Maybe this is self-evident, but there are reformed Christians who do not believe this at all. They rather believe that some are created to seek and find God while others are created to be spiritually blind and unable to do so (according to God’s will which is sometimes “mysterious” for us).
Acts: 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be NOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US.
The same text also tells us that we are all commanded to REPENT from our sins, and to make it clear we can read that this applies to “all men every where”. This means that while God can be viewed as being very patient with us, the commandment still stands.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT
Since all are commanded to repent it means that we are capable of doing just that. Compare with God’s command to Adam (and Eve) in the garden, where Adam is asked to not eat from a certain tree. God informed him about the consequences should Adam take the decision to eat despite of the commandment. (Note below that the English translation/phrase “for in the day”, yowm, Strong’s 3117, according to Blueletterbible can be understood as “when …”, as is the case in my own language in Svenska 1917 års Bibel “när”.)
Gen. 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The fact that God informs Adam of the consequences for being disobedient proves that Adam has a genuine choice. The same is true with all of God’s commandments, such as the one in Acts 17. We are all commanded to repent from our sins, but not all of us will make this choice.
We are also told that God will still judge us in a very fair way. He knows our capabilities:
Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Reformed Christians might then quote Rom. 3:10-11 where it says that there is no one righteous and “none that seeketh after God”, but they fail to see that the apostle Paul is quoting from a couple of Psalms (“as it is written”), and if we go to these psalms we can read about unrighteous people who do not seek him, but in the same context we can also about righteous people who DO seek him. On top of it all, Paul calls himself righteous and also to having lived with a totally clean conscience (1 Thess. 2:10, Acts 23:1), so he would have contradicted himself if he claimed there were no such individuals to be found. Read more here.
We are promised that we will find the Lord if we search for him with all of our heart:
Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart
Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
More examples which show that we are able and requested to seek God:
Deut. 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
1 Chron. 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.
1 Chron. 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
2 Chron. 11:16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.
2 Chron. 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
2 Chron. 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
Ezra 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat
Psalm 10:4 The WICKED, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, LetGod be magnified.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.
Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
Daniel 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
Hosea 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
There are some Christians who erroneously believe that it is God’s responsibility to make sure that born again believers are kept, and some even believe in the concept that God keeps us from falling (sinning). They might suggest that if a true Christian falls away and is no longer a child of God, then God’s power was not great enough to keep him, as though the Bible says it is God’s responsibility to keep people by force.
The truth is that we have a free will and we are therefore able to walk away from God without him preventing it from happening. If we on the other hand repent and come to him (or return back to him) he will accept us (keep us) us rather than rejecting us. Had it been up to God to make sure that we do not fall (sin) then we would of course not sin a single time for the rest of our lives. If we sin, it is always our fault and never God’s fault.
God created us to seek him and come to him, which means that we can. We have also been provided with the ability to repent, which we are all requested to do.
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;— 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27That they should SEEK the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though HE BENOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US. — 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent
Clearly not everyone seeks God, nor repents, which means that God has chosen to create us with free will and with the ability to both obey and disobey. This does not hurt his “sovereignty” (a non-Biblical word – KJV).
But what about verse 2 Thess. 3:3? Does it not suggest that God in fact is the one who keeps us, and does so no matter what we do? No, he can indeed keep us from evil, but he does not promise to do so unconditionally – and he does not promise that we will never be affected by persecution or pain. If we walk our own ways and even seek to be tempted, then we cannot expect to be kept from the snare of the devil since we have chosen to remove ourselves from God and his protection.
2 Thess. 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
The word “keep” in the above verse is a translation of the Greek verb φυλάσσω (Strong’s 5442, phylassō). The same word can also be translated observe, beware, save, guard and watch.
When we read the examples below (words in green are based on another verb) where this word is used, we can see clearly that what is “kept” is not necessarily kept unconditionally or for ever. A choice is involved. We can for instance read that shepherds “keeping” watch over their flock, but this does not mean that sheep can never ever stray away and be lost. We can also read warnings such as “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”, which is evidence of that we can not sit back and expect God to take this responsibility instead of us. If some of us do to get involved with idols, then we can be certain of that it is not due to God lacking in power but due to our own choices when we oppose God’s commandments.
Matt. 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. (+ Luke 18:21)
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. — 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. — 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. — 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. — 19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
Acts 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for TO KEEP, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Acts 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Rom. 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Gal. 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
1 Tim. 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
1 Tim. 6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: — 20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
2 Tim. 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keepthat which I have committed unto him against that day.13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
2 Pet. 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
2 Pet. 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Jude 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
There is also another verb often translated “keep”, which is τηρέω (Strong’s 5083, tēreō). This word can also be translated observe, reserve guard, watch, preserve, hold fast, etc – i.e. it is often used interchangeably with the verb φυλάσσω above. The examples show that there is a choice involved in this case as well.
Matt. 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Matt. 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Matt. 27:36 And sitting down they watched him there
Matt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mark 7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.— 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. — 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. —24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: — 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Acts 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
1 Cor. 7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
2 Cor. 11:9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
Eph. 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. — 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Ti. 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
2 Ti. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Ja. 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Ja. 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. — 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Rev. 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Rev. 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations
Rev. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. —8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. — 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev. 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Rev. 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Rev. 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Rev. 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. — 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
We also have a noun tied to the the above Greek verb, which is τήρησις (Strong’s 5084, tērēsis):
1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
We also have the verb παρατίθημι (Strong’s 3908, paratithēmi), and in this verse we can clearly see that the righteous are not forced to remain righteous by God as though they would lose their ability to sin. It is true that it is not likely that a born again Christian would like to return to the world and his/her old vomit, but once in a while it still happens:
1 Pet. 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Below you will find three quotes which are commonly used (out of context) to support the Gnostic idea that we constantly sin in thoughts, words and deeds because of our fallen nature.
1) 1 Kings 8:46 (and the parallel 2 Chr. 6:36)
1 Kings 8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
+ the parallel:
2 Chr. 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
The above quote is from an earnest prayer by Solomon to God. Solomon was initially a very wise and righteous man, but he later fell away when he married multiple foreign women (700 wives in total, plus 300 concubines) who lured him away from the only true God. In this particular prayer his expressions show that he absolutely believes that people can and should be obedient to God in everything. In this particular prayer he sincerely hopes that God will see the works of repentance from his people Israel, as well as their earnest prayers. We can see that Solomon expects people to repent and be successful in their aim to always be faithful to God’s laws.
Solomon’s expression “there is no man that sinneth not” seems to be a general expression and principle about man on earth, and this is sadly a valid description also today. We know for certain that Solomon did not try to express an inability of man to be faithful to God, because among other things he states “LET YOUR HEART THEREFORE BE PERFECT WITH THE LORD OUR GOD, TO WALK IN HIS STATUTES, AND TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, as at this day”. He does not propose that such an attempt would always lead to failure. If you repent and “return on to God with all your heart and all with all your soul”, does this not indicate that you also avoid sin?
