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Arminius on Actual Sins (Part 2)

IX. Because we say that the wages of every sin is death,” we do not, on this account, with the Stoics, make them all equal. For, beside the refutation of such an opinion by many passages of Scripture, it is likewise opposed to the diversity of objects against which sin is perpetrated, to the causes from which it arises, and to the law against which the offense is committed. Besides, the disparity of punishments in the death that is eternal, proves the falsehood of this sentiment: For a crime against God is more grievous than one against man; (1 Sam. ii, 25;) one that is perpetrated with a high hand, than one through error; one against a prohibitory law, than one against a mandatory law. And far more severe will be the punishment inflicted on the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, than on those of Tyre and Sidon. (Matt. xi, 23.) By means of this dogma, the Stoics have endeavoured to turn men aside from the commission of crimes; but their attempt has not only been fruitless, but also injurious, as will be seen when we institute a serious deliberation about bringing man back from sin into the way of righteousness.

X. Mention is likewise made, in the Scriptures, of “a sin unto death;” (1 John v, 16;) which is specially so called, because it in fact, brings certain death on all by whom it has been committed. Mention is made in the same passage of “a sin which is not unto death,” and which is opposed to the former. In a parallel column with these, marches the division of sin into pardonable and unpardonable.

(1.) A sin which is “not unto death” and pardonable, is so called, because it is capable of having subsequent repentance, and thus of being pardoned, and because to many persons it is actually pardoned through succeeding penitence-such as that which is said to be committed against “the Son of Man.”

(2.) The “sin unto death” or unpardonable, is that which never has subsequent repentance, or the author of which cannot be recalled to penitence — such as that which is called “the sin” or “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,” (Matt. xii, 32; Luke xii, 10,) of which it is said, “it shall not be forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come.” For this reason, St. John says, we must not pray for that sin.

XI. But, though the proper meaning and nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost are with the utmost difficulty to be ascertained, yet we prefer to follow those who have furnished the most weighty and grievous definition of it, rather than those who, in maintaining six species of it, have been compelled to explain “unpardonable” in some of those species, for that which is with difficulty or is rarely remitted, or which of itself deserves not to be pardoned. With the former class of persons, therefore, we say that the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed when any man, with determined malice, resists divine, and in fact, evangelical truth, for the sake of resistance, though he is so overpowered with the refulgence of it, as to be rendered incapable of pleading ignorance in excuse. This is therefore called “the sin against the Holy Ghost, not because it is not perpetrated against the Father and the Son; (for how can it be that he does not sin against the Father and the Son, who sins against the Spirit of both?) but because it is committed against the operation of the Holy Spirit, that is, against the conviction of the truth through miracles, and against the illumination of the mind.

XII. But the cause why this sin is called “irremissible,” and why he who has committed it, cannot be renewed to repentance, is not the impotency of God, as though by his most absolute omnipotence, he cannot grant to this man repentance unto life, and thus cannot pardon this blasphemy; but since it is necessary, that the mercy of God should stop at some point, being circumscribed by the limits of his justice and equity according to the prescript of his wisdom, this sin is said to be “unpardonable,” because God accounts the man who has perpetrated so horrid a crime, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace, to be altogether unworthy of having the divine benignity and the operation of the Holy Spirit occupied in his conversion, lest he should himself appear to esteem this sacred operation and kindness at a low rate, and to stand in need of a sinful man, especially of one who is such a monstrous sinner!

XIII. The efficient cause of actual sins is, man through his own free will. The inwardly working cause is the original propensity of our nature towards that which is contrary to the divine law, which propensity we have contracted from our first parents, through carnal generation. The outwardly working causes are the objects and occasions which solicit men to sin. The substance or material cause, is an act which, according to its nature, has reference to good. The form or formal cause of it is a transgression of the law, or an anomy. It is destitute of an end; because sin is amartia a transgression which wanders from its aim. The object of it is a variable good; to which, when man is inclined, after having deserted the unchangeable good, he commits an offense.

