Daily Archives: August 3, 2013

Catholic Questions: Does the Bible teach mortal and venial sin?

The Roman Catholic Church divides sin into two categories, mortal sin and venial sin. The issue of sin as the Bible teaches it is one of the most fundamental aspects of understanding life with God and what it means to know Him. As we walk through this life, we must know how to respond biblically to our own sin and the manifestations of humankind’s sinfulness that we encounter moment by moment, day by day. The consequences of not having a biblical understanding of sin and, thus, not responding to sin accordingly, are devastating beyond words. An incorrect understanding of sin can result in an eternity separated from God in hell. But praise to the glorious name of our God and Savior Christ Jesus! In His Holy Word, God has shown plainly what sin is, how it affects us personally, and what the proper response to it is. Thus, as we try to understand the concepts of mortal and venial sin, let us look for final answers in God’s all-sufficient Word.

In order to know if the Bible teaches the concepts of mortal and venial sin, some basic descriptions will be helpful. The concepts of mortal and venial sin are essentially Roman Catholic. Evangelical Christians and Protestants may or may not be familiar with these terms. Working definitions of mortal and venial sins could be these: Mortal Sin is “sin causing spiritual death,” and Venial Sin is “sin that can be forgiven.” Venial sin is invariably used in contrast with mortal sin. Mortal sins are those sins that exclude people from the kingdom; venial sins are those sins that do not exclude people from it. Venial sin differs from mortal sin in the punishment it entails. Venial sin merits temporal punishment expiated by confession or by the fires of purgatory, while mortal sin merits eternal death.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church is found this description of mortal sin: “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: ‘Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.’ ” According to the Catechism, “Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments.” The Catechism further states that mortal sin “results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell.”

Regarding venial sin, the Catechism states the following: “One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of virtues and practice of moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God; it does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. ‘Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.’ ”

In summary, mortal sin is an intentional violation of the Ten Commandments (in thought, word or deed), committed in full knowledge of the gravity of the matter, and it results in the loss of salvation. Salvation may be regained through repentance and God’s forgiveness. Venial sin may be a violation of the Ten Commandments or a sin of a lesser nature, but it is committed unintentionally and/or without full consent. Although damaging to one’s relationship with God, venial sin does not result in loss of eternal life.

Biblically, the concepts of mortal and venial sin present several problems: first of all, these concepts present an unbiblical picture of how God views sin. The Bible states that God will be just and fair in His punishment of sin and that on the day of judgment some sin will merit greater punishment than others (Matthew 11:22, 24; Luke 10:12, 14). But the fact is that all sin will be punished by God. The Bible teaches that all of us sin (Romans 3:23) and that the just compensation for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Over and against the concepts of mortal and venial sin, the Bible does not state that some sins are worthy of eternal death whereas others are not. All sins are mortal sins in that even one sin makes the offender worthy of eternal separation from God.

The Apostle James articulates this fact in his letter (James 2:10): “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Notice his use of the word “stumbles.” It means to make a mistake or fall into error. James is painting a picture of a person who is trying to do the right thing and yet, perhaps unintentionally, commits a sin. What is the consequence? God, through His servant James, states when a person commits even unintentional sin, he is guilty of breaking the entire law. A good illustration of this fact is to picture a large window and understand that window to be God’s law. It doesn’t matter if a person throws a very small pebble through the window or several large boulders. The result is the same—the window is broken. In the same way, it doesn’t matter if a person commits one small sin or several huge ones. The result is the same—the person is guilty of breaking God’s law. And the Lord declares that He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:3).

Second, these concepts present an unbiblical picture of God’s payment for sin. In both cases of mortal and venial sin, forgiveness of the given transgression is dependent upon the offender making restitution of some type. In Roman Catholicism, this restitution may take the form of going to confession, praying a certain prayer, receiving the Eucharist, or another ritual of some type. The basic thought is that in order for Christ’s forgiveness to be applied to the offender, the offender must perform some work, and then the forgiveness is granted. The payment and forgiveness of the transgression is dependent upon the offender’s actions.

Is this what the Bible teaches regarding the payment for sin? The Bible clearly teaches that the payment for sin is not found in or based upon the actions of the sinner. Consider words of 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” Take note of the wording, “Christ also died for sins once for all.” This passage teaches that for the person who is believing in Jesus Christ, all of his or her sins have been taken care of on the cross. Christ died for all of them. This includes the sins the believer committed before salvation and the ones he has committed and will commit after salvation.

