January 7, 2008

A Convenient Lie......the so called Doctrine of Total Depravity

One of the core tenets of Calvinism is the doctrine of Total Depravity. Those unfamiliar with this doctrine can read below from two prominent Calvinist preachers of our day to understand what this doctrine all entails. First, John MacArthur states from his website what exactly Total Depravity is:
".......the doctrine of total depravity, human depravity, fallenness is not to say that everybody is as wretched as they could possibly be, but that everyone is utterly unable to do anything to change their sinful condition. Nobody is going to come and make a decision for Christ unless God draws them. That's essential. Man can't make a move toward Christ (this includes repentance my emphasis) until God moves him that direction, in line with His eternal purpose........our salvation security not on what we've decided or will decide in the future, but on what God decided long ago in the past before the world began."
Next I will site popular Calvinist, John Piper. He states on his website:
"....total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment."
For me this all seems very mythical or hocus pocus! Does it not strike some folks odd as to why God would create mankind with an uncontrollable sin "nature"? Why would God "curse" man with the very thing God is trying to rid the universe of? Not to mention where is this so called curse in the scriptures? Wouldn't something as important as a curse of sin upon all of humanity be pretty important point to mention in scripture? But yet I have yet to have one Calvinist show me the exact curse whereby God declares he will make man "Totally Depraved".

First let me say sin is not something we pass along to our children or is in our DNA. If so then we would have had science work on a cure some years ago. Besides, if this were in fact true sin is then no longer a moral choice, but rather a disease, a condition. The Bible clearly states sin is a moral choice, a willful decision from benevolence to self! This type of theology does nothing more than provide sinners with an excuse not to repent and it also sadly blames God for our moral downfall as we can blame him for us not repenting! As the SNL church lady would say "How Convenient"!

The reason I bring all this up is today I came across just one chapter in the book of Psalms that seems to contradict the entire doctrine of Totally Depravity. If one person in the Bible who understood or represented what it meant to be righteous before God, clearly King David was a man after God's own heart as clearly stated in scripture:


(1Ki 15:4-5) Nevertheless for David's sake did Jehovah his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem; because David did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

Granted, David was not without sin, but yet we see from the scripture stated above David was righteous in the eyes of God. He repented and was restored in the eyes of God. So whenever we read Psalms we should understand David is no light weight in the matters of Godly righteousness. I find it particularly noteworthy that Psalms 119 truly reflects David's love and adoration of God's word and his desire to fully keep within his heart. If total depravity is indeed true then really David is lying about his so called love for God's word - again I am not the one who says NO ONE CAN EVER MAKE A RIGHTEOUS CHOICE AS WE ARE ALL TOTALLY DEPRAVED! Psalms 119 is by no means a superficial psalm to God, but David deeply expresses his love and respect for God's wisdom and God's government.

Granted every Calvinist is quick to point out those scriptures that supposedly proclaim this so called doctrine. They will of course use verses such as:

Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

1 Kings 8:46 There is no man who does not sin.

Psalm 143:2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Romans 3:9-11, 18 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD . . . THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Again, whenever we read scripture it is important to know what context the author was writing from and we need to keep those scriptures in their proper context. All of the scriptures above are being used outside of their proper context. These authors never once meant for these verses to be some universal proclamation that in all of biblical history there has never been a righteous man in the eyes of God. Clearly the scriptures show us on many accounts there were indeed Godly people! If we take what the Calvinist say as truth, then we have sinners writing the very books of the bible - books that are to be God inspired. The bible shows us many men (and women) were righteous in God's eyes. Look at what David writes in Psalm 32 where he says:

Psa 32:10-11 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he that trusteth in Jehovah, lovingkindness shall compass him about. (11) Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, ye righteous; And shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (According to the Calvinist if there was a joyful shout made by the upright it would have been a lie as there is NONE Upright in heart!)

or how about this verse from Psalm 64:

Psa 64:9-10 And all men shall fear; And they shall declare the work of God, And shall wisely consider of his doing. (10) The righteous shall be glad in Jehovah, and shall take refuge in him; And all the upright in heart shall glory. (Wait a minute according to Piper and MacArthur no one can be righteous no one!)

