Oswald Chambers: What is Sin? What is Salvation?

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This says it better than I’ve ever heard anyone say it. From Biblical Ethics:

The Bible does not deal with sin as a disease; it does not deal with the outcome of sin, it deals with the disposition of sin itself. The disposition of sin is what our Lord continually faced, and it is this disposition that the Atonement removes. Immediately our evangelism loses sight of this fundamental doctrine of the disposition of sin and deals only with external sins, it leaves itself open to ridicule. We have cheapened the doctrine of sin and made the Atonement a sort of moral “lavatory” in which men can come and wash themselves from sin, and then go and sin again and come back for another washing.

This is the doctrine of the Atonement: “Him who knew no sin” (not sins)—Him who had not the disposition of sin, who refused steadfastly, and to the death on Calvary, to listen to the temptations of the prince of this world, who would not link Himself on with the ruling disposition of humanity, but came to hew a way single-handed through the hard face of sin back to God—“He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (rv).

The disposition of sin that rules our human nature is not suppressed by the Atonement, not sat on, not cabined and confined, it is removed. Human nature remains unaltered, but the hands and eyes and all our members that were used as the servants of the disposition of sin can be used now as servants of the new disposition (see Romans 6:13). Then comes the glorious necessity of militant holiness. Beware of the teaching that allows you to sink back on your oars and drift; the Bible is full of pulsating, strenuous energy. From the moment a man is readjusted to God then begins the running, being careful that “the sin which doth so easily beset us”does not clog our feet.

I believe that God so radically, so gloriously, and so comprehensively copes with sin in the Atonement that He is more than master of it, and that a practical experience of this can take place in the life of anyone who will enter into identification with what Jesus Christ did on the Cross. What is the good of saying, “I believe in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world” if you cannot answer the blunt question, “What has He saved you from?” The test is not in theories and theologies, but in practical flesh and blood experience. Jesus Christ is our Saviour because He saves us from sin, radically altering the ruling disposition. Anyone who has been in contact with the Lord when He alters the ruling disposition knows it, and so do others. But there is a painful, tremendous repentance first. The whole teaching of the Bible on the human side is based on repentance. The only repentant man is the holy man, and the only holy man is the one who has been made so by the marvel of the Atonement. And here comes the wonder—let the blunders of lives be what they may, let hereditary tendencies be what they like, let wrongs and evils crowd as they will, through the Atonement there is perfect readjustment to God, perfect forgiveness, and the gift of a totally new disposition which will manifest itself in the physical life just as the old disposition did (see Romans 6:19). Jesus Christ comes as the last Adam to take away the abnormal thing (which we call natural), the disposition of my right to myself, and He gives us a new disposition, viz., His own heredity of unsullied holiness, Holy Spirit.

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Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


27 Comments

  1. Elisabeth

    How true and humbling is this post. When we have the appropriate attitude and approach the disposition of sin, that is the essence of “lest no man boast.”

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    More from later in the book: ‘The idea of substitution popularly understood is that Jesus Christ was punished for me, therefore I go scot-free. The doctrine of substitution in the Bible is always two-fold: Christ for me, that He might be substituted in me. There is no Christ for me if there is no Christ in me. The doctrine of substitution is the most practical, radically working thing in the world; it is the very essence of our Lord’s teaching. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have not life in yourselves” (John 6:53 rv)…That is the doctrine of substitution; not, “I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost,” and remain the same miserable, selfish, crooked sinner all the time.’

  3. david

    Ron – i’d like to hear McLaren’s response to Chambers’ articulation of the substitutionary atonement… i think i’ll pull ‘my utmost for His highest’ back off the shelf sometime soon…

  4. kelli

    oh how i hear the teachings of George MacDonald echoed in this!

    i love his wording here…

    “Jesus Christ comes as the last Adam to take away the abnormal thing (which we call natural), the disposition of my right to myself, and He gives us a new disposition, viz., His own heredity of unsullied holiness, Holy Spirit.”

    thanks, Ron!

