Very thoughtful post. I want to interject a couple of thoughts here. Totally agree that we all have skeletons, should be quick to forgive and not to condemn. I still have struggles like we all do. That won't change until we take off this tent.<quoted text>
Don't know who Nelson is and I doubt Lucado (max) would have the time to send out emails.
I think belief and faith is the same thing.
As to your earlier question about being branded as a legalist, I think legalism takes on many forms. For example some here believe using instruments in worship is a sin. That is legalism but not a salvation issue.
Most of us have issues with certain areas of law keeping especially OT laws that we adhere to. There again that can be legalism, particularly when being bound to other Christians as a condition of salvation-thinking of the sabbath.
I don't don't know exactly where to draw the line. I think homosexuality is a sin, I tend to bind that as a salvation issue but in reality it is a sin issue and God will forgive sin. I know this opens the door for criticism on my part drawing the discussion back to one unforgiven sin will send a person to hell and that eternal security is a lie. However God said through Paul "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption". I suspect that all of grieve the Spirit from time to time.
See how circular our discussions are?
One of my friends in church is an alcoholic, he has been aa and has seriously tried to overcome it-he has gone for years without a drink only to start back up. Recently he has hit his wife and she finally filed for divorce. His wife still comes to our meetings and he has stopped coming to church. This has been going on for many years-I think he is in his mid 50's.
Another man came to us about three years ago with the same issue. Today he is still clean and is an outstanding believer. I have never used alcohol and have no idea what that is like to become addicted.
I am thinking about Rahab, wondering if she continued/struggled with prostitution. I believe all of us have skeletons in our closet and should be quick to forgive and careful not to condemn. I believe the church should be a hospital for the sick and wounded among us, as we are all in a constant battle with sin. How do we overcome?
When it comes to the idea of sin, what condemns or sends to hell, I believe that John tells us that habitual practiced and unrepentant sin is what dooms our soul. Speaking of homosexuality, Paul told the Corinthians that some of them were-past tense. They came out of it. Were they saved? Absolutely. Think some of them may have had struggles with it later? I do.
I talk to a man at work who has a homosexual friend. His friend believes that God made him that way, that he talked to God about it and God is ok with his lifestyle. He goes to church weekly. He thinks he is saved. My friend from work has tried to talk to the guy, but he won't listen. That in my opinion is unrepentant habitual sin. That man is in spiritual danger. I believe that's the difference. We may stumble and fall, get back up and do it again. But falling and staying in the ditch, yet thinking we are on the road walking-that's dangerous.