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Leighton Flowers, and his misunderstanding about righteousness and the SIN nature

sinThe 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
  • Penal substitution
  • 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” verseThe 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.

works of the lawWe 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: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.

osas 10Once 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,— 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.

Imputed righteousnessimputed righteousness

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.

Read more about ”imputed” righteousness here.

The sinful nature

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.

 

 

Does God predestine people to be non-elect, or do people corrupt themselves?

calvinism 19Is 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:

  1. People go to hell due to their sin. (So long it is fine, but it gets worse …)
  2. Why do they sin? Because they are bound by a sinful nature.
  3. Why are they bound by a sinful nature? Because they are wicked non-elect sinners.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

The NATURAL MAN receives not the things of the Spirit of God? – 1 Cor. 2:14

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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 (1 Cor. 2:14) 

It is a choice to be a ”natural man” as no one is born a sinner. It is rather an adopted nature just as the context indicates. An alcoholic might suggest that he has inherited genes that makes him an alcoholic out of necessity just like his parents, but even though genetics can partly explain certain similar weaknesses/attitudes/traits we still cannot blame our actions – like repeatedly pouring liquor into a glass and drink – on our parents. ”Natural” in 1 Cor. 2:14 is a translation from the Greek adjective psychikos (Strong’s 5591) and can be translated as natural or sensual. The word is used 6 times in the New Testament. In 1 Cor. 15 we have a slightly different perspective of the word, because the passage talks about the resurrection when we will get rid of our fleshly bodies to get new spiritual bodies prior to entering the kingdom of God:

1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.—44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

James makes it clear that we should not mix righteous deeds with unrighteous deeds. Just like Paul he urges his readers to stop sinning:

Ja. 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?—14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

We can see that those who are ”natural” are those who choose to walk after their own lusts instead of having an interest to be led by the Spirit. It usually concerns those who have no desire to seek God (as per Rom. 1:18-32) and who are therefore atheists/agnostics, but it could also apply to anyone (also Christians) who chooses to walk after his/her own lusts. They separate themselves from God by following their ungodly lusts:

Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,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.

A natural man is again someone who chooses to live after the flesh and not after the Spirit. The context below shows that Paul speaks highly of the power of the holy Spirit which is given to Christians (after repentance), and through this magnificent power it is certainly easier to come closer to God and know all the details of his will. We are able to be victorious over sin if we choose to be led by the Spirit, but it takes a will of our own. Also agnostics are able to avoid sin, but if they decide to repent and start living with Jesus Christ they will get a new power thanks to the new Helper – the holy Spirit. The holy Spirit does not force a person to obey him:

1 Cor. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.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.15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The promise given to us in Gal. 5 is that if we decide to walk in the Spirit, we are automatically not fulfilling the lust of the flesh because of our righteous lives. If we instead live after the flesh, we automatically do not walk in the Spirit since the flesh is contrary to the Spirit. It is one or the other. The Spirit would never lead us unto the road of destruction. Paul assures us that if we do live after the flesh (and he gives examples of what that means) we can forget about inheriting the kingdom of God. He does not say that Christians are exempted from this danger. He also says ”If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”, showing that this is nothing that happens automatically without our participation. It is the responsibility of each individual to live a holy life, and we cannot blame God for preventing us from obeying his commandments:

Gal. 5:16 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.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Below we can more clearly see what happens to someone who God gives up to a reprobate mind due to the individual’s decision to walk after his own lusts (and become a natural man). Such a person is without excuse because he could have reached out to God and live according to his will, but chose not to. THAT is the reason for deserving a spot in hell. Not because God chose someone to be a wicked non-elect before he was even born, but because the person had all the chances in the world to seek and believe in God (the very purpose for God to create us in the first place as per Acts 17:26-30) but instead turned his back on him and lived a rebellious life.

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.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:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

If we live according to the flesh, we CANNOT please Godglorified

It is not a good idea to be a natural man with a carnal mind, because then we simply cannot please God. A person who has his mind set on maintaining his sins cannot at the same time live according to God’s commandments.

Rom. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

We can learn from Paul who those are who ”are after the flesh”. They are the ones who walk not after the Spirit but after the flesh. This means that their wicked actions cause them to be carnally minded/natural men. Fortunately there is a solution provided by Paul in that same chapter, and that is to walk after the Spirit which is a much better choice.

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.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.

Paul explains this also in Rom. 6, where he assures us that we can successfully start living according to the Spirit instead of obeying sin. Note that we are slaves to the one we choose to obey, so if we choose to obey sin we are slaves to sin and not free. Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, so Christians are clearly not freed from the risk of landing in spiritual death – which would happen to anyone who decides to obey sin and who does not repent:

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.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.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?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from 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.

