By Yu’en, South Korea
I trust every devout Christian is confused about the following: We pray to the Lord, and confess sins and repent every day, but why are we never able to escape the bondage of sin? As we all know, the Lord is holy, so are we, who often sin and resist Him, qualified to enter God’s kingdom? How can we shake off the shackles of sin? I always used to be perplexed by this too, but through seeking, I finally found the way to escape sin.
The Painful Life of Sinning and Confessing
“Lord, You are holy, yet I frequently involuntarily deceive and sin and offend You. Lord, I’m unwilling to live like this. Please lead me to rid myself of impurity and practice Your words. …” I often prayed to the Lord this way, but I always failed to do what I prayed, and continued to live in sin and was unable to follow the Lord’s teachings. For example, I knew perfectly well that the Lord requires us to be honest people, but to protect my self-respect and avoid being looked down upon by others, I often used the knowledge of the scriptures that I had written in the past to bluff my way through in the weekly Bible training class. Not only that, I always had a bad temper. At home, when my children didn’t do as I wanted them to, I would become furious at them; at work, when the younger generation spoke to me in an impatient tone, I couldn’t help but get angry and give them looks. … I knew that in my interactions with others, I should be tolerant and patient, and love them as myself, but I couldn’t do it at all and no matter how I prayed, repented and confessed to the Lord, I was still powerless to escape the bonds of sin. For this, I felt much pain. God says: “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Andsays: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). I was so filthy and corrupt, and often committed sins, unable to implement the Lord’s words—would I be able to enter the heavenly kingdom in the future?
I sought answers to my confusion with the pastor, but he often comforted me by saying: “The Bible says: ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:9–10). So we need not be pessimistic and disappointed because of our habitual sin. The Lord won’t forsake us, and we have to have faith in Him. The Lord no longer sees us as sinful because our sins were long forgiven, and we are justified by faith. When He comes, we are qualified to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven.” Also, I often privately discussed this issue with my brothers and sisters, and they too believed that though we often sinned, we were deemed righteous thanks to the Lord’s redemption and that when the Lord returned He would surely bring us into the heavenly kingdom. Seeing how everybody thought this way, I was able to gradually let go of the concerns I’d had. However, I felt really uneasy in my heart, trapped in a state of sinning and confessing, but since I couldn’t find a solution, all I could do was constantly pray to the Lord, longing for Him to come quickly and lead me out of this predicament.
Happy to Hear the Good News of the Lord’s Return
One day, I visited a friend’s house, and there met Missionary Zhang. As we chatted, I unexpectedly heard from her the news of the Lord’s return. She said: “We’re now in the last stage of. Disasters are frequently occurring around the world, and the prophecies of the Lord’s second coming in the last days have basically been fulfilled. We are all desperately yearning for the Lord Jesus’ return. In fact, the Lord Jesus has already returned in the flesh; He is of the last days, Almighty God. He has expressed millions of words, started the Age of Kingdom and performed His work of judging, chastising and cleansing man. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can our corrupt dispositions be purified; only then will we be qualified to be raised into the kingdom of heaven. …” Hearing that the Lord had returned, I felt pleased and surprised that now, in my lifetime, the Lord’s return had come. But I felt conflicted when I thought of how she had said that accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days was the only way for us to enter the heavenly kingdom. The pastors and elders always said that we had been absolved of our sins and been justified by faith, and that the Lord would directly bring us into the kingdom of heaven when He came. How could she say that?
Can Those Who Are Justified by Faith Get Into Heaven?
I therefore said to Sister Zhang: “The Lord was crucified to redeem mankind and has already taken on all of our sins. And the Bible says: ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). Our sins have been absolved and we have been made righteous through our faith. When the Lord returns, He will lift us up directly into the kingdom of heaven. How can you say that only if we accept God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days can we enter the heavenly kingdom? Isn’t this denying the Lord’s redemptive work?” After I finished, I turned sideways to drink tea, not feeling like talking.
