Radical Reconciliation: “It is impossible … to restore them again,” Part 4

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Baptism (1)The bad news

One more point. There’s an obvious temptation to rely on God’s grace to sin. (Don’t tell me the thought didn’t cross your mind as you read this post.) There are two serious problems with that attitude.

The first is that this is exactly the attitude that gets people damned. God’s patience is not unlimited.

The second is that sin is deceitful.

(Heb 3:13-14 NIV)  13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

(Rom 7:11 ESV)  For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

When we play with intentional sin, we are in the midst of the place where our consciences are being seared and we’re losing the ability to repent. Sin lies — and one of the lies is “You will not surely die.” We become convinced that we can safely do what we know is wrong. Soon we no longer care about the things of God, and soon we’re unable to repent.

And then we’re damned despite having received the greatest imaginable grace at the highest imaginable cost. And we become guilty of bringing contempt on Jesus. And there’s no going back.

A final word

Sin is deceitful. For the person becoming entangled in sin, it’s hard to see the danger. It’s like a drug. It feels safe. Therefore, we all desperately need our brothers and sisters to warn us when we begin to rebel. We aren’t likely to warn ourselves.

(Heb 3:13 ESV) 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

(Heb 10:24-25 ESV)  24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The way we make it safely to the end is not just God’s grace; it’s also the community we call “church.” None of us is strong enough to make it all the way by ourselves. God gave us a church so we’d be surrounded by friends who love us enough to warn us when we’re making bad choices — friends who love us so much that they’ll risk losing our relationship to keep us from gehenna.

Church is not about the order in which we say the opening prayer versus the announcements or whether we use a piano to accompany our singing. Church is about loving each other enough to help each other avoid the dangers, temptations, and lies of sin so that no one dies in the desert and we all enter the Promised Land together. I mean, what fun would heaven be if our friends weren’t there with us?

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