May 16, 2008

Steak Anyone?

I am often amazed and even bewildered about the attitude some churches have taken about the definition of sin. In an age of easy-believisim, where Calvinism has so destroyed or damaged the biblical understanding of sin, we see its lasting impact on the church of today. Calvinist theology has led us to a misguided understanding that sin is no longer a moral freewill choice, but is rather a necessity of God’s providence. Sin is no longer our fault, but rather that of Adam’s or one’s parents. Sin is no longer rebellion against God's goodness, but is just a part of our DNA or physicality.

Ultimately, these ideas of theology and understanding do have consequences. One example in my own life is several years ago I once had a local minister tell me that she sinned everyday in word thought and deed. According to her, everyday she would literally get up and commit acts of sin. This was because she had bought into the myth that sin was somehow imputed to her through her parents, as a direct result of their "Sin Nature". Therefore, she had relegated herself to believing she could not help but to sin everyday of her life. Instead of realizing that sin was a moral choice, her theology had equated that sin was something physical and not moral. Sadly, this concept of sin had so infiltrated her thinking that she had accepted it as truth. I still to this day wonder how many more people she has influenced with this misconception of sin. Again, ideas do have consequences!

I am so grieved by how often I hear pastors say that man is unable to change their hearts from sinfulness to benevolence. But what then did our Savior mean by when he stated “The Truth Shall set you Free”. Clearly the “Truth” has an impact on a persons desire to stop sinning. Knowledge as we discover is one of the most powerful tools God uses to change men’s hearts and ultimately stop them from being rebellious sinners.

It seems in this day and age, churches are more apt to believing some 1,500 year old Augustinian myth than simply reading the scriptures and applying a little bit of common sense or reasoning. Today, the church has seemingly replaced common sense and sound biblical interpretation for that of bad theology and non-sense. How often does one read a churches Statement of Faith to see the definition of sin as a result of mans "fallen" or "Sin Nature", rather than simply describing what sin really is and that is a moral choice to willfully disobey that which is known to be right or good.

One of the most powerful analogies of this very topic is from my good friend Scott Taylor. Scott presents a wonderful analogy of the power of God’s truth and how it can impact a persons desire to stop sinning:

Let say one afternoon you’re very hungry and you’ve decide that your craving a great big juicy steak. As a matter of fact, your hunger is starting to get the best of you and you’re famished. All day long you have thought about sinking your teeth into a nice juicy New York Strip! So you decide that you and your family are going to go uptown for an evening out at a local steak house.

As you arrive, you’re immediately seated at a nice table and the waiter comes over and takes your order. There is no need to even look at the menu as you know what you desire – a NY Strip prepared Medium Rare! A few minutes go by and out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of what appears to be the chef taking several steaks to the men’s restroom. At first you can’t believe what you’re seeing but as you inspect closer it is indeed the head chef taking several succulent steaks on a large metal tray to the men’s restroom. Immediately, you motion for the waiter to come to your table as you inquire as to what you have just witnessed. The waiter responds that he has no idea what you’re talking about and assures you that everything is alright. However, your interest is peaked by this time and you head straight to the men’s restroom to investigate further.

Upon entering the restroom you see the head chef taking a steak and wiping it on the inside of one of the toilets. He takes all four steaks one at a time and uses them as he would a toilet bowel brush! When you inquire as to what he is he doing with those steaks, he simply responds that he is preparing them for your table! You're astounded that a reputable restuarant would do such a thing! Now the question that bears asking is would you continue to eat at this establishment or would you sit down and enjoy the steak dinner you have been hungering for all day?

Sin is much like this analogy. Yes, on one hand our flesh deeply desires to taste and eat that succulent steak. As a matter of fact we have hungered and yearned for it for several days and finally we have the opportunity to fulfill our hunger pains. However, we now have KNOWLEDGE of the truth of how this steak was being prepared. One simply must make an intelligent decision here: Do I simply ignore the filth that has been placed upon my steak and fulfill my bodily desires or do I accept and act upon my recent new found knowledge that by eating this steak I could be causing some serious intestinal damage and end up harming myself and possibly others!?

