Los Angeles, California
We need to make sure that we let sinners know that they can never stop sinning apart from Jesus Christ other wise we just put them under bondage to the law and we create in them the condition of those who try to be obedient to the law through the power of the flesh in Romans 7. Paul seems to put it pretty clearly -
9Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
11For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to Godthrough Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
But because sinners do not have to sin, but because they choose to sin, God sends them to hell. They choose to lie, steal, cheat, reject Christ, not be born again etc etc.
This statement is wrong and in direct to the passages from Romans above. How can you justify this statement with the Romans passages? You are almost there Jesse, but you seem to be missing the mark. Do you understand that we sin because we are sinners not we are sinners because we choose to sin? There is a big difference. Do you deny the doctrine of Original Sin like most of your friends and the others you preach with? This seems to be the only way you can make your theory work.
Watchman Nee explains it very well. I think this will help clear things up.
You will scarcely find the word sinner in the first four chapters of Romans. This is because there the sinner himself is not mainly in view, but rather the sins he has committed. The word sinner first comes into prominence only in chapter 5, and it is important to notice how the sinner is there introduced. In that chapter a sinner is said to be a sinner because he is born a sinner; not because he has committed sins. The distinction is important. It is true that often when a Gospel worker wants to convince a man in the street that he is a sinner, he will use the favourite verse Romans 3:23, where it says that all have sinned; but this use of the verse is not strictly justified by the Scriptures. Those who so use it are in danger or arguing the wrong way round, for the teaching of Romans is not that we are sinners because we commit sins, but that we sin because we are sinners. We are sinners by constitution rather than by action. As Romans 5:19 expresses it: Through the one mans disobedience the man were made (or constituted) sinners.
How were we constituted sinners? By Adams disobedience. We do not become sinners by what we have done but because of what Adam has done and has become. I speak English, but I am not thereby constituted on Englishman. I am in fact a Chinese. So chapter 3 draws our attention to what we have doneall have sinnedbut it is not because we have done it that we become sinners.
I once asked a class of children. Who is a sinner? and their immediate reply was, One who sins. Yes, one who sins is a sinner, but the fact that he sins is merely the evidence that he is already a sinner; it is not the cause. One who sins is a sinner, but it is equally true that one who does not sin, if he is of Adams race, is a sinner too, and in need of redemption. Do you follow me? There are bad sinners and there are good sinners, there are moral sinners and there are corrupt sinners, but they are all alike sinners. We sometimes think that if only we had not done certain things all would be well; but the trouble lies far deeper than in what we do: it lies in what we are. A Chinese may be born America and be unable to speak Chinese at all, but he is a Chinese for all that, because he was born a Chinese. It is birth that counts. So I am a sinner not of my behaviour but of my heredity, my parentage. I am not a sinner because I sin, but I sin because I come of the wrong stock. I sin because I am a sinner.
We are apt to think that what we have done is very bad, but that we ourselves are not so bad. God is taking pains to show us that we ourselves are wrong, fundamentally wrong. The root trouble is the sinner; he must be dealt with. Our sins are dealt with by the Blood, but we ourselves are dealt with by the Cross. The Blood procures our pardon for what we have done; the Cross procures our deliverance from what we are.
| 2006/8/23 22:44||Profile|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
Watchman Nee explains it very well. I think this will help clear things up.
Excellent article by Watchman Nee brother!
"[b]In that chapter a sinner is said to be a sinner because he is born a sinner; not because he has committed sins. The distinction is important.[/b]"
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2006/8/23 23:06||Profile|
Was it not unreasonable for Pharoah to demand bricks when he gave the Israelites no straw? And was it not unjust for Pharoah to later punish the Israelites for not producing the bricks?
Would it not be a slander on God's character to imply that He is as unreasonable and as unjust as Pharoah, to demand repentance and yet not give the ability for repentance, and then later punish the lack of repentance?
[b]E. M. Bounds[/b], the great methodist author on prayer, agrees with this point, because he said, "Does God give commandments that men cannot obey? Is he so arbitrary, so severe, so unloving, that He issues commandments that cannot be obeyed? The answer is that, in all of Scripture, not a single instance is recorded of God having commanded any man to do a thing that was beyond his power. Is God so unjust and so inconsiderate to require a man something that he is unable to do? Certainly not! [b]To infer is to slander the character of God. [/b]
Before I start hearing, "Heresy! Heresy!" Or "Heretic, Heretic!" Wait one minute. Those who are quick to cry heresy at this point are also men who build upon the foundation laid by Augustine. But even [b]St. Augustine[/b] spoke rightly when he said, "God does not demand impossibilities."
By definition, does not the "choice" to sin require the choice not to sin? If it's something you cannot help but to do, then it's not a "choice" at all by definition.
Does a baby choose to be born? No, it is beyond its choice. But what if I said, "yes, a baby chooses to be born." But then someone says, "What? You think a baby chooses to be born? Do you mean to say then that a baby can choose not to be born?" To which I reply, "Oh no no no. I do not mean to imply that a baby can choose not to be born. But only to imply that a baby chooses to be born." My own reasoning would be absurd!
