian world today just as it was in the days of Charles G. Finney. Where is the use in regeneration if there is no change in direction of the life? What is the purpose of it all? The Bible calls it being born from above and being born of God. It states that one that overcomes the world is born of God. It says that one that is born of God does not commit sin. It even says that a Christian cannot sin because he is born of God. It says that old things have passed away and all things have become new. It says that a saint overcomes the world. It says that the saint has crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. There are many other passages that we could quote and with all this evidence from Scripture there is still a prevailing opinion among many so-called Christians that they are saints and yet experiencing the dilemma presented in Romans Chapter 7. The apostle could not have given a clearer picture of a sinner before he is regenerated than is displayed in Romans 7. He is controlled by impulses and self-gratification. How many claim to be saved knowing that Romans 7 is the picture of their life is a real shame. They struggle but have never come to the liberty of the sons of God. They are still in bondage to their own flesh. How could anyone ever assume that this is the experience of a regenerated heart? The truth is so plain. The sinner sees what he ought to do, resolves to do so, but fails miserably. The saint, through the power of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit has the victory and overcomes the flesh. He overcomes but only through Christ Jesus our Lord. The sinner is overcome yet thinks that his conviction and his prayer that did not reach higher than the ceiling makes him bound for heaven but he is truly only convicted and not regenerated as yet. This sinner cannot say with Paul that he has been freed from the body of this death through Jesus Christ. The true saint can actually say that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made him free of the law of sin and of death. The sinner, knowing that he is still in bondage says, “O wretched man that I am.”
- Saints overcome Satan
The Bible teaches this very plainly.
“I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.” (1Jo 2:13) The Bible calls the wicked “children of the devil;” they are “taken captive by him at his will” and they obey “the god of this world.” They essentially have Satan ruling in their hearts. This brings to mind the current trend in “Christian music” where the theme that has brought music from holy hymns and songs of praise and worship into a rock ‘n roll atmosphere is an attitude spawned by a song entitled, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music,” is to make Christian music look sound, and feel like that of the world. We have literally stood at the precipice of evil and rather than denying the flesh and the music of the heathen, we have now adopted it as our own in Christian circles admitting that the devil had something to offer the Christian world after all. What has really happened is that the Christian world has swallowed the Satanic line completely and exposed their hearts as being bound by Satan and not even close to that of true Christians. The demons of hell must dance with glee as they see the Christian world gyrating with the best dance moves of the bar room and bringing the music of Satan into every church in the land. This is the greatest evidence of all that a generation of false professors is truly under the spell of Satan and they are following the “Pied Piper” straight to the brink of the pit and they will perish in their own foolishness. These who promote the “Devil’s music” in church are proving what is said here, they are lost and captive at the hands of the arch deceiver himself, Satan. They are not regenerated, they have selfishness as their end and the only reason that they love the wrong music is that it fulfills the self-gratification that is ruling in their hearts every day.
By contrast, saints are those that have been set free from Satan’s power; they have been delivered from his dominion. They may have temptations and yet they overcome in wondrous ways. Satan tempts both but it is the deceived professor and the sinner that are constantly overcome and taken captive at his will. The true saint is known by his faith and the strength that he has in Christ which enables him, amidst the temptation to be more than conqueror. A true Christian, then, will triumph over Satan’s influence while the sinner and the deceived professor continue to be bound in a way that prevents their escape. The true saint is totally aghast at the evil music that has ruined thousands of churches and they, frankly, have found it hard to find a true place that is holy and free from Satan’s grasp where they can go to church and have the freedom that is promised in Christ Jesus.