Paul refers to a passage in Isaiah 29 when it talks about hidden wisdom. The reason for people living in darkness is due to their decision to remove their hearts from him:

1 Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.*) 

*) Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

God loves us and wishes that we all would come to the knowledge of the truth:

1 Tim. 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

You can read about Eph. 2 here, where you will see that it is a choice to be ”children of wrath” (individuals who are subject to God’s wrath due to their sins) and that the chapter nowhere suggests that anyone is born that way. It is rather, yet again, about people who choose to walk after their own lusts.

How can he be clean that is born of a woman?- Job 25:4 + Job 15:14

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Job 25 (Bildad says…) 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 (Eliphaz says…)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?

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did not always have good advice to give Job. On the contrary, God criticized them for their folly and for not having described him (God) in a correct way. God particularly turns to Eliphaz, but also his friends are included in the criticism. Job, however, is viewed by God as a perfect and upright man who speaks what is right about him, and thanks to Job’s prayers concerning his friends God shows them mercy despite their many trespasses. (It’s important to pray about people because our prayers have great impact!). Fortunately, Job’s friends took the chance to be cleansed and they obeyed God and collected some animals to offer up to him with the aim to be cleansed from their sins. Wherever there is true repentance, there is a chance to be forgiven.

Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them: the Lord also accepted Job.10 And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.—8 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

When we read the Bible, it’s important to pay attention to who says what to whom, why and in what circumstances. The questions in the beginning are addressed to Job by his friends, in response to Job’s conviction that he has not been guilty of any trespasses of God’s law. So we can read the views of Job’s friends in our Bible, but their views are of course not the same as God’s views . Also comments from Satan can be read in the Bible, so it’s risky to just take a verse out of context and assume it’s the view of God. We already know that there are several righteous people described in the Bible (Abraham, Lot, Enoch, Noah, Simon, Paul, etc), so Job is certainly not alone.

The great concern among Job’s friends seems to be to convince him of his guilt before God, and that man in general is naturally unrighteous. This is the same story as we often hear today – the claim that we can never be righteous before God, unless he looks at us through Jesus as a filter, and that we can never successfully avoid sins. Below we can read that Job clothed himself with righteousness by helping the poor, the fatherless, the helpless and the widows. He was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame and father to the poor, and he sorted out problems to people he didn’t even know. Job was perfect, upright and righteous because he showed his faith in God by doing good deeds and avoiding sin. He loved his neighbor as himself! No one else was righteous for Job or instead of him, but he himself acted in a righteous way. God would never consider us righteous unless we also lived holy and righteous lives.

Job. 29:12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.

Job was perhaps not always right in his ponderings about the big questions in life (he repented when he realized that he had strayed in his thoughts and when it dawned on him how mighty God really is, and the magnitude of his wisdom), but it’s not a sin to ask God questions, nor to be sad, puzzled, bewildered and to honestly confess before God that things seem unfair – at least from our own perspective. However, it would be a sin to blame God for the evil things that happen in this world, and for wrongdoings and unrighteousness within man. If there are things we don’t understand and if we feel that we’re in despair, it’s not a sin to express our feelings before God, and neither is it wrong to ask him for advice why things are as they are. It’s good to ask for advice, as long as we don’t blame God for something he is innocent of. Sometimes it’s beneficial for us to face obstacles, because they can often make us seek God more deeply, and there is a lot of truth in the saying ”whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth”.

In the book of Job, God is mostly having a dialogue with Job himself, but God’s criticism concerns man in general. When God explains his magnificent creation, Job is learning and his questions are being answered. He can see things more clearly and he finally understands the big picture and God’s mighty ways. Job says ”I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear but now mine eye seeth thee”. It started with much suffering and pain, but Job ended up having a much greater contact with his Lord. Job also received much blessings and continued to live multiple years on earth, but the most important goal in life is to live a life which is pleasing to God, love others as yourself and make sure your soul is saved.

Job 40:1 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said,2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.3 Then Job answered the Lord, and said,4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

Job 42:1 Then Job answered the Lord, and said,2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

If none would be born ”clean”, that would apply also to Jesus since he too was born by a woman.

Job 14:4 ”Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.”