If we listen to how the church is defining sin these days, it simply says that our desires out weigh the power of God’s Truth and that ultimately we end up having to eat the filthy steak from time to time! Regardless of how hard we try, the toilet bowel ridden steak will end up getting you in the end (no pun intended here!). Sin is a choice! The question we must be willing to ask ourselves is just how hungry are you? Are you willing to eat just a little bit of the steak? Are you seeking to find a part of the steak that was contaminated and to cut around it? Or would you rather override the desires of your flesh with the knowledge of the Truth and having nothing to do with the steak! Truth my friends is a powerful thing if we heed its call!

God desires that we live a life that is free of the filth and contamination of sin! Sin is a choice. As Matthew 6 states:

Mat 6:24-25 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (25) Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?

Clearly, God is more concerned about our souls than our temporal bodies. So if eating a contaminated steak is cause for concern, is not then sin an even bigger concern? I hope that from this simple analogy I have shown that knowledge of God’s Truth is certainly a powerful motivator (if not the best motivator of all!). If one allows God’s Truth to transform their hearts and minds, then one can overcome sin and live in submission to our God in Heaven!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Preston, by your logic, the Apostle Paul is in Hell? How do you reconcile Pauls comments in Romans 7? His ongoing struggle between his flesh and his spirit. Or in Galations where he outlines this real struggle between earthly desire and the spirit. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {1 Jn 1:8-9} My mother taught me long ago, that David was a man after God's own heart. Why? Because he was quick to repent and quick to forgive. David wasn't perfect, he was flawed, like all of us, but he was quick to repent of his sin.

The key to the Christian life is ongoing growth in Christ. Yes we should sin less and less as we mature. However, if perfection is the outcome of being Christian, and the requirement for going to heaven, then Heaven would be a lonely place.

Preston your whole post just smells of legalism. With an attitude like that, you'll never attract anyone to the Grace and Glory of Christ. Please don't confuse this as an excuse for sinning, it's not. But to say that once your a Christian you shouldn't sin anymore, is dishonest. I don't want anyone to be cavelere about sin anymore than you do. But your claims of sinlessness once you're a believer are bad theology.

Preston N said...

Anonymous

You have entirely missed the intent of my post. My point here is to show the correlation of knowledge and understanding of the truth and how ugly and horrific sin truly is. Once we have this revelation of understanding of sin from God's perspective, this provide the necessary motive for living for Christ. (Note this only an analogy is not a full systematic representation of my theology, as one would need to account for an atonement).

Your response is a tell tale sign that you believe that one must sin and that the power of the cross is weaker than sin. This is probably due to a mis-guided theology that you believe sin is physical rather than moral. Since sin is a moral choice then one must have the moral ability to choose that which is either sinful or righteous. The bible consistently shows that God requires moral accountability from all of mankind and that we will ALL be judged based upon those moral actions (do you agree or disagree here??).

Since God requires moral accountability, then we as freewill moral agents are therefore required to be morally responsible. Moral responsibility therefore logically requires moral ability! If we deny moral ability, then we deny that God is a just and fair God. Instead, we make God into tyrant who condemns mankind to hell for something they have no ability to control.

As for Romans 7 I suggest you go back and specifically read Romans 6-8. The key to understanding Romans 7 is to read it in its entire context and not isolate it like you have suggested here in your response. If you examine Romans 6, 7, and 8 together, both Rom. 6 and Rom. 8 clearly contradict what Paul writes in Romans 7.
When Romans 7 is taken out of its context, one will have a wrong understanding of what the Apostle Paul is saying in this chapter. We must take these chapters together and apply the Laws of Interpretation (Hermeneutics) in order to have a proper understanding of what Paul was trying to convey to his reader.

