Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lamentations - Part Four

The doctrine of the inevitability of sin in Christians is the cause of my deepest laments. It's clear to me that the church, almost universally, has abandoned God's plan for believers regarding obedience.

Every day I hear or read something about how the sinful nature is in us all, that we, as Christians, will always suffer this indwelling presence, when, in fact, there is no Scripture that says anything like that. There is no evidence for the existence of a sinful nature at all.

Readers of the NIV translation might wonder why I say that, as they read those words time again in their translations, but the NIV translates sarx (flesh) inaccurately, so they are being misled.

This flesh is simply our bodies, so the New Testament writers created a term for the control our natural desires had on us as unbelievers. There is no sinful essence within us, no anti-God spirit that sneaks into our minds at birth that causes us to stray from God. This has become a sad, "the devil made me do it" excuse for sinful behavior.

The flesh, the bodily desires' control, is crucified and removed when we become Christians (Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24, Colossians 2:11), so even that concept is no longer effectual in a believer. There is absolutely nothing that can make us sin. Yet, most preachers teach as if sin is something that we can never escape in this life, even as believers. This is the most evil lie that has ever been spoken in church, yet it is also the most common and widely believed.

Jesus put the matter plainly, and the power and completeness of His words are almost always ignored.

"Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin ... If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34, 36)

No Christian is a slave of sin, because we are free, yet anyone who sins is a slave of sin. The sinful nature doesn't exist, and all the passions and desires of the flesh are crucified (Galatians 5:24).

I see no shadows in the words of Christ. If we who profess Christ continue in sin, we prove that our profession is invalid. And those who profess Christ and continue in sin are dishonoring His name.

5 comments:

pam halter said...

Very interesting, Bryan. But what do you think Paul meant when he said he did things he didn't want to do and who will save me from this body of death? Do you think he meant that's how we are before salvation?

Clefspeare said...

Pam,

You are referring to Romans chapter seven. Paul is describing his life under the Law, before he became a Christian. He describes himself as being a prisoner of the law of sin, but in chapter 8, verse 2, he says that Christians are free from the law of sin.

pam halter said...

Yes, I am familiar with that passage, but why then do Christians still feel as though we have a sinful flesh body that causes us to stumble and fall?

Retorical question, I know, but it's still a great discussion. I'll have to bring it up at Bible study and see what our pastor says.

Clefspeare said...

Pam,

I don't feel that I have a sinful flesh, so not all Christians feel that way.

Many probably believe it for one of two reasons (or both):

1. They have been taught that a sinful flesh exists, so they believe it.

2. They feel sinful desires, so they believe their experience.

We have to distinguish between desires of the body (normal urges to eat, drink, sleep, etc) and desires to sin (greed, lust, jealousy, pride, etc). The former urges are not sinful, so if you desire to sleep when you want to stay up and pray, the desire itself is not a sin.

I wrote my masters thesis on this topic, so I could go on for hours.

One simple fact is crucial, no matter what desires you feel, if you are a true Christian, you can still obey God. Nothing is more powerful than Christ in you. So, anyone who says you can't live without sin must, by necessity, be denying that fact.

If you take this subject to you your Bible study, be prepared for a strong negative reaction. The doctrine of holiness is one of the most hated doctrines in the church.

pam halter said...

hi Bryan ~ I did take this question to my Ladies Bible study and we've just began a study on the book called "The Mortification of Sin." Our pastor leads the study and he's excited to look into it.

And you were right, he doesn't agree with what you said. :)

It's going to prove very interesting. Thanks for posting it because it has caused us ladies to dig a little deeper.