Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
The process of sanctification can be pretty frustrating. When Paul talks of the process, he shares what is the absolute truth of the matter: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21). You gain ground in one area and you start failing in another. Or, if you have a sinful habit, you end up on around-the-clock watch to avoid it; only to mess up and have to start all over again. It’s like the Greek legend of Sisyphus, who was punished by rolling a boulder up a hill for life and as soon as he stopped for a breather, the boulder would roll back down. But one day, while reading in my Bible, the Holy Spirit showed me an awesome verse- probably one of the most awesome verses in the Bible for someone trying to keep their life clean. Today I’ll share that verse (and its message) with you.
As followers of Christ, most of us are taught that overall we can’t fail. After all, the Bible tells us,
For there is no difference between the Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is the Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).
And also, “They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household’” (Acts 16:31). Once you’re in heaven, you’re in; therefore ultimate failure is beyond you. The Bible even says that you’re name is written in a book in heaven when you accept Christ: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Now, there is some contention over how to interpret one verse from the Bible, 1 John 5:16:
If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.
Some say that it is a pre-salvation sin; likely the rejection of the Holy Spirit as Luke 12:10 suggests, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Others suggest that there is something you can do to lose your salvation (however what it is doesn’t seem to be outlined in the Bible [if you’ve got a verse for this side let me know in the comments]). Either way, one potential and unknown situation aside, it’s pretty clear that once you get Jesus involved, you can’t lose.
But did you know that you also are guaranteed to win? This is probably one of the coolest passages in the whole Bible (and that’s saying a lot). John writes,
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith (1 John 5:3-4).
That’s right, not only can you not lose, but as a child of God you will win. Even though you may be rolling a rock up a hill now trying to overcome your flesh, one day it will stop rolling back down and you’ll conquer whatever struggle you’re facing. In fact, the Bible even tells us,
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:33-39).
We, who have taken refuge in Christ Jesus, are more than conquerors, that’s a powerful thing we have to remember during our daily fights. In fact, according to the Bible, only those saved by Christ can overcome the world: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). And what can those who overcome the world expect? You can find those things listed in Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5, 12, 21.
So then, should we (those guaranteed victory) stop trying to improve ourselves? Of course not! Paul wrote that, “‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23). As followers of Christ we should strive to act and live in a godly manner. Even John suggested that earlier when he said that to love God is to keep his commands. Jesus also said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). We should strive to live perfect lives; for it is written, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Will you be perfect? No, our flesh always holds us back; but don’t give up, you will win!
Consider this: Jesus is in us. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And of himself, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). You’ve already got a winner in you; coupled with that you have the promise of guaranteed victory. So be strong, my friend, and keep fighting the good fight!
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).