Friday, December 7, 2012

The New Nature of Every Saint

Heb 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

We are going through Hebrews 11 at church right now and learning what it is to live by faith.  One point that many are confused on is that this is not optional for a few “super saints”.  All who have saving faith continue to live a faithful way or they were never saved to begin with.  Let me expand on this a bit.

The Westminster Confession of Faith states that we are saved by faith alone but not by a faith that comes alone.  There are lots of people who unfortunately believe that one can be saved by faith and not lead a fundamentally changed life afterwards and so would disagree with the Confession.  They see the Confession and those who agree with it as adding works to faith for salvation.  Of course this is not what the Confession is saying and it isn’t because it is poorly written that is the fault but the shallow, unbiblical thinking on the part of those who disagree; but let me try to clarify what the Confession is teaching and of course what I believe the Bible teaches very clearly: Faith without works is dead.

What Hebrews is teaching is that saving faith comes with a new nature.  The problem with thinking that we can believe some fact of the cross and presto, we are saved is that the Bible is clear that when God converts a sinner he gives them a new nature; a new heart that loves God more than sin.  So this is more than just saying that if you are really saved you will be good.  It is saying that if you are saved you are a different person all together and so you can’t help but act differently.  So it isn’t just that faith comes with good works as if it is up to us to behave once we are saved but faith comes with a totally new nature; we are converted or changed into a new kind of person.

Let’s illustrate this.  If a cat is given a new nature we still see a cat’s body but it is a dog inside so we must assume some things will automatically change.  If this “dog” still meows and still scratches the furniture and goes up trees and can’t get down, if it still remains aloof and lets you pet it when it feels like it instead of living to be petted and gladly being a nuisance in order to be petted and get attention then it is clear that it is a “doggy hypocrite”!  Let’s face it, what is the most obvious difference between the natures of cats and dogs?  One doesn’t need you and the other does and doesn’t mind proving it!

This is exactly why James could say faith without works is dead or is no saving faith.  The new heart we are given is one that honors Christ over self and lives to that end; imperfectly but also unquestionably, 1Jn 3:9  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  1Jn 5:1  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 1Jn 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1Jn 5:4  For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.  It is just hard to see any exceptions; all who are saved are lovers of God and live by faith.

And so the point is this: every true saint is striving to live as a new creation in Christ or they are just fooling themselves.  As with the cat and dog; either you are perfectly happy to do your own thing coming to “god” when it suits you or you need Christ to live and if you don’t have the smile of his face on you, you cannot be happy in this life.

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