Article at Desiring God and Sexual Immorality

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Vox Oculi

Puritan Board Freshman
All I am trying to say is that since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility), if we see a lack of fruit, what assurance should we have? Christians will struggle with sin for their entire life for sure, but repentance is not simply knowing that it was wrong or feeling guilt, but rather turning away from it.

I hope that clarifies...
Our sanctification does function to assure us, sure. But it is not the basis of our assurance. If it was, we are setting ourselves up for uncertainty, depression and despair.
Yes, the Word is our source of confidence. God's promise to us that if we believe, we're saved. The purpose of works as far as their effect on us, as you said, is to confirm to us our salvation. It is an aid, that gives further confidence. You make a very good point that it by itself is not and shouldn't be the ROOT of our assurance. The foundation of our confidence is God, God's Word, God's character. Sanctification is a gratifying confirmation of what we already know. It functions to make us less susceptible to 'flaming arrows' -- attacks that question our faith.

Thanks LilyG. I just wanted to emphasize and underscore. Bearing in mind that the forum is publicly viewable, and saying the same thing from different angles can help a person 'get' something.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you may have created a false dichotomy. We're not saying anything different. James 2:18 may help.

Blessings.
Maybe, and if so, I apologize. It seems as though you are saying if we don't repent so many times for any particular sin, we should take that as proof we aren't saved.


since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility)...
Hm, disagreed.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I think you may have created a false dichotomy. We're not saying anything different. James 2:18 may help.

Blessings.
Maybe, and if so, I apologize. It seems as though you are saying if we don't repent so many times for any particular sin, we should take that as proof we aren't saved.
I'm speaking of assurance of salvation. There is no assurance apart from sanctification and perseverance.


since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility)...
Hm, disagreed.
Perhaps I'm being unclear. This might help:

Article 12

The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God—such as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc. (Canons, First Head)
and:

True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair. (WCF 18.4)
If we knew our election objectibly and infallibly as God knows it, why would we need assurance? With an infallible knowledge of election, how could we lack assurance of salvation? Also, notice in Dort how our knowledge of our election is not infallible, but rather the fruits produced by the Spirit are infallibly brought forth in the lives of the elect.

I hope that clarifies...
 
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Vox Oculi

Puritan Board Freshman
[video]https://www.youtube.com/qdvZk5BokFE[/video]

This is in line with 'testing oneself to see if one is in the faith'
 
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LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm speaking of assurance of salvation. There is no assurance apart from sanctification and perseverance.

Ah I see. Well again, sure our sanctification functions to confirm, but it should not be our run-to. I guess I'm just really striving to emphasize, to anyone who needs to hear it, that our assurance should first and foremost come from our faith in *God's promises* to us. Brothers and sisters who war against persistent temptations -repenting, succeeding, failing, running back to Christ - *no matter how many times* - should not despair of their salvation. The very fact that they are concerned, love God and his word, and war against it should console them. Their spiritual state is very different from the unregenerate. In our many failures, what other comfort is there? That is not contrary to our confessions.

"Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him,“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matt 18:21, 22)

Or, dare I reference Luther's "Sin Boldly" speech?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Lily,

I think the broader point is that there is not a "single" method by which a man (or woman) should strive for assurance. There are external and internal testimonies of assurance. We have the external testimony of the Word that proclaims the Gospel to us and that eternal life belongs to those who trust upon Christ. We also have the "golden chain" of Romans 8 that tells us that those who are foreknown are called are justified are glorified. This chain stretches into eternity past and future. It is the plan of God to save His elect. The internal testimony of the Spirit teaches us that what we read in the Scriptures about the man saved by trusting in and being united to Christ is true for each of us. We know, then, that if we have put our trust in Christ that we are united to our Covenant head and He has accomplished all things for our life and salvation.

The Gospel is then true for us. It is not only true that the Gospel of Romans 3-5 is true of us but the Gospel of Romans 6 is true. Romans 6 teaches us that those who have been united to Christ have been united to His death and resurrection and have been set free from the enslaving power of sin and united to the indestructible life of Christ. We are no longer slave to sin but slaves to Christ.

