Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24, NASB)

Jesus Says The True Nature Of Man Is Evil

In today’s “it’s all about me” postevangelical religion spawned by the semi-pelagian (at best) Church Growth Movement—whether it be the “gospel of the changed life” or the “inward journey” of the mystic—it isn’t fashionable to say so but the Bible teaches that prior to our being born again we are slaves to our own sinful human nature. And as these forms of man-centered self-worship continue to permeate and poison our Lord’s Church we need to help people come to understand that apart from Christ we really aren’t the delightful little creatures we like to think we are.

I’ve pointed this out before but here’s what Christ Jesus of Nazareth, our Creator, said about man while speaking to His Own disciples — “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11). Did you get that? Your Creator says that your “authentic self,” your “true self”—call it what you will—but Jesus just told you — “though you are evil.”

The Lord then instructs us through His Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 8 that without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, despite what teachers of a counterfeit Christianity like Robert Schuller or Rick Warren or Richard Foster or Joel Osteen tell us, the truth remains that our basic nature is selfishness because our minds are set on the flesh, or the carnal; it’s set upon ourselves and what we want. In point of absolute fact the Scripture even says — the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s Law, nor can it do so (Romans 8:7).

In commenting on this verse, the great Church Reformer John Calvin put it this way, “the will of man is in all things opposed to [God’s] will; for, as much as what is crooked differs from what is straight, so much must be the difference between us and God.” Now here is some more truth with “certitude” in regard to mankind’s true sinful nature; look at what Jesus tells us here —“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside (Mark 7:21-23). And Paul once again — “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature…What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 8:18, 24). Do you still think we ought to “go within” to find “mystical union” with God as the false prophets of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism teach?

Because the postevangelical Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD), following along as it is in the filthy footsteps of her man-pleasing mother the Church of Rome and her apostate Roman Catholicism, does not preach the above truth people may never get to face the ultimate questions of this fleeting vapor of a life: How can a man under the just condemnation of the perfect and pure LORD Almighty, which carries with it the sentence of eternal death, possibly be made righteous before this all holy God? And the second question is like it: Is there anything we can possibly do to earn our way to Heaven? To this latter question the genuine Church of Jesus Christ must answer absolutely and categorically: No! So this will now lead us then into the doctrine of justification.

Justification Is The Very Heart Of The Gospel

I will only skim the surface here but if you have this doctrine wrong, and it was the pivotal doctrine of the Protestant Reformation, then you are still on your way to Hell—period. Men and women I exhort you, don’t let Emergent Church leaders like Rob Bell and his friend Emerging Church Pastor Doug Pagitt cause you to gloss over this because it is not a small matter, nor is it some little side debate. O no, for this is the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the very reason He came into the world in the first place. We all know the favorite verse of the compromisers of the ECoD —“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

However “the rest of the story,” as a famous radio commentator was fond of saying, is found as we read the next two verses — For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the Name of God’s One and Only Son. I pray you can see here that the unbeliever is already condemned to spiritual death in eternal conscious torment in a literal place which Jesus of Nazareth Himself called Hell. And here is John 3:36 — Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him or abideth on him as it reads the KJV.

The horrible situation described in these verses of Scripture, which save for the last verse were spoken by Jesus Himself, tells us that mankind is hopelessly doomed apart from Christ. The absolute Truth is that unless you personally—by God’s grace alone—have been regenerated, i.e. born again, repented of your sins, and through personal faith alone have placed your complete trust in Christ Jesus alone then you remain condemned already for God’s wrath remains upon you. And so the Apostle Paul will first ask the all-important question and then share the Good News with us —“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to Godthrough Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

The Doctrine Of Justification Properly Defined

And the doctrine of justification, so tragically obscured in today’s watered down and fetid man-centered preaching, speaks to what happens because Jesus rescued those in His Church from death and Hell. It’s my prayer that this short missive will give you a little working knowledge of this most critical subject. Here is a good brief definition of what the historic orthodox Christian Church means when we speak of the doctrine of justification. Dr. Charles Hodge (1797-1878), the esteemed professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary before liberalism killed it writes:

Justification is defined in the Westminster Catechism, “An act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoned all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone” (Systematic Theology, Vol. III, 114).