Both Rom. 6 and Rom. 8 were written about one who is victorious over sin; however, Rom. 7 describes an inconstant, weak, and unstable hypocrite, unable to deny self and follow Christ. Paul is writing in method common to 1st Century Jews and Greeks whereby he is using present tense to emphasize a past tense occurrence or experience. Although this seems odd to a 21st century reader, this is very common to the 1st Century Jew and Paul’s readers would be very aware of this when reading his letter in CONTEXT. This is what is known as “Historical Present Tense”.

In general, the Historical Present Tense in a passage (1) starts in the past tense to establish its form; (2) the writer then uses the present tense to bring a vivid description of an event. For example: "I was an atheist when I was 20 [past tense]. A neighbor came to me one day to tell me about Jesus... But I don’t want to hear it! [present tense] I am an atheist. I don't believe in God!"
Paul, in Romans 7, follows the same format. Romans 7:9-11 uses the past tense first:

Rom 7:9-11 For I was alive without the law once [past tense]: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me... Paul then commences writing in the present tense to give his readers a vivid picture of the torment in the life of a hypocrite.

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. [present tense to the end of the chapter]
Paul writes Romans 7 in the Historical Present Tense to give hypocrites a chance to closely identify with his struggle with sin prior to conversion.

The intent here is Paul wants his reader to identify with this passage by asking some hard questions as the Apostle Paul then concludes the chapter with the question, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom 7:24)

1. "How can I ever get victory over my sinful desires?" The Apostle Paul then answers, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 7:25)

Yes! This is the answer to victory over sin. Jesus Christ! The Gospel promises victory, not slavery. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

2. "What must I do?" Do as the Apostle Paul, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 6:11)

3. "You mean, victory over sin all the time? How can anyone do that?" Through Jesus Christ, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil 4:13)

4. "But Jesus died because I can't keep the commandments!" Jesus came to forgive you from your PAST sins (Rom 3:25). Once you become a Christian you CAN obey His commandments. However, many REFUSE. God would be a tyrant if He gave us commandments that we had no ability to keep. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

5. "If I can keep the commandments and be obedient, then I'll be God, because only God is perfect." We are not perfect as God because all have sinned [past tense, Rom 3:23]. Jesus is the only sinless One from birth to death and all eternity. However, we are commanded to be obedient once we are born again. "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb 5:9). We are to be Christ-like [Christian] and God-like [godly]. We are told to "go and sin no more" (John 5:14). Jesus even says, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46) Anonymous, When God calls us to be “Holy as I am Holy” he is speaking of the “manner” and not to the exact level of moral perfection He has. Since God has infinite knowledge – so goes His level of Holiness. We are only holy to the exact level of knowledge we presently have.

“Anonymous” I would recommend you listen to Paul!

Rom 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.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Notice there is no condemnation for those who are walking after the Spirit. Paul tells us in Galatians that if you are walking in the Spirit, you are not fulfilling the lust of the flesh. But if someone is walking in the flesh, they ARE condemned already (John 3:18).
Be honest: are you free from sin or a slave to sin? Jesus saves FROM sin (Matt 1:21). FREE FROM SIN, not IN SIN! (Acts 3:26). Are you free of sin? Are you walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh? Have you honestly been set free from all your sin? Flee from sin to Jesus Christ and live the true Christian experience, free from all sin!

joeldad said...

What a tragedy today that the church at large thinks a true Christian is anyone who merely is "honest enough to admit that they are a sinner", yet a person who admonishes others to "stop sinning" must be a hypocrite, legalist, or heretic!

Preston N said...

Joe

Indeed it is a sad day. This is like poison that has spread throughout the church. When we are asked by God to surrender our selfish loyalties completly to Christ, Calvinist usually float to the surface to say that one must partially surrender as the flesh is just too strong. But yet when has anyone ever seen a partial surrender? If the Japanese or the Germans told the US during WWII that they were only going to "partially" surrender, does one think they could trust such "allies"??? Is this a good thing?!! Surely Not! So why then should God trust a man who proudly proclaims they will only "parially" surrender to the Savior, because they feel they must sin in word thought or deed. Is God not worthy of total surrender? When I see the cross my heart can't help but think so!

