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What Must I Do to be Saved?
by Dr. Linda Smallwood, BBS, M.Min., D.Min.


In This Series
     What Must I Do to be Saved? | Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

In This Lesson

How Do We Receive Salvation?
Jesus' First Message
The Disciples' First Message
Repentance Defined
"Dead Works"
The Wicked/Unrighteous/Evil
Sexually Immoral/Fornicators
Idolatry/Idol Worship
Effeminate Males/Homosexuality
Thievery, Covetousness, Slander, Swindlers
Six More "Dead Works"
The Good News


The word "salvation" derives from the late Latin salvatio, the Greek translation of which is soteria. The "American Heritage Dictionary" defines salvation as

  • the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.
  • the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
  • a source, cause, or means of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
  • Theology: deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption.

"Easton's Bible Dictionary" defines it:
"Used of the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger. In the New Testament it is specially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, 'the great salvation' (Hebrews 2:3)."

Synonyms for "salvation", as it's used in the Bible, include:

  • Deliverance
    "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matthew 6:13 emphasis added)

  • Escape
    "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36 emphasis added)

  • Hold
    In Jesus' statement in John 10:28-29, the logical implication is that Christ and the Father are "holding" us for salvation: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (emphasis added)

  • Pardon
    "And he [Moses] said, 'If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.'" (Exodus 34:9 emphasis added)

    "let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7 emphasis added)

  • Preserve/Preservation
    "For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!" (Psalm 143:11 emphasis added)

    Hebrews 10:39—

  • Redeem/Redemption
    "[For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" (Romans 3:23-24 KJV emphasis added)

    "In him [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7 emphasis added)

    Colossians 1:14—

  • Restore/Restoration
    For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. . . . Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." (2 Corinthians 13:9,11 emphasis added)

    Galatians 6:1—

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How Do We Receive/Attain Salvation?
The answer, really, is quite simple and yet so very difficult to do.

  • "You have to attend church every Sunday and whenever there's a prayer meeting." No.

  • "You have to help widows, orphans, and the destitute." No.

  • "We should set up feeding programs for the elderly, lepers, widows, and old persons." Well, yes, you should, but not as a means for gaining salvation.

  • "I know! We need to sell all our worldly goods and follow Jesus." Follow Jesus, yes! Not take care of yourself and your family, no!

  • "We should visit people in nursing homes and prisons." Again, yes, we should, but not for the purpose of being saved.

  • "I got it! I need to accept Jesus' atoning work on the cross of Calvary and receive Him as my Lord and Savior!" Uhmmm. Yes . . . and no.

Jesus' First Message during His Earthly Ministry
What was the first message Jesus preached after being baptized and tempted by Satan in the wilderness?

"From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Matthew 4:17 emphasis added)

"[Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,] and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" (Mark 1:14-15 emphasis added)

Luke 13:3—

The Disciples' First and Main Message
What was the message the Apostles preached on the day of Pentecost and after that in carrying out the "Great Commission" of going into all the world and making disciples?

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2:38 emphasis added)

Acts 3:19—

"Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you." (Acts 8:22 emphasis added)

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Based on the Scripture verses above, a logical deduction is that repentance is a prerequisite of saving faith. I recently read an interesting question on a Christian blog in which the writer asked: "Are you a saved or an unsaved believer?" I know it sounds strange, but really, there's more truth to that question than what many would dare admit.

You hear it in church, during Gospel crusades, from televangelists, and/or on most Christian radio stations; or you read the message on Gospel booklets left behind on city buses. What message is that? The one that tells you, "All you have to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross." It's a good message and 100% truth. The problem is, it's not the whole truth!

Jesus' first public message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter's first message was, "Repent and be baptized..."

The writer of Hebrews admonishes us, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God." (Hebrews 6:1 KJV emphasis added)

Why Do We Need to Repent?
Concerning repentance, the Apostle Paul wrote: "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he [God] commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31 emphasis added)

What does it mean, to "repent . . . from dead works"? Why do you need to repent of your sins? Answer: Because God "commands" it, and because God has appointed a day when He will judge all the people in the world based on Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf.