  5. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Kelli, yes, GM, Norman Grubb, and A.B. Simpson as well. Norman said that what was removed when we died in Christ was the spirit of Eph 2:2, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (literally “the unconvinced” or stubbornly unrepentant). This “ruling disposition of sin,” as Chambers puts it, is removed, making my inmost nature a union with Christ. This is how “by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being made holy.” At that point, Perfection enters into our Holy of Holies. At that point, though, our habits are as yet unchanged – mental habits, feeling-habits, body habits. The inner Perfection of Christ is not yet worked out into the rest of the temple.

    The model for “being made holy” is the Hebrews coming into the Promised Land and going on excursions to rid the land of the usurpers. But we see when they went on campaigns presumptuously, without consulting or trusting God, they got their rear-ends kicked. It is only faith in our Captain, and following His orders, that rids our inner landscape of the habits and ways of the false lord that dwelt in us. We can’t do it in our self-effort; it is by faith from first to last. We began in the Spirit, received the Spirit by faith. We cannot then finish the job in our own human effort. As we received Christ – by faith, reliance, trust – so we are to walk in Him.

  6. Molly

    Thanks, Ron! and Jonathan, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with a PS to that sermon at some point in the near future. 🙂

  7. Mark Anderson

    Glorious truth, gloriously expressed. Loved it. Thanks for sharing it.

    My father once told me it was important to remember that Christ may have dealt with my sins (plural – or in my case VERY plural) but the greater thing was that He dealt with ALL sin (singular). That sin might perhaps be thought of as a weed that Christ has pulled out fully by the root – He has not merely dealt with the visible leaves but the whole hideous plant has been destroyed in His work on the cross.

    The more I read of my Savior, the more I realize that He has left no enemy even the vestiges of a prize – He has conquered utterly and by His grace in that same conquering He inexplicably stooped to rescue me and share His glory and His prize. That’s astounding but it’s also something I think AP has touched on several times in his work, perhaps most clearly on Love and Thunder. We have a great Savior and in quoting the passage above you’ve refreshed and reminded me of that. Thanks.

  8. Dave

    “The disposition of sin that rules our human nature is not suppressed by the Atonement, not sat on, not cabined and confined, it is removed.”

    Please correct me if I misunderstand Chambers use of the words “disposition” or “removed” because it seems to me that the above statement contradicts Rom 7:19 “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Paul is clearly saying that the sin nature is not removed. Yes, its once total domination of the soul is ended by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the new nature given to us in regeneration. So I do agree with Chambers later statement there is a result in the new believer of “radically altering the ruling disposition.” There is a new disposition toward pleasing God rather than pleasing our sinful nature.

    Yet our sinful nature remains; it is not yet removed. It is still in enmity against God and its inclination is to sin whenever possible. For the believer there are many battles ahead, why else would Paul write later in Romans “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” and in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish”

    Puritan pastor and theologian John Owen wrote extensively about the “power and efficacy of indwelling sin” in believers. I think he would disagree with any statement that it is or can be completely removed while we are in this “pre-resurrection” body.

  9. Mark Anderson

    It would be a terrible thing to preach that a believer was freed from sin if it were understood that ‘freed from’ meant the same thing as ‘will never sin or want to sin again in this life or the next’. Terrible because it would dispirit the new Christian who would rapidly find (as many of us oldies have) that we don’t have utter victory in every circumstance – that we still wrestle with foolish temptations and we all too often feed the ‘old man’ with things that will trip us up and lead us into the mud.

    But it would equally be a terrible thing to say we’re ‘saved’ but have no power to defeat the old sin nature that is within. Terrible because it would empty the ‘new birth’ of any meaning and would instead allow easy excuses for half-hearted Christian living and – speaking personally – I need no additional motive for making excuses.

    So the teaching of scripture – and I believe of Oswald Chambers above – is that the Christian DOES have a new power to deal with sin; that he is enslaved to sin no more. That does not mean he’ll never listen to the voice of his old master but it does mean he never HAS to do so.

    It means the victory Christ won 2,000 years ago is sure and complete, that no additional work remains undone – but it will take heaven for me to fully appreciate and take hold of the deliverance He accomplished for me. Until then I will sometimes struggle but that will no longer be the invariable pattern of my life or my ‘disposition’ as it was when I was an unrepentant sinner. Christ has assured that it is possible for me and every believer to have total victory over every sin imaginable; the degree to which I enter into that victory is up to me – for now.

