What Is Divine Good?
And Now, Divine Good
You are a sinner and you will always be a sinner. This is because, though God saved your soul at the point of salvation, you still have a functioning Old Sin Nature residing in your body. The Old Sin Nature can be controlled more and more as you move toward Christian maturity, but it will always be a source of temptation to drag you into sin.
God knows your condition, and knows you are a sinner so He has made staying in fellowship easy.
1 John 1:8-10 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If (Third class condition EAN = Maybe we will, maybe we won't) we confess (HOMOLOGEO = Site, acknowledge, name, say the same thing about) our sins, he is (EIMI, Present Active Indicative = He keeps on being) faithful (PISTOS = Faithful, dependable, trustworthy) and just (DIKAIOS = Righteous, just) to forgive (Aorist Active Subjunctive APHIEMI = To cancel, pardon, or forgive in a point of time) us our sins, and to cleanse (Aorist Active Indicative KATHARIZO = To render ceremonially clean or pure, to render pure before God) us from all unrighteousness. (APO + PAS + Ablative ADIKIA = From the source of all unrighteousness. A reference to the Old Sin Nature) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
All a believer has to do to stay spiritually awake is to stay in fellowship. When we sin God has established a Grace provision that cancels out the mark and control of sin. This Grace provision is confession of sin to our Father. No penance is necessary, nor any emotional flagellation. You do not need to make confession to a priest or a preacher. You cannot make anything right while you are out of fellowship because you are operating in the power of the Old Sin Nature. The only production available at this point is human good, which is totally unacceptable to God.
The formula for confession of sin is simple, just as simple as the formula for salvation. There are a lot of similarities between the state of being unsaved and being out of fellowship that required God to make both corrective formulas simple. When you are unsaved you are operating under the power of the Old Sin Nature. All production is seen by our holy God as human good. You are spiritually dead. When you as a believer are out of fellowship you are operating under this same Old Sin Nature. All your production is still seen as human good by God. You are functioning like you are spiritually dead. Both the formula for salvation and the formula for confession of sin are very simple, so simple a child can perform them. It is too bad that so few Christians use the latter formula correctly.
Confession of sin is understood when you look at the word confess (HOMOLOGEO) in the Greek. HOMOLOGEO means to "site, name or acknowledge, to say the same thing about". When you sin, you must acknowledge that sin to God the Father. Our 1 John text nowhere states that we have to go through emotional flagellation, nor to hate yourself for slipping into sin. You prayerfully ask the Father: "Lord, I confess ___ as sin, and I ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ". When you do this God is faithful, dependable, and trustworthy to pardon the sin while releasing you from the source of your unrighteousness. All Divine Discipline is removed, and you are returned to fellowship in Christ.
But what about the unknown sins you have committed? It is a fact that the Old Sin Nature will often lead us into sin that we do not even recognize as sin. Sin is sin to God, and the unknown sin separates from God as much as the known sin. The remedy is again listed in our text. "God keeps on being dependable, trustworthy, faithful, and just to render us pure from the source of all unrighteousness". The source of all unrighteousness is the Old Sin Nature in us. When you confess a sin before God, God automatically purges all unknown sins from the account as well. He removes the power of the Old Sin Nature from our lives so that we are completely back in fellowship. What could be easier?
Well, to some believers it is easier to go through emotional back flips before they confess their sins. Or they wait until Sunday so they can go to Church and "get clean" at the "altar". Or they wait until they can apologize to whomever they offended before they confess the sin. This is foolish! If you fall in a mud puddle, will you wait till Sunday to take a bath? Or will you get clean as soon as possible? The longer you stay out of fellowship, the more the Old Sin Nature takes over your life. It becomes easier and easier to sin. The easier it becomes to sin the farther you move into carnality. God's discipline increases in proportion to your carnality, and worst of all you never grow as a Christian. Christian growth is not measured by physical time from the point of New Birth, but growth increases the longer you stay in fellowship and in the Word of God.
One text that has been taken out of context is:
Matthew 5:23-24 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Proponents of the "make restitution before confession
of sin" doctrine say that this verse teaches you must apologize
to any brother your sin has offended before you can ask
God for forgiveness. The verse does not teach that.
In fact, the verse is not even talking about asking God
for forgiveness. Let's highlight the context:
2. There were two basic types of Levitical sacrifices that were "brought to the altar". The first was the Sin Offering. The Sin Offering was brought by a Jewish believer as a means of confessing sin to God. By bringing the offering the out of fellowship Jew was restored to fellowship. The Sin Offering was never referred to as "Gift" to God. It was absolutely necessary, and a Gift is something given not of necessity.
