INTRODUCTION TO HAMARTIOLOGY
Hamartiology is a theological term used for the doctrine of sin.
It comes from a Greek word, hamartanein which relates to the archer that has sent an arrow on its way, but the arrow misses the target. In simple terms it is doing what is wrong or not doing what is right. Someone has suggested tragic flaw. I don’t know how theological Tragic Flaw is, but it sums up the thought of sin quite well. Not only is sin a flaw, but it is a tragic flaw in that it detracts from what we were when God created Adam.
There are two approaches to the study of sin:
1. Exegetical: This is the study of the Scripture and setting down a conclusion of what sin is.
2. Speculative: This is the study of man, philosophy and experience and setting down a conclusion of what sin is based on the observations.
Within the speculative area of study we have some systems of thought of which you should be aware.
Humanism: Nothing is sin unless it is wrong for you. No sin — if it’s okay for me, I will do it, but if it’s wrong for you, don’t do it. The idea current in our society, “If it feels good, do it” is a result of this philosophy.
Asceticism: This teaching believes that everything enjoyable is sin. If it feels good then experience tells us it will become a habit, thus sin, and thus enjoyable things are sinful. This led to the self abuse and self denial of some of the Roman Catholic groups in the pre-reformation days.
It may tend to affect Fundamentalist thinking in some of the do and don’t lists that are formed. By following a list we will avoid all sin. This is not wrong, for God Himself has lists — the ten commandments for one — but it is really hard to list all the sins that are listed in the Bible. The problem comes when the list contains things which God does not prohibit. The fundamentalists of the 1950’s were very harsh will people that did not conform to their thought of conservative dress. God does not spell out the requirements of dress in the Word, except in some instances. Within all that God says about dress, there is a wide latitude of what is okay.
Now a practical application of this thought for students would run along this line of thinking. I like tests, so I will habitually like to take tests thus tests are sin and I should avoid them. Wrong.
Man Is Basically Good: We by experience see that man is basically good and since we are created in God’s image then man must be good. Thus, sin is not a problem except for those that are, say, murderers and fornicators. Some of the Holiness movement set forth this thought, in that they can be perfect in this life — without sin — because the everyday wrongs that they find themselves in are only errors, not sin. The sin of this life is murder, adultery etc.
Question. Do you see a link between any of the speculative systems and what we have seen in the Church in recent years labeled, “Gray Areas?”
Is there not a very clear teaching in the Word about many things and then other areas where it is personal choice. We need to be very careful what we call a gray area. Many gray areas that I have heard about, are gray only because the person speaking has not consulted the whole council of God.
Chafer mentions that when we minimize the doctrine of sin we impoverish redemption. This is quite true and can be seen in some of the ologies of the liberal camp. The Theology of Hope makes redemption and the gospel, the topic of mere “hoping” that something will come to pass to help man’s state. The thought of sin is down played by many of the theologies of our day.
Many of the things that God clearly displays as wrong in the Word are held by liberal people to be only different life styles, as in the field of homosexuality, or women’s rights, or in the field of abortion.
I believe that as your view of sin lowers so lowers your view of salvation, of Christ’s work in salvation, and of God’s love in sending Christ.
I like how one of my students once related to this thought. “If we lower our view low enough we will have no need of redemption. This translates to no need of God.” One is left to wonder if this is what happened in Sweden. They entered the area of free love, etc. many years ago. They as a society allowed most anything that the individual wanted to do. Today they have no god. Many do not even know if god exists.
When we emphasis the virtue, or goodness of man, we basically put sin into the background, and call God’s Word into question. We cannot hide the fact of sin — indeed, much of mankind displays the fact of sin on a daily, if not an hourly basis.
Some might suggest that sin is so awful and terrible that there is nothing anyone can do. Wrong. Christ did all that was needed and all we have to do is accept it.
God and all that He is, remains Holy no matter what man might say. He is pure, and true holiness. Evil on the other hand is unholiness — pure and simple. Evil is centered in the god of this world, the Devil. All moral values derive themselves from God and His Word. Immoral values derive themselves from evil, unholiness, and Satan.
Without The Word Of God We Would Not Know The True Holiness And The True Evil Of Our World.
PERFECT LOVE SENT CHRIST
COMPLETE HATE OPPOSES CHRIST
ULTIMATE TOTAL VICTORY
ULTIMATE TOTAL DEFEAT
God’s Word teaches that man is totally depraved. Even Christians at times do not react well to God’s estimation of man. Many Christians even see that there is good in lost man. These Christians are not looking to the
Word for their estimation of man, but probably are looking to man’s philosophy.
Sin is viewed in relation to God’s standard. If God’s standard is rejected then what becomes the standard? Let us consider this question for a few moments. There are systems of right and wrong that have and do exist. Let us consider them.
1. The customs of the culture. If the natives kill and eat human flesh and have common wives then it is okay.
2. What you can get away with must be okay. If it was wrong then God would stop me from doing it. This is the attitude of most criminals in the 90’s. They can get away with it so it must be okay. Even if they are caught, the punishment is so light, if indeed there is one, that crime can’t be very wrong.
3. What the judicial system allows must be okay. If some people get away with murder then it must be okay.
4. Ultimately Satan’s standard will take over — complete evil. We have a couple of examples in recent history. Hitler, the Manson killings and the Jim Jones cult suicide.
These systems do not disprove sin. They only prove that man left without a standard will define his own standard and live by it. The standard that man selects is always considerably lower than the standard of God.
Chafer mentions three major demonstrations of the terribleness of sin. These are worth consideration at this point. Many believers today do not see sin as something terrible.
The Sin Of Satan: When Lucifer turned against God other angels also turned their back on their creator. They all are condemned to the Lake of Fire. That has application, oft times, when we sin, we take others with us, or at least cause others to be tempted. Matthew 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, Revelation 20:10.
The Sin Of Adam And Eve: From this we have all human suffering and ultimate eternal torment for all who reject Christ. You should remember, however that you would have done the same thing Adam did, had you been there. Don’t give Adam a bad rap.
The Fact That Christ Became Sin: 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us,
“For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
These examples of evil show the costliness of sin not only to man himself, but to God as well. He had to send His Son to the cross because of it all. Even if Adam and Eve had had no children after the fall, Christ would have been made sin to satisfy the problem.
Some wonder where did sin come from? Did God create sin — He created Satan? Did Satan create sin? Did Adam and Eve create sin?
We dare not suggest that God created, nor caused sin. This would not be consistent with His character or nature. We can say that God in his foreknowledge allowed, and still allows many things to happen. He allows the lost to sin, He allows the lost to condemn themselves to hell, and He allows Christians to sin. None of these items are A Surprise Party For God. He knew full well what would happen and laid plans from the foundation of the world to bring mankind to the end that He desires. Within that plan is a lot of room for man’s free will to mess up his own life.
Some items that you must remember:
1. God is completely holy and perfect. Prior to the creation evil did not exist.
2. God created Angels — Was There Evil Immediately? No, but the possibility was allowed in the creation.
3. Lucifer sinned, and from that point on evil was present. Lucifer was to blame, not God.
It might be asked if prior to Satans sin, was there evil?
Chafer mentions, “Evil may refer to that which, though latent or not expressed, is ever conceivable as the opposite of that which is good.” (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; “Systematic Theology”; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, p 228)
There was no outward manifestation of evil before the fall of Satan, however after the creation of angels the latent possibility existed because God chose to allow it.
In Lucifer, was the possibility of evil, but the evil did not bear fruit till he resolved to rebel. Before the first sin, evil was latent. During the first sin, evil became active. After the first sin the evil was latent and ready for action.
Since we know that evil was allowed for, and that sin was a latent possibility before Satan’s fall, is there a difference between evil and sin, or are they the same?
Evil is the latent opposition to good, while sin is the active action against God. EVIL is the “possible” that is against God — the character difference between God and others. SIN is the act, or outworking of evil against God.
Yes, there is a difference. Evil carries no penalty in and of itself, yet sin does carry a penalty with it.
Isaiah 45:7 has brought some interest to some people.
“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
From this some would attempt to build the thought that evil proceeds from God. Not so.
1. The New King James Version as well as the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version give the verse a completely different light. The NKJV translates the word calamity rather than evil.
2. The term “create” is “bara” and it is translated create at times. It at this point however, does not convey the thought of the text to translate it create. (create = Strong’s 1254, “cut down” seems to be the thought of the word. It is translated create, as a yield of grain is created when the stocks
are cut down. Cutting down to make peace — opposite is calamity. Create light — darkness is opposite.)
Leupold mentions of this verse and the way the King James translates it, “… the Hebrew would allow for such a translation. But it is not the morally good and the morally evil that are being attributed to Yahweh, but things good and bad are said to lie totally in his power, as far as their physical aspects and consequences are concerned.” (Leupold, H.C.; “Exposition Of Isaiah”; Vol. I & II; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968, p 122)
God allows and controls evil, but He did not create it.
It would seem that the thought of God being holy and good, would require that the opposite be automatically true and present. Evil is the natural result of the Holiness of God.
God allows sin. Since He did not create it and since He doesn’t stop it, then it is required that He has allowed it.
Let us consider why God might have allowed evil to continue:
God Is Proving Man’s Rebellion: Since Satan is at the focal point of Job’s problems one must wonder if there isn’t a divine defense going on. God proving to Satan that something is true. Possibly He desires to prove to the angelic host that man will fail and reject God in all situations of life
— all dispensations have ended in judgment except Grace and we are told that it will also end in judgment. (The warring between the principalities and powers etc. may relate to this thought, Ephesians 6:12)
God Has A Purpose That We Are Not Told Of: God has a purpose that is completely foreign to us and we have no information on it. The world progresses as He has decreed it, in His perfection, holiness, and desire. By faith we trust in His perfection, justice and holiness. All is, and progresses as He planned it.
God Gave His Creatures A Free Will: Since free will exists, there must be a possibility of choices. Evil was needed to allow this choice. God is in business of seeking a people for Himself; those that by free choice, chose God over Satan and good over evil. Since the choice between good and evil necessitates evil’s presence — God allows it to continue.
God Desired Man To Learn Of Him: To know the holiness of God, we must observe it in relation to its opposite, evil. Thus evil must be allowed as a part of our teaching situation.
God Desired To Demonstrate His Hatred For Evil: This is one of Chafer’s suggested reasons for God allowing evil. God will in judgment demonstrate His hate for evil. There is some truth to this point, however He could have done that centuries ago — there is no need for evil to continue.
God Desired To Demonstrate His Grace: The angels had not seen His grace in action. Sin and evil brought the need of Christ and His work, thus a demonstration of God’s grace was given.
Chafer suggests that evil is allowed for the instruction of angels. Angels are viewing the situation and are learning from what they observe. There is a problem in this line of thinking. This makes man a pawn in an angelic school of higher learning, and we see God allowing man to suffer for the education of other beings. I don’t believe that this is a reason for God allowing evil, but rather it is a side effect, or benefit to man’s bent toward evil.
1. Chafer makes a statement that bears repeating. “God Is Himself The Standard Of Holiness And His Character Is That Which Determines The Sinfulness Of Sin.” (Systematic Theology, p 228) You might contemplate that sometime and just jot down your reactions to it. You may find that you are in the process of gathering sermon material and ideas.
2. We need in our lives to learn to know God’s view of sin. My wife hates bugs. When one violates her airspace there is little that controls her, or the volume of her voice. Take something that you hate, then try to imagine how a Perfectly Holy God must react to sin.
3. We need to learn to know the effect of sin on man. It is not just a little sin now and then, it is a life style, it is a part of the lost man’s being. Sin’s effect is complete and destructive. We tend to see sin as a little error that we need not be overly concerned with. Confess it and it’s gone. True, it is gone, yet its effect may remain.
4. We need to learn to know sin so that we can avoid it. Joseph, when Potaphor’s wife grabbed his cloak knew sin, and he knew how to avoid it. He Ran. He Didn’t Stand Around Discussing With Himself If This Was Sin Or Not. He Already Knew, So He Ran.
5. We need to be realistic in our view of Holy — Gray Area — Sin. We like to label some things as gray areas. We don’t know if it is wrong or right. If we follow this color coding, holiness would be pure white, and sin would be black. What we view as gray today is usually gray because we don’t want to view it as black. They call that denial in the mind sciences. God’s Word often is interpreted gray when it is really black. If we were to gain God’s view of sin, we would see it as black more often than gray.
To illustrate our difficulty in perception, think of the graying of immorality. When it comes to proper relations between men and women it is hard to see God’s view, in light of one’s own fleshly views. Immorality at one time was pure, unadulterated black, but in our society today, even Christians have grayed the matter.
6. A good study for your future would be to look over Ezekiel 28:11-17 and Isaiah 14:12-17 and list the traits of Satan. You can learn much from knowing your adversary.
7. Some verses that relate, and that may be a blessing to you. Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; Jeremiah 50:20; Micah 7:19; Colossians 2:13;
Hebrews 10:17; 1 John 11:7.
I would like to include a chart that I received from one of my theology professors, Mark Harvey Stranske. I think that if you consider it and study it, you will increase your appreciation for holiness, and your hate for sin.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
Children of wrath
Separation and alienation
* 2 Corinthians 7:1 **1 Corinthians 2:13-14
Personal Sin — or should I say your sin? I don’t sin — Right? Wrong. We all, regrettably, sin.
We want to study the sin of man as he as a person relates to what he is doing — not your, or my personal sin — even though we are studying just that.
