Below is the answer to a recent question via email.
Q. Will every child of God live a totally righteous life?
If I understood your question correctly, it is all summed up by the level of fruit a child of grace will bear. I will try to show some principles that balance each other from the Word.
Every child of God will be regenerated sometime between conception and death. Some later in life, like Paul. Some early in life, like John the Baptist.
Every child of God is vitally changed. They all possess a new nature. They also retain their carnal nature referred to as “the flesh.” To varying extents, they display the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. These two natures are in continual warfare (Gal. 5). To be successful, we must mortify, crucify, etc. the flesh (Colossians 3:5, Mth 16:24).
Lot (in the OT) was very foolish. He lived in Sodom and also conceived children with his two daughters while in a drunken stupor. Yet Peter says he was a just man whose righteous soul was vexed in 1 Peter 2:7. This shows that even in disobedience, a child of God becomes miserable through sin whereas unregenerate men find great pleasure in sin. It also shows a child of God can engage in grievous sins. How sad!!
Paul is quite different. He devoted his whole life to serve God and was martyred as a faithful saint.
Both men were born again but they lived two dramatically different lives. Both were vitally changed by God’s Spirit. One (Paul) just used God’s grace in his life more than the other (Lot) and consequently, was more blessed with the felt presence of God (2 Cor 6:1). BOTH men were loving, godly men. One made a lot more mistakes. Neither was a God-hating atheist, void of all righteousness. Both men are joint-heirs with Christ today.
Consider this verse:
But he that lacketh these things [faithful living – BW] is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:9.
By this verse we can conclude that some of God’s children will be disobedient. Their disobedience and laziness comes at a steep price! They lose the felt reality of their salvation. This is what David experienced after sinning with Bathsheba. In the 51 Psalm he said “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.”
There are two extremes to be avoided. Both are cancerous doctrines.
1. Extreme perseverance. This doctrine espouses that all of God’s children will be progressively becoming more sanctified. This is a concept akin to John MacArthur’s “Lordship Salvation.” Ie, that if you are really saved, you will submit to Christ’s Lordship in every area of life. This is contrary to the above verse and the example of Lot and others in the Bible such as Solomon (who had hundreds of wives which caused him to experiment with paganism), the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3, the Church at Corinth (to whom Paul wrote that they were carnal, still babes in Christ and could not handle the meat of the word but still required milk), etc. If this doctrine were true, there would be less factions in Christianity.
2. No Change in Regeneration. This doctrine (at one time called “Hollow Log” doctrine) insists that regeneration makes no difference in the life of the Child of God. This doctrine espouses that men think and act in precisely the same way before and after regeneration.
The fact is this: God is our Father. He gives us the ability and desire to serve Him (Phil 2:13), but he does not robotically control obedience. When we serve Him, He rewards us with Spiritual blessings. When we disobey, He chastens us (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Hope these thoughts help some!
Originally published August 2010