Furthermore lets look at a couple of verses from Psalms 119 to see what David says in about his love for God's word and God's righteousness:

(Psa 119:5-7) Oh that my ways were established To observe thy statutes! Then shall I not be put to shame, When I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will give thanks unto thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn thy righteous judgments.

According to the doctrine of Total Depravity, these verse would really seem to make King David a liar. As again they will tell you that EVERYTHING WE DO IS SIN, WE CAN NOT DO ONE THING RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD. But yet the Psalms tell us something completely differently.

(Psa 119:10-11) With my whole heart have I sought thee: Oh let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee.

(Psa 119:22) Take away from me reproach and contempt; For I have kept thy testimonies.

(Psa 119:30) I have chosen the way of faithfulness: Thine ordinances have I set before me. (Wait! Calvinist say I am unable to choose the way of faithfulness as we are utterly unable!)

(Psa 119:44) So shall I observe thy law continually For ever and ever.



(Psa 119:73) Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

(Psa 119:80) Let my heart be perfect in thy statutes, That I be not put to shame.

(Psa 119:97-98) Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies; For they are ever with me.

(Psa 119:106) I have sworn, and have confirmed it, That I will observe thy righteous ordinances.

(Psa 119:121) I have done justice and righteousness: Leave me not to mine oppressors.

(Psa 119:127) Therefore I love thy commandments Above gold, yea, above fine gold.

Clearly we see from these Psalms that David not only loved God, but loved His word (his laws, statutes and ordinances). Do these verses sound like they were written by a man who was unable to love God and keep his commandments? Does God ever rebuke David for saying such things? Instead, David was esteemed by God and rightfully so - David truly loved God with all of his heart, soul and might! So when we hear the likes of John Piper and John MacArthur telling us we are totally unable to please God this is a lie of the highest order. It provides an excuse for the sinner and allows them to blame God for their inability to repent and love God! Sinners are blame worthy because they ARE ABLE to do right, but yet they willfully choose self.

One last parting shot. It has been widely known that throughout the history of Judaism the doctrines of Total Depravity and Original Sin has NEVER been a belief of the Jewish faith. As a matter of fact it has been a doctrine that has hindered many Jews from coming to the Christian faith. But yet John MacArthur openly admits this on his website and seems to think that the Jews are the one who have it all wrong? He states:


"Jewish theology does not believe in total depravity, they do not believe in original sin. They think we all come into the world with a clean slate and we have the privilege of making a decision that relates only to us." (On his website John harshly claims Jews are diluted in their theology and seems to almost boast at his intellectual knowledge of scriptures more than they do)

It seems John forgot to read Eze 18:19 whereby it says:

Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, 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.

But yet this verse contradicts the very doctrine of original sin and total depravity! Finally, last time I checked Christianity is deeply rooted in Judaism, so wouldn't one tend to think that maybe something as important as "Total Depravity" be supported throughout all of the Old Testament? Did Jesus ever instruct his disciples to discard this fundamental Jewish belief? Shouldn't we see the nation of Israel supporting a doctrine of inability throughout the Old Testament? Again, total depravity is neither biblical nor is it reasonable. This whole notion comes mostly from pagan and greek theology and is not at all biblical. So next time you hear your unable to love God, know this is indeed a lie. God will not send one person to hell because they couldn't love Him, but rather because they could and they choose not to!





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13 comments:

Dean Lusk said...

I think you and I are jointly going for the "Longest Comment at Someone Else's Blog" award. :)

You seem to be misinterpreting or unintentionally misrepresenting the doctrine of total depravity.

I suggest that you have a look at these words by Charles Finney, whom you have quoted at length here at your blog, on what the doctrine of total depravity is not:

http://www.gospeltruth.net/1836SOIS/04sois_total_depravity.htm

It's quite long, and I freely admit I have not read it all (and therefore cannot endorse all it says, but I know if a preacher preached like that today he'd get fired in a heartbeat!). I also understand that, just like me, simply because you quote an individual does not mean that you espouse each of his beliefs or teachings.

It's my observation that to state that Romans 3:23, for one example, is taken out of context when used to state that man is inherently sinful is incorrect. Yes, Paul is speaking about the law and the fact that we are made perfect because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin. However, there simply is no getting around the fact that Paul does, indeed, make a universal statement about the "sin nature" of all humans. That is using it within its correct context.

