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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : FREEWILL & CONSCIENCE Conditions of Accountability

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 FREEWILL & CONSCIENCE Conditions of Accountability

[b]FREEWILL & CONSCIENCE[/b]
[i]Necessary Conditions of Moral Accountability in God's Moral Government[/i]

This is a theological treatise on the required conditions of moral accountability or the prerequisites of moral agency, along with their necessary connection to the extent of moral obligation and the proper measure of moral guilt.

[b]DEFINITIONS OF KEY WORDS USED AS MEANT IN THIS TREATISE[/b]

[b]Accountability[/b] [account-ability]: Synonymous with liable; the giving of account for the usage a moral agent has made of their moral ability; being accountable according to moral ability, conditioned by knowledge of moral obligation.

[b]Responsibility[/b] [response-able]: Synonymous with moral obligation and requirement; regarding that which a moral agent ought to voluntarily choose, which an intelligent free moral agent will be accountable for and judged by; the affirmation of the intelligence or the demands of the conscience according to the perceived value of an object which necessitates the requirement of the committal of the will. A responsible individual is an individual able to respond to obligation, one who is capable of fulfilling his requirement.

[b]Moral Agent[/b]: An individual subjected to moral law or moral government; one subjected to moral obligation and moral accountability, upon condition of intelligence and freewill, thereby capable of virtue, vice, blameworthiness, and praiseworthiness.

[b]Freewill[/b]: Relating to contingency and to possibility [possible-ability]; synonymous with capable, able, and ability; the freedom of the will to choose between two or more alternatives; the power of contrary choice; the potency to will one ultimate end with its necessary means or to will its opposite; the ability of voluntary choice without coercion; a faculty operating under the law of liberty as opposed to the law of necessity or force; to have the option of willing or nilling, receiving or rejecting; a requisite quality, condition or attribute of personality for moral agency, a condition without which moral agency, moral obligation, moral character, and moral accountability is rendered nonexistent and impossible.

[b]Unable/Inability:[/b] Relating to impossibility [impossible for ability] or a nonfunctional faculty; without ability or a crippled ability; synonymous with incapable; forced to choose an object or direction without the option of rejecting it or without the option of choosing its opposite; without power or capability to properly perform.

[b]Knowledge[/b]: Synonymous with conscience [con science = with knowledge]; the reasonable perception of the mind; the affirmation of the intelligence; when morally speaking, pertaining to the idea of what is ethically right and ethically wrong as intuitive to the reason or declared by the conscience; relating to intelligence as a requisite quality or attribute of personality for moral agency, without which moral agency, moral obligation, moral character, and moral accountability is rendered nonexistent and impossible.

[b]Prerequisite:[/b] Synonymous with precondition; a preceding or prior condition, requirement, or requisition demanded by logical or natural necessity for a proper function; without which the result would be improper, unjust, impossible, or illogical.

[b]Moral Character[/b]: Synonymous moral intention, relating to moral action or moral conduct; the moral quality of a moral agent, derived from the continual, voluntary choices of the will, not derived from the involuntary states of the nature or from the physical constitution; the overall analysis of a moral agent’s moral conduct or moral state; the moral quality of heart or intention; moral character is not to be confounded or confused with physical constitution, inherited physical nature, or natural capacities and capabilities; it is neither the substance of the body nor the substance of the soul but strictly belongs to the voluntary state of the heart or intention.


The freedom of the will and the knowledge of its proper use are prerequisites to moral responsibility and moral accountability; ability (freewill) and knowledge (conscience) are necessary preconditions of moral agency, being the proper boundaries and limitations of moral responsibility and moral accountability.

[b]1. MORAL ABILITY OR FREEWILL:
A Necessary Condition of Moral Accountability

MAN’S MORAL ABILITY AND IT’S RELATION TO THE MORAL LAW[/b]

Moral ability and freewill are synonymous terms, being identical in nature and meaning. Inability and freewill are antonymous terms, being contrary in nature and meaning. Freewill is the power of contrary choice. A man is able to do only what a man is free to do; and a man is free to do only what a man is able to do. Freedom speaks of the contingent not the necessitated, of that which was voluntarily chosen under liberty and not that forced by necessity. A freewill choice is a choice which did not have to be chosen, but was voluntarily chosen when the opposite choice could have been.

To be required or obligated to do better, and to be accountable or judged for failure to do better, one must be capable of doing better. To be capable of doing better, one must be free or able to do better. What a man is free to do, a man is capable or able of doing. If a man is not capable then a man is not able or free. And if a man is not a free agent, then he is a necessitated agent who can no more have moral character than a puppet or a machine can have moral character. Moral character relates to voluntary or intentional choices commanded or condemned by the God given intelligence, knowledge, revelation, or conscience. And moral accountability relates to moral character. Therefore what a man is accountable for, he must not have been necessitated to do, but must have voluntarily committed.

A man is responsible only for that which he is intentionally the cause of, and a man is only the intentional cause of that which is voluntary, since what is voluntary is intentional and what is intentional is voluntary. And since moral character consists only in free voluntary intentional choices, and moral accountability is according to moral character, a man is only accountable for his free voluntary intentional choices.

T. Chalmers said, “The morality of any act is with its willfulness.” And then again, “That an action then be the rightful object, either of moral censure, or approval, it must have had the consent of the will to go along with it. It must be the fruit of volition – else it is utterly beyond the scope, either of praise for its virtuousness or of blame for its criminality. If an action be involuntary, it is as unfit a subject for any moral reckoning, as are the pulsations of the wrist.” *1
Respecting the moral government of God (Isaiah 9:6-7), or the ruling and reigning of God in the realm of morality over moral agents (Luke 17:21), in which God is the Governor (Matt 2:6) the moral commandments of God never exceed the moral ability of men. The commands of God are directed to the ability of man, being instructions as to how a man is to use the liberty of his will or how a man is to properly use his ability. Since God’s moral commandments are directions for man’s moral ability, as to how to use this God given ability, Gods moral requirements never exceed this God given moral ability. Since God’s Moral Government is the governing of man’s moral agency (through persuasion and influence, not through force or necessity), God’s moral commandments never can, never do, nor ever will exceed man’s moral ability, never exceeding man’s moral agency. Because God’s commandments are directions to man, as to how a man is to use his ability, God’s commandments are in fact a declaration or a revelation of what man can do and what man should do.

The moral law of God’s moral government is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt 22:37) and “love they neighbor as thyself” (Matt 22:39). The moral law of God in essence is the law of love, love being the total and complete fulfillment of the whole of the law. (Rom 13:8, Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8)

The law of love, or life of love, is commanded and the law of selfishness, or the life of selfishness, is condemned. Love is not an emotion or a feeling, but a voluntary, impartial committal of the will towards the highest well-being of all (John 3:16, John 15:13), it is the intention of the heart, it is synonymous with “good will” (Luke 2:14, Ephesians 6:7, Philippians 1:15) or is the same as benevolence.

If love is truly love, it must of necessity manifest itself into action and conduct whenever possible and whenever necessary, performing the required means to secure the end of the well-being of others. The “readiness to will” results in the “performance” or in the “doing” (2Corinthians 8:11). If the inside of the cup (inward intention) is first clean, then the outside of the cup (outward actions) will be clean as well (Matthew 23:26), because what is inside will manifest in what is outside whenever possible. A good tree can only produce good fruit, while a bad tree can only produce bad fruit (Matthew 7:17), because the heart or intention determines the outward life (Matthew 12:35, Luke 6:45).

Love, good will, or benevolence satisfies the whole of the law (Rom 13:8, Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8), but selfishness or self-centeredness is a total and complete violation of the whole of the law (James 2:10). To break one letter of the law is to break the whole spirit of the law; the spirit of the law which the entire letter of the law is derived from. The letter of the law is derived from the spirit of the law; therefore to break one letter of the law is to break the whole spirit of the law. He that breaks the one breaks the whole. Therefore, to “offend in one point” is to be “guilty of all”. (James 2:10)

God does not command that we love Him with faculties that we do not possess, but rather that we love Him with all that we currently possess, “with all thy”, as opposed to that which isn’t currently yours. The commandments are directions to man as to how man is to use his ability. The commandments of God are not impossible, commanding us to love Him with a heart, soul, and mind that we do not have; but rather the law of God is able to be kept, commanding that we love Him with all of what we do have, with all that we are capable, to the very highest of our ability, no more and no less. The law is able to be kept because we are capable and we are capable because the law is able to be kept; our God given commandments and our God given ability directly correspond with each other. The command of God is that we love to the very highest of our ability, no more and no less, and therefore we are able to keep the law of love, we are able to keep the commandments of Jesus (1John 2:3, 1John 3:22, 1John 5:2-3, Revelations 12:17, Revelations 14:12, Revelations 22:14), obedience is always possible and disobedience is never necessary or unavoidable. The highest that our ability is capable of is all that the law of God commands, no more and no less. The law of God is the law of our ability, to love Him supremely and our neighbor equally, according to our ability, with all of our ability, “with all thy”.

God commands “thy heart” and “thy soul” and “thy mind”. The command of God is directed towards our current faculties and it does not exceed the limits of those faculties. We are to love him with “all” of these faculties, but not with less or with more then those faculties are capable of. Man is not responsible for more then he can perform, and so a man is not accountable for more then he can perform. Man’s responsibility is in accordance to all of his ability, and man’s accountability is according to his responsibility, therefore man will not be accountable for that which was beyond his power because man is not accountable beyond his responsibility, and his responsibility is never beyond his ability.

Man’s moral ability is naturally and obviously limited by moral possibilities; therefore God’s moral commandments never require moral impossibilities, for that which is morally impossible cannot be morally commanded. Morally demanding a moral impossibility is a contradiction in terms. “God does not demand impossibilities.” Augustine *2 “The law of God requires nothing more of any human being, than that which he is at present naturally able to perform, under the present circumstances of his being.” Charles G. Finney *3

The extent of God’s commandments is the exact extent of man’s ability, and the extent of man’s ability is the extent of God’s commandments, each one establishes and determines the limitations and boundaries of the other. And since man will be judged by the commandments, the extent of man’s accountability will be the extent of man’s ability. A man will not be accountable for that in which he was not capable of, he will not be judged for that which was outside of the realm of his control.

The law of God is therefore the law of our ability, to love Him supremely and our neighbor equally, according to our ability, with all of our ability, to the highest of our ability, no more and no less. There is then no inability in which a sinner can hide behind as an excuse, no commandment that a sinner can point to as tyrannical, since all the commandments of God are able to be kept, without exception.

All sin is therefore inexcusable since all sin is always voluntary and avoidable; that which brings moral guilt is always voluntary and avoidable. What is unavoidable is excusable; but what is inexcusable must be avoidable. What is punishable must be voluntary, and what is voluntary must be avoidable. What is punishable must be vice, and what is vice must be voluntary. Only sin can be punishable and only what is voluntary and avoidable can be sin. Therefore sin is inexcusable and punishable because sin is voluntary and avoidable, and it is voluntary and avoidable because God has given man freewill.