The whole sense of what Job is saying is that no one can bring other than frail and dying offspring from frail and dying parents. If this text teaches that a sinner invariably produces another sinner, then Mary, the mother of our Lord, was also born a sinner. So if Job 14:4 really does teach that a sinner must produce another sinner, there could be no way of escaping the blasphemous conclusion that Jesus also was born a sinner. Also note that not everything you read in Job can be taken literally, since many poetic expressions are used:

Job 1:21 Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither

Do read also this article Rom. 3:10, concerning the righteous man Paul who quotes a few psalms which suggest there is no one righteous…

The Bible does not teach that we are born DEAD in trespasses and sins

grav2To base an entire philosophy/theological doctrine on the idea that man is born naturally depraved and unable to seek God or make morally good decisions, is risky to say the least. If we are BORN dead and depraved, then this should have been stated in the Bible, and in a very clear language, but we find the opposite to be true.

The words ”depraved” and ”depravity” are not even Biblical words (KJV) so we must first figure out what reformed believers might mean with those words when they claim we all start out naturally depraved, and we must also figure out if we have an obligation to side with their particular interpretation. Note that I’m not saying that something cannot be true only because the words are not present in the Bible, but if neither the words nor the concept can be found in the Bible, then it’s likely not something we must believe is true. Maybe it’s better to focus on the word ”dead” since we can find this word in the Bible, and in that way get a clue what it means to be spiritually dead.

Reformed believers often say we can’t do ANYTHING if we are dead, because ”dead is dead” and ”dead and not wounded”, but a physically dead person can’t do anything bad either. He is dead! If a spiritually dead person can’t do anything at all, then he wouldn’t be able to sin either but for some reason the ”reformed” God allows all people (or rather predestines them) to be born into sin and bound by darkness, whereas he only enables some of them to escape this darkness and do good. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would a loving God who hates sin prevent most people from seeking him and be morally upright individuals? (And why would he turn around and show wrath towards those who remain in their sins, when he is well aware of that they have no other option?)

Lazarus – a spiritually alive man who died

It’s very common to make a comparison with Jesus’ friend Lazarus’ resurrection that is described in John 11, and suggest that he is a good example of that a dead person must get divine help to come alive and do good. However, if this incident is supposed to show that spiritually dead people can’t do anything at all (and particularly not any good things) then we must ask ourselves why such a good man like Lazarus is selected to be an example, considering that he wasn’t spiritually dead at all but spiritually alive, and a close friend of  Jesus and much loved by him. Also his sisters Martha and Mary were believers of Jesus, which they showed both in words and in actions. It’s interesting that Jesus claims that Lazarus, despite being dead, is only sleeping (v. 11).

John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

John 11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not thereTHAT YOU MAY BELIEVE. Nevertheless let us go to him.” (NKJV)

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

John 11:42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, THAT THEY MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME .43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and HAD SEEN THE THINGS WHICH JESUS DID, believed on him.

John 11:48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.54 Jesus THEREFORE walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

Jesus acted (as per v. 40) as though he expected Martha to believe and understand ALL the things that Jesus had previously explained to her, and not only the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and divinely sent by God. However, it looks like Martha had misunderstood certain things that Jesus had told her. Moreover, if people were predestined to believe/not believe (resulting in heaven or hell) before the beginning of the world, then nothing that Jesus would have chosen to say or not say would change the outcome of what is already determined to occur. Yet, we can read that one reason for bringing Lazarus back to life is so that people may BELIEVE in him (Jesus), which turned out to be a successful procedure because many jews did end up believing in Jesus – precisely due to what they SAW with their own eyes. It doesn’t say they started to believe due to having been chosen to believe. Nevertheless, other jews plotted to kill Jesus and THEREFORE Jesus no longer walked openly among them. However, if people are predestined to always act according to God’s will, then there wouldn’t be any reason to take such measures to avoid the jews because it’s not possible to thwart God’s plans in a world where ”predestination” is a rule. If God would have predestined someone to kill Jesus, then this would be the result whether Jesus walked openly among the jews or not.

Dead in trespasses and sins?

It’s always a bad idea to sin and thus be dead in trespasses and sins. Satan LIED and said that sinning will NOT cause spiritual death (which he said to Eve in Eden), but the truth is that trespassing the law – which is sinning – WILL separate us from God and cause spiritual death. We have the opportunity to repent of course.

Sin is the transgression of the law, John says, so that means we are not sinners due to having the nerve to be born but rather the moment we choose to break the law and SIN. If we are sinners already from birth, then John must be incorrect for suggesting that we are not sinners until we break the law of God, and the law of God doesn’t say that it’s a sin to be conceived or to be born into this world. It’s hardly our choice to be born, and why would that be a sin or against God’s will?

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Some christians suggest that we are BORN ”dead in trespasses and sins”, but that is not what the Bible says.