XIV. The effect of actual sins are all the calamities and miseries of the present life, then death temporal, and afterwards death eternal. But in those who are hardened and blinded, even the effects of preceding sins become cousequent sins themselves.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/27/2013 at 10:00 AM

Arminius on Actual Sins (Part 1)

DISPUTATION 8

ON ACTUAL SINS

RESPONDENT, CASPER WILTENS

I. As divines and philosophers are often compelled, on account of a penury of words, to distinguish those which are synonymous, and to receive others in a stricter or more ample signification than their nature and etymology will allow; so in this matter of actual sin, although the term applies also to the first sin of Adam, yet, for the sake of a more accurate distinction, they commonly take it for that sin which man commits, through the corruption of his nature, from the time where he knows how to use reason; and they define it thus: “Something thought, spoken or done against the law of God; or the omission of something which has been commanded by that law to be thought, spoken or done.” Or, with more brevity, “Sin is the transgression of the law;” which St. John has explained in this compound word anomia “anomy.” (1 John iii, 4.)

II. For as the law is perceptive of good and prohibitory of evil, it is necessary not only that an action, but that the neglect of an action, be accounted a sin. Hence arises the first distinction of sin into that of commission, when a prohibited act is perpetrated, as theft, murder, adultery, &c. And into that of omission, when a man abstains from [the performance of] an act that has been commanded; as if any one does not render due honour to a magistrate, or bestows on the poor nothing in proportion to the amplitude of his means. And since the Law is two-fold, one “the Law of works,” properly called, “the Law,” the other “the Law of faith,” (Rom. iii, 27,) which is the gospel of the grace of God; therefore sin is either that which is committed against the Law, or against the gospel of Christ. (Heb. ii, 2, 3.) That which is committed against the Law, provokes the wrath of God against sinners; that against the gospel, causes the wrath of God to abide upon us; the former, by deserving punishment; the latter, by preventing the remission of punishment.

III. One is a sin per se, “of itself;” another, per accidens, “accidentally.”

(1.) A sin per se is every external or internal action which is prohibited by the law, or every neglect of an action commanded by the law.

(2.) A sin is per accidens either in things necessary and restricted by law, or in things indifferent. In things necessary, either when an act prescribed by law is performed without its due circumstances, such as to bestow alms that you obtain praise from men; (Matt. vi, 2;) or when an act prohibited by law is omitted, not from a due cause and for a just end; as when any one represses his anger at the moment, that he may afterwards exact more cruel vengeance. In things indifferent, when any one uses them to the offense of the weak. (Rom. xiv, 15, 21.)

IV. Sin is likewise divided in reference to the personal object against whom the offense is committed; and it is either against God, against our neighbour, or against ourselves, according to what the Apostle says: “The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” (Tit. ii, 11.) Where soberness is appropriately referred to the man himself; righteousness to our neighbour; and godliness to God: These, we affirm, are likewise contained in the two grand precepts, “Love God above all things,” and “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” For howsoever it may seem, that the ten commandments prescribe only what is due to God and to our neighbour; yet this very requirement is of such a nature that it cannot be performed by a man without fulfilling at the same time his duty to himself.

V. It is further distinguished, from its cause, into sins of ignorance, infirmity, malignity and negligence.

(1.) A sin of ignorance is, when a man does any thing which he does not know to be a sin; thus, Paul persecuted Christ in his Church. (1 Tim. i, 13.)

(2.) A sin of infirmity is, when, through fear, which may befall even a brave man, or through any other more vehement passion and perturbation of mind, he commits any offense; thus, Peter denied Christ, (Matt. xxvi, 70,) and thus David, being offended by Nabal, was proceeding to destroy him and his domestics. (1 Sam. xxv, 13, 21.)

(3.) A sin of dignity or malice, when any thing is committed with a determined purpose of mind, and with deliberate counsel; thus Judas denied Christ, (Matt. xxvi, 14, 15.) and thus David caused Uriah to be killed. (2 Sam. xi, 15.)

(4.) A sin of negligence is, when a man is overtaken by a sin, (Gal. vi, l.) which encircles and besets him before he can reflect within himself about the deed. (Heb. xii, 1.) In this description will be classed that of St. Paul against Ananias the High Priest, if indeed he may be said to have sinned in that matter. (Acts xxiii, 3.)

VI. Nearly allied to this is the distribution of sin into that which is contrary to conscience, and that which is not contrary to conscience.

(1.) A sin against conscience is one that is perpetrated through malice and deliberate purpose, laying waste the conscience, and (if committed by holy persons) grieving the Holy Spirit so much as to cause Him to desist from his usual functions of leading them into the right way, and of making them glad in their consciences by his inward testimony. (Psalm li, 10, 13.) This is called, by way of eminence, “a sin against conscience;” though, when this phrase is taken in a wide acceptation, a sin which is committed through infirmity, but which has a previous sure knowledge that is applied to the deed, might also be said to be against conscience.

