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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The vileness of the saint

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Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


We become what we were not before.
We do not cease to be what we were before.

This syllogism pertains to those who are Christians, addressing the subsequent condition of those who have been regenerated by the receiving of divine life. As stated, the two statements are again illogical due to their apparent contradiction, but Theo-logic provides explanation of spiritual realities which natural logic cannot consider.

As Christians, “we become what we were not before.” The spiritual condition of the Christian is such that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Cor. 5:17). We have “put on the new man” (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), allowing for a new spiritual identity as “Christ-ones,” Christians, who are “in Christ,” being “joined in one spirit with Him” (I Cor. 6:17). As “partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4), we are considered spiritually righteous (Rom. 5:19; II Cor. 5:21), holy (Col. 1:22) and perfect (Phil. 3:15; Heb. 12:23), deriving such spiritual character identity from the indwelling presence of the righteous, holy and perfect Trinity. The risen Christ has become our life (Col. 3:4), and we can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

In “becoming what we were not” prior to our spiritual regeneration, the Christian personally experiences a new spiritual condition. This does not mean that the Christian becomes God, or becomes Christ, or becomes Holy Spirit in some form of monistic merging or absorption. Some have so emphasized the first premise to the denial of the second. Even the Eastern Orthodox churches who refer to the deification of Theosis, indicate that the Christian does not become essentially divine, but participates in the energies of the divine life of the Trinity.

Though “we become what we were not before, we do not cease to be what we were before.” How can this be? “All things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17) in terms of our spiritual condition, but the Christian remains a human being. In like manner as the non-Christian is not to be considered sub-human, neither is the Christian to be considered super-human. We do not want to lapse into Platonic and Gnostic dualism, or engage in mystical flights, thinking that we can transcend our humanity and be “no longer human.” The Christian continues to function spiritually, psychologically and physiologically as a human person. As a contingent and dependent human, the Christian remains a responsible choosing creature, responsible to be receptive in faith to derive character expression from the divine presence within. In the midst of the common trials of life (I Cor. 10:13), the Christian continues to be tempted by the tempter (I Thess. 3:5), and should not expect to be exempt from such temptation. Vulnerability to such temptation is intensified by the residual patterns of active and reactive selfishness and sinfulness that remain in the behavior mechanism of the Christian’s soul. The behavioral conflict of “the flesh setting its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit setting its desire against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17) is a constant crucible in the Christian life. When the Christian succumbs to temptation and “lives according to the flesh” (Rom. 8:12,13), he misrepresents his spiritual identity “in Christ,” and sins. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (I Jn. 1:8).

The contradiction of this syllogism becomes a dialectic that must be kept in tensioned balance in Christian thought. Protestant Christianity, in general, has shied away from, or sometimes completely denied, the first premise statement. In an overly objectified understanding of the condition of righteousness as a standing or status forensically or juridically declared by God, and conferred by legal imputation to the believer, Protestant theologians have emphasized a concept of “alien righteousness” that disallows that the Christian can subjectively “become what he was not before.” Instead, they have often emphasized that the Christian “does not cease to be what he was before,” a depraved and vile sinner with a deceitfully wicked heart (cf. Jere. 17:9), a no good worm of a creature, “just a sinner saved by grace.” Sinful behavior is justified by the excuse, “I am only human,” and “the old sinful nature gets the best of me sometimes.” What an inadequate understanding of spiritually regenerated “saints” of God, and the resource we have received in Christ to live as He lived.

by James Fowler
Some Christian Syllogisms

 2012/3/6 9:06Profile



Fowler doesn't get it, he denies the two natures of a believer and tries to explain with Barthian psycho-logic.

The believer has two natures, his own vile nature, and the new nature of Christ. The first is his own and all that the believer can claim as emanating from himself, the second nature though resident in him, emanates from and belongs to Christ.


 2012/3/6 10:57

Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


Hey there Joe,

That is a very interesting characterization of Jim's thoughts on the subject.

I would call it a mischaracterization and would submit that you "don't get it".

He believes in the body of sin and the "flesh". This dual nature, schizophrenic madness was introduced by the NIV in our Bible version but in the 5th century by Augustine.

Shall we let Jim speak for himself?

