Despite three large windows, our living room is quite dim in the morning. I was peeling back the cushion in the heel of shoe to see which one of my custom arches was in there. Because of the darkness, I could not tell whether it was the black or brown set. I could, however, see which set was NOT in my shoes. I would have been able to see the white ones even in the dim light.
Reading the Bible is like that. Sometimes it is hard to tell exactly what the Bible is teaching on a subject, as evidenced by all the disagreements we see in the churches around us. On the other hand, most of the time we can tell what the Bible is NOT saying, IF we are willing to consider it.
Unfortunately, considering what the Bible does not say has gotten me in a lot of trouble.
For example, it is commonly taught that Jesus “paid the price” for all sin, whether past, present, or future. I have heard people take that so far as to say that the only sin for which anyone will be judged is not believing in Jesus. It might be difficult to examine this idea by going to all the passages people use to support it, but it is very easy to examine the doctrine by going to the Bible passage that says it is not true.
For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Eph. 5:5-7, NASB)
That’s simple. The sons of disobedience are going to face the wrath of God because they are immoral, impure, and greedy. They will be judged for something other than disbelieving Jesus.
What about the idea that all our sins are paid for, whether past, present, or future?
That’s not true, either. Even Christians are warned that if they practice the works of the flesh, they will be punished for it (e.g., Rom. 8:12; Gal. 5:19-21). We can go to the passage quoted above to see that. Though the sons of disobedience are mentioned, the passage is written to Christians. We Christians can know “with certainty” that if we are immoral, impure, or greedy, then we will be disinherited of the kingdom of Christ and God. That is why Paul ends that passage with “Do not be partakers with [the sons of disobedience].”
The apostle Paul even warns us not to let anyone deceive us about this with “empty words” (v.6)
Perhaps now you can see why I find myself in hot water for considering what the Bible does NOT say. When people say that Jesus paid for all our sin, whether past, present, or future, they are deceiving us with empty words, according to the apostle Paul. That’s not a very popular thing to say, but it is true.
Perhaps in another blog post, we can talk about what Jesus did pay for. That’s harder. Just as I needed more light to see exactly what custom arch was in my shoe than I needed to see which one was NOT in my shoe, so we need more light to see what Jesus did pay for than what he did NOT pay for.
The principle that it is easier to see what is NOT true than what is true applies to much more than just what Jesus paid for. It applies everywhere in the Bible. It is important not to neglect this principle, for otherwise there are plenty of tricky and cunning man who are scheming to deceive you with empty words (Eph. 4:14; 5:6).
Passages like Ephesians 5:5-7 are not “difficult verses.” They are lighthouses, warning you that tricky, cunning men are pulling you off course.