- The true saint shows the characteristic of true regeneration, self-denial; he denies himself. By definition, regeneration is turning from self-gratification to a choice of the highest well-being of God and of the universe. This is another way of saying that the saint denies himself. He abandons self-indulgence while committing the will to the exact opposite; he turns from having self on the throne to having God on the throne of the heart. Self-denial is not asceticism or penance as some would assume; these are mere legalism that is spoken of in the Bible as “will worship and voluntary humility, and neglecting of the body;” rather, self-denial comes about when a person actually and totally renounces a selfish heart. The Bible has much to say about the heart and self-denial is one of those areas that the heart is most exposed. One who denies self ceases to live for self no matter what their status in life, whether in the line of a royal family or in the most primitive of surroundings, it does not matter. The outward wealth or station has nothing to do with self-denial. A king may practice self-denial as did King David in the Bible or he may live for self as did wicked Ahab. He may be totally devoted to God so as to be a man after God’s own heart, or he may incur a curse as Ahab incurred and died a horrible death. A person could be rich and yet have a humble self-sacrificing heart and he could be poor and live completely for self. I have seen handicapped persons who were most rude and self-seeking. On the other hand I have seen men of wealth that groaned over souls and wished only that they may know God more and walk with Him daily. The poor ascetic may live for self-gratification by being ascetic, caustic, sour, ill-natured, unhappy, severe, censorious, envious, and disposed to complain of, and pick at the extravagance and self-indulgence of others. This is still a life of self. The true saint, however, will be self-denying no matter what state of life he is in, rich or poor, educated or not, in a position of authority, or the most humble laborer, all have one unifying characteristic, self-denial and a desire to know God in a greater way. I think now of a statement by one of my favorite writers, Watchman Nee, who said that many times people think in terms of apostolic journeys, but God chooses to put some of his greatest servants in chains. The status in life will mean nothing to the true saint, only the state of the heart is what matters, a heart of self-denial. When a Christian accommodates themselves to their circumstances and relations for benevolent reasons, it is a different kind of self pleasing. A selfish person will see themselves in the actions of the Christian and assume that their own selfish ways are being practiced by the true believer. This is why, so many times, sinners always see evil in the good that a believer does, they are seeing the evil that they would do in a similar situation. The believer, on the other hand, tends to see the sinner through his own eyes and in many ways takes it for granted that the sinner has similar thought processes and is quite taken back by the utter selfishness of a sinner in the end. It is only when the obvious is known that the believer finally realizes just how evil the selfish ways of the sinner truly are. A Christian loves the truth and so he is not prone to suspect someone else of lying to him since he is a lover of the truth. It takes strong evidence to convince the saint that the sinner is really as untruthful as he really is.
The Christian has so denied his appetites and passions that he has become a master of them in order to consecrate himself totally to God. On the other hand, the sinner is mastered by his appetites and passions; he serves them every day. He is consecrated to them rather than being consecrated to God, while the saint has ceased to live in order to gratify selfish passions and habits. Old things have truly passed away and all things have become new. Though he once was a drunkard, a glutton, immoral, and a smoker with self-indulgent habits of every kind, he has been saved, regenerated and lives that way no longer. If a true believer does have any of those habits, he is reasonable enough to listen and once taught to obey God in abandoning these evil habits by the power of God and for the glory of God. He won’t try to get others on his side in order to make excuses as to why he can’t or won’t renounce his evil habits, he will go to God where the Holy Spirit teaches him without the aid of outside sources to have the victory. It all comes down to the fact that the sinner is self-gratifying and the saint is self-denying. The saint has found a treasure far greater than the satisfaction of the flesh; he has found the glory of pleasing God instead. He does not complain and ask why he can’t do certain things; he has the Holy Spirit teaching him what is right to do and he would rather please God than his own selfish flesh. The truly regenerate show evidence in this way that they have given up every form of self-indulgence in their lives. Grace rules in his heart and has won the victory through the conquering power of Jesus Christ our Lord.