The "flesh" is not related to one's spiritual condition, and is not equivalent to spiritual depravity. The "flesh" is not to be personified as the presence of Satan in the individual, whether non-Christian or Christian. The "flesh" is not substantive or partitive, meaning that it is not an entity, like a "hunk of evil," within the individual. The "flesh" is not a generative source of evil within the individual. The "flesh" is not inherent or intrinsic to humanity, even fallen humanity. The "flesh" is not nascent or congenital, meaning that no person is born with the "flesh," and there are no hereditary patterns of fleshliness. The "flesh" is not eradicated at conversion or during the Christian life. The "flesh" does not become better or reformed. The "flesh" is not to be identified with, equated with, or used as a synonym of "inherent sin, sin-principle, law of sin, old man, old self, old nature, sin-nature, self-nature, Adam-nature, human nature," etc.

Conversely, the "flesh" is related to behavior, and relates to the psychological function of the soul. The "flesh" is related to the "desires" of man within the soul, allowing for the phrases "fleshly desires," and "desires of the flesh" (cf. Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:24; Eph. 2:3; I Peter 2:11). The "flesh" refers to how these desires are patterned toward selfishness and sinfulness within the soul. The "flesh" patterns are developed throughout the experiences of our lives, and are individualized in idiosyncratic patterns of selfish action and/or reaction. Some of these "flesh" patterns become deep-seated habituated patterns of addictive, obsessive, and compulsive behavior, sometimes called "besetting sins" or "strongholds of sin." All human beings have developed these patterns of "fleshly desires," with the sole exception of Jesus Christ. Every Christian still has these "flesh" patternings of selfishness and sinfulness in the desires of their soul, even though completely regenerated spiritually, and these patterns and propensities will remain throughout the Christian's earthly life.

As "flesh" is connected with desires, it is necessary to recognize that God creates every person with a full set of God-given human desires in their soul. These desires are amoral; they are not wrong in themselves. They are God-given behavioral conduits - intended to be pipelines that allow God's character to be expressed in human behavior. Examples of such needs, drives and desires are: the desire to be loved and accepted, to belong, to be nurtured, sustained, and provided for. We have a desire for security, order, communication, belief, meaning and purpose, contentment, excitement, uniqueness, and identity. In addition we have a desire for freedom, worship, appreciation of beauty, creativity, motivation, and responsibility. We even have a desire to work and achieve, a desire for significance, a desire to possess, to give, to serve, and a desire for hope and expectancy. The basic desires to eat, drink, sleep, and for sexual expression must also be included. There is nothing wrong with any of these God-given desires.

The Greek language had two primary words for "desire." The first of these was epithumia, which meant "to be moved upon, to urge upon, or to have passion upon." The second word was epipotheo, which meant "to yearn upon, to experience upon (usually from outside)." Our God-given desires could be "urged upon" or "yearned upon" by the Spirit of God, or they could be "urged upon" or "yearned upon" by the tempting influence of Satan as he sought to fulfill the God-given desires in God-forbidden ways. Though every person is born with clear, pure, and sinless desires, our desires are "urged upon" and "yearned upon" by "the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). "Dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1,5), and "slaves to sin" (Rom. 6:6), this is the only "operating system" that the unregenerate have work with. They are caught in the vortex of satanically inspired self-orientation that inevitably develops selfish and sinful patterns of action and reaction in the desires of their soul. The desires of every person become bent, warped, twisted, and kinked in individuated patterns of selfishness and sinfulness - personalized patterns of selfishly indulgent desires. The particular warp of the various desires, and the strength of the selfish twists are unique and different in every person, but there is no doubt that some selfish patterns of desires have more social consequences than others. Everyone seems to have one or more deep-seated and habituated patterns that become "besetting sins" (cf. Heb. 12:1) which we cannot conquer, try as we might.

When an individual becomes a Christian by spiritual regeneration, and the Spirit of Christ comes to live in the spirit of that individual (Rom. 8:9), their spiritual condition is complete (Col. 2:10) and "all has become new" (II Cor. 5:17). The "flesh," the selfish and sinful patterns of action and reaction in the desires of the soul, remain in the new Christian, however. This sets up the conflict whereby "the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17). This is not a conflict of contrasting natures in the Christian, but a motivational conflict between our old patterns of selfish action and reaction, and the prompting of the Spirit of Christ to express His character in our behavior.