1 Kings 8:44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:—54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.—57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.—61 LET YOUR HEART THEREFORE BE PERFECT WITH THE LORD OUR GOD, TO WALK IN HIS STATUTES, AND TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, as at this day.
In 2 Chr. 6 the wicked are contrasted with the righteous, and Solomon absolutely trusts that people have the capability to “fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live”:
2 Chr. 6:14 And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:—23 Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.—30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)31 That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
and we read on:
2 Chr. 6:37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name:39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.
2) Ecc. 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not
The author of Ecclesiastes has also said ”eat, drink and be merry” which must be read in its proper context, and he sometimes sounds a bit pessimistic about man in general. The author has the right to express himself with hyperboles, general principles, analogies and poetic comparisons, depending on what he wants to convey. The author describes righteous and God-fearing people, and he contrasts them with the wicked. This means that also this author is of the opinion that man can be a righteous and godly individual who does what is right.
Ecc. 7:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
Ecc. 9:1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3) Prov. 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
We have no authority to cleanse ourselves from sin, but we can be cleansed when we confess our sins and repent. The text in Proverbs often mirrors the reality through poetry, analogies and general principles, which means that the text does not necessarily convey the truth in a literal sense. Proverbs 20:9 poses an important question to think about, because who can really say that he/she has never sinned? The case is usually the opposite – that people are unclean due to ongoing sins. Not because they have to commit sins but because of their own choices. The point in likely to express the fact that sinning is (sadly) common among people. Babies have never sinned and cannot even do so because they are not aware of the law, but they can on the other hand not read any advice in Proverbs so the text is not written for their sake. If Proverbs 20:9 should be read in a literal sense as though there is absolutely no one under the sun who has a pure heart because of constant sins, the chapter and the book of Proverbs contain multiple contradictions. We can even read in the verses prior to Prov. 20:9 and right after it, that man can indeed cease from strife, can be just, pure, etc.
Prov. 20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.—7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.8 A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.—11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.—15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.—19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.—22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.—30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
You can also read about other common verses that are used to promote a sinful life – Rom. 3:10 here and 1 John 1:8 here.
“If ye — walk contrary unto me, then will I also walk contrary unto you” (Lev. 26:23-24)
Most Christians are naturally aware of that the Bible is replete with examples of people acting contrary to God’s law and recommendations, but Calvinists must assume that God makes people disobey – or else they believe that God is not sovereign.
“If” … “then” … God often (or constantly) acts depending on man’s actions:
Lev. 26:2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.3If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. —14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. — 21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. —23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. —27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. —40If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also THEY HAVE WALKED CONTRARY UNTO ME;41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
People can apparently choose their own ways, contrary to God’s ways, or is God making the choice for them? Why then can we read that “they have chosen their own ways” if it is in reality God who is doing the choosing?:
Is. 66:3 — Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
Surely the people corrupted themselves, rather than God doing it to them. “They ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” – would this be God’s fault?
Judg. 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their owndoings, nor from their stubborn way.
Prov. 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
Is. 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
Rebellious people oppose an authority, and in this case it is God himself. They walk after their own thoughts and not after God’s thoughts:
Is. 65:2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
God is not culpable for that fact that people delight in detestable things and their own abominations:
Is. 66:3 — Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
Ez. 11:21 But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.
God would have no reason to pour indignation over people if they always act according to his will:
Ez. 22:31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.
God should not be blamed for people who defile themselves because they act contrary to his will:
Ez. 35:17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.
We are not born in sin but we are fearfully and wonderfully made. If God’s ways always pan out the way he prefers, why can we read about the Spirit and the Flesh being contrary to one another? Paul’s solution is that we should be led by the Spirit (obey the Spirit), and in doing so we will not serve the flesh. The choice is ours and God will not make the choice for us or instead of us. If we sin, it is always our fault and God should never be blamed.
Gal. 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.
Gal. 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.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.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.— 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
The ordinary misconception about sin and righteousness
I can definitely recommend Dr. Leighton Flowers’ pod channel Soteriology 101 as well as his YouTube channel with the same name, because he has a great ability to humbly describe the downfalls and inconsistencies of Calvinism (although perhaps he is even a bit too humble at times). Especially Dr James White has a lot to learn from Leighton, when it comes to debating and highlighting proper exegesis. Please check out Leighton’s channel and subscribe if you want to learn more about the dark side of Calvinism and why it does not fit the scriptures.
Even though I am in awe about Leighton’s way of dealing with Calvinism and Calvinists, I would also like to point out some doctrines where I disagree with his rather common “Baptist views”. He has correctly said that Calvinism seems to contain two types of free will, two types of love, two types of calling, etc, (or something to this effect) but he too makes a similar mistake when he claims that there are two types of righteousness in his own belief system. He is convinced that this is the only way to avoid Bible contradictions, but there is a better way without having to resort to two types of righteousness.
I am not making any exact quotes here (unless possible) because I usually listen to his podcasts while out running and not being able to take notes. Nevertheless, I have heard enough to know that he believes that there are saved sinning Christians, and that it is totally natural for Christians to sin – and abnormal if they do not. He has not said it in those exact words but that is the only conclusion one can make from his comments. I am not saying that he actively encourages Christians to sin, nor that God does not care if Christians sin (rather the contrary), but he nevertheless teaches that sinning is normal and unavoidable both for unbelievers and believers.
The issues I am thinking about are the following (I am disagreeing with all of them):
No one is righteous
We cannot stop sinning
We cannot obey the law of God
We are saved by faith alone
Repenting does not mean leaving all of “the old sinning man” behind
Once saved always saved
We can get Jesus righteousness transferred into us (Jesus imputed righteousness)
We are born with a sinful nature due to Adam
Speaking in tongues – always being understood (and not even in use)
No one is righteous – Romans 3:10
The first verse to mention is Rom. 3:10, because this verse, read in a vacuum, is often used as a proof text for other verses. It is the famous “no one is righteous” verse. The only way to be labelled righteous in a world where no one can successfully stop sinning, is to have someone else’s righteousness transferred into himself – namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. However, this is not what the text is saying. First of all, Paul who made this claim called himself righteous along with two of his friends, and this means that Paul believes there are in actual fact people who can call themselves righteous. I suspect that Leighton would not disagree with that, but perhaps he would add that they are only righteous because of the righteous blood of Jesus and not because they are righteous in themselves. Nevertheless, Paul claimed that he indeed lived a righteous life by his own actions (likely referring to his life as a saved believer in Jesus Christ). Paul said that the conduct of him and his friends was holy, righteous and blameless (1 Thess. 2:10) and that he had lived with a perfect conscience before God (Acts 23:1). A person cannot sin and have a perfect conscience. Jesus tells us to be perfect, which means we can.
Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
When making the quote in Rom. 3:10, Paul starts off saying “as it is written”, and it is of utmost importance to check this quote (see link above) in order to not misunderstand him. Paul is quoting from a couple of psalms where unrighteous people (the fools) are contrasted with righteous people (who do good and seek God). This means that even those quoted psalms claim in context that righteous people are non-existent, nor that it is impossible to seek God. Moreover, psalms are often mirroring the reality by using poetic expressions, which means that we should be careful to not take a verse from Psalms and make a doctrine out of it.
Since we have sinned, we must of course repent and be cleansed in the blood of Jesus. We have no authority to cleanse ourselves from our sins, but after having been born again the idea is that we must not revert back to our old life style but be led by the holy Spirit away from sin. We must DO righteousness! Peter, John, James and Paul say:
Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and WORKETH righteousness, is accepted with him.
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
Ja. 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?—24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only.25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. — 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? — 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus himself believes there are people who are righteous, and that those individuals therefore have no need to repent (unless they sin of course) because they have already done so. (Repentance is a requirement for salvation.) He did not come to call the righteous to repentance but the sinners.
Luke. 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 15:7 – I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Jesus contrasts the righteous with the sinners, where the aforementioned are saved and the latter ones are not. This is far from the idea of “sinning saints”.
1 Pet. 4:18 – And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
1 Cor. 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
We cannot stop sinning? Yes, people could obey the law also in the Old Testament
Leighton and others seem to take for granted that God’s law can never be fully obeyed, and especially not when it comes to the Old Testament. The idea is often that “this is the reason that Jesus died for us, because of our inability to obey the law!“. The Bible, however, does not say that God’s commandments are too hard for us to follow, or that we are created too weak to follow them. If we do not even have an ability to fully obey God, and God is aware of this, would it really be our fault if we sinned? If we can obey and does not do so, we are guilty. If we cannot obey of no fault of our own and therefore sin out of necessity, we are not guilty.
But if we could obey, why did Jesus die? Because we have sinned. Bad choice. We are guilty sinners precisely because we could have obeyed but chose not to.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. — 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Is. 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Deut. 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.—14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, THAT THOU MAYEST DO IT.15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
The Bible says we are NOT saved by faith alone
A lot of Christians should take the practice to repeat the following verse a few times a day:
Ja. 2:24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only.
Lots of people do not even believe this verse is in the Bible, but the fact is that faith without works is dead. Also demons have faith. It is true that Paul spends a lot of time trying to get the Jews to understand that they are not saved only because they are born Jews and because of any need to follow the 613 Jewish laws (including circumcision) but that is often labelled as “works of the law” (the law of Moses). Paul makes a clear distinction between the law of Moses and the always existing Godly laws which have always applied throughout history:
1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
We are not saved by faith alone.
Ja 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?—25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Repenting – a requirement for salvation
Repenting requires turning away from sin (Acts 3:19; 26:20), and the Bible promises wrath for the impenitent (no matter their faith) and not mercy. Repenting is not one and the same as confessing sins, because also agnostics and atheists might choose to confess their sins. Spending your days sinning and confessing will not save you.
If the case is that Leighton believes that no one can confess their sins without the holy Spirit working in them first, there are Bible verses which speak against it. Sure, we are created to seek God and find him (Acts. 17:27) so in this way we are all “drawn” to him and divinely created to come to him (if we so desire), but the Bible says that we get the holy Spirit after that we confess and repent (see verses below). Having the holy Spirit does not mean we will automatically obey him.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
Act 26:20 – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and do WORKS meet for repentance.
Mar 6:12 – And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
Mat 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Gal. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.— 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Once saved always saved – the devil’s lie
It is not God’s responsibility to make sure that we endure to the end and do not fall back into sins. If anyone chooses to sin, perhaps by getting involved in adultery and lies, it is always and only his/her own fault and therefore not possible to blame God for not holding him tight enough or for not completing the salvation process all the way into eternity. It is very common to say that the person “was not saved to begin with” if he gets involved in heavy sin, but the Bible (and real life) is full of examples with people who have died spiritually due to sin (like the prodigal son). Sure, some of them chose to repent and returned back to life, but it is not certain that everyone will choose to do this.
Leighton says: “— God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. ” and “We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.”
It is the devil who taught “Ye shall not surely die” to the God-believing Eve, but he lied. Sinning always has and always will cause spiritual death – unless the person repents. (Repenting means turning away from sin.) A branch in the vine (Jesus) can be cut off due to lack of fruit.
Rom. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is DEATH.— 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive AGAIN; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Rom. 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Also in the Old Testament we can read that a righteous person (someone who does righteousness) will not be aided by his previous righteousness if he sins again. He will rather die in his sins if he lives in sin.
Ez. 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,— 9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.—13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,—17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.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.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
You will never read in the Bible that we can get Jesus righteousness imputed into us. Not even in Rom. 4. Yes, we can read about “imputed” righteousness, but not from Jesus Christ. The word ”imputed” comes from the Greek word ”logizomai” (Strong’s 3049) and does not mean ”transfer”, but rather ”reckoned” or ”counted as”. If we have repented from our sins, and become totally cleansed, we are reckoned as righteous because we are. This will last as long as we keep ourselves righteous and do not become dirty again. Remember that WE must do righteousness, and we are told to not be deceived about this. Do not let anyone tell you that you can be regarded as righteous in God’s eyes while still living in sin, or that you can combine righteousness with sin and still be ok.
But wait a minute – does not the Bible warn us from thinking we can trust in our own righteousness? (Rom. 10:3; Phil 3.9) Yes, but what does this really mean? It means that we should not believe that we can be saved because of a permanent good standing with God which can never be changed no matter what we do. We should not do as the Jews, who believed they were always acceptable in God’s eyes because they were born as Jews, were sons of Abraham, etc. If a righteous person trusts in his own righteousness and commits sin, he must forget about being right with God due to that sin. This is the message we can read in Ez. 33:13, and it is still applicable.
Ez. 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
It is good news that Leighton does not believe that people are responsible for having inherited a nature inclined towards sin (which means they are without guilt), but I do not even believe we have inherited a sinful nature in the first place. If we have inherited a nature inclined towards sin, what is the huge difference between the disposition of Adam and Eve? Why did they sin? Did they too have a nature inclined towards sin since they in fact did sin? Apparently they could choose to sin just as easily as their descendants, and this is evidence of that our nature did not change, which explains why the Bible does not claim it. If our nature would have changed due to our forefathers’ sin, why does the Bible not say so considering that this is rather significant information? Romans 5 and Ephesians 2 do not say it, nor any psalms.
Leigthon says: “— because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. — We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty (?) before he has personally sinned.”