- The sinner does not deny himself. This does not mean that the sinner will automatically gratify all his desires because desires can be contradictory to each other so that one needs to deny one in order to indulge the other. A sinner may not have the financial strength to be extravagant with his money. He may love a good reputation far too much to engage in activities that would disgrace his good reputation. There may be any other number of things that the sinner would not do in order that he could engage in some other self-indulgent activity but they are all still the same, rooted in pure selfishness. “The nun may take the veil; the monk may retire to the cloister; the miser take his rags; the harlot seek the brothel; the debauchee his indulgences; the king his throne; the priest his desk; all for the same ultimate reason, to wit, to gratify self, to indulge each one his reigning lust.” – Finney The bottom line is that the sinner is ultimately selfish and his pursuits are that of the self-indulgent one. He is really a slave; he is a servant to his lusts which he serves regularly. It is never a question of the sinner being unable to conquer his lusts but that he will not conquer himself and his lusts. He will not overcome them. Listen to a church member who has been “saved” and you will hear him say that he knows that he should give up a habit but he refuses to give it up. There is no greater evidence than this that the “Christian” is not really saved at all but he is an unregenerate sinner or a backslider that should fear for his very life. If these false professors could see what true regenerations is they would be deceived no longer. It is a complete contradiction to say that a Christian is a self-indulgent soul; can they be disinterestedly selfish or have self-indulgent self-denial, or unregenerate regeneration; can they have sinful holiness or holy sinfulness? The Bible says it most clearly: “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (Jam 3:11) “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat 6:24) If he is a backslider he needs to check his salvation to make sure that it is the real thing. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Hebrews 4:1-2) The book of Hebrews is filled with illustrations of Israel who came right up to the door of the promised land but failed to enter because of unbelief. When a person calls themselves a Christian if they are truly born again God will definitely deal with them. If God does not deal with them to bring them back, then they prove that they were never saved to begin with. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:6-8) Any person who claims to be a Christian who remains indefinitely in a state of selfishness has made the case that he was never saved at all. He is lost and bound for hell. This is why the minister of the Gospel should not try to give assurance to the false professor at all. The sinner must repent or be forever lost. To assume that the person is only backslidden makes a serious miscalculation in the nature of God and of the Moral Law. As we have said previously, no one can be both selfish and benevolent at the same time. Some would say that the backslider loses his salvation and will burn in hell. I believe that the Bible teaches that a backslider will not long remain in that condition or the doctrine of perseverance is a false doctrine. God will bring the backslider back or he will suffer the penalty of death. All sinners and backsliders must realize that if they are not doing all in their power to eat, sleep, wake, and do all for the glory of God then they need to repent. Don’t spend time proving that you are already saved. Come to God as a lost sinner, repent of your sins and make a clean commitment to God both now and forever before it is too late. Don’t let the delusion that you are already a Christian cover up your obvious self-indulgent life. Come to God as the sinner that you are and He will forgive your sins and give you a home in heaven.
- True Christians overcome sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. The proof is in the word of God, the Bible. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4) “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:3-10) “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:1-4) Though we cannot press these verses to the exact letter, we can say that overcoming sin is the rule of the Christian, the one born of God. With a true Christian, sin is the exception and not the rule. True Christians live so much without sin that when they occasionally fall into sin at one interval or another it may still be said in strong language that they do truly live without sin, that they do not sin. Our generation has taken the exact opposite of this as in the days of Charles Finney. We have assumed that all those professing Christians that are bound by sin are truly saved when, for the most part, they are false professors and bound for hell. It is time to go back to the clear teaching of the Bible. Let us see again what the Bible has to say: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” (Galatians 5:6) “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4) “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:1-14) I feel that we have lived too long in only a limited portion of scripture. We love the “Romans Road” and John 3:16 or other pet verses but we have not applied the complete teaching of scripture to the subject of regeneration. Most preachers are afraid to preach on repentance thinking that it is works for salvation but nothing could be farther from the truth. What we are speaking about here is the condition of the heart. No truly born again Christian can possibly live a life time as a slave of Satan and of sin. This doctrine is a stumbling block that will send thousands to hell. If he is truly a Christian who is backslidden the Heavenly Father will, like the story of the prodigal, bring him back and restore him to divine fellowship once again. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalms 37:23-24) Many will try to dispute this position but it would be far better to be in the position of a lost sinner who needs to repent and make a full commitment to God by turning from self-indulgence to true benevolence as we have said than to go on in life as a slave of sin thinking that one is saved only to find that they will burn with the devil in hell. Don’t take any experience or facts in history over the teaching of the Bible. It is far better to be safe than sorry. It would be far better to repent and be in heaven than to procrastinate and be in hell at the end.
We would make a huge mistake to do as others have done and use the story of David or Solomon in the Bible as examples. David, it is obvious, was a spiritual man with backslidings few and far between. Solomon wrote the Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes which prove that his heart was truly after the Lord in the end. The places of idol worship were more a result of the sin of the people than that of the king. The end of the book of Ecclesiastes is a resounding affirmation that Solomon may have had doubts, but in the end he had a heart for God, or else why would the Bible make Him a type of Christ. Also consider that they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit as we have today so it is far safer to abide by the scriptures that say whosoever is born of God does not commit sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) This seed is the word of God. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23) The truth of the Word of God is what overcame the will of the sinner and it now remains in the saint in such a sense that he cannot truly sin because he will be pressed by the Holy Spirit to confess it immediately or be miserable and unable to function in life. God’s Word comes to him over and over, reminding him of his state in Christ and bring him back into the fold. The fact is that a true Christian may lapse into sin but he cannot ever live a life of sin because the seed of the Word of God remains in him so strongly that he will repent and come back to God.