3. The second type of Offering was the Gift Offering. This is the type of Offering referred to in our text. The Gift Offering was brought to the altar by a Jewish believer who was in fellowship as a sign of worship to God. To give a Gift Offering you had to be in fellowship and in harmony with God's Plan and His people.
4. A major facet of God's Plan in both Jewish and Church Ages is that there be no division in the Body. If you sin against another believer, then return to fellowship by a Sin Offering in the Jewish Age, your sin may have left some division in the Body. Even if you did not intend to sin against another believer but he has something against you, this causes division in the Body.
5. Before worshipping God in either Age you should seek reconciliation with you brother. He is your spiritual brother with Spiritual Gifts necessary for the Body. If he has something against you this may place him out of fellowship with God. By reconciliation you cause this brother to return to fellowship, making your worship much more acceptable to God. This verse does not teach a "make it right before you repent" doctrine, but tells us that we should seek to eradicate all division in the Body prior to worship.
Let's see what the Bible has to tell us about Divine Good:
1. The Christian's method of operation/ way of life should be Divine Good rather than evil or Human Good:
Romans 12:19-21 "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
The Christian should not live his life under the power of Human Good (the Old Sin Nature), or through evil. Our lives should be motivated by Divine Good in all that we do. By Divine Good I do not mean a sticky sweet attitude all the time, nor a higher degree of morality in the affairs of life. Divine Good is produced in your life when you rely on the Spirit of God to guide you in your walk among man. Human Good and evil are the same thing in God's eyes, for they are both produced by man under the power of the Old Sin Nature. Divine Good is produced by God the Holy Spirit operating in the life of the obedient believer.
So many people have read the above verse and mis-applied it in their lives. Someone can hurt you. You can choose to do Good to them in return, but the motivation behind the Good action determines what type of Good you have produced. If someone hurts you and you are motivated by anger into returning Good to them, then you have not been Good at all. Divine Good is only produced by a mature believer motivated by God. If your thought patterns are evil then your deeds are evil. The more self contributes to the action, the less your reward before God. The thought patterns you have determine the value that God assigns to the action.
2. Divine Good is only produced by the mature knowledgeable believer:
Colossians 1:9-10 "For this cause (DIA + Accusative TOUTO = Because of this) we also, since (APO = from) the day we heard it, do not cease (Present Middle Indicative + Negative = We keep on and do not cease) to pray (PROSEUCHOMAI = Intensively pray) for (Preposition HUPER = On behalf of) you, and to desire (Present Middle Participle AITEO = Keep on asking) that ye might be filled (Aorist Passive Subjunctive PLEROO = That you might fill up a deficiency in you, fill up yourselves with a certain quality) with the knowledge (EPIGNOSIS, Full knowledge) of his will (Genitive Singular THELEMA = Of His sovereign purpose and design) in all wisdom (EN + Instrumental SOPHIA = by means of wisdom) and spiritual (PNEUMATIKOS = spiritual) understanding; (SUNESIS = technical knowledge of a subject, complete perception of) That ye might walk (Aorist Active Infinitive PERIPATEO = that you might begin to walk) worthy (AZIOS = with merit) of the Lord unto all pleasing, (Prepositional Phrase with EIS = With a view toward pleasing God) being fruitful (Present Active Participle KARPOPHOREO = continually bearing fruit) in every good work, and increasing (Present Passive Participle AUZANO = constantly receiving growth) in the knowledge (Prepositional Phrase EN + locative EPIGNOSIS = In the sphere of full knowledge) of God; (Genetive of Source THEOS = from the source of God) "
2 Timothy 2:18-21 "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, (Refers to false doctrine) he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
2 Timothy 2:15 "Study (SPOUDAZO = Make an effort, be diligent in attention to) to shew thyself approved (DOKIMOS = sound as currency, tried and found solid) unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, (ANEPAISCHUNTOS = Having no cause to be ashamed) rightly dividing (ORTHOTOMEO = Making a straight cut through, a reference to correct interpretation of the Holy Writ) the word of truth."
The Bible is very clear on this point, yet so many Christians miss it. What is being commonly taught in the Church is that "to be strong for God we must get out and work". Believers have been taught and teach other believers that you mature by "working for God". It may shock you, but God does not want uninformed believers working for Him. He does not want new and uninformed believers coming forward for "full time Christian service". You cannot produce Divine Good unless you know the Divine Handbook, the Word of God. Paul said to the Colossian believers, "We keep on desiring that you might fill up your deficiency of growth with the full knowledge of God's sovereign purpose". You can only learn God's sovereign purpose through a steady diet of the Word. Once the Colossian believers began to study God's Word Paul said that they would "walk with merit before the Lord, with a view toward pleasing God, constantly bearing fruit and every good work". Study of the Word of God must come before production: without knowledge of the Word you cannot know how to produce works that are pleasing to God.