We need to understand that sin always has an effect. That effect may become visible to others, or may just become a part of our inner life. Let us consider the personal sin’s of some people and consider the effects of that sin.
a. Adam Death, sin nature etc.
b. Cain Abel died
c. Acan Israel defeated
d. Hitler Nations disturbed — many died
e. A pastor Reflects on the church — may hurt the family
f. Parishioner May reflect on the church — may affect the family
What is meant by “personal sin”? Sin committed by a person. Simple isn’t it. When we confess our personal sin, is that all that is in view? Personal sin quite often is the fruit of a larger root of trouble. If you find you are confessing more and more, you should probably think deeper and find out why you are sinning more and more. Obviously you aren’t as close to the Lord as you should be. Why?
THE ORIGIN OF SIN
There are some theories of the origin of sin that we need to mention. Theory of necessity: This theory would suggest that because of man’s being created “inferior,” he by necessity of that inferiority, will sin. God has no authority over the situation. He only created man and the inferior being sinned.
Hodge quotes Leibnitz, “these are the two points to be established. First, sin is unavoidable; and secondly, that it is not due to the agency of God. It is unavoidable, because it arises out of the necessary limitation of the creature. The creature cannot be absolutely perfect.” (Hodge, Charles; Gross, Edward N. Ed.; “Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988, p 134-135)
Theory Of The Manichaean Philosophy Of Duality: A man by the name of Mani was born around AD 215. He believed in two deities — one good guy and one bad guy. He divided everything into this dualism.
There is definitely no foundation for this theory in the Scriptures.
Theory That God Is The Author Of Sin: Since He is a holy God, this line of thinking is undesirable, and illogical.
Theory Of Sin Arising From Misuse Of Moral Freedom: The sin of Adam arose out of his free choice. He was free to do as he pleased and he abused that freedom. Likewise Satan abused his freedom to choose.
In short, man was given free choice in his living. He chose to abuse that freedom and thus sinned. God did not author it, nor did He create it — He only allowed it.
Do Christians ever misuse their moral freedoms? Obviously. We all sin. We all misuse what God has allowed us. We Are Free To Lie, Or Tell The Truth. We Are Free To Cheat, Or Not To Cheat. We Are Free To Speed, Or Not To Speed. We Are Free To Commit Adultery, Or Not Commit Adultery.
Why do we as Christians misuse our moral freedoms at times? Did the devil make me do it? Do we do it because we want to?
Some might suggest that we can’t, not sin, due to the old nature. We will consider the old nature in further studies, but let is suffice at this point to say that God has provided all that is needed for us Not To Sin. We do not have to sin, we do it because we choose to. We do it because we mentally make a choice to disobey.
Andy Rooney on one of his commentaries gave a perfect report on this in 1987. He related how the criminal isn’t at fault — that the environment is the cause of all the troubles. He spent quite a length of time passing the buck — no one is responsible for anything in our society today. He ended with — some won’t like what I’ve said today but that’s all right — it’s not my fault — the devil made me do it. (A ruff quote.)
When we sin, at times we are in times of great pressure. It may be very hard to say no, but that is just what God asks that we do. Say No To The Temptation.
When in television repair work I made a change in circuitry on a television set at the customers request. I had missed one wire that I could not see — The mistake ruined the picture tube. I told the boss of my goof. He said call the customer and tell him that we were hung up on parts and that it would be a few days. That way we could get a new picture tube and put it in and not tell the customer what had happened. I had just cost my boss $150 and he asked me to lie to a customer. Believe Me I Was Tempted To Tell That Little Small Itse Bitse Teeny Weeny Almost Not A Lie, Lie.
I with much fear ask the boss if it might not be better to tell the customer the truth — that I had goofed and that we wanted to make it right. He agreed, so I called the customer. The customer was very appreciative of our honesty.
God is not the author of sin, nor is He the creator of sin. He allowed sin to come along, and He now allows sin to continue. He will, however see to it that sin stops, and that evil is finally and eternally contained in the lake of fire.
Chafer goes on to suggest three distinct beginnings of sin. I will list them for your further thought. Eternal anticipation in the foreknowledge of God.
Its concrete enactment in heaven by an unfallen angel. Its concrete enactment on earth by an unfallen human being.
He also goes on to state that God foreknew sin and that by the creation of angels and men He allowed the possibility of it to come into existence. This is a valid concept, based on Revelation 13:8. The verse mentions,
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
To plan from the foundation of the world for redemption, God had to have had foreknowledge of the need for redemption, thus He had to have foreknown evil and sin.
Does sin hurt God? Certainly. It is a disregard for His rights to rule and expect obedience. It is the breaking of His law, which is an afront to Him. It also caused damage to His property, the creation.
If Satan sinned first, and set his own fate, what was Satan’s purpose in tempting Adam and Eve? Along with the fact that he was rejecting God and His authority over him, he was attempting to begin to set up his “world system.” He could not do this until Adam and Eve fell, for he desired to control the world, and God told Adam that he would have dominion over it.
Chafer mentions three major proofs of the awful sinfulness of Personal sin. More to the point these show the awful penalty for that sinfulness.
a. Angelic Proof: Jude six mentions the fallen angels and their wait for final judgment. This judgment speaks to the sin of their past. Revelation 12:9 mentions that the fallen angelic host was cast out with the Devil due to their sin.
b. Human Proof: Romans 5:12 depicts Adams sin being passed on to all of mankind. His one personal sin had far reaching ramifications for everyone. Romans 5:19 is the good news — Christ will set things right. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
c. Divine Proof: God’s estimation is that sin is terrible. It caused man’s fall, and caused the death of His Son. Romans 5:15,19 mention that by one we are dead and that one being Adam, and by one we are made alive and that one being Christ. The result of Adam’s one sin was the total
depravity of all of mankind. The reason for that one sin was to be independent of God, or to act independently. His sin was an act of the will, as is every single one of our own sins. We consider and chose to do those things that we ought not do.
By allowing the Spirit to control our lives we need not consider these wrong things for we will be considering God’s “right” things.
We talk of the sin nature, that nature of man that moves him toward evil. It is always evil, whether it is active or not. It is always sinful. It is by nature sinful.
Any personal sin affects God in two ways. It is a sin against Him personally, and it is a sin against His commands. It is bad enough that we disobey what He says, but to cause offense to Him personally is much worse.
When I was a teenager, I received a traffic ticket or two. Breaking the law was breaking my father’s wishes, for he was the County Treasurer, and he had to keep a good image before the community. When I broke the speed limit, I knew I was going against what he wanted. When I was caught, I still wasn’t too concerned about the fact that I had broken his wishes. When he found out about what I had done — That Was Very Hurtful To Me, For I Knew That I Had Hurt Him Deeply.
May we consider our own personal sin? Breaking that little tenny weenny speed limit doesn’t bother you, Except That It Bothers Your Heavenly Father.
Sin always has a price. That price costs us, and it costs God. The price of salvation and forgiveness was very great for God. It was the price of sending His Son to the cross. The price had to be met, because if God had overlooked sin, He would have been disregarding His own holy character.
Sin must be dealt with. He Could Not Overlook It Or Sweep It Under The Carpet.
Sin will be judged according to His holy character. No matter how small, no matter how innocent, no matter how insignificant the sin, it will be set beside His Holy Character for comparison, and if it does not compare, And Not One Will, it will be judged.
Judgment in reference to the lost: They will receive a variety of punishment, yet it is all torment, and separation for eternity from God based on their life.
Judgment in reference to the saved: They will receive, or not receive reward, based on their life and works. Sin will not be an issue for the redeemed, for Christ has cared for all of our sins. There is the possibility that we will be held accountable for those sins that we have not confessed. In the person that has not been walking with the Lord, there would be a large backlog of sin that would need to be considered. Just how this is cared for we aren’t told.
1. God uses the term, “I will” in relation to his promises to man in the Scripture. It should be of significance to us to consider the statements of Lucifer when he decided to take a dive into sin. (Isaiah 14:12ff)
“I will ascend into heaven.”
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God”
“I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation” “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds”
“I will be like the most high”
Are there any areas of your own life in which the “I will’s” are coming from your direction rather than God’s? I trust that the only “I will”s” that are in your life are those you read in God’s promises to you, and your response to them.
2. Do you see the minimizing of sin in our own day? How? Do you hear things like: We all sin. We all have our problems. If you feel it is okay then you can do it. Well if he does it now and then, it must be okay.
The ease of 1 John 1:9 tends to minimize our view of sin. The context of this verse is five chapters of Holy living. When you tumble into one sin then 1 John 1:9 is an easy step back to the Lord. In a society that does not consider Holy Living as a high priority, we need to get serious before looking to the promise of 1 John 1:9
With our lowered view of sin it is not surprising that we see Christian business men living by the ethics of the world in their businesses.
We need God’s view of sin. When we sin we are an afront to God. We Become Totally Unlike Him. How does that relate to our being conformed to the image of Christ? In essence when we sin we are shaking our fist in His face and telling Him to get lost.
It is only grace that moves Him to continue to put up with our ungodly cycle of, sin — 1 John 1:9 — sin — 1 John 1:9 — sin — 1 John 1:9 — sin.
3. I trust that you will consider your own lifestyle of Holiness Vs. Sin, and go before the Lord to see if there are any changes that you need to make.
4. Consider the terms that the Word uses for sin, and see if you don’t obtain a better picture of what it really is. Trespass, transgression, evil, defeat, ignorance, lawlessness, disobedience, ungodliness, unrighteousness.
5. I read something once concerning sin, and I would like to adapt the thought for our conclusion. Concerning sin:
We call it an accident — He calls it an abomination.
We call it a blunder — He calls it blindness.
We call it a chance — He calls it a choice.
We call it a defect — He calls it a disease.
We call it an error — He calls it enmity.
We call it fascination — He calls it fatality.
We call it luxury — He calls it leprosy.
We call it liberty — He calls it lawlessness.
We call it a trifle — He calls it tragedy.
We call it a mistake — He calls it madness.
We call it a weakness — He calls it willfulness.
SIN IS SIN NO MATTER WHAT WE CALL IT. WE MUST GO BY HIS DEFINITION, NOT OUR’S, OR THE WORLD’S.
THE NATURE OF SIN AND FORGIVENESS
My father was a very hard worker. He never drank more than one or two drinks in a day, and that very infrequently. He smoked once or twice a month. He did good things for people every chance he was given. He belonged to a service club that did nice things for people. Was he a Christian? You don’t know do you.
A friend I knew many years ago drank heavily frequently. He led the church choir. He was a very big business man. He prayed in prayer meeting. He didn’t mind lying in his business. He wasn’t above shady business practices. Was he a Christian? You don’t know do you.
So, just how can we possibly judge a person to determine whether they are a believer or not? Some suggestions of the past.
1. The Law: The law was given for us to follow and if we don’t then we are not believers.
The law is a set of regulations. This has nothing to do with a persons spiritual state, eternally speaking. The obedience to the law, may or may not give hint to the person’s real spiritual state. A lost person can attempt to keep the law, just as well as the saved person.
2. Works: Works may or may not give indication of a persons state eternally. A truly born again person should automatically desire to walk according to all that he knows. On the other hand a lost person can do many things that appear to be good works yet be lost.
Then there is the question of the born again person that does not know any of the Word, who is living in adultery and drunkenness. The outward appearance would indicate that he is not a believer, yet inwardly he is.
3. Life: If a person lives a good life then surely we can say that he is saved. Not necessarily. A lost person that has a good high moral value can lead a very “good” life.
We cannot know from the outward what is true.
There are things like, following the teachings of Scripture, works, and good living that will be indicators of a heavenly eternal destination, but not always. Normally Over A Long Period Of Time This Wills Prove Out.
On the other hand good Christians at times take a wrong turn and end up in drastic sin. That does not mean that they are not born again. When we were in the northwest, a pastor fell into sexual problems with one of the church women. A one time slip into sin. Even with this sin his salvation is sure, and he will continue with the Lord. Continuing in the ministry was out of the question, but he is eternally secure. He was forgiven as soon as he sought forgiveness.
The conscience is one method that may be an indicator of a person’s salvation. This is an inward indicator that only the person can know. A person that hurts in his inner being when he does wrong is probably a believer. A lost person will sin but normally not have the inner hurt. They may have guilt etc. but they will not be pained knowing they have wronged God.
The question of sinless perfection has been argued for many years. There are those that suggest that this is to be the state of the believer. They oft times redefine sin slightly, so that the small — normal — insignificant sins aren’t really sin, but only mistakes. Sin is relegated to the bigger items of killing, adultery, rape, etc.
Sinless perfection? For a time. Maybe even a long time. However, they cannot be sinless to the point of perfection. We cannot from a point in our lives cease to sin. We always seem to find a good rationalization every now and then to fall into trouble.
Having said this, we need to understand that holiness is the standard set before us. We should be very close to being sinless. In Luke where he mentions the parents of John the Baptist we see in Chapter one verse six that, “…they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” Not Sinlessly Perfect. But they were living a very clean and pure life.
First John is quite plain that the believer is not one that is into sin on a regular basis. His thought is that the believer is basically without sin, but if he does fall now and then, 1 John 1:9 is there for his use.
1 John 1:10 is plain that we cannot be without sin. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” thus, sinless perfection is not a possibility.
One final passage to show how sinless we should be is 2 Peter.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” (2 Peter 1:3)
Notice that He has given us “…..all things that pertain unto life and godliness…..” In salvation or eternal life, he has provided all things that are required. In godliness he has provided all things that are required. We have everything that we need to say no to sin on a continual basis. That Puts The Monkey On Our Own Back, Not The Devil Or The Old Nature. We Sin Because We Make A Conscious Decision To Do So.