Colossians 2:13 and 14 confirms this fact: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [God] made you alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” God has “forgiven us all our transgressions.” Not just the sins of the past, but all of them. They have been nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. When Jesus, on the cross, stated, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He was stating that He had fulfilled all that was necessary to grant forgiveness and eternal life to those who would believe in Him. This is why Jesus says in John 3:18 that “he who believes in Him [Jesus] is not judged.” Paul states this fact in Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why are believers not judged? Why is there no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? It is because the death of Christ satisfied God’s righteous wrath again sin (1 John 4), and now those who trust in Christ will not bear the penalty of that sin.

Whereas the concepts of mortal and venial sin place responsibility to gain God’s forgiveness for a given transgression in the hands of the offender, the Bible teaches that all sins of the believer are forgiven at the cross of Christ. The Bible does teach by word (Galatians 6:7 and 8) and example (2 Samuel 11–20) that when a Christian gets involved in sin, he or she may reap temporal, physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual consequences. But the believer never has to reacquire God’s forgiveness due to personal sin because God’s Word declares that God’s wrath toward the believer’s sin was satisfied completely at the cross.

Third, these concepts present an unbiblical picture of God’s dealings with His children. Clearly, according to Roman Catholicism, one of the consequences of committing a mortal sin is that it removes eternal life from the offender. Also, according to this concept, God will grant again eternal life through repentance and good works.

Does the Bible teach that a person who is truly saved by God through Christ can lose his salvation and regain it? It clearly does not teach this. Once a person has placed his faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, the Bible teaches that that person is eternally secure—he cannot be lost. Consider the words of Jesus in John 10:27–28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” Consider also the words of Paul in Romans 8:38–39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Reflecting back upon the fact of the total satisfaction of God’s wrath toward our sin in the death of Christ, our sins cannot separate us from God’s love. In love, God chooses to take Christ’s death as payment for believers’ sins and doesn’t hold them against the believer. Thus, when the believer commits sin, the forgiveness of God in Christ is already present, and, although the believer may experience self-inflicted consequences of sin, God’s love and forgiveness are never in jeopardy. In Romans 7:14–25, Paul clearly states that the believer will struggle with sin throughout his earthly existence, but that Christ will save us from this body of death. And “therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Whereas the concept of mortal sin teaches that a person can lose his salvation through personal sin, the Bible teaches that God’s love and favor will never be removed from His children.

God’s grace not only redeems the believer from every lawless deed, but it also guides the believer into holy living and makes the believer zealous for good deeds. This doesn’t mean that the believer never sins, but that his passion will be to honor God because of God’s grace working in the believer’s life. Forgiveness and holiness are two sides of the same coin of God’s grace—they go together. Although a believer may stumble and fall into sin at times—maybe even in a big way—the general path and direction of his life will be one of holiness and passion for God and His glory. If one follows the concepts of mortal and venial sin, he or she may be deceived into viewing sin with a flippant attitude, thinking that he or she can sin at will and simply seek God’s forgiveness at a point of personal desire. The Bible instructs us that the true believer will never view sin flippantly and will strive, in the strength of God’s grace, to live a holy life.

Based on the above biblical truth, the concepts of mortal and venial sin are not biblical and should be rejected. In Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, the problem of our sin is completely taken care of, and we need look no further than that amazing demonstration of God’s love for us. Our forgiveness and right standing with God is not dependent upon us, our failings, or our faithfulness. The true believer is to fix his eyes on Jesus and live in light of all that He accomplished on our behalf. God’s love and grace are truly amazing! May we live in light of the life we have in Christ! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be victorious over all sin, whether “mortal,” “venial,” intentional, or unintentional.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian be a Republican or a Democrat?

Christians often ask us whether they should be a Republican or a Democrat or something else, but as a tax-exempt non-profit organization, Got Questions Ministries is not allowed to endorse political parties or candidates. What we can do is tell you what the Bible says about political issues and encourage you to make a decision from there. In all actuality, few political issues are truly spiritual issues. As an example, we may prefer lower taxes, but the Bible does not endorse low taxes; all it says is that we are to pay our taxes honestly (Romans 13:6–7; Matthew 22:15–21). Taxes and many other issues (social security, universal healthcare, education funding, prescription drugs, etc.) are not spiritual issues the Bible specifically addresses. As a result, Christians can in good conscience have disagreements on these issues.