Likewise when a person says, "A sinner chooses to sin" and then go on to say, "but a sinner cannot choose not to sin."
A sinner deserves hell for choosing to sin. It's a choice, because they would have chosen not to sin. They can choose to sin against God and against man, or they can choose to love God and love man.
Isn't this truth the essense of this scripture:
De 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
Here God Himself says that you can choose life, or you can choose death. In order to choose one thing, you must be able to deny that same thing. In order to choose sin, you must be able to deny sin.
John Fletcher agrees with this point, because he wrote, "forced obedience is a contradiction in terms".
In order to "pick up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me" you must have the ability to "pick up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me".
Jos 24:15 - "choose you this day whom ye will serve" Who you serve is your choice. If in fact, the will is free, then it is your choice. To have it any other way is to deny that the will is free, which some of you say, but I know some of you are not willing to say.
I know some of you believe that the will is free, and yet deny that a sinner can choose not to sin. And of coarse if they choose not to sin, they will become a Christian. Because it is a sin not to become a Christian, because if you are not for Christ then you are against Christ.
I would like to appeal more to great men, whom I feel might be more warmly recieved by some on these boards then I would be.
[b]JOHN WESLEY AND JOHN FLETCHER[/b]
In the days of [b]John Wesley[/b], other Christians called him a heretic for his doctrine. So [b]John Fletcher[/b] came to the aid of Mr. Wesley, and publicly defended the doctrine Wesley taught. Thus we have the wonderful two volume set, "Checks to Antinomianism" by John Fletcher.
Now Wesley did not deny [b]original sin[/b]. But he also taught [b]original ability[/b] because of [b]free-will[/b] and he also taught [b]Christian perfection[/b].
No doubt, some of you today will call Wesley a heretic for teaching perfection and original ability. But some of you may respect the great doctrines taught by these men of God.
[b][u]So with an open heart, read the following writings of John Fletcher:[/b][/u]
"if repentance and faith are absolutely impossible to them, and Jesus came to denounce destruction to all who do not repent and believe, let every thinking man say whether he might not be called with greater propriety the destroyer of the world rather then the Savior of the world; and whether preaching the Christian gospel is not like reading the warrant of inevitable damnation to millions of wretched creatures."
"In what a pitiful light does you scheme place our Lord! Why did he "marvel at the unbelief" of the Jews, as if they could no more believe then a stone can swim? And say not, "he marvelled as a man;" for the assertion is absolutely unmans him. What man ever wondered that an ass does not bray with the nightingale's melodious voice? Nay, what child ever marvelled that the ox does not fly above the clouds with the soaring eagle?
The same observation holds with regard to repentance. "Then he began", says St Matthew, "to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not." [b]Merciful Savior, forgive us! We have insulted thy meek wisdom, by representing thee as cruelly upbraiding the lame for not running, the blind for not seeing, the dumb for not speaking!"[/b]
Fletcher goes on with his very STRONG point!
"Suppose a schoolmaster said to his English scholars, "Except you instantly speak Greek you shall all be severely whipped," you would wonder at the injustice of the school tyrant. But would not the wretch be merciful in comparison of a Savior, [i](so called)[/i] who is supposed to say to myraids of men, that can no more repent then ice can burn, "Except ye repent, ye shall all perish"?[b] I confess, then, when I see real Protestants calling this doctrine the pure gospel, and extolling it as free grace, I no more wonder thatt real Papist should call their bloody inquisition [i]the house of mercy[/i], and their burning of those whom they call heretics as [i]an act of faith.[/i]"[/b]
Fletcher goes on to make the simple point that, "everyone shall die for his own [i]avoidable[/i] iniquity."
Now before you are quick to call Fletcher a heretic for defending Wesleys belief in original ability, my advice would be to be slow to speak, and quick to listen. Read the bible, pray, mediate, and see if the Lord doesn't confirm that He only asks of men to do what He gives them the ability to do.
| 2006/8/24 0:27|
Many thanks ChrisJD,
...it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves
I was hoping this was the essence of my post, but thanks for making this clear! (I find that a tricky part of communication is to identify those assumptions we have and give them fresh expression.)
Remembering my own conversion a few years ago, there was an abundant sense of gifted grace from God to a wretched sinner. Although I had been well schooled as a layman in Christian things, I never had fully seen how woefully insufficient my own righteousness was, and how wonderfully sufficient God's righteousness through Christ was for all men.
One day in my home, I was reading John 3. Obviously I had read it many times before, but on that day my own heart and mind felt like the Hoover Dam holding back a great lake of sins and sinfulness. Sorrow and shame tried to take me by the throat but in that moment this great dam of sin was broken---not by any intent or determination I had of breaking it but from an invisible hand that seemed to act with a purpose beyond my own feeble willpower or sense of regret---the walls of self-righteousness suddenly began breaking, crumbling, and my vast resevoir of guilt and shame poured over draining away. My own body was the embodiment of that dam; I could not emotionally stand under the release of it, while my eyes testified of the waters that poured out.