- The sinner and the deceived false professor are both slaves of sin. Romans Chapter 7 is the example of the estate of such a one. This chapter shows the sinner and the false professor at his best. He has no Holy Spirit and he is in bondage to the flesh. Such is the case of the deeds of the flesh recorded in Galatians chapter 5. This man can go no farther than to make a resolution which he cannot keep but he gets great moral support from others and even from his own reasoning which tell him that he is saved. He knows what he should do, he has heard it preached from the pulpit but he thinks that though he believes it in theory that there is nothing wrong from him not doing it in practice. He tries to forsake sin but in his heart of hearts he still loves it after all. He is convicted, to be sure, but he never really forsakes the sin in his heart. He has only gone as far as conviction of his sins and is hoping that he is a Christian though he has never really had a changed heart. This is a horrible delusion! Thousands are in hell, having stumbled at this delusion.
- The Christian is charitable in his judgments. This is so evident while I am writing this book. A local church which was once a red hot center for preaching the truth has changed their stripes and now is the center for “honky tonk” music in church. The staff members are living lives that are surely questionable. We wrote them recently to question their change of principles and the response was hardly that of a Christian who is charitable in his judgments. This response was filled with many of the traits of selfishness that we have written about in previous chapters. A true Christian could never have this outlook because they love everyone and seek their good, especially another brother. It was quite interesting that the e-mail that he wrote back to our inquiry was filled with words about us being on a spiritual mountain and looking down at him while he spoke some juicy gossip which he had heard but never confirmed because we don’t even know the man personally. The amazing truth is that the things he accused me of were things that would be a part of the life of an unregenerate sinner and not that of a Christian. He was doing the opposite of what a Christian would do, namely, to ascribe the conduct of others to upright intentions, and instead was ascribing their conduct to that which would be his own. We could only ascribe less than upright intentions to that organization because of the evidence that is on their own web site which is the way that a true believer behaves. A saint does not like making claims that are not true and he would rather think the best and never spread evil at all; in fact the true believer would not even believe the evil unless it were proven and then they would prefer to be silent so that God could deal with the sinner and bring him to Himself in repentance quietly without gossip destroying the life. It would be a contradiction to say that a person, like this staff member who is obviously not saved according to the Bible, can be censorious and benevolent at the same time. They could never judge, think or speak evil of someone that they don’t even know. The Bible says that Charity is kind, courteous, forbearing. It prefers to promote the good of all, not to rashly impeach their lives and motives or to judge someone more severely than the circumstances would indicate at the time. True benevolence implies a sacred regard to the feelings and reputation of our neighbor, almost as much as we regard the feelings and reputation of our own lives. A truly regenerate person cannot feel comfortable being a tale bearer or a busy-body when speaking about others and their lives. They would not believe any evil report without the strongest evidence to support it. I recall that even my own father gave me a report of a minister that had fallen into gross sin but I refused to believe it for years and only after knowing that it was true finally accepted the facts. Even then, I could never bring myself to openly condemn him in any public forum or in private conversation. I have seen him since and he seems to be attempting to rebuild his life. Seeing web sites where Christians are openly criticized by other Christians makes a strong statement that those participating in such practices have never been regenerated or they could not possibly practice what they are practicing in making public statements meant to destroy the lives of other persons who claim to be Christians. No one who is truly regenerated can feel comfortable being a tale-bearer, a busy-body, or a slanderer in meddling with other peoples lives and sharing their juicy gossip with the world. Even when an evil report is true, a true believer would never give any publicity to it but would mournfully pray that the person would repent and come to God. He would only make it known on a limited basis and only when it would serve the best ends for all to do so and that in a loving way. To be truly charitable in our judgments one could never have a disposition to believe evil and then to report it as fact regarding anyone; it would be incompatible with universal well-being. When this judgmental trait appears in the lives of any professor of religion we can rest assured that his profession is vain. James says it so well: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26) The true saint loves his enemies, wanting the best end for even them. It is not just a theory but a fact of reality. It is the mark of the true life of a saint and I feel that we have few that manifest this quality that call themselves Christians in our modern day and time. True saints can and do love their enemies, they bless those that curse them and they do pray for those that despitefully use and persecute them. To do otherwise is strong evidence that the person is a false professor and not a saint.