“Moral agency implies the possession of freewill. By freewill it is intended the power of choosing or refusing to choose, in every instance, in compliance with moral obligation. Freewill implies the power of originating and deciding our own choices, and of exercising our own liberty, in every instance of choice upon every moral questions, of deciding or choosing in conformity with duty or otherwise in all cases of moral obligation….unless the will is free, man has no freedom; and if he has no freedom he is not a moral agent, that is, he is incapable of moral action and also of moral character. Freewill then, in the above defined sense, must be a condition of moral agency, and of course, of moral obligation.” Charles G. Finney *4

“It is axiomatic that that for which any agent is morally responsible must be within his control. If man be responsible for obedience or disobedience to the divine commands, then obedience and disobedience are both equally within his power. Which of them shall result is not determined by any thing external to him. His own power of choice selects the one, it being at the same time a power equally adequate to select the other. That for which an agent is morally responsible must be an election; that is, a selection with an alternative.” Miner Raymond *5, “Accountability necessitates the origination of choice between obedience and disobedience” *6 and again, “A free, original, independent, conscious choice between good and evil, is the sine qua non [condition] of every act that involves morality.” L. D. McCabe *7

A man is only accountable for his moral character, his moral character is his heart or intention (which intention necessarily manifests into action whenever possible), a man’s intention is within the realm of his control (or else it cannot be his), intention must be voluntary, and what is voluntary must be avoidable. Therefore, a man is only accountable for his intentional, voluntary, avoidable choices of heart.

God holds men accountable to their responsibility, what God requires of man God expects from men, what God expects from men is possible for men, and what is possible for men is the same as what men are capable of. Accountable implies requirement, requirement implies expectation, expectation implies possibility, and possibility implies capability.

Man is accountable for choosing sin only because he is capable of choosing righteousness over sin. A man is accountable for choosing darkness over the light, only because he is capable of choosing the light over darkness. A man is accountable for disobedience because he is capable of choosing obedience over disobedience. A man is accountable for rejecting Jesus only because he is capable of following Jesus. A man is responsible and accountable according to that which is in his realm of control, according to that which is within his power. A man will be judged no more, nor any less, then by his ability, since the commands of God require nothing more then that which is within man’s moral ability, that which is within the realm of moral possibilities.

That which God requires, God supplies the ability to achieve. If God commands the parting of the red sea, God will supply the power to do it (Exodus 14:26-27). If God commands moral perfection of heart from men (Genesis 17:1, Deut 18:13, Matthew 5:48) God supplies the ability for it to be achieved (1Corinthians 10:13). Those whom God holds morally responsible and morally accountable are those whom God has made morally free, morally capable, or morally able.

[b]RELATION OF THE MORAL CHARACTER OF GOD TO THE MORAL LAW OF GOD[/b]

“Does God give commandments which men cannot obey? Is He so arbitrary, so severe, so unloving, as to issue commandments which cannot be obeyed? The answer is that in all of annals of Holy Scripture, not a single instance is recorded of God having commanded any man to do a thing, which was beyond his power. Is God so unjust and so inconsiderate as to require of man that which he is unable to render? To infer is to slander the character of God.” E. M. Bounds *8

God is not a tyrant, His laws are not tyrannical. Pharaoh commanded brick but gave no straw, and then beat those who failed to perform the impossible. Pharaoh was a tyrant for doing such and scripture assigns the fault to Pharaoh and not with those subservient to him (Exodus 5:16). The moral fault was with the commander, not with the command breakers. The infallible testimony of Divine Inspiration declares that when an impossible law is broken, the problem is with the law itself and with the one who issued the law.

What is vice in Pharaoh would not and could not be virtue in God. What scripture condemns in one is condemnable in all; what is vice in one is vice in all. The equality and impartiality of justice demands that what mars the character of one must mar the character of all, a blemish to one must be a blemish to all.

God does not command obedience when He gives no ability to perform that which is commanded, only to punish with eternal torment those who do not obey when they had no ability to obey. The fault would, according to the Divine Scriptures, be with the commander and not with the command breaker, when the commands are broken. Sin would ultimately be the fault of the one who gave the unreasonable law, since sin is transgression of the law (1John 3:4), and there can be no transgression where there is no law (Romans 4:15, Romans 5:13,1John 3:4); therefore transgression of the impossible law is fault of the law itself, and the fault of the one who decreed the law. Sin then would not and could not be the fault of the one who broken the law which naturally could not be kept. The one who decrees an impossible law must be the ultimate author and actual cause of sin. But the precious truth of revelation is that God is not the author of sin, He is not the ultimate cause of sin, because God’s moral laws are not unreasonable, because God’s moral laws can in fact be kept. Natural revelation (conscience) and supernatural revelation (scripture) assign the fault of sin to sinful men, they are the cause of their own rebellion; they are the author of their own sin. Sinners are misusing and abusing their God given freewill.

God’s moral government, or moral Kingdom, is not a tyrannical one, but a reasonable and just one. God does not condemn the incapable for failure to perform the impossible, but condemns the able for failure to perform the possible; for voluntarily and freely choosing darkness over the light (John 3:19), “who have received the law” “but have not kept it” (Acts 7:53). Sinners abide under the wrath of God for being criminals by choice, not for being cripples by birth. The fault is with their own choices (Isaiah 14:13-14, Luke 19:14, Luke 19:27, John 5:40), not with their God given constitution (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

God’s execution of condemnation is justly exerted upon the capable for violation of commandments that could be kept. Condemnation for violation of commandments is justly deserved upon condition of capability, upon condition of being able to keep the commandments. Condemnation for breaking a law that could not be kept is unjust condemnation. Eternal damnation for breaking that which was unavoidably and inevitably to be broken is unjust eternal damnation. God does not send to hell those who are victims of their birth, victims of nature, victims of their parents, victims of fate, who hadn’t any power, option, or ability of obeying all that was required of them. But rather, God sends deserving criminals and rebels to eternal hell (1Cor 6:9-10, Rev 21:8), who freely of their own accord choose to walk contrary to the righteous demands of God’s reasonable and just commandments, when it was well within their power, well within their ability of will, to obey and conform to all of their moral obligations and requirements.

“It is offering an insult to the only wise God to suppose… that he gave them the Gospel, without giving them power to believe it…With regards to repentance, ‘Then he began,’ says St. Matthew, ‘to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.’ 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, and the dumb for not speaking! ... 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, (so called) who is supposed to say to myriads of men, that can no more repent than ice can burn, ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all perish”? John Fletcher *9

“Many sincere men are saying, ‘God gave us good laws to keep,’ and in the next breath saying, ‘we are actually unable to keep them!’ If this is true, then God’s laws are not good! No law is good that asks the impossible of its subjects. If God demands obedience to impossible laws then God is not just... If God demands such obedience under penalty of death, then God is not only unfair, but monstrous. What kind of being would pass laws upon his subjects they are unable to keep, and then condemn them to death for their failure to obey? This is a blasphemy on God’s character.” Winkie Pratney *10

To assume that God commands the impossible at the threat of eternal torment is to directly slander the character of God, it is to blame God for our sin rather then to rightly blame ourselves! Cruelty cannot be ascribed to God’s character because injustice cannot be ascribed to His government. The character of God does not allow anyone to go to hell for failure to perform moral impossibilities, but only for failure to perform moral possibilities, for being unwillingness but not unable.

The bible exalts God and glorifies His moral character and says because of God’s eternal character He never, in any circumstance, allows anyone to be tempted beyond their moral ability. A sin hating, sin punishing God provides a way for all sin to be avoided in all cases, always, without exception, providing a way of escape so that we are all, always, able to obey instead of disobey. “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1Cor 10:13

Temptation would not be tempting if it were forcing. What is forced cannot be considered temptation. Temptation is the inclination towards one choice over the other, the influence towards a decision or direction. Temptation is not the forcing of one choice over the other; it is not the necessitating of one decision or direction. Force or causation is not the nature of temptation but inclination or influence is. Causation and influence are different by nature. Temptation can only respect contingent volitions, relating to that which may or may not occur; but temptation cannot be respecting certain or necessitated volitions, relating to that which will and must occur. So if man is not a free agent, if man is not an individual personality possessing freewill, man could never suffer temptation. And if man never faced temptation, man could never create a moral character. And if man did not have a moral character, man could not be accountable for anything.

Where sin is forced, there could neither truly be sin or temptation. But where there is sin and where there is temptation, there must be the freedom of the will. All men are tempted to sin, but no man is forced to sin, because all men are capable of not sinning. If this were not true, neither temptation nor sin could exist for the sinner or for the saint. For sin to be sin, for temptation to be temptation, and for a person to have moral guilt, sin must be voluntary and avoidable, never necessitated and forced. For temptation (or motive) to be temptation it must be only influence, never causation. And so “temptation” is “common” to all men, because the power of contrary choice is common to all men. All men have the freedom of their wills, and so the scripture is undeniably true that “ye are able” (1Cor 10:13).

We are never overpowered by internal or external temptation; we are never forced by internal or external motives, because God always provides a way of escape, He never allows it to be beyond our ability, so that we are always “able” to resist and escape. Sin is always voluntary and requires the consent of the will (Job 11:14, Ecclesiastes 11:14, Matthew 23:26, Romans 6:12).

1Cor 10:13 directly and explicitly depicts the eternal character of God as it relates to man’s ability and temptations. God is always just towards all men, faithful at all times. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Because of the eternally holy, eternally good, eternally just character of God, the commandments of God are never tyrannical or burdensome, but are always moral and reasonable, always being possible by all who are obligated to keep them.

“God is faithful” therefore “ye are able” (1Cor 10:13). “Able” is “δύναμαι” which is to “be able or possible: - be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be of power”. The only reason “ye are able” is because “God is faithful”. To declare that “ye are not able” would require the declaration that “God is not faithful”. God’s character determines what God commands; and what God commands is always in accordance to our ability; the moral law always respects our ability by brilliantly declaring “with all thy” (Matthew 22:37).

Since God’s moral character determines what God publicly declares as a command, when dealing with the moral commandments of God we are directly dealing with the moral character of God and only subsequently dealing with the capabilities of men. The moral character of God is the primary issue while the moral capacities of men are only the secondary or necessarily connected issue.
(I properly recognize that God’s commandments are ultimately derived from the intrinsic value of His well-being, seeing that His well-being is naturally and eternally of intrinsic value, whose likeness we were made in the image of (Gen 1:26). Treatment is determined by value (Luke 12:7). God commands that which promotes the highest well-being of all and condemns that which demotes the highest well-being of all (Deut 6:3, Deut 6:24, Deut 10:12-13, Jer 7:23, Jer 32:39, Luke 6:9); commanding the means that are relatively good and condemning the means that are relatively harmful (Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:8, Gal 5:14, James 2:8), in relation to or in accordance with the end which is intrinsically good (well-being) and the end which is intrinsically evil (ill-being) (Luke 16:25).