  10. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave,

    I don’t find in the New Testament the phrase “sin nature” at all except in the NIV, where the translators several times put their own slant on “sarx” or “flesh.”

    But be aware that I’m not hung up on labels. Labels are just convenient ways of conveying some thing, an idea or concept which exists independently of what we call it. So please hear me out here.

    When the concept of “sin nature” is used Biblically, it is used in reference to the nature of Eph 2:2. This nature is what is removed when we die in Christ and are raised to walk in newness of life. Circumcision is the pre-figuring of this in the OT, as is baptism in the NT. Circumcision is a cutting off of something. Baptism is the dying of one thing and the resurrecting of something else.

    When Paul says he is chief of sinners, he refers to his former life as a Christ-persecuting Pharisee. He does not mean that he cannot stop engaging in porneia, or loses his temper every day and can’t help it because he is a sinner.

    Romans 7 is now often accepted, with horrible results in the Church, as “The Normal Christian Life.” It isn’t. It is meant to be a stage, and then after we emerge from it into the Spirit-life of Romans 8 and on to the “my life for others” life of Romans 9, we go back to 7 for occasional reminders. I can’t imagine the Apostle Paul going to temple prostitutes in Ephesus and then saying, “I just couldn’t help myself – the things I hate, I keep doing.” Or John on Patmos getting drunk every night and saying, “Well, I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”

    In 7 Paul is describing himself as a new man, a believer, struggling by his own human effort to be good, rather than accessing the righteousness which is of God by faith and is now resident within Paul. But he doesn’t know it; he is still thinking like Saul. “I’ve got to be good. Therefore I’ve got to know the Law, and then strive to keep it.” But what he found was when he tried his hardest to be good, he kept being bad. Why? Because he wasn’t abiding; he wasn’t trusting in, relying on Christ’s righteousness within himself. Instead, he thought he had to be righteous by his own power.

    To think we have to strive by our own effort to be good assumes that we are bad. If I try hard when I’m playing the banjo or guitar, all sorts of tension and stress is created and ruins my playing. By exerting effort, thinking I must try hard or I will fail, I set myself up for that failure.

    To rely on Christ by faith is to trust the goodness that He is, right here inside us – to trust Him to be my Patience when I need it, my Peace, my Purity, my Love. His assets belong to us because we are in a union-relationship with our inner Husband. All of my resources as a husband belong to my wife if she uses them responsibly.

    The way out of Romans 7 is to recognize as Fact, by faith, that “When I sin it is no longer I that sins, but sin which is dwelling in me.” The real “I” is not a sinner. It is a union of my human spirit with the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. The “sin which is dwelling in me” is resident in my soul, or (Greek) “psuche.” In my psyche are attitudes, coping mechanisms, fears, etc., that I learned throughout my life – ungodly ways of dealing with life. When Christ takes our inner Jericho, He comes in for good; “by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being made holy.” He has perfected us forever? A done deal? Yes. But we are being made holy – a process. Our inner Joshua is committed to wiping out every last Canaanite in our inner landscape. So we take no condemnation when we do blow it; we stand up immediately, thank God for the Blood, and go back to relying on Christ.

    So the sin disposition is removed, yes; the Eph 2:2 spirit is dumped out. The vessel is cleansed by the Blood, and then filled with the Holy Spirit. But many of the sinful psyche habits remain. Those are removed by process.

    Chambers believed that it was entirely possible to live a holy life, and not only that, we are commanded to do so. He viewed indwelling sin as sinful habits, worldly ways of coping with things that we must unlearn by relying on Christ. I find this agrees with Paul, John, and the other NT writers. We don’t have to live the life of Romans 7 unless we temporarily forget Christ’s indwelling power and sufficiency. The prerequisite for living a godly life is to “bet the farm” not only on Christ’s blood being sufficient for our sins, applied to us vicariously through faith, but also that His dying and resurrection are sufficient for our walking in newness of life – applied to us vicariously through faith.

    I was “wretched sinner, saved by grace, and I can’t stop sinning” sort of Christian. As I believed, so I manifested; “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” My negative faith produced negative results: a sin-consciousness that the Blood is supposed tor remove (Heb 10). I’ve finally found something that works: faith in the indwelling power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the divine dynamite that energized Paul, what Peter called being a “partaker of the divine nature,” and why John could say, “I write these things to you that you may not sin.” People like A.B. Simpson, Tozer, Spurgeon, follow this same line.