Another question that you can think about is this. If man and creation were here, but God did not exist, would there be sin? No, for we have sinned, or missed the mark of God. If there is no God then there is no mark to aim for — no standard set to which we must measure ourselves.
Let us move now, from sin and sinlessness to forgiveness. Indeed, the existence of forgiveness, requires that the possibility of sin exist. If there were no sin, there would be no need for forgiveness.
WHAT IS DIVINE FORGIVENESS?
Vine mentions, “to bestow a favour unconditionally,”
Forgive is a translation of two words both of which have the idea of sending away. It may be similar to when a faculty member of a school dismisses class. He is sending the students out, or away. Release is also a word that carries the idea.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 10312
We need to remember that God does not forgive because He is a big softy. He is Holy and His judgment is sure and proper. He can only forgive when the proper situation is arrived at. Christ’s work on the cross allows God to forgive all sin based on the offering of the perfect sacrifice.
In the Old Testament times the animal sacrifice was a covering, looking forward to the perfect sacrifice which would take away the sin. The saint of that age was not righteous in their standing before God. God just could not see their sin, due to the sacrifice covering their sin. They could not be regenerated, nor any of those things that are related to salvation in this age. How could they? The perfect sacrifice had not been offered yet.
The saint, when dead was carried to a holding area for saints called sheol. The lost dead were in the same area, yet in a different compartment. Luke sixteen describes sheol nicely.
When Christ had offered Himself, then the Old Testament saints could be in the Lord’s presence, so they were taken with Christ to the heavenly scene of God.
We might add at this point that the sin of the Old Testament saint was much more understandable, because they had not been given “all things
that pertain unto life and godliness. . . .” They did not have the new nature, they did not have the Holy Spirit within, so how could they live up to the righteous standard that we will be held to? They could not. That is why David could be the apple of God’s eye, even though he had sinned so deeply. That is why the patriarchs were considered godly men, even though some of them lived in adultery with their multiple wives.
Today we look back to the perfect sacrifice of the Lord. The sacrifice of Jesus was large enough for every single sin of all of mankind both past, present, and future. It is sufficient for any amount and any depth that might come to man.
That is the divine side. Man’s side is to sin as little as possible.
Thus, divine forgiveness is that act of God whereby He eliminates our wrongdoing, via the death of Christ. He wipes the slate clean and the sins are completely gone. Not covered, as in the Old Testament, but gone — as the chorus ending goes, G-O-N-E- GONE.
WHAT THEN IS HUMAN FORGIVENESS?
Is it forgive and forget? A relative of mine, in the early 60’s, pulled a tax trick on me that cost us $300. The incident came up via his mother a few years ago that I didn’t like him and that as a Christian I should have forgiven him. I had — in the early 60’s. I hadn’t remembered the incident for many years, until she brought it up. I had forgiven, yet memory is there for life. If you remember, and remember and remember to the point of dwelling, I would question the forgiveness. If you don’t think about it, and consider it, and mull it over, then the forgiveness is probably complete.
Forgive and forget? No. We can forgive but not forget. We will remember as long as we have life. Our memory banks aren’t as easily wiped clean as a computers.
When we forgive, there needs to be a change of heart from wrong feelings to right feelings. The memory tends to erase the bad part of the situation over a few years leaving only a recollection of the situation. When the person remembers with all those hateful feelings, then there has been no forgiveness.
Forgiving requires that we not have bad, or vengeful feelings toward the other party or parties. If there are bad feelings then there probably is no proper forgiveness. I have wondered if there is any true, real forgiveness in the Jewish community over the German holocaust. I realize that forgiveness would be terribly difficult in that situation, however it is the trait of the godly person. In an interview of the son of a man that had been convicted of being a German war criminal the son related the scene in the court room when his father was sentenced to death. He stated that the entire crowd gave a standing ovation, and was singing and chanting in joy. One young Jewish man came up to the son and pointed his finger at the son, saying, “And you should be the one to kill him.”
Joy over a man, a being created in the image of God, is not right. In this case it would seem that the hate of one generation had passed to the next. The young Jew, it would seem, was suffering because of the former generations hate and lack of forgiveness.
Christ forgave his murderers before He even died.
We know that there is divine forgiveness for the sin of man. The old phrase, “How bad is it.” comes to mind when I consider sin. Yes, man sins, but just how bad is it. Let us consider the sinfulness of man.
THE SINFULNESS OF MAN
Since Christ died for the entire world, and since His death cared for all sin then we might deduce that sin is universal in man. This thought is specifically taught in scripture as well. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one;” (Romans 3:10). This is a quote from Psalm 14:1-3,
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
(This same thought is seen in Psalm 53:1-3.)
Romans 3:9 mentions that, “. . .they are all under sin;” Galatians 3:22 tells us, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin,” Eccl. 7:20 seems to be fairly plain on the subject as well, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
I think that from these texts we might deduce that universally speaking, man is a sinful being.
TERMS RELATING TO SIN
Transgression: The basic meaning of the terms used is to go over, or go above, or go aside, according to Vine (Vine, W. E.; “An Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words”; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co). We might say it is being outside God’s boundaries. The idea seems to be a deliberate act of stepping out of bounds. One of our kids was quite stubborn when very small. We once told her not to hit at her mother. She looked mom square in the eye and hit her again. That was a deliberate stepping out of bounds.
It seems to have the idea of overstepping the boundaries. You’re violating my airspace might be part of the idea.
When I am trying to do something with the computer and it won’t do what I want it to do, I at times give up and turn it off. I deliberately step out of its bounds.
Iniquity: Vine uses “lawlessness” and “wickedness” to define iniquity. Unger suggests “without law”. Something completely wrong. When the power goes off while I am on the computer there is total catastrophe. Things Are Completely Wrong….
Error: (What my computer says if I do things wrong.) That which ignores, or goes away from God. Vine indicates that this is not a direct leaving of the path, but possibly more like driving down the road, loosing your attentiveness, and wandering off onto the shoulder.
I mentioned that Error is what my computer tells me at times. At times, I am typing away and decide to do something and just poke a wrong key, creating all kinds of problems. I wonder off into trouble. At times when at the computer, I go to sleep while typing into the Word Processor. When I wake up, I find garbage on the screen. I keep typing, though completely unconscious. I wonder out of the boundaries.
Sin: Missing the mark. This Greek term is used in classical Greek of a spear missing the target. The target is set — the law, or God’s command, and we don’t live up to them. We have missed the mark. It may be by choice, or by not watching what we are doing, or by omission.
When I find that there is something that I need to do on the computer and I don’t know how, I go to the computer book that has all the answers. I read the book and think that I understand what it says to do. I then go to the computer and do something the opposite of what the book told me to do. Not wise. I miss the mark set.
Wickedness: This seems to be a state rather than an action. A sinner is wicked. That state may well be an active state, a continuing state. The term is also translated “bad”. Because I turn my back on the computer book I am in a state of not being able to do the task I desire to do.
Evil: Something wrong, or against God. Again this is not an action. It describes the character of a person if he is sinning. It is also the source of sin.
I am going to shift the illustration from myself to the computer. When it goes into what is called a lockup, or crash, it is completely useless. You can poke keys, you can get frustrated, you can try all sorts of things, but nothing will help. Evil is very similar. The only way to get out of a lock up is to shut down the power and start over. Evil is complete. The only remedy is to start over and that is what God does with us. He gives the lost a new nature.
Unbelief: One idea of the term is that of not believing what God states. Another idea is the thought of disobedience. Certainly unbelief will bring a person to disobedience. The gentiles have opportunity with God because of the “unbelief” of the Jewish people.
Remember when I go to the book and read the instructions, and go back to the computer. If I don’t believe the book and its instructions I will do my own thing and ignore the instructions.
All computer books tell you to save your material often, just in case of power failures, power troubles, kids hitting the wrong switch etc., yet many computer operators do not save often. Why? Because they don’t believe that anything will ever happen to them. When the administration building was being remodeled at the school where I taught, one of the workmen flipped a breaker to see what lights would go out. Yes, it was my office, and I hadn’t backed up my information for several hours. Unbelief can cost.
Disobedience: Disobedience is the willingness to be led in ways of truth. It has the idea that if we don’t believe, then we will not do as truth dictates, and as a result, become disobedient. This is the state of not following those instructions in the computer book.
Lawlessness: Being without the law. This assumes that you have the law available to you, and you have not taken it — you have decided not to follow it.
Lawless would be the situation in which I refused to read the manual on the computer, and was trying to get it to do something. I would be lawless and the computer would be completely unresponsive.
The illustrations are really inadequate, yet they serve to help us understand the uselessness of a person involved in sin. The computer is a device which demands that you do according to Its Rules And Not Your Rules. God has His rules, and if we fail to follow them then there is little He can do except follow the standards that He has set.
Is sin always an outward act? No. We can sin in our minds. Christ mentioned this, “But I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
Sin can also be an omission of an act that God asked us to do. This situation would not require others to know of our sin.
Sin is not always within. It can be against God, another person or yourself.
Against God: God tells us that we are not to covet. When we covet we sin against God. We sin against God anytime we decide to go against Him.
Against Another Person: When God leads us to give to a missionary, or witness to a lost person, and we refrain, we sin against God as well as that person. That person is hurt by your omission.
Against Yourself: God tells us not to abuse our bodies. A Christian places himself into a place where he is in danger. If the person is hurt then he has sinned against himself. Example: Someone offers to let you try drugs. You “try” it and you are hooked. The physical, mental, financial and eternal damage is against you. (Eternal in that you are sidetracked — out of God’s will and not interested in things that will bring you eternal reward.)
The believer should consider his activities in relation to this. Just how much danger should we place ourselves in when we are enjoying recreation.
Should we put our physical being in danger? I suspect that the believer that places himself in danger and is injured to the point of being handicapped, will suffer loss in the eternal reward that they could have had.
I heard two crack users on the news that mentioned that soon after starting on crack there were no outside interests. Crack was their total life. Family was out. Drinking was out. Friend’s were out. Both even mentioned that they weren’t even interested in sex. Sin can cost us everything.
A good Biblical illustration of all three of these in one case of sin is David’s sin with Bathsheba. It was a sin against God as David mentions in Psalm 51:4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight….” He sinned against another in that he had Uriah, the husband
of Bathsheba, killed, and he sinned against himself. He caused himself great trouble and pain — his child died.
When I was in the navy, I had opportunity at one point to be division head in the Electronics department. I was told that the captain was going ashore and that they needed a radio in his boat. I called the shop and told one of the men that I wanted him to go put a radio into the captain’s boat.
I assumed he would do it. An hour later I received a call wanting to know why there wasn’t a radio in the boat. I called the young man and asked him why he hadn’t done the job. His answer was very simple, “I didn’t want to.” His I didn’t want to was not unlike Adam and Eve’s I WILL EAT attitude.
The moral of this story might relate to the parenting side of your nature. God disciplines His erring believers and we as believers should discipline the children in our families.
When sin is discussed, quite often the question of the unpardonable sin arises? (Matthew 12:31-32) The unpardonable sin has been described in many ways. Many believers over the centuries have worried about committing the sin. This fear arises from not knowing what it is.
The unpardonable sin is the sin of rejecting Christ. In the context it was attributing the miracles to the power of the Devil, but behind that charge was the fact that the Jews were rejecting Christ and His deity. Anyone that rejects Christ is close to the unpardonable sin. There may be multiple opportunities, yet when the person finally and completely rejects Christ his eternal punishment is assured.
In relation to salvation/forgiveness/etc. eternal security comes into the picture. Those that believe that they can loose their salvation each time they sin, believe that when they are forgiven they are again saved.
A couple of questions: Is salvation the same as forgiveness? Does forgiveness automatically bring salvation?
Salvation is a series of thirty or so things that happen instantly. When we sin and seek forgiveness only one thing happens. God forgives us of that sin. We are not rebaptized into the body, we are not rejustified, we are not re-regenerated, we are not readopted, and we are not re-reborn, etc.
Once God has brought the person into His family, there is nothing that changes that relationship. Personal sin from that point on is forgiven, but salvation is not an issue. We must remember that salvation deals with several items. There is the sin nature, there is the past personal sin, and there is the eternal death. These were cared for in salvation. Forgiveness, there after, relates to personal sin only.
In relation to the Old Testament law, and the people under it, how did they gain forgiveness? They took sacrifices and their blood “Covered” The Sin so that the Lord could forgive the person. This also allowed for fellowship with God. That sin remained covered until the cross when the judgment of those sins was placed upon Christ. This is why Abraham’s bosom, or the good side of Sheol was there. To contain the righteous until Christ could usher them into God’s presence through His blood offered in the heavenly tabernacle.
1. As we go into new churches, we need to understand that dead and problematic churches are the way they are, most likely because of sin in the membership. If the membership is living in sin, there is no way that God can be working in and through them.
2. As we are going into churches, we need to understand those nasty things people say and gossip about are stemming from sin.
3. Take time to read Isaiah 1:1-9. This is God’s view of a sinful people. The better I understand sin from God’s perspective the more gracious he automatically seems to become.
We cannot understand God’s view of sin, for we are not infinite, but we need to strive to see it as clearly as we can.
4. Because we have men like David Brainard that were so terribly introspective about themselves, we often say because of their overemphasis on self examination, we will not do any of it. He seemed to thrive on looking for his worst parts, and his sin. We tend to go the other way and not look at all, to our inward beings.
In a devotional by Spurgeon we read, “It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure have we there. Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there. Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity, what a mountain of dead earth is there.” (Spurgeon, Charles H.; “Morning And Evening”; Mclean, Virginia: Macdonald Publishing Co., p 16 — Jan 8)
We need to ask God to teach us how vile sin is.
