Matthew 23:34-35 (The Deceitfulness of Sin 1; The Nature of True Salvation)

Recall God’s great mercy and love that is not willing that any should perish but for all to come to repentance—His great love that continues to send messengers even to hardened sinners on the remotest chance that they might turn from their sins and be saved.  Also recall man’s free will by which he may refuse to heed God’s warnings and continue in his sins, which hardens his heart against the truth that alone is able to save him, making it increasingly difficult to repent, even to the point that he becomes so willfully blind as to be irredeemable:  Such a one would not believe even if someone rose from the dead (Luk 16:30-31), and if a clear miracle of God occurs that contradicts his skewed perception he would sooner in the blindness of his pride attribute it to Satan than consider he could be wrong, which is the unpardonable sin unto death because it demonstrates a hardness of heart that God Himself is unable to reach even through a clear manifestation of His Holy Spirit (Mat 12:22-24,31).  For such hardened sinners God’s pleadings only add to their guilt and culpability.  What do these things then teach us about the self-deceptive, self-condemning, and self-destructive nature of sin that makes it so sinful and that calls forth the many warnings throughout Scripture against it?  Cf. 1Co 6:9-10, Gal 6:7-8, Jam 1:14-16, 1Jo 3:7-8.  Are we to understand then that God condemns the sin we love because He is a spoil-sport who doesn’t want us to enjoy ourselves, or because He is a bully and we have to do what He says because He is bigger than us?  Or does He condemn sin because He knows its horrible end and loves us so much that He doesn’t want to see us destroy ourselves?  Cf. Pro 14:12.  What then should be our attitude towards sin?  Shall we suppose because Jesus died for us and God will always forgive us that it really doesn’t matter if we go ahead and indulge the temporal pleasures of sin that entice us—even if just a little because we are human?  See Rom 6:1-2,15-16, 1Ti 6:10-12, 2Ti 2:20-22.

What does this understanding about the nature of sin teach us about what it means to truly be saved?  Is it to just say a sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus into our heart, or is it to be redeemed from the deception and bondage of sin?  Cf. John 8:34-36.  What does it also teach us about what it means to really rescue the perishing?  Is it to just bring them to know that through Christ’s death they can be forgiven, or is it also and even more importantly to bring them to know that through His resurrection power they too can overcome the deceptive power of sin which is the source of all their bondage and be raised up to walk in newness of life?  See Rom 6:4-7, 1Co 15:17.  What does it teach us about those who say they are saved because they believe Jesus died for them but continue in their sins?  Are they really saved, or just deceived by their sin that they are saved?  See again 1Jo 3:7-8 and cf. Jam 2:19.  What is the great danger to a person’s soul of being taken in by sin to have a false security that he is saved when he is not?  Being blind to his danger will he give heed to the only thing that can save him?  Cf. Isa 30:9-15, Jer 14:10-16, Eze 13:9-16.  What does this again teach us about the deceptive nature of sin that makes it so sinful?  What does it teach us about the great danger to one’s soul of false religion, such as that of the scribes and the Pharisees, that rather than delivering from sin deceives its followers with a false security that because they have a form of godliness they can continue in their sins and not surely die?  Is a form of godliness true godliness?  Is it possible that this same lie could deceive religious Christians as it did the religious Jews?  Cf. 2Ti 4:3, 2Th 2:9-12.

How does the deceptive nature of sin help us to better understand true salvation as an awakening?  See Rom 13:11-12, 1Th 5:4-6, Rev 3:1-3.  In what way is this awakening similar, and in way is it different, from the eye-opening experience man had when he was first tempted and fell into sin?  See Gen 3:5,7, Act 26:18 and cf. 2Co 4:4.  Is it possible that from the beginning God fully intended that in time as man matured his eyes would be opened to the realization that it was within him to be like God in the sense of having the free will to make his own moral choices, but only after he was also awakened to the deceitful and destructive nature of sin, so that he might know good and evil as God intended, as a true friend who would share His understanding, love Him freely and be in league with Him, and not as he was misled to know good and evil by the devil, who himself having been taken in by the deceitfulness of sin sought to ensnare man in the same way so that he would be in league with him?

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