What has had a tremendous effect on our world has been sin, evil, disease, distress, and so much more calamitous things. The Bible outlines several spiritual disciplines and principles that prepare Christians for what may be faced in the accursed world we live in.
Now, the main premise of the Bible is to serve as a guide, and the main premise of Salvation is in John 3:16-17 – paraphrasing, “whosoever believeth upon me hath everlasting life…” Therefore, with sin aside and ignored for the basis of Salvation, someone who is currently in a sinful lifestyle can and will be saved, because all or almost all of those who have been saved were in a sinful lifestyle once they were drawn into Salvation (Romans 3:23). This is made clear in the Bible as to work out your own Salvation in fear and trembling before the Lord (Philippians 2:12-13). People are expected by God to leave their sinful lifestyle of part of the sanctification process (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Romans 1:26-27; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:13).
Stating the wisdom of Salvation
Sin does not keep people from Salvation; however, people are expected to confess and repent. They are expected to work out their own Salvation. It is a right of Christians to question another Christian’s spirituality if they stay involved in a sinful lifestyle, just as Jesus did (Mark 7:21) and Paul did (1 Corinthians 5:11). Believers are instructed to consider the members of the earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
A person truly redeemed in Christ will not live a life of willful sin and willful disobedience to God (1 John 3:6; 5:18). Only those who seek to cover up sin will teach that grace covers all and that people should not leave their sinful lifestyles. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). The instant a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he or she is Saved and protected in that Salvation. It is unbiblical and incorrect to state that salvation can be received by faith and has to be maintained by works, because the Bible does not teach this. God maintains our Salvation for us (Jude 24), and no one can snatch it from us (but God)(John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39). Jude 24 declares, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”
It is because of Christ’s Work that we are Saved, not our own and we cannot do anything to maintain that Salvation or improve it (Romans 4:3-8). He paid it all and Christ’s Sacrifice was sufficient to take care of all sins (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), and they demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). True Christians do not regularly practice sin as a lifestyle (1 John 3:6-9). God deals with those who make His Kingdom look bad (Romans 6:1-2; 6:15-23). “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6).
The Bible imparts that everybody who is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit is saved always. We receive the gift of eternal life (even immortality)(John 10:28), not temporary life (mortality). Those who apostatize were not really saved in the first place, via 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” An illustration of apostasy can be found in Matthew 13:24–30: real wheat versus fake wheat (tares). To any human spectator, the true believer and the wolf (pretender) look alike – Only God can see the heart. Matthew 13:1–9 (the Parable of the Sower) is another illustration of apostasy in action.
- It is possible to attend a church building, serve in a ministry, and call yourself a Christian—but still be unsaved (Matthew 7:21–23).
- One must examine themselves to see if they are of the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
One assessment of true faith is a genuine love for others (1 John 4:7–8). In addition, another key test is good works. Anybody can claim to be a Christian, but only those who are truly saved will bear “fruit.” A true Christian will show by words, actions, and creed, that he follows the Lord. Their life is a living epistle. Christians can bear fruit in varying degrees based on their level of obedience & diligence to God’s Will and their spiritual gifts; however, all Christians bear fruit as the Spirit produces it in them (Galatians 5:22–23). Similar to how true followers of Jesus Christ will be able to see evidence of their salvation (see 1 John 4:13), apostates will eventually be made known by their fruit (Matthew 7:16–20) or lack thereof (John 15:2).
Servants of God should be equipped with discernment abilities to recognize false teachers, false prophets, and apostate Christians (2 Peter 2:1–3). If someone thinks they are an apostate Christian, they should follow directions in Hebrews 6:4–6 and Hebrews 10:26–29 to examine themselves. True believers are the elect of God (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4). Nobody can receive Jesus Christ as Savior unless God draws him or her first (John 6:44) because God calls (draws) those of whom that He has predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30).
All sins past, present, and future are forgiven, because Jesus died for all our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 10:10; 1 John 2:2). The power that sin has over us is broken, and we are crucified with Christ (Romans 6:1–6; Galatians 2:20). For those who have not heard about Christ, they may or may not have a chance to hear about God or Christ. God has revealed Himself through nature and in the hearts of people (Romans 1:20; Ecclesiastes 3:11). However, humans are sinful by nature and reject God in rebellion (Romans 1:21-23). Those who continue to rebel against God are given over to a reprobate mind to show them how useless their own human work is, and how superior God’s Work is especially in Christ (Romans 1:24-32).
Sin that is confessed clears our conscience: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). It is unbiblical for a person to sin habitually as a lifestyle, and be a believer (1 John 3:8-9). Idolatry involves placing something above God or before God. Therefore, when you decide to sin, even when convicted of the issue or when you know you should not take part, you are placing that sin above God or before God, which is disobedience.