Martin Luther said, “The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.” True we are saved, but do we really know the real joy of our salvation?
Because we today diminish sin so much can we really know the truth of what we were saved from?
FROM DIARY OF DAVID BRAINARD.
“At times I grew remiss and sluggish, without any great convictions of sin, for a considerable time together; but after such a season convictions sometimes seized me more violently. One night I remember in particular, when I was walking solitarily abroad, I had opened to me such a view of my sin that I feared the ground would cleave assunder under my feet, and become my grave; and send my soul quick into hell, before I could get home. Thought I was forced to go to bed, lest my distress should be discovered by others, which I much feared; yet I scarcely durst sleep at all, for I thought it would be a great wonder if I should be out of hell in the morning. And though my distress was sometimes thus great, yet I greatly dreaded the loss of convictions, and returning back to a state of carnal security, and to my former insensibility of impending wrath; which made me exceedingly exact in my behaviour, lest I should stifle the motions of God’s Holy Spirit. When at any time I took a view of my convictions, and thought the degree of them to be considerable, I was wont to trust in them; but this confidence, and the hope of soon making some notable advances toward deliverance, would ease my mind, and I soon became more senseless and remiss. Again, when I discerned my convictions to grow languid, and thought them about to leave me, this immediately alarmed and distressed me. Sometimes I expected to take a large step, and get very far toward conversion, by some particular opportunity or means I had in view.”
That man knew what sin was, he knew how to view sin, he knew what God thought of sin, we should have such a reality about the sin in our lives.
5. We have mentioned that sin is really only a surface action due to the real problem, or root cause down below. I personally believe that at times we deal with the surface and forget about the root.
Can you think of any examples of this in the church today? Divorce and remarriage is the outward sin activity.
We are finding ways to work with divorcees. We are finding ways to help the divorcees.
We are finding ways to put them to work in the church.
Are we dealing with the root? The root is that we aren’t teaching a proper concept of marriage. The root is that we aren’t teaching a proper concept of divorce. The root is that we aren’t teaching a proper concept of remarriage. When we deal with the roots, we will eliminate most of the outward manifestations of it.
Outward sin in the church MUST be dealt with. We have churches where adultery is going unpunished. We have people hopping from church to church so that they can tickle their ears. We have people leaving their spirituality at the church door when they leave, and assuming it again Sunday morning when they return.
The problems, must be met, if the church is ever again to be the light of the Gospel to this nation. We MUST be the salt of the earth, or we will be discarded.
I trust that the realization of the terribleness of sin might begin to come to the reader. I trust that God will assist the reader in finding His perception of sin, rather than the perception of the world, or the humanist. Sin Is Missing The Mark Of God, not something that we decide in our own minds.
Some references that might help in your further study: Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 11:25; Hebrews 12:4.
THE SIN NATURE
The sin nature is that part of us that came from Adam. It is also called: Adamic nature, Inborn sin, Original sin, and Old man.
Calvin held that God created Adam perfectly and that his nature was perfect. Adam sinned, becoming another nature which was a corruption of his original nature. Thus he would have held that we only have one nature pre-salvation. I do not know if he held to one or two after salvation. To be consistent with what has been said, it would seem that even after salvation, the nature of man would be singular — a new nature.
As the normal two nature thinking goes the Bible deals with the cause of our outward sin, and that cause being our inward nature, or Adamic nature. In short, if we as believers have sin, it is because we have a new and an old nature that war. When we don’t war properly the old wins out and we sin. On the other hand is we war correctly, the new nature will win out and we will not sin.
Now, to some that makes God a God that gives us a new nature that is barely able to cope with our old nature, and that He may not be the powerful God that He claims to be. On the other hand, if he has given us a new nature that is consistent with Himself, and has changed our very being into something new, then we have the power to say no to sin. That is a God that I can deal with.
There are systems of religion that function to control and eradicate the outward sin, but never deal with the inner problem. Any system of works usually is dealing with the outward sin, and not the inner problem.
To a point some past fundamentalists did this, in that they mean mouth the outward on a regular basis, but never concentrate on the inward. This is changing and is not very common anymore.
The liberal movements also deal with the way you live your life and seldom deal with the inner man. A friend of mine witnessed to a Methodist pastor one time and mentioned being born again. The minister stated,
“Don’t try to talk to me about that deep stuff. I don’t understand that stuff.”
Let us consider some questions concerning the natures.
Can the Adamic nature be eradicated? Chafer mentions that it cannot be. Others believe that it can be put down on a daily, moment by moment basis. Others believe that the believer has only one nature and that, being the new nature, from God. We will consider some of these thoughts.
There are some in our day that feel that we need to kill the old nature daily
— that it is a daily duty of a believer to see to it that God put’s down the insurrection that comes up every single day. I was once told of a president at a Canadian Bible Institute that felt this way, and one day in chapel the speaker had just stepped to the pulpit and the president yelled as loud as he could — “Kill Him Lord.” In short put that old nature to rest so he can preach properly. At times this thought has been affectionately termed “slain in the spirit.”
Because we are totally depraved and because all believers tend toward evil naturally, Chafer seems to draw the conclusion that the old nature cannot be eradicated.
Let’s consider the idea that the nature of man was injured in the fall and that his nature is similar to Adam’s post-fall.
This position would hold that Adam’s understanding and conscience were perfect prior to sin, yet after sin they are injured. I am sure the Calvinist would say that the injury was total and that man was left with no understanding, and that his conscience is useless. They would also feel that man’s will was turned Completely away from God and toward sin. The result of the three changes is that man is totally void of any proper thoughts toward God.
The question is this. Can you buy all three of these? The understanding of man seems to have been affected, we could agree. The Scriptures tell us that the lost cannot understand the things of the Lord. Indeed, the conscience and will are damaged in lost man as well. So, yes, we can go along with this definition of man post-fall. Some might question the Completeness of this injury. They might suggest that our understanding is injured, but not so badly that we can’t respond to the natural and inward revelation of God to man.
It seems that if man is responsible to God for the revelation given, then there must be some amount of understanding left. This does not detract from the thought of total depravity. Man is always, in his lost state, completely without help, and completely bent on wrong.
This should not surprise anyone, for we have already mentioned that man is totally depraved. Not partially depraved but totally depraved. All parts of man were affected by the fall.
For Your Review, Read The Following On Total Depravity: Genesis 8:21, Psalm 14:2-3, Psalm 51:5, Isaiah 42:7, Jeremiah 17:9, John 3:6, Romans 1:28-29, Romans 5:12, Galatians 5:17-21, Ephesians 2:3, and 1 Timothy 4:2.
Is man lost by nature? We will see some verses that would indicate that man is not lost eternally because of his nature. In Adam we were a race that were lost by nature, however Christ corrected that problem, and we will see that the lost are now lost because of their rejection of Christ’s work on their behalf. He nailed all sin to the cross, and made us as if Adam had never sinned. We are as Adam was before the fall in our post-salvation state.
Remember 2 Peter 1:3-4? It mentioned that he gave us all things pertaining to life and godliness. ALL things are available for salvation. The sin nature of all of mankind was cared for at the cross.
This may sound strange, however if you take most of the thinking current today about the work of the cross to its logical end, you will have to agree with the statement.
Is man lost because he has sinned? No. He is lost because he has rejected Christ, not because I stole that penny tootsie roll from the dime store in 1948.
What did Christ die on the cross for? The sins of the world. What sin is involved in this death for the sins of the world? John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Notice the singular “sin.” Both the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version follow this translation. Even the Living Bible uses the singular sin.
Just what “sin” means is up for the person to decide. I would agree with Chafer that this is speaking of sin personal, sin nature and any other type of sin you want to include. Let me quote Chafer, “The sin of the world is taken away in the sense that by Christ’s threefold accomplishment in His death every hindrance is removed which restrained God from the saving of even the chief of sinners.” (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; “Systematic Theology”; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, Vol V, p 191.)
His threefold work involved Redemption, Reconciliation, and Propitiation. Jot that down for now and we will explain those terms fully in coming sessions. Let it suffice the mind at this point, to say that Christ died for all of the sin in the world, indeed, all types of the sin of the world.
Take Chafer’s quote to its logical end and you find that the person that goes to hell does so because he rejected Christ, or in the case of those that have never heard of Christ — rejected the revelation that they had. Thus, we can take one step further and say that Christ’s work on the cross makes the believer as Adam was before he sinned.
Christ died for the sin nature as well as for personal sin. He removed all barriers between The Father and the sinner. The sinner has only to accept that work on the cross as payment for all that is owed. Salvation is free in all areas for the receiving.
If a person is lost it is because he refuses the free salvation that is offered to him by God. John 1:29, “…the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” John 3:16,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.”
1 John 2:2, “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for us only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The entire human family can be saved. 2 Corinthians 5:19,
“To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath
committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
It has been suggested that we still have the sin nature, but that God gave us the Holy Spirit so that we can live a holy life. In effect the teaching holds that the Holy Spirit allows us to win the battle between the old and new natures. I find a problem in this thinking.
If under this case I sin, I am left to understand that the Holy Spirit did not do His work properly and the fault of my sin was His. The thought set forth — that the Holy Spirit controls the sin nature, and that this is our hope for living a good life as a believer — is illogical.
Secondly, this tells us that the Old Testament saint could not have lived a righteous life, for he did not have the Indwelling Spirit as we do. Thus the Old Testament saint had no possibility of pleasing God. Not Logical. Indeed, Unscriptural, For David Pleased God.
How did the Old Testament saint keep from bringing three thousand lambs per day for sacrifice? He had to have sinned continually if the New Testament person has a struggle. This teaching is not acceptable.
Chafer mentions, “…the gift of the indwelling Spirit as One who is able to give victory over every evil disposition.” (Systematic Theology, p 293) This implies that he agrees with what has been previously set forth, with the exception that it is not the Holy Spirit that controls whether the person sins or not, but that the individual controls it by being filled with the Spirit.
This line of thinking tells us that the believer has an old nature, and a new nature. The Holy Spirit, if in control, will see to it that the new nature has victory over the old nature. The emphasis is on the control of the Spirit. I have always wondered how this teaching relates to James when it tells us that sin comes from lust. The James text seems to indicate a choice of the will. If what has been set forth is true, the believer that is not controlled by the Spirit will automatically sin. If sin is automatic, then what is James speaking of? James 1:14-15 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” If sin is automatic why does James say it comes from lust?
On the other hand if the believer has only one nature, and that being the new creation of God, and if we are as Adam was before the fall, then we have this choice of the will which James indicates. The main objection to this thought is that we still sin. Yes, we still sin, because we are humans, descended in the image of Adam. We choose to do our own thing, rather than follow God.
This is not hard to understand. Given the choice of a life of ease or a life of tribulation, we naturally want to go the easy way. It takes a choice of the will to do either. Those that want to follow God, will choose the life that He shows them, rather than what they would naturally desire.
To sin or not to sin, then is the choice to do it God’s way or our own way. The committed Christian will choose the way of God and the non- committed Christian will choose his own way.
No one disagrees that man has a bent toward evil. Christianity has taught the mediate transferral of the sin nature. Chafer lists three proofs that the sin nature is received mediately from Adam. In other words because of Adam we received a sin nature. First, Scripture says it, that finishes it.
Secondly, it is observable in all of history — war, Hitler, hateful things man does to man, etc. Man shows his true, sinful, colors when he opens his mouth or acts. Finally, the fact that man is consciousness of God. Most every civilization recognizes man is not a perfect creature. Why else would they work for merit. We all work to improve our perception before man. There is always a concept of right and wrong.
Most agree that in Adam, all of mankind sinned. We are all in our earthly father’s image.
THE NATURE, OR NATURES OF MAN
We have already hinted at the fact that there is discussion as to the number of natures of man. This question has been around for some time.
There are two views as to the nature, or natures of saved man. Both views would see lost man as having one nature, and that being an old nature, or possibly better termed Adamic nature.
The difficulty comes in whether the old nature, which by the way is not a Scriptural term, so let us say whether the Adamic nature, is eradicated, or if it is present along side the new creation of God.
As you read the texts that supposedly prove that we have two separate and distinct natures, read them carefully and examine them within their context. Many verses used to prove this point are poorly if not wrongly used.
I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that the saved man has an inner man. What is the inner man? The Spirit? The nature? The soul? I’d say soul, and this would require the lost also have an inner man.
The two nature people use Romans 7:25 to prove the struggle between the old nature and the new nature. “I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So, then, with the mind I myself serve the law of god; but with the flesh, the law of sin.” One must determine if this is Paul speaking from his lost state, or his saved state. I wonder at a statement of Paul that mentions that he serves the law, being tied to his saved state. I doubt that after his conversion he followed the Old Testament law. If he did, it was only until Christ taught him that he didn’t need to.
Cambron states that this new nature is a “Christly Nature…an Imparted Nature…a Holy Nature…an Unchangeable Nature…a Non-forfeited Nature.” “Its End is Resurrection and Rapture” “Every child of God has two natures; the unsaved man has only one nature. The old nature cannot be eradicated while the believer lives in the flesh; therefore, we have the fight between the old and new natures.” (Cambron, Mark G., D.D.; “Bible Doctrines”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1954)
He also mentions that Romans 7:22 is speaking definitely of Paul as a saved man. No unsaved ever delights after the law of God. He also mentions that “…only the saved man has the inward man, which is the new nature.” He offers no proof of this.