All moral agents necessarily presuppose the intrinsic value of well-being, their consciences condemning that which is harmful to others while commanding that which is helpful to others. God morally requires of men that which is good for all and forbids that which is harmful to all; except in those cases when a moral agent forfeits that right by disregarding the intrinsic value of the well-being of others, and therefore brings upon himself the deserved punishment of torment. Because God commands the good and forbids the evil, we can never question the wisdom and goodness of God’s moral commandments without questioning the character and intelligence of the Commander.

It is God’s will that acts voluntarily in accordance with His intelligence; His character being derived from His will, which voluntarily declares and determines His public and universal commandments. So while the ultimate foundation of God’s commandments is found in His eternal nature, that is, in the intrinsic and eternal value of His well-being, as demanded by His Divine Intelligence, it is still properly true that “God’s character determines God’s commandments”, that is, God’s character ultimately determines what He voluntarily, publicly declares and universally requires of all moral agents. Therefore, to attack the goodness and reasonableness of God’s commandments is to directly attack the character of God; it would be to accuse God of not being good and reasonable in His moral government.)

“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:30). “His commandments are not grievous.” (1John 5:3). Because His yoke, burden, and commandments are easy, light, and not grievous, therefore “ye are able”. To say “ye are not able” is to say His yoke, burden, and commandments are hard, heavy and burdensome, which would be contrary to the direct and explicit declarations God has given of Himself. The one who misrepresents the commandments must of necessity misrepresent the Commander.
Therefore the declaration of the ability of man is an exaltation of the character of God, and the renunciation of the ability of man is a denunciation of the character of God. The one who rejects the ability of man thereby slanders and undermines the wisdom of God’s Divine Intelligence and the goodness of God’s Divine Character.

[b]THE CONDITION OF THE MORAL CHARACTER OF SINNERS AND THE CONDITION OF THE NATURAL FACULTIES OF SINNERS[/b]

The bible describes the moral condition of the unconverted sinners as totally and completely morally depraved, as never doing any good at all, entirely destitute of all virtue, bankrupt of all real righteousness and deplete of all true holiness (Matt 6:22-24, Matt 7:17-18, Luke 11:34-36, Rom 3:10-18, 2Cor 5:17, Titus 1:15-16, James 3:11-12). But total moral depravity is not synonymous with natural or constitutional inability; inability meaning that the will is no longer free to make the contrary choice, that the faculty of the will is crippled or impaired. An important distinction must be made between the condition of the moral character of sinners and the condition of the natural faculties of sinners. Moral character and natural capabilities must not be confused, they are not identical. What is physically or spiritually constitutional and what is moral or ethical must be sharply distinguished between for a sound theology.

“In self-originating volition we locate the origin of [moral] character.” L. D. McCabe *11 “Character is formed by internal decisions. Moral Character is of moral significance only so far as it has been produced by an act which is simply internal, that is the free inclination of the will.” Julius Mueller *12

Moral character absolutely could not exist without moral agency, and moral agency absolutely could not exist without natural or constitutional faculties; specifically, as relating to this discourse, the freedom of the will (and conscience). Both the morally virtuous and the morally depraved conditions of men, which make up their moral character, are dependent upon the functional faculty or uninjured freedom of the will. Where this freedom does not exist, moral agency, moral responsibility, and therefore moral character, good or bad, cannot exist. And where moral character does not exist, moral accountability cannot exist.

Individuals that are totally morally depraved still maintain the ability of choosing the good over evil; they still have the faculty of freewill. Moral depravity is not a crippled faculty, but moral depravity is the abuse or improper function of an existing, functioning faculty. Sin is not the inability to do right, sin is an abuse of the liberty of the ability; sin is an unwillingness to use the faculty of the will rightly, to use the gift of freewill according to the intended purpose of the faculty Creator and Designer.

Freewill is a gift from God so that man could rightly choose the good over the evil. Man has no strength or ability of his own but only the strength or ability God supplies, namely freewill. Sin consists in voluntarily choosing wrongly, the evil over the good. Man could not be capable of evil if he were not capable of good; neither could man be capable of good if he were not capable of evil. True virtue and true blameworthiness consists in that which is voluntarily chosen, not that which was necessitated. That which is necessitated cannot have moral character, but moral character can only be in connection with that which was voluntarily chosen; which object was morally right or morally wrong. Moral character is derived from choices, and choices are derived from freewill.

Inability to do right is not and could not be sin, for inability to do good does not allow for the existence of character or guilt, it does not allow for voluntary transgression in which sin alone consists. Inability to do good would inevitably be the inability to sin, for sin is the voluntary choice or voluntary violation of God’s reasonable and good law (1John 3:4), sin consists alone in the voluntary moral choice to choose the evil over the option of the good, in the voluntary attitude of the heart, in the voluntary moral quality of the intention. Inability to sin would inevitably be the inability to be virtuous, for virtue consists in voluntarily choosing the good over the option of evil. What a man does out of inability a man does involuntarily, and moral character is derived from voluntarily choices alone. Therefore inability for vice means inability for virtue, and inability for virtue means inability for vice, because virtue and vice are voluntary choices, character (good or bad) cannot be derived from anything involuntary.

So heart-obedience is possible only so far as heart-disobedience is possible. Voluntary submission is possible only so far as voluntary rebellion is possible. The possibility of one cannot exist without the possibility of the other. A man is capable of being good just as far as he is capable of being evil, and he is capable of being evil just as far as he is capable of being good. God gave man freewill, with the power to disobey, so that man could genuinely obey from his own heart, so a man could genuinely love with freewill.

But if man did not have freewill, but had a nature that did not allow for contingent or alternative choices, it would follow that punishment could not be justly executed upon anyone for their choices. Those who believe in punishing different types of choices, like the choice of being selfish instead of loving, are themselves presupposing the existence of contingent or alternative choice, that is, they themselves are assuming the freedom of the will. Unless they assumed the existence of free choices they could not affirm the justice of punishing choices. The justice of punishing disobedience necessitates the existence of the possibility of obedience. Only what is voluntarily chosen, and not what is forced by nature, is justly punishable. The same injustice that would exist if someone was punished for the color of their skin would also exist if someone was punished for some sort of necessitated or involuntary sin. One can be justly punished for their voluntary character, but cannot be justly punished for their involuntary constitution.

Justin the Martyr of the Early Church said, “Every created being is so constituted as to be capable of vice and virtue. For he can do nothing praiseworthy, if he had not the power of turning either way.” And “unless we suppose man has the power to choose the good and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action whatever.” *13 Turtullian of the same century said, “No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.” *14 Origen, also of the Early Church, said, “The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” *15

(All of the Early Church Fathers, for the first 4-5 centuries, unanimously agreed and affirmed the freedom of the will, especially as an indispensable condition of moral agency and moral accountability. This doctrine was universally a fundamental pillar of the Christian faith, challenged only by the heathen and pagan philosophies of the day.)

Since sin does not consist in the inability to choose good over evil, but rather in the voluntarily choosing of evil over the good, an unwillingness to do rightly and not an inability to do rightly, sinners truly deserve hell, not because of any involuntary inability, but rather because of their voluntary unwillingness. They are criminals through their own will and not cripples by nature or victims of Adam. They are sinners by choice, not by birth, by constitution, by nature, or by anything external to their own freewill. Their own will is the reason for their sin (Isaiah 14:13-14, Luke 19:14, Luke 19:27, John 5:40), they are rebels who choose to rebel (Ps 5:10, Isaiah 1:2, Ezekiel 2:3).

It must be distinctly understood that total moral depravity is respecting moral character but it is not at all any sort of total inability respecting the capabilities of the faculties of the personality. Total moral depravity is rather the utter and absolute unwillingness to choose good over evil. A man who is totally morally depraved still has the capacity of good just as the man totally morally righteous has the capacity of evil, because righteousness and wickedness are respecting voluntary choices or voluntary character and not at all the capabilities and capabilities of the faculties of the personality.

The wicked and the righteous both have the faculty of freewill imbedded in their personality, and it must exist as long as they themselves exist. Therefore, the righteous man can “turn from his righteousness” and choose sin (Ezekiel 18:24) and “the wicked” can “turn from all his sin” and choose righteousness (Ezekiel 18:21). Jesus taught that a man can make ups his mind to disobey and then later change his mind and choose to obey, and a man can make up his mind to obey and then later change his mind and choose to disobey (Matt 21:28-30). The character or choices of an individual can always change, because the faculty of the will always remains in tact and functional, always operating under the law of liberty, always possessing moral freedom.

A man is unable only in that sense that he is unwilling, but not in that he hasn’t the needed and necessary faculties. He is always free to choose contrary to his previous choice. If this were not true, neither falling from a state of perfection, nor recovering from a fallen state of sin, could be possible at all to anyone. Neither falling, nor converting, nor backsliding, would be or could be possible at all, if a man could not choose contrary to his previous choice, if the faculty of the will was not functional.

But a man is unable only in that he is unwilling, but not in that he is incapable in respect to his faculty. He is unable only because of his character, because of his choices, because of his will, not because of his constitutional faculties or natural capabilities. A man who willingly chooses sin cannot willingly choose righteousness while he is unwilling to choose righteousness, while he is willingly choosing sin. (Rom 8:5-8) And a man who willingly chooses righteousness cannot willingly choose sin, while he is unwilling to choose sin, while he is willingly choosing righteousness. (1John 3:8) But the faculty of the will is always free to choose, always maintaining the power of contrary choice. The faculty of the will can, at all times, either submit itself to the sensibilities, that is, to the lusts of the flesh (1John 2:16) or to the truth and instruction of God revealed to the intelligence by the Spirit of grace (Gal 5:16, Titus 2:11). The will is free because it always has these two opposite choices, to do what feels good for self or what is known as good for others.

Since sin does not consist in the inability to choose good over evil, total moral depravity is not and could not be total inability or a crippled constitutional faculty. Total moral depravity simply could not exist without moral ability. Character is not capabilities or capacities. What is constitutional and what is ethical are completely separate in nature. A proper distinction between the two is vital to a biblically sound and accurate theological view of sin, sinners, God and His government.

[b]FREE MORAL AGENCY CONTINUED EVEN AFTER THE FALL OF ADAM AND EVE[/b]

The sin of Lucifer, Adam, Eve, and the rest of the world could not have occurred without freewill. Sin implies freewill not a “sinful nature” (sin is a choice, not a nature). Lucifer, Adam, Eve, all were created perfect by God and sinned without a sinful nature, because they had a freewill. And the entire world has followed their example, using their freewill in the same way. The universality of sin proves the universality of freewill, and the universality of temptation, but it does not prove the universality of a sinful nature or the universality of necessity. Where causation or necessity exists, neither sin nor temptation can exist.