[P]reinforcing this, in Romans 3:9-11 (NLT) Paul says, "Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, 'No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.'"

This is not to say that we can not truly love God! Under the blood of Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. Here's why: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

So it IS possible to do good deeds, to love God, to be righteous -- as a conscious choice! Just exactly like all those Scriptures you quoted! We can choose to disobey, we can choose to be obey. I unequivocally agree with you on that. If the doctrine of total depravity states something other than this, it's wrong.

Preston N said...

Dean

I have indeed read Finney’s interpretation of Total Depravity and it is in direct contradiction to that of the Calvinist camp (as a matter of fact it was the Calvinist of Finney’s age whom he was preaching against). I would recommend you go back and read the first 8 points Finney makes as to what Total Depravity is not. He is essentially denying every point of the Calvinist doctrine here. For example in point #6 he states: “By total depravity, I do not mean that there is any sin in human beings, or in any other beings, separate from actual transgression. I do not mean that there is some constitutional depravity, which lies back, and is the cause of actual transgression”. Calvinist however believes there IS a constitutional depravity (Original Sin) in all humans. But yet Finney denies this exist. Finney believed in what is known as a Semi-Pelagian concept of depravity. I will post a graphic on my blog to help further clarify between the two doctrines.

With regards to Romans 3:23 you need to read it in its full context (including chapters 1 & 2) Paul is going back and forth between Judaism and Pagan Gentiles to show that both have their good points (ie. Rom 2:14-16, 3:1-2)) but that neither groups have it all worked out in regards to righteousness. This is by no means a universal proclamation that man has inherited sin and is utterly incapable of doing right before God.

As for the use of the word “Sin nature” (Romans 7:18) is an inaccurate interpretation (KJV uses the word flesh, only the NIV uses “Sin Nature”). I would recommend you go back to the original Greek and see that the word “Sin Nature” is in fact not used but rather the Greek word sarx is used (Strongs 4561) which is the word for “flesh”. Sarx is defined as human sensibilities or desires of man. – not sin nature.

The amazing thing is this is a translation issue. Sarx is used on many occasions. For example why is it in Romans “sin nature” but yet when it is used in John 6:53 it says “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh (sin nature??) of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”

Finally, when we see the definition given by John Piper and John MacArthur for TD we see a definition that denies any moral ability on the part of man, it is shocking to believe this is indeed their theology, but this is indeed the theology they support.

Anonymous said...

At the end of your blog you say, "Finally, when we see the definition given by John Piper and John MacArthur for TD we see a definition that denies any moral ability on the part of man, it is shocking to believe this is indeed their theology, but this is indeed the theology they support." I am just wondering, where does your ability to turn from sin come from?

Preston N said...

Anonymous

The real question isn't where my ability comes from - we all have been created by God with the ability. The question rather needs to be "Where does your WILL come from to turn from sin”. Both the Old Testament and Jesus gives us a clue where our will to obey comes from when they inform us what is the greatest commandment. The OT calls this the Shema and Jesus says it is what the entire moral law hinges upon.

Mat 22:37-38 And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment.

We see from this verse that in order to truly love God we need to love Him from three areas of our being – our heart, our soul and our mind. All three are very interrelated. In the bible whenever the word “heart” is mentioned this is referring to the “will” of man. So what needs to occur is a change in man’s will or motivation for living. But let me demonstrate this principle maybe in a parable like manner.

Let’s say someone comes to you and asks they want you to run a marathon. In order for this to be a valid request to begin with you must have the ability to be able to run a marathon. Now we know from our observations that people do indeed have the ability to run a marathon – as matter of fact hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have either attempted to run or have completed a marathon. If however, you were by some unfortunate circumstance physically unable to run a marathon (i.e. paralyzed, poor health, etc) then the request to run would be not only be an invalid request, but inappropriate one at that. Now, granted, you might not immediately be in the best physical shape to run a marathon – but you do indeed posses the physical ability to run one. Its just that most of us have not kept ourselves in the best physical condition to run one.

Now, this same person informs you that you will be allowed to take up to two years to physically prepare for this race. This person also tells you they are willing to give you a detailed instruction manual and even a trainer to help prepare you to run this race. For most people, they would probably choose not run the race as they will have weighed the cost of performing such a task, let alone the commitment of their time and the physical challenge that lays ahead.