Because this is true, it has implications to our thinking. Read how many times Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. If it is true that Romans 6 is true and we are being sanctified by Christ then this is not merely a theoretical but a historical truth. We will be sanctified because Christ, our Mediator, is interceding for us and conquering every foe for our sanctification. It is then the case that we must be sanctified by Him for it is impossible that a person can be united to Christ and not be made holy by Him. A Christian may, therefore, look at the fruit that the Spirit of Christ is producing and detect evidence that Christ is indeed sanctifying him.

Thus, the purpose of looking at our fruits of repentance and faith is not a morbid introspection to see how hard we're trying but a recognition that the man united to Christ will grow in holiness. We trust the Christ of our sanctification to work in us fruits in keeping with repentance. Christ says that if you abide in me then you will produce fruit. To deny that fruit can be evidenced is to cast doubt that Christ can produce what He promises.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
Semper Fidelis,

Indeed! I know those things, and thank you. I'm sorry for being unclear.
 

Vox Oculi

Puritan Board Freshman
And the synthesis of the two: sanctification occurs over a period of time. Therefore fruit is absolutely expected over a lifetime, but there is no blueprint for how rapid or seamless one's progress is.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
And the synthesis of the two: sanctification occurs over a period of time. Therefore fruit is absolutely expected over a lifetime, but there is no blueprint for how rapid or seamless one's progress is.
And it is a very long, drawn out process. Yes we produce fruit. But at times, it seems we go backwards!

To the OP, just be careful not to judge someone as an unbeliever because they struggle with any particular sin. They, and all of us, need to hear the Gospel, not "you should be here or here by now"... I do wish some of the comments in this thread were more Gospel-focused.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
And the synthesis of the two: sanctification occurs over a period of time. Therefore, fruit is absolutely expected over a lifetime, but there is no blueprint for how rapid or seamless one's progress is.
And it is a very long, drawn-out process. Yes, we produce fruit. But at times, it seems we go backwards!

To the OP, just be careful not to judge someone as an unbeliever because they struggle with any particular sin. They, and all of us need to hear the Gospel, not "you should be here or here by now"... I do wish some of the comments in this thread were more Gospel-focused.
My very first reply to the OP pointed out that struggle with sin is not an indicator that a person is spiritually dead.

There is no "arriving" at sanctification. It is a lifelong battle. It never ends. There are, however, important considerations to remember about the battle:

1. The Gospel includes the reality that not only the guilt of sin has been put to death in Christ (Rom 3-4) but also the power of sin (Romans 6, Rom 8:1-17).
2. The fact that the guilt of sin has been paid by Christ should never be used as a reason for Christians to give up on the battle to sin in the moment with the idea that "...well it's forgiven anyway."
3. The fact that the power of sin is put to death for those in Christ ought to be a reminder to them that, in the hour of temptation, they are Christ's and they ought to rely upon Him to rescue them from temptation.

I think far too many Christians live with the idea of the Gospel as being the News that Christ has paid the penalty for sin and that they are forgiven their sins. This is good news but it is not the only "news" of the Gospel. Romans 8 teaches us that the power of sin as a controlling domain has been put to death in Christ. If we are in Christ we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. This is not a power of positive thinking but a spiritual reality and is to be our armor as we go into battle as we consider that the power of Christ's life is ours by the Spirit. I am powerless by the flesh to resist temptation but I am not in the flesh. I am in Christ by the Spirit and the law of the Spirit brings life.