The two nature thought requires that the one nature system, eradicate the old nature. Eradicate is the wrong term. Eradicate has the idea of doing away with — getting rid of — destroying. The thought of the one nature person is more along the line that the lost person has a sin nature which is a nature of man that is injured by the fall. (We have shown that the two nature people hold to this.) The work of the cross transforms that injured nature, back into the nature that it should have been had Adam not fallen.
We are a new creation according to Scripture. We are not a depraved person that is given a new creation — the new nature, we are a depraved person that is transformed into what we should be. If this is not true how do you deal with the meaning of rebirth.
The two nature people would view the struggle of old nature versus new nature as our state, and the fact that we are Spiritual in God’s eyes as our standing.
They use several verses to prove their point. I would like to list these verses with some thoughts for you to consider as you consider their position. If there is a reference with no comments, it is probably because it is dealt with later in this section.
“And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”
I would start at 3:1. Putting off the old man was a past item of business. We will see this later. The putting on of the new man is also a past item of business. It is an aorist tense. (The aorist tense is something that occurred in the past at a point in time. There is no continuing action.) This has to do with living as they ought to live, and not as their Adamic nature is forcing them to do.
“Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.”
I would add vs. 11 and 12 also.
“Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in its lusts. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
This is not saying that there is a conflict — only that we can yield ourselves to serve sin, or serve God. It is our free choice — an act of our will.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Let us look at the terms involved and see what the Scripture has to say. (I have included the tenses of some of the verbs in brackets for your convenience.) We are just listing the references and making observations.
A LOOK AT THE TERMS
Old Man: Romans 6:6,
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed [aorist], that henceforth
we should not serve sin.”
The old man is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be destroyed. Three things that need to be noticed: One is that our old man was crucified — put to death as Christ was. Secondly, we need to note the term destroy, which would give the impression that it is no longer around. The body of sin is no longer around. Thirdly, all this is so that we “should not sin.” This does not say we cannot sin, nor does it say that we do not sin — only that we Should Not Sin.
2 Corinthians 5:17,
“Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away [aorist, active, indicative]; behold [aorist, middle, imperative], all things are become new [perfect, active, indicative].”
(The perfect is an act in the past that has continuing action into the future. It is something that is permanent.)
If we are in Christ the text tells us that we are new creatures — that old things are passed away, and that all things become new. Passed away indicates “gone.” All — ALL becomes new — we are new creatures.
What can we say from all this? All the old ways are gone and they are replaced by new. Might this be speaking of our life style and way of doing things? I suspect so. There is also indication that the old is gone and that we are a “new creature” — singular.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”
The old man is corrupt. Statement of fact. The verb put off is aorist — past. They have put off the old man which is corrupt. It is done. This is not a command to put him off. Nor, is it a command to keep putting him off every day. He was put off in the salvation experience.
Colossians 3:9, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” The old man was put off past it would seem from this text. (Put off is an aorist, middle tense.)
Old Nature: There is no listing for old nature in the Scripture.
New Man: Ephesians 2:15,
“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;”
The context seems to indicate to me that this new man is a combining of the Jew and Gentile into one people for the Lord, and that people, probably referring to the church. This verse really does not relate to our discussion.
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
“Put on” is aorist middle, and thus is a past action that they have done. The term created is also aorist and a past thing. Not something that the Ephesian people are to do.
“And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”
“Have put on” is aorist middle, and thus something past. Renewed is present passive, thus the renewing is continuing and it is being done from outside the person. (Created is an aorist active.) The new man is knowledgeable after the image of our creator.
New Nature: There is no listing in Scripture for this term.
New Creature: 2 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.”
(See above for comments.) Galatians 6:15,
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
The new creation availeth for something, and the context would indicate that salvation is in view. The new creature evidently comes from the salvation experience.
Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us of our past life that is now gone because of what salvation has done in our being.
“And you hath he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins; In which in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; Among whom also we all had our manner of life in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
We are no longer this type of person due to salvation. all this is behind us. 2 Peter 1:4 mentions that we partake of the divine nature. The context is strictly salvation and its benefits. There is no hint of struggle, or vestige of the old nature left in our being.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
1 Corinthians 2:14,
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is contrasted with a spiritual man. This is man in his Adamic fallen, unsaved, unregenerated state.
Galatians 5:16-26 contrasts the lost, or life of the flesh, to the saved, or the life of the Spirit filled man. It is a stark contrast of lost vs. saved. Verse 24 is of interest to our discussion. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” “have crucified” is an aorist active, indicative tense, which means that they did it at a point in the past — point of fact. (Indicative shows a statement of fact.)
If you are to make this a conflict between the flesh and spirit in one person you have problems with vs. 21 which states that the workers of the flesh won’t be in the kingdom of God. I think that one holding that this is old vs. new natures must also hold to the insecurity of the believer. Indeed, Bancroft a two nature man states that the saved person is not in the flesh, but relates that he still has the flesh within. He bases this on Galatians 5:16,17. That is a real problem for the doctrine of the security of the believer.
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if we live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
To say that the flesh is in us and read this text where it says “if we live after the flesh, ye shall die” gives some rise to the thought of eternal security and its truth…
Let us move on to consider further the question of one or two natures. So, if there is no struggle between our new and old nature, why do we sin as believers? Because we make a choice to. We chose to follow our desire.
Not because some ugly sin nature is pressuring us to, but because we allow our minds to dwell on things that they ought not dwell on. We allow our mind to decide to sin. James 1:14-15,
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
There is a sequence involved in our sin in this text, and there is no mention of our old nature, old man, evil self or any other thing in the text. Only lust
— enticement — sin. Romans 6:11-13,
“Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in its lusts. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“live in the flesh” relates to living life, not living with the “flesh” or the old nature.
We have the choice to do either — sin or serve God. Romans six calls us to serve God and not sin.
Conclusions Based On These References:
1. The indication is that the new man is something put on in the past by some of the recipients of Paul’s writings indicating that it is something that came at salvation. The putting away of our old life.
2. We are told that we Should not serve sin.
3. Our old man was crucified, and is no longer a threat to us, if he is dead.
4. All things in the believer are new.
5. The old is passed away. This terminology would indicate that the old is not going to bother us at all.
If you haven’t tumbled to it yet, it should be obvious that the definition of “nature” is of great importance to us. How can we define nature?
Buswell suggests in the discussion of Christ’s nature, a “complex of attributes” (Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 250). In other words, the compilation of all the attributes of a person. This would be the person’s nature.
We might make note that a nature cannot sin. A person sins. A nature is the sum total of all attributes of the being.
If this definition is true then all the attributes of a lost man would include things like, fallen, vile, evil, against God, etc.
If this definition is true then all the attributes of a saved man would include things like, saved, holy, regenerated, righteous, etc.
The old attributes have passed away and the new attributes are in place. What of the saved person that ceases to walk with God? Are his essential attributes or nature changed? No. He is still saved, righteous, etc. though he is not walking with God.
In all of my study I see nothing to warrant a doctrine of two natures in any of the texts that are normally given to prove that we have two. Nor have I run across any references in my own reading of the Word that indicate two natures.
It is suggested that Romans seven depicts the struggle between the old and the new nature. There are several possible settings to this passage. The key to understanding the text is to put it in the context of Romans 7:25 and 8:1-2. This can’t depict chapter seven as a saved man’s view.
Possible settings for Romans seven.
a. Paul reflecting on his lost days and his struggle as a Pharisee with following the law.
b. Newel suggests it is Paul describing his past struggle with the law as a believer before he knew he wasn’t bound to the law. He did not realize he did not have to live up to it.
c. Others suggest that he is describing a constant, day to day struggle between the Adamic nature and the new nature. This requires that Christ died for only our personal sin and not the sin nature.
Romans 7:25-8:2 are hard to accept if Chapter seven is a saved man. Indeed 8:1-4 gives the idea that we, because of salvation, don’t serve this law of sin that he has just struggled with, and that we do serve God.
I am not sure I understand all I desire to know about the Romans seven text, but I see enough to say that this is not stating that we have a struggle with the flesh and the spirit going on all the time.
Indeed, the overwhelming evidence is that there is no struggle, except between the lust that we can follow with our minds, and our will. This is not two natures. This is mind over lust — matters of the will and intellect, within the recreated soul of man.
I might mention that those that believe in two natures base much of their position on this Romans text, which is in high dispute. Few can confidently state, without reservation what it truly means. So why base a doctrine on a questionable text? Look at the whole of Scripture and see how the questionable text relates to it, not look at the questionable text and attempt to relate all of Scripture to your interpretation of the questionable text.
Our new nature has attributes that make it heavenly and Godly. All our attributes are our nature.
I realize this goes cross grain with many men. Scofield, Bancroft, Cambron, Walvoord and I’m sure Chafer and many others. I wonder why Ryrie does not deal with it (that I have found anyway). Is it because he disagrees with the boys? I don’t know.
Walvoord does not believe the old nature is eradicated but that it is out of luck as far as controlling the believer. “Though it is impossible to eradicate the old nature, the exhortation prohibits the old sin nature from dominating the believer’s manner of life. The old nature has lost its power in view of the crucifixion of Christ, but the victory can be wrought by God only through the indwelling Holy Spirit.”
He goes on to state something that is somewhat eschew of his thinking. “…Christians continue to contend with the “old self” which is contrary to the new nature.” (Reprinted by permission: Walvoord, John F. Editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology Volume One”; USA: Victor
Books, 1988, p 406) If we aren’t dominated by it then how can we be constantly struggling with it?
So, if we do have a left over of the Adamic nature, it is an integrated part of our one nature. I do not think that this is what we have seen, but is an option to the person that desires to retain the Adamic nature within the saved person.
The Adamic nature does not, nor can it ever, force anyone into sin. It is a collection of spiritual characteristics, and not a force to be dealt with.
The new creation is also a collection of characteristics which make up what we are. It cannot, nor can it ever force us to live correctly. It is not a force.
The individual can, at his will, decide to follow the old ways of the lost. This is termed carnal, or flesh in the Scripture. This is not something he is forced to do, but is something that he desires to do. (If we view him forced to, we must give stock to the world’s favorite phrase, “The Devil made me do it.”)
One must then submit that if a believer that was once spiritual, which is acting as carnal, is acting against his own character — his divine character.
We say man has three parts. Body, soul and spirit. This is pre and post salvation. Where does the Adamic nature fit in? Is it a forth part? No. It is the characteristics of the lost being. It is the pollution of the soul and/or spirit. Which? The spirit is our God consciousness — even in lost man. It is not clearly seeing God. The soul is polluted by sin.
Now salvation comes on the scene and we are a new creation. How are the Spirit and soul affected? Are we given a forth part? A new nature? No. It has to be a changing of the spirit and soul.
Is it a partial changing? How could God call us a new creation or new creature if we were only partly new? He can’t.
It seems from what we have seen that we, as believers, are in Adam’s pre- fall state, and we choose to sin as Adam did. It is a decision, or act of the will, not a lost struggle with the old nature.
We have one thing that Adam did not have — 1 John 1:9. We can go before the throne of grace to confess our sin and be restored to that wonderful state, anytime we want.
If you study the word nature, you will find that normally it is viewed as the sum and substance of all that a thing or being is. For example, let us consider a glass of milk. It, as milk, has certain characteristics. If you put poison in, and stir it, the overall nature has been changed. You don’t have two natures, you have one that is drastically changed. So, in our being, God regenerated us, we are born again, we are new, we have only one nature.
From all of this, we should deduce that nature is the inherent character or total collection of facts about ones character. The nature of man then becomes all that the man is.
The question then comes, how many natures does he have? Only one. The lost man has one, the saved man has one. The lost man’s nature is sinful, and the saved man’s is either sinful, or not sinful.
Part of that overall make up needs to have the idea of a self centered, self willed, self serving, characteristic, but still within only one nature.
We then sin because we decide. We then sin because we desire. We then sin because we are self willed, self serving and self centered.
Does that put the monkey of sin and its cause on our back? Very definitely.
I trust that as you approach sin, you will realize that if you proceed, it is because of your decision, and not the old nature, not the Devil, and not the Spirit. It is because you want to.
The ultimate reality in this question is this. If you believe that you have a constant struggle going on, as the two nature people believe, and that you can have victory by relying on the Holy Spirit, as they also believe, then when the person sins, they feel that they have failed to have the victory. Allow this to go on for many years, and you will find the many, totally defeated Christians that we have in our churches. They are totally discouraged because they can’t find the victory that they have been taught they can have.
Now, on the other hand, if you tell them that the sin of their life is not due to failing to have the victory, but that it is because they Chose — Decided
— Acted — because they wanted to, and you will give them instant relief from their terrible guilt. They don’t have victory because the choose not to, not because they have failed in some spiritual battle.
They have not failed the Lord because they haven’t been able to walk with Him as closely as they needed to, to have the victory, they have failed the Lord because they have decided to sin.
There is a vast difference between failing the Lord, because you couldn’t walk close enough to Him, and to fail Him because we decide with the will to turn against Him. The difference is the terrible guilt.
If we realize we choose to sin, we then realize how important 1 John 1:9 is to us. We will also realize that confession is that which brings us to not want to have to confess the same sin again. On the two nature side, 1 John 1:9 seems to be a crutch for life. You sin because you can’t walk close enough to the Lord, and this is the way back.
Confession is, in part, agreeing with God about the terribleness of the sin. If we sin by an act of the will, we are in open rebellion against God. If we sin because we didn’t walk as close to him as we should, the sin becomes only the slip of the walk, and a slip of the control of the Spirit.
