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Galatians 5:

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

In my experience, most (if not all) Christians do (or confess they do) the acts of flesh. Some say they are imperfect, they fight with this and so. But according to these verses they don't walk by the Spirit, so they don't enjoy the fruit of self-control, they didn't crucify the flesh and therefore: they don't belong to Christ!

Is there some other valid point of view possible?

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Are you of the belief that (1) after conversion a Christian never sins or (2) after conversion, a Christian still sins until death, but repents / gradually becomes more Christ like? In particular, Matthew 5:28 makes the sin of adultery fairly difficult to avoid. Furthermore, Timothy Keller's "Counterfeit Gods" shows how easy it is to commit idolatry. –  user1694 Jul 28 '12 at 1:12

5 Answers 5

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Before salvation a person fulfil the deeds of the flesh deliberately and glory in them but after salvation the same person should only do them involuntarily and if deliberate he is to ask for forgiveness, forsake them and move on

But any christian saying we cannot be perfect is trying to justify himself instead of focusing on God's grace to overcome those weaknesses.

It is true we are imperfect human but what God has given to us is enough to overcome our imperfection. Jesus was made example for us as the bible said he was tempted as we are but did not sin. We shall be tempted too but we should not yield. Jesus almost did in Gesthemane but called himself to order and God strenghtened him

Paul describe one of the effects of being saved as being made alive from dead conscience.

Ephesians 2:1-2 - And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience

Before salvation you could do all those deeds of the flesh and brag about them, enjoy the company of bad friends and so on. But after salvation, you become a new person [in heart] and you won't feel comfortable about those things any more.

Unlike before you feel remorseful everytime you do those things. This is because the Spirit of God is now active in you. That's what God is looking at, a broken spirit, a contrite heart, a sober mind. You will still do them but the frequency would reduce day by day.

If after being remorseful you keep doing them over and over, you will go back to your previous state - dead conscience

Romans 8:13 - For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die...

But if you yield to God's Spirit then you will drop those things.

Romans 8:13 but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death - NLT) the deeds of the body (Sinful Nature - NLT), ye shall live.

It is very important that we surrender our hearts to the Holy Spirit because it is only through this we can do it. ... Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9)

If you look at the fruit of the Spirit, it is complete opposite of the deeds of flesh. Holy Spirit is very important.

If you LOVE you can't HATE

If you like PEACE there will be no DISCORD-ENVY-JEALOUSY

and one leads to another

And finally,

Luke 7:21 - Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter

A christian who justify his sinful habits is not a true christian or may be slipping away

Ephesians 1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Everything we need to succede as a christian has been provided in christ according to that verse and we have them at our fingertips [The Word, The Spirit, Constant Fellowship with God and much more]

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It looks like you put some effort into explaining your views in this response; thanks for that -- even while my own doctrinal tradition disagrees with most of what you've said. If you'd like to elaborate on your answer (there's an "edit" button beneath the post, for example), I'd be interested to hear how you understand passages like Romans 7:7-25, Matthew 5:21-30, and 1 John 1:5-10. Also, could you share some links to any historic teachers that expound on some of those ideas? I know that John Wesley, for example, taught some of those ideas. Cheers. –  Philip Schaff Jul 28 '12 at 19:29
    
Looks like a nice answer. Did you mean If you LOVE you can't HATE? Can you emphasize in your answer how to deal with Galatians 5:24? –  user508 Jul 28 '12 at 20:42
    
@JanTuroň I have edited that part - "can't hate" –  tunmise fashipe Jul 28 '12 at 20:46
    
@JanTuroň Here is my view on Gal. 5:24: Crucified the flesh - Paul was talking about the expectation from a true believer. If you say you are a believer, then these things should not be found among you [you know the verse], if you say you've accepted the light you shouldn't be walking in darkness. When you receive christ, the holy spirit convict you of your past, you feel sober and you make decision then a new life begins. That decision was made once[when you believed] and should be continually made to maintain your position in christ - that day you crucified flesh and gave his Spirit a chance –  tunmise fashipe Jul 29 '12 at 13:29
    
Gal 5:24 - Continuation: That's why the next verse explained further: If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit meaning if you have crucified the flesh let it always stay like that. Crucify/Mortify/Put to death, means the same thing - separating your self from your wayward past. Peter began to say to him, Behold, we have left all things and have followed thee but he went back to fishing after christ died. Jesus had to do a revival for him to be restored. –  tunmise fashipe Jul 29 '12 at 13:29

Paul said,

Romans 8:2 (AMP)
For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.

Galatians 2:20 (AMP)
20  I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP)
17  Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

Romans 8:6b (AMP)
[...] But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].

Romans 8:13-14 (AMP)
13  For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. 14  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Notice all these things are past tense ... reality - you ARE a new creation. He lives in you & brings all His qualities, strengths, truths, love, faith, etc with Him - it is not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord. (Zec 4:6)

As soon as you sin (separation from God) your spirit will detect this - repent (change how you are thinking), acknowledge the sin & turn your mind to Jesus -

Hebrews 7:25 (AMP)
25  Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

Ephesians 6:18 (AMP)
18  Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

Philippians 4:8 (AMP)
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

As all things on earth are "impure" turn your attention to Father, our Lord Jesus & heavenly & divine things.