It is truly sad to see such folks beleive in the myths and fairy tales of Calvinism!

Chris said...

Preston,

I haven't commented here in a while, but this conversation is intriguing and I can't resist.

Are you saying that since you became a Christian you have not sinned? If you say you have then what you are teaching here is hypocritical, and if you say you haven't then according to the passage from 1 John that anonymous quoted you are a liar. Which is it?

Chris

Preston N said...

Chris

You seem to be missing the point
here. I'll ask you this - can you go just one (1) second without sinning? Can you go at least one minute?

I would be willing to bet you could at least go one minute without sinning - could you then take that to 15 minutes?? If so then you deny your theology of total depravity.

The issue here is moral ability is directly tied to moral knowledge. Man's moral obligation is limited to his KNOWLEDGE and to his ABILITY:

MORAL OBLIGATION IS LIMITED TO KNOWLEDGE:

Within the Moral Government of God, all men are held accountable according to their knowledge, no more or less (Matt. 10:15; 11:21-22; 11:24; 23:14; Mk. 6:11; 12:40; Lk. 10:12; 10:14; 12:47-48; 20:47; 23:34; Jn. 9:41; 15:22; 19:11; Rom. 1:18-20; 4:15; 5:13; 4:17; Jas. 3:1; 4:17; Heb. 10:26; 2 Pet. 2:21).

Once men reach the age of accountability they know right from wrong (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16; Jas. 4:17).

God has given light to every man, so all men have moral knowledge (Job. 12:7-9; Ps. 19:1-2; Jn. 1:9; Acts 17:30; Rom. 1:18-21; 2:14-15; 10:18; Titus 2:11-12).

All men are therefore accountable and without excuse for sin since they have moral knowledge (Jn. 9:41; 15:22; Rom. 1:18-21; 2:14-15).

MORAL OBLIGATION IS LIMITED TO ABILITY:

The extent of man’s moral obligation is the extent of man’s moral ability, no more or less (Deut. 6:5; 10:12, 30:6; Matt. 22:37; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27; 1 Cor. 10:13). However large or small your ability is, you must love God with all of your ability. God’s laws are therefore not impossible (Deut. 30:11; Job 34:23; Isa. 5:4; Matt. 11:30; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Jn. 5:3). His laws are reasonable, just, and good (Rom. 7:12; 7:16; 1 Tim. 1:8).

God appeals to the free will or natural ability of sinners (the grace of creation), commanding them not to sin and calling them to turn themselves from their selfish lifestyles (Gen. 4:6-7; Deut. 30:11, 19; Josh. 24:15; Isa. 1:16-20; 55:6-7; Jer. 4:14; Hos. 10:12; Jer. 18:11; 21:8; 26:13; Eze. 18:30-32; 20:7-8; Acts 2:40; 17:30; Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 7:1; 2 Tim. 2:21; Jas. 4:7-10; 1 Pet. 1:22; Rev. 22:17). God calls all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30-31) and He rightly blames them if they do not repent (Matt. 11:20; 23:37; Mk. 6:6; Lk. 7:30; 13:34; 14:17-18; 19:14; 19:27; Jn. 5:40; Rev. 2:21).

The only thing that keeps men back from God is their own unwillingness of heart, not any inability of their nature (Isa. 30:9; 30:15; 30:16; Jer. 8:5; Eze. 20:7-8; Matt. 11:20-21; 23:37, Mk. 6:6; 7:30; 13:34; 14:17-18; 19:14; 19:27; Lk. 14:16-24 ;Jn. 5:40; Acts 7:51; 17:27; Rev. 2:21).

