Yesterday I was in a discussion where I was making a point that the gospel is not merely about forgiveness and going to heaven, that is only half of it. The other half is repentance from sin. This full gospel has been cut in half and many pastors reduce it to, “Ask for forgiveness, say a prayer to receive Christ, and you’re going to heaven.” They do not stress the importance of repentance, like Christ Himself did:
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
“Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” (John 5:13-14)
The person I was having the discussion with brought up the woman caught in adultery who the Pharisees brought to Jesus to stone, and how Jesus told her, “I don’t condemn you.” But notice the last thing He says to her:
“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)
Jesus did not want people to keep sinning. There’s a difference between making a mistake, and deliberately sinning, or being “caught in a sin-cycle.” The Christian who let’s Christ’s Holy Spirit lead them, does not give in to the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Sin does not have dominion over them (Romans 6:14).
But many who are in church today do not know the full gospel. In fact, they are taught lies that they will always be a slave to sin, and death is their only savior from their sinfulness. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Christ came to defeat sin in the flesh and give us new life. Because Christ defeated it, and gives us His Holy Spirit, we too can and are expected to defeat it as well.
“Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)