Presumption Leading to Perdition
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). That there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal . . . he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears (Hebrews 12:16-17).
No doubt you rejoice in the glorious truth that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, that God made him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ (1 Tim. 1:15, 2 Cor. 5:21). And it is also gloriously true that all who are in Christ Jesus are eternally saved (John 10:28-29). But what about a professing Christian, who has long given evidence of walking with Christ, who has hungered for God, whose life has generally been one of obedience to God’s Word; but who, over time begins to wander away into emotional adultery (developing an unsavory relationship with another) or actual adultery, and explains it away by putting the blame on his or her spouse? What about one who says to his pastor, ‘I know my relationship with this other woman is sin, but God will forgive me. I have repented.’ His claim of repentance, however, may be presumption, especially if he fails to bring forth fruits of repentance (Matt. 3:8). Paul says that repentance is a gift from God (2 Tim. 2:25). What about the single, professional woman who says to her small group at church ‘What’s really so wrong with intercourse with my boyfriend. We love each other. We are committed to each other. We plan on getting married next year.’ What about the male neighbour, who carries his Bible to the church he regularly attends and who has a ‘live in’ boyfriend, who convinces himself that all is well by embracing the so-called gay hermeneutic, ‘God condemned Sodom, not because of homosexuality but because of their inhospitable behaviour. Paul condemns perverse homosexual relationships, not monogamous ones.’ And what about the sincere and moral Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist who says, ‘I am right with god. I simply choose to worship god in my own way, in the way of my religious faith’s perception of him.’
A professing believer in Christ – no matter how sincere he may seem, no matter what his knowledge of the Bible might be, no matter how faithful he has appeared in the past – who continues in unrepentant sin is guilty of presumption that very well may lead to perdition. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, who he has earlier commended for their faith in Christ and their love for all the saints (Eph. 1:15) also says, ‘Know this with certainty, no immoral or impure person or covetous man who is an idolator has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience’ (Eph. 5:5-6). People all the time in the church are being deceived with empty words. Simply put – unrepentant adultery, fornication, idolatry, or homosexuality sends people to hell everyday.
The gospel typically proclaimed each Sunday in our churches is a truncated one – long on grace, short on judgment; long on the glories of heaven, short on the horrors of hell; long on God’s love, short on God’s wrath; long on justification, short on sanctification. Consequently, if our elders are faithful to their task of shepherding the flock of God, they are inundated with discipline cases. In some cases, however, the full gospel is proclaimed in our churches and there still exists a plethora of discipline cases. What gives? One way or the other, the biblical gospel which begins with a full-orbed understanding of the attributes of God; that moves to a clear comprehension of the utter sinfulness of the unredeemed and the continued propensity of true believers to battle the world, flesh, and the devil; and that glories in Christ’s person and work, is not getting through to our people. Either the preacher is not preaching it or the people have so imbibed of our narcissistic, self-absorbed, pluralistic culture that they allow folly to drive out gospel truth.
What is the remedy? My dear friends, you must regain a clear picture of the holiness, righteousness, and love of God. He is holy, holy, holy (Isa.6:3, Rev. 4:8). He is impeccable1. He is righteous, impartial, totally fair and just in all his actions (Acts 10:34, Gal. 2:6). Think of a judge who can be bribed, who takes sides, who winks at violations of the law, who allows the guilty to go unpunished. This is the exact opposite of the true and living God. He is righteous. He is never partial. He cannot be bribed (Deut. 10:17). And he is love. He is benevolent.2 He is also beneficent.3 In spite of our utter and complete sinfulness and depravity, in spite of God’s good will and good doing on our behalf (our families, our health, material provision, beautiful sunsets, and continued overtures of grace, calling us to salvation) man continues in rebellion, enmity, lawlessness, and disdain against him.
Consequently, God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11). God abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. He hates evil doers (Psa. 5:5-6). God pours out his vengeance on the wicked and unrepentant (Nahum 1:2). God will repay those who hate him; he makes ready his sword to be drunk with the blood of the sinner (Deut. 32:41-42). And you may say, ‘Yes, I believe this is true for the unredeemed sinner, but I am in Christ. I am covered with the blood of Jesus.’ This is a glorious truth, one we ought to proclaim daily with shouts of joy; but if you, even as a professing believer, are engaged in homosexuality, idolatry, fornication, or adultery and are unwilling to repent and to turn away from your sin, then you are presuming on God’s grace; and your continued presumption will land you in perdition. ‘Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, this you will also reap’ (Gal. 6:7).
Do not take lightly the guilt of your sin. Do not heal yourself too quickly. Indeed it is true, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God’ (Matt. 5:3); but the opposite is also true. If you are not poor in spirit (failing to see your sinful unworthiness and inability to save yourself) then you are cursed by God. Cursed are the proud in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of darkness. If you are flirting with sin, if you are engaged in these sexual sins, then run for your life. Run to Jesus, right now, in repentance, asking for his grace, mercy, peace, and power. Failure to do so means that you very well may hear the most awful words ever to be spoken, ‘Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. I never knew you’ (Matt. 7:23).
- From three Latin words – im meaning not, peccare sin, abilis ability. God is incapable of sinning. I am indebted to Paul Washer in his book The Gospel’s Power and Message for this insight. I highly recommend Washer’s book.
- From the Latin bene – good and velle – to wish. God wishes people well.
- From the Latin bene – good and facere – to do. God does good.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Can We Learn from John Knox? November 24, 2022
If it were to be asked what is the recurring theme in Knox’s words and writings the answer is perhaps a surprising one. Sometimes he could be severe, and sometimes extreme. Given the days and the harshness of the persecution he witnessed, it would be understandable if these elements had preponderated in his ministry. But […]
Reformed, But Ever Reforming October 31, 2022
It is rather audacious to claim that we are reformed. It can also be misleading when we call ourselves Reformed Churches. For this might imply that we believe that our denominations are truly reformed; or, even worse, that at some point in the past we were or became reformed and that the task of reform […]