Penal substitution theory (originally from Anselm)
I believe that Jesus Christ died to REMOVE our sins, which is a big price to pay (his own life). I do not believe that Jesus paid for our sins, or that our sins somehow ended up in his body before they were eventually removed. Nor do I believe that Jesus took the penalty that we should have, on himself and instead of us. The punishment due to us is destruction and hell, which Jesus did not take on himself. Jesus did not die as a substitution in penalty but a substitution for penalty, under certain conditions. The atonement is a substitute for our penalty so that our penalty itself can be remitted in forgiveness by the mercy of God. If Jesus had paid for our sins, then our sins would be forgiven before we sinned and even long before were even born. Paid is paid. A breach of God’s law is either paid or forgiven – not both.
John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Speaking in tongues – “no man understandeth him” (1 Cor. 14:2)
I am not exactly sure what Leighton’s view is about speaking in tongues or the spiritual gifts in general, but I have listened to a podcast which makes me suspect that he has the common “baptist” view of the spiritual gifts – which means that he believes that spiritual tongues are always understood, and actually not even in use. A preacher such as Benny Hinn is unfortunately often used by non-charismatic preachers to represent churches which make use of the spiritual gifts.
1 Cor.12:13 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed:and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. —9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: — 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?31 But COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, but rather that ye may prophesy.2 For he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue speaketh not unto men, but UNTO GOD for NO MAN UNDERSTANDETH HIM; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. — 4 He that speaketh in an UNKNOWN TONGUE edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I WOULD THAT YE ALL SPAKE WITH TONGUES but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. — 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are ZEALOUS of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.14 For if I pray in an UNKNOWN TONGUE, my spirit prayeth, but MY UNDERSTANDING IS UNFRUITFUL.15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding ALSO: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. — 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. —28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
SO we should not forbid anyone to speak in tongues (so not discourage it), but we should DESIRE, COVET EARNESTLY and be ZEALOUS to speak in tongues – and even better; to do so when it comes to even better gifts like prophesying and healing (in order to edify even more people). The question is: Do we all obey this? Are we eager to get the gifts? Do we encourage others to get the gifts and explain to them what wonderful gifts which are awaiting them? If not, why not obeying Paul’s advice?
Some things we can learn from the above:
Paul explains the different parts of the body of the church, where prophesies, tongues, healing, etc, are some of the parts. He does not say that this body would cease to exist within a few years.
There is such a thing called “an unknown tongue”, which we are requested to eagerly seek. It means: no one understands.
We should desire the spiritual gifts (that is all of them, but especially those who can benefit the most people).
No one understands the tongues (unless they are interpreted).
Interpretation of the tongues is a separate gift, indicating that the original tongues must be interpreted if they are intended to be understood. 1 Cor. 14:13 is just one verse proving that it is not certain that a person who is able to speak in tongues automatically also has the gift of interpretation and able to know his/her own tongues.
Edification of oneself is a good thing (or else you must not pray for your own health, strength, wisdom, etc). Being able to edify even more people is of course even better.
Paul wished that all of the Christian Corinthians (and likely therefore all Christians) spoke in tongues, and he never added that this wish only applied for a certain time/generation.
If there is no interpreter available in church (which might be the case), then the person should pray in tongues to himself and to God. He is never told to forget about speaking in tongues because people are able to fake them.
We are asked to pray in two ways, we should pray/sing with the spirit (not understanding the words), or the opposite way which is praying/singing with our understanding and spirit. It depends on if you pray for yourself to God, or if you pray/speak edify other people.
Paul spends 3 chapter talking about speaking in tongues and other spiritual gifts, and he does not discourage it anywhere. He does the exact opposite and he wishes that everyone would speak in tongues.
Finally, a film by Torben Söndergaard. A Danish preacher who highlights both the importance of repentance and the fact that Christians should go out and preach the gospel, heal the sick, etc.
The Bible does not teach that man is born with a sinful nature (not in Romans 5, not in Ephesians 2, not in any psalms, not anywhere). This illogical idea (that babies are sinners) can be traced back to Augustine and even all the way back to the gnostics.
Neither does the Bible claim that man can get an injection of someone else’s righteousness and thus magically become righteous despite living in sin. Man himself is responsible for being faithful to Jesus and to live a righteous life. Do not let anyone tell you that being obedient to Jesus is about self-righteousness, and therefore a sinful works-based salvation.
If man would be born (or conceived) with a sinful nature, we end up with many contradictions.
The Bible is strangely silent about it and rather claims that man is guilty when he transgresses the law of God, which requires that he knows the law in the first place.
We would have the best excuse for sin there is – our nature made us do it.
All the church fathers the first 300 years AD would be wrong for claiming the opposite.
Jesus would have a HUGE advantage over us from the very start since he was not born with a sinful nature, which is something that makes the holder prone to sin. We would be able to say “No wonder that Jesus could so easily refrain from sin! He was not born with a sinful nature like the rest of us!”
Sinning is apparently something that can be found in the DNA and be inherited from person to person, and not (always) something that a man DOES.
It is apparently a sin to have “flesh”, since this is the starting point for our sins? Jesus started to get flesh just like us during his conception, but his flesh was without those sin genes?
God turns out to be an unrighteous judge who charges all human beings for something they are innocent of and could not help.
The sinful nature has apparently prevented all human beings from being obedient to God from the very start, so God has either made us too weak to obey his laws, or he has made the laws too difficult for us to obey.
Sinning is described in the Bible as transgressing God’s law (1 John. 3:4) and something that offends him, but what exactly offends God about a person being born (or conceived)?
Babies (also newborn, and unborn babies) would be able to commit sin – even before they have hearts, despite that Matt. 15:18-19 and Mark 7:20-23 tell us that evil thoughts proceed from the heart.
Babies are apparently spiritually “dead” already from conception when they are still tiny specks, which puts Eph. 2:1 in doubt since it claims that we are dead due to “trespasses and sins”.
Romans 5:12 should not be saying that “death passed upon all men FOR that all have sinned”, but rather that SIN passed upon all men because Adam sinned. (Btw, the Bible itself proves in many verses that “all” does not always refer to all human beings.)
James would be wrong for claiming that man’s own lust and giving in for temptation is the cause of sin (James 1:14-15), when in reality all people are sinful long before they can have lust and before they even have functional body parts.
Is. 7:16 would be wrong for suggesting that a child does not know to refuse the evil and choose the good.
But … if we have no sinful nature, why do we sin? Answer: Why did Adam and Eve sin? Think about that for a moment.
But … if we have no sinful nature, then there could potentially be someone out there who could have been totally free of sin all his life. Answer: Yes.
But … if we have no sinful nature, why did Jesus have to die? Answer: Because we have sinned. We have transgressed the law of God.