Free moral agency did not terminate with the fall of Adam and Eve when they ate from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:9). Eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” did not eliminate moral agency, and thus eliminate moral accountability, but it rather expanded and enlarged it. The “eyes of them both were opened” (Gen 3:7), and they became like God, “knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:22). With this increase of moral knowledge came the increase of moral obligation and moral accountability. The increase of moral knowledge never terminates moral agency or moral accountability but rather enhances and enlarges it.

God Himself addressed Cain as a free moral agent, capable of both good and evil even after the fall of Adam and Eve: “And the Lord saith unto Cain, why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:6-7) Cain had no reason to be “wroth”; he had no reason for his “countenance” to be “fallen”, because his free moral agency still remained in tact, his moral capabilities remained functional, he had a contingent choice that he could make to do well or to do it not, he still have the ability to “rule over” sin instead of allow or let sin to rule over him (Job 11:14, Ecclesiastes 11:10, Romans 6:12), both required the consent of his will.

So even after the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind maintained the ability to “doest well” and to “doest evil” and to “rule” over sin. The contingency and possibility to do good and evil, to be righteous or to be wicked, still remained apart of man’s realm of capability. Cain and Abel, who had the same exact parents, who inherited the same exact nature, both born after the fall, were still free moral agents. But one was righteous and the other wicked because of their voluntary choices. Abel’s works were “righteous” (1John 3:12) and Abel himself was “righteous” (Matt 23:35) But Cain was wicked and did evil works (1John 3:12). Cain could have done well just as much as his blood brother Abel did; he could have done righteously and could have been righteous, and he could have been acceptable to God. He was not forced to sin by circumstances, by fate, by nature, by his parents, or by God. His will still operated under the law of liberty, not the law of necessity. He had the contingent choice of two moral possibilities and he voluntarily selected one over the other; and therein is the first condition of moral accountability – the moral ability or the power of contrary choice.

Because freewill is a faculty of the human personality created in the image of God, this faculty can remain uninjured or unharmed even after the physical fall of man’s physical constitution. For the faculty of freewill is not derived from the physical body, but is an essential element of the personality of man. The human personality was made in the image of the immaterial or invisible God, which personality consists in intelligence, freewill, and sensibilities. These faculties of the personality must existence as long as the person existences.

Neither of these faculties derived their existence from the physical constitution of man, for God is immaterial and invisible and possesses all of these faculties. Therefore mankind can maintain the functional faculty of freewill, even with a fallen body, just as those beings who don’t have a body still have the faculty of freewill. Moral accountability is therefore preserved even after the fall of Adam, with all of its physical affects hereditary to his posterity, because moral ability is preserved after such an event. And even though men misuse their freewill when they still, they still have freewill when they sin, otherwise they could not sin at all.

[b]GOD’S MORAL LAW OR MORAL GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES ALL MORAL AGENTS AS FREE, APPEALING TO THEIR MORAL CAPABILITIES[/b]

Those that are totally morally depraved sinners still maintain the faculty of freewill, which is the power of contrary choice. The bible everywhere addresses the moral ability of those that are totally morally depraved. God often appeals to the freewill of sinners to turn away from sin and be converted:

“And the Lord saith unto Cain, why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

“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” Deuteronomy 30:19

“Choose you this day whom ye will serve;” Joshua 24:15

“Wash yourself, make yourself clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be read like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 1:16-20

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 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.” Isaiah 55:6-7

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground.” Hosea 10:12

“And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.” Jeremiah 21:8

“Turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Ezekiel 18:30

“Cast away from you all your transgressions…..make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit” Ezekiel 18:31

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32

“Return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” Jeremiah 18:11

“Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.” Jeremiah 26:13

“Save yourselves from his untoward generation.” Act 2:40

“God… commands all men every where to repent” Acts 17:30

“You have obeyed from the heart” Romans 6:17

“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh” 1Corinthians 7:1

“If any man therefore purge himself” 2Timothy 2:21

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:2

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” James 4:9

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord” James 4:10

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth” 1Peter 1:22

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelations 22:17

Jesus spoke of one individual who first said “I will not” when confronted with a request, but then “afterward repented” and did according to it. And there was another who first said he would, but afterward repented and did it not. (Matt 21:28-30) This clearly shows that a man can change his mind about sinning even after formerly making up his mind to sin, and a man can change his mind about obeying even after formerly making up his mind to obey; he can will contrary to his previous will, he can choose contrary to his habit of choice, because the will is at all times a free faculty with the power of contrary choice. If this were not true, this parable could not be true, and Christ would be found a liar, which He most certainly is not.

Forced obedience and forced disobedience is a contradiction in terms. Obedience and disobedience must be willful, voluntary, and intentional; they must be from the heart (Matthew 12:35, Matthew 15:18-19, Romans 6:17).

The unconverted are totally responsible for their impenitent state, for their hardness against the truth (Romans 2:5), as all sinful men are completely responsible for their immoral state, because of the freedom of their will. God therefore appeals in scripture to the will of man, to turn away from sin and turn to Him, to be completely and utterly dependant upon the Holy Spirit for instruction and guidance into all the ways of righteousness and holiness, to be entirely dependant upon His grace and mercy for the forgiveness of all repented sins. The only thing that keeps sinners from the forgiveness of God is an unwillingness to turn from sin and to seek after Him. (Matthew 7:7, 2Peter 3:9)

The bibles doctrine of salvation is the doctrine of synergy not monergism. “They that would not come [to Christ], ought not to impute it to another, but only to themselves, because, when they are called, it was in the power of their free will to come.” Augustine *16

[b]THE CRIMINALITY OF TRANSGRESSION: SINNERS ARE REBELS NOT VICTIMS[/b]

True total moral depravity is when a sinner never chooses to do rightly or benevolently, but only wickedly or selfishly. Those who never choose to do rightly, which are all men prior to conversion to Christ, are totally morally depraved. But moral depravity is not moral inability; it is moral unwillingness to use ability rightly. Depravity of constitution could not be depravity of character. Character and capabilities must not be confused; character and constitution are not identical. Character does not consist in your faculties, but in the usage of those faculties. Constitutional inability would not, could not, and is not sin. Only unwillingness to do rightly, when there is the capability of doing rightly, is sin; sin that is punishable by eternal torment.

Sinners sin because they want to, not because they have to, and that is where the criminality of transgression consists. Sinners are criminals not cripples. Sinners are criminals in their will, not victims of their parents, birth, nature, constitution, or faculties. Sinners are criminals because they sin when they do not have to sin; sinners are sinners because they rebel against God when they could surrender and obey God. Sinners are criminals because they sin, and they sin because they want to, when in fact they don’t have to.

A sinner is a sinner by choice, not by force or necessity; a sinner is therefore a rebel and not a victim, a criminal not a cripple, with nobody to blame for his sin but himself. On the Day of Judgment God will not blame Adam or our nature for our sin, God will blame us and us alone for our sin, because sin is a choice of freewill, and we alone are in control of our freewill.

A mans guilt is proportioned to his degree of ability, being guilty only to the extent that he was capable of better. Justice does not allow guilt to exceed ability; ability must always precede guilt. Capability determines responsibility and responsibility determines accountability. Capability (ability), responsibility (obligation), and accountability (awarding and punishing according praiseworthiness or blameworthiness) are in an inseparable relation one towards another, so that none can exist if one does not exist; they equally limit each other. They are an inseparable chain that stands or falls together. One is not accountable unless he is responsible, and one is not responsible unless he is capable.

“Sin is always a wrong voluntary attitude or purpose of life, or a wrong motive of heart. Sin is not a fixed something back of the will controlling its actions. The will determines the nature of character... We are sinners simply because we choose to sin or live selfishly. We are never held accountable for what we are not the author of. Ability is always the measure of responsibility.” Gordon Olson *17

Jesus rightly rebuked the unrepentant because they were unwilling; He did not cruelly rebuke the unable for not doing (John 5:40). They were criminals who rightly needed rebuking, because they were unwilling, not because they were unable. Sinners are voluntarily unwilling, not constitutionally unable. Men cannot blame Adam, Eve, Satan, God, society, or nature for their sin and impenitence. Those who are unconverted are unconverted, not because of God or anything else, but because of themselves, because they “would not come” unto Jesus that they “might have life” (John 5:40). Sinners have nothing but their own will to blame for their rebellion against the law of God and their refusal to come to Jesus Christ.

A. W. Tozer taught this profound truth in a simple manner, “What man ought to do, he can do”. *18 Men are accountable only to their obligations; a man cannot be accountable for that which he was not obligated to do, and our obligations are respecting our abilities only. A man cannot be obligated to do that which he was unable to do. Therefore those who should do better can do better, and those who can do better should do better. Account-ability is the giving of account of one’s use of ability, being accountable in accordance to ones capabilities. You are accountable only for what you can do; and what you can do, you are accountable for.

A man determines his heart, that is, he determines his will or intention (1Kings 6:61, Zechariah 7:10, Ezekiel 18:31, Psalms 119:112), the inward moral character of a man is totally voluntary, determined by the man himself (Job 11:14, Ecclesiastes 11:14, Matthew 23:26, Romans 6:12), and a man’s heart determines his conduct (Matthew 12:35, Matthew 15:19, Luke 6:45). Men are voluntarily servants of sin. Jesus taught that those who voluntarily choose to sin are servants of sin (John 8:34). Paul taught that those who choose to obey sin are servants of sin (Romans 6:16). It is not that they sin because they are first servants of sin, but they are servants of sin because they first voluntarily sin, because they first choose to obey sin. Likewise those who voluntarily yield and present themselves to God (Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19, Romans 12:1) are now voluntarily servants of righteousness (Romans 6:16-20). Men are dead in sin (Romans 7:9, Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13) or dead to sin (1Peter 2:24) by voluntary choice. Dead in sin and dead to sin are voluntary moral states (Luke 9:23, 1Cor 15:31), or voluntary moral characters, determined by freewill. Dead in sin and dead to sin are states of the will, being derived from the will, not from the nature or constitution. If these moral states were not voluntary states of the will, these states could not have moral character, and if they have no moral character, they could not be moral states at all. They are voluntary states and therefore men are accountable for them.

Sinners are the author of their own sin, the creator of their own character, the cause of their own rebellion. All sinners voluntarily choose to sin, to abuse their ability; to do what they know is wrong. And therein is the criminality of transgression, the guilt of rebellion, and the justice of eternal damnation.

 2007/12/23 21:10









 Re: FREEWILL & CONSCIENCE Conditions of Accountability


[b]2. MORAL KNOWLEDGE OR CONSCIENCE:
A Necessary Condition of Moral Ability and therefore a Necessary Condition to Moral Accountability[/b]

[b]THE RELATION OF MORAL KNOWLEDGE TO MORAL ABILITY[/b]

To be accountable to do better, one must know to do better. One could not be capable of doing better if they did not know to do better. Since accountability never exceeds ability, accountability never exceeds knowledge, since knowledge is a prerequisite of ability.

What a man does not know to do, a man is not and could not be capable of doing. And what a man is not capable of, a man cannot be accountable for. Accountability is always in accordance with ability; accountability is always in accordance with knowledge, because knowledge is a precondition of ability.