(2.) A sin not against conscience is either that which is by no means such, and which is not committed through a willful and wished-for ignorance of the law, as the man who neglects to know what he is capable of knowing: or it is that which at least is not such in a primary degree, but is precipitated through precipitancy, the cause of which is a vehement and unforeseen temptation. Of this kind, was the too hasty judgment of David against Mephibosheth, produced by the grievous accusation of Ziba, which happened at the very time when David fled. This bore a strong resemblance to a falsehood. (2 Sam. xvi, 3, 4.) Yet that which, when once committed, is not contrary to conscience, becomes contrary to it when more frequently repeated, and when the man neglects self-correction.

VII. To this may be added, the division of sin from its causes, with regard to the real object about which the sin is perpetrated. This object is either “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life,” that is, either pleasure specially so called, or avarice, or arrogant haughtiness; all of which, proceeding from the single fountain of self love or inordinate affection, tend distinctly towards the good things of the present life, haughtiness towards its honours, avarice towards its riches, and pleasure towards those things by which the external senses may experience self-gratification. From these arise those works of the flesh which are enumerated by the apostle in Gal. v, 19-21, perhaps with the exception of idolatry. Yet it may be made a legitimate subject of discussion, whether idolatry may not be referred to one of these three causes.

VIII. Sin is also divided into venial and mortal: but this distribution is not deduced from the nature of sin itself, but accidentally from the gracious estimation of God. For every sin is in its own nature mortal, that is, it is that which merits death; because it is declared universally concerning sin, that “its wages is death,” (Rom. vi, 23,) which might in truth be brought instantly down upon the offenders, were God wishful to enter into judgment with his servants. But that which denominates sin venial, or capable of being forgiven, is this circumstance, God is not willing to impute sin to believers, or to place sin against them, but is desirous to pardon it; although with this difference, that it requires express penitence from some, while concerning others it is content with this expression: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me, O Lord, from secret faults.” (Psalm xix, 12.) In this case, the ground of fear is not so much, lest, from the aggravation of sin, men should fall into despair, as, lest, from its extenuation, they should relapse into negligence and security; not only because man has a greater propensity to the latter than to the former, but likewise because that declaration is always at hand: have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,” that is, of the sinner who has merited death by his transgressions, “but that he be converted and live.” (Ezek. xviii, 32.)

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/26/2013 at 10:34 AM

Arminius on Actual Sins

DISPUTATION 8

ON ACTUAL SINS

RESPONDENT, CASPER WILTENS

I. As divines and philosophers are often compelled, on account of a penury of words, to distinguish those which are synonymous, and to receive others in a stricter or more ample signification than their nature and etymology will allow; so in this matter of actual sin, although the term applies also to the first sin of Adam, yet, for the sake of a more accurate distinction, they commonly take it for that sin which man commits, through the corruption of his nature, from the time where he knows how to use reason; and they define it thus: “Something thought, spoken or done against the law of God; or the omission of something which has been commanded by that law to be thought, spoken or done.” Or, with more brevity, “Sin is the transgression of the law;” which St. John has explained in this compound word anomia “anomy.” (1 John iii, 4.)

II. For as the law is perceptive of good and prohibitory of evil, it is necessary not only that an action, but that the neglect of an action, be accounted a sin. Hence arises the first distinction of sin into that of commission, when a prohibited act is perpetrated, as theft, murder, adultery, &c. And into that of omission, when a man abstains from [the performance of] an act that has been commanded; as if any one does not render due honour to a magistrate, or bestows on the poor nothing in proportion to the amplitude of his means. And since the Law is two-fold, one “the Law of works,” properly called, “the Law,” the other “the Law of faith,” (Rom. iii, 27,) which is the gospel of the grace of God; therefore sin is either that which is committed against the Law, or against the gospel of Christ. (Heb. ii, 2, 3.) That which is committed against the Law, provokes the wrath of God against sinners; that against the gospel, causes the wrath of God to abide upon us; the former, by deserving punishment; the latter, by preventing the remission of punishment.