Gaining knowledge of the Word of God requires two things. First, you must be in an assembly of believers. Every believer has at least one Spiritual Gift from God, and these Gifts are only operational within a local assembly of believers. One of the more crucial Gifts in the Body is that of the Pastor/ Teacher. The Pastor/ Teacher is the spiritual leader of the local assembly. It is his job to guide you in rightly interpreting the Scripture. You must be consistent in attending your assembly. You must be objective when the Pastor/ Teacher guides you. If you meet this criteria you are on the way to Christian maturity.
Satan has two tools that he uses to destroy your momentum
to maturity. His first tool is to play on your pride and sensitivity.
One gambit he uses is to tell you that you need no one to mature,
that you can make it on your own as a Christian. The Bible is
very clear that you cannot make it on your own to maturity.
You desperately need the Spiritual Gifts of the members
of your local Church to keep growing. If the gambit of pride fails,
Satan tries to provoke you into leaving the Church by using your sensitivity
against you. Rather than sit and listen to the Pastor objectively,
you apply everything that is said to yourself subjectively. You
get hurt, then start thinking other believers are hypocrites or worse.
Or you build your Christian way of life on another believer's life so
that when he falls you fall with him. Be aware: you must objectively
listen to the teaching of the Word. What everyone else is doing
does not have a thing to do with your maturity.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, (Literally = "God Breathed") and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, (Literally = "Mature") throughly furnished unto all good works."
3. We are designed by God to do Divine Good.
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Believers get on the "let's work for God platform" because they are scared they will not get rewards when they get to Heaven. The fastest way to lose reward in Heaven is to get out and work without first knowing the Book. Prepare yourself first. God has designed us to do Divine Good. He has ordained us in eternity past to produce Divine Good. Since we are equipped to produce Divine Good in this life, if we are obedient to His Will we will do it. But being ordained to do Good does not guarantee we will do it if we forsake God's Plan. If we supersede God's Plan by failing to study the Word, then we also supersede the ordination of God. You can do the same thing with your life. God has given you X number of years to live, but you can supersede this Plan at any time by committing suicide. Trust in God and study the word first. He has designed us to produce Divine Good, so you can be certain (if you are obedient) you will be used as you were designed.
4. Divine Good production from the believer is a sign of Christian maturity.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
The mature believer is the one who consistently produces Divine Good. The "Let's get out and work for God" crowd are consistently immature, attempting to do things for God under the power of the flesh. Maturity demands growth, and Spiritual growth comes only by consistent study of the Word of God. The foolish Christian is the one who tries to work for God without first obtaining the necessary knowledge and application of Scripture. Believers like this run around all their lives doing good, but their good is never acceptable to God. They have no idea as to what God wills. They go off on crusades, trying to get unbelievers to act like believers. Unbelievers are not required to act like believers, and the unbelievers moral excellence will not get him into Heaven. Through these crusades the immature believer leads the unbeliever into thinking that fine moral living will give him entrance into Heaven.
As a part of his "works theology" the crusading believer tries to establish moral codes for other believers. Ignoring or not knowing the teaching of Romans 14 he tries to judge God's servants. This type puts all believers in the same mold. They establish human laws that the Church is not under, then brands all who fail to meet these standards as non spiritual or not saved. This all goes to prove that maturity can not come by "working". Godly works are the byproduct of a mature Christian. The mature become that way by first knowing the will of God through the Scripture. After this Divine Good will naturally follow.
There are many dangers in ignoring the Scripture as the means toward Christian maturity. I was saved in what is called a "holiness" denomination. The believers there were wonderful, though mixed up people. The "Works Theology" was taught, and we were not above doing a little crusading on the side. While in this Church it took me about three years before I turned to studying the Scripture. If you did what the elders said, this was enough. I (along with the rest of the Church) was too busy crusading, acting self righteous, and preaching to unbelievers to study the Word of God. The standards of our Church were very strict and judgmental, so I felt that this was where a harsh and holy God would have me serve Him. I led a young man to Christ while in this assembly. The standards of the Church were so strict that this young man soon became convinced that he could not be saved if he could not meet these man made standards, so he left God completely. I know that this person was saved, and is still in Christ today because of the Grace of God. My immature crusading and ignorance of the Scripture pushed a young believer into despair. The dangers of spiritual immaturity and a "Works Theology" are very real, very viscous. They not only hurt the user, but also hurt those around him.