Neither disobedience nor obedience can occur without light. A man can neither obey nor disobey what he does not know. A man is always capable of obeying or disobeying the knowledge that he does have, but men are never capable of obeying or disobeying knowledge that they don’t have. Obedience and disobedience requires light; obedience and disobedience requires a law or commandment. But when there is knowledge, both obedience and disobedience are possibilities, the will choosing the one or the other. Under light, there can be no neutrality, the will must yield or resist, embrace or reject. Men are capable of obeying and capable of disobeying only so far as they are under light, only so far as their moral obligation is revealed unto them, only so far as their requirement is clearly known and perceived, only so far as they are granted the revelation of conscience. All men are either evil or good because they either obey or disobey the law of love, which God has written on their conscience.

Knowledge of obligation and ability to obey or disobey are interwoven. By logical connection, since ability is the unalterable and undeniable condition of accountability, knowledge must also be an unalterable and undeniable condition of accountability, since knowledge is a necessary requirement of ability.

One cannot write a paper who does not know how to write at all; one cannot swim who does not know how to swim. Knowing how is a precondition to actually doing. They may have the ability to learn how to write and the ability to learn how to swim, but without the knowledge of how, they simply cannot actually perform or really do. Without knowledge one may have the capability of ability, but not the actuality of ability; that is, they may be capable of achieving or capable of learning before knowledge, (such capability of learning being a prerequisite to the attainment of any knowledge) but they are not capable of performing or doing until the acquisition of the knowledge has been attained.

Therefore, one is only capable or able of what one is knowledgeable of. And since the extent of accountability is the extent of ability, and the extent of ability is the extent of knowledge, personal accountability cannot, does not, and will not exceed personal knowledge.

[b]THE RELATION OF MORAL KNOWLEDGE TO MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY[/b]

Accountability never can, does, or will exceed ability; and ability never can, does, or will exceed knowledge. One is only accountable to what one is capable of, and one is only capable of what one is knowledgeable of. One cannot be morally accountable if one is not morally capable, and one is not morally capable of what one is not morally knowledgeable of. Therefore a revelation from God, as to what is required, is a necessary condition of accountability. Accountability is in accordance with known or revealed obligation, never being less then, or more then, this knowledge.

“Where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15

“To him who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

“A…condition of moral obligation is light, or so much knowledge of our relations as to develop the idea of ought-ness…the perception or idea of the intrinsically valuable.” Charles G. Finney *19 Increased knowledge equals increased responsibility which necessitates an increase in accountability. The more knowledge that one has, the more that one will be accountable for. Therefore increased disobedience to increased knowledge equals an increased guilt.

Violation of greater knowledge is a “greater sin” (John 19:11) which necessitates a “greater condemnation” (Matt 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47, James 3:1). A “greater sin” is a violation of greater knowledge. All sin is equal in its nature, being rebellion against light. But not all sin is equal in its guilt or deservingness of punishment, which is measured and determined by the amount of light sinned against. A sin is “more atrocious”, said John Fletcher, which is committed “against greater light and knowledge”.*20 All men know that they are obligated to the law of love, but knowledge of what love truly entails and requires may vary in degrees from one person to another; the end demanded by love is clearly known by all (the highest well-being of all) but knowledge of the means demanded by love depends upon the amount of knowledge one has. But all men are obligated to do what God has clearly revealed to them that they should do.

Not a single soul has ever gone to hell for not knowing better than to sin. But all souls have gone to hell because they knew better than to sin and to rebel against God. All who sin do so against their better judgment, they do so contrary to the demands of their conscience. All sin is a violation of what is intelligent, against what is reasonable, against the intuitions of the reason and against the clearly perceived dictations of the conscience, against known moral law. Sin is never reasonable or intelligence (Psalms 111:10, Psalms 119:34, Psalms 119:100, Matthew 7:24), but is always contrary to it (Matthew 7:26) and is therefore inexcusable (Romans 1:20). God has given a conscience to all men of all nations (John 1:9, Rom 2:15, Rom 1:21) which testifies of His own existence and declares His reasonable moral demands. Con-science is “con” and “science” which mean’s “with knowledge”. All intelligent individuals have knowledge and therefore know better then to sin, and therefore ought to will in accordance with their knowledge. All sinners with a conscience sin with knowledge that it is wrong, and therein lays their guilt.

The measure of responsibility/obligation, accountability/guilt is in exact proportion to the mind’s perception of moral law, proportioned exactly to the degree of the individual’s knowledge of right and wrong. A mans guilt is proportioned to his ability, and his ability is proportioned to his knowledge, being guilty only to the extent that he was capable of better and being capable of better only to the extend that he knew better. Guilt cannot exceed ability; ability cannot exceed knowledge, ability must precede guilt, and knowledge must precede ability. So moral guilt can only proceed out of moral knowledge and moral ability. Therefore personal accountability will never exceed personal knowledge. All are judged by the knowledge that they possess, and are found innocent or guilty in accordance with that knowledge.

If a man sins a “sin of ignorance” (Lev 4:13), doing that which “ought not to be done” (Lev 4:2) “when he knows of it” only “then he shall be guilty” (Lev 5:3), being held responsible only when it is “known” (Lev 4:14). There is also the sin of being “willingly” “ignorant” (2Peter 3:5). This is when knowledge is available and attainable, within the reach of an individual, yet they willingly refuse to attain it, refusing to reach out for it. Such knowledge is within the realm of attainability (attainable because of their ability) yet it is refused and ignored. Such a sin of ignorance is truly the sin of ignoring the attainable truth. This was no doubt is connected to the case of the Israelite in Leviticus, who could sin a sin of ignorance, when knowledge and revelation was made available to all of Israel.

Moral responsibility and moral accountability cannot exceed moral knowledge. Conscience is absolutely essential for responsibility, character, and accountability. Moral knowledge is an unmovable precondition of moral guilt. The entire world is guilty of sin because the entire world has a conscience, the entire world knows better.

The very foundation of just wrath and deserved condemnation is knowledge of obligation. “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20) Men are under the “wrath of God” because they “hold the truth” because of what is already “known” and “shown” to them, which truth they suppress and reject “in unrighteousness”. And because of this knowledge they are “without excuse” for their behavior.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show 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.” (Romans 2:14-15) By “nature” all men are “a law unto themselves” because of the “thoughts” of conscience all men inescapably have, the natural revelation given to them by God, both of His own existence and of His moral requirements. All men, in all cultures, on all continents, necessarily affirm the existence of God and the requirement of love; God and His law of love are known by all, the consciences of all men make these revelations inescapable.

Natural revelation is the basis of responsibility and accountability, the very foundation of judgment and condemnation, the reason of guilt and blameworthiness. And as more revelation is granted upon the foundation of natural revelation, responsibility and accountability must itself increase. And if increased disobedience follows the increased revelation, then judgment, condemnation and guilt must increase as well.

[b]THE CLEAR AND EXPLICIT TEACHING OF DIVINE INSPIRATION RESPECTING MORAL KNOWLEDGE AND MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY[/b]

That a man is guilty only to the extent that he knew better because of his conscience; that accountability is measured by the knowledge of a man’s conscience; and increased knowledge equals increased accountability, can be clearly derived from the following passages:

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the might works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, then for you.” Matthew 11:21-22

“And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did not commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” Luke 12:47-48

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

“Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye would have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remains.” John 9:41

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.” John 15:22

“Where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15

“Sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5:13

“To him who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Some sinners have a “greater sin” John 19:11

Hypocrites (who all know better) will have a greater damnation: Matt 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47

Teachers (who by necessity know more) are accountable to a stricter judgment: James 3:1

See also: Matt 10:15, Matt 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, Luke 10:14, Romans 1:18-20, Heb 10:26, 2Peter 2:21

It is abundantly seen that all men are judged and accountable to the knowledge that they have; those with little knowledge are accountable to that little knowledge, no more and no less; those with greater knowledge are accountable to that greater knowledge, no more and no less; personal moral responsibility and personal moral accountability never exceeds the limits of personal moral knowledge.

[b]MORAL KNOWLEDGE AND THE AGE OF MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY[/b]

The scriptures teach what is commonly called “the age of accountability” or “the age of reason”, when a child reaches the age when his mind is developed and he has a proper conscious idea of right and wrong; when he can knowingly affirm and distinguish between the good and the evil.

“Your children, which….had no knowledge between good and evil” Deut 1:39

“For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” Isaiah 7:16

“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil” Rom 9:11

“To him who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Psychology itself testifies that the mind of a child slowly develops and is not fully developed at birth. When an individual has the conscious idea of right and wrong, and has the perception of the Divine and the human value and worth, then they are accountable for their moral actions and states. But if one does not know any better, then they cannot do any better, and therefore they have no sin or guilt, their character being determined by their knowledgeable choices. Guilt can only be prescribed to him that knows to do better then what he does, to those who “know to do right” but “does it not” to them “it is sin” (James 4:17). Moral ignorance would in fact be moral innocence, as the moral condition of Adam and Eve was innocent, though naked, before the opening of their eyes when they knew right from wrong. But what is tolerated because of ignorance is never tolerated when there is knowledge.

One can be guilty or praiseworthy of nothing except for that which is intentionally committed, and nothing can be intentionally committed that was not knowingly committed, that which was known to be right or wrong.

“Moral law is a pure and simple idea of the reason. It is the idea of perfect, universal, and constant consecration of the whole being to the highest good of being. Just this is, and nothing more or less can be, moral law; for just this, and nothing more or less, is a state of heart and a course of life exactly suited to the nature and relations of moral agents, which alone is the only true definition of moral law.” Charles. G. Finney *21

All intelligent agents are therefore moral agents; all with a conscience (moral consciousness) are accountable to that conscience (moral consciousness), no more and no less.
Jesus Christ had “innocent blood” (Matt 27:4, Matt 27:24) because he lived and never sinned (2Cor 5:21), and new born babies have “innocent blood” (Deut 19:10, 2Kings 24:4, Ps 106:38) because they haven’t yet lived a life of sin (Rom 9:11), they but are morally guilty when their conscience (moral consciousness) develops and they choose to voluntarily sin for themselves, against their better judgment.

[b]THE RELATION OF MORAL KNOWLEDGE TO REPROBATION AND APOSTASY[/b]

Regeneration is through revelation, when the Spirit changes a man’s moral character through the spiritual influence of conviction and instruction. Regeneration is the will being dully influenced by the truth, it is the wills embracing of the truth, or the wills yielding and obeying the truth (John 6:45, John 6:63, John 8:32, John 15:3, John 17:17, Romans 2:8, Romans 6:17, Acts 9:4-6, 1Corinthians 4:15, Titus 2:11-12, 1Timothy 2:4, 2Theselonians 1:8, 1Peter 1:22-23, 1Peter 4:17, 2Peter 1:2-3, 2Peter 2:20, James 1:18, James 1:21-22). But apostasy is the hearts utter refusal to embrace the truth, a total unwillingness and rejection of the light of revelation, to such an extent that a point is crossed in which there is no return, and one is a reprobate, given up by God because of their persistent rejection of revelation (Matthew 2:31-32, Luke 12:10, Ephesians 4:30).