We are sinners precisely because we could have chosen to obey God but chose to not do it. This makes us guilty rather than God. God is graceous and does not give us one single chance to live righteous, but if we mix sin and righteousness we have not truly repented and we are fooling ourselves.
Transferring blood to make us righteous?
“Impute” translated from the Greek verb λογίζομαι (logizomai, Strong’s 3049) = can also be translated to think, reckon, count and suppose. Note that it does not mean “transfer” or “inject”.
When we repent we become totally cleansed from our past sins (certainly not any future sins) and we are totally forgiven even if our sins are numerous and severe. We are counted as righteous because sin can no longer be found in us when we are 100% free from all sin. It is therefore no divine lie that we are counted as righteous because the fact is that this is what we have truly become thanks to the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
So how long does this righteous state of being last? It lasts as long as we remain righteous by walking in the light, which is OUR responsibility. WE are supposed to be led by the holy Spirit and be faithful to Jesus. Do not let anyone tell you that someone else will do it for you or instead of you. Jesus is “our righteousness” in the sense that he died for us and removed our sins, but this does not mean that we can get his righteousness transferred into us. Many Christians misunderstand “imputed” righteousness in Rom 4-5, because they erroneously believe it means “transferred”. This is not true, since the word rather means to be reckoned, counted or regarded as righteous. Not because of a blood transfer, but because our sins have been removed. The Bible does not teach “once righteous always righteous” (or “once saved always saved”). If a prisoner gets out of jail, it does not mean that he is now free to commit further crimes since he has
There is no way that God would count us as righteous unless we truly were, and we can never fool God by suggesting that he does not see our sins but only the precious blood of Jesus. We can never be regarded as positionally righteous while still living in sin. Always remember Satan’s famous lie “Ye shalt not surely die”. The idea that blood can be transferred into us and make us righteous (even if we sin), is an attempt from Satan’s side to trick us into feeling comfortable in our sin and to get the idea that we have a heavenly fire insurance. Even many pastors teach that it is normal for Christians to sin, and abnormal if they do not. They might even go further than that by suggesting that it is self-righteous to be completely faithful to Jesus, and that we should never believe that we can be victorious over sin. Satan could not be happier for this type of help, because it is totally backwards: “Christian sinners” (an oxymoron) go to heaven, but righteous Christians go to hell (because of the sin of self-righteousness). This sounds like the greatest sin (and the only one that can make you lose your salvation?) is to teach and believe that you can be completely faithful to God. THAT angers God the most?
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO and TEACH THEM, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
God is speaking:
Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Deut. 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. —- 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. (NASB)
The idea of original sin, or the sinful nature from birth, was first pushed by Augustine who was a former gnostic. Augustine is guilty of having introduced many unbiblical ideas into church, and some of them were later also taught by both Luther and Calvin. The old church fathers before Augustine did not teach the sinful nature (see here), and most importantly the Bible does not. Below are some of the most common verses used as an attempt to prove the sinful nature.
Example 1) Romans 5:12
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man SIN entered into the world, and death by sin; and so DEATH passed upon all men, FOR that all have sinned
Comment: Sin entered the world the first time through Adam, because no one had sinned before him (him and Eve). The verse does not say that SIN passed upon all men but DEATH passed upon all men, and it also explains why this is: Because all have sinned! Not because all have inherited sins from Adam. Notice that “all men” is a translation from the Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrópos, Strong’s 444) and could mean 1) men, 2) men and women, or 3) mankind, people, human beings. It may or may not include babies depending on context.Since the verse claims that we die (spiritually) because we have sinned, this verse cannot be used as support for another idea – like the idea that we die spiritually because we have inherited someone else’s sin. Dying physically is something different, and even Jesus Christ died a physical death. It is possible to say that we die physically due to Adam, because we cannot reach the tree of life due to him.
Example 2) Romans 5:18
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation — 19 so by the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous.
Comment: The entire context is this:
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; EVEN SO by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience MANY were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous.
If ALL are automatically condemned through Adam, then ALL are automatically made righteous through Jesus. Are 100% of all ALL PEOPLE automatically righteous in Jesus? No, that would be universalism. It is not proper hermeneutics to read “all” in two different ways in the same sentence – an “even so” indicates a valid comparison. If ALL die in Adam, then the very same ALL are saved in Christ. If “many” (not all) were made righteous, then “many” (not all) were made sinners. We cannot make one absolute and the other conditional. If, however, we add conditions on both accounts (we die spiritually if we sin like Adam, and we become alive in Christ if we choose to believe in him) then we have solved all contradictions. Rom. 5 does list conditions, just like the rest of Romans and just like the rest of the Bible.
Example 3) 1 Corinthians 15:22
1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Comment: If all people are automatically dead in Adam, then the very same “all people” are automatically saved in Christ. But this interpretation leads to universalism, and we know this is not true. The context makes it clear that the subject is the RESURRECTION and what will happen when Jesus returns. Most importantly what will happen to those in Christ. They will die physically just like Adam (even Jesus Christ once died physically), and they will be made alive to get their judgments and rewards.
Example 4) Ephesians 2:1
Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Comment: What makes us dead? Sinning makes us (spiritually) dead! It is not being born (or being conceived) which makes us dead, but it is transgressing of his law:
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
Is. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Eph. 2 does not say that we are BORN dead in trespasses and sins. How can newborn babies choose to transgress the law of God?
The solution to the problem of sin is to repent, which explains why Paul in Acts 17:30 says that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent”.
Example 5) Ephesians 2:2-3
Eph. 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Comment: Do not get fooled by the term “children of disobedience” or “children of wrath” because these terms refer to those who follow Satan – as the text indicates. Likewise the term “children of God” (or sons of God) does not necessarily refer to little toddlers, but to those who have chosen to believe and follow God. The text certainly does not claim that people are BORN as children of wrath – merely for the “crime” of existing. It is crystal clear that those spoken about in Eph. 2:2 are adults. They:
have a need or reason to be ”quickened”
perform TRESPASSES and SINS and through them be dead
walk according to the world
walk according to Satan (the prince of the power of the air)
are disobedient through following Satan
walk in the lusts of their flesh
fulfill the desires of their flesh
fulfill the desires of their mind
Example 6) 1 Corinthians 2:14
1 Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned
Comment: It is a bad idea to be a natural man, which is a man who lives of the world. If someone is a natural man (which is no obligation), he cannot please God. It is impossible for a person to please God if he at the same time chooses to walk in darkness.
“Natural” is a translation from ψυχικός (psuchikos, Strong’s 5591) and could also be translated “worldly-minded” or “sensual”. It describes the behavior of a carnal man who lives of the world. The word can be contrasted with “spiritual” (pneumatikós, Strong’s 4152).
Example 7) Job 25:4 + Job 15:14
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? 5 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?