Ephesians 2:1: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 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: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.But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Paul explains that the Ephesians in time PAST walked in sin, but he doesn’t expect them to continue like that. Also note that in order to commit the sins that Paul lists, you must at least be an ADULT. Babies are not aware of the law and they are unable to:

  • 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)
  • be disobedient through following Satan
  • walk in the lusts of their flesh
  • fulfill the desires of their flesh
  • fulfill the desires of their mind

We can be labelled either children of God or children of Satan depending on our life styles. We can also read that the ”children of wrath” are also called ”children of disobedience” so it’s clear that in order to fit the bill you must be able to DISOBEY – which is something that babies cannot do. Eph. 2 doesn’t suggest we are BORN as children of wrath, but it provides details for how we can BECOME children of wrath by the way we live. Even the Ephesians WERE dead due to their choice to sin, but thanks to the blood of Jesus, and through their own repentance of their sins, they were restored. Paul says”hath raised us up together”, but that is a picture of our future with Christ, because he continues the sentence with ”in the ages to COME”. We haven’t been elevated yet. Moreover, in Romans 2 we can read about people who obey the law ”by nature”, so apparently we are not born with a sinful nature. You can read more about the gnostic idea of the sinful nature in this blog article.

Col. 2:And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.—13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross

Paul warns the Colossians (and all of us) extensively because there is always a huge risk that we will fall from our salvation due to sin. If we could never risk to go from being spiritually alive to being spiritually dead, then there wouldn’t be any reason to warn true believers the way Paul does. We can become cleansed, regenerated and righteous by confessing our sins and repenting, because then our sins will be blotted out.

Sins/iniquities/transgression of God’s law (same things) have always separated us from God ever since Adam, and continue to do sodeath3

If we sin, we are dead (in trespasses and sins), and then we must seek God, come to him, confess our sins and repent in order to be cleansed and regenerated. Then we become ”born again”, because we are no more spiritually dead.

Daniel 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him

Isaiah 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.

Gal. 6:Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, IF we faint not.

The prodigal son is an excellent example of a person who was LOST and DEAD (according to the words of his own Father who is a picture of God the Father), and still capable of making an excellent decision to repent, return to his Father and confess his sins before him. Loads of people say ”but he never ceased to be a son!”, but what does it matter to be a physical son of someone when he is still LOST and DEAD? And quite obviously a person who lives together with prostitutes in unrepentant sin is (during this time) nothing but 100% lost and dead, unless we must believe that heaven will be a place full of unrepentant sinners.

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.—30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN AGAIN; and was LOST, and is FOUND.

Again, to base an entire doctrine on something that the Bible doesn’t say is extremely unwise, and especially if this false doctrine necessitates that we erect other false doctrines to save that first one, and which in the end makes God to be the author of sin and very illogical. Are we born depraved and with a sinful nature that makes us sin ACCORDING to God’s will or AGAINST his will?

Calvinism is man-centered, and elect individuals have reasons to be proud

proudDue to my concern for christians trapped in Calvinism (and others who are at risk), I include the below text parts from Jesse Morell. I believe that the doctrines within Calvinism unfortunately and inevitably encourage christians to remain in their sins, but that doesn’t mean that I believe that all who call themselves calvinists must be major sinners. Still, the doctrines are dangerous (which all gnostic teachings are) and must be exposed in order to save souls. If we love each other, we would like to help each other on the right track. 

Calvinism is totally man centered. ”I am saved by nothing I do,” ”I cannot be lost by anything I do,” etc. It is all centered on man being saved no matter what. It gives religious sinners eternal security. It itches their ears. There is no choice of total repentance from all sin required, just believing. There is no necessity to labor and run and persevere unto the end. There is no threat of going to hell through sinning. It itches the ears of those who want this man-centered gospel. You don’t have to love God supremely. You don’t have to totally commit yourself to God. You can live in compromise and sin every day in word, thought, and deed, and still be saved. Calvinism doesn’t glorify God, it comforts religious sinners and in doing so it dishonors God. 

Which system really glorifies God? The one which says God is the ultimate cause of sin and that men do not need to stop all their sinning, or the one that says each individual is the cause of their own sin and we must all repent of our sins and live holy lives glorifiying to God? Which doctrine of grace really glorifies God? The one that says grace means being saved while we continue to sin, or grace is the means of being saved from our sin? One of these systems glorifies God while the other system greatly dishonors Him. What of the Westminster Catechism that says no man is able, either of his own power or by any grace received in this life, to perfectly keep the commandments, but does daily break them in word, thought, and deed…? Well, that covers all the bases. I mean, the devil couldn’t do any worse than that. That excuses all sin, of any kind. Calvinism certainly does make ”a broad stroke that intentionally misunderstands and maligns Christ.” How man-centered is this theology! Now, the power of man’s sin is even greater than the power of God’s grace! God’s grace cannot overcome man’s sin! Wow, talk about a man-centered sin-excusing theology.

