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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. Either :

  1. Sin is a choice
  2. Sin is a nature.
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.
  1. Is the tendency to commit evil sin ?
  2. What then is inherited from our parents (Adam included)
  3. Will we have any tendency to sin ?
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.

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 Sin, so 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. It's 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.