    Even if we didn’t have to overcome the bad programming of our psyche, the sarx, the flesh, that combined soul/body, is always going to want its own way. That is its job, to be contrary. That’s what gives us a choice in the first place. And for whatever reason, God wants His sons and daughters to make the constant choice to be His sons and daughters in character and experience.

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    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mark: Great points. The “sin which dwells in me” which is “no longer I” is in the psyche programming. That’s why we’ve got to renew our minds in order to be transformed. Read that “Reprogramming.” We’ve got our heads full of world-think, and it’s got to be reprogrammed to Word-think.

    I often point out to those who do believe in an indwelling sin nature – seeing the disposition to sin as unremoved, contrary to the Chambers quote – to simply put their focus on the overcoming power of Christ, and faithe that He can overwhelm any sinful tendencies.

  12. Dave

    Mark,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning, and that’s why I was looking for a clearer understanding of Chamberr’s phrasing “The disposition of sin that rules our human nature is not suppressed by the Atonement, not sat on, not cabined and confined, it is removed.” Your comment “So the teaching of scripture – and I believe of Oswald Chambers above – is that the Christian DOES have a new power to deal with sin; that he is enslaved to sin no more” is my own understanding of scripture and of what Luther, Spurgeon, Owen and Edwards have taught. Why would Paul have urged the churches to “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16) unless he believed that they had the power by the Holy Spirit to do just that.

    I too agree with you statement that Christians “…will sometimes struggle but that will no longer be the invariable pattern of my life or my ‘disposition’ as it was when I was an unrepentant sinner.” Luther taught that we are “Simul ustus et peccator,” “At the same time justified and sinner”; as to the Law, we are perfectly justified by Christ’s sacrifice; as to our behavior, we are not yet perfect in all our thoughts and actions. We are no longer slaves to sin and our desire is to live righteously as our Lord did, yet we daily fall short. We say and do the things God has commanded us not to do. We fail to do the things he has told us we must do.

    It seems ironic to me that as I have grown in faith and knowledge I have become increasingly aware of my sinfulness, even as the Holy Spirit has graciously helped me to be rid of the sins that once controlled me. My sins of selfishness, pride, impatience, envy once seemed hardly sins at all but only minor flaws common to almost everyone. Now they loom large and I go more often in prayer for more of Christ’s amazing grace of forgiveness and grace to walk more in the Spirit.

    Dave

  13. Dave

    Ron,

    I hope you will read my response to Mark to see that the three of us agree on many important things. Perhaps any remaining disagreement between you and me is semantics. I’ll admit that I find the terms “sin nature” and “the flesh” to be difficult to pin down 100%. I am confident that “inclination” is a key part of it. The unregenerate man has a strong inclination toward sin (Gen 6:5 “…every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”) If it were not for God’s grace to restrain sin, mankind would not only incline toward it continually but we would carry out those inclinations.

    You commented that in Rom 7 “Paul is describing himself as a new man, a believer, struggling by his own human effort to be good.” This is one possible view that could fit if Paul wrote this soon after his conversion. However this was written many years later. The change from past tense (verses 7-13) to present tense (verses 15-25) indicates he is describing his experience at the time that he wrote. It that is correct then clearly the inclination to sin has not been removed. If it had been removed, leaving only the “new man” led by the Holy Spirit, then how could Paul continue to sin? He was a man fully trained in the law, and now fully knowledgeable of all that Christ taught… yet he was not perfect and still sinned and would agree with 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

    You commented that “When Paul says he is chief of sinners, he refers to his former life as a Christ-persecuting Pharisee.” Again, I think you are holding to a minority view among evangelical teachers. In 1 Tim 1:13 Paul says “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor…” Clearly past-test, meaning he was this before he met Christ. But just 2 verses later in verse 15 Paul writes, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—among whom I am foremost of all.” (NASB) Clearly present tense. If he was referring to his pre-christian life then he wouldn’t he has said “amoung whom I was foremost of all?”