- Those who have never really repented (this includes false professors who claim to be Christians and are not) are censorious in their judgment and slanderous in their conversation. They are selfish and as such have a love for ambitious projects filled with envious feelings. They are constantly judging others by their own lives even though they know that they are the worst of hypocrites themselves. They are selfish in their aims, false in their pretences, ambitions in their schemes, and envious in their spirit; sadly enough, they have a consciousness of so much wrong in their own lives that they naturally interpret the motives and character of others by their own sinful lives. Little do they realize that the very censorious speeches and rash and uncharitable judgments that they make are a crude revelation of the weight of evidence against them of their lack of charity; they are ever too willing to take up any suspicion, rumor, and then they give publicity to that rumor that will dishonor and injure their own neighbor. A true Christian should learn a stern lesson never to confide in such a censorious man or woman. They are so false that they would betray the very Lord Jesus Christ in order to justify themselves.
- Christians, those ho have truly regenerate souls, have and experience great and present blessedness in their walk with the Lord. It is not their own happiness that motivates them but it is serving the Lord and living for others that forms their greatest motivation in life. They are happy when they are virtuous; there is no real interest in any gain for self, it is disinterested benevolence in true form. Self-gratification or enjoyment is not a priority unlike those false professors who would try to be Christians without the influence of the Holy Spirit which makes them miserable as believers; they can’t enjoy a walk with the Lord that they don’t have because self enjoyment is their real true love. Knowing the Lord and seeking the good of being has certain reasoning behind it all:
- The conscience is moved by the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts.
- Because of the fellowship and smile of God in the heart; because of conscious communion and fellowship with my wonderful Lord; and—-
- I am gratified to make my Savior happy, the sweet gratification that I can get his smile and the words “Well done” makes me supremely blessed.
- Yet if I seek my own happiness as the end in view, I don’t really obtain that end for three reasons:
- My conscience keeps screaming at me that I am wrong even though I act like I am right.
- God does not smile or say “well done” to me but hides his face from me, a wicked sinner. He does not fellowship with me and that is the worst misery one can have.
- I therefore don’t really secure self-gratification, my chosen end; I am not gratified at all, really, just disappointed.
- If I try to win souls for selfish reasons and the sinner gets saved, I still can’t be happy for these reasons:
- My conscience is dissatisfied with my motives.
- God is not happy; he does not smile upon me.
- Since I was seeking self-gratification rather than the conversion of the sinner, his conversion does not really gratify me because I have not attained the end of self-gratification and thus am not truly happy.
- On the other hand, If I seek the right end, the disinterest love of seeing souls saved for their own sake, I am blessed whether he is converted or not, but more if he is because it is not my own happiness that is the end but his.
- Whether saved or not, my conscience approves the effort as being for the best end of the sinner and smiles that I have done all that I could.
- God accepts that I had a will to win the sinner and even though I may not have done so, yet my intention was right so He blesses the effort of faithfulness in seeking the best end of all sinners, almost as if I had succeeded in converting the sinner from his evil ways.
- Then if he is saved, I have truly obtained the end of all ends and I am joyfully satisfied and grateful to have fulfilled that end.
So, a believer may be triply blessed, happy in his salvation and though tempted, the Lord delivers him from temptation and then makes him blessed as he seeks the best end, the good of God and others.
- The selfish false Christian, the professor of religion that is still lost—
- Cannot have piece in his conscience.
- He does not have the smile of God and the fellowship of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- He is not disinterested; he does everything with an ulterior motive, to serve self and thus cannot rejoice in the glory of God, not exactly what self-gratification would choose. He cannot, with self as his great motive and end for living, be filled with peace and joy in believing. Serving the Lord is a task, not his joy, his very life. He is only religious as a form of religion because he thinks that he must be religious to put on a good image. His prayers are the same way, prayers of necessity, not joyful communion with his wonderful Lord but a necessary evil in order to obtain his selfish desires. His type of Christianity is that if he does not do certain things, he will miss out on certain things which his selfish soul desires. He has no really communion with God or harmony with the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the best end for God and others. His soul is not satisfied and he knows it but since so many people that he knows who are also false professors (he thinks that they are the genuine product) with the same misery as he has that he thinks that it is normal for being a Christian to be a burden and not a delight. Thus, he continues to hope that he is saved when he is as lost as the devil himself. He only does what he thinks will prove that he is saved even though he is miserable in doing it. He is truly not happy at all.