The more that one grows in the knowledge of the Lord, yet continues sinning even with their increased knowledge, the closer they are to reprobation, when it would be no longer possible for them to be reached or changed, because it would be impossible to enlighten them anymore then what they already have been.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Heb 6:4-6

There is a point when a person received enough knowledge that should have sufficiently secured their total conversion and perseverance in the faith, when no more knowledge could be added to the knowledge already received, which leaves the individual in total reprobation or totally inability to be saved, because they have refused to submit to all the possible influence that could have been exerted. Anyone who chooses to sin every day, yet grows in the knowledge of the Lord every day, becomes closer and closer to total and incurable reprobation every day. Once they have been “enlightened” and have “tasted” and have been “partakers”, yet are still disobedient, it is then “impossible” to “renew them again unto repentance”.

One who grows “in the knowledge of our Lord” must “grow in grace” (2Peter 3:18) or ultimately become reprobate. He that “receives the knowledge of the truth”, but continues in “willful” disobedience, will face “fiery indignations” (Heb 10:26-27). Such a one will have “sorer” or worse “punishment” (Heb 10:28). The more knowledge one receives the more obedience one must increase in.

The one who grows in “hardness and impenitence of heart”, refusing to obey the perceived truth, “treasures up” “wrath” which will be poured out on the day of wrath”. (Rom 2:5). Those that have “once escaped the pollutions of the world through knowledge” and yet are “once again entangled in them”, it would have “been better for them not to have known” then to “have known” and yet “turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them”, and “the latter end is worst with them then the beginning”. (2Peter 2:20-21) The sinner with more knowledge is worst then the sinner with less knowledge.

Those who refuse the “knowledge of God” end up with a “reprobate mind”. (Romans 1:28) Those who “resist the truth” become “reprobate” because of their “corrupt minds”. (2Timothy 3:8) Reprobation is when the heart has rejected all the possible light that could be given to their minds to secure their conversion, when the will is in a state of impenitence and hardness towards all possible knowledge designed to secure repentance.

[b]THE CRIMINALITY OF TRANSGRESSION: SINNERS ARE CRIMINALS NOT CRIPPLES[/b]

Criminality, or guilt, is prescribed to the inward intention of the heart, or to the purpose or motive of the will, and does not consist solely in the outward actions. God is not at all described in the scriptures as being impressed with outward actions, but rather as looking upon and judging the motives and intentions of the heart (Gen 6:5, 1Sam 16:7, Joel 2:12-14, Matt 5:8, Matt 6:1-5, Matt 12:35, Matt 15:11, Matt 15:17-20, Matt 23:25-28, Mark 7:15-23, Luke 10:27, Heb 4:12, 1Tim 1:5, Titus 1:15).

The intention and motive is what God is concerned about. You are as your intention is (Prov 23:7). The intention for adultery is adultery (Matthew 5:28), the intention for murder is murder (1Jn 3:15). A man is as guilty as his intention is. Moral character, or the quality of a person’s moral state, consists in the moral condition of their inward intention, being either that of criminality or rectitude. The Pharisees appeared “outwardly righteous” but were “inwardly full of iniquity” (Matthew 23:28) because they fasted and prayed with the intention to be seen of men. (Matt 6:5, Matt 23:5). They were as their inward motive was, not as their outward works were. They were not even in the least bit righteous, but were “full of iniquity”; because what they did, they did selfishly and not benevolently; they did it for themselves and not for God and others; and virtue consists solely in benevolence of heart (Rom 13:8, Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8, 1Cor 13:1-3) while sin consists solely in selfishness of heart.

When the inward intention is morally wrong (selfish), the outward action which follows from it, no matter what sort it is (even praying and fasting), does not grant any moral character to the moral agent except from its relation to the individual’s motive. And where the intention is morally right (benevolent), there can be no moral guilt (1Cor 6:12, 1Cor 10:23, Titus 1:15), since guilt is prescribed solely to a wrong (selfish) intention. If the inside of the cup (inward intention) is first clean, then the outside of the cup (outward actions) will be clean as well. (Matt 23:26) “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matt 12:35)

“The fact is, that moral agents are so constituted that it is impossible for them not to judge themselves, and others, by their subjective motives and intentions. They cannot but assume, as a first truth, that a man’s character is as his intention is, and consequently, that moral obligation respects, directly, intention only.” Charles G. Finney *22

Responsibility, accountability, and therefore criminality, does not exceed the boundaries of the inward intention, which of necessity and inevitably manifests itself in outward action and conduct whenever possible and required. (Luke 6:45)

Because criminality is prescribed to intention, and intention depends upon knowledge (to intend to do something one must know they are intending to do something, for there to be guilty, they must know that their intention is wrong), sinners are sinners not because they do not know any better but rather because they do not will any better, because they do not intend in accordance with their conscience, in alignment with the intuitions of their reason. Their guilt lies in their knowledge of good and evil, combined with their refusal to choose, will, or intend the good over the evil. If there was no knowledge, there could be no guilt. For moral guilt is measured by moral knowledge. Total ignorance would necessitate total innocence. But knowledge, combined with unwillingness to obey knowledge, necessitates guilt in proportion to the knowledge.

You are as your character is, your character is as your intention is, and your guilt is as your knowledge is. One is as morally guilty as he is unwilling to obey the moral knowledge that he has, no more and no less. A sinner is a criminal for intentionally going against the demands of his conscience. A sinner is a criminal for sinning against his better judgment; for voluntarily, knowingly, and intentionally choosing what he knew was evil when he had the power or ability of choosing the good.

[b]THE EXTENT OF PERSONAL MORAL GUILT[/b]

Because the extent of personal guilt or sin cannot, does not, and will not exceed the boundaries of personal ability, and therefore personal knowledge, and therefore personal intention, a moral agent is only accountable for their own personal actions. The extent of personal guilt is the extent of personal sin, no more and no less.

A child is therefore not accountable for the sins of the father. The whole of mankind is not accountable for the sins of the one man Adam, which was entirely without our knowledge and without our consent. That which is beyond the realm of a person’s knowledge and consent is without the realm of their moral character, moral responsibility, and moral accountability. We are not responsible for Adam’s sin; therefore we are not accountable for Adam’s sin. A man is accountable only for that which he is responsible.

Each man is accountable for their own sins voluntarily done in their own body. Divine inspiration clearly ascribes personal guilt to personal sins only. Sinners go to hell for their own voluntary, avoidable, optional, personal violations of God’s reasonable and good moral law. The law of God that condemns sinners is reasonable and moral, not burdensome and tyrannical, seeing that all who are obligated to keep it are capable of keeping it. No man has ever gone to hell for the sins of another, just as no man has ever gone to hell for not knowing better or for failure to performing impossibilities. The one who sins shall die for his own sin. All sinners go to hell for their own transgressions or violations of God’s moral law; sinners are condemned for originating their own sin.

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16

“The Lord commanded, saying, the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but everyman shall be put to death for his own sin.” 2Kings 14:6

“The Lord commanded, saying, the fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but everyman shall die for his own sin.” 2Chronicals 25:4

“Yet say ye, why? Doeth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all of my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 18:19-20

“God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions” Ecclesiastes 7:29

“Who will render to everyman according to his deeds.” Romans 2:6

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, weather it be good or bad.” 2Corinthians 5:10

This is the clear and explicit teaching, the infallible truth of the justice of God found in the Divine Inspired Revelation; that each man is personally judged and condemned according to his own personal deeds, and not by the deeds of another.

“All our damnation is of ourselves, through our avoidable unfaithfulness…everyone shall die for his own avoidable iniquity.” John Fletcher *23 “For how can He punish [with endless torments] a nature which had no power to do good, but was bound in the hands of wickedness?” Theodorite *24

Remember, a sharp distinction must be made between the physical and the moral; a difference must be discretely drawn between the constitutional and the ethical. This is of vital importance to a sound theology.

PHYSICAL DEPRAVITY: We genetically inherit our physical make-up or physical constitution from our parents, with its physical lusts, physical cravings, physical desires, and physical depravities: Genesis 1:21, 1Corinthians 15:21-22, 1Corinthians 15:38-39, Heb 2:14. But physical constitutions have no moral character in and of themselves, apart from their voluntary use as controlled by the will or heart of man: Matthew 15:17-20, Mark 7:15, Romans 6:13

MORAL DEPRAVITY: We do not inherit the guilt or sin of our parents, being accountable and judged only for our own sins, our own voluntary moral depravity; as well as rewarded only for our own works: Deut 24:16, 2Kings 14:6, 2Chron 25:4, Ezekiel 18:2-4, Ezekiel 18:19-20, Matt 16:27, Rom 2:6, Rom 2:8-9, Rom 9:11, 2Cor 5:10, 2Cor 11:15, James 4:17, Rev 22:12.

With such abundant and clear teaching revealed by God Himself, it is a wonder so many have stumbled greatly at this point, bring much confusion to the consciences and minds of both the Church and the world of lost sinners, with unreasonable and uninspired views of guilt and accountability; namely that one is accountable for that which was beyond his control, without his consent, without his knowledge, and that one is accountable for the sins of another. Such unsound views that are so contrary to reason and scripture should be once and for all cast out of the Church!

Any man who has ever regretted his past action, or had remorse over his past sins, has presupposed the freedom of the will. Regret and remorse necessarily assume the contingent element of reality; consciously or subconsciously affirm the contingency of moral action. If this were not so, regret and remorse could never exist in the minds of men. Conversion requires such regret and remorse, so conversion requires the presupposition or belief (conscious or subconscious) of the freedom of the will. All men assume it, especially all converted men, since it is absolutely necessary for conversion, necessary for the acknowledgment of personal responsibility and guilt.

Absurd doctrinal dogmas as necessity and inability do not help in the conversion of souls, bringing no personal conviction of sin, as they are repulsive to the consciences of men. Preaching and teaching such views as those are destructive to a proper perspective of sin and sinners, God and His Kingdom (or Government). The minds of men simply cannot affirm guilt beyond the boundaries of knowledge, ability, and intention; they cannot ascribe personal guilt to that which was not personal, intentional, and within their control; and neither do the infallible, inspired scriptures teach such things. God couldn’t have been any clearer then He was in the scriptures listed above.

