OSAS & The Fight Against The World, The Flesh & The Devil

I want to start this thread by first stating that I a convert the the Catholic faith from Protestant evangelicalism. I greatly appreciate the all that I experienced as a Protestant and am indebted to those who first introduced me to the Savior Jesus Christ. My desire for this thread is that it not become simply another discussion about OSAS, but to examine the Protestant understanding of the Christian battle against the world, the flesh and the devil in light of the Reformation understanding of ‘sin and grace’ as seen by Martin Luther.

Now, I understand there are many Protestants who do not agree with much of what Luther had to say or are all together ignorant of his teachings, but what must be agreed on is that Martin Luther is the ‘lynch-pin’ connecting the teachings of the Reformation with all other denominations that followed. Martin Luther and his teachings cannot be altogether dismissed for the Reformation brought with it a ‘spirit’ that traveled down through all the other teachers and teachings that followed the Reformation. Some Protestant denominations have outright rejected Luthers teachings altogether seeing them as incompatible with Sacred Scripture.

My intention for this post is this: I know there are Protestants who have come to CAF because they find themselves on the fence trying to reconcile what Sacred Scripture has to say about the war against sin in light of ‘once saved always saved’ and it’s my hope to inspire to carefully examine what your conscience may be telling you and to look honestly at passages of scripture that warn us about the consequences of willful deliberate sin.

I understand the battle many Protestants struggle with internally when dealing with the issue of sin because I was one of them. I had a powerful experience with Christ that literally changed me overnight and I became a new man, I fell in love with Jesus Christ and began to consume the Bible like a man who had been dying of thirst. I wanted to lead a holy life and flee from sin at every opportunity and for periods of time was very successful which gave me great satisfaction. The church I first belonged to did not believe in OSAS and believed that willful sinning based on scripture would lead to lose their salvation. This group even promoted confessing sins to one another and maintained a rigorous evangelization and discipleship policy.

I strived with all my might to lead a holy life, to evangelize, to fight sin, to confess but I soon found myself very tired and mentally drained and these folks began to show a different side that scared me. I began to secretly attend a non-denominational church and finally was led to believe this church I was currently involved with was a cult. A few weeks before I left I did something this church absolutely forbid, I asked for Jesus to come into my heart, this was my second powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and I instantly felt the grace and strength to confront these people and get out of the cult. One thing I did take from this experience was a love for my God Jesus Christ and scripture. I believed the mercy of Jesus touched me that day and prepared me for all that followed. (cont)

So I joined a non-denominational church with a membership close to 10,000. Through this church. I came to an understanding that once a person makes a commitment to Jesus Christ, asks him into their heart by ‘faith through grace’ **Ephesians 2:8 **that person is saved once and for all and nothing, including sin can separate them from the love of God. Initially this was exile rating and completely liberating, to know that my sins and shortcomings had no baring what so ever on my salvation. I came to believe that works had no merit upon my salvation but were a natural result of faith and grace, not connected with being ‘saved’.

As time went on I became much more ‘liberated’ in my thinking regarding sin, when I fell I knew that God still loved me and that He understands all my weaknesses and shortcomings and that upon the cross He foresaw all of the sins I would commit and died for them simply because I had no power in my will to fight sin. I came to believe that the ‘more I tried to fight in the more sin would abound’ and that it was dangerous to examine your conscience regarding sins being as it was, “legalistic thinking” and diminished the power of the cross.

I want to really focus in on this time in my life because mentally I had completely changed regarding sin and my battle against it. I no longer felt I had to wage war against sin because Jesus paid the penalty and that trying to fight sin would lead to legalism and lessen the power of the cross. Of course I would have never admitted this at the time, but ‘sinning’ became very easy. I would secretly sin, confess it to God and reassure myself that sin had no baring on my salvation. From time to time I would talk to a friend or pastor when I felt doubts and was always assured that no sin big or small could effect my standing with God. Those who made the choice to walk away from God, “never knew Him”.

Eventually I began to feel trapped by ‘secret sin’ and internally knew something was wrong. I felt conflicted by what I read in scripture concerning the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. Certain passages I tried to dismiss really bothered me yet OSAS always was right there assuring me that I was ok and that my compulsive sinning was only an opportunity for Gods to be displayed more powerfully, yet the battle intensified. **James 1:14-15 **speaking of the fact that we are tempted by our own evil desire, dragged away and enticed.