III. One is a sin per se, “of itself;” another, per accidens, “accidentally.”

(1.) A sin per se is every external or internal action which is prohibited by the law, or every neglect of an action commanded by the law.

(2.) A sin is per accidens either in things necessary and restricted by law, or in things indifferent. In things necessary, either when an act prescribed by law is performed without its due circumstances, such as to bestow alms that you obtain praise from men; (Matt. vi, 2;) or when an act prohibited by law is omitted, not from a due cause and for a just end; as when any one represses his anger at the moment, that he may afterwards exact more cruel vengeance. In things indifferent, when any one uses them to the offense of the weak. (Rom. xiv, 15, 21.)

IV. Sin is likewise divided in reference to the personal object against whom the offense is committed; and it is either against God, against our neighbour, or against ourselves, according to what the Apostle says: “The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” (Tit. ii, 11.) Where soberness is appropriately referred to the man himself; righteousness to our neighbour; and godliness to God: These, we affirm, are likewise contained in the two grand precepts, “Love God above all things,” and “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” For howsoever it may seem, that the ten commandments prescribe only what is due to God and to our neighbour; yet this very requirement is of such a nature that it cannot be performed by a man without fulfilling at the same time his duty to himself.

V. It is further distinguished, from its cause, into sins of ignorance, infirmity, malignity and negligence.

(1.) A sin of ignorance is, when a man does any thing which he does not know to be a sin; thus, Paul persecuted Christ in his Church. (1 Tim. i, 13.)

(2.) A sin of infirmity is, when, through fear, which may befall even a brave man, or through any other more vehement passion and perturbation of mind, he commits any offense; thus, Peter denied Christ, (Matt. xxvi, 70,) and thus David, being offended by Nabal, was proceeding to destroy him and his domestics. (1 Sam. xxv, 13, 21.)

(3.) A sin of dignity or malice, when any thing is committed with a determined purpose of mind, and with deliberate counsel; thus Judas denied Christ, (Matt. xxvi, 14, 15.) and thus David caused Uriah to be killed. (2 Sam. xi, 15.)

(4.) A sin of negligence is, when a man is overtaken by a sin, (Gal. vi, l.) which encircles and besets him before he can reflect within himself about the deed. (Heb. xii, 1.) In this description will be classed that of St. Paul against Ananias the High Priest, if indeed he may be said to have sinned in that matter. (Acts xxiii, 3.)

VI. Nearly allied to this is the distribution of sin into that which is contrary to conscience, and that which is not contrary to conscience.

(1.) A sin against conscience is one that is perpetrated through malice and deliberate purpose, laying waste the conscience, and (if committed by holy persons) grieving the Holy Spirit so much as to cause Him to desist from his usual functions of leading them into the right way, and of making them glad in their consciences by his inward testimony. (Psalm li, 10, 13.) This is called, by way of eminence, “a sin against conscience;” though, when this phrase is taken in a wide acceptation, a sin which is committed through infirmity, but which has a previous sure knowledge that is applied to the deed, might also be said to be against conscience.

(2.) A sin not against conscience is either that which is by no means such, and which is not committed through a willful and wished-for ignorance of the law, as the man who neglects to know what he is capable of knowing: or it is that which at least is not such in a primary degree, but is precipitated through precipitancy, the cause of which is a vehement and unforeseen temptation. Of this kind, was the too hasty judgment of David against Mephibosheth, produced by the grievous accusation of Ziba, which happened at the very time when David fled. This bore a strong resemblance to a falsehood. (2 Sam. xvi, 3, 4.) Yet that which, when once committed, is not contrary to conscience, becomes contrary to it when more frequently repeated, and when the man neglects self-correction.

VII. To this may be added, the division of sin from its causes, with regard to the real object about which the sin is perpetrated. This object is either “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life,” that is, either pleasure specially so called, or avarice, or arrogant haughtiness; all of which, proceeding from the single fountain of self love or inordinate affection, tend distinctly towards the good things of the present life, haughtiness towards its honours, avarice towards its riches, and pleasure towards those things by which the external senses may experience self-gratification. From these arise those works of the flesh which are enumerated by the apostle in Gal. v, 19-21, perhaps with the exception of idolatry. Yet it may be made a legitimate subject of discussion, whether idolatry may not be referred to one of these three causes.

