SELFWILL – The Pilgrim’s Progress

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. [2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)]

strawflowersJesus clearly promises forgiveness of our sins but some people treat this gift as little more than a Monopoly game’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The pilgrims Honest and Great Heart meet such a person in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Motivated by God’s promise of “eternal security,” Mr. Selfwill feels free to live any way he wants. Since David committed adultery, Rahab lied, and Jacob deceived, he believes he can do those things, as well. He thinks anyone who believes that Jesus has forgiven his sins has the freedom to sin willfully as long as he has some virtues to go along with his sins. Assuming his good deeds cancel out his bad ones, Selfwill deliberately sins.

Because we are sinners, all Christians will struggle with sin and it is not until we see Jesus face to face that we’ll be completely free from sin. Nevertheless, Christ didn’t die on the cross so mankind would continue to sin! Honest and Great Heart point out that falling into sin and deliberately committing it are not the same things. There is a difference between a stumble into the mud puddle and an eager and deliberate leap into the muck so one can wallow in it!

Selfwill has the attitude of, “Since I’m saved and all my sins are forgiven, I can keep sinning.” While a genuine believer won’t lose his share in Christ’s salvation when he sins and repents, Selfwill isn’t a genuine believer. Confident that he can’t lose his salvation when he eagerly and intentionally sins, Selfwill doesn’t realize he’s never been saved! Believing that Jesus died for our sins is the correct doctrine but believing in a doctrine is not what saves us. We are saved when we believe in and give our lives to the right person: Jesus Christ (a distinction Selfwill missed). Forgiveness is not something to be taken lightly and, for the true believer, willfully continuing to sin is not an option. Rather than deliberately committing a sin, the true believer wants to be delivered from his sins.

If we are living a life that is indistinguishable from that of an unbeliever, it’s time to look in a mirror and examine ourselves. Have we truly received Christ as our Lord and Savior? Mr. Selfwill (like Misters Formality, Talkative, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, and Moneylove) didn’t come to the Way through the narrow Gate: Jesus. Unfortunately, when these men come to the Celestial City, they will find the door locked and not gain admittance.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. … Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.” But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” [Matthew 7: 13-14, 21-23 (NLT)]

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