So to answer your question
My salvation experience is that I have seen myself go from days without sinning, to weeks, to now months. Have I stumbled, surely. But this was typically either a result of previous damage or a result of moral ignorance. My level and frequency of sin has greatly diminished, and continues to do so because of my growing knowledge of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. This of course is a direct result of a change of one's heart through faith and repentance (and Freewill!).

We can obey what we know. As what we know increases, so must our obedience increase. We are responsible to obey all that we know. We will be accountable according to all that we know.

I would suggest that any of what I have said here is not at all hypocritical or in contradiction, but rather consistent with my original post.

BTW - Glad to see your still visit the sight! :)

Chris said...

Preston,

First of all I want to apologize for the way that I worded my question. As I have reread it I feel that I could have worded it in a more non-confrontational way, and I apologize for the snarkiness.

In you response you said:

"My salvation experience is that I have seen myself go from days without sinning, to weeks, to now months."

Do you really believe this? Even a cursory understanding of the Law teaches us that we sin numerous times daily in ways that we are not even aware of. But if you are saying that we are only morally responsible for the sins that we know about then we need to stop evangelizing and we need to close our churches, because we are just increasing the knowledge of sin and therefore the moral responsibility of those to whom we speak. What am I missing here?

Chris

Preston N said...

Chris

Are you familiar at all with Natural Law??

Your indeed right that evangelizing (the gospel) will indeed bring "light" to peoples "darkness". That is its very purpose. As sinners we have done serious damage to our conscience - as a matter of fact we have darkened it! Since God is "light" his word & Spirit helps illuminate ones mind to the truth of ones sinful conditions. Combine this with the intent and purpose of Christ's Atonement and this will bring heartbreak ("Godly Sorrow") to the sinner of how they have lived in such rebellion to God's perfect love and ultimately bring repentance of sin.

As for sinners playing the ignorant card or saying they are unaware of their sins - man does not need the Law (Mosaic) to be convicted of sin, but rather God has equipped every sane and rational human being with Natural Law. Natural Law is a biblical principle that Calvinist do not believe in as this would of course require moral ability and thus freewill. Paul speaks of Natural Law in Romans 2:12-14, whereby Gentiles never needed the "Law" but rather lived according to their own moral conscience - aka Natural Law.

To prove this point, by what right (or moral jurisdiction) did God have for bringing the flood upon mankind? Clearly from the time of Adam up until Noah there was no "law" in existence, so how was man guilty of sin or evil? Alas, they were guilty as a result of Natural Law.

The issue here Chris is you have a theological concept that the purpose of God's Law is to show is we are unable to keep it - but where is this ever mentioned in the scriptures. On the contrary God in the OT consistently tells Israel to keep His commandments and if not bad things will follow. In the NT Jesus clearly tells us that those who love him will keep his commandments.

Besides, a law that we are unable to uphold is just a bad and unjust law. For God to require people to uphold or keep a law that is impossible to uphold and then send them to eternal torment for not doing so really puts God is a very bad light and makes Him unjust and unloving. The laws of God are perfect and just and therefore we are able to keep them. He has even equipped us with a conscience to help us know when we have violated them.

The intent of the Law was not to establish moral boundaries that we can not keep, but just the opposite. Gal 3:15 says that the Law was put into place due to the level of transgressions that had occurred and it was to bring light once again to Israel's (and even Gentiles in some cases) hearts and minds to do that which is right. In addition, it was to be a tutor until the Messiah could come to place the Law into our hearts.

Again, we see God consistently working to "illuminate" our hearts and minds to the Truth that will bring us back to live rightly for Jesus Christ! The key here is heart knowledge of the Truths of God and Faith in Christ that brings us into living a holy and sanctified life.

PS - I suggest you study Natural Law in greater detail as this is often overlooked by Calvinist. Again, I can not see how a Calvinist can be consistent in their theology and support or believe in Natural Law - as it requires freewill. I would be interested in hearing your response on this concept.