In like manner as Paul explained that we are "dead to sin" (Rom. 6:11) and 'freed from sin" (Rom. 6:7,18,22), he also declares, "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24), and "the members of our earthly body are dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed" (Col. 3:5). Christians are "no longer in the flesh" (Rom. 7:5; 8:8,9), in the sense that they are enslaved to the satanically inspired "operating system" that makes them "slaves of sin" (Rom. 6:6,17) and "sinful passions" (Rom. 7:5). Converted "from the dominion of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18), the "flesh" patternings, energized as they are by the tempter, have no legitimate claim or mastery over our behavior as Christians for we have received the greater power (cf. I John 4:4) of the Lord Jesus Christ within our spirit. Christians are "under no obligation" (Rom. 8:12) to respond by means of the selfish action and reaction patterns of the "flesh," but are instead to "make no provision for the flesh" (Rom. 13:14) by capitulating and catering to those selfish desires.

Underlying the particular selfish bent of our desires is a twisted mind-set that pervades and provides a selfish motivating perspective to the self-concerns of our "flesh." Alienated from God in our unregeneracy, all fallen men have developed the premise that they are an "independent self" that is inherently capable of self-generating character and behavior that is self-righteous, and that by means of their own self-sufficiency and self-reliance. This presupposition of human potential to perform and produce all that man needs is the humanistic lie that fallaciously prompts man with a self-motivation to "be all he can be." When an individual becomes a Christian this fallacious humanistic mind-set of being an "independent self" is the most difficult part of the "flesh" to overcome, because we cling tenaciously to this fallacy of auto-generative human performance and self-effort, even transferring this thesis to the alleged Christian ability to live the Christian life by performing in accord with God's expectations. This foundational premise of all fleshly thinking can only be overcome as the Christian submits to the Spirit of Christ within, allowing Him to generate His character expressed through our desires in godly behavior. When that liberating transitional process begins to take place we can experience the freedom that God intended for man.

It is not the responsibility of the Christian to identify and fight against the "flesh" mind-set and patterns. That would of necessity entail the self-effort that is intrinsic to the selfishness of the "flesh." In the midst of the motivational conflict of the "flesh" and the Spirit, Paul advises that "the Spirit sets its desires against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17). The "battle is the Lord's" (I Sam. 17:47); for the living Christ is the only Victor Who can overcome sinfulness and selfishness in the Christian life. Evangelical Christian teaching has often failed to understand this basic premise of divine action in the Christian life. Admonishing Christians not to "walk according to the flesh" (Rom. 8:4) and "live according to the flesh" (Rom. 8:12,13), by manifesting the "deeds of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19-21), the religious teachers often advise the human resolve of commitment to overcome the "flesh" and live the Christian life. In a dyslexic reversion of Paul's gospel of grace, they read Galatians 5:16 backwards: "Do not carry out the desires of the flesh, and you will be walking in the Spirit." What an abominable mistranslation. Paul says, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, .for the Spirit sets its desires against the flesh" (Gal. 5:16,17). By the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; II Tim. 1:14), the Christian is "led of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18) in order to "walk by the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16,25) and manifest the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22,23).

As a final statement about the "flesh," it is important to note that the "desires of the flesh" do not tempt us to act out in sinful behavior. The patterns of selfish and sinful action and reaction are well entrenched in our soul, but they have no inherent power to energize and actuate sinful behavior. The Evil One is the only energizing source of the evil character that actuates sinful expression. Many English translations of James 1:14 appear to indicate "we are tempted when we are enticed by our own desire." A more careful translation will read, "Each one is tempted (by the tempter), being enticed and lured under his own desire." Satan, the tempter, goes fishing under our idiosyncratic patterns of fleshly desires, which he knows so well, seeking to attract and ensnare us to make a choice that will employ his evil character via those old patterns of selfish action and reaction. There is nothing in scripture that indicates that the Christian is self-tempted by the desires of the "flesh," by an old-nature, or by some evil "self."

Here is the rest of the article.

Sadly, this dual-nature teaching has wreaked havoc in individual's lives.

Most of the Christians I have ever heard with the exception of a few teach that a Christian has two natures and cannot help himself but to sin because their identity is the old man.. They do not teach the true gospel. The true gospel teaches that we are not only saved from the penalty of sin but also the bondage to it. Sin shall not have dominion over you.

Current teaching in Christendom gives people a defeatist mindset. "I can't stop sinning".