I see sin, and 1 John 1:9, as a one nature person, as open rebellion and restoration. It is a terrible process to have to go through. As a two nature person, prior to coming to the conclusions I have submitted to you in this section, I was prone to 1 John 1:9 my problems away lightly, because, I was just a little remiss about my walk with the Lord. “Oh, Lord, I forgot my quiet time where I ask you to control me, and got a little off track. Sorry. Forgive me. Amen.”
To see sin as rebellion, to see sin as my own responsibility, to see sin as God sees it, as filthy unrighteousness, is to see 1 John 1:9 as a serious place to find yourself.
I trust that you have a healthy realization of what sin is. I trust that you will seriously consider All Of The Scriptures before you decide on one or two natures.
Remember, the crux of the decision is the definition of “nature.” To have two natures is to do damage to the normal definition of the term.
Are we talking about sinless perfection. No, never. We will sin however we do not have to. Remember 2 Peter?
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” (2 Peter 1:3)
We aren’t perfect, yet we don’t have to sin. Because we have tried to get away from the false teaching of sinless perfection, we have over reacted to the point of saying we sin because it is our nature. It is almost as if we have to sin — we have no choice. Based on this teaching, we have allowed sin to become a normal part of the Christian life.
We need not see sin as an integrated part of life, we should see it as something that is an option. We don’t need to sin, we need to not sin.
Man is lost due to Adams sin. Is that a true statement? In that God justly transmitted Adams nature to all mankind, yes.
In reality, man is lost in this life because of Adam’s sin. In the next life, man is lost due to the fact that he did not respond to God’s free offer of salvation in this life.
Romans 5:19 tells us,
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Wow. Two, huge doctrines introduced in one little verse.
We All Were Made Sinners By Adam. We All Can Be Made Saints By Christ.
The thought of our sinning in Adam is foreign to some people. I wasn’t there so why should I be blamed. Hebrews 7:9-10 may help us to understand this one. “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him.” (Melchizedek met Abraham in Genesis 14:17-20, Levi was born in Genesis 29:34) As Levi paid tithes before he was even born, so we all sinned before we were even born.
Romans 5:12 also is quite plain on the subject.
“Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”
Q. Would you have sinned if you had been there in the garden?
Yes. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned. It would be illogical to assume that one of us could have “not sinned” if we had been in the garden. God could not justly pass sin on to all mankind, unless it was the just thing to do. It must be, that we would all have sinned had we been in the garden.
There are some varying views as to how this concept of our being a sinner in Adam is explained.
1. Pelagian: We aren’t sinners in Adam. We sinned as he did after our perfect creation. Adam himself was only a bad example, and we being big copy cats, followed his example.
2. Arminian: Because of Adam’s sin all mankind is unrighteous and unable to seek God. God does, however give us enough Spirit to counteract this evil, enough so that man can respond to God, or turn to sin. This conscious turning to evil instead of to God is when God imputes sin to us.
3. Federal: God made a covenant with Adam and Adam broke it. Ever since God has been creating souls with evil natures which leads to sin. Adam was the federal head of the race. This is a result of Adam’s sin, not a passing down of a sinful nature because we are sinful.
4. Mediate Imputation: The new physical body is corrupted by propagation from Adam. God creates the soul perfect but as soon as the body and soul are joined, the soul is corrupted. It is automatic. Man has no test to undergo, or to fail. (This theory again shows it to be a consequence of Adam’s sin not a consequence of our nature.)
5. Augustinian: “In Adam’s free act, the will of the race revolted from God and the nature of the race corrupted itself. The nature which we now possess is the same nature that corrupted itself in Adam.” (From Strong.) Adam’s sin is given to us not because he failed, but because it is ours. He is the representative of the race. We are corrupt because we chose to be with Adam not because of consequences of his sin.
1. If we sinned in Adam then we must also assume if it had been Stan and Faith instead of Adam and Eve, that Stan would have sinned.
If the above is true then: a. We should not be upset with people that sin, for we in their place would sin also. We do have the Holy Spirit, however that gives us the opportunity to not sin. b. There should never be any self righteousness on our part when dealing with sin, or sinners. Our only righteousness is the best robe of the Son placed upon us by the Father.
2. Christ took ALL our sin and gave us HIS righteousness. A feeble illustration would be — at one point in my life in the 60’s we owed $6000, plus. At that point had Mark Getty the multimillionaire, come to me and said, “I am taking over your debt and I’m going to give you every penny I have or own.” I would have received not only the forgiveness of the debt, but also the riches of the debt taker. This illustrates that Christ took our sins and gave His righteousness. “Think on these things” Philippians says.
When God says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah 6:8b, How can anyone not respond “Here Am I Send Me.”
We Have Nothing Without Christ.
Do We Live Like It? Is He The Most Important Thing In Your Life?
A sociologist researched the family history of the Edwards and the Jukes families. This is what he found.
The Richard Edwards and Elizabeth Tuthill family over 300 years have produced 1,394 offspring. The result was as follows: “12 have been college presidents, 65 professors, 265 college graduates, 60 physicians, 100 clergy men, 60 authors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 80 public officials, three congressmen, two senators, and two presidents. Distinguished names like Jonathon Edwards, Aaron Burr, Eli Whitney, Bishop Vincent, Grover Cleveland, U. S. Grant, and Edith Carow Roosevelt….”
“On the other hand, during the same period, out of 1,220 members of the Jukes family 300 died in infancy, 440 were wrecked by disease, 310 were professional paupers, 50 prostitutes, 60 thieves, seven murderers, and 53 other criminals.” (From Treasury of Christian Faith; under topic of sin. by Albert W. Palmer.)
Now we all know that the Adamic nature is passed on generation after generation, but with statistics like these, one must wonder if the proper upbringing can’t help in the overall situation. We all know that all of mankind is lost, but the Godly influence has something to do with the way people respond to their creator.
MAN UNDER SIN
Chafer suggests some points to describe man under sin. I would like to adapt these for our discussion.
1. Definitely dead in Adam.
2. Depraved, dead and damned.
3. De sins de same — Devil’s, Adams and personal.
4. Decreed “under sin”.
5. Disregarded merit.
6. Divine extendable grace.
7. Devilish domination and deception. I would like to elaborate on these briefly.
1. Definitely dead in Adam. We are proclaimed by Scripture to be dead in Adam. All mankind, fell with him. The lost person has no choice in the matter, he is dead in Adam.
2. Depraved, dead and damned. Because of the common fall of man, lost man is unable to respond properly to the creator. Not only is he unable of proper response, he is dead spiritually and damned to the lake of fire because of his sin with Adam.
3. De sins de same — Devil’s, Adams and personal. All sin is the same, whether it is the Devil’s, Adams, or our own. Sin is missing the mark set by God, and we all have accomplished that.
4. Decreed “under sin”. God tells us in the Word that all lost mankind is under sin. There is no choice, there is no option — under sin is the lot of lost man. Only in Christ can this change.
5. Disregarded merit. Had Adam lived in the garden without sin, we must assume that merit would have been the result. He would have deserved to have eternal life with God in the garden, yet he chose to eat the fruit that was forbidden.
6. Divine extendable grace. Through Christ, God was able to extend His grace to man, to provide a method of salvation. This salvation allows Christ to give HIS merit to us, so that God can save us.
7. Devilish domination and deception. Lost man is dominated by the Devil. The Scripture tells us that he is the god of this world system, and the lost are totally caught up in the system.
Now, believer, do you have a little more to be thankful for? Are we not learning a little about how great God’s grace is as we study and learn of sin?
“For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Not of works lest any man should boast.
God is perfect so cannot accept less than perfect into His presence. Only the works of Christ’s can appear before Him.
Unless I missed some loophole I think it is like this. God did it all. We can’t do anything. — OR — God did it. We didn’t it.
HOW FINAL CAN YOU GET?
One final thought. There is a teaching around in the 1990’s which says that grace covers it all. No matter what we do, grace will cover it. Yes, grace will cover it, but our realization of what God has done and how terrible sin is, then why in the world would we want to walk in sin so that grace could cover it.
Christ suffered and died on the cross for our sin. His suffering ought to bring us to desire not to sin.
Grace covers it all — yes. Common sense says take opportunity of grace as little as possible.
We have already established, in this book, as well as in our lives, that believers sin. We want to consider believers sin. Sin in our lives is not a top secret. We know our own sin before we step into it. We know our sin, because we consider what we want to do and then do it.
Our conscience is present, just in case we desire to sin and forget it. As we sin, the conscience tells us immediately so that we may care for the infraction. If we put off confession it remains in place to prod us into correcting the error.
As we determine to do the wrong, we know it to be wrong. As we determine to forget our wrong, we know it is wrong. The conscience is there to keep reminding us that we have done wrong. It will not go away and it will continue to return from time to time until we correct our problem.
Is there a difference between the sin of the lost and the Christians sin? Sin is sin no matter who it is that is doing it. Sin is missing the mark that was set by God. The sin of the believer may well hurt the Lord more, in that it is His own child that has gone against Him. It may be similar to my own child disobeying as compared to my neighbors child disobeying. My own child’s conduct is more important. God is injured by the sin of the lost, in that His creatures are going against Him.
Christ’s work on the cross is the only remedy to any sin, be it the sin of the lost, or the sin of the believer. This work was done one time in the past. We do not have to re-kill Him for each sin. He died and offered His blood in the heavenly tabernacle once and for all. His death on the cross was to care for all sin both past, present and future.
Sin severs our fellowship with the Lord. This fellowship can only be restored by confession. 1 John 1:9 tells us,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God will forgive, based on our confession. Confession, however implies two things. First, that you agree with God’s evaluation of the act being sin, and secondly, that you will attempt to not fall into that sin again.
We also need to know that before we seek forgiveness, we must have forgiven others of their wrongs to us. Mark 11:25-26 (Matthew 6:14-15 also) shows that there is a link between the Father’s forgiveness and our forgiveness of others. “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have anything against any, that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father, who is in heaven, forgive your trespasses.” Indeed, the context of 1 John indicates that our fellowship with the Father is directly related to our seeking forgiveness.
We need to recognize also that confessing is not just lightly admitting that you did it, but that you have God’s feeling of disgust over that sin.
The blood of Christ is not applied to the sin until after the forgiveness is sought. This is only logical. If it were applied automatically, we would have no need to go before the Lord with our confessions.
Now, in light of all we know about the sin nature and sin itself, how do we approach a lost person, in an attempt to lead them to salvation? What do we tell them to do? Do we say that they need to ask forgiveness for their sins? Do we say that they need to ask that God would take away their sin nature? Do we say that they need to stop sinning?
Just what is the Gospel that we need to share? Let me share a few points that seem to be consistent with what we have learned thus far. They should know that:
1. They are by nature, and by walk, a sinner.
2. They are by nature unable to correct their problem.
3. They are dependant on Jesus Christ as the only possible solution to their situation.
4. They must believe that He was God, that He died for their sin (singular), and that He was buried and raised from the dead.
5. If they believe that, and accept his work for their sin, they will be saved. This is similar to the Old Testament saint that brought a sacrifice and gave it to the priest to be killed. The priest would place it on the alter and the saint would place his hand on the head of the sacrifice to signify that the animal had to die because of his sin.
Forgiveness is part of salvation, as well as part of the Christian walk. It is not salvation however. Forgiveness for the lost is a step in the process of salvation. The lost person can never receive forgiveness for their past personal sin until they are regenerated.
In our Christian life, we must seek forgiveness any time we sin. If we sin a dozen times, then we should seek forgiveness a dozen times. Some ask forgiveness once a day, in which they lump them all together. This does not seem to be the proper way. When we sin, we automatically take control of ourselves. The Spirit no longer controls our lives. If we sin, and sin, and sin, then we are not walking with the Lord. To live properly, we should restore fellowship as soon as possible.
Since we know the Devil and his ways lead to sin, and that Godly ways lead to a Spirit filled life, why do we choose to sin?
There are two reasons. First of all the Devil, at times can confuse the issues at the cross over point between good and evil. We like to call these gray areas. It usually is the Devil that made them gray. We might in this case sin, due to improper knowledge.
The usual reason we sin is the fact that we decide to sin to fulfill our own lusts.
The devil has devised many tools for man to use in this Struggle between evil and good. Let’s look at some of these tools briefly.
Rationalization: It won’t hurt just this once. A little social drink can’t hurt. One time with that other woman won’t hurt. (You know, two consenting adults etc.)
Gray Areas: Well the Bible really isn’t clear on this. This is a disputed area — no one knows. I disagree with Paul the apostle on this one.
Desire: God gave me these desires so they must be okay. Desire is natural so why not follow them.
Service To God: I will make money to give to missions. I will serve Him next year. I will serve Him when I retire.
God has a given expectation, for the believer and the believers life. That expectation can be maintained, otherwise God would be unjust to give it to us. He has given us all the help that we need to live up to that expectation. That help is the Holy Spirit. As we allow the Spirit to control our lives and our decisions we will walk along the expected courses. When we deviate from the Spirit’s leading and prompting then we deviate from the expectations that the Lord has set.
I John 5:4 tells us, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (is born
= perfect, passive; overcometh = present, active, indicative; overcometh = aorist, active) The being born was something that is past and continuing into the future to a point of conclusion. The one that is born of God continually overcomes the world on a daily basis. The victory that overcometh the world is something that occurred in the past based on our faith.
So, Then, Our Salvation Faith Gives Us Victory To Overcome The World In Our Continuing Day To Day Basis. Think on that one for a time.
God does not attempt to keep the believer from the Devil’s work, but He does give us all that is needed to continually walk in the control of the Spirit. Job is a good example of the exposing of the believer to the testings of Satan.
He will however totally isolate us from the Devil and all evil, in that day when He removes us from this life for life in His presence.