VIII. Sin is also divided into venial and mortal: but this distribution is not deduced from the nature of sin itself, but accidentally from the gracious estimation of God. For every sin is in its own nature mortal, that is, it is that which merits death; because it is declared universally concerning sin, that “its wages is death,” (Rom. vi, 23,) which might in truth be brought instantly down upon the offenders, were God wishful to enter into judgment with his servants. But that which denominates sin venial, or capable of being forgiven, is this circumstance, God is not willing to impute sin to believers, or to place sin against them, but is desirous to pardon it; although with this difference, that it requires express penitence from some, while concerning others it is content with this expression: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me, O Lord, from secret faults.” (Psalm xix, 12.) In this case, the ground of fear is not so much, lest, from the aggravation of sin, men should fall into despair, as, lest, from its extenuation, they should relapse into negligence and security; not only because man has a greater propensity to the latter than to the former, but likewise because that declaration is always at hand: have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,” that is, of the sinner who has merited death by his transgressions, “but that he be converted and live.” (Ezek. xviii, 32.)

IX. Because we say that the wages of every sin is death,” we do not, on this account, with the Stoics, make them all equal. For, beside the refutation of such an opinion by many passages of Scripture, it is likewise opposed to the diversity of objects against which sin is perpetrated, to the causes from which it arises, and to the law against which the offense is committed. Besides, the disparity of punishments in the death that is eternal, proves the falsehood of this sentiment: For a crime against God is more grievous than one against man; (1 Sam. ii, 25;) one that is perpetrated with a high hand, than one through error; one against a prohibitory law, than one against a mandatory law. And far more severe will be the punishment inflicted on the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, than on those of Tyre and Sidon. (Matt. xi, 23.) By means of this dogma, the Stoics have endeavoured to turn men aside from the commission of crimes; but their attempt has not only been fruitless, but also injurious, as will be seen when we institute a serious deliberation about bringing man back from sin into the way of righteousness.

X. Mention is likewise made, in the Scriptures, of “a sin unto death;” (1 John v, 16;) which is specially so-called, because it in fact, brings certain death on all by whom it has been committed. Mention is made in the same passage of “a sin which is not unto death,” and which is opposed to the former. In a parallel column with these, marches the division of sin into pardonable and unpardonable.

(1.) A sin which is “not unto death” and pardonable, is so-called, because it is capable of having subsequent repentance, and thus of being pardoned, and because to many persons it is actually pardoned through succeeding penitence-such as that which is said to be committed against “the Son of Man.”

(2.) The “sin unto death” or unpardonable, is that which never has subsequent repentance, or the author of which cannot be recalled to penitence — such as that which is called “the sin” or “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,” (Matt. xii, 32; Luke xii, 10,) of which it is said, “it shall not be forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come.” For this reason, St. John says, we must not pray for that sin.

XI. But, though the proper meaning and nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost are with the utmost difficulty to be ascertained, yet we prefer to follow those who have furnished the most weighty and grievous definition of it, rather than those who, in maintaining six species of it, have been compelled to explain “unpardonable” in some of those species, for that which is with difficulty or is rarely remitted, or which of itself deserves not to be pardoned. With the former class of persons, therefore, we say that the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed when any man, with determined malice, resists divine, and in fact, evangelical truth, for the sake of resistance, though he is so overpowered with the refulgence of it, as to be rendered incapable of pleading ignorance in excuse. This is therefore called “the sin against the Holy Ghost, not because it is not perpetrated against the Father and the Son; (for how can it be that he does not sin against the Father and the Son, who sins against the Spirit of both?) but because it is committed against the operation of the Holy Spirit, that is, against the conviction of the truth through miracles, and against the illumination of the mind.

XII. But the cause why this sin is called “irremissible,” and why he who has committed it, cannot be renewed to repentance, is not the impotency of God, as though by his most absolute omnipotence, he cannot grant to this man repentance unto life, and thus cannot pardon this blasphemy; but since it is necessary, that the mercy of God should stop at some point, being circumscribed by the limits of his justice and equity according to the prescript of his wisdom, this sin is said to be “unpardonable,” because God accounts the man who has perpetrated so horrid a crime, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace, to be altogether unworthy of having the divine benignity and the operation of the Holy Spirit occupied in his conversion, lest he should himself appear to esteem this sacred operation and kindness at a low rate, and to stand in need of a sinful man, especially of one who is such a monstrous sinner!