    I want to be clear that I agree that Paul teaches and I believe that we are called and empowered to walk in the spirit and not the flesh. Increasing holiness is one sign of saving faith. It is rarely a steady increase but involves many ups and downs and sometimes very hard falls as King David experienced.

    You wrote this, and I want to add a heartfelt AMEN! to it:
    “The way out of Romans 7 is to recognize as Fact, by faith, that “When I sin it is no longer I that sins, but sin which is dwelling in me.” The real “I” is not a sinner. It is a union of my human spirit with the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. ” AMEN!

    Regarding you definition: The “sin which is dwelling in me” is resident in my soul, or (Greek) “psuche.” In my psyche are attitudes, coping mechanisms, fears, etc., that I learned throughout my life – ungodly ways of dealing with life…” I don’t find biblical support for the idea that the source of our indwelling sin is learned behavior. Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

    Romans 7:15-25 is remains true for believers, even as we grow in our faith, obedience and holiness. We are not completely free of this sinful inclination to sin until we are free of this body of death. We do become increasingly aware of our sinfulness and how easily we deceive ourselves…which is the key to greater reliance on the Holy Spirit to lead us away from tempatation and farther up the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

    Blessings to you,
    Dave

  14. Mark Anderson

    Hi Ron / Dave – I appreciate the chance to bounce things off each other in a civil manner; the web is full of folks who will happily rant and never actually discuss. Iron sharpens iron indeed.

    Dave – I don’t see that you’ve written anything with which I could violently disagree. And I’m not entirely sure what it is that has aroused your concern in what Chambers wrote above. Perhaps you’re aware of something else that gives the above a more ominous context? I’m not a follower of Chambers, I’m a follower of Christ and I only appreciate Chambers in that he points me to an even better example. And I recognize that it’s possible (indeed invariably true) that all other men but the True Man will be flawed in some measure – so certainly Chambers may hold some doctrine I find objectionable. I just don’t see it in the text above. For example, after speaking of Christ removing sin in the singular and not just the plural (a critical distinction IMO), he adds this:

    “Then comes the glorious necessity of militant holiness. Beware of the teaching that allows you to sink back on your oars and drift; the Bible is full of pulsating, strenuous energy. From the moment a man is readjusted to God then begins the running, being careful that “the sin which doth so easily beset us”does not clog our feet.”

    What would Chambers mean by the need for militant holiness if what he’s implying is that Christians will be sin-free upon conversion? He clearly realizes that one is saved but will still struggle to a greater or lesser degree. Paul struggled, John struggled, we all struggle. Militant holiness is a frightening phrase to me when I think of all the foolishness I tolerate in my own life – God help me to apply it! But I don’t think I’m alone at all in my experience and that’s why I’m thrilled that there remains no condemnation for me despite my frequent or infrequent failings.

    So I think Chambers (unless there’s evidence to the contrary) is an agreeable and well-written source.

    Ron – I’m not sure if you and Dave are talking past each other or whether there is actually a fundamental disagreement as to interpretation here. I didn’t take the initial Chambers quote to mean that the normal Christian experience is immediate and full deliverance from all sins post-salvation. I have met folks who espouse that idea but I have to say that appears to me to be a violent distortion of what is promised and what is taught in the NT. I see it this way and – if you don’t – perhaps you could clarify?

    * An unregenerate sinner does not have the ability to have victory over sin in his life.

    * A repentant sinner is saved and instantaneously (whether wittingly or not) enters into the full victory Christ had over sin (not just sins) at Calvary; the sinner does not wait to attain it, but he may wait to enjoy it and appreciate it fully.

    * The liberated believer now is empowered to defeat – through the indwelling Spirit – any particular sin that you may care to name. This is – in every believer – an ongoing process as it was in Saul/Paul and as it is in Dave and you and I 🙂

    Are we – the three of us at least – in agreement to that extent?

  15. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave, Mark,

    I am sure we agree on most doctrine. Beyond that, I am also sure Christ lives in each one of us, and he is our unity with one another. That’s the real point of these types of discussions – to preach Christ, and his power to us who faithe.