We are allowed to label something as sin, and we can call out a person’s sin, but we cannot decide their Salvation for them. Only the Lord can do that. However, do not give the impression that sin in any kind, especially sexual immorality, is acceptable. It is unacceptable, for those who practice sexual immorality do not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). People are expected by God to leave their sinful lifestyle of part of the sanctification process (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Romans 1:26-27; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:13). Jesus may have saved the woman caught in adultery from being stoned; however, He did tell her to go and sin no more. This proves that Jesus wants everyone to depart from sin (John 8:11). Believers are instructed to consider the members of the earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
What is the problem with sin and how does it affect believers?
Sin is described in the Bible in many metaphors:
- Captures (Proverb 5:22; Hebrews 12:1) – as in, it tries to trap people and tries keep them held (possibly in bondage).
- Enslaves (Genesis 4:7; John 8:34; Romans 7:14; 7:23; Galatians 3:22) – as in, it tries to make you a slave to it so that you can continue to serve sin and let it do damage to your life and those around you.
- It is deadly (Romans 6:23; 5:12; Ephesians 2:1) – as in, it causes death to people (primarily spiritual death).
- It is a sickness (Psalm 32:1-5; Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 9:2; 9:5; 1 Peter 2:24) – as in, those who participate in it are sick. Sin itself causes the mind to change itself to adapt to the conditions of doing the sin and the (unstated or stated) pleasure it brings. It is similar to how addictions work: They try to enslave you, eventually you consume too much, and then you become sickened by it.
- It is impurity (Zechariah 13:1; Psalm 51:2; Isaiah 1:18) – as in, sin brings dirtiness to the mind/soul, spirit, and body. Sin takes what is clean and tries to make it unclean, and performs at its best when it brings shame and guilt upon people (Proverb 29:15; Hebrews 12:2).
Sin’s influence over people makes them think that the habits that are being formed are just “bad habits” (thus the person disregards the problem and thinks they are harmless). People hardly notice sin, because of this habitual forming (people sometimes call this “second nature”). This also means that mindfulness can help you understand if there are things that you do which are sin, and be able to help you change your ways.
Bear in mind that it is not the necessity of legalistic tendencies, it is rather the chance to change your life to revoke sin’s enslavement over you, so that you can pursue greater godliness and improve your life significantly. This not only improves your life, but also brings great glory to God, something believers should truly desire. That desire is rooted in a profound and intense love for God, especially because He has brought you Salvation – it is your reasonable service to bring Him glory (see Romans 12:1).
Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines
Spiritual disciplines are things we can do to help change our lives from involvement in the worldliness (including sins for example), and pursuing greater godliness. The Holy Ghost is the power of God that can help us change, by allowing His Work of renewing our mind. Should we adhere to the premises that the Holy Spirit/Ghost promotes to us in our minds, we will be on a continuous road of improvement and be able to have a profound life change. Working from bad habits to good habits is a marvelous way to begin and can really bring a greater sense of purpose into one’s life.
Recognizing His Work in Salvation first
Practicing spiritual disciplines as outlines below allows us to experience the following feelings/benefits:
- Jesus is the King of our lives eternally
- We as Christians belong only to Jesus Christ
- We have the fruit of the Spirit beginning to bloom in our life and cause our light to shine much greater for the Lord!
We will not become more holy, but we will be able to, through spiritual disciplines:
- Recognize God’s Will, Plan, and Calling for our lives.
- Become more sensitive to His Lead.
- Realize our dependence upon God’s Grace in everything.
- Train and equip ourselves to respond in a godly manner when dealing with adversity in life (troubles, trials, circumstances, etc.).
What they are not for:
- Improbable or unreasonable expectations
- Benchmarks for measuring spirituality
- Hiding sins with good works
- Separating piety from the rest of our lives
- Attempts to be holy or perfect
Most Recommended Spiritual Practices
- Reading the Bible, studying it, and applying it to one’s life.
- Prayer and petitioning to God
- Worship unto the Lord
- Service unto God and people
- Solitude to be alone with God
- Evangelizing to people
- Sharpening discernment
Ways to increase the effect of spirituality upon your life
- Be accountable: find one or more people that you can trust to ask them to pray for a specific area of your life that needs to be changed.
- Submit to God’s Calling at all times
- Confess your sins to God and repent on a normal basis for the areas you need fixed
- Know your bad habits and what needs to be changed, and then pray that God will help you go from bad habits to good habits.
- Be graceful toward yourself and toward others.
- Be grateful/thankful for the things you have been provided from God.