XIII. The efficient cause of actual sins is, man through his own free will. The inwardly working cause is the original propensity of our nature towards that which is contrary to the divine law, which propensity we have contracted from our first parents, through carnal generation. The outwardly working causes are the objects and occasions which solicit men to sin. The substance or material cause, is an act which, according to its nature, has reference to good. The form or formal cause of it is a transgression of the law, or an anomy. It is destitute of an end; because sin is amartia a transgression which wanders from its aim. The object of it is a variable good; to which, when man is inclined, after having deserted the unchangeable good, he commits an offense.

XIV. The effect of actual sins are all the calamities and miseries of the present life, then death temporal, and afterwards death eternal. But in those who are hardened and blinded, even the effects of preceding sins become consequent sins themselves.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/18/2013 at 10:44 AM

Two Doctrines People Hate the Most in Evangelism

When I confront sinners with the gospel, what the two doctrines that people hate the most?  I would say the following:

1.  You Are A Sinner Who Has Earned God’s Wrath.

People want to hear that God loves them, that He has a wonderful plan for their lives, that He accepts them in their sins.  They don’t want to hear that they are under the wrath of God.  They despise the thought that they, this good, moral being, deserve the wrath of God.  Hitler does.  George W. Bush does (yes I have heard that).  The Connecticut shooter does but not us.  Not I.  Not me.  We compare ourselves to the worst people we know and we feel better about our chances before God.

Yet when I confront them with the Law (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and show them their sins (Romans 7:7), they shut their mouths of self-boasting and typically sit there with this look on their face of, “I am doomed.”  Sometimes they listen to me move on the cross and the work of Christ but many will revert to, “Well, God is good and loving so He’ll overlook my sins.”  But then I ask them if they would think a judge good and just if he let the guilty go free.  He would be good if he punished the law breakers for their violations no matter how small.  Same is true of God, our moral Judge.  He will judge all (Romans 2:7-11; Revelation 20:11-15).  All people must stand before God (Hebrews 9:27).  On that day, what will be your answer when He examines you by His Law and finds you guilty as charged?

2.  Justification by Faith.

People want to think that because they are good people or do good things, God will accept them.  I’ve had people tell me that they are going to heaven when they die because they joined a church or read their Bible once or said a “sinner’s prayer.”  I’ve had them justify themselves by pointing to good deeds to which I point to Isaiah 64:6.  People, oddly enough, reject the idea that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  They want to believe there are many other roads, other ways, other plans, loopholes to heaven.  Some want to pretend that God will let all in and be merciful but again, what kind of judge would He be to do so and on what basis?

People despise being told that faith and repentance in Jesus is the only way (John 14:6).  They want to hear me tell them that they only believe in Jesus and then add their works or add this or that to Jesus and this will ensure salvation.  Instead, I point to the fact that Jesus must be our Lord and Savior to enter into heaven.  Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.  Only those who repent of their sins are His (Acts 2:38-39).  Those who abide in sin are not His (1 John 3:6-9).  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 that many will say that Jesus was their Lord but will be denied heaven because of their practicing wickedness.  Repentance then is necessary for us to be saved.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/21/2012 at 10:00 AM

Me or Adam? By Winkie Pratney (Part 4)

What Sin Is
(1) Sin is universal
Nothing is clearer in Scripture or in daily life. World history is a chronicle of wickedness. Every man prior to conversion is a slave to his own selfishness. Every unsaved man knows that he is selfish. The Bible shows the unsaved to possess one common wicked heart or character: Gen. 6:5; 1 Kings 11:9-11; 15:3; 2 Chron. 12:14; Ps. 28:3; 66:18; 78:37; 95:10; Jer. 17:9-10; Ezek. 14:2-3; 18:30-32; Eccl. 9:3; Matt. 5:27-30; 9:4; 13:15; Mark 3:5; 7:18-23; 8:17; Lk. 21:34; Acts 8:21(18-24); Rom. 2:4-6; Rom. 8:7; Heb. 3:7-15. All men without God are totally selfish at heart. It is exceedingly humbling to admit that all of a man’s pre-conversion actions are not in the least virtuous when examined in Eternity’s light. Man has nothing to commend him to God, when he comes asking for forgiveness. He can never pass the final test at the bar of justice.