    I realize my last post was really long, but I think both of you may have missed some bits. I didn’t say a regenerated believer no longer struggles with sin. What I did say is that the sin nature is removed – the disposition of sin that comes from Eph 2:2: “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the stubbornly unpersuaded. This is the disposition of sin.

    If Jesus Christ did not deal with sin (singular, the root of sins) and merely paid for our sins (plural, the fruit of sin), what is regeneration? What is re-gened? What does it mean to be born again? What does it mean when Paul says, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”?

    Can we find a single instance of Paul calling blood bought, blood washed believers “sinners”? Even in the case of the Corinthians, he calls them saints, not sinners, before he ever gets into their behavior.

    Dave, regarding Romans 7, it is our experience every time we go back to Law. We try to be good, try to abstain from evil, and we fail. Why?

    Because we are usurping Christ’s place. We are saying, “I can be like God by trying to be good.” This is how we make Christ, his power in us, become of no effect. We think our own striving human effort will get the job done.

    On Paul’s “I am chief of sinners” statement: is he referring to his past life as a Christ persecuting Pharisee? Or do we really believe Paul was constantly coveting and sexually lusting and living in endless anxiety and pride and hating other people in his heart, and, as “the worst of sinners,” maybe even sleeping around on the side? “The worst of sinners” is a colossal statement unless he is talking about what he just got through saying, “I was a jerk and I persecuted Christians and dragged men from their homes and families and had them thrown in jail and breathed out threats and slaughter.”

    If he’s doing them, what right does he have to tell us to put on Christ and not do these things?

    “For you were once darkness (past tense) but now you are light in the Lord (present tense). Live, then, as children of light.” In other words, God has changed your status, your identity. You have been reborn from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Now go out and be who you really are.” Rather than “try to become something you’re not.”

    On the source of indwelling sin: originally, pre-faith in Christ, it is not primarily in our psyche (thought that of course is infected as well). It is in the core and center of us – in the holy of holies of these human temples – in our spirit. That is where the sin disposition resides until we (literally) die with Christ on the Cross. When he dies, we die; when we die, that sin disposition goes out of us. When the Holy Spirit reanimates the dead body of Jesus, the Holy Spirit reanimates us and comes to dwell in that center where the sin disposition had formerly been. That’s Romans 6, taken literally. “By one sacrifice he has perfected forever those who are being made holy.” In our inner being we are perfected forever. Then comes the process of being made holy – of letting the Lord outray his glory from the holy of holies (spirit) out through the soul (the holy place), and come through the outer court (body). What he wants is to have the whole temple manifest his glory to the world.

    After regeneration, the sin habits in the psuche have to be flushed out.

    Problem is, we identify “Me” with our psyche through long habit. “I am my feelings. I am my thoughts. I am my habits.” All a lie. In reality, I am one spirit with the God who spoke, and nothing became everything. I’m a son, a saint, beloved, accepted, and all the rest of it.

    As I continue to agree with God’s statements on who I am, sin habits continue to fall off. As I go on, I am more and more aware of my responsibility to abide, and I live less and less in a sin-consciousness (as Hebrews 10 says should happen if a sacrifice really works). Paradoxically, I am more aware and more sensitive to sin in my thinking, attitudes, and life. But in knowing my real identity, when I do have a temptation or sinful thought hit me, I recognize it as “no longer I.” That frees me up from self-condemnation, and also from self-commendation as I succeed at defeating temptation. The righteousness that is accessible to me by faith in the indwelling Christ is not my own; only God is good.

    So to close, really the only place we disagree that I can see is that I believe Jesus dealt with the sin nature at the Cross – the center and root of sin in the believer. The habits of sin remain, and must be dealt with on an as-needed basis as God shows us those areas – hence the need for militant holiness which is based on relying on the power of Christ that lives in us. It is a holiness that is by faith, and is completely efficacious in every situation if we will trust it. I also believe that the demonic forces know how to push our buttons, know how to give us just the right thoughts at the right moments to push us down the path of who we are not, and that recognizing them as the source of sin-thoughts is crucial to militant holiness.

    On one level some of this may seem like semantics. But knowing who we really are, what Christ has accomplished, is crucial to this idea of militant holiness. I will manifest what I believe – as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Back when I believed (as a Christian) that I was a no-good rotten depraved sinner, I acted like it. As I go deeper into my real identity, my thoughts, attitudes, and actions transform through that mind renewal.