This passage bothered me a tremendous amount, that sin is conceived by desire, desire gives birth to sin, sin gives birth to death. But of course, this has nothing to do with a believer in Christ, a believer in Christ is a new creation and someone who truly loves Jesus will not lead a life of willful sin, what??? Am I truly saved? I have to be honest, over the course of the 12 or so years I was a Protestant I probably prayed Jesus into my heart 10 or more times just to be on the safe side. (cont)

Here was another passage that was a thorn in my conscience:

Hebrews 10:26-30

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving (the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.
28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve (who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know Him who said, "(VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY " And again, "(THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE."
31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the (living God.

I went back and forth on this passage for years always looking for teachers who would explain it away, and of course this passage could not be talking about one with “true faith”, or one who is genuinely saved, but one who never really had a relationship with Christ but only believed they did, again, a true Christian does not continue to willfully sin. The best Protestant teachers would always seem to say that this kind of willful sinning was indicative to one who was rebellious toward God and did not really have a deep relationship with Him. This through me into more confusion because I did love Jesus, I loved His word, I wanted to be like Him, but my willful secret sins caused me serious doubt and heartache overtime.

So, I began to study other teachers as well, Protestants who did not believe in OSAS. Charles Finney was one of them. I was impressed by this firebrand of a man who seemed so Holy and full of the fire of God. He preached the need for confession of sin to a Minster and that all secret sin must be brought into the light and exposed and that willful sinning would be the ruin of a soul. He took the passages above very seriously and folks would often scream and fall to the ground crying out for Jesus to save them from their sins!

Another book that captivated me was Detrich Bonhoffers, “Cost Of Discipleship”. This book was a fire in my soul and I gained a very good understanding of the real life of a disciple of Jesus versus the “cheap grace” mentality, and that to follow Jesus there is a cross for each of us to bare, that dying to self was not an option, but a daily sacrifice of self will. I find it very interesting that the first Church I was involved in, which is condemned by most of the evangelical world as a “cult” was actually closer in many ways to the truth I was now finding in scripture and in the writings of Bonhoffer, Finney, Reese Howells and many others. The need for confession of secret sin, detachment from self will, examination of conscience, faith and works. (cont)

Now, I want to revisit Martin Luther and try and tie some of this together. I want to consider a statement of Luthers in light of Scripture to better understand the Psychology of OSAS and reformation thinking regarding sin and salvation.

Martin Luther, for example, taught:

**Be a sinner, and sin boldly, but believe more boldly still. Sin shall not drag us away from Him, even should we commit fornication or murder thousands and thousands of times a day (Luther, M. Letter of August 1, 1521 as quoted in Stoddard, p.93). **

Luther believed in ourselves we have no ability to willfully turn from sin and by doing so we would be negating the power of the cross. By “sinning and sinning boldly” all glory could be given to the cross and Gods grace could be revealed more fully. By fighting sin grace would no longer be grace, but is this compatable with the message of Gods Word?

Consider Luther’s statement in light of Scripture:

For **the grace of God that brings salvation **has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say *“No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age *(Titus 2:11,12 )

Jude 1:4

For certain men whose condemnation was written about Or men who were marked out for condemnation long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who **change the grace of our God into a license for immorality **and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

**To those who by persistence in doing good **seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life (Rom. 2:7, NIV).
Moreover, Paul wrote of true grace:

For the **grace of God that brings salvation **has appeared to all men. **It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age **(Titus 2:11,12,)


It eventually became very clear to me that the purpose of grace is to lead us into holiness and empower us to lead holy lives as we work out our salvation but we are indebted to the grace of God and must rest in His mercy yet collaborate with Gods grace to accomplish the works He has prepared for us and I have found the perfect balance of faith and works in the Catholic Church.

In 2004 I left the Protestant church and after several years of intense study of the Catholic faith entered the church Easter 2005. In the Catholic Church I have found the what I consider the perfect balance of scripture and logic. Following Jesus is not an easy walk and this is very clear in scripture:

St. Paul in Ephesians 6 exhorts us to take our stand against the devils “schemes”
And that we are in in a full on battle against the enemy for our own soul and the souls of others.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

**1821 **We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

**2001 **The [FONT=Arial]preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, “since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:” [/FONT]

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.

**1848 **As St. Paul affirms, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us “righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:

Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus in this “convincing concerning sin” we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.

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