[b]THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER[/b]

1. Responsibility is limited to or exactly proportionate to ability: Deut 6:5, Deut 10:12, Deut 30:6, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, 1Cor 10:13

2. Accountability is limited to or exactly proportionate to the degree of someone’s knowledge: Matthew 11:21-22, Luke 12:47-48, Luke 23:34, John 9:41, John 15:22, Romans 1:18-20, Romans 4:15, Romans 5:13, James 4:17, John 19:11, Matt 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47, James 3:1, Matt 10:15, Matt 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, Luke 10:14, Heb 10:26, 2Peter 2:21

3. Men are accountability for their sins alone: Deuteronomy 24:16, 2Kings 14:6, 2Chronicals 25:4, Ezekiel 18:19-20, 2Corinthians 5:10

On the Day of Judgment, all men will have to give an account for what we did with the ability and the knowledge God has given us. Who is the source of sin? Each man is the source of his own sin! Who is the author of sin? Each man is the author of his own sin. Who is to blame for sin? The one who committed the sin! Men create their own moral characters by using their freewill to obey or disobey their conscience, by living according to or contrary to their knowledge.

This was universally the doctrine of the Early Church. Clement, whom Paul even mentioned in Philippians 4:3, said, “Neither praise nor condemnation, neither reward no punishments, are right if the soul does not have the power of choice and avoidance, if evil is involuntary.” *25 Jerome said, “God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown.” *26 Archelaus said, “All the creatures that God made, He made very good. And He gave to every individual the sense of free will, by which standard He also instituted the law of judgment… And certainly whoever will, may keep the commandments. Whoever despises them and turns aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment… There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.” *27 Tertullian said, “I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and power…For a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.” *28

Around the time of 374-430A.D. pagan influence and heathen doctrines started to infiltrate the Christian Church. Christian leaders began to embrace and teach the doctrines of necessity and inability. Pelagius was a monk who defended the doctrines of the Early Church, particularly the doctrine of freewill. He said, "Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead."*29 “"And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature's fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature." *30 “Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer.” *31 “Obedience [and disobedience] results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body.” *32

None can prove, either with reason or with revelation, that men are accountable beyond their ability or beyond their knowledge. If anyone assumes such views, the burden is upon them to try to prove it. The reasonably sound and explicit teachings of inspiration is that all men are accountable to what they know and to what they are capable of, being judged solely for that which was voluntary, for that which was within their realm of knowledge and control. Moral accountability never exceeds the extents of moral knowledge and moral ability, but divine judgment is directed exclusively towards moral intention; to what was knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily committed. Men are under the moral government of God because God has given them a conscience and freewill.

Henry Tappan said, "Responsibility rests upon the possession of conscience, or a faculty capable of making moral distinctions and comprehending the law of duty; and of a free, contingent, and self determining will, or a faculty of obeying or disobeying the laws of duty."*33 Dr. Wayland said, the scripture “everywhere declare that every man is guilty simply by his own voluntary transgressions, and that the guilt of every man is estimated by the degree of moral light which he has voluntarily resisted.”*34

When there is moral knowledge and moral ability there is moral accountability. But where there is no moral knowledge and no moral ability, there could not be any moral accountability. Moral agency is conditioned upon these. If a man is not capable of better, does not know to do better, he could not be obligated to do better, or be accountable for his failure, since without a man having knowledge and ability, a man cannot do better, and consequently he cannot be the cause of his own failure, failure; failure to obey can only occur when there is knowledge of obligation and ability to obey. What man is not the cause of man is not accountable for. But whomever God punishes for sin must be the author of sin. Since God punishes men for their sin, they must be the author of their own sin; they misuses and abuses their freewill. Intelligence and freedom are necessary prerequisites for moral agency. Thus a moral agent is judged according to his moral intelligence and moral ability. Only an intelligent, free moral agent can form his own moral character, only an intelligent, free moral agent is capable of vice, virtue, blameworthiness, and praiseworthiness. Only those who can form their own moral character, that is, only an intelligent free moral agent is subjected to obligation and accountability, subjected to moral government.

This is why God has given light to every man (John 1:9) and why God calls all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30-31); all men are accountable because all men have a conscience and freewill. Nobody sins out of necessity but sin is always an abuse of liberty or a deviation of God’s intention in granting the gift of freewill. God even repented of making man when He saw how they were using their freewill for sin (Gen 6:5-6) because God wanted man to use his freewill to genuinely love Him and genuinely love each other, instead of selfishly sin against Him and selfishly sin each other. God gave man a freewill and a conscience so that the universe could be full of love.

We must take the message of eternal accountability to the world, confronting sinners who are criminals because of their hearts, as opposed to victims of their circumstances; as moral agents who know better then to sin because of their conscience and are capable of forsaking all their sins and surrendering entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ because of their freewill. Cripples are not in need of forgiveness, cripples are not in need of grace. It is the voluntarily rebellious who are in need of the grace of God. Men need the grace that comes through the atonement, not because they couldn’t obey God, but because they didn’t obey God! Jesus shed his blood for sin, for criminals or for sinners, not for cripples or for victims.

We must witness in accordance with the Holy Spirit which seeks to grip the hearts of rebels with the fear of the Lord at the contemplation of their eternal accountability, convicting or convincing their minds of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8, Acts 24:25). They must see their need of grace for the forgiveness of sins, to be awakened to the dire need of the pardon of their defiance and rebellion in order to have a right relationship with God and eternal life with Jesus Christ. All men need Jesus Christ, not because they can’t obey God, but because they haven’t obeyed God; and therein lay the reason for the need of the grace and mercy of God which comes through the cross, the forgiveness of open rebellion.

Present obedience can never atone for past disobedience (Galatians 2:16, 2:21, 3:21, Philippians 3:9), only blood shed can atone for sins (Hebrews 9:22). The atonement was necessary for the pardon of criminals not of cripples, to atone for the sins of the will and not for the defects of nature. It is for the intentional, voluntary, avoidable rebellion of men that Christ needed to shed his blood.

Sinners must also see their need and utter dependence upon God for correction and conviction (John 16:8), for illumination, enlightenment and instruction (John 6:13, John 15:26), for the strength of encouragement and comfort (John 15:26, Eph 3:16), for leading and guiding (Rom 8:14, Gal 5:18), and for the supernatural power of supernatural gifts (Luke 24:49, 1Cor 12:4-11). All men are in need to be taught all that is right, to be guided into all the ways of holiness, to be lead by the Holy Spirit who alone can infallibly instruct and lead men as to the proper use of their God given abilities and faculties. No man can come unto the Father unless the Spirit teaches him (John 6:44-45), one must be quickened by the Word of God (Ps 119:50, John 6:63, James 1:18, 1Peter 1:23). As one cannot learn Latin without a Latin teacher, one cannot learn all that is needed to live holy without the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s regeneration is through spiritual revelation (John 6:45, John 6:63, John 8:32, John 15:3, John 17:17, Romans 2:8, Romans 6:17, Acts 9:4-6, 1Corinthians 4:15, Titus 2:11-12, 1Timothy 2:4, 2Theselonians 1:8, 1Peter 1:22-23, 1Peter 4:17, 2Peter 1:2-3, 2Peter 2:20, James 1:18, James 1:21-22). All men must voluntary yield to and obey the light that God reveals, the truth imparted by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 2:8, Romans 6:17, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:14, 2Theselonians 1:8, 1Peter 4:17)

While freewill is what makes a man a man, a personally accountable agent, instead of a mere necessitated machine; the faculties and capacities of men were not intended or purposed to work and operate autonomously; their proper functions are not independent of God and His revelation, but rather are dependent upon God and His revelation. As He reveals truth to our intelligence, to our reason or our conscience, we must yield and obey, and thereby be lead by the Spirit, lead the revelation of the Holy Spirit revealed to our consciousness, directing and influencing our will. We need the power of the influence of the Holy Spirit within us to properly will and to work according to God’s good pleasure (Php 2:13). Any use, other then the revealed use intended and purposed by God, must be an improper use of our faculties and abilities, and is nothing short of damnable rebellion and sin.

Man is therefore always and eternally dependant upon God for right and proper conduct, for the right and proper function of his faculties; dependant upon God for instruction, guidance, correction, and encouragement. (Acts 6:10, 1Corinthians 2:10, Galatians 3:24, Ephesians 3:16, Titus 2:11-12) Thus the Holy Spirit always initiates, through influence, the conversion of men (John 6:44, John 12:32, 1Corinthians 12:3), being the antecedent to the heart conversion of men, that is, when the heart repents and believes. (Rom 6:17, Rom 10:10)

We must work along side the Holy Spirit, being “laborers together with God” (1Cor 3:9, 2Cor 6:1), in a synergetic relationship, both to live holy ourselves (John 15:5) and to help convert the world to Christ (1Cor 3:6-7, 2Cor 5:20); to press upon the minds of men with their personal guilt (2Tim 4:2, Titus 2:15) because of their personal knowledge and because of their personal ability, thus revealing to them their personal need of the personal Savior Jesus Christ for the personal pardon of all the personal sins of their personal past. (Rom 3:25) Men must see that they are guilty before God (Rom 3:19), before the God who gave them a conscience and a freewill.
God help us in this extraordinary task; in this eternally important mission – the reconciliation of a rebellious world to a holy and good Creator.


[b]SOURCES OF THE QUOTES:[/b]

*1 T. Chalmers: The Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifest in Creation; Treatise One, On the Adaptation of External Nature, to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man by T. Chalmers, pg 272, 273, 1835 Edition Published by Corie, Lea, & Blanchard

*2 Augustine; Joy and Strength, pg 192, published by Grosset & Dunlap 1929

*3 Charles G. Finney; Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, pg 35

*4 Charles G. Finney; Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, pg 46-47

*5 Miner Raymond; Systematic Theology by Miner Raymond, Volume One, pg 520-521, 1877 Edition Published by Granston & Stowe.