Chris said...

Preston,

Yes, I am aware of natural law. But I think that we have a very different understanding of what this implies.

You said that natural law is denied by Calvinists because it requires moral accountability and thus, free will. But from my perspective there is no stronger argument for total depravity than this since there has never been, in the entire history of the world, a single man, women, or child who has "chosen" to not sin. This fact alone should point to the fact that man is totally depraved and unable to be redeemed apart from a miraculous work of God on his behalf.

God bless,
Chris

Preston N said...

Chris

If you truly understood natural law in its truest definition, you would deny its very existence as a Calvinist. Natural Law is simply defined as "right reason" - something total depravity denies. Calvinism/Total Depravity is the antithesis of Natural Law*.

Natural Law is rooted in freewill and moral ability - so to use Natural Law to actually reinforce Total Depravity shows me you have a weak grasp of the subject. I say this not in arrogance but to prove a point that you need to study a little more diligently on the subject.

To say that no man has ever chosen NOT to sin is again unbiblical and is untrue. It's almost as if your the one be legalistic here. Are you really saying God expects all of mankind to be perfect in the sense God is perfect? Where is that in the bible??? If God were to expect man to live at the same level of knowledge as God then this would make God unjust and unloving. Again, God expects man to live to his present abilities and knowledge.

As a proof text to show you this let's look at Luke Chapt 1:5-6 where it states:

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in ALL THE COMMANDMENTS and requirements of the Lord.

Again Chris you were the one who said the law was unable to be upheld, but rather to simply show us how bad we are. Well here we have a proof-text that utterly contradicts your definition of the law and of being unable to keep the law. Clearly God recognized this couple as being holy and blameless because they were walking free from sin and they were keeping ALL OF HIS COMMANDMENTS & REQUIREMENTS.

Furthermore, this is even before the atonement so clearly they had to be "holy" on the basis of faith and obedience in God alone. Yes, they most certainly had sinned at some point in their life, but at that moment of their lives they were walking blamelessly and were not presently sinning.

Chris, there are countless other verses whereby God declares men and women of the bible as being holy and blameless (Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, David, ect.) Indeed each of these men had sinned, but yet because each of them had repented and obeyed God from the heart and by faith - God recognized them as being Holy and blameless.

Edmund Burke, an 18th century Political and Christian Philosopher once commented about Calvinism and their denial of Natural Law by stating:

"He that accuses all of mankind of corruption, ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one". In other words, if you ever once in your lifetime convict another person of sin or of wrongdoing, you then have simply contradicted your own theology. And we know anything that contradicts itself can not be truth.



(*See Edmund Burke, Richard Hooker, Edward Coke, or Hugo Grotius on writings regarding Natural Law and Human Nature.)

Chris said...

Preston,

You asked:

"Are you really saying God expects all of mankind to be perfect in the sense God is perfect?"

Yes! He is the standard by which we will be judged!

"Where is that in the bible???"

1 Peter 1:16 "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

now I don't know what your understanding of holiness is, but that looks to me like God expects us to be as holy as He is.

And that is why we need Jesus and the atonement that He provides. The only way that we can come to the Father is on the merit of the Son and the righteousness that belongs to Him and is imparted to us as we repent and put our faith in Him. Anything else is not the Gospel.

Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 15:

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,"

This is the Gospel!!! Christ died for our sins, and if we could just choose to not sin then Christ died needlessly. You may choose to believe that you can choose to not sin and be good enough for God to accept you, but I am putting my faith the the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross in my place to pay my debt to God by taking my sin upon Himself and giving me His righteousness in return.
I have no confidence in my abilities at all - it is all Christ!!!

Preston N said...

Chris

Holiness is defined as a moral attribute of the Godhead, or more properly is an attribute of love (Le 11:44-45;Isa 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Rev 4:8). Holiness is simply a description of God's character which is established by right moral action and of all moral beings who are voluntarily fulfilling their moral obligation, or are conforming to their moral "light" or perception of truth.