So to be clear, the matter of whether a lost man can stop sinning by his own will and power is settled for me. Even if a religous man wanted to repent, he could only do so as a depraved man without Christ. Only God can bring His Spirit to dwell in us...and write His righteousness on our very hearts.
A scripture that comes to mind is Isaiah 65. In it we first see the true nature of merely religous men.
" I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name... A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.......
So much for human religous attempts to put on Godliness. Praise God that the Gospel is not called the "Repentance", but is called the "Good News!" Isaiah 65 continues...
...I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there...And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
I can certainly testify, that even while I was in the church 'practicing' Christianity I remained depraved. Indeed my practice had decieved me into believing my religous ambitions were for Christ's sake. As a result of my own satisfaction according the Gospel-proofed standards many measure their salvation by, I really was not looking for anything more at all.
Yet, before I called, the Lord answered me. And by the time I did cry out in my darkness to the living God, He was right there already listening.
| 2006/8/24 0:39||Profile|
South Central Kentucky
Read the bible, pray, mediate, and see if the Lord doesn't confirm that He only asks of men to do what He gives them the ability to do.
He gives them the ability to do it through His Holy Spirit, through Regeneration, through becoming Born Again. If man can live a sinless life without becoming Born Again, then why do we even need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Why do we need to become Born Again? Why is their a New Covenant? Is the Holy Spirit just an add on to help us resist sin ever more strongly? These are just some quick questions that came to my mind...by the way, I don't think I would ever call Wesley a heretic. He may have some doctrine wrong, but just as I have heard said many times, "The most surprised people in Heaven will probably be the preachers." I will think, pray and meditate on this some more...and will respond later!
| 2006/8/24 0:53||Profile|
To be sinless is to be without sin.
And sinse Jesus said, "you are either for me or against me"
And the greatest commandment is to love God.
And we love God by obeying God
And God says we must be born again.
Then it is a sin not to love God and not to obey Him by repenting and becoming born again.
So it's IMPOSSIBLE for a person to be sinless who is not born again.
You could ultimately say then, since being a Christian is being born again and obeying God, that it is a sin in itself not to be a Christian!
| 2006/8/24 0:55|
Los Angeles, California
The Apostle Paul puts it pretty clearly in Romans 7:25 (NLT) 25Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
You can't get much clearer then that. ;-)
The grace of God gives us the power to be free from sin. We all have a choice to accept the grace of God or deny it. Those who deny it will go to hell in bondage to sin and their inborn sinful nature unable to stop sinning. Those who accept the grace of God will through the finished work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection have the bondage of sin broken and receive power over sin having been given a new heart and been born again. Dead to sin - alive in Christ.
I think you are twisting Wesley and Fletcher's words to try to prove a point. Are you familiar with "regeneration" and/or Wesley's teaching on "the new birth" Wesley taught pretty clearly as far as I can tell that you can not stop sinning or overcome your sin nature without "regeneration" or "the new birth".
| 2006/8/24 1:15||Profile|
I wanted to add this thought without derailing the present conversation...
Relevant to this thread investigating whether a lost man can produce the zeal and power to obey God, I think Islam should be mentioned briefly. I do not mean the terrorists, but the devout Muslim. Their Koran has borrowed, albiet distorted, many biblical concepts of morality and law severe enough to please even the angriest religionist in America. Yet Islam strikes me as a form of repentence/conversion preaching without the Gospel. The outcome of preaching repentence sans-Gospel is bondage and death.
(If you are feeling cheeky, check out this [url=http://larknews.com/march_2004/secondary.php?page=5]satirical article[/url] about how American Christians are moving to Islamic countries because they prefer Muslim morality to American morality...an interesting delimma.)
| 2006/8/24 2:40||Profile|
Los Angeles, California
Their Koran has borrowed, albiet distorted, many biblical concepts of morality and law severe enough to please even the angriest religionist in America. Yet Islam strikes me as a form of repentence/conversion preaching without the Gospel. The outcome of preaching repentence sans-Gospel is bondage and death.
You are right. And this is exactly what many street, traveling open-air and so called "holiness" preachers do. The preach a form of Islam in the name of Jesus. All their preaching does is bring bondage and death. That is why you don't hear of people being miraculous freed from the bondage of sin- there is no freedom and life just condemnation and death. They go to rock concert and condemn rock music fans. They go to sporting events and preach against ticket scalpers. The go to beaches and preach against inappropriate dress and go to college campuses and preach against fraternities. I am not kidding they REALLY do this sort of thing and think they are doing a good thing for Jesus, but in reality they know nothing of the Gospel and only bring condemnation and death hardening sinner ever more against Jesus.
| 2006/8/24 3:13||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Coming home|
[i]Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.[/i] Eze 18:4
For God so loved the world ... But they would not [u]return[/u].
There is none righteous, no, not one:
... both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
There is none that understandeth,
There is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way,
They are together become unprofitable;
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it,
What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,
That he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man:
For he knew what was in man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD [i]thy God require of thee[/i], but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
[u]Can or cannot[/u]
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
[b]When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.[/b]
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
[b]Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?[/b]
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
... that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
For God so loved the world
| 2006/8/24 10:06||Profile|