*6 L. D. McCabe: Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity by L. D. McCabe, pg 67

*7 L. D. McCabe: Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity by L. D. McCabe, pg 74

*8 E. M. Bounds; The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, pg 53; Baker Books

*9 John Fletcher; Checks to Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume One, pg 142, 145, 146, Published by Carlton & Porter

*10 Winkie Pratney; The Nature of Sin, pg 5

*11 L. D. McCabe: Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity by L. D. McCabe, pg 68

*12 Julius Mueller: Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity by L. D. McCabe, pg 76

*13 Justin the Martyr; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 61, published by Truth in Heart

*14 Turtullian; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 61, published by Truth in Heart

*15 Origen; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 62, published by Truth in Heart

*16 Augustine; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 63, published by Truth in Heart

*17 Gordon Olson: The Truth Shall Set You Free, pg 71-72

*18 A. W. Tozer; Sermon on SermonIndex.net

*19 Charles G. Finney; Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, pg 47

*20 John Fletcher: Checks to Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume One, pg 290, Published by Carlton & Porter

*21 Charles G. Finney; Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, pg 36

*22 Charles G. Finney; Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, pg 56

*23 John Fletcher; Checks to Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume One, pg 130, 147, Published by Carlton & Porter

*24 Theodorite; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 62, published by Truth in Heart

*25 Clement: Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, by David Bercot, pg 71, printed by Scroll Publishing

*26 Jerome; Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, pg 62, published by Truth in Heart

*27 Archelaus; Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, by David
Bercot, pg 71, printed by Scroll Publishing

*28 Tertullian; c.207, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 288, published by Hendrickson Publishers

*29The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press

*30The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press *31The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press

*32The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press

*33 Henry Tappan; The Doctrine of the Will, Applied to Moral Agency and Responsibility, pg 27; 1841 Edition

*34 Dr. Wayland: Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity by L. D. McCabe, pg 103


[b]APPENDIX

MORE QUOTES FROM THE EARLY CHURCH ON FREEWILL[/b]

Origen said, "It is our responsibility to live righteously. God asks this of us, not as though it were dependent on Him, nor on any other, or upon fate (as some think), but as being dependent on us... We have freedom of the will and that we ourselves are the cause of our own ruin or our salvation." (Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, by David Bercot, pg 74, printed by Scroll Publishing)

Melito said, “There is, therefore, nothing to hinder you from changing your evil manner to life, because you are a free man.” (c.170, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Irenaeus said, “But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect similar to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself his own cause that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Irenaeus said, “’Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds’…And ‘Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man…For it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “To obey or not is in our own power, provided we do not have the excuse of ignorance.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Pelagius said, "Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature, when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty...Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, “Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to show what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice.” (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent Creator wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good - good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown early Christian said, "Is it possible then possible for a man not to sin? Such a claim is indeed a hard one and a bitter pill for sinners to swallow; it pains the ears of all who desire to live unrighteous. Who will find it easy now to fulfill the demands of righteousness, when there are some who find it hard even to listen to them?" (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown early Christian said, "When will a man guilty of any crime or sin accept with a tranquil mind that his wickedness is a product of his own will, not of necessity, and allow what he now strives to attribute to nature to be ascribed to his own free choice? It affords endless comfort to transgressors of the divine law if they are able to believe that their failure to do something is due to inability rather then disinclination, since they understand from their natural wisdom that no one can be judged for failing to do the impossible and that what is justifiable on grounds of impossibility is either a small sin or none at all." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167-168, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown early Christian said, "Under the plea that it is impossible not to sin, they are given a false sense of security in sinning...Anyone who hears that it is not possible for him to be without sin will not even try to be what he judges to be impossible, and the man who does not try to be without sin must perforce sin all the time, and all the more boldly because he enjoys the false security of believing that it is impossible for him not to sin...But if he were to hear that he is able not to sin, then he would have exerted himself to fulfill what he now knows to be possible when he is striving to fulfill it, to achieve his purpose for the most part, even if not entirely." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 168, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown early Christian said, "Consider first whether that which is such that a man cannot be without it ought to be described as sin at all; for everything which cannot be avoided is now put down to nature but it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault… how can it be proper to call sin by that name if, like other natural things, it cannot be avoided, since all sin is to be attributed to the free choice of the will, not to the defects of nature?" (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 168-169, published by The Boydell Press)

 2007/12/23 21:11
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re:

Quote:
Therefore, one is only capable or able of what one is knowledgeable of. And since the extent of accountability is the extent of ability, and the extent of ability is the extent of knowledge, personal accountability cannot, does not, and will not exceed personal knowledge.



Man, this stuff is worse than college algebra. I don't know how you get through it all without an aneurysm.


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2007/12/23 21:24Profile
brentw
Member



Joined: 2005/12/14
Posts: 440
Ohio

 Re:

Jesse, if you wrote this all by hand...you the man.
Dude..You wrote a book :-P


_________________
Brent

 2007/12/23 21:27Profile









 Re:

Quote:
Jesse, if you wrote this all by hand...you the man.
Dude..You wrote a book



Within the next 3 weeks or so I am going to be publishing this article, along with a Commentary on the Fall of Mankind, into booklet format.

The Lord has really burdened my heart to help promote sound doctrine. The Church is in great need of biblical theology. Many are not living right because they aren't believing right! There is so much bad theology today being promoted and it is spreading like a plague. What we need is biblical theology again that tends to godliness.

Theologically the Church really needs to thoroughly understand responsibility and accountability, and all the issues that are related to them, like freewill and conscience.

So I wrote this article on Freewill & Conscience because it is really a foundational theological article. And the other booklet I'm going to publish is on the Fall of Mankind (1Cor 15:21-22 & Romans 5:12-21), which also is a foundational teaching. These two booklets will be very interconnected, so I think I'm going to give them away and sell them as a pair.

I'm also working on a systematic theology. I know I've only been studing theology for 7 years, but this will be a pretty basic systematic theology on the essentials.

I've written a pretty good start on "The Doctrine of Salvation" "The Doctrine of Sin" and "The Doctrine of Holiness". I was blessed with the opportunity to teach these lessons at a YWAM school in the Philippines and the students said that they were very blessed by them. So I look forward to continuing the series and publishing them into a book.

 2007/12/23 21:35
LiveforGod
Member



Joined: 2007/4/17
Posts: 299


 Re:

Brother, Im preying for you. May God use that for his Glory. God keep using you Brother, thank you for doing all those things for God's Glory. Im glad to know that there are still some true Christians, who will leave it all and follow Christ. Keep on Brother, Keep on. Marry Christmas


_________________
Samuel

 2007/12/23 21:42Profile









 Re:

I hope that some of you will read this entire article (or miniature book, i.e. booklet). Those of you interested would probably want to copy and paste this into a word document and save it to your computer. It may take some time to read it.

For those of you who aren't going to read all of it, but just want to get the overall point, this is for you:

Quote:
THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER

1. Responsibility is limited to or exactly proportionate to ability: Deut 6:5, Deut 10:12, Deut 30:6, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, 1Cor 10:13

2. Accountability is limited to or exactly proportionate to the degree of someone’s knowledge: Matthew 11:21-22, Luke 12:47-48, Luke 23:34, John 9:41, John 15:22, Romans 1:18-20, Romans 4:15, Romans 5:13, James 4:17, John 19:11, Matt 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47, James 3:1, Matt 10:15, Matt 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, Luke 10:14, Heb 10:26, 2Peter 2:21

3. Men are accountability for their sins alone: Deuteronomy 24:16, 2Kings 14:6, 2Chronicals 25:4, Ezekiel 18:19-20, 2Corinthians 5:10



- No man is responsible or obligated above their God given ability. All men are responsible to obey because God has given all men the ability to obey, i.e. freewill. Likewise, all men are responsible for their own sin, because sin is a freewill choice. Sin is the fault of the one who chooses it.

- No man is accountable or will be judged above their God given knowledge. All men are accountable in accordance with their God given conscience. Sin is violation of known law, and men are accountable for their sins.

- And men will be accountable or judged for their sins alone, which they voluntarily committed by their freewill. Men do not inherit the guilt or sin of another. Sin and guilt are not hereditary. But men are themselves guilty because they choose to sin when they don't have to since they have freewill. Men are guilty because they choose to be sinners by their own freewill.

Sinners are criminals who abuse the power of choice God has given them. They are not cripples of their nature nor victims of their parents. But they are criminals who are to be blamed.

Men choose to be sinners, they choose to disobey God. And so men need to choose to be converted, they need to choose to obey God.

The Church needs to grasp this truth of responsibility and accountability. Once men understand that they are responsible because they are able, and that men will be accountable according to their knowledge, maybe then men will choose to obey all the knowledge that God gives them!

 2007/12/23 21:48
ChrisJD
Member



Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re:

Hi everyone,


Lazarus,


"If a man sins a “sin of ignorance” (Lev 4:13), doing that which “ought not to be done” (Lev 4:2) “when he knows of it” only “then he shall be guilty” (Lev 5:3), being held responsible only when it is “known” (Lev 4:14)."





This is what Leviticus 4:13 says(KJV) as I have it from e-sword





"And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done [i]somewhat against[/i] any of the commandments of the LORD [i]concerning things[/i] which should not be done, and are guilty;"


[b]and are guilty[/b]




and also in Genesis it says


"And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife."


- Genesis chapter 12 verse 17(KJV)




Also you said,


"The atonement was necessary for the pardon of criminals not of cripples, to atone for the sins of the will and not for the defects of nature."




Those with defects couldn't serve God, at least to come into the veil or near to the altar:


"Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever [i]he be[/i] of thy seed in their generations that hath [i]any[/i] blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God."


- Leviticus chapter 21 verse 17(KJV)



See also verses 18-23.




And this was, it says in verse 23

[i] ...that he profane not my sanctuaries[/i]





Acts 13:39 says


"And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."




Chris


_________________
Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2007/12/23 22:08Profile
ChrisJD
Member



Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re:

We fall short of God's glory.


Jesus said without me you can do nothing.


Jesus is God's glory.




EDIT: I Mean to say He said we can do nothing without [b]Him[/b]. Want to make that clear.


_________________
Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2007/12/23 22:18Profile
intrcssr83
Member



Joined: 2005/10/28
Posts: 246
Logan City, Queensland, Australia

 Re:

Quote:
by Lazarus1719 on 2007/12/24 12:48:26

- No man is responsible or obligated above their God given ability. All men are responsible to obey because God has given all men the ability to obey, i.e. freewill. Likewise, all men are responsible for their own sin, because sin is a freewill choice. Sin is the fault of the one who chooses it.

- No man is accountable or will be judged above their God given knowledge. All men are accountable in accordance with their God given conscience. Sin is violation of known law, and men are accountable for their sins.

- And men will be accountable or judged for their sins alone, which they voluntarily committed by their freewill. Men do not inherit the guilt or sin of another. Sin and guilt are not hereditary. But men are themselves guilty because they choose to sin when they don't have to since they have freewill. Men are guilty because they choose to be sinners by their own freewill.

Sinners are criminals who abuse the power of choice God has given them. They are not cripples of their nature nor victims of their parents. But they are criminals who are to be blamed.

Men choose to be sinners, they choose to disobey God. And so men need to choose to be converted, they need to choose to obey God.

The Church needs to grasp this truth of responsibility and accountability. Once men understand that they are responsible because they are able, and that men will be accountable according to their knowledge, maybe then men will choose to obey all the knowledge that God gives them!



I'm going to ask an application question:

If, as you are trying to assert, the extent of man's accountability is only as far as his knowledge of God's standard of holiness and the ability to meet it, then what of those who have never known at all?

If you have a primitive tribe living on an island in the middle of the pacific that has had no encounter with any civilization other than itself and hence has had no way of knowing about the judeo-christian worldview, let alone God's law and/or the grace of the gospel, then when judgment day comes, would God be unjust to send them to hell as punishment for sin?

If your theology is indeed correct, why bother fulfill the great commission at all, if knowledge of God's standards and the resulting moral responsibility will only cause to be onjects of wrath until they receive Christ? Would it not be better to withold missionaries and evangelists to such people groups and leave them in ignorance so that in doing so it would soften the blow of God's wrath?

Now, you may say that natural revelation (Romans 1) leaves people without excuse, but is that sufficient enough compared to the preaching of the gospel and in turn making disciples? If response to natural revelation alone can guarantee the righteousness necessary to enter God's kingdom, why then, does anyone need to hear the gospel?


_________________
Benjamin Valentine

 2007/12/24 4:35Profile





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