Glorification is the perfection of the body. Sanctification is the perfection of the heart. We are not commanded to be glorified in this life. This is not an obligation. We are not sinful for failing to have glorified bodies. Even Jesus did not have a glorified body until after the resurrection. But we can sanctify ourselves to God. We can set ourselves apart from the service of sin to the service of God.

We are not born with a sinful nature

We are born into a sinful world, but sin itself is a choice of our own will. You are not born a homosexual, drunkard, etc. That is choice. Paul said sinners will be ”without excuse” on Judgment Day. They cannot say, like Lady GaGa, ”I was born this way.” God forms our nature in the womb and He does not form us as little sinners. We become sinners at the age of accountability, by our own free will. As the Bible says men are sinners ”from their youth” which means ”juvenile” not infant.

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Ps. 139:14. We are not guilty of the sin of Adam: “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.” Eze. 18:20 We are commanded to sanctify ourselves: “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.” Lev. 20:7. This verse is quoted in the New Testament as well. Jesus can forgive us and cleanse us, not from some sin, but from all sin: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I Jn. 1:9. Just read the rest of 1 John. He that sins is of the devil. Whosoever has been born of God does not commit sin. Etc. The Word says that the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to live free from sin in this life. Our fallen bodies do not make us sin, so we don’t need a new body to be free from sin. Romans 6 says Jesus sets us free from sin in this life. Hebrews says Jesus was made in all things liken unto his brethren.

Jesus did not have a sinful nature, so neither did we. Jesus lived a holy and sinless life and Jesus said come and follow me and He is our example to follow. If we sin after our initial conversion, we must repent or perish as Jesus taught his disciples. We never have to sin, as God never allows us to be tempted above our ability (1 Cor. 10:13). To say that we can never life free from all sin in this life is to make the power of sin greater than the power of the cross and greater than the power of God’s grace. Certainly, we still have a free will after conversion so we are still capable of sinning. But with the help of God’s grace, we can choose to overcome and persevere. Men are sinners by choice, as the Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own way. And therefore, we can cease to be sinners by choice. Hence, God’s command for us to repent and His appeals of grace. We cannot have glorified bodies in this life, and so we have not attained physical perfection. That comes after our race is done. But we can have sanctified bodies in this life, as Paul said we can yield our members as instruments of righteousness, present our bodies a living sacrifice, that God can sanctify us wholly spirit soul and body, etc.

Certainly we are not forgiven before we repent, and if we sin God clearly sees it. But when we think upon what Jesus Christ has done to make forgiveness available for us and for everyone, we should love Him and turn from all our sins as a consequence. Once we do that, God forgives us through Christ. Calvary makes us willing to do what creation made us capable of doing. And what the law could not do, the gospel was able to accomplish. Legal motives of self-interest were insufficient to perfect the heart, but the motives presented to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from all sin. Every day we make the choice to sin or not, and certainly our salvation depends upon our perseverance in holiness, but when we look upon the cross and see how much God has loved this world, we see how worthy He is of our worship and service and we love Him in return with our obedience.

Romans chapter seven

Rom. 7 gives us a description of what occurs when the mind of an unconverted sinner is convicted by the law. Using a literary technique, Paul uses the present tense to tell the narrative. As many stories begin with “once upon a time,” Paul said, “For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (Rom. 7:9). He then proceeded in his narrative to discuss what happens when an unconverted sinner encounters the law of God. Some suppose Romans chapter seven to be a description of the Christian life, as opposed to a description of an unconverted state. But we know Paul is not referring to his own converted state because he already said that Christians have been made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:18, 22). The man in Romans seven was not ”free from sin” and, therefore, he was not a Christian. Paul also said that, “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). Yet the man in Romans chapter seven was under condemnation and therefore needed to be saved by Jesus (Rom. 7:24-25).

And Paul said that, “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). But the man in Romans chapter seven said, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). Therefore, the man in Romans chapter seven did not have eternal life. And finally, Paul said that as a converted man he lived with a good and pure conscience that was void of offense (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; 2 Tim. 1:3). The man described in Romans chapter seven is deeply disturbed by his conscience (Rom. 7:16). Therefore, the description given in Romans chapter seven was not of the converted life of the Apostle Paul. It is a narration describing what happens when an unconverted sinner’s mind encounters the law of God and is convicted by it.