5. Human and Divine Good are separated and judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. "
Since we have talked about the Judgment Seat of Christ before I will not go into detail here. But it is a fact that God has no use for human good. Before you, as a believe, will ever become a part of the Bride of Christ in Heaven, God will remove all traces of human good from your past life. Human good will be burned at the altar of God, only Divine Good will remain. God will give us rewards based on the Divine Good we produced in this life as a testimony to its value. But we will get nothing out of the human good but ashes that blow away, a reminder that human good is only temporary, worthless in God's eyes.
6. Grace empowers the believer to produce Divine Good.
2 Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work"
The force behind Divine Good is Grace, whereas the force behind human good is the Old Sin Nature. The Grace behind Divine Good makes itself known in many ways. First, it is imperative that you study and know the Scriptures in order to produce for God. God ensures you have the ability to do this by giving you the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation, the Spirit then teaching you all things, "calling all things to your remembrance".
John 14:25-27 "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
The only thing you put forth in your move to maturity is the willingness to obey the Spirit, to heed His teaching, to open the Scripture. If you have the willingness then God supplies the learning and the subsequent growth.
Second, after growth God will put you in situations
where you can produce Divine Good. God wants you to have a crown
of reward in Heaven. He supplies the situations for witnessing
and service once you are ready for them. The situations
are supplied through God's Grace. You do not have
to chase down some poor unbeliever and force him to the Cross.
By Grace God will help you to mature to the state where you can produce
good works. Divine Good is God's standard. He will ensure that
you can meet that standard if you are obedience to his will.
The Total Depravity of Man
The Biblical concept of Total Depravity is that man is fully cut off from God. Man is enslaved by his Old Sin Nature, and his very will is controlled by the same. Man does have free will, but with reservations. The will of man is subject to its master, the Sin Nature. If man is given a choice between good and sin he will naturally choose sin, just as the alcoholic will naturally choose a bottle over a Bible. Any choice the unbeliever makes will naturally be against God. Any work the unbeliever does will be disgusting to God. The morality of the unbeliever is abhorrent to God, for this morality is driven by the Old Sin Nature and not the Holy Spirit. Man is unable to accept God in his current state, for his will demands godlessness at every point.
Calvin went a little beyond what the Scripture teaches on Total Depravity. Calvin taught that: (1) Since man cannot accept God in his current state, then (2) God has to make man come to the Cross. God does this by (3) issuing an efficacious or undeniable call to certain people who are the elect. The elect are those out of humanity whom God has determined will be saved by any means. God did not designate the elect based on their own merit, but arbitrarily chose some to salvation. Others He did not use, but if they come to Christ God will accept them anyway. Calvin further taught that God did not elect to Heaven and Hell but only guaranteed some would go to Heaven.
Hyper Calvinism creates a lot of problems that are not resolved Biblically. The Bible makes it plain that man has a freewill, and this freewill is the main element toward salvation. John 3.16 and other "whosoever will" passages make it plain that man does have a choice to accept or reject salvation. To take the will of man out of the picture completely is to disregard a large portion of the Scriptural teaching about salvation. Hyper Calvinism also implies robotics on the part of God. Those whom God has elected will be saved. Those He has not elected will be damned. Man becomes a pawn in a great Celestial chess game between Satan and God. With God the assured victor, man has no more choice in salvation than a robot or a chess piece. Hyper Calvinism also takes great pains to define the justice of God, and how it relates to God's Plan of Salvation. It notes that God's justice does not guarantee men to salvation. In fact, God's justice demands that we get what we deserve (damnation). This is true, the justice of God does demand that we be punished for the Old Sin Nature in us. But what Hyper Calvinism fails to recognize is that the love of God is equally distributed over all of mankind. John 3.16 says that "God so loved the world":
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
1 John 2.2 says that Christ "died for the sins of the whole world":
1 John 2:1-2 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Since God's love is so evenly distributed over the whole of the world that Christ "died for the sins of the whole world", then it is certain that God's Grace would ensure that every man get an equal chance at salvation at least once in his life. There is no stacked deck, with God choosing some to guaranteed salvation, while failing to choose others, effectively guaranteeing their damnation. The Bible says that it is the will of God all men be saved:
1 Timothy 2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
This will of God guarantees that there will be at least some free choice for all men. If hyper Calvinism is true, and God destines man to salvation, then Biblically He has destined all men to salvation, for what God wills He will do. We know that this is not true, and know that the Bible teaches that some will go to Hell while others will go to Heaven.
Calvinism could not reconcile the problems of election,
predestination, the freewill of man, and the Will of God. This
is because the system went a little too far in defining
these doctrines and skipped another series of very important doctrines.
In our next lesson we will see if we can get the Biblical view
of the process of salvation with man's free will in mind.