- True saints delight in the salvation of souls by any means possible as long as they are true conversions. A hypocrite is not happy that souls are saved unless they do the saving as it were. They don’t want others to get more glory than they.
- True Christians do all they can for God’s glory and to convert the world, whether known or rewarded, or not. Sinners want nothing of soul-winning unless they can get some form of applause or reward.
- Christians truly have the spirit of Christ:
- Their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:9-11)
- Their bodies are also the temple of Christ. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:9-11) “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Colossians 1:27) “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
- Christians have the spirit of adoption. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)
- True believers have the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:22-24)
- Christians are led by the Spirit. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18) “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
- Saints have the spirit of prayer. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
- Christians have the law of God written in their hearts. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This is also quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 applying to Christians in our dispensation rather than to saints in the Old Testament. The same law that was written on tables of stone in the Old Testament is written upon the tables of the heart by the same Holy Spirit. The spirit of love that the law requires, is begotten in our hearts, we are truly regenerated and the love of God fills all our hearts and we love Him with all our hearts and we love our neighbor as ourselves.
We could go on endlessly with many other points that show the difference between saints and sinners but this should satisfy our course of study at this point. One can find a fuller development of certain particular points in the discussions of attributes of selfishness and those of benevolence. It is the obvious manifesting of the attributes of benevolence that is conclusive proof of a regenerate heart with all the various modifications that were mentioned, a best end of disinterested benevolence.
Attributes of selfish, on the other hand, are really different modifications of sin and the existence of these in the life of a sinner or a professor of religion are only proof that they have never been saved and that they have an unregenerate state of mind; they are unholy.
Someone could write volumes on this subject but the most important thing that we can say is some special remarks. There are mistaken assumptions surrounding the nature of regeneration which have led to false methods of finding what evidence one has that they are saved at all. Many people go by the feeling that they had when they prayed to God for the first time as evidence of regeneration. This is very dangerous because no one should ever go by feelings. The Bible talks about a persons life, not his feelings when it discusses the evidence of regeneration. The Bible assumes that the philosophy of regeneration is that the change in the will is the true evidence of a change. Since feelings do change we can never depend upon them at all, though they may be present or not when the heart is changed. The outward life is not the evidence and yet the outward life does obey the will and thus the outward life is something that one can truly see which shows a change in the will. Where works for salvation comes in is when a sinner reforms his outward life without a change in the will in order to appear as if he is a true believer when he truly is still lost and completely selfish, even in his charade.
Every living human being, every moral agent, knows in his heart of hearts if he is living for self or for God and others. He knows if he wants the best end or the end of self-gratification. This is something about which no one should doubt, the state of their regenerate or unregenerate heart. Anyone who understands the definition of regeneration should have no doubt in their heart if they are or are not regenerated. There is no middle ground, no gray area. When feelings are involved there is a never ceasing ebb and flow of evidence or lack of it in the mind of the person. If anyone will truly accept the fact that a new heart is a heart of disinterested benevolence and nothing else, they will not be taken by some false philosophy that will send them to hell one day. A regenerated heart is a heart of entire consecration to God. If a person has this mind set, he knows for what end he lives without any doubt. His heart is set on his knowledge of God and of living for Him. The Bible even challenges us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not in the sense of works for salvation, but to examine our selves to see if we are in the faith. What is the thing that a man lives for, really? Does he live for the best end of God and man, does he know God and thrill to know more about Him and to bring others to him to give them their best end? Is his life one of true disinterested benevolence? Does he have the fruit of the spirit? Is his mind set a charitable one? Does he show love in various circumstances? We are so mistaken to judge by opinions and feelings than by the direction and end of our lives. Rid yourself of the thought that religion is feelings and experiences. So you had a vision, so what? Don’t be caught up in the standard delusions. There is only one thing that can break the spell, to be truly born again, to experience the true nature of regeneration, a change of heart both now and forever.