So it is a sin to inherit a weakness to commit sin? How is that a sin? chosen

  • Jesus died for everyone, but only those who repent and believe are forgiven through it. So if a believer sins, they must repent and ask God for forgiveness.
  •  Forgiveness of future sins is nothing more than a license to sin. God only forgives us of our sins after we have repented of them. And since we are not yet guilty of future sins, we have nothing to be forgiven us. Not only would forgiveness of future sins be unwise, it is also impossible. Sins must be dealt with as they occur. Hence what we read in 1 John 1:8-9. If a believer sins, we must repent or perish.
1. How can David say he was wonderfully made and God’s works are marvelous if God formed him in the womb with a sinful nature?
2. How can it be said that Jesus was made ”in all things liken unto his brethren” if we are born with a sinful nature and he wasn’t?
3. How come our sanctification is spoken of in the same tense as our justification?
4. How can inheriting a weakeness to commit sin be a sin itself?
5. If we are forgiven of all future sins at conversion, have you ever asked God to forgive you since your conversion? If you were already forgiven, why do you insult his grace by asking for forgiveness?
6. What would a license to sin consist of, if not forgiveness of unrepented future sins? What is a license but permission to do an action without fear of legal prosecution?
7. If Romans 7 was Paul’s Christian life, how can he say that he lived with a conscience void of offense?

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We were not capable of sinning before the age of accountability, as Jesus said if you were blind you would have no sin. Infants are not under the wrath of God, as the wrath of God comes upon those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Those with knowledge are without excuse, but as infants have no moral knowledge, they are with excuse for their behavior. As they grow, they make free will choices. Hence we are told to teach them, disciple them, etc. If their nature caused their actions, teaching them would be useless and discipline would be cruelty and pointless. Only if their free will makes their choices can teaching and disciple change their behavior.

The perfection that God requires is a perfection that we are capable of. It is purity of motive – a perfection of heart. The Bible commands us to love God and love our neighbor. The Bible speaks of men who were ”perfect in heart” which shows it is possible for man in this life. The commandment is directly proportationate to our ability, as we are command to love God ”with all” thy ability and love your neighbor ”as yourself.” We are not commanded to love with more ability than we have, but with all the ability that we have. So it is not impossible. If it were impossible, God’s law would be unreasonable and unjust. Damnation would be infinite cruelty. But as God is just and as He does punish sinners, this shows that they were capable of avoiding their sin

Which is greater, the power of sin or the power of the cross and the grace of God?

If the power of the cross is greater than the power of sin, why can’t you stop sinning? Does not the cross make you love God? And if you love Him, you will obey Him. When you are tempted, just look at the cross. Put your faith in God and you will overcome sin.  As love is the fulfillment of the law – a complete satisfaction to our moral obligation. Love is perfection. God does not want us to have an imaginary holiness but an actual holiness. The Bible never says that Christ’s works of the law are imputed to us. That is not necessary as we are not justified by works of the law. The ”imputed righteousness of Christ” is a cliche and a myth. If you sin, God see’s it. Nothing is hide from His eyes the Bible says. He says, ”I know your works, be zealous therefore and repent.” Don’t dream that you are covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ while you continue to sin, thus making his work a license to sin. Rather, repent of your sins and then you will be pardoned by His grace and mercy.

Paul taught that we were not under the law, as in the Torah, but not that we were free from all moral obligation. As Paul said we are obligated to love God and love our neighbor. God is not an anarchist or an antinomian. He does not promote lawlessness. As Paul said, not without law to God but under the law of Christ.

God does not impute our trespasses to us when He forgives us and pardons us. This is conditional upon our repentance and faith. Holiness, in terms of the Christian, is an internal attitude of submission and obedience whereby we are set apart from sin and to the service of God. And Jesus not only saves our souls, He changes our lives. He is not only our justification, He is also our sanctification.  Justification by works of the law is impossible. Obedience cannot atone for past disobedience. Hence, we need gracious justification. God can declare us pardoned. He commands us to repent and believe and when we are converted He pardons all our past trespasses through the atonement of Christ.

”By nature children of wrath” in context is about how we previously lived a sinful lifestyle. The Greek word for nature in that passage can mean that which by long habit has become nature, according to Thayer which is one of the best Greek-English Lexicon available. The Bible also says that the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, which show the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness. Doesn’t sound like they were born totally depraved with a sinful nature. Conscience is part of our nature, and it tells us to obey God.

