Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | October 12, 2015

Sin Disrupting our Fellowship with God: Challenging What’s Preached From The Pulpit

Perhaps you’ve been exposed to the same teaching as I have which goes something like this:

“When you receive Christ as your Lord & Savior, your relationship with God is restored forever, and no sin you commit can ever stand in the way of that relationship. However, sin DOES stand in the way of your FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD, and for this fellowship to be restored, confession of and repentance from sin is required.”

Sounds Spiritual. Sounds reasonable.

And it will put you on the wheel of performance based religion and into spiritual bondage quicker than a hot knife cutting through warm butter.

The simple fact is, when we examine this teaching from a New Covenant perspective, it comes crashing down. And this is good news.

As believers, as His children, God is just as present with us, just as close to us, and yes, just as intimate with us in the midst of our fears, flaws and failures as He is during our “good” days. This is the beauty of the New Covenant; that through the finished work of Christ and the reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within, both our relationship AND our fellowship has been restored, and sin does not change that.

This may be TOTALLY CONTRARY to what you have heard… what you have been taught, and contrary to what you currently believe to be true. I understand, for this does indeed fly in the face of most teaching coming from the pulpit on this matter. If you’re having difficulty wrapping your arms around this, let me share a generalized example to help bring some clarity.

Let’s say you’re going about your day, and you do something you shouldn’t have done. You’ve sinned. When we sin, the Holy Spirit is right there to guide us out of darkness and into the light. The scripture even speaks of the Holy Spirit being our guide, helper, comforter and teacher. It is He who speaks to our hearts right in the midst of these times, showing us where we’ve gone awry (without condemnation) and showing us the way we should go.

Friends, this IS INTIMACY! This IS FELLOWSHIP! God initiates with us right in the midst of our mess, apart from ANY contributing factor on our part.

Those who believe we must “confess and repent” in order to be restored to fellowship with God fail to realize that the believer repents FROM A PLACE OF RESTORATION AND FELLOWSHIP, NOT AS A MEANS TO RESTORATION AND FELLOWSHIP. He is the God of all grace, leading us by His Spirit and revealing His goodness to us, even in the midst of our fears, flaws and failures. And as the scripture says, it is this goodness of God that leads men to repentance.

I think one reason why many of us have difficulty grasping the New Covenant reality of God not withholding fellowship from us even in the midst of our ugliest moments is because of our typical experience in human relational dynamics. For instance, I’ve heard people over the years exclaim the following:

“If I sin… if I do something that upsets my wife, our fellowship has been disrupted; sin stands in the way. It affects her demeanor. I may start to get the “silent treatment” because she is angry. There’s an “elephant in the room,” so to speak. I may even be sleeping on the couch! And our fellowship cannot be restored unless I do something… unless I confess my sin and repent. Only then will she be intimate with me again. If this is how it works between husband and wife, surely this is how it works between God and His relationship with us, His bride!”

Honestly, on the surface, this sounds like a very compelling argument. But we must understand that God’s disposition towards us through the New Covenant transcends human relational dynamics. We cannot project upon our relationship with God those things we’ve found ourselves needing to do to maintain or restore our fellowship with man, whether it be a friend, a husband or a wife. Your husband or wife may draw back from you due to something you did or said, giving you the silent treatment, needing you to “do something” before he or she will relationally engage with you again. And by all means, the wise & loving thing to do would be to do what you can to mend the break! But God is not a man. He has no need. He has made us righteous through the blood of His Son. His disposition towards us is love and good will (not anger) through Christ’s all-sufficient finished work. He will never leave us or forsake us. He doesn’t count our sins against us, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and through the New Covenant relates to us purely on the level of grace rather than on the level of “performance and reward” which was indicative of the Old Covenant.

Repentance FOR restoration = Old Covenant order. Restoration resulting in repentance = New Covenant order. For the believer, repentance is the fruit of having been restored, not the means to being restored.

There’s a reason why the scripture says that the New Covenant is “a better covenant, established on better promises!”

After 24 years as a believer, having experienced the bondage of performance based religion as well as the freedom that Christ affords us through the New Covenant, I’m convinced that our all to common quest to experience restored or deeper “intimacy/fellowship with God” through our various spiritual calisthenics is nothing more than a work of the flesh, born out of the fact that we refuse to walk by faith…. faith in the totality of the finished work of Christ, our identity in Him, and the reality of the Holy Spirit within, who speaks to our hearts so that we may respond.

(For clarification on 1 John 1:9, please read my post,

Coming Out Of Religious Bondage: A Closer Look At 1 John 1:9.

Truly, the only thing necessary to experience fellowship with God, in any place, at any time, in any situation, is faith.

 

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Responses

  1. I agree with your observations…mostly because I share the experience of becoming unwound when I sinned during the early years of my relationship journey with our Lord. What I found to be a major contributor to this mindset of sin disrupting my fellowship was that I fell into the religious pit of “humanizing” God. You allude to this in your blog. While I realize there are instances within the scriptures where God uses humanistic traits and body parts to describe Himself or His actions I believe this was done so we humans could gain some understanding not because God is portraying Himself as a Super-Human. It is my observation that when most professed Christians humanize God they then relate with Him humanly. Most attach the behaviors of their parents to this humanized God. Thus there is the constant roller-coaster of pleasing and failing with the resulting sensations that God loves me when I don’t sin, God is angry and holding back when I sin. One of the saddest things I see in religious assemblies is the childish attempts to please God so He will like us behavior of the majority of professed Christians. Thus their focus is directed towards pleasing Daddy with singing, dancing, works, and regimental compliance. This mindset eventually leads to attempts to schmooze God, persuade God, buy God, on and on.

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    • Great feedback, James. Agree on all points. All indicative of the fact that we’re still not truly living in our heavenly Father’s unconditional love and acceptance of us in Christ.

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