Holiness does not do "anything" or is a "thing" in of itself, but rather is merely the character and actions of the Godhead because they have chosen to be guided by their intelligence and benevolence in all of their actions - without the least taint of arbitrariness, partiality or self-assertiveness. Holiness is NOT something someone has, but something one is! When God declares us to be "Holy as He is Holy" it is a description of God's manner of living and is cautioning us to follow in the ways of our Creator. If you would have included v15 of 1 Peter you would have seen Peter say:

"But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in ALL YOUR BEHAVIOR".

God is simply asking us to live the same way he is living through intelligence and love.

Holiness is NOT something Jesus or God does for us, but is the manner by which we live, as a result of Christ atoning death. When Jesus says "Come follow me" it is not him that does the following for us, but rather man making a moral choice through obligation and love to follow the Savior.

When Jesus said "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48)" this is not an expectation of God that each of us be equal to that of His moral light, but rather we conform our lives to moral light that we presently have, and that we continue to grow and live up to that which God reveals in His Word and by His Spirit (2 Thess 2:13). Simply put, by grace and power of Christ we shall live intelligently in a universe ruled by Him.

Chris, if you really think God no longer sees your sin because he has "magically" imparted his holiness or righteousness upon you, then your only positionally "holy" and not truly delivered from sin. The Bible says "Behold the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD!" By your account Chris, Christ never really took away any sins he simply masked them over and has somehow duped the Father in not really seeing your truly sinful self. How is it than an all-knowing and all powerful God is deluding himself to not really see sin where sin truly still exist??

Lastly Chris, if you recall several months ago on your blog I asked you if God is concerned with decreasing the moral suffering on the planet. I recall you saying yes. How then is it that your theology denies this is even capable? Is God really only concerned with making man "positionally" holy or would it be upon him to alleviate sin all together in its truest since and allow men to be free - free indeed! from that which is causing them such misery - not to mention the misery it is bring the Godhead??

Preston N said...

Chris

To further my point, I went back last night and re-read 1 Peter Chapt 1. Something to consider here. First, in v13 Peter is providing us with what is really necessary to live a life transformed from "death" to "life". He states:

1Pe 1:13 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

If Calvinism is true, or if moral obligation is false, why then is Peter emphasizing a transformation or a renewing of ones's mind? The very possibility of changing one's mind here Chris is denied by Calvin as any change must be a direct munipulation of our will by God. So why is even Peter saying such things if moral ability is considered a false concept according to Calvinsim??

Furthermore, if you look at v17 we see again Peter emphasizing of obedience from the heart (via intelligence) and that God will judge each man according to his "works". Works?! For a Calvinist this verse should be heresy. But yet Peter is harmonizing that a changed "heart" is accomplished by renewing your mind to love and obedience to God - this is the very essence of moral obligation and moral intelligence! This change is not done by God alone nor is it done by man alone, but rather it is a co-working of man's moral ability and God's gift of moral illumination. Without God illuminating our minds to the Truth we would never fully be able to live a life of holiness.

Finally v22 is a beautiful summary of what the salvation process entails:

1Pe 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently

Note that it is not God doing the purifying for us here, but rather it as a result of God's illumination our minds and we obeying the truth and loving from the heart. God can not solely purify our hearts for us, but again this is a joint process between man and God. I realize as a Calvinist your probably going quote the good ole Eph 2:8, but something to consider here Chris - when Eph 2:8 speaks of "that" it is not saying "faith" is the gift of God, but grace is the gift of God. The Greek definition of "grace" is "gift", therefore this makes perfect sense whereby Paul is reemphasizing that grace is indeed a gift and is not a work (as the Jews distorted) of man. But it is by Grace (gift) that produces faith in the hearts and minds of men. Faith is not just mere belief (James 2), but a change of heart through the knowledge of the truth (from God) and obedience of the heart (by man).