But lets say this same person informs you that you would receive a check for $10 million dollars. I think most everyone would indeed at least TRY to run the race. Granted, its going to be a tough challenge, but again we have seen others complete a marathon race so we know it can be done. For most people they would go to great lenghts to condition themselves on a daily basis in order to prepare for the race. They would change how they eat, sleep, their commitments to train, etc. Needless to say people would be willing to change their lifestyle in order to capture the prize!

The difference here is motivation. Now please don’t take my metaphor too far – I am by no means saying people should become a Christian to get “something” – such as money or to get out of hell. But I used this to show that man is willing to change vast amounts of their lives for something such as money. The battlefield of sin is in the mind. It has all to do with our supreme motivation for living. It all comes down to love. Do we love ourselves more or do we love God and his Son more. If someone is willing to go through grueling amounts of physical training and alter large parts of their lifestyle for money – then what about the Son of God? Is he not worth more than any amount of money!?

You see, the Cross of Christ is my motivation or what has changed my “will” not to sin against God. It is my Love for Him that has changed me! It is through the life and death of Christ that has broken my will and I now take on his will. When people say they can't stop sinning then they have not truly had an encounter with the Savior - they (will) are not broken (see II Cor 7:9-12)

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

We see it is the heart of man that needs to change. This needs to start within the mind of sinner! Sin is living unintelligently. Therefore, this is where faith comes into play. Evangelical faith is not a “blind leap” of faith as many would proclaim. But rather, it has substance, it requires knowledge of something – but knowledge of what?

True Evangelical Faith cannot believe what it does not understand. Therefore this is why knowledge of God and his Son are so significant in our development of faith. God has given us his Word and even his creation to show us he not only exists, but also who he is and what demonstrated character he holds. Faith begins with an intellectual perception of what truth is. Jesus says “And the Truth will set you Free” – well then set us free from what? From thinking that loving ourselves is greater than loving God!

Once truth has been established, then a personal appropriation or proper use of this knowledge must be applied to oneself. This appropriation is then manifested in repentance and a genuine change of heart. Once a person has genuinely changed their heart then they can live free from the bondage of sin. A major part of all this is the atonement and how it plays a significant role (it not the main one) in changing the heart of a sinner. The atonement was not only about the forgiveness of Sin, but to change the hearts of men (but that is another matter).

Please understand this is not a complete or thorough explanation on the concept of faith or overcoming sin. But I tried to give you at least my concise explanation here . I would suggest to better understand this issue, is just do a word search on the word “mind” or “minded” in just the New Testament. You will clearly see that the battlefield to overcome sin is in the mind. Here are just a few verses:

Rom 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: (7) because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: (8) and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.


Rom 12:2-3 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.


1Co 15:34 Be sober (righteous) minded and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.


Mat 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.

Anonymous said...

so, the mind of flesh is death becuase it is at emnity with God? and those in the flesh cannot please God? We are all born in the flesh but then the power of the Spirit comes to dwell in us and that brings life and peace. Right?

Preston N said...

Indeed all are born in the flesh - but flesh is not the issue here. It is the DESIRE or the "mind of the flesh" that is the problem. The desires of the flesh in of itself is not wrong or wicked, but that man has made fulfilling those desires as his supreme motive in life is the problem. Take sexual desires - God has equipped man and woman with sexual desires. When used properly they serve a vital & good purpose. It is when we allow that desire to take control of our lives and we begin using that desire in a distorted way is when we get into trouble.

Again, sin is living according to the DESIRES of your flesh - meaning you have total disregard for all others (including God) in how one satisfies those desire.

As for the Holy Spirit, prior to obtaining faith (and repentance) the Holy Spirit is working in an external manner. It is attempting to illuminate the sinners mind in order to bring the truth to that person and to bring conviction of their sins. Once a person has faith and repents (change of heart) God can then trust that person with his Spirit. God will not and can not impart His Spirit to a sinner (look back in the OT as to if God allowed sin to dwell within His Temple - Paul says your body is a "Temple" of the Holy Spirit keep it holy).

The function of the Spirit is threefold - to remind us or teach us of the truth, to comfort us, and to give us the words to speak when evangelizing or ministering to others. I assume this is what your confirming?