Seeing that I was unhappy, Sister Zhang said amiably to me: “Sister, it’s true that the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion has forgiven man’s sins. But you think that as long as we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths, we are called righteous and will be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes—is this way of thinking correct and does it have any basis in the Lord’s words? The Lord said: ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). This verse states very clearly that God is holy, and those who are not holy cannot see Him. We, however, are constantly sinning and resisting God and haven’t achieved purification. How could we be qualified to see God’s face and enter God’s kingdom? Just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). From this, we can see the belief that those who are justified by faith and absolved of their sins can enter the kingdom of heaven is just a product of the imaginings from our heads and not in line with the Lord’s words. In our belief in the Lord, all things should be in accordance with the Lord’s words. Sayings that go against His words are man’s notions and fallacies, and if we continue to cling to them, we will easily ruin our chance to get into heaven.”
Sister Zhang’s fellowship was well-founded and my heart felt greatly stirred. It turned out that the argument that having our sins forgiven and being called righteous by faith meant that we could enter into the heavenly kingdom was wrong, and this was all just our wishful thinking and did not tally with the Lord’s will at all. The Lord’s words made it so clear, but how come I hadn’t pondered them in this way? In the past, I had listened only to the pastors but ignored the Lord’s words—I was so foolish!
Then the sister turned on her computer and said, smiling: “Sister, with regard to why we can’t get into heaven simply by having our sins forgiven, let’s read several passages of Almighty God’s words and it will all become clearer.” I nodded.
Understanding the True Meaning of Having Our Sins Forgiven
Almighty God says, “At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed.” “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.”
After reading God’s words, the sister continued to fellowship, saying: “By reading God’s words, have we understood a little about the Lord Jesus’ redemption work and the result of it? As we all know, at the end of the Age of Law, because mankind was becoming more and more corrupted by Satan and unable to keep the law, they were all in danger of violating the laws and being punished with death. In order to redeem man from sin, God became flesh as the Lord Jesus and did the work of redemption during the Age of Grace, taking on all of our sins. As long as we believe in the Lord Jesus, and pray for repentance in His name, He will pardon our sins and give us peace and happiness. This is what we call being called righteous because of faith. But this only means we have been forgiven of our sins and will no longer be condemned by the law, but doesn’t mean we have been totally purified and become righteous people as we imagine. Because our corrupt dispositions haven’t been cleansed, such as arrogance and conceit, crookedness and deceitfulness, selfishness and baseness, and so we still frequently commit sins, incapable of practicing the Lord’s words. For example, we clearly know that the Lord teaches us to be tolerant and patient, but we often lose our temper in spite of ourselves so that others can listen to us; we clearly know the Lord requires us to be honest people, but if something involves our own interests or reputation, we involuntarily tell lies and deceive. And so on. Our sins are just like chives—as long as they aren’t uprooted, no matter how many times they are cut, they will continue to grow. Similarly, if our sinful nature isn’t eliminated, as long as there is the right environment and condition, we’ll continue to sin, and we cannot stop ourselves from doing things we know to betray the Lord’s words. As can be seen, our constant sinning is not a matter of external behavior but comes from the root of sin within us—the corrupt satanic natures. Without eradicating our corrupt dispositions, we’ll still rebel against and resist God in spite of ourselves and never will obey and worship God. This way, how can we be qualified to get into the kingdom of heaven?
“The Lord Jesus said: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world’ (John 12:48). From the prophecies of the Lord, we can see that there are many things the Lord has yet to tell us and that when He returns in the last days, He will do the work of judgment and express words to lead us into all truth. Only if we accept God’s work of the last days, experience the judgment of His words, and have our corrupt dispositions cleansed, are we qualified to enter into God’s kingdom.”
The sister’s fellowship utterly convinced me and I kept nodding. From Almighty God’s words, I came to understand that the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption merely redeemed us of our sins but did not dig up the root of our sin, so we still often sin and resist God, unable to practice His words. I thought of how in those years, I recited and copied verses from the Bible, and knew by heart the Lord’s teachings to constrain myself, but when meeting with things that were not to my liking, I would still get angry and be unable to restrain my anger, and when it came to things that were in my interests, I couldn’t help deceiving. I had been experiencing inexpressible suffering and had no words to describe it. Through this communion, I finally knew that the Lord Jesus had long ago prophesied that in the last days He would express His words and do the work of judgment. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days and having our sinful nature purified can we enter the kingdom of heaven. I kept thanking the Lord in my heart for allowing me to listen to such enlightening fellowship. Since it was getting late that day, I made an appointment with Sister Zhang for the next day so we could continue to fellowship at my friend’s house.
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