The Bible is clear that Jesus died for everyone but not everyone is saved because not everyone repents and believes. It is possible for those for whom Christ died to perish. As Paul said you can cause a brother to perish for whom Christ died. And you can deny the Lord who bought you and bring upon yourself swift destruction.

The atonement does not give us a license to sin or make salvation automatic for anyone. Pardon through the atonement is conditional. The Bible says repent, believe, and persevere unto the end. If we fail any of those points, we cannot expect God’s mercy but His wrath. Jesus said He that perseveres unto the end shall be saved. That speaks of salvation in the future tense. There are others passages that speak of it as past and present. I am saved. I am being saved. And I will be saved. The Bible says eternal life is to know God. And it says by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says I know Him and keeps not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him. So those who are obedient to God have eternal life and those who are disobedient do not. As it is written, He is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.

He tasted death for EVERY man it says. He is the propitiation, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the WHOLE world. Just as the serpent was lifted up for WHOSOEVER to be saved through it, so God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him would be saved, etc. There is no limited atonement in the foreshadow sacrifices.

People attack biblical holiness and the born again experience as self-righteousness and confuse biblical repentance with justification by works of the law. If a person is living in sin, aka sinning every day in word, thought, and deed, than it should be obviously that they haven’t put their faith in Christ. If they had confidence in His character and trusted Him they would do whatever He asks. As Hebrews 11 says by faith Abraham obeyed. Abraham was justified by an obedient faith, or a faith that resulted in obedience. What sins do you have in your life that you cannot stop? What sins do you have in your life that Christ cannot set you free from? Or really, what sin do you have in your life that you are unwilling to repent of?

Obedience can never atone for disobedience

We could never make up for our sins by obedience and we could never earn or merit salvation. It must come by grace and mercy through Jesus Christ. But it is conditional. We must repent and believe to receive it. I say that we must repent and believe (obedience to the gospel) but that our obedience to the gospel does not merit or earn salvation. ”By faith Abraham…obeyed” Hebrews 11:8. Abraham was justified by an obedient faith. There is a difference between conditions and grounds. Our obedience to the gospel is not the grounds of our salvation. It does not merit or earn salvation. Peter said, ”repent of this thy wickedness that the thought of your heart might be forgiven thee” and ”save yourselves from this untoward generation. Was Peter teaching heresy by telling them to save themselves? Certainly not. Repentance is a condition of forgiveness. We can only save ourselves, through the atonement of Christ, by repenting and believing.

Justification by works of the law is regarding the Torah and merit. It is not about repenting of your sins to be pardoned by grace and mercy. We do not need to obey the law (Torah) to be saved. But we must obey the gospel, which demands that we repent of our sins and trust in Christ. If good works are the evidence of faith, then bad works are the evidence of unbelief. There is no condemnation for those who walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. If you are living in sin, aka walking after the flesh, there is condemnation.  By faith you can live a pure and holy life. By faith you can overcome all sin and be perfect in heart. The same faith that justifies also sanctifies. Under the New Covenant we are not under obligation to the Torah, but only to the moral law of God. The New Testament does not command us to be circumcised, but to love God and love our neighbor.

“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Gal. 2:14

“To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.” 1 Cor. 9:21.

We are not under the law of Moses, but under the law of Christ.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb. 7:12.

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things” Heb. 10:1.

The external and physical laws of the Old Covenant, like the clean and unclean food, circumcision, etc, were figurative of the internal and moral change that occurs under the New Covenant. Thus, the New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant. These Old Covenant laws were figurative, but in the New Covenant that which is better has come. Hence,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;” Heb. 10:16.

You can read more from Jesse Morell on his website.

”Any theology that gives man a legitimate excuse for sin and maligns God’s holy character CANNOT, by definition be ‘God centered'”  (Kerrigan Skelly)

Romans 5 does not teach that man is born with a sinful nature – Rom. 5:12

Romans 5 does not teach that man is born sinful, nor that we have inherited Adam’s sin

If man is born with a sinful nature (original sin) one would assume this would be indicated somewhere in the Bible, and preferably in a clear way since this is a MAJOR teaching about the constitution of man that we would not want to miss. If man is born with a sinful nature, that would make us sin whether we want to or not and we would have great excuses on judgment day when we are being asked why we have sinned. ”Because of our sinful nature, of course!” we could reply. If Romans 5 is the best place to look for this doctrine, then it is not a very good one because this teaching is nowhere to be found. The fact is that 1) the Bible nowhere teaches that man has inherited Adam’s sin, and 2) none of the old church fathers taught this doctrine the first 300 years AD. Only the gnostics taught it.