An issue the Bible most definitely “takes sides” on is abortion. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He knits us in the womb. Psalm 139:13–16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Exodus 21:22–25 prescribes the same penalty of someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as the penalty for someone who commits murder. This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb as just as much of a human being as a full-grown adult. For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6). Therefore, Bible-believing Christians should strongly support candidates who are pro-life.

Another issue which is most definitely biblical is that of gay marriage. The Bible condemns homosexuality in the strongest terms possible (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Gay marriage is an attack on the institution of marriage that God created to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:22–24). Endorsing gay marriage or even civil unions is basically giving approval to a lifestyle choice the Bible condemns as immoral and unnatural. Gay marriage, then, is an issue Christians must consider when they evaluate a candidate.

The Bible teaches that a leader in the church should be a godly, moral, ethical person (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9). This should apply to political leaders as well. If politicians are going to make wise, God-honoring decisions, they must have a basic morality on which to base the decisions they are going to have to make. So if there is a clear moral distinction between candidates, as Christians, we should choose the more moral, honest, and ethical of the candidates.

No matter who is in office, whether we voted for them or not, whether they are of the political party we prefer or not, the Bible commands us to respect and honor them (1 Peter 2:13–17; Romans 13:1–7). We should also be praying for those placed in authority over us (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We do not have to agree with them, or even like them, but we do have to honor and respect them. Politics is always going to be a difficult issue for Christians. We are in this world, but are not to be of this world (1 John 2:15). We can be involved in politics, but we should not be obsessed with politics. Ultimately, we are to be heavenly-minded, more concerned with the things of God than the things of this world (Colossians 3:1–2). As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all members of the same political party—monarchists who are waiting for their King to return (Revelation 19:11–16).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Music Video: Your Love – Brandon Heath

I felt it first when I was younger
A strange connection to the light
I tried to satisfy the hunger
I never got it right, I never got it right

So I climbed a mountain and built an altar
Looked out as far as I could see
And everyday I’m getting older
I’m running outta dreams, I’m running outta dreams

But Your love, Your love, the only the thing that matters is
Your love, your love is all I have to give
Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love, Your love, all I ever needed is Your love

You know the effort I have given
And You know exactly what it cost
And though my innocence was taken
Not everything is lost, not everything is lost

But Your love, Your love, the only the thing that matters is
Your love, your love is all I have to give
Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love, Your love, all I ever needed is Your love

You’re the hope in the morning
You’re the light when the night is falling
You’re the song when my heart is singing
It’s Your love

You’re the eyes to the blind man
You’re the feet to the lame men walking
You’re the sound of the people singing
It’s Your love, Your love

But Your love, Your love, the only the thing that matters is
Your love, your love is all I have to give
Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love, Your love, all I ever needed is Your love

All I ever needed is Your love, Your love
All I ever needed is Your love
All I ever needed is Your love
It’s all I ever needed

Music Video: Strong Enough To Save – Tenth Avenue North

You fought but you were just too weak
So you lost all the things you tried to keep
Now you’re on your knees
You’re on your knees
But wait everything can change
In a moment’s time
You don’t have to be afraid
‘Cause fear is just a lie
Open up your eyes
And He’ll break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you
Look now is not too late
Lift up your head
Let the rain fall on your face
You’re not far from grace
You’re not too far from grace
And He’ll break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you
Break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you
I know the weight of this world can take you down like gravity
I know the current of yourself can take you out, out to sea
But hold on
Hold on
And He’ll break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you
Break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you

