The Catholic Defender: "IF"

Posted by John Benko - September 9th, 2013

Have you ever had anyone ask you, “Are you saved” or “Are you Born Again”? Why do they subject themselves to the sin of “presumption” by believing in “Once Saved Always Saved”?

A common scripture that I often hear quoted to justify their belief is coming from 1 John 5:13 which states, “I write these things to you so that you  may KNOW that you have ETERNAL life, you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God.”

Taking this at first glance, that is an important scripture especially of hope for any Christian.  So, why can’t I fully know that my faith is secure and guard against the sin of “presumption.”.

In a similar way, I’ve spoken with people who basically believe that they are good people, that they do not feel endangered by hell because they are “good” people.  I think that when you really take a good look at each person, holes develop that blows people out of the water.

To make a good examination of Conscience, the Ten Commandments are a good tool to take good self inventory.  What is the first Commandment?

1.  “I the Lord, am your God.  You shall not have other gods besides me.”  Are there times in our life especially recently where we might of missed Mass because of any reason outside of health or mission?  If I missed Mass because of my own fault, that is a Mortal sin and needs to be confessed.

2.  “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain.”  Have we spoken the name of God in vain, many people do this subconsciously and might not be aware of it.  It can be a bad habit.

3.  “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day (the Lord’s Day).”  Like the first Commandment, did we miss Mass, did we not honor the Lord and teach our families to follow the Lord? Families should be able to have fun, do things together, but we should always include the Lord in our plans.

4.  “Honor your Father and your Mother.”  This is a very important Commandment, do we simply place our Parents in a Senior Citizens home and forget them? Do we not honor our parents, even after they made serious mistakes? Some things we can only give to God if we cannot handle this.

5.  “You shall not kill.” This is important because we not only kill by murdering someone, but when we use hateful speech, when you hate your brother, this is a serious sin if out of control.  We must show love to all people in our Christian walk.

6.  “You shall not commit adultery.”  Acting on adultery is clear, but the Lord is clear that if you have lust for someone, you have committed adultery in your heart.  Pornography is a serious sin that falls under this Commandment.

7.  “You shall not steal.”  This Commandment is more than taking what does not belong to you, this also falls under taking other peoples pride, destroying a persons self image or self worth.  We are to lift people up and encourage people.

8.  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  This is very important because you can ruin people because of your jealousy, because of your trying to get a head, you run somebody down through lying about people. 

9.  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” This is closely related to the Commandment on adultery, if people were to honor and respect this Commandment of God, we would save many marriages.  Save many families by reducing the opportunity to sin.  To avoid the near occasions of sin.

10.  “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  We see this a lot in the business world, people trying to get a head and if anyone stands in their way, especially a position, they want what does not belong to them so much they plot schemes to feed their passion.  People might want someones property, their possessions, their money and if they do not have self control, they can break this Commandment.

Consider looking at this from your own perspectives, I just touched the surface as this can go much deeper.  My point is that if we do not think we need to go to confession, we should humble ourselves and seek greater self inventory.  Where can we grow closer to the Lord, what might be preventing you from growing closer to the Lord?

Lets go back to the original question about 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you so that you  may KNOW that you have ETERNAL life, you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God.” How is this different?  Can we be saved simply by the blood of Christ?

What our friends are not looking at in their basic beliefs is that John writes this scripture towards the end of his letter.  If you read through the whole letter, you will discover something easily missed.  Consider the following:

1 John 1:6 states, “If we say, ‘We have fellowship with him,’ while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.”

1 John 1:8 states, “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:10 states, “If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

1 John 2:15 states, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

1 John 3:17 states, “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refused him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?”

1 John 4:20 states, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Much of this letter of St. John discusses and explains all these “If’s” and makes it clear the importance of following Christ in all these matters.  So, at the end of the day, if you are perfectly following all those “If’s” you can know you have eternal life! 

How many of us follow all those “if’s” perfectly? It is a great way to check our inventory to see if we are following the Lord as we should.  We can have perfect trust in Jesus and His Word, that we can be assured of, and “if” we are following and living out our faith exercising the grace Jesus offers us, we can be confident, but not to the point of presumption. 

So, really, what is the point of this? Can we have confidence and trust in the Lord? Yes, we can, but we must have humility before God with a humble heart and know that God is Judge.  We place ourselves humbly before God with a spirit of repentance.  We know that Jesus is true to his word, but we must live the life of grace and co-operate with His grace to stay in the state of grace.

We must make full use of the Confessional for the things we fall short, we are a work in progress and so we have a healthy respect and love for God.  We must recognize that we are sinners fully dependent on the Mercy of God’s grace.

I’ll give a quick example how we can be personally misguided in our own life.  I was on Fort Hood just leaving the parking lot after eating at Popeye’s  Chicken.  I was waiting to turn left on Battalion Avenue when I pulled into the mid lane allowing a car driving a bit faster than I anticipated to pass.  I simply allowed the car to pass on by before I pulled out into the lane.

I got maybe 15 feet before I saw the blue lights as an MP car wanted to stop me.  As I pulled into a nearby parking lot, I was trailed by this MP car.  I was thinking to myself, “What in the world could I have done wrong?” I allowed a car to pass which was the right thing to do, I was ready to defend myself when the MP came to the window.

The MP asked for my License and insurance and as I did so, I asked what I did to be stopped, thinking I was fully in the right.  Then the MP stated that where I turned left, there was a “no left turn” sign posted at the drive in parking lot.  I did not see this sign.

Now I sat there realizing that I was in the wrong and I was caught read handed.  I sat there thinking that I had a ticket coming and I couldn’t say anything about it.  About 5 minutes later, the MP came back to my window and gave me my license  and insurance paper back.  I was given a warning being shown mercy and advised not to turn left at this parking lot or this portion of the street.

I left thanking them for their help and that I would look for that sign next time.  I left thankful that I was shown mercy.  That is the way it is with all of us at some point in our lives.  We might genuinely think we are doing OK, but in reality, we are dead in sin.  We need to take advantage of God’s grace and be aware of the sin of presumption.  We shouldn’t take anything for granted, we might find ourselves totally in the wrong.  God bless you all.


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