Romans 5:12 tells us the reason why death (not sin) spread – because we sinned

The wages of sin is death – not just in our past but this is still a reality today. Spiritual death spread to all men because each and every man sinned himself. If a man would not have sinned, he would not need to die spiritually but he would still die physically just like innocent babies do and just like Jesus Christ did. Physical death is not the result of our sin because physical death was decreed when Adam sinned, and physical death also applies to innocent people like Jesus who have never sinned.

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

SIN entered the WORLD through Adam because he was the first to sin. No one sinned before him. DEATH (not sin) passed upon all men and why? FOR (because) ALL HAVE SINNED! There you have the reason! If death spread to all men because Adam sinned and because sin is something that can be inherited in the DNA, then Paul had a chance to clarify this but he did not. What Adam did still caused a great stir on all mankind because we all die physically due to him (even little babies) because  we cannot reach the tree of life due to him, and the ground is cursed due to him. Romans 5:12 could also have been translated like this:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, also in this manner death passed (traversed) into all men, since all have sinned

James says that ”sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (1:15). The specific effect of death James is talking about is a separation from God. We know that the condemnation spoken about in Rom. 5 concerns spiritual death, for those who are justified still die physically. Rom. 5:14 makes the point that even while sin was not imputed because there was no law, death reigned.

What about the ”all” have sinned?

Who are included in ”all”? Animals? Angels? Jesus? We have to look at the context in order to discern who ”all” are. ”All” does not always include little babies. ”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, just like the usage of the English words. The Bible provides many examples where ”all men” could not possibly include babies, and we should therefore not do cherry-picking when it comes to this word but carefully check the context. (There are two words in Greek which mean ”man”: anēr, which refers to a specific male individual, and anthrōpos which is the racial/generic term and which has the general idea of mankind.)

Romans 5:18-19 must be read together

If Adam’s sin automatically and universally causes all mankind to receive condemnation for something they did not do or had any choice in, then Christ’s dying on the cross also automatically and universally causes all mankind to be saved – Rom 5:18-19. Clearly this is not the way to understand Rom. 5:18-19. The truth is that all are condemned when they commit sin (V.12) and all are saved when they obey Jesus.

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 justified and righteous through Jesus. We all know this could not be the case and it is not proper hermeneutics to read ”all” in two different ways in the same sentence – when reading ”even so” indicating a valid comparison. Adam’s disobedience does not make everyone born lost anymore than Christ’s death automatically makes everyone being found. If we were all born separated from God because Adam sinned, then we would all be spiritually alive (saved) because Jesus obeyed until death. But we cannot be saved unless we choose to follow Christ. Likewise, we do not die spiritually until we choose to disobey God.

Again, if all die in Adam, then all are saved in Christ. We cannot make one absolute and the other conditional. In other words, IF Romans 5 says SIN (and not death) is passed down from Adam in the unconditional sense, then the same chapter also teaches that the very same entire race of humans are ALL saved unconditionally, because of what Christ did. This would be universalism!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Also this sentence must be read in the same way on both sides of the word ”but”. If an individual sins, the wages of that sin is (spiritual) death, BUT for the same individual he is promised eternal life though Jesus IF he repents and believes in him. So IF he sins = death, and if he believes = life.

It says ”The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life…” To determine which ”death” Paul is referring to we can check what he compares it with and see that he opposes it with eternal life. Even if we will get eternal life, we will still die physically. Jesus says in John 11:25 ”He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

The prodigal son went from life, to death, to life again. He was first alive, dead and alive again.

 What is sin? Transgressing the law!

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law

The Bible tells us that sinning is transgressing the law of God. If that is so, it follows that we must first be able to distinguish right from wrong before we can be condemned for our actions. We must first have a brain and other body parts before we can choose to break the law of God. If we are sinners by conception (or by birth), then we would be sinners before we even had a heart, but the Bible says that it is our heart which might condemn us:

Matt. 15:18-19 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Hosea 4:8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.

Ps. 41:6 And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.

Ps. 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me

Is. 32:6 For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

We do not sin by being born or being conceived. Why would being conceived offend God to such a great extent, and even cause him to separate himself from us? Does he not know that we have no choice in the matter and should not be condemned for something our parents did? And what did our parents really do that caused God’s wrath?

Many verses show that man is not born with original sin

Rom. 2:12For 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. 14For 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: 15Which 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;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Matthew 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Ezekiel 18:20The 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.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin

Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Psalm 5:4For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Isaiah 7:15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the
wrong and choose the right,

Romans 9:11 For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil

Romans 7:8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

Deut 1:39 Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims,
who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to
them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions. 

Deut. 31:29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you.