Job 15:14 What is man, that he should be CLEAN? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
Comment: The first comment is from Bildad, and the second one is from Eliphaz. They did not always provide good advice to Job. On top of this, the book of Job is replete with poetic expressions. See for instance Job 1:21 and see if you read it in a literal sense.
Example 8) Romans 3:10
Rom. 3:10 As it is written,There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Comment: Paul, who made the above statement that no one is righteous, called HIMSELF righteous, along with Silas and Timothy (see 1 Thess. 2:10) and he constantly requested that people should avoid obeying their flesh and be righteous. Paul also said (Acts 23:1) that he had lived “in all good conscience before God until this day”.(NASB: ”perfectly good conscience”). Paul urged his readers to “sin no more”! Was Paul a hypocrite or a man of God who we can trust?
Paul was in Rom. 3:10 referring to a couple of well-known psalms where we can read “there is none righteous ….” and if we go to these psalms (Psalm 14 and Psalm 53) we can see the proper context to this phrase. There we can read about unrighteous people, called FOOLS, who do not seek God but we can also read about righteous people who DO seek God. Psalms contain poetic expressions which are mirroring the truth, so we should carefully keep this in mind.
We can read in Acts 17 that we are created precisely to seek God, even though he is not far away from any of us. We can also read verses such as:
Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart
Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
Below are more psalms, and it would be unwise for us to start new doctrines (which are not supported by non-poetic verses) based on such poetry. Poetic expressions can of course teach us things and be encouraging, but it is not always correct to read poetic texts in a literal sense.
Example 9) Psalm 51:5
Ps. 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me
Comment: This verse is not about all people in the entire world but concerns only David and his mother. It could be understood both figuratively (the way also king David has battled with dark powers and obstacles very early on) or literally (David’s mother was indeed sinning during the conception) but either way, this verse does not say that we have all inherited Adam’s sin and have a sinful nature from birth. David starts out speaking about his own transgression (not sins inherited from another), and we can read claims from David which could not possibly be understood in a literal sense:
Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice…
Example 10) Psalm 58:3
Ps. 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, SPEAKING LIES
Comment: Naturally newborn babies cannot speak, much less speak lies. This is just a poetic expression to describe that the wicked man go astray very early on and usually continue on this path. The psalmist starts out addressing a ”congregation” and apparently they are old enough to SPEAK since they are asked if they speak righteousness. They are also old enough to JUDGE, they are able to WORK WICKEDNESS in their hearts and WEIGH the violence of their hands. Babies are unable to do any of that, and it is the WICKED who ”are estrange”. If someone goes astray, it means he must have started from a position where it was not ”astray”. In verse 10 and 11 we can read about righteous people who do NOT go astray:
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
Some people might ask: “If we are not born with a sinful nature, why do we sin?” Well, why did Adam and Eve sin? Certainly not due to a sinful nature. They might also ask “If we are not born with a sinful nature, why did Jesus have to die for us?”. Because we have chosen to sin – despite that we did not have to. This is what makes us guilty.
If we are born with a sinful nature (which would provide an excellent excuse for sin), why does the Bible not disclose this important piece of information anywhere? Why can we read the exact opposite story? Moreover, the idea of the sinful nature actually reduces the great deeds that Jesus Christ did for us, when we accuse him of not having to struggle with a sinful nature as the rest of us. In reality, Jesus was tempted in all things just like us and he did not get an advantage.
The Bible says that babies are innocent
While there are no Bible verses which say we are born with a sinful nature (or born depraved, which is not even a word included in the KJV Bible), the Bible does say that we are wonderfully made.
Zecharia 12:1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and FORMETH THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.
Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, NEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God AS A LITTLE CHILD, he shall not enter therein.
Isaiah 7:16 For BEFORE THE CHILD SHALL KNOW TO REFUSE THE EVIL, AND CHOOSE THE GOOD, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and SPIRIT to them that walk therein
Job. 31:14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?15 Did not HE THAT MADE ME IN THE WOMB make him? and DID NOT ONE FASHION US IN THE WOMB?
Ps. 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.14 I will praise thee; for I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Ps,73 Thy hands have made me and FASHIONED ME: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that GOD HATH MADE MAN UPRIGHT; but THEY they have sought out many inventions.
Is God making people wicked, or are they wicked against his will?
This is a hard question to answer for someone who believes that God forces no one to sin while at the same nothing comes to pass against his will.
Calvinists often speak from the both side of the mouth when they on the one hand claim that God predestines people to become elect or non-elect from the foundation of the world, and on the other hand claim that God forces no one to be wicked. Sometimes they try to blame Adam for people’s “sinful nature”, but this does not solve the problem since he arrived on the scene after the “foundation of the world” (and the Bible does not claim we have inherited his sin anyway).
So which one is it? Are people wicked against his will or according to his will? (Any of his wills …) Does God force people to be sinners or not?
Calvinists might suggest that God merely “passes over” people and leaves them to their own devices, which means that such people will do what their nature urges them to do – which is performing all sorts of evil (like being wicked by default). Although, what choice do they really have? If only one single choice is available to them, and if God determines to turn them into non-elect (for no apparent reason), must they therefore not become exactly as God has determined? Surely they could not have become elect if God wanted them to be non-elect? Would it not be surprising if someone who God did NOT want to become elect – but rather non-elect – still ended up as elect? That could not possibly happen, right? Again, I can see no other option but one (1) for the victims that were forced to become non-elect. Is not “forcing” the proper word here?
The Bible tells us that people are separated from him due to their transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). This means that it is when people choose to SIN as they are spiritually “dead” and therefore also lost (until they repent, if they ever do). Calvinists often make a similar claim, but do they really mean it?
The whole Calvinistic process:
People go to hell due to their sin. (So long it is fine, but it gets worse …)
Why do they sin? Because they are bound by a sinful nature.
Why are they bound by a sinful nature? Because they are wicked non-elect sinners.
Why are they wicked non-elect? Because God created them as such from the foundation of the world – before they even existed, before they were born and long before they could sin.
This means that people are not dead due to their sins after all, but due to their bad luck of having been chosen by God to be wicked – with no way to escape from this misfortune.
Again, this Calvinistic process means that sin is NOT the reason for their damnation, but GOD’S CHOICE is. So why do Calvinists so often say that people are lost due to their sin if they do not really mean it? (Sinning would just be a consequence of God’s refusal to let people seek him and do good – from the foundation of the world.) Add to this the Calvinistic idea that 1) God is sovereign in such a way that he micro-manages everything, and 2) nothing comes to pass against his will. This means that if we criticize anything or anyone, we are criticizing God himself who caused it all to happen.
Not all Calvinists would agree that this is a proper understanding of their belief system (but many do agree). Still, they cannot escape from the many contradictions resulting from trying to save Calvinism.
