Saturday, March 15, 2008

Expecting unbelievers to act like believers: Dt 12:1

"These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth." (Deuteronomy 12:1)
It is important to remember that many of the laws which the children of Israel received from God while they sojourned in the wilderness did not take affect until the actually entered the Promised Land. In fact, for some of the laws, it was impossible for them to keep them prior to their crossing of the Jordan river. Prior to entering the land, they were taught the laws of God, but after entering the land, they were expected to obey those laws.

This scripture reminds me of how, as Christians, we sometimes expect unbelievers to act like believers, and when they don't, we are quick to judge them as law breakers. The truth is, however, that as unbelievers, it is impossible for them to obey God and to keep His laws. They are as those whom Paul describes saying, "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romams 8:7-8) He goes on further to say that it is only after coming to Christ that we are truly free to live a godly life.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness... For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness... But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." (Romans 6:17-18, 20, 22)
We should expect believers to act like believers and unbeliever as unbelievers. When an unbeliever willfully continues in their sin, we should not be surprised, they are simply acting according to their nature; they are showing that they are slaves to sin. Nor should we require unbelievers to first put away their sin before coming to Jesus, for their sin uniquely qualifies them for salvation in Jesus because, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15) We must always remember that Jesus did not come to reform us back to the law, but rather to reconcile us back to God. Only after having been reconciled to the Father can we find the grace and power to live like believers. This is the true Gospel message.

David Robison

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  1. Anonymous1:03 AM

    Interesting point, but it wants some clarification. Are you saying that the difference between believers and unbelievers is sin?
    If so, are you saying that believers do not sin?
    If not, are you saying that there is no real difference between a believer and a nonbeliever?
    If a believer is a sinner, and an unbeliever is a sinner, then how can a "believer" possibly expect a "nonbeliever" to achieve something that no "believer" believes is possible?

  2. Anonymous12:39 PM

    This is an old blog, but good questions. I am not a Pastor nor a theologian, but will answer soley based on my understanding as a Christian. The difference between believers and unbelievers is their standing before a Holy God - one is forgiven of sin by the blood of Jesus,the other destined for an eternity separated from God because of their sin.

    First, believers do sin - Romans 3:23 - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

    Second, believers are no longer slaves to sin as are unbelievers. Again, Romans 8:5 - "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."

    Many, many more answers to these types of questions be found in Romans.

  3. Good comments. The truth is that as Christians, we no longer HAVE to sin. We may still sin, but our bondage and the power of sin have been broken over our lives. Unbelievers can only sin, it is the result of their nature, but believers have the power to live like Christ, they can say no to sin and yes to righteousness. It is one of the essential differences between believers and unbelievers.

  4. sharon eisma8:43 PM

    you are right i agree

  5. Anonymous1:46 PM

    I have a question, Are unbelievers subject to the Law of God

  6. It depends what you mean bu the "Law of God?" Are you referring to the Mosaic law? Also, what do you mean by "subject to?"