The Bible further reveals that from the beginning of our moral accountability (seeing spiritual responsibility to God and our fellow men) we have made a choice to live supremely for self. True virtue consists in right relationship to God. Without this surrender and trust, everything is tainted by self-seeking. No exceptions of true goodness, no pauses for really virtuous behavior, no alternating weeks of true holiness with sinning. Many factors influence the forms of this selfishness; there are many “good” clean-living, outwardly moral sinners, as well as those who are humanly despicable and degraded. Sinners choose the particular forms of selfishness that bring them the greatest pleasure, and this includes deeds and actions usually considered “good” by society, including prayer, religious activity, Bible-study and preaching! But all sinners, from those who have done “many wonderful works” to those God has had to “give up to vile affections”, have one uniform morality – “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” This universal persistency in sin is also shown in: Gen. 8:21; Ps. 10:4; 14:13 (53:1,3); 28:3; Ps. 94:11; Eccl. 1:14; Is. 55:7-9; 64:6; Jer. 13:23; 17:9-10; Matt. 7:21-23; 12:34-35; Rom. 1:21; 3:10-12; 3:23; 6:16-17; 6:20; Eph. 2:1,3; 5:8; Tit. 1:15; 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:25.

YOU AND YOUR ORIGINAL SIN
(2) Sin is original
There is nothing clearer in the Bible; man is very original in his sin! Sin is not transmitted; it is re-created by any being misusing the elements of true morality – emotion, reason, choice, moral light and spiritual perception of God’s law. (See “Man and The Origin of Evil” for a full discussion and documentation on this subject.) To see why man is accountable for his own “original sin” we must study the fall of our first parents.

At the dawn of Creation, God made His most wonderful work; out of the basic elements of the earth, a being “made in His image”, beautiful and perfect in every respect. There was no sickness, pain, or death. Man was not made sinful. He was placed in an earthly Paradise, in the best possible circumstances. He was given the elements of morality, (made like God as a person) and subjected to a test of his obedience. Since “right” and “wrong” cannot be created in a being, morality is the result of any being’s own response to that which they perceive as most valuable. If Adam were designed so he could not have sinned, he would not have even been “good;” a man unable either to do good or bad cannot be considered moral or responsible. For Adam, a tree was the test: provided he choose to draw his life and truth first from his loving Creator, he was righteous.

Adam’s body and soul were perfect and unblemished. He served God, but without any real test of obedience, as nothing had yet entered Eden to tempt him to disobey. He was more innocent than holy, having no real pressures of temptation to test his faithfulness. No command of God crossed any of his natural inclinations; he was allowed to have his own way within the Garden God had given him. Finally, the great test came. The serpent suggested something that appealed to Adam and Eve’s love of conscious freedom in opposition to the direct command of God. Tree of life or tree of knowledge; and they chose terribly. Tragedy struck; Eve, then Adam, surrendered to the desire to have their own way, and broke the clear command of God. In unspeakable sadness, God was forced to clamp down His Divinely-appointed penalties. These penalties were of a twofold nature:

Physical – Man began to physically die. His body felt the sting of the results of sin, and began to feel the curse of sickness, weakness and decay. This curse was essential, as a man who was allowed to continue forever in sin would become a second Devil, with every unrepentant year of his existence reinforcing his evil and increasing his wickedness. It spread to his family, society and his world.

Moral – Adam and Eve were cut off from God, in spiritual death. Their sin now separated them from their brokenhearted Creator, Who came saying “Adam, where are you?” Other terrible consequences followed. With sin also came guilt and, remorse and shame. They were expelled from the Garden, losing their sense of place and belonging lest they become immortal in sin by taking of the Tree of Life. The ground itself, even the whole creation around them was cursed, so men would have to labor to live, having less time for self-pleasing and resultant deeper sin. Eve was placed under protective subjection to her husband, because she had been first deceived. Their first child murdered their second and became a fugitive.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ADAM?
It is vitally important to notice here how Adam fell, and the consequences of his fall. To understand present human depravity, we must first define the word “depravity”. From the Latin de, very, and pravus crooked, depravity means the failure to meet an existing standard, a fall from a place of original perfection. Adam became depraved in two ways; his heart and soul first failed to obey God, then his body began to fail. The first depravity was thus moral, followed by the second, which was physical, caused by Adam’s selfish choice in spite of the clear warning of the penalty of God. These two depravities caused two kinds of death; physical and spiritual. Although these are linked, they are not the same thing. Both deaths are states of separation: spiritual death being a state of separation from God (essentially, to live sinfully is to be spiritually dead, (1 Tim. 5:6)) and physical death being finally a separation from the material world of Earth. And as a careful study of Romans 5 shows, it is physical death, not moral, that is transmitted to his race.