Scripture assures the consequences, or end result, of both the repentant believers and those who refuse to repent: "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:7-8)

It's of First Importance
As we've already seen, repentance is recorded by Matthew as the very first teaching which Jesus preached when He began His earthly ministry. Also, when He sent out His 12 disciples, He commissioned them to teach a message of repentance. Mark 6:12—

The Apostle Paul also preached that all Jews and Gentiles must turn to God in repentance. Acts 20:21—

"but [I] declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance." (Acts 26:20)

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Repentance Defined
Notice, Paul and the other Apostles never taught that we should "come to God just as we are," as many of today's preachers, teachers, and evangelists like to say. No! Theirs was a message of repentance first.

What is "repentance"? What do we mean when we say, "Repent"? What did Christ mean when He said, "Repent"?

  1. First As a Sorrowful Afterthought
    A better phrase might be that you "feel sorry" for some wrong you have committed. That is the beginning, but not the end, or the whole, of repentance.

    "Repentance" is defined as: 1) remorse for your past conduct; 2) a change of mind so as to produce regret; and 3) a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised. (Easton's Bible Dictionary)

    Biblical repentance consists of 1) a true sense of one's own guilt and sinfulness; 2) an expectation of God's mercy in Christ; 3) an actual hatred of sin (Psalm 119:128; Job 42:5-6; 2 Corinthians 7:10) and turning from it to God; and 4) a persistent endeavor to live a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments.

  2. True Penitence
    A truly penitent person is aware of his guilt (Psalm 51:4,9), of pollution (Psalm 51:5,7,10), and of helplessness (Psalm 51:11; 109:21-22). Thus, he recognizes himself to be exactly what God has always seen and declared him to be. But true repentance not only grasps such a desperate sense of sin and guilt, but also of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Psalm 51:1; 130:4).

    Although repentance begins in the thoughts and heart of a person — as in, "What have I done?" — it does not end there. If possible, you must also correct the wrong. (Easton's Bible Dictionary)

  3. Producing/Bearing the "Fruit" of Repentance
    Sorrowful afterthoughts are there to provoke you to action, to produce something good. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV)

    In this verse, Paul contrasts godly sorrow with worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow produces regrets and often more sin, and then death — that includes the death of the soul. Godly sorrow, however, is sorrow in line with the will and purposes of God. It produces repentance — usually and eventually without regrets — and it leads to salvation.

    While worldly sorrow leads to more sin and death, godly sorrow leads to works of righteousness. Repentance ends with righting the wrong, with doing the right thing.

    According to Scripture, repentance that is real and complete naturally leads to appropriate good deeds. John the Baptist warned sinners, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8 NIV emphasis added). During his testimony before King Agrippa, the Apostle Paul said about Jews and Gentiles everywhere, that "they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26:20 NIV emphasis added)

    The "fruit of repentance" is one of the "fruits of the Spirit" that should mark every believing and repentant follower of Christ.

    It is not enough to just be "sorry" for something you did wrong. Sorrow must motivate us to make it right, according to the nature of the sin, and within our means to do so. For example:

    • If you stole something, return it to its owner.
    • If you lied, go back and tell the person the truth.
    • If you accidentally dented someone's car door, leave a note with your name and phone number. [Note: Denting the door is not sin; covering it up is.]
    • If you lied on your expense report or time sheet, report the offense and be prepared to suffer the consequence.

    In other words, in order for your repentance to be valid and approved by Almighty God, you must follow up the sorrowful afterthought with appropriate corrective action. If it is within your means to do so, you must bring repentance to its rightful end for the sins in your life.

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"Dead Works"
As we read earlier in Hebrews 6:1, we see that one of the first and rudimentary truths we must teach sinners is the teaching of "repentance from dead works".

These are sins, habits, and behaviors that rob you of the eternal and abundant life promised in Christ Jesus — things that will ultimately lead to certain and permanent death. God will condemn you for them, unless you repent of them. This applies, not only to the beginning of your Christian walk, but to everyday, every aspect, every word, every deed. You cannot be saved or draw near to God — or more accurately, He cannot draw near to you! — unless you do what He has instructed you to do: Repent!

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle Paul lists 11 sins — "dead works" — for which God will condemn people to the Lake of Fire.

9"Do you not know that the [1]wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the [2]sexually immoral nor [3]idolaters nor [4]adulterers nor [5]male prostitutes nor [6]homosexual offenders
10nor [7]thieves nor the [8]greedy nor [9]drunkards nor [10]slanderers nor [11]swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV reference numbers added)

The 11 "Dead Works" Defined
Let's briefly take a look at each of the 11 sins listed above. As we do, don't think about whether you know someone who practices any of these. Rather, ask God to show you if you are in danger by ignoring some of these or closely similar sins. "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23 emphasis added)

The Wicked/Unrighteous/Evil
Different Bible versions use the term "wicked", "unrighteous", or "evil". Regardless of which word you use, they are generic terms covering a wide range of sins. The Apostle John wrote: "All unrighteousness is sin..." (1 John 5:17a) Thus, we can conclude that being "unrighteous" means being a sinner, continuing in sin.

In order to transition from judgment to life, we must become righteous. But this is not a righteousness to which we can attain on our own merit and strength. Rather, it refers to our knowledge of who God is and obeying the Gospel (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8). The "Gospel" spoken of here requires us to separate from our sins — to "come out" — and to embrace the forgiveness and freedom found only in Jesus Christ. Being "righteous", then, does not mean being "perfect". It means, as a result of our relationship with Christ, we do not habitually practice sin.

Sexually Immoral/Fornicators
"Fornication" is broadly defined as "sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other". In the Bible, "fornication" refers to a man and a woman having sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage. This is not the same as "adultery", which refers to a lawfully married person having sexual relations with someone who is not their spouse.

The reason for making a distinction here is that they each require a different way of repentance.

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Idolatry/Idol Worship
In order to understand the sin of idolatry, it is helpful to first define it in all its many aspects. Idolatry is not limited to images, statues or figurines before which one bows, prays or pays homage. Certainly, if that were the case, it would be much easier to avoid this sin.

However, idolatry actually pertains to our assigning a higher value to any item, action, or person than we ascribe to God. Thus, one of the idols in your life could be your:

  • Automobile
  • Spouse
  • Job or paycheck
  • Household pet(s)
  • Children or grandchildren
  • School or college studies
  • Computer [Ouch! I think I hit a nerve...]

The list continues with those things in our lives to which we might attach some spiritual value, thereby lying to ourselves about them being equal to the personal devotional and prayer time we spend with God:

  • Congregation
  • Church building
  • Prayer services
  • Set times of worship
  • Choir or worship team

Or, perhaps your list includes some socio-economic charity or other outreach programs, whereby we fool ourselves into thinking the time we spend in "serving" God or others is the same as our one-to-one service and fellowship with God. These might include:

  • Summer youth camps
  • Jail or prison ministry
  • Care for widows, orphans, the elderly [Ouch! There's that nerve again...]
  • Outreach feeding or clothing programs [...and again...]
  • Other volunteer programs [...and again...]

The list is endless. It can consist of any one or more activities, things, or persons that cause us to push God aside or force Him to take a back-seat [wait] until a more "convenient" time. If there is anything on your daily list that somehow takes precedence over the time you spend in personal devotion and communion with the Lord, then He might well call it an "idol"!

    Concerning our relationship with God, there are two types of "seeking" spoken of in Scripture:

    1. Us seeking God: "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

    2. God seeking us: "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (John 4:23)

      Notice, Jesus didn't say that God wants more prayer services or more Sunday School classes; He didn't say God is looking for more helpers for the feeding programs or prison ministry. No! He said the Father is seeking "worshipers"!

      If that's the kind of person, or "service", which the Lord is seeking, wouldn't it behoove us to strive to be "found" by Him?!

      In order to be saved, idolaters must become worshipers of the /Creator alone and not worshipers of any other created thing, no matter how worthy or "godly" it might seem.

The sin of adultery happens when a man and a woman have sexual relations and at least one of them is married to someone else, or is separated from them [having an "affair"], or has been unlawfully divorced from their rightful spouse.

    This ministry and this lesson do not seek to cause offense or to make judgments about what constitutes a "lawful" divorce according to Scripture. If you were divorced from your spouse prior to getting saved or prior to coming to a better understanding of God's definitions of marriage and adultery, then you need to seek God's guidance — not according to the wisdom of this world but according to Scripture in which it is impossible for God to lie.

Jesus taught that adultery could occur even without physically having sexual relations with another. "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

Some would label this as "mental" or "emotional" adultery. The same could be said about the sin of fornication. Anytime we look upon others with lust, we are committing fornication or adultery with them in our hearts. This is why the use of pornography is a sin that leads to death. As an activity that creates inappropriate lust, which can then result in us committing fornication or adultery, it is condemned by Jesus, the One who will judge you unless you repent.

All Must Honor the Concept of Marriage
"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." (Hebrews 13:4)

By listing the "sexually immoral" with adultery, this verse links the sin of fornication and adultery to the dishonoring or defiling the very purpose for which God instituted the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Adulterers dishonor marriage by not remaining faithful to their spouse; and fornicators dishonor marriage by not getting married before they have sexual relations.

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Male Prostitution/Effeminate Males/Homosexuality
The woman was made to relate sexually to the man and vice versa.

"...But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:20b-22)

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Romans 1:26-27)

Man was not made to sexually relate to another man, nor was woman made to relate to other women. This is an affront to God because it says of Him as Creator that He made a mistake or that we are wiser than He in determining how to conduct ourselves physically and emotionally. The omniscient Almighty God cannot and does not make mistakes. There are many in our churches and communities today who twist God's Word to their own sinful devices or who know God's Word on this subject but refuse to submit to His authority over them and their use of what He has created.

If you are engaging in this type of activity, know this: Calling it an "alternate lifestyle" or saying you were "born" this way is to believe Satan's lie.

    Despite the many scientific studies that conclusively disprove the theory that some people are "born" homosexual, certain news media, movie producers and radical homosexual groups continue to propagate the lie. They spread their hype, not to empower others to a happier life or to quell persecution, as they propagandise, but because it's such a lucrative business. The reality is that it seldom has any remote resemblance to reality!

    For the sake of discussion/debate, however, let us consider the argument that some people are genetically predisposed to homosexuality or even gender identity [believing they're really the opposite sex in the wrong body]. Now, in this politically-heated debate, we have those who demand to be treated equally so that they might openly flaunt and celebrate their "lifestyle". That, then, begs the question, "Should we not do the same for those who are born blind or missing a limb or who have CP or Downs Syndrome or any other common birth defect? Shouldn't we also let them hobble their way into the societal mainstream with no regard for their safety or their ability to survive?"

    Or, to take this new "free-to-be-perverted/deluded/disenabled" ideal to the next logical level, shouldn't we also make the same allowances for someone who's been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or multiple-personality disorder?

    I say, if we're going to use the logic that says homosexuals should have free rein when it comes to not only living their alternate lifestyle, but also to forcing its acceptance on others . . . then let's also throw open the doors to our hospitals, residential treatment facilities, convalescent centers, prisons and asylums and let these other poor, tortured souls have free rein to maim or kill either themselves or others! Let's make a law that says: "The only rule is that there are no rules!"

I know the above argument is ludicrous. But so is the argument that we should endorse and even celebrate the lifestyle choices that brought God's judgment and destruction on two ancient civilizations! As Jesus said in Luke, chapter 17, in comparing this current "generation" to those in the past on which God visited His divine wrath:

27"They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot — they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,
29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all —
30so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed."

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Thievery, Covetousness/Envy, Slander, Swindlers/Cheating
I put these together because they all have something in common with each other.

Thieves, covetous people, and swindlers all want something that belongs to someone else. Of course, admiring what someone else has is not, in itself, sin. It becomes sin when it starts to define us or limit the joy we have with those things the Lord has graciously given us, thereby kindling the fires of covetousness. Often, covetousness leads to stealing, lying, murdering, taking by force, or persuasive trickery [swindlers]. It's at that moment when the object or person of our attention and affection also becomes an idol, whether we actually possess it or not.

A reviler or slanderer is someone who speaks evil of another person, typically with abusive lack of respect. He casts evil slurs and insults, falsely accuses them, gossips, mocks, and maligns them. The manner in which this relates to stealing or swindling is that it robs the object of the slander of his good reputation and sometimes even an opportunity to earn a living.

Examples of Those Who Repented of Their Crimes

  • The Thief Repented on the Cross
    One of the two thieves, who was being crucified next to Jesus, confessed that he deserved his crucifixion for stealing.

    39"One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' 40But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' 42And he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' 43And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:38-43)

  • King Ahab Repented of Covetousness
    King Ahab, along with his wife, Jezebel, coveted another man's vineyard. Ahab wanted to buy his neighbor's vineyard, but his neighbor would not sell it to him. Therefore, Ahab was quite agitated and depressed. When his wife saw her husband like this, she decided to get the vineyard for him by falsely accusing the neighbor, for which he was stoned to death. Then, Ahab was able to take possession of his vineyard.

    However, when Ahab went to take possession of the vineyard, God spoke judgment against him and his wife through the prophet Elijah. Elijah told Ahab that dogs would lick up his blood in the same place where the dogs had licked up his neighbor's blood, and that dogs would eat his wife. Elijah said Ahab's sons also would be destroyed.

    27"And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29'Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house.'" (1 Kings 21:27-29)

    Because Ahab began to repent, God decided to not punish him in what was left of his life. As soon as he died, however, all the words God spoke came to pass. The dogs licked up his blood, his wife was eaten by the dogs, and his sons were put to death (see 1 Kings 22:38; 2 Kings 9:7-10:17).

  • Zacchaeus Repented of Swindling
    Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector who apparently had cheated and swindled his neighbors. When Jesus came into his life, he confessed, 8"...'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' 9And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'" (Luke 19:8-10)

    Jesus' response was in direct proportion to Zacchaeus' repentant pledge to give half of his wealth to the poor and to give back to those whom he had defrauded. Certainly, prior to this encounter, Zacchaeus was lost; but he began that day to prove his repentance to Jesus.

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The Bible condemns drunkenness. Anyone who excessively uses wine, beer, strong drink, or drugs on a regular basis to make themselves drunk or "high" will not be saved. Note: This is not the same as imbibing an occasional drink of low-content alcohol [wine or beer] unless such usage is for the purpose of intentionally becoming intoxicated.

Although drinking a little alcohol infrequently and not to excess is not considered a sin, the Bible does caution against the use of all alcohol because it dulls the senses and can lead to a lack of self-control.

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." (Proverbs 20:1)

Isaiah 5:22—

In Matthew, chapter 24, there's a parable Jesus told that some opponents of alcohol point to as proof that drinking alcohol is a sin.

48"But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' 49and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

While there's no doubt this servant was sinning against his master by his blatant lack of respect for the master and for his fellow servants, the point of the story was not about drinking or even drinking "with drunkards". The point was that this wicked servant had become insolent, abusive, and slothful so that he was not ready when his master returned. The urgency stressed in this story is about us not knowing the hour at which our Lord will return. We, therefore, need to be ready at all times — thus Jesus' oft-repeated command, "Repent!"

Whether you agree that taking an occasional drink of alcohol is a sin or not is mostly a matter of personal conscience, tradition, or denominational doctrine. We are not here to persuade you either way. Rather, we would caution all to be "sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach." (1 Timothy 3:2b)

See also 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 4:5; Titus 2:2; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8.

Six More "Dead Works" Defined
The Apostle John, in the book of Revelation, lists eight deadly sins, six of which are not listed in Paul's letter to the Corinthians (vv. 6:9-11).

"But as for the [1]cowardly, the [2]faithless, the [3]detestable, as for [4]murderers, the [5]sexually immoral, [6]sorcerers, [7]idolaters, and all [8]liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 reference numbers added)

Here, we will look briefly at the six additional sins in the above passage. Again, this exercise is not to cause us to think about whether we know someone else who practices any of these, but it's to show us if we are in danger.

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Fear is a natural, even healthy, response to a clear and present danger. The cowardice spoken of in this passage does not refer to that part of God's "programming" that assists us to recognize and escape anything that might harm us.

Rather, it refers to those about whom Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26)

God will condemn those who cowardly renounce [as to "disown"] Christ in order to preserve their mortal lives. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

In the parable Jesus told in Matthew, chapter 25, of the three servants who received five talents, two talents, and one talent, the servants who received five talents and two talents had increased their reward by making bold decisions concerning that which was entrusted to them. As a result, the master doubled their reward. But the servant who was afraid to do the master's will was judged harshly as "wicked" and "slothful" [lazy]. Of course, this story is speaking of Judgment Day when the Lord will judge all of us according to how we have handled the Gospel of Christ.

Unbelief refers to whether we are persuaded or not concerning Jesus as the Messiah. This includes such subjects as His life, His authoritative teachings and miracles, His atoning work on the cross, and His resurrection.

No one can be saved who doesn't recognize who Jesus truly is and confess Him to others. "...if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24b NIV). To "die in your sins" means you will be eternally condemned.

Unbelief Equates to Disobedience
That's a bold statement, isn't it? We would not normally link unbelief with disobedience. However, if we truly believe God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do, then that belief would logically and quite naturally manifest in our obedience to all He has commanded. But when we fail to see God as He truly is — when we simply do not believe — then we are under no restraint or constraint to live according to His commands.

We see this interdependency working in how the Jews repeatedly acted wickedly and provoked God to jealousy and judgment. Despite being miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, they continued in unbelief by disobeying His commands. In Hebrews, chapter 3, the Apostle calls this type of disobedience "unbelief".

16"For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief." (emphasis added)

Faithful obedience to Christ, then, starts with belief in all He says about Himself.

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"Abomination" is defined as 1) a person who is loathsome or disgusting; 2) hate coupled with disgust; 3) an action that is vicious or vile; or 4) an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence. It is a defiling and extreme offense in the sight of God.

God calls many things, especially sexual perversion, an abomination. However, "abomination" refers to more than sexual immorality.

16"There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers."
(Proverbs 6:16-19)

"Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 16:5)

"It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness." (Proverbs 16:12)

"He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD." (Proverbs 17:15)

Proverbs 20:10—

"A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God." (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Murder is easily defined as taking the life [shedding the blood] of an innocent person, including an unborn child. "[The Lord hates...] hands that shed innocent blood." (Proverbs 6:17b) This means the Lord hates and will judge anyone — including lawmakers who legislate and legalize murder in the name of a "woman's choice".

Sexually Immoral
As we studied earlier, "immorality" is a generic term that covers a wide range of illegal sexual relations that violate God's law for the Biblical institution of marriage. Immoral persons must repent and begin living sexually moral lifestyles in order to avoid God's condemnation.

A "Jezebel" spirit had thoroughly penetrated and planted itself in the church at Thyatira. In Revelation, chapter 2, Jesus said:

20"But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
22Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
23and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works."
(Revelation 2:20-23)

God gave the Jezebel time to repent, but she did not. Therefore, He visited a severe punishment on her and all those who were practicing the same immorality. God says He will punish disciples who fail to repent of the sin of immorality. "For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality." (Colossians 3:25)

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Sorcerers/Practitioners of Magic Arts
"Sorcery" is defined as "a belief in magical spells that harness occult forces or evil spirits to produce unnatural effects in the world." Sorcery includes magicians, those who engage in witchcraft, spiritists and mediums, so-called palm readers, psychics and fortune tellers, and astrologists [those who predict the future by the positions of the planets, sun and moon].

The Bible is very clear about God's pronouncements against such practices. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (Exodus 22:18 KJV)

"...Do not practice divination or sorcery." (Leviticus 19:26b)

In the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy, the Lord commands:

10"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,
11or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
12Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. . . .
14The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so."
(Deuteronomy 18:10-12,14 NIV)

Interestingly, in Galatians 5:19-21, God includes witchcraft along with murder, hatred, drunkenness, fornication, adultery, heresies, and idolatry.

The reason behind such a strong disdain for sorcery should be readily discerned. The person who engages in such practices — either as the practitioner or the client — is seeking counsel from the lesser created being rather than the incomprehensible mind of the omnipotent, omniscient, alone-wise Creator. As our self-existent Creator, everlasting Father, and Wonderful Counselor, He alone knows best how to guide us on this earthly plain. To seek the counsel of a lesser, created being is to slap Him in the face!

I think the worst thing you could ever say about another person is that he/she is a liar. We can believe a former thief-turned-benefactor, a former homosexual-turned-straight, a former trickster-turned-detective, a former abortionist-turned-pro-life, a former brawler-turned-peacemaker. It's much more difficult, however, to believe someone to be a former liar.

Some synonyms for lying are pretending, deceiving, deluding, fabricating, feigning, misleading, and manipulating for personal gain — whether financial, material, or emotional.

Of course, the remedy for lying is simply to quit deceiving people and instead speak the truth. "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." (Ephesians 4:25)

The Good News
The Bible is clear. Anyone who habitually or continually practices any of these sins "will [not] inherit the kingdom of God." Instead, they will inherit eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire!

But there's good news! As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:11, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (emphasis added) Some of the Corinthian believers "were" such sinners, but not anymore. These are those who brought repentance to its proper end by surrendering or forsaking those habits and walking away from their formerly-sinful lifestyle.

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Dr. Linda SmallwoodQuestions/Comments?
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