In John 6:44 Jesus said that it was impossible for anyone on their own merits to enter into the kingdom of heaven, so much so that the apostles were amazed. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible,” (Matt. 19:26) was His reply, stating that the only way to obtain eternal life was through the will of God.
Not one thing that we do will be seen as good enough, sin covers us and we cannot get rid of it, only the shed blood of Christ can completely wipe away that sin, only His blood can cover that sin and make us acceptable to God. It is apparent then that until we are glorified, we will always possess sin, we may be covered by the blood of Christ, but it is a covering only, the sin remains as long as we are in this earthly temple. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
Here is where the free will of man begins to bear upon mankind, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) This says that we are chosen, we did not choose, but even after we have been chosen, even after we have received the unspeakable gift of the Holy Spirit, we sin, we cannot stop. The free will that we have been blessed with allows us the opportunity to sin, to willingly go against the will and Word of God, we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2) and not just by studying the Word of God, but by applying that word in our lives, an uphill battle every moment of the day, for it goes against our nature, the sinful nature that resides within us.
Within each individual a decision must be made then, why not succumb to the sin, notwithstanding the misuse of 1 John 1:9 by those who think in such a manner, for that rides too close to the Roman Catholic act of bead counting and confessing to a priest, sin performed by an act of contrition, we will be forgiven. The expectation of grace is a sin in itself when we sin willingly and with intent. The conundrum remains then, we know that we will sin, we know that we can and will be forgiven if we truly repent, if we turn from that sin, yet we remain in sin. The war against ourselves does not end when we are accepted in the Beloved, it begins.
The moral guidelines that we were brought up with, the manmade principles that we were instilled with by our family and friends, the geographical area we were raised in must all be put to rest, and the will of God must become our sounding board, our lives are to be Christ-like while we yet live in a corrupted body, with a mind, that which we are told to keep in subjection, (1 Cor. 9:27) still screams within us. The amount of personal effort that we put into submitting to the will and Word of God is the only free will that we have as born-again believers, it is God that chose us, it is He that has given us our faith, we are subject to His desires for us, we have only the choice to submit or not submit.
We cannot grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord unless we, by our own free will, deny our sinful nature. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19) Every man and woman of God knows this, the will to do good is in us, but we struggle against it because it is not part of our nature. Those who say that this is easy have within themselves an unrecognized sense of self-righteousness, they will not admit that the Spirit is always at war with the flesh, (Gal. 5:17) our sinful nature, others will sin willfully with the false assurance that they will automatically be forgiven if they simply perform a deed or repeat a verse of Scripture.
Every man of God should arrive at that narrow gate bloodied, beaten and bruised in Spirit, humbly asking the Lord to finally remove that which he has so long been at war with.