The Nature of Sin
The doctrine on the nature of SIN IS THE FOUNDATION for any type of theology.
What sin is and how it is dealt with is the issue in the gospel ! Thus we must
ensure that we understand it well if any of our theology is to be correct. There
are 2 generally accepted possibilities as to what the nature of sin can be.
Sin can not be both, if it is a nature then it excludes choice. We must however
not get confused with the side issues (which most people do) when discussing the
nature of sin. It is well to explain them before we start any discussion so that
we know what we are talking about. If sin is nature then most of these side
issues dissipate rather quickly because they are all lumped together. If sin is
a choice then we have various issues to address.
- Sin is a choice
- Sin is a nature.
There are probably a few others but they are of little consequence. Well
obviously if sin is a choice then you can have all the cravings to sin and yet
not sin (through the power of Christ). Point (3) is worth noting because the
concept of "HOLY FLESH" exists whereby some believe that there is no
evil in them, i.e. that the flesh is holy in itself (New Age sort of stuff). Well
what then do we inherit from our parents? Surely we inherit something, the Bible
says so. It's very easy to work this one out, a brief study of genetics and
biology will explain that what is inherited is tendencies, to some extent
character, depravity, characteristics, the evil in our natures. You see having
sin as choice does not mean that we don't have evil natures. Let me just clarify
here that when we use the word evil we are referring to things that are bad but not
necessarily sin. Sin is a special type of bad, its when we choose to indulge in
the bad thing. In other words to rebel against what is good. Accepting the
biblical teaching that sin is choice does not go against the truth that we are
born with depraved natures. The nature of this depravity (lust of the flesh) is
so strong that NO MAN CAN OVERCOME it of himself. ONLY BY DEATH TO SELF and life
through Christ can he overcome these tendencies.
- Is the tendency to commit evil sin ?
- What then is inherited from our parents (Adam included)
- Will we have any tendency to sin ?
Let me give you an example here, when a cat kills a bird; is that sin ? I
don't think so, it has not broken any law, it is outside the law because it is
not a free moral agent. Yet, what it has done is not good; it is evil. We are
surrounded every where by evil, but that evil in itself is not sin.
Another example if a heroin addict mother gives birth to a child that child
is born a heroin addict, it has received the addiction, is that child guilty of
being a drug addict ? You would have to be very unjust to say so yet the child
has inherited the evil desires and tendencies of its mother. The law of heredity
has held in this case. Yet even though the child's body is filled with
the cravings to indulge in evil, he is not responsible, and in that case guilty,
unless he chooses to indulge at which point it becomes sin.
Well I think that's enough general comment. Let's address the issue more directly.
To begin I what to point out the origins of the doctrine of Original Sin because
it is important that we understand where it comes from.
This doctrine was incorporated into the Catholic church at the time of (St.)
Augustine by himself.( A study of his personal life will explain why he
introduced this doctrine. Basically, it was a good way to excuse his indulgences
and his lusts) This was around the time that so many other pagan practices and
teachings were becoming widely accepted in the church. The original source of
this doctrine came from the PAGAN Greek concept that the body is evil and that
no good can ever come of it, so that any good must be external to it due to its
inherent evil (the use of evil in this case is different from our previous use).
Let's take this
doctrine and systematically examine where it leads. In fact,
this is very easy to do because the Catholic church has already done this for
us. If we believe in Original Sin then we need infant baptism (WHICH IS
UNSCIRPTURAL), otherwise if the baby dies before it is baptized then it goes to
hell, because its imputed guilt has not been removed. Jesus Christ can
definitively not be born "according to the flesh" Rom 1:3, and so we
need an immaculate conception (Which is unscriptural.) of course then how can the
conception be immaculate if Mary was also under the condemnation of Original
then we need the immaculate conception of Mary (which is unscriptural). Of course, if
Christ was born immaculately then He is not like us who are born under a curse
so that He can not be our example (1 Pet 2:21). If we cannot follow His example
then we can never overcome sin in our lives we can never overcome. (there's too
many verses to cite here so I'll leave them out). Following this reasoning, since you can't overcome sin,
then trying to is pointless; at which point we fall into antinomianism and
abolish the Law itself. If you want systematic theology then you will eventually
have to become a Roman Catholic, unless you let go of the Doctrine of Original Sin.
interesting at this point that this is exactly what is happening, its called the
Ecumenical movement (ever heard of it? -- the World Council of Churches). Yes, you see,
everybody now agrees that the reformers were all wrong. We were all much better
off with the inquisition.
On the other hand Reform is progressive. We do not just say "Oh,
that's enough reforming" for a few hundred years. Let's look at the other
systematic theology based on sin as choice. If sin is choice then you are guilty
for your rebellion against God. We do not deny that we inherit evil tendencies,
corrupt natures; but unless we indulge in that evil we are not guilty (James
1:14,15). Sin ONLY occurs after the evil that is in us is allowed to conceive,
until that time yes there is evil in us but it is not sin. So that until a child
is conscious of evil and CHOOSES to do it, it has not incurred condemnation or
guilt. Christ can be born "according to the flesh" and He can be our
example because He was "in all points tempted such as we are" Hebrews
4:15. Again, how does James say we are tempted? Since He was tempted like us
yet without sin, then He can be our example so that we too can overcome in Him
"even as He overcame" Rev 3:21. (Once again there's too may verses to
cite here.) What is so defective about this? It leads us to erroneous views.
Regeneration is still required because man can not in himself do any good thing.
Only as Christ dwells in his heart can he even hope to overcome.
Faith is unchanged, can only hope for this regeneration, and salvation FROM
SIN (guilt is secondary) through faith in Jesus.
Repentance is only of any value now because now you repent from your sins
which you commit. Otherwise what do you repent for; being born? Or maybe you
repent on the Lord's behalf because of the what He made you?
Sanctification only now becomes a reality because now you can be sanctified
as Christ removes from your heart the evil desires and tendencies.
Sanctification is not a 5 minute fix, it is the work of a life time. You say
that salvation will become an act of the will. "Are we saying that salvation is
independent of our will, or even against our will?" Yes, you are right! Salvation
is an act of the will. None will be saved without making a conscience choice to
be saved. Is this wrong? Divine grace will however still be the primary portion
of salvation because it is only His grace that leads us to choose to be saved.