God may allow the Devil access to our lives, but He will never allow him to overcome us. In 1 John 4:4 John is speaking of the false spirit’s that the believer will be confronted with. He mentions, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” The Holy Spirit within is greater than the Devil that is without.
James tells us to resist the Devil. What does that mean? (James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”) Notice that one little ittey bittey prerequisite. Submit Yourselves Therefore To God.
How do we resist the Devil?
a. Say No.
b. Be prepared with knowledge of what is sin, and what is not sin so that you can make your decisions quickly when tempted, and walk away from those things that are sin. Don’t hang around trying to figure out whether it is sin or not. If you aren’t sure don’t do it, and work it out in your mind later when you aren’t being confronted.
c. Avoid situations that could lead to problems, or that could lead you into a situation in which you would be forced to make a decision for or against.
d. Maintain your walk with the Lord at the highest, and best level that you can.
There is no reason for there to be sin in the life of the believer. We have the Word to guide our path. We have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our path. When we blow it, we have Christ interceding before the Lord to be sure that forgiveness of our boo-boo’s is forthcoming.
I would like to consider 1 John 1:7 for a few moments.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
It might be suggested from this verse by itself that if we walk with the Lord we are automatically cleansed by the blood of Christ. You need to take this verse within the context of verse nine. As we confess the blood is applied, not automatically.
Chafer lists seven losses when the believer sins. I would like to mention these for your thought.
1. Loss Of Light. We cannot receive guidance from the Spirit nor from the Word when we have sin in our lives.
2. Loss Of Joy. Again due to sin, the Spirit is quenched and one of His fruit is joy.
3. Loss Of Fellowship. This is clear from 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”
4. Loss Of Closeness: The closeness that we have to God in our personal lives and quiet times.
5. Loss Of Peace. Again a fruit of the Spirit. Indeed, when you know what peace with God is — when you loose it you are miserable.
6. Loss Of Confidence. Your prayer life may suffer — lack of faith etc. You may even lack confidence to go on with your everyday life. If you rely on the Lord heavily in the daily walk then when you don’t have Him to lean on, you may become very unsure.
7. Loss Of Confidence. In the area of His coming was Chafer’s thought but it may also relate to security of the believer as well.
Needless to say, when we sin we loose fellowship, and when we loose fellowship, we loose.
Confession is for correcting things with God. However, if the sin affected others, you must correct things with them as well. Indeed, the correction with others must be a part of correction with God. Confession of your wrong and seeking of forgiveness from others that your sin has affected is necessary. (Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”)
I SAID NECESSARY — NOT PLEASANT.
We need to be sure we realize that sin only breaks fellowship and communion with God. It can never, under any circumstance break our Father/son relationship.
When we sin there is further action taken in relation to the confession of sin and the forgiveness of 1 John 1:9. 1 John 2:1 mentions,
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Just when is the Lord our advocate, before we confess or after we confess? The terminology of advocate would indicate that He stands up for us. When we sin there is an accusation so to speak, and this is followed by our defense. We confess and plead guilty — throw ourselves to the mercy of the court. Christ then steps in to plead our case. Forgiveness is forthcoming for the Father views the Lord’s righteousness, and not our filthiness.
Chafer observes four things about the sin of the believer (on page 345). I would like to list these quickly for your contemplation:
1. The sin of the believer is as evil as the sin of the lost.
2. The sin of the believer is against a greater light than the lost’s.
3. The sin of the believer is worse in that we do not have the world, the flesh and the devil to fight against.
4. The believer has the Holy Spirit, the Word and the Advocate to aid him in his sin problems.
1. As we consider our personal sin:
a. Our sin hurts God immediately.
b. Our sin immediately breaks proper fellowship.
c. Our sin immediately places God in a bad light.
d. Our sin immediately places Satan in a good light.
e. Our sin immediately affects our testimony before man. So, Why Do We Sin So Much?
When we resist sin: a. Satan is put down — he is the loser. b. In the great spiritual arena, when you say NO Satan looses face. So, Why Don’t We Resist More?
QUITE A THOUGHT TO SAY THE LEAST.
The Real Clincher In This Is That We Can Choose To Offend God To Whom We Owe So Much — Or — We Can Put Down Satan, The Enemy Of God, To Whom We Owe Nothing.
Why In The World Would We Want To Knowingly Sin?
It has to be a conscious decision to do what we want to do, when we know that God has specified that we are not do it.
WE SIN FOLKS, BECAUSE WE WANT TO. WE OUGHT NOT SIN, BECAUSE WE WANT TO.
We have studied the Lord and His Word, we have studied sin, and we will soon move on to the great thoughts of salvation, but we need to look briefly at the intermediate topic of punishment.
Punishment comes in several fashions which we need to look at. The lost will receive a completely different punishment than the believer that has strayed. The believer, in this life, may even find himself under the punishing hand of his Heavenly father.
We want to think about trials and chastisements. Just what are trials, what are chastisements? Trials are for the building up of the believer and the stretching of his spiritual being. It is the positive side of the negatives of life.
Chastisement on the other hand is for the bringing back of the believer to his Lord, after a period of sin and rebellion. It is not meant as punishment, though there is a punitive aspect to it. It is meant to draw their attention from their own desires unto the desires of their Lord.
God chooses to chastise, rather than allow the believer continue to go his own way to the detriment of the believer, or of the believers testimony.
What about the person that is living in open sin yet is not chastised. Indeed, at times it seems that the person is being blessed of the Lord. How do you explain God allowing a person to continue in rebellion against Him, to continue walking in sin, and to continue to ruin the testimony of God?
We knew of a man that drank fairly regularly and was very close to criminal in his business life. He was making money, he was building his business, he was making all sorts of progress in the world’s eyes. He had seen his business triple in less than a year, yet there was no sign of outward chastisement. Why does God allow this to continue?
There are three reasons that come to mind in this case. Possibly I don’t know everything. Maybe there was inner chastisement. Maybe there were serious problems inwardly. Secondly, it is possible that he was not a believer. Hebrews 12 is quite specific that God will chastise a son. If there is no chastisement then there may well not be sonship. Then the final possibility is that God was using the man in some way to prove His own case to the principalities and powers of the air. God may do as He wills with His people, and He is not required to do as we feel He should.
God is in the business of doing what He desires to bring about His own glory, and to put down the Devil’s pride. He has limitless possibilities, when it comes to allowing, shaping, and molding in the believers life.
I always believed that this man was a believer, and still do. What God was doing in his life is for God and the man to know. It is our place in life to pray for such people, and to assist them in any way that we can. We must assume that they are believers, and continue to assist as if they would some day return to a proper lifestyle. This does not mean that we shouldn’t prod them to consider their salvations validity, nor should we become involved in their sin, and/or business practices.
Chastisement is not something that the believer should fear, after sinning. God does not use chastisement to beat us over the head; He uses several other items, much less painful, to draw us back to Him when we stray. Chastisement is the next to last tool in His methods with the erring believer. (Taking the believer home is the final tool.)
When He has exhausted all the other possibilities, He will move on to chastisement. Before this he uses any or all of the following methods of drawing the believer back, the Word, the leading of the Holy Spirit, the prompting of other believers, the small trials of life, and the conscience.
If all of these fail, then He may move on to the harsher, yet loving, chastisement. There may be times when the sin is so outward and damaging to the testimony of the person or God, that God might use more drastic action, yet He always uses any tool, in a perfectly loving manner, for the best of the believer.
Once the chastisement has begun, it is normally quite easy to stop. Confession at any point in this line of reformation will stop the course of things. The believer should realize, however that the effects of that chastisement may flow into the future.
The believer that is walking closely with the Lord will know the moment that he sins that there is a problem, and will immediately confess, before the Lord has to take any steps.
Chafer makes the following comment: “Discipline in one form or another is the universal experience of all who are saved; even the fruit-bearing branch is pruned that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2). The testimony of the central passage of the Bible on chastisement (Hebrews 12:4-15) is to the effect that every son is disciplined.” (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; “Systematic Theology”; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, p 361)
Chafer equates the pruning with chastisement, which may not be a valid point. Pruning, may be chastisement, but may also be other things.
If we don’t want to worry about what tool the Lord is going to use on us, we should merely be faithful to confess our sins. He then will not need to use any tool on us. Remember when you were a child? You found that if your father spanked, you soon learned what not to do. So, God teaches His children. God on the other hand has given us the Word and the Spirit to guide us into proper living, so we should never need to learn of God’s chastisement.
Chafer mentions that Hebrews 12:4-15 teaches that All believers experience chastisement. Does Hebrews 12:4-15 teach that discipline in one form or another is the Universal experience of All who are saved? I personally do not believe that it does. That All Suffer Chastisement Is Probably True In That We All Tend To Go Our Own Way At Times. That All Suffer Chastisement Due To A Plan Of God In The Beginning For The Teaching And Training Of The Saints, No.
A reading of the text will, I believe, show that as we had earthly fathers that chastened, so we have a Heavenly Father that chastens. The fact that we all have sinned now and then would show that we all are chastened. It is because we sinned and not because God planned to chasten everyone that came into His family.
Remember Hebrews 12:4-15, for it is important to the doctrine of God chastening the believer, and it also lays groundwork for the earthly father’s discipline of the child.
Chafer mentions, “It is reasonably concluded that scourging refers to the conquering of the will and results in a surrendered life.” (Chafer, “Systematic Theology, p 361)
In the believers life, this is probably true. In the life of a child, in recent years this has come to be questioned. In past years there were few parents that would disagree with Chafer’s statement.
Today there are those that say you must not conquer the will. The strong willed child will go far in this life because of his strength. Indeed, I have observed children that have been raised with this line of thinking.
Is it proper? Their children are very blunt in their disobedience. They will ultimately submit if the parent pressures, but they will defiantly say no several times before they do.
The will needs to be broken, but not the spirit. There is a difference. If the will is not broken in childhood, then God will have to deal with it in adulthood, and it will normally be much harder.
When I speak of breaking the will, I mean that you must break the “I will” attitude and bring them to understand the authority of the family and society.
There are two terms that are used. Scourging and chastisement. The question arises, is there a difference between scourging and chastisement in Hebrews 12?
I think that they are similar. Chastisement would be any discipline that is brought to bear on the believer. Scourging would be harsh chastisement aimed at gaining the believers attention after he has ignored the chastisement.
Vine relates chastise to being “paideia” which “denotes the training of a child including instruction; hence, discipline, correction…” He mentions that “mastigoo” is similar to “mastix” which is “a whip, scourge, … as in the Roman method….” He mentions earlier of the Roman method, “Under the Roman method of scourging, the person was stripped and tied in a bending posture to a pillar, or stretched on a frame. The scourge was made of leathern thongs, weighted with sharp pieces of bone or lead, which tore the flesh….”
There is another term which you may run across. It is not a Scriptural term, yet it describes well the plight of the lost. Retribution is used of the lost and their eternal punishment. What is retribution? It relates to the giving out of punishment after guilt has been proven. It usually relates to eternal judgment. In relation to the lost it is the dispensing of punishment as they deserve.
All forms of trials, chastisement, etc. are used to bring about proper living. There is always an instructional value to the process with the believer.
There is, however, no instructional value in the giving of retribution to the lost, unless their final kneeling before Christ in acknowledgement. This indeed will be a heavy lesson.
There is no instruction at the giving of retribution to the saved, unless it is their final realization of whom and what God is. Again this will be some heavy learning.
Romans 12:19 tells us,
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves but, rather, give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
There is application in this for both the lost and believers.
a. The believer has the peace of knowing that God has promised to repay wrong actions of others toward them.
b. The lost have the horror of knowing that this is coming.
We as believers should realize that when some lost person buffets us, it is not the believer that is being downed, but it is the Lord. Realize that when you are buffeted, the person will answer to Almighty God.
I was doing door to door visitation once and a man came to the door. I told him who I was and that I was just going door to door in the neighborhood to invite folks to church. His mouth opened and the cloud of nastiness billowed forth. As I left, I was shocked at his response, but more than that, I was concerned about that man. He will have to answer to God for his actions.
Since we know that God is just, then we can know that the punishment will be completely just and correct.
Chafer draws an interesting contrast for us in that he mentions that God’s chastisement is a show of God’s Divine Love, while God’s judgment is a show of God’s Divine Wrath.
Guess which I’m glad I’m going to be on the receiving end of?
The question that often comes when you are witnessing to some of the cults and isms of our day is the eternal nature of man. How do the cults view man and eternity?
There are some that hold to the total destruction of the lost. Others see the lost as asleep now for a time, and then they will be destroyed. Some, when describing their belief state that at the point of death, the person becomes non-existant. Think about that for a moment. If you become something, can you be nonexistent? NO.
We hold that the lost person, as well as the saved person, at death are conscious beings and always will be. The quality of life will however differ drastically.
How can we prove that those holding to “soul sleep” and total destruction are incorrect?
a. Luke 16:19-31 shows the rich man and Lazarus in Sheol, one on the side of torment, and the other on the side of God. Both were conscious of their surroundings, as well as one another.
b. Logically why would God put the lost to sleep till the judgment and then torment, or destroy them. It makes no sense.
c. The Scriptures never speak of soul sleep, or the total destruction of the lost. Why would anyone assume it?
The lost are going to be just as eternal as we are. They just won’t be comfortable.
With all of the emphasis on the love of God, we have tended to shy away from talking about hell. Some wonder why God would ever describe in His Word, the terrors of Hell? It is obvious to many, to give people a proper choice of heaven and hell. The prophets gave God’s message of destruction and the purpose was that God was hoping that some would turn from their sin, but they did not.