Every time in this difficult and disputed passage, (with the possible exception of v.17), where “death” is mentioned is manifestly temporal, or physical, and not spiritual death. This passage has nothing to do with proving that sin “descended from Adam”. This interpretation was not found in the early church fathers; it was never given to the passage until the fourth century; was never adopted by the Greek church at all; and is wholly at variance with the design and scope of Paul’s whole argument and presentation. Romans 5:12-14 shows that “death” was the penalty of disobeying God’s law, but men died from Adam to Moses when there was no law. Thus, the transmitted death that all die is not spiritual, but physical. Because Adam sinned, all men die; they inherit not sin, but death. In verse 17, Paul catches on points of correspondence between Adam and Christ (cf. I Cor. 15:45-49). Here the work of Christ equals and even surpasses Adam’s own failure; while Adam brought temporal death to his race, the Lord Jesus brought to man the gift of eternal life. Nothing is said, as would be expected in verse 20, about Adam’s fall extending to his race. Paul knew the word for “impute” (logazomai) meaning to count, reckon, and used it for righteousness (Rom. 4:22) but a different word is used in Romans 5:13 (ellogeo – to bring into account). Verse 20 shows instead that the law came in as the occasion of universal sinfulness, implying that men sin now just as Adam did then; by intelligent transgression of known law of God.

Romans 5:19 is an exact parallelism. A key is the phrase translated “were made.” What does it mean? Does it mean made so without choice or chance? If it should be translated “constituted” as some have said, then all men are or will be saved, (no choice or chance) because of what Christ did! This is obvious Universalism. However, this phrase occurs 21 times in the New Testament and in all other places where Paul uses it, it means “to ordain, appoint, put in place of”. It is used of the ordination of elders, bishops, priests or judges, and properly means “to put, place, lay down” or “put in a position”. To be put in a position is not genetic. Deacons and elders have conditions to meet for their place; they can also lose it. With this qualification, the passage is clear. Adam’s sin put all men in the place of choosing sin. He fell first, damaged us all and set us up to follow his lead. But Jesus did not sin. His victory over sin and death put all men in the place of choosing righteously if they will respond to Him! As Adam’s sin is the occasion (not cause) of a race’s ruin, so Christ’s obedience is the occasion, not cause of its redemption.

What then, did Adam pass on to his race? It is easier to sin than do right. People that sin keep sinning more. All, indeed, “have sinned”. What happened in Adam that brings us now into a world with two strikes against us? The effects of sin are as profound as God’s creation connections in our beings. Because of his organic link to us, Adam fathered physical depravity, reinforced by our ancestral parents’ selfish choices to recur right down through history. This is the true “original sin”, an inherited, accumulated damage that hurts us with a bias, or tendency towards self-gratification. Notice, it is not sin that is passed down, but degraded emotional patterns, a weakened or defiled physical body and over-hyped propensities that give sin its power and make all of us open to the tug of temptation. A parental addiction or greed may result in a child’s inherited unnaturally strong appetite. While this is not in itself sin, the results of their sin are still transmitted, becoming in turn the occasions of further wrongdoing in future generations. Thus, a parent’s sin is “visited on their children” although all such awakened desires or weakened bodies are the child’s misfortune, not his crime. Such hereditary effects may last three or four generations, even when the child does not follow his parents’ or grandparents’ example. Apart from God’s transforming work in salvation through Christ, the world’s sin once begun can only multiply with each generation. (Ex. 20:5; Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9)

The Bible testifies to our physical depravity by birth and circumstances. This makes it easier for the will to choose self-gratification, while not the cause of our wrong action. It is obvious that man is in a weakened and unbalanced condition: Ps. 103:15-16; Matt. 26:41; Rom. 6:19; Rom. 8:3,23; 2 Cor. 4:11; 5:2-4; 12:7; Gal. 4:13-14; Phil. 3:21; Jas. 4:14. This gives him a bias towards selfish action, the key among many influences for sin.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/27/2012 at 1:31 PM

This Is Who We Are

This is who we are.  Romans 3:10-18:

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/12/2012 at 5:51 PM

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