Do Not Be Surprised…This ‘n’ That – 02 August 2013

  • To all of the young whipper-snappers out there: Have you ever walked out of a church because you thought there were “too many old people“?
  • And while we’re on the topic of marine mammals, check out this video.
  • I admit it, I’m guilty of checking my cell phone when I’m with others—even when I’m not necessarily expecting an important message. Elizabeth Prata offers some convicting thoughts on this.
  • I’m really glad we’ve been paying this guy’s salary.
  • Soap opera praise songs. Sadly, you can’t really tell the difference between these and the garbage you hear on “Christian” radio stations (I’m looking at you, K-Love.)
  • Tim Keller has been taken to task by some fellow Presbyterians in the book Engaging with Keller. Any chance he’ll listen?
  • Researchers say Adam and Eve probably weren’t contemporaries. Well, that changes everything. Please excuse me while I go rip Genesis out of my Bible.
  • Fred Butler catches us up on the ongoing dialogue between GTY and Dr. Michael Brown in this article, ‘Charismatic Ecumenism.’
  • Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, followed by another 1,000 years in prison (I’ll let you do the math on that one).
  • Okay, so who would like to tell Mark Driscoll that God is the Father—that’s not just a helpful metaphor He opted to use to help out us half-witted humans.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • The PCUSA has rejected the popular hymn by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, ‘In Christ Alone.’ Apparently they don’t like that the song discusses the wrath of God—and the fact that it was Christ’s sacrifice that satisfied that wrath. While I completely disagree with the PCUSA’s reasoning (because this song’s lyrics contain rich and essential truths), I have to say that I’m not sure I’d be too keen on this song in my hymnal either, but only because I don’t find it very ‘singable.’ It just seems to me to be more of a listening song.
  • Does anyone else feel like they could participate in the ‘Awkward Years‘ project?
  • Conspiracy theorists, beware! The CIA wants to control the weather! (Although, if this is true, it is pretty creepy.)
  • Well, here’s a fun, new superhero for your kids.
  • Feminism is a reversal of biblical standards.
  • The damning power of false religion:

 

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/08/this-n-that.html

Doctrine of Salvation: Justification

The Domain for Truth

justification-9-1

Please see the last post on the series, “Roman Catholic Church View of Salvation.”

Before I give details concerning justification, I would like to tell you what justification is.  Justification is a forensic event in which God declares the once-hell bound believing sinner as righteous because of the grounds of imputed righteousness of Christ.  This imputed righteousness is also not understood properly if one does not take into account the active obedience of Christ’s full obedience to “all” that God the Father willed for Him to fulfill in this earth.  Justification is not based upon our works or righteousness; and not even our faith.  Faith is only the means or the instrument that allows us to receive the benefits of justification.[1]   Unlike the Roman Catholic position which sees justification as the process of becoming just, the biblical view is an event in where God declares the…

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The backlist: the top ten posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in July:

  1. Sin makes smart people stupid (July 2013)
  2. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  3. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  4. The real secret of keeping millennials in the church (July 2013)
  5. When “our” voice is silent (July 2013)
  6. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  7. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  8. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  9. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  10. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. Kindle deals for Christian readers (July 2013)
  2. 3 things congregations should say to their pastors (June 2013)
  3. The End of Our Exploring by Matthew Lee Anderson (July 2013)
  4. Can you worship even when the music stinks? (July 2013)
  5. Memorizing God’s Word: Colossians (July 2013)
  6. 20 reasons to love one another (July 2013)
  7. Is God anti-gay? by Sam Allberry (July 2013)
  8. Kindle deals for Christian readers (July 2013)
  9. Charles Haddon Spurgeon: What is Humility? (February 2010)
  10. What does the Bible say about worship? (March 2013)

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these posts, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check them out.

Source: http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2013/08/03/the-backlist-the-top-ten-posts-on-blogging-theologically-33/

Spending Some Time in the Valley of Humiliation

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. (Genesis 40:23 NASB)

My natural tendency is to heartily participate in self-pity, outrage, and unforgiveness thereby opening doors in my heart that Satan uses causing me to become discouraged. When this happens to me, I find that my circumstances drive me to become very negative and impatient. I suppose that this is one of my besetting sins which clings closely to me ready to cut in on me causing me to drop out of the race God has set before me to run with endurance. (Hebrews 12:1-2) My sense of joy that strengthens me as I run this race comes from looking unto Jesus. My focus has dropped from Him to me and my circumstances. When this happens the slide into self-absorption is very quick. I suddenly find myself in this ugly spiritually flat mood…

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Doctrinal preaching bores only hypocrites…

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

“Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep. The preacher’s job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers–in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.” – (Packer, A Quest For Godliness , 285).

 

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No Hard Trial to Bear as a Sense of Sin…

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

On confession and petition…

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work…

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Disillusioned Millennials

Penny of a Thought

file0001440435941In a recent article that has spread like wildfire through social media, Rachel Held Evans discussed on CNN  why millennials are leaving the church – the evangelical church specifically. Evans, who identified herself as a millennial in the article, expounded on why we see the current trend of 20 something and early 30’s leaving the church.
It is not my wish to critique the strengths and weaknesses of Evan’s argument; others have done so in great depth and with real insight (see links below). Rather, as an evangelical millennial myself I want to comment on a recent trend I’ve noticed within my heart and life; one that played out in Evan’s article. I’d like to offer a few lessons learned on disillusionment to those of my generation who resonate with Evan’s critique specifically.  

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