James 3:2 (AMP)
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.

1 John 1:9 (AMP)
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

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Simple answer -

You are reading too much into it.

Romans 7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.

Paul couldn't possibly have meant that Christians could never commit acts of flesh when he himself admits doing the same.

The principle of interpretation you are using is called letterism, and I wouldn't put my money into it.

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Letterism? Please explain. Romans 7:19 seems to be inconsistent here and the explanation by dualism in 7:20 is a poor excuse: where is the self-control from the Spirit from Galatians? In 7:24 he confess What a wretched man I am! - and I must agree then. Maybe he overestimated himself in Galatians? This seems to be a disrespectful conclusion, but is there any other way how to explain it? –  user508 Jul 28 '12 at 12:44
    
@JanTuroň Not "lettrism". Lett**e**rism. Letterism = Super-Duper-Literalism. i.e. Counting even the letters and symbols and trying to make sense (or shall I say non-) out of them. –  Monika Michael Jul 29 '12 at 7:52

While there are some traditions that teach that after being saved, Christians no longer sin (Wesleyan, and some strains of fundamentalist tradition, for example), most Protestant theologies, and also the Roman Catholics, teach that believers necessarily continue to sin. AFAIK, Eastern Orthodox also recognize sin in saved believers. See Mt 5:21-30.

See the Westminster Larger Catechism #79: "May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?" (emphasis mine).

The three basic phases of the Christian life, in chronological order, are: Justification; sanctification; and glorification. Your question addresses sanctification.

  • Justification is an event that takes place when Christ's atonement is applied to a person that has either "received faith" or "chosen to believe," depending on the whose theology one consults. The person is then counted as righteous in God's sight, because their sins have been transferred to Christ, and Christ's righteousness has been transferred to them. (This is called "double imputation").
  • Sanctification is an ongoing process, which takes place throughout a Christians post-conversion life, of "putting to death" the works of the flesh, and "living by the spirit." That is, over time, a Christian's life should have less rebellion against God (sin) and more obedience to God (righteousness).
  • Glorification is an event, and takes place when a believer gets to heaven.

See also Romans 7.

You might also find this C.SE response helpful.

It is also entirely possible that an individual who considers himself saved is not, in fact, regenerate, and some traditions deny the possibility of assurance of salvation altogether. Jesus addressed the issue of false assurance specifically at Mt 7:21-23.

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OK, this is useful (+1), but could you please rephrase your answer and focus on the question? I mean something like by crucifying the flesh Paul means ... (see Romans 7). –  user508 Jul 28 '12 at 13:01

...you will fully know them by their fruits.
Matt 7:20

Nobody is perfect (except you know Who).. If we could be, then we wouldn't need Christ. We will do sinful works of the flesh until the day we die. However, the more we grow in God, the more good fruit we will bear. But it is not for us to judge the salvation of others. I have much more self-control than I used to, praise the Lord, but I still lash out at times. That doesn't mean I'm not saved. Only God can judge.

Now if someone is obviously bearing no good fruit and shows no change of heart or real repentance of their sin, it is right to be cautious of their salvation, and it would be a good thing to try and talk to them about their walk with God and reprove them in love.

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I can't accept this answer: Paul talks about the acts, not the fruits. And he seems to be very clear that no act of the flesh (roughly described in 5:19) can be possibly done by those who belong to Christ (5:24) –  user508 Jul 28 '12 at 0:26
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@JanT: Look at Paul in v22 again. The "fruits" of the spirit are the "acts." Cf. Mt 12:34: "From the depth of the heart, the mouth speaks." The Holy Spirit works in a believer's heart, which leads, over time, to changes in both the actions and temperament. –  Philip Schaff Jul 28 '12 at 1:50
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@JanTuroň Paul is not saying that. Unfortunately, we are not always going to be walking in the Spirit. He is telling us to try and walk in the Spirit as much as we can, so that we do not gratify our sinful desires. Crucifying your flesh in a sense is a one time thing, but in reality it is something we must do everyday, even multiple times a day. Every time you desire to sin, you must crucify that desire and give it to God. –  Shredder Jul 28 '12 at 4:33
    
@JBunyan: at first, you have commited equivocation. Is means the consequence in this context, not equality. If we say Peter is good, it doesn't mean good is Peter. At second, not in time, but in the past - see v.24 again. –  user508 Jul 28 '12 at 5:42
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@JanT: 2Tim2, buddy. I could give you links to several solid resources that would help you understand things, but, based on your comments, it sounds to me like you think you've got something to prove, and you're not honestly trying to work together with other people to learn something new. Have a great day, champ. –  Philip Schaff Jul 28 '12 at 7:08

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