I say this, then, with some hesitation so as not to discourage a Christain who is battling sin in his members: if a person who claims Christ is enslaved to sexual sin then he might not be in Christ. I don't want to paint with a wide brush and say that a man is not a Christian because he feels defeated by his sin: he needs to meditate upon the Scriptures that I have presented above and consider who he is in Christ and find the resource there to give battle. Yet, I say with concern, that a man who does not give battle or have the resources to give battle, that he needs to consider whether or not he is in the faith. We can be deceived. As a Roman Catholic I hated that I struggled with sexual sin but, in the flesh, the law could not produce in me what it commanded. It could only condemn me and my flesh was powerless to obey the command. It is only the power of Christ that has set me free because He is the only One powerful enough to set any man free. That's the Gospel.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
There is a moral immune system. The immune system must recognise the alien nature of the intruder and then it will mobilise its forces against it. While the intruder is regarded as "natural" or "normal" in any way there will be a break-down of resistance.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
And the synthesis of the two: sanctification occurs over a period of time. Therefore, fruit is absolutely expected over a lifetime, but there is no blueprint for how rapid or seamless one's progress is.
And it is a very long, drawn-out process. Yes, we produce fruit. But at times, it seems we go backwards!

To the OP, just be careful not to judge someone as an unbeliever because they struggle with any particular sin. They, and all of us need to hear the Gospel, not "you should be here or here by now"... I do wish some of the comments in this thread were more Gospel-focused.
My very first reply to the OP pointed out that struggle with sin is not an indicator that a person is spiritually dead.

There is no "arriving" at sanctification. It is a lifelong battle. It never ends. There are, however, important considerations to remember about the battle:

1. The Gospel includes the reality that not only the guilt of sin has been put to death in Christ (Rom 3-4) but also the power of sin (Romans 6, Rom 8:1-17).
2. The fact that the guilt of sin has been paid by Christ should never be used as a reason for Christians to give up on the battle to sin in the moment with the idea that "...well it's forgiven anyway."
3. The fact that the power of sin is put to death for those in Christ ought to be a reminder to them that, in the hour of temptation, they are Christ's and they ought to rely upon Him to rescue them from temptation.

I think far too many Christians live with the idea of the Gospel as being the News that Christ has paid the penalty for sin and that they are forgiven their sins. This is good news but it is not the only "news" of the Gospel. Romans 8 teaches us that the power of sin as a controlling domain has been put to death in Christ. If we are in Christ we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. This is not a power of positive thinking but a spiritual reality and is to be our armor as we go into battle as we consider that the power of Christ's life is ours by the Spirit. I am powerless by the flesh to resist temptation but I am not in the flesh. I am in Christ by the Spirit and the law of the Spirit brings life.

I say this, then, with some hesitation so as not to discourage a Christain who is battling sin in his members: if a person who claims Christ is enslaved to sexual sin then he might not be in Christ. I don't want to paint with a wide brush and say that a man is not a Christian because he feels defeated by his sin: he needs to meditate upon the Scriptures that I have presented above and consider who he is in Christ and find the resource there to give battle. Yet, I say with concern, that a man who does not give battle or have the resources to give battle, that he needs to consider whether or not he is in the faith. We can be deceived. As a Roman Catholic I hated that I struggled with sexual sin but, in the flesh, the law could not produce in me what it commanded. It could only condemn me and my flesh was powerless to obey the command. It is only the power of Christ that has set me free because He is the only One powerful enough to set any man free. That's the Gospel.
Amen, agreed to all. Thank you for the comment.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
They, and all of us, need to hear the Gospel, not "you should be here or here by now"... I do wish some of the comments in this thread were more Gospel-focused.
I hope that I haven't communicated that to have full assurance of salvation we need to "arrive." Arrival will not occur any sooner than when we're in glory.

Like Rich has been saying, the gospel extends much further than our justification but is ongoing through the Christian life. The Belgic Confession, Article 22b does an excellent job explaining that the righteousness that Christ merited upholds us throughout our entire Christian life. It is precisely this reason that we should "be careful to maintain good works" (Tit. 3:8, 14).

We also need to be careful that the faith we look for is not one in word only, or an accumulation of knowledge itself, but one that actively works (e.g. book of James).

I think that the distinction between law and gospel is helpful, but we need to remember that there is no gospel without law. Beza does a wonderful job explaining this. The article is linked below.

http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/the-word-of-god-by-dr-theodore-beza/

Blessings
 
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