Anonymous said...

You said, "The desires of the flesh in of itself is not wrong or wicked"...be careful my friend, you have just contradicted the bible.
see Romans 8:5-9 which you quoted below. specifically (6) For the mind of the flesh is death 7) because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: (8) and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
You agree that we are all born in the flesh. We either live in the flesh or in the spirit. If we live according to the flesh, we cannot please God. We must live in the spirit. You also said below "God will not and can not impart His Spirit to a sinner". Well, now we have a BIG problem, because we are all sinners. Or are you saying that I must attain perfection before I can receive the spirit of God?

Preston N said...

How so? I recommend you reread the verse again it says. This time I'll quote from the KJV for better clarity:

6 For to be carnally MINDED is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal MIND is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Its referring to the mind here,not the flesh itself. The Greek word for mind here is phronema and it means "mental inclination".

Yes everyone is born with desires of the flesh, but again these are not the problem, its our motives to feed these desires - do you disagree here? Is a child sinful for wanting a bottle? Or to be held by its mother? IF the flesh is the problem then your making sin a physical condition and not a moral one.

With regards to your comments on perfection - if your implying that Christians are to sin in word thought and deed everyday then I would whole heartedly disagree. My point here is God will give you his spirit if you have a pure or clean heart. This will only occur if you repent and fully change your heart to love God. God is not concern with our actions but the motive of our hearts.

Anonymous said...

Ro 7:25
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Ro 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Ro 8:3
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Ro 7:18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
1Co 15:50
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
2Co 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Ga 5:17 -
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Col 2:23 -
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

What do these verses have to say about the flesh? What will never inherit the kingdom of God?

Are you putting words in my mouth? Where did I say that we have to sin everyday? I obey God becuase I know that I am telling him I love him everytime I choose to do right. It is sad to hear someone teaching that we must attain perfection before we can have the spirit of God becuase in that you have condemned many. For only with Christ in our lives do we have the power over sin. What would you tell a drug addict when he wants to come to Christ? Would you turn him away and tell him to he clean up his act before he comes to Christ? Or now that he has come to Christ he can clean up his act? In telling people that they must be perfect in order to receive the spirit of God you are heaping burdens on people they cannot bear just like the pharisees. We are to be blameless before God but we can only do this when we HAVE the spirit. I am a new creation becuase of his Spirit, I did not make myself a new creation and then accept the Spirit.

Preston N said...

Anonymous

It sounds as if you’re rather confrontational about all of this. I am by no means claiming that man is expected to live up to the same level of moral light that God lives in. God only requires us to live up to the amount of knowledge that we currently have of him. Again, sin is a moral choice – do you agree here? If not then we really need not take this discussion any further. It is vital in our walk with God that we understand this because if we believe sin is not a choice then a person does not truly understand the nature of sin nor the meaning of repentance. If sin is not a willful choice then what’s the point of repenting, what are we repenting from our nature or our flesh? This would indeed seem odd. This would be like me scolding my dog because he sheds.

As for the drug-addict example you gave, again a person who truly repents (2 Cor 7:9-12) will “turn away” from their sins – in other words the power and impact of Christ atonement will have such an impact on a person that they will hate sin and Love God . They will no longer desire to do sinful things. Granted a drug addict will have a tough road to hoe, but I personally know of people who have kicked heroine as a result of their conversion experience. Yes, the Spirit of the Lord helped them in many ways, but that first step needs to happen from within the heart! Once God sees that first spark of repentance, sorrow and brokenness – He will take that spark and fan it into a burning flame with his Spirit. God is indeed merciful and gracious and is very patient with us, as long as we have a right motive of heart. Think of it this way. If someone surrenders in battle, is there such a thing as a “partial surrender”? Of course not! The same applies to God. We either totally surrender our hearts to the Lord or we are still in a state of rebellion against him – there is no partial repentance or surrender. For most people, they can not understand that God is a jealous God and He will not tolerate someone who is “partially loving” Him.

As for your verses……..

The important thing you need to remember is in Romans Chapter 7 Paul is using a literary device whereby he is speaking in the present tense to emphasize his point from the past. I would recommend you go back and read verses 22-25 with this in mind. In v23-24 Paul is speaking of how he USED to be conflicted before his conversion experience. His mind and flesh (desires) where in constant conflict, because he knew in his mind he was not supposed to sin but he allowed his flesh (desires) to get the best of him. V25 he sums up how he overcame this and it was through Christ (atonement) that changed his heart and his motive for living. This is further explained in Chapt 8.