Whatever one may think of everything he teaches Dr. Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary, is helpful here as he adds:

[The doctrine of justification] was the heart of the difference between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism at the Reformation. Protestantism since the time of Martin Luther has insisted that justification does not change us internally and it is not a declaration based in any way on any goodness that we have in our selves (Systematic Theology, 727).

As simply as it can be stated: the Bible teaches that justification happens the nanosecond a human being is regenerated by God the Holy Spirit and places his faith in Christ. And it is the act whereby God, as the righteous Judge, has declared a sinner absolved of his sins based solely on the merit of the finished work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth on the Cross. One of the best places in Scripture for you to see that mankind has no reason to expect anything but death due to his sinful nature—no matter what you may ever do in this life apart from Christ—is Romans 1:18 through 3:20. Then from Romans 3:21 all the way through chapter 6 you will see that justification is a free gift from God simply because He chose to give it and there is absolutely nothing we have done, or ever could do, to earn it.

This is summed up in the following classic passage of God’s Word — For it is by grace — [being justified by God’s unmerited favor] — that you have been saved — [written in the past tense; it’s already happened for the genuine believer] — through faithand this is not from yourselves — [leaving aside any Calvinism-Arminian debate, here we see the absolute sovereignty of God] — this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — [can you see; man didn’t do anything, the Lord did it all and if you truly are a Christian you would rejoice in this] — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works — [which come after you are justified; we do works because we have already been saved] — which God prepared in advance — [again, forget the debate but in some fashion God had this decided before you were even born. Now once again] — God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Spiritual Prison Of Sin In This World

Let me begin to sum this up with an illustration I believe can prove helpful. Perhaps we might picture the doctrine of justification like this. Before a person is saved his own sinful human nature dooms him to a life of sin for which he lives in the huge prison cell that the god of this age has erected here in this world. So there you are locked in this prison cell of sin, a spiritual Alcatraz if you will, with no way to ever escape on your own. Now the only way you can ever be let out of this cell is if you are perfectly righteous; in other words, you must be completely sinless. Now as soon as you turn around from your sin and place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior the LORD God Almighty suddenly pounds the gavel on His bench and then declares: “This one is righteous.” You have literally been born again and given a brand new nature; the cell door swings open, and you are then set free as an adopted child of the one true and living God.

We might refer to this as part A of salvation. Through no merit of your own the LORD God Almighty has simply declared you innocent. The part B of this equation, which is the doctrine of sanctification, is how you then live out your new life as a person freed from sin by the grace of God in Christ. Though you are not actually free because you now belong to your Lord — Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So let’s not confuse the issue by adding part B (sanctification) into justification (part A). However, this is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church, which Dr. John MacArthur rightly calls “a front for the kingdom of Satan” does by teaching that through their works—albeit with God’s assistance—a person one day does become righteous enough to actually merit being declared justified.

Beloved of God, right now we are now seeing seducing spirits of the ECoD with their doctrines of demons penetrating the Body of Christ. Into postevangelicalism they come slithering bringing their repudiation of Sola Scriptura—and with it the Reformation itself. They are also coming in through the new breed Emergent “Christian” mystics who say that supposedly God already lives within all mankind negating the need to be regenerated. And through alleged “little gods” speaking their Word of Faith message we will note that each of these groups are now teaching doctrine quite consistent with apostate Rome. But let us never forget that with this crucial doctrine of justification—part A—we are speaking of how it is we are set free from that dank prison cell of sin in our spiritual Alcatraz. To God alone be the glory as we come to undertsand that through the incredible love and mercy of our Lord we are declared innocent and thereby pardoned from our guilt only through God’s grace alone; by faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone.