By Doug Stringer (April 2023)
A troubling recent survey says that the portion of born-again Christians who still believe Jesus was sinless during His time on earth has declined significantly.
The American Worldview Inventory 2023 found just 44% of born-again Christians believe Jesus didn’t commit any sins during His life on earth. That’s down from 58% in 2020, The Christian Post reported.
I was asked to submit my thoughts and was quoted in Charisma magazine, along with R.T. Kendall, Dr. Michael Brown, Mario Murillo, and others. Below is some of what I submitted for them to extrapolate from.
Today, Christians and the Church often fail to grasp and appreciate Jesus as the perfect sacrifice and the amazing freedom He won for us on the Cross through His covenant blood. In the ever-increasing anti-Christ environment we are living in today, we must continue to move from milk to meat, from the superficial to the fullness of Christ.
There is no doubt that many would like to be justified by excuses of the flesh rather than understand what it means to be justified by faith in Christ—even to the degree that some would rather deny or change the truths of God’s Word, His Nature, and Character to fit those fleshly desires. Choices always have consequences, regardless of how much we may try to excuse them, justify them, or even try to legalize them.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is about Jesus. Jesus shared this revelation when talking to the religious leaders of the day when He said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).
The book of Jude warns us of the increase of apostasy, the emergence of false teachers and teachings, and ultimately the all-out assault on the truths of God that would take place in the latter days. One of those false teachings is to deny Jesus’s Sinless Service. To do so is to deny the infallibility of God’s Word or the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of it. If we no longer have the love for Truth, the apostle Paul warns us that we will be given over to strong delusion.
Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law but to be the fulfillment of it. Prior to His crucifixion, He often reminded others to do according the Law of Moses in Leviticus when they were healed. The second sacrifice in the five primary sacrifices in Leviticus—which all point to Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice—was the Grain Offering, which is also referred to as the meal or meat offering. The grain offering represents the obedience of sinless service (grain without leaven), which naturally flows out of a surrendered life. Through Jesus’ sinless service, He became our grain offering so that we too could freely commune with the Father. As with the other offerings, the grain offering also points to the way we should live through Christ. To be our Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus had to live without sin so He could justify us and expunge the damage and destruction of sin and flesh.
There are numerous Old and New Testament scriptures that point to Jesus’ sinless service. Here are just a couple New Testament verses that should be quite clear to us:
1 John 3:5 says, “And you know that He (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Again, the challenge is the increasing unrighteous deception that has crept into the Church today. The good news is that we know God is not mocked, and He will expose all by His marvelous Light. As I’ve always said, “Revival will come by choice or it will come by circumstance.”
Let me share an extrapolation from an article I wrote and published in September 2015:
“It’s deeply troubling to see what we’ve come to in society today. Personally, my heart aches at all the callousness and brokenness. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2, reminds us that when we no longer have a love for the truth, we would be turned over to deception and strong delusion. May our hearts be awakened before we continue down a slippery slope.
“We are living in a Nineveh Moment. Nineveh is a type of the state of our nation. Jonah is a type of the Church that is reluctant to speak the word of The Lord to a sinful and rebellious people. Yet, when he did obey—by the prodding of the Lord and being in the belly of a whale—Ninevah repented, and God relented from judging them for another 100 years. What would happen if righteous voices speaking truth in love and seasoned in grace would speak to the condition of the nation today? Lord, awaken us (Your people, the Church) and bring revival to the soul of our nation.
“In July of 2012, Billy Graham wrote an article in which he stated: ‘My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented. I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation.’
“There is no doubt that there is a battle for the soul. Will the Church readily and willingly obey God and speak at a critical time in our nation and in our generation, so that—as with Nineveh—He would show His great mercy and grace?
“In 2004, long before it became a catchy political slogan, I published an article on ‘The Battle for the Soul of America’ in which I stated there were three major things that can hinder God’s blessing from a nation:
“We see all three of these in our nation today. Compromise leads us in a path of deception and ultimate bondage. Our liberties and freedoms, justified by areas of fleshly compromises, opens the way into moral license, and ultimately licentiousness.
“In our institutional Christianity, we have prostituted ourselves by choosing to live by preference rather than by conviction. We have allowed life in the womb to be attacked mercilessly, with innocent blood being shed on the altars of profit and convenience. This abandonment of our morals has opened the doors even wider for an attack on the American church, as we find ourselves fighting like never before to defend our religious liberties. We must counter these attacks but at the same time display God’s love to those who oppose us.
“America today is like Nineveh, who was also racing down a path of self-destruction. If the Ninevites did not change their ways and repent of their sin, God had determined to destroy them. In Jonah 1:1, the Lord tells Jonah, ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ Jonah was tasked with an important objective: warn the city of Nineveh to repent or face God’s wrath. Unfortunately, Jonah fell prey to two very human desires⎯the desire to remain in his comfortable circumstances and the desire to be liked by everyone.
“It’s quite easy to draw parallels between Jonah’s story and what’s happening in our nation and churches today. Nineveh closely resembles America, a land of people unaware of and indifferent to God’s Word. Jonah represents the complacency that has taken hold of the Church. Christians have created comfortable surroundings where we are liked and respected by those we know, where we don’t often come in contact with people who believe differently.
“But the time for complacency is over. America’s actions demand that the Christians speak up and lead it back to the Lord. If the Church decides to flee the spiritual battle it now faces, America will continue down its current path and undoubtedly draw the ire of the Lord. Complicity or Indifference, either way, we are accountable to the Lord. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, ‘Let your (our) light shine that others may see your (our) good works that it would bring glory to your Father in Heaven’…
“If the church is going to avert national disaster, we must answer two questions: First, will we remain complacent in our comfortable circumstances, or will we please God and lovingly minister to our nation in hopes of turning it back to the Lord? Second, will we speak God’s Truth, even when it’s not popular?
“Leonard Ravenhill, in his book Why Revival Tarries, said:
“‘This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners. At the very doors of our churches are the masses unwon because they are unreached, unreached because they are unloved. … Sin today is both glamorized and popularized, thrown into the ear by radio, thrown into the eye by television, and splashed on popular magazine covers. Churchgoers, sermon-sick and teaching-tired, leave the meeting as they entered it—visionless and passionless! Oh God, give this perishing generation 10,000 John the Baptists!’
“When God ordered Jonah to Nineveh, He was testing Jonah for complacency. Jonah had become comfortable among his people. He had no reason to travel outside of Israel. The church today must be careful not to end up in that same situation. It is easy to grow comfortable and complacent when we remain in a familiar setting. However, when complacency strikes the church, our reach is lessened and our influence is weakened. If we are to change the course of our nation, we must stand up and minister to America. We can no longer sit idly by and talk among ourselves, shaking our heads. We must make it known that our nation has strayed from God’s path.
“Jonah warned the city of Nineveh, and because he obeyed God’s command and delivered the Lord’s word, the city of Nineveh survived and turned to the Lord. Just like our nation has built its own thresholds and doorposts to mimic the Lord’s, the church has been guilty of doing the same. Before the church can minister to our nation, we must first be in line with God’s Word. Our ministry will crumble if we aren’t acutely aware of God’s Word and tuned in to the Spirit of Truth, Holiness and Grace. We must be lovers of truth, and deliver that truth with lives of holiness and in grace.”
It’s easy to become disheartened and discouraged, but we must stop trying to hide from the realities of what God is telling us to do so we can bring healing and hope. Yes, it looks like things could implode. Yes, there are global challenges. Yes, we’re in a critical juncture. But in the midst of it all, God is raising up a people who have not bowed their knees to Baal. We need courageous voices like Elijah, who obeyed God even though Jezebel threatened him. We need strong voices like Esther, who had to choose between staying in safety and comfort or speaking up for what was righteous and true. We need Jonahs, Noahs, and Daniels!
I believe we can see a great outpouring of God’s Spirit on an awakened church! It will not be on the institutional church, but on the ones who have a love for the Spirit of Truth, who appreciate the Spirit of Grace, and who respect the Spirit of God’s Holiness. God will give us the abounding grace and great power to reflect Christ to a world that desperately needs to know Him. Will we be the voice that God has called, even though it looks impossible in the natural? Will we rise up and speak the truth, seasoned in holiness and grace, even when it’s not popular?
I’m reminded of what I shared at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023. I sensed, first, that there would be an exposure of things by the light of the Lord on the seen and unseen things, on the things that were righteous, and the things that were unrighteous. Second, there would be an increase of implosions of institutions and things we had leaned on and put our trust in. Yet, ultimately, the Lord would bring explosions of His Presence.
We’ve seen an increase and acceleration of these things in the last few months. We’ve seen things being exposed inside and outside the church, as well as the implosions of many things we thought we could put our trust in. We see the shakings in the church, everything that can be shaken is being shaken. Yet, we are also seeing an explosion of His manifest Presence in the midst of it all… working in and through His people.
There is hope, but the question still remains: Do we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts open and awakened?
We have a grand opportunity to rise up as voices for a time such as this, to speak the truth in love, seasoned with grace, even to those who may oppose us. But we must speak the truth nonetheless because it’s the truth that sets people free!