  16. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Guys, I tried to cut the reply down and succeeded only in a minor way. It is hard to be brief on such an all-encompassing topic.

  17. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave, Mark, one last thought as I get back from my nightly walk. Whatever position we take on these issues, the main thing is to take Jesus Christ as the center and ground of our righteousness, and to trust him to be that righteousness within us. As long as we account his indwelling power as greater than temptation, greater than world, flesh, devil, as long as we rely on him to be the source of our virtue and character, that’s really all that matters. Having our identity straight is important, but only because Christ is the source of it; if we dive into him, we get everything else thrown in.

  18. Mark Anderson

    Ah don’t be brief Ron – it’s a good topic. I’m learning every day just what a reclamation project God took on when He accepted me in His Son. I had a vague understanding that I was a lost sinner when I was saved years ago but each day reveals new depths; each day shows me afresh how very lost I would be without Christ. And it seems that those who are much further down the road than I am in the Christian walk are still learning these things about themselves. I will hardly be the first to note that Paul describes himself in increasingly uncharitable terms – he goes from ‘least of the apostles’ to ‘chief of sinners’ in his own assessment over time.

    And its not coincidental that the greatest of men found themselves utterly undone in the presence of God. As I begin to appreciate who God is and how holy He truly is, the more I realize how dreadfully far short of His standard I come. Good thing then that the Christian life is all about fixing my eyes not on myself but on the author and finisher of faith.

    We have a wonderful Savior to dwell on and it’ll be a grand thing to do that tomorrow morning around a simple loaf and a cup – may you all have the same enjoyment of Him tomorrow and in the dark days to come.

  19. Dave

    Ron, Mark,

    This is a great discussion – I wish I had more time to give to it but I can’t right now. I think the main difference between Ron and me is how we view the change that is brought about with regeneration. Ron wrote:
    —–
    On the source of indwelling sin: originally, pre-faith in Christ,… is in the core and center of us – in the holy of holies of these human temples – in our spirit. That is where the sin disposition resides until we (literally) die with Christ on the Cross. When he dies, we die; when we die, that sin disposition goes out of us. … After regeneration, the sin habits in the psuche have to be flushed out.
    —–
    My disagreement with the idea that this sin nature or disposition that so completely dominated our lives before regeneration is gone and that our what remains are only old sin habits. My own experience is that the power of temptation remains very strong after regeneration. It has been knocked off of the thrown but it still seeks control. And one part of maturing in the faith is learning to submit to the Holy Spirit via the means of grace that the gospel provides. That is how we avoid falling back under the control of our sinful nature. Romans 8:12-13. “Brothers and sisters, we have a duty. Our duty is not to live under the control of our sinful nature. If you live under the control of your sinful nature, you will die. But by the power of the Holy Spirit you can put to death the sins your body commits. Then you will live.”

    Most of my thinking on this is not my own but largely comes from John Owen’s books on sin and temptation. Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Sin-Temptation-John-Owen/dp/1581346492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279579776&sr=8-1

    blessings,
    Dave

  20. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave, a couple of questions. Jesus did not have a sin nature. But he did have a sarx, a flesh: “Who, in the days of his sarx” etc. Adam, pre-fall, did not have a sin nature. But he had a sarx, a flesh – a soul/body.

    Yet both the first Adam and the last Adam were susceptible to temptation. The first Adam, and Eve, before they fell were tempted. And Jesus was “tempted in all ways like we are, yet without sin.”

    So temptability cannot be merely a function of the sin nature. It it something that is built into human nature, period, not the sin nature. The sin nature, as Eph 2:2 defines it, gives complete sway to temptation – whether the temptation to sin sensually or sin through self-righteousness. After Christ cleanses and enters the human vessel, temptation no longer has this full sway; Romans 7 is a testament to that. The regenerated human feels guilt after sinning, rather than merely self-justifying. I have known those who were not Christ indwelt who were completely unashamed in their pursuit of pornography; I have never met a Christian who was so.

    So something fundamentally changes. On that we both agree, I am sure. My question is why were Jesus and Adam (pre-fall) temptable without a sin nature? And also, what fundamentally changes