Hell is described quite well in the scripture. It may well be that God doesn’t want anyone telling Him that they would have accepted the Lord if they had known how bad it would be.
Another heresy of our day concerns a place where God purifies the lost in preparation for their time in heaven. The Mormons teach that if you don’t accept their teaching here that you will be given a second chance after death. The problem is that you will have to be purified for a while in hell until you are ready for heaven.
The Catholics also have their thought except they call it purgatory. They feel that if a church member is not good enough at death they will go to purgatory for purification. Your relatives can pray and pay you out of purgatory if they desire to. The one big question is, how much paying and praying will it take. You never know if you’ve done enough.
Is punishment remedial? It depends on what you are talking about. When punishing a child it is quite remedial. You will find that they respond quite well to punishment. Our daughter told us that she had said no-no to an item. Our granddaughter touched it and received a swat with the second no-no. The “little angel” touched it again, and before her mother could do anything, the angel was squinting her eyes and bracing for the swat that she knew she was going to receive. Remember the will we were talking about?
If you are talking about the believer, yes punishment is remedial, in that the chastisement is to bring the believer into a proper relationship with his God.
If you are talking about the criminal, yes there is a remedial aspect to punishment. Not only in the one punished, but in those that hear of his punishment. There is one country that has the death penalty for anyone caught with drugs. Would you believe they have no drug problem in that country?
If you are talking about punishment of the lost, then no, punishment is not remedial. Their punishment is set and eternal.
One further question that we need to deal with. If a person has not heard the Gospel will they be in heaven? Some believe that the lost are lost, because they have rejected the Gospel, however if they have never heard the Gospel, then they are not held responsible. Others say that all are lost, no matter whether they have heard the Gospel and rejected, or if they have never heard.
What is the answer? Are they lost or saved? First of all, if they are saved, then why worry about going to them with the Gospel. The great commission is a foolish thing for Christ to have given. Secondly, Romans 1-2 shows that God has given light to all of mankind concerning Himself. If a person responds to that light then God will see to it that the Gospel is preached to that person before they die. God could not be just if He withheld the Gospel from anyone that was seriously seeking the creator.
All are responsible to respond to the light that they have. If they don’t respond, then God has no reason, nor responsibility to save them.
Well, maybe just one more question. There usually is a question that comes up in relation to punishment. I would like to list some comments on the subject of babies that die. Some believe that they go immediately to be with the Lord as all dead saints, and others feel that they go immediately
to the place of eternal suffering. I think that this subject was covered in a previous study, but I will include some thoughts here as well.
I will not answer this question for all readers, but would like to list some information and texts that might allow you to do further study.
A related question is the mentally retarded, or physically deformed, which do not acquire the mental capability of understanding the Gospel message. Those that cannot understand would be the same as a baby that died in infancy. Those that can understand, and that can make conscious decisions, will be held accountable, as every other man woman and child that understands the message and rejects it. On the other hand, if they accept the Gospel, they will enjoy the Lord for all of eternity.
2 Samuel 12:16-23 is the key passage of Scripture that relates to our question. It depicts David in the context of losing his son to death. Verse 23 mentions, “But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
This is a very plain and bold statement of David’s belief that his child was in paradise.
Job in chapter three laments the fact that he was even born. (11-13) “Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not expire when I came out of my mother’s body? For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then had I been at rest.” This indicates his belief that death as a new born baby would have put him at rest eternally.
Those that believe that babies go to punishment normally set forth the fact that all men have the sin nature, and that all sinned in Adam. If that is true then the only way to heaven is the Lord Jesus, however the question is this. Did Christ die for the sin of the world, including the sin nature? Yes. He did all that was required to bring man to God. The work is done. Those that reject Christ, reject His work on the cross and suffer eternally for their rejection. Those that accept are eternally with Him. The child that has not been given opportunity to say ye, or nay would automatically be included in the work of Christ.
The opposition would say of this then that the heathen are automatically saved. NO. They have rejected the natural revelation of God in nature and in them. They have rejected and are on their way to eternal torment. Their children that have not reached accountability, or possibly a better term would be the age of understandability, will be with the Lord.
Scripture text? Only those that have been given. I have known good, fundamental men that oppose my thought, but many others that agree. Study it for yourself.
We might close with the thought that God is Just — perfectly just. He will not send a baby to heaven if it is not just, nor will He send a baby to hell if it is not just. He will do as His justice demands, no matter what we decide on the subject.
This should be a comfort to those that loose a child, or that have a badly retarded child. God is the God of comfort and He can help anyone through these situations.
Some references that may help: 2 Corinthians 1:3; Luke 18:16; Romans 8:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16, 17.
In a situation where some parent is in one of these situations, it would be best to just comfort them without bringing up the subject. If they ask, then give them the information that you have. The key, however is the comfort that they need.
1. If I believed that God does chastise, why in the world would I continue in sin? If I believed that chastisement turns into scourging, why in the world would I continue in sin? Both are beyond me. Yet, some do it.
I have a very dear Christian acquaintance that related to me that as a young man he had a good business and God started leading him away from that business to go north to work as a layperson in a church. He said no many times to the Lord’s promptings. He was on his death bed with pneumonia when he finally decided that the Lord was serious.
He said, yes and went north. He said his job over the years payed better than his business could ever have paid, and that his health was better as well. He was able to retire and spend many years enjoying his life and family due to that simple yes to God’s prompting.
2. If we really believe Hebrews 12, and what it indicates about chastisement, we would certainly be moved to care for our own physical children in the same manner that our Heavenly Father cares for us. We should seek to break the self will of the child before the Lord has to do it in adult life, when the chastisement will be hard.
3. What do you know of hell? Let me just list some of the topics concerning eternal punishment for the lost.
Darkness: Matthew 8:12; Psalm 49:19
Bound: Matthew 22:13
Memory: Luke 16
Lust and Desire: Revelation 22:11
No hope: Isaiah 38:18; Proverbs 11:7
Fire: Jude seven; Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:44
Companions: Revelation 21:8; 22:15
Isolation: Jude 13
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. The lost are sinners and deserve the very best that Satan has to offer, and that is, his eternal repose, that is his eternal dwelling place, that is his eternal destination, that is the eternal burning fire of hell.
The sinner is lost and on his way to hell and nothing can stop that decent into the place prepared for him lest he call on the merciful name of Jesus Christ.
Your choice is heaven or hell.
Your choice is eternal delight or eternal agony.
Your choice is eternal life or eternal death.
Your choice is the refreshing waters of the river of life or the flames of hell.
Your choice is eternity with the Father or eternity with the father of lies.
Your choice is eternal light or eternal darkness.
Your choice is eternal comfort or eternal suffering.
Your choice is eternal joy or eternal sorrow.
Your choice is a glorified body or a tormented body.
Your choice is eternal fellowship with Christ or eternal fallowship with Satan.
Your choice is accept Jesus Christ as your Savior or accept the consequences of following the devil into the lake of fire. That is if you call that a choice.
To me the choice is obvious to the most casual observer.
To put it as one flippant observer of the Gospel has put it, “It’s turn or burn.”
TRIUMPH OVER SIN
We need to realize that evil is not eternal. It did not exist in eternity past however it is everlasting. It will exist into eternity future. It is important to know that the evil in the future, exists only in the lake of fire. Once Christ finishes the judgments, all evil will be isolated with the Devil and his, in the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14)
All evil will be eradicated from God’s domain, one way or another as the eternal state is instituted.
Will all evil be confined in the Lake of fire? This is a philosophical question. The evil will be confined, that is the people and fallen angels however one might ponder whether they will be able to do further evil in their confines. I suspect, that outward acts of evil will be missing. Hell has the idea of silence and binding. This would make all but mental evil impossible. If the torment is as bad as I suspect it will be, then it is probable that they will not think of evil, but of their pain and torment.
Indeed, Luke 16:19 ff indicates that the lost have very good thoughts. The rich man was concerned with his brothers. It may be as they bow before the Lord in submission that the priority straightening will be permanent.
Reason would require that a righteous God would put a limit to the progression and lasting of evil. He must stop it at some point in time. Indeed, the lake of fire and all it means may well be His method of putting a final stop to all evil. He binds it forever.
A brief overview of the resurrections would be good at this point. The Lord took the Old Testament saints out of Abraham’s bosom when He ascended to heaven. The New Testament saints will be taken at the Rapture. The Old Testament saints are resurrected at the beginning of the Millennium. Where they are at present is not clear. The thought of “present with the Lord” is clear in Scripture however they are not in Sheol. The thought seems to be that they are raised in the end time, so there may be a place for them in the earth in some manner. My personal opinion would place them with the New Testament saints, in the Lord’s presence. The lost of all ages will be raised at the end of the Millennial kingdom for the Great White Throne judgment. The saved will spend eternity with Christ, and the lost will spend eternity in the lake of fire with the Devil.
The raising of Lazarus was not a resurrection as such, for he had to go through death twice. The final resurrections are for all eternity.
1. Christ’s own resurrection was the first resurrection unto eternal everlasting life. He is the example of our own coming resurrection.
2. The resurrection of the saints at the rapture for the joining in the air.
3. The resurrection of the righteous Jews at the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the millennium. They will be a part of the fulfillment of all the promises of the Old Testament.
4. The resurrection of the lost. Revelation 20:12-13,
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades delivered up the dead that were in them….”
Some feel that it is possible for some righteous from the Millennium to be raised at this judgment. They were killed in the Millennium. Whether any righteous die in the Millennium is the question. If there are, then those believers will be raised either in a separate resurrection, or at the raising of the dead. I question there being a resurrection that we aren’t told of however.
Some suggest that John 5:25-29 speaks of one general resurrection for all the dead. It is not viewing number, but the fact of all being raised. Other scriptures show that there are more than one resurrection.
The final enemy is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” How can a believer use that verse in his own life, or in the life of others?
This may relate to the fact that believers may not die in a bed of roses.
You may find some that hang onto life tenaciously and struggle to continue living right up to the last moment, and with their dieing breath desire to live. Others may die with a smile on their face, looking forward to seeing the Lord.
Death is an enemy. It need not be for the believer. If the believer finds his purpose in Christ then he may well go to see Him very peacefully. On the other hand if a person has not found that peace, and if a person has much to do for his Lord, there may be a real dread of dieing. I’ve on the other hand seen people that were probably lost, die in relative peace.
Death is an enemy and we need to realize it and not condemn believers, if they don’t have the peace at death that we think that they should.
What is the purpose of the end times, the resurrections and the whole end times agenda? 1 Corinthians 15:28,
“And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
It is to give God the preeminence in all things.
Chafer mentions four dwelling places to be found in Revelation 20:11 through 22:7. The new heaven, The new Jerusalem or heavenly city, The new earth, The place known as “without”. He goes into some detail concerning these three abodes of the believer. A good study is to be found in each of the four.
He mentions that there seems to be a freedom to travel from one to the other in the first three, however those dwelling without, are limited to that sphere of dwelling. In your spare time you might like to dwell on the following text and let me know what you find. I have not studied it as yet, but it has some very interesting possibilities for truth which I have never heard before (Isaiah 66:22-24).
The new city is evidently that city which Abraham looked for in Hebrews 11:10,16. Thus we must assume that Israel is involved in this city. It is called the bride and the lamb’s wife so the church will be involved in it as well.
There is a discussion about whether this city is ever placed upon the earth, or whether it may be a satellite city. In other words does it hover over the surface of the earth. Since it is never mentioned that it is placed upon the earth it is quite possible that it is hovering, or more exactly “PLACED” above the surface of the earth. It really makes little difference that I can see, other than we want to be as Scriptural as possible.
On the other hand the earth was promised to Israel not the church. It is possible that the city is basically for the church and the earth is basically for Israel. Why, I don’t have the foggiest. The problem with this is that Israel’s tribes are upon the gates of the city.
I’m not sure there would be a distinction since eternity is prepared for all of us. I would assume that the city is the dwelling place that Christ went to prepare for us. I would not be hurt if my next door neighbor was a Jew. I rather suspect that the city is for dwelling and the earth is for enjoying, but that is doctrine of Derickson.
The lighting system will be of the latest possible design, or should I say of the oldest possible design. It is the Glory of the Lord.
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did light it, and the Lamb is the lamp of it.” Revelation 21:23
Indeed, the glories of the new state will be quite extreme.
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 6517)
That’s something to think about. We won’t remember the ocean beaches, the mountains, the bluffs of Wyoming, the glories of Montana, The hills of South Dakota, nor the desolateness of Nebraska. (I was born and raised in Nebraska so I can say that. It isn’t altogether true, anyway.)
We see in Revelation 21:1-4 that God is dwelling with man and that there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, pain or former things. This is not to say that before God eliminates those things that He won’t confront believers with things that will draw much pain and sorrow, things from their lives that were remiss in their serving Him completely. I would relate this to unconfessed sin. We will not be held accountable, yet we may well be shown what we could have done for God had we followed Him in all that He desired.
Romans 11:33, 36 state,
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.”
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Amen. What a fitting end to our study of our sin as man. Possibly a contrast would make things even more pointed.
The Triumph Of God Over Sin And Evil
The Plus Side Of Triumph The Negative Side Of Triumph
The Heavens Restored Satan In Lake Of Fire
The Earth Restored Death In Lake Of Fire
Christ Seated With God The Lost In Lake Of Fire
Nature At Rest The Fallen Angels In Torment
The Righteous With God The False Prophet In Torment
New Jerusalem In Place The Beast In Torment
No Evil, Crying Or Pain Eternal Torment
Eternal Joy No Peace
Eternal Peace No Hope
 Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.