That is not the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a victorious mindset. The old man is dead, he has passed away & all things have become new! Believe it & receive it!

You can have faith and confidence in the absoluteness of God's Word. Hopefully it will finally "stick" with you that you have been given A NEW IDENTITY! You no longer identify with Satan but with Christ.


 2012/3/6 12:34Profile


As I said, Barthian psycho-logic.

Unless you produce any sinless believers, Romans 7 is depicting a believer, and the war he is in.


ETA Pilgrim are you James Fowler, if not what is your relation to him?

 2012/3/6 12:47

Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


Hi Joe,

I am not James Fowler and I have no relationship with him.

All the best,

 2012/3/6 13:08Profile


Here is what Fowler said:

"I recall one teacher who explained that when a person becomes a Christian, they now have 2 natures in their spirit – the “old sin nature” and the “new Christ nature.” Can you imagine? It is inconceivable that a person could be half‐regenerated. Such teaching leads to a schizophrenic understanding of ones spiritual identity; to a paranoid uncertainty of what/who is prompting and motivating my behavior; and a convenient excuse for blaming that old sinful part of me for sinful behavior. Is it any wonder Christians throw up their hands, and do not concern themselves with holy behavior?
Many who espouse “two natures” within the Christian individual are failing to differentiate between the spiritual and the psychological. What they are calling “two natures” is really the admitted conflict of “spirit and flesh” within Christian behavior. NOT “two natures,” but the desires of the Spirit of Christ within our spirit, contrasted with the patterned desires within our soul that are inclined toward previous action and reaction responses of selfishness and sinfulness."

The teacher mentioned at the beginning would be Spurgeon. He stated that in the sermon I linked to.


 2012/3/6 13:10


Now compare that to what Spurgeon said below and you should see the difference, and why even regenerate man should see himself as vile.

"It is a doctrine held by all the orthodox, that there dwelleth still in the regenerate, the lusts of the flesh, and that there doth still remain in the hearts of those who are converted by God's mercy, the evil of carnal nature. I have found it very difficult to distinguish, in experimental matters, concerning sin. It is usual with many writers, especially with hymn writers, to confound the two natures of a Christian. Now, I hold that there is in every Christian two natures, as distinct as were the two natures of the God-Man Christ Jesus. There is one nature which cannot sin, because it is born of God—a spiritual nature, coming directly from heaven, as pure and as perfect as God himself, who is the author of it; and there is also in man that ancient nature which, by the fall of Adam, hath become altogether vile, corrupt, sinful, and devilish. There remains in the heart of the Christian a nature which cannot do that which is right, any more than it could before regeneration, and which is as evil as it was before the new birth—as sinful, as altogether hostile to God's laws, as ever it was—a nature which, as I said before, is curbed and kept under by the new nature in a great measure, but which is not removed and never will be until this tabernacle of our flesh is broken down, and we soar into that land into which there shall never enter anything that defileth."


 2012/3/6 13:17

Joined: 2011/10/23
Posts: 2031


resonates verry much road sign

 2012/3/6 14:42Profile


I think the problem with Joe's position is, for example, when I admitted to him privately that I am indeed vile in comparison to God, that, on the other hand I am redeemed, washed clean and made righteous bu the blood of the Lamb and a child of the most high who calls His Father abba, he would not acknowledge my acknowledgment.

Again I would state, or ask, who is arguing that they compare well to God? Its so preposterous that no one would even make the argument, no one who made serious claims of Christianity. And so, if I, and every creature, saved or otherwise is vile in comparison to God, then what has that to do with the righteousness that was imputed for my justification or the righteousness that was implanted for my sanctification?

I guess what I am saying is, is Joe simply in the condemnation game because he ignores acknowledgement of one's vileness in comparison to God? I have met many Christians who are stuck in a Romans 7 experience, and often times seemingly quite " happy," to be so. And their mantra is, and only can be because they walk under condemnation " oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?"

They simply never discover the walk in the Spirit where there is no condemnation. And that would be tragic enough, but when they spy our others liberties from that condemnation, they try with all their might to bring that one who has been freed from such a cry, back ensnared in the chains of condemnation..............bro Frank

 2012/3/6 15:58

Joined: 2008/6/19
Posts: 1262


Excellent post brother Frank!!!

 2012/3/6 16:03Profile

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