The following is a guest column by John E. Wagner, an attorney and Episcopal layman in Oklahoma City.

Nearly every regenerate Christian seems to have gone through a time when his newfound relationship to Christ was full of unburdened victory. But as the years pass, believers find that the ups and downs of life, recurring sins, as well as personal tribulations, are very much a part of the Christian walk.

Some become disillusioned or discouraged, and stray from the path. Others quietly abandon their commitment. Jesus explains all this clearly in the parable of the sower and its interpretation (Matthew 13; Mark 4, and Luke 8).

For some, it is that they really do not grasp the implications of their Christian commitment, the ramifications of faith in the Living God. They have not counted the cost. And they are like the seed sown on a path, where the birds come and snatch it away. The birds, Jesus tells us, are the Evil One—Satan, who entices to sin, and spiritual death.

One of the most gripping verses in the whole New Testament, and one that every believer should know by memory, is Second Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” But this verse, so dear to the hearts of believers, is also a stumbling block when taken out of the context of the whole Scripture. It is a gemstone of truth. But it needs to be viewed in the platinum mounting of the full biblical revelation.

The Evil One is still prowling around, seeking someone to devour. The capacity to sin still remains within the old man. Not to understand this is to find oneself ridden with guilt and despair. For we find, alas, that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed. Whether it ...

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