Sinners commit sin against their nature
The Bible teaches that sinners do wicked acts against their nature, and not according to their nature:
Rom. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is AGAINST NATURE
Once I heard in a podcast where a Calvinist asserted that a person bound by his wicked nature would not choose the right thing (like seeking God). He was then asked by the host “Could he?”. The Calvinist replied “He wouldn’t!”. He was asked “Could he?”. The Calvinist replied “He wouldn’t!” He was again asked: “Could he, though?”, and the Calvinist continued to say “He wouldn’t!”. It is easy to understand why the Calvinist was reluctant to answer the question (which was “could he?” and not “would he?”). If a non-elect person not only would not choose the right thing but neither is capable of it (by no fault of his own), the guilt must be placed on someone else but him. Namely on the one who caused this awful dilemma – namely God.
Fortunately this is not the God of the Bible. If people are wicked, it is their own blame and not God’s. God pleaded with his people Israel to do right, just like he pleads with all of us.
Ex. 18:30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
People corrupt themselves
God is not the one corrupting people by determining/orchestrating/choosing/forcing/ordaining/predestining people to become wicked sinners before they are even born. The Bible says that man himself is to be blamed for being corrupt and not God. In order for someone to corrupt himself, he must first exist (and have a heart and a brain) in order to make choices. Man does not corrupt himself until he chooses to make sinful actions. Not a single day before.
Gen. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Deut. 9:12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
Deut. 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
Judge 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
2 Pet. 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
2 Pet. 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
God’s will is that man should use his free will and seek him (see Acts 17)
God has a sovereign freedom to accomplish whatever he chooses, like guaranteeing the proper inheritance to the children of God (which are those who are following Jesus). The promise is to those and no one else.
The following verse is a popular Calvinistic proof text, often quoted (by itself) to support the idea that everything under the sun occurs precisely according to God’s plans, down to every single detail:
Eph. 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will
The verse of course say no such thing (that God’s will always happens), unless we are talking about his will to give man free will and make man responsible for his own actions. Note that it says “works” all things and not “cause” all things … The verse does not say that all thoughts, words and deeds are predestined by God, but it rather explains what God does, in terms of providing wonderful promises through Christ.
Councel in Eph. 1:11 is a translation from the Greek noun βουλή (boulé, Strong’s 1012) and could also be translated deliberate wisdom. This noun derives from the verb βούλομαι (boulomai, Strong’s 1014) and means will, intend, desire or wish.
Some theologians claim that it is also about God planning and arranging all physical circumstances in order to achieve his exact plans which always take place down to the finest detail. This is something the Bible does not say.
The noun boulé occurs 12 times in the KJV Bible. Examples:
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
Quite clearly God’s counsel can be rejected.
Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counseland foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
If God caused and scripted Calvary in all details, why does the text not say so? Instead we can read that his foreknowledge was involved. Knowing about future events is not the same as causing future events.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul is clearly not a Calvinist since he does not relax and trust that God’s will always happens and that the elect will remain elect (and the non-elect remain non-elect). He warns people with tears night and day because disciples will be drawn away from the gospel. Why does he do that if nothing can go wrong but always turn out as God wants? Paul rather believes the scriptures, and understands that prayers can make a difference!
Acts 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. — 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Unfortunately Calvinists usually believe that God decrees “whatsover comes to pass” and are keen to interpret “work all things after the counsel of His will” as though everything pans out exactly as God wills it, both good and bad. That would include God deterministically scripting every murder, rape and abortion that will ever take place! The text, however, must not be read in this sweeping and all-inclusive way. The “all things” refers to all things that God accomplishes in Christ (in a general sense) because this is what the previous verses talk about.
Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
Paul provides examples of the above mentioned blessings and promises, which are only meant for those who are IN CHRIST which is the condition for salvation. The eternal purpose is that God’s children, his church will be able to look forward to a guaranteed inheritance waiting for them in the heavenly places. Again, the condition is to be IN CHRIST, and if someone does not endure to the end that person is no longer IN CHRIST and the promises are therefore not tied to him. The “salvation bus” is predestined to go to heaven and guaranteed to be blessed, but who is in and who remains to the end? That is totally up to us and we know the conditions which are presented to us. Those who are in Christ are considered to be his holy children. The text does not say that the promises are provided with no conditions.
It might be a help to ask oneself what is predestined according to His purpose. In order to get the answer one must of course go back to the previous verses, because a verse can never be read in a vacuum. The answer is again “the inheritance in Christ! The verse right (v. 12) after says “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ”, and v. 13 continues to talk about “trusting” and “believing”. It is possible that Paul includes the very first belivers in this sentence, and we should note that “trusted” is an action that people might choose to do. God will not “trust” for us or instaed of us. It is rather a condition for salvation. V. 19 says “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe“. The believers are in Christ – again, the condition.
If I would tell someone about my work and say that “all things” worked out perfectly fine – maybe even after the counsel of my will – the listener would not assume that I just claimed that every single thing in the entire world worked out absolutely great, and that I have solved all the world’s problems. Neither would the listener assume that I claimed to be the cause of all things that I said took place.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul is here talking about being content no matter what state he is in (in both good and bad circumstances) and to be able to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Paul is not including everything under the sun in “all things”, but the term must of course be understood in its context. The verse certainly does not say that by “all things”you can do all forms of evil and wickedness through God who strengthens you. Similarly, Eph. 1:11 does not say that the “all things” would include evil and wickedness.
All things work out for good for all people -more than in a general term?
Paul promises us in Rom. 8 that all things work out together for good to them that LOVE GOD, which of course is a condition for salvation. If Paul had meant that all things work out for good for all people everywhere, including all details from God’s perspective, then he could have skipped the condition of having to love God.
Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
In the same chapter Paul explains which conditions that apply for escaping condemnation: 1) You must be IN JESUS, and 2) you must not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. This is something that WE must make sure to do, and God will not do it for us:
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. — 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
He goes on to explain, that if we live according to the flesh (not an obligation), we cannot please God. The solution to the problem is of course to NOT live according to the flesh but after the Spirit:
Rom. 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.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.8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Paul explains that we definitely do not have to live after the flesh. The choice is clear; if you live after the flesh you will die, and if you live after the Spirit you will live. Who are the sons of God? Those who have chosen to be led by the Spirit of God. If someone lives after the flesh, he can certainly not blame God for it but only himself. The better option is always to live by the Spirit in order to get life:
Rom. 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 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.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Paul tells us about the same wonderful promises of glorification just as in Eph. 1, but again, only for those who are God’s children who live after the Spirit:
Rom. 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Paul repeats again that all things work together for good to them that love God. The “calling” is widespread because we know from the parable of the King’s wedding feast (Matt. 22) that many of those who were called to participate in the feast (they were even on the guest list) declined to go. One person who actually did go to the feast was still thrown out because he had neglected to wear appropriate clothes (his own responsibility). We are justified when we are cleansed from our past sins, and after this point our goal is to be conformed into the image of Jesus which is something to look forward to. We have an assurance in the hope of salvation while on earth, as long as we abide in Jesus of course. Rom. 8:29 is referring to those in v. 28, who love God. Do read about Rom 8:28-30 here.
Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God provides provisions and works all things after the counsel of his will, but he does not cause people to act according to some predestined plans. If God forces people to think and act in a certain way, what is the point of judging them for things they cannot possibly avoid?:
1 Cor.10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would prefer that they would repent in order to live:
Ez. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
If someone ends up with an interpretation which makes God the greatest culprit and a lover of sin, this is clearly an erroneous understanding. A religion that blames the sin of all mankind on God is clearly incorrect. We should rather use this verse as a filter:
Ja. 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN
We are requested to not excuse our sin by suggesting “God made me do it”. God does not tempt anyone, much less causes anyone to sin, but in order to save the philosophy of Calvinism God must be blamed for the sin of all mankind even though it is blasphemy? Calvinists might try to solve the problem with “it’s a miracle” or “God’s ways are higher than our ways”, but in that case anyone can introduce contradictions into the Bible and excuse them by saying “God’s ways are higher than our ways” and “who are we to question God?”.
It is a lot safer to agree with the Bible which says that God’s will does not always happen. Yet, he is still in control (does not mean micro management) and all things work out wonderfully for those who love him.
The first time we can read about people praying to God in the Bible (rather than having a conversation with him in person) is in Gen 4:26:
Gen. 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
Reformed Christians might pray just as much as other Christians, but the question is why they make this effort considering that they also believe that we are not able to thwart God’s predestined plans no matter what we do (as per Calvinism). They might reply that they pray because God tells them to do so, but what would be the difference if they did not? If all things pan out exactly as God wants, surely we can afford to be extremely relaxed when it comes to praying?
See the verses below. If we are able to cause the preferred season thanks to our prayers, then maybe we are able to influence people to have an open heart for the gospel as well? (Meaning; people are not predestined to be saved or damned from the foundation of the world.) Apparently God has not yet decided which season of the year the flight in question will take place, because Jesus asks us to pray about it. This is evidence that all things are not written in stone, and that we can affect things with our prayers. If we have an active prayer life, we will be stronger spiritually and will be better equipped to escape (and/or endure) hardship which will come to pass in the future:
Matt. 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:—20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day
Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
We can pray that we will not enter into temptation, and we will become stronger spiritually if we pray. This is something that we are supposed to do, rather than placing the responsibility on God. Combining prayers with fasting is a good advice, which can also be done alone. However, Paul tells married couples to be united again so that Satan will not be able to tempt them. Again, this is something we are expected to do in order to affect our mind-set and the future.
Matt. 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
1 Cor. 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
We can pray that God will send workers for the great harvest, which means that we can influence both people and God with our prayers:
Matt. 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Speaking in tongues is something we should be eager to do (and do not let anyone tell you something else), but it is even better to be able to interpret the tongues. Speaking in tongues is one spiritual gift, and interpreting tongues is another separate one. The best combination is to have both gifts, because then we are able to edify even more people than just ourselves. We can pray about it!:
1 Cor. 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
When we pray, it helps if we believe that God can hear our prayers and that we are able to achieve what we pray and strive for (even if other elements are also involved). Our own faith can affect the outcome, and God will hear the prayer of the righteous. If we live in unrepentant sin, however, it is not certain that God will hear our prayers:
Mark. 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
1 Tim. 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Mark. 5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Prov. 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Prov. 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination .
Dan. 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
When Jesus became man in flesh, he prayed/communicated with his Father God just like we pray to God. Also Jesus can affect things thanks to prayer/communication, which of course is obvious since the whole world was created thanks to the divine words “Let there be light”:
Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles
Jesus shows through a parable, that we can definitely affect God with our prayers. Even someone who does not fear God might very well adhere to constant pleadings. This does not mean that God will not listen to us the first time but requires constant pleadings before he does, but the point is that even a bad person might eventually give in for constant crying and pleadings, so would not our Father in heaven even more pay attention to his children’s urgent prayers?:
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Jesus taught us how to pray, and he gave us an example. We can pray for the outcome of things, we can give thanks for what we already have (regular food), etc. We can also pray that his will shall be done, which indicates that it is not certain that the best option for all mankind or individuals will always take place. Praying is therefore important tool. Notice the moral sense: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.3 Give us day by day our daily bread.4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Paul constantly prayed for others, and wanted to be prayed for himself. This is because he knew that prayers can influence things for the better:
Rom. 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers
2 Cor. 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
Rom. 15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
Phil. 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
2 Cor. 1:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
2 Thess. 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course,and be glorified, even as it is with you:
Col. 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:— 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
2 Cor. 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
1 Thess. 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
2 Thess. 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
2 Tim. 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
Philemon 1:22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
We can pray that people will receive the Holy Ghost:
Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
As believers we can pray that people can get healed. All people will not get healed all the time and live forever (Lazarus, who came back to life thanks to Jesus, eventually died), but if you for instance check the mission by TLR and Torben Søndergaard, Christians indeed have been given the power to heal in the name of Jesus:
Acts 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Ja. 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
You cannot expect to fall in a miraculous trance or see visions, unless you spend time in prayer (like Peter, John, Daniel, etc):
Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance
The prayers from righteous believers can be seen together with the smoke of incense before God:
Rev. 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense,that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
1 Pet. 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
God heard the prayers of Zacharia:
Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.—13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
Cornelius was a righteous God-fearing man, and before he received the holy Ghost, God heard his prayers and saw his works:
Acts 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
God heard the prayers of Hezekiah and saw his tears. He gave him support and added 15 more years to his life time:
2 King. 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
We can learn a lot from the book of Jonah when it comes to prayer. Even the pagan mariners understood that it was a good idea to pray to God during times of trouble, and the they and Jonah alike understood that this particular problem occurred due to Jonah’s resistance to God. God has prepared a big fish to swallow up Jonah, but God also heard Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish and helped him out. The king of Nineveh also understood the power of prayers, fasting and the importance of a sincere repentance. The attitude of the inhabitants of Nineveh made God change his mind, and he decided to not do what he had previously said he would:
Jonah 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
Jonah 3:6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God:yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Below an important secret is revealed. We are able to take on the full armour of God – praying included – and this will make our spirits stronger. Notice also that Daniel through fasting and prayers received a special revelation, and how the angel explained to him that although his prayers were heard the first day, the prince of Persia (among the rulers of the darkness of this world …) withstood him for some time. This means that we should not give up since we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against invisible powers:
Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel
Dan. 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.—11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days