Summary: Let me begin by saying that you should trust the scriptures over the words of any men. We must trust the scriptures much more than Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield or any Pope or bishop.
"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” -1st Peter 1:14-16 ESV
Let me begin by saying that you should trust the scriptures over the words of any men. We must trust the scriptures much more than Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield or any Pope or bishop. Our faith in the scriptures must rise far, far above any allegiance to a theology, whether it be Arminian, Calvinist, Molinist, or Catholic.
But we often struggle with an incomplete view of the scriptures. We ignore or disregard scriptures that make us uncomfortable, or even those that don't fit neatly into our theology. This is not good my brothers and sisters. The scriptures are our highest authority, with God himself being above the scriptures of course, and the scriptures helping us to receive all truth, wisdom, and God's will from God. Trust the scriptures. That's my mission for life.
For the past few months I've been learning about holiness theology. And it's rocked my world. I was originally trained in the dispensational, Calvinist-leaning Liberty University. My greatest influences in Christianity have been Calvinist preachers, people like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, and John MacArthur. But in my time in the Salvation Army, and now studying at Olivet Nazarene University's graduate program, I've come to learn about holiness theology, and it has changed my life.
I've come to believe that holiness to the Lord is the great missing piece of Christianity in modern evangelicalism. In the face of so many multiplied evils in our world, many of us have thrown up our hands and rejected the truth of the scriptures: That we can be holy in a fallen world.
The blood of Jesus Christ has washed away the sins of those of us who believe. But dare we believe that his blood is worth much more? Dare we believe that the Holy Spirit, through our new birth, can really change our deepest desires and longings, so that we can live holy as He is holy?
For the longest time I thought this was impossible. I thought it was completely and truly impossible. Why? Because I struggled with sin everyday. And to say that I struggled with sin, is to say that I lived in willful sin. And I taught my mind to tolerate it. I searched for scriptures that would defend my failures.
I repeated mantras like: His grace is enough. His grace covers all my sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
I conveniently ignored scriptures that talked about continuance in sin as deadly to the Christian. I trembled at the scriptures that read: "For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" -Hebrews 10:26 ESV
Sexual sin, lustful thoughts, and the like were always knocking at my door. And here and there I would open. But I would repent immediately after! But this was not a true repentance. This was simply playing games with God. I was living in willful sin, while playing word games with God.
'Once saved always saved' is a doctrine that gave me permission to sin. It distorted my understanding of the word of God. We must reject that doctrine as the body of Christ. (Scriptures: John 15, 1 Tim 1:19, Hebrews 3:14). Link to "scriptures on falling away." Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. I had to look past what I preferred, or what gave me blanket assurance, and look to the truth of the word.
I like many believers struggled greatly with sin, in private. But I wasn't willing to stay there. There was a dogged unyielding dissatisfaction. There was a constant conviction of the Spirit within me, refusing to be ignored or silenced.
By God's grace, I soon found in the scriptures something that could help me overcome sin: The fear of the Lord (Matthew 10:18, Proverb 1:8, Eccle 12:13). And so each night I began praying a simple prayer: "Teach me to fear you Lord."
"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's[a] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."