Rom 7:18 For I KNOW that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not.

To “know” something means you have an intellect and conscience – Are you denying we have a conscience? Do you not feel guilt when you sin – everyone has a conscience and for good reason – so you know when you sin and so that you know not to do it again (Romans 2:14)! Does a person just wake up one day and decide to mainline heroine - no! They got there by knocking down many gates within their conscience and willfully making many sinful decisions to get them there! When someone molest a child or rapes a woman did they get there without thinking about it or meditating on it. Did they have to sere their conscience to get to that point in their lives? I would suggest you meditate a little more on why men sin – trust me it is not some uncontrollable urge or “nature” that we can not change.


Ro 7:25
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Again, here we have the words “WITH THE MIND”. Anonymous, the point you need to resolve is how you harmonize the verses I have shown that says it is the mind with your verses that say flesh. Just because you show me twenty verses with the word flesh doesn’t mean you have made your point. If I show one verse that contradicts these verses – then it is upon you to show me or tell me how this harmonizes with your position. Paul is saying that he has had a change in how he thinks (with the mind).

Ro 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

(Not sure what bible you’re quoting from but the ASV states Rom 8:1 as “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus”.) Paul here is using metaphoric language to show that we must “walk” or strive with Christ in our daily lives. If you look at verse 2 it states “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” “Free from the law of sin and death” does not mean I am only free from the consequences of sin, but that I am free from predominating influence of sin in my life!


Ro 8:3
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Indeed the flesh is weak in the sense that we allow our physical desires and sensibilities to override our sense of reason and understanding. Again, keep the entire Chapter in context here. Look at verse13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Note that it says “through” the Spirit NOT that the Spirit does it for us!)A good exercise here would be to look at this verse in the Greek Septuagint and understand the Greek word for “through” or “in”.

1Co 15:50
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. .

This verse has nothing to do with sin or depravity, but rather about our resurrected bodies. He is confronting the church of Corinth because they had misconception about the resurrection. Our earthly bodies are fragile. weak, liable to disease, subject to pain and death. They will cannot be suited to a world where there shall be no decay and no death. This verse has nothing to do with sin – but rather our decaying earthly bodies. Please keep the verse in context.

2Co 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Again, note the emphasis here is “LET US cleanse OURSELVES of ALL filthiness of the flesh and spirit – perfecting holiness. I am not sure why you would quote such a verse when it clearly supports what I have been saying all along. Again, the context of this entire book needs to be in light of 1 Corinthians. Look at what Paul told these same people in his previous letter. (i.e. 1 Cor 15:34 “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame”. Again, the key word here is for some have no knowledge – Paul is emphasizing that knowledge is their problem – if they had proper knowledge then they would stop sinning)

Ga 5:17 -
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Note what Mat 5:28 says “ but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Our Savior wonderfully illustrates that lust is not of the “flesh” alone – but rather is of the heart or from the will where the lustful thought was generated. One then needs to ask themselves, do you have control over how you think or behave? Jesus is clearly saying its your thinking that is corrupted!


Col 2:23 -
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

I too would agree whole-heartedly with this verse. This is the beauty of the Spirit of the law – we need no external regulations to keep us morally in-line! But rather we have the laws of God written upon our hearts and the Holy Spirit to lead us in all matters of truth and righteousness. With a changed heart we can become truly righteous before God and walk in his ways.

PS – If I can make a suggestion I would recommend you read Charles Finney’s “True and False Conversions” and “Moral Obligation”. These might help bring some light to this particular issue even further

Preston N said...

Bulldog - Thanks for showing your level of maturity. Apparently my comments here must have struck a real sour note with you - as you "slashed and dashed" with such great courage! What seems to be the problem is I have somehow thrown out a theological concept that doesn't match up with your theological picture. The bigger question here is how do you know your picture is the right picture.

As for your comments - where have I ever said or even suggested that that I have "saved myself"?? Without the death of Christ I would have never been awaken to my sinful condition nor would I have repented with such deep conviction.

D. L. Talley said...

"As for the use of the word “Sin nature” (Romans 7:18) is an inaccurate interpretation (KJV uses the word flesh, only the NIV uses “Sin Nature”). I would recommend you go back to the original Greek and see that the word “Sin Nature” is in fact not used but rather the Greek word sarx is used (Strongs 4561) which is the word for “flesh”. Sarx is defined as human sensibilities or desires of man. – not sin nature."

σάρξ(sarx 4561)
1. flesh
flesh; then, corporeity according to its material side (σῶμα (sōma 4983) being the organic whole, the body, and therefore is to be distinguished from it); then, the outward form of human nature, and therefore human nature in its embodiment. As used by St. Paul, all that is peculiar to human nature in its corporeal embodiment is said to belong to it; and hence, he uses it as the distinct antithesis to πνεῦμα (pneuma 4151) (spirit), to signify the sinful condition of human nature (this specific meaning occurs only in Rom 8:6,7. Col 2:18. Heb 9:10).

Human sensibilities or the desires of man ARE the SIN NATURE!

"For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."
Galatians 5:17

What would you make of Romans 8:3--
"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh..."

While on the subject of Greek translation, check out the difference between "agathos" and "kalos", both translated "good"
in Romans 7:18 but wildly different
in meaning. Truly eye-opening as to what man can accomplish with his willing and running.

"The real question isn't where my ability comes from..."

Oh, my, that is dangerously near to if not spot on blasphemous...

Repent, Preston.

"What seems to be the problem is I have somehow thrown out a theological concept that doesn't match up with your theological picture," Preston said to Bull Dog,
who rightly assessed Preston's pelagian heresy.

But no, Preston, what you teach just doesn't line up with Scripture. Sure does line up with the deception of the SINFUL NATURE
of man though.

Preston N said...

OK - fine let's use your definition of sarx then:

And the Word was made SIN NATURE, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14)

Mat 19:5 And (Jesus) said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one SIN NATURE

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my SIN NATURE, which I will give for the life of the world. (Joh 6:51)

Whoso eateth my SIN NATURE, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my SIN NATURE is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my SIN NATURE, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
(Joh 6:54-56)
Yep - now that there is some sound hermeneutics Mr. Tally!

The thing is Sarx is just that -flesh. Here is how Thayers defines Sarx:
Thayer Definition:

1) flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts
2) the body
2a) the body of a man
2b) used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship
2b1) born of natural generation
2c) the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”2c1) without any suggestion of depravity
2c2) the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin
2c3) the physical nature of man as subject to suffering
3) a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast
4) the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to GodNOTE: not one of these definitions mention totally depraved or the inability to choose good. Rather I tend to like the definition thayers gives here as it alludes to the "animal nature" implying that man is living just like an animal and that is he is ignorantly living to satisfy the desires of his flesh - just as an animal. But yet man is NOT an animal (as Calvinist and Evolutionist insist) but that we have been created in the image of God. We have an intellect and the ability to reason. Sin is simply living in ignorance of God's moral light and truth! Yet this is what you deny with your stupid Pagan expressions of inability and determinism (Which strangely enough atheist Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris agree with Calvinist in promoting Human Determinism! Strange bedfellows indeed!).

The thing is when Sarx is used in conjunction with the word hamartia (sin) we clearly see that the scriptures are not speaking of a Gnostic concept that material things have sin, but that it speaks of the unnatural use of our God given desires of the senses (flesh). Sin is UNNATURAL not Natural! Man was made for the throb of holiness!


BTW - Your use of the "agathos" and "kalos", again proves nothing to support "sin nature". Remember - Paul is writing in a style known as Historical Emphasis, whereby Paul is intentionally writing in the present tense about something that occured in the past. Paul's use of agathos is speaking of his constitution - his habits, flesh driven desires - he has no good "thing". Kalos speaks of moraility, his motives. Thayers defines kalos as:

1c) beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy
1c1) morally good, noble

Again - there is a difference between doing good out of selfish reasons - but to do good for goodness sake or as Jesus defines as Agape Love - unselfish benevolence - as altogether a different kind of "good". Paul is not speaking of a Christian here - but of an unregenerated man! Romans 8 speaks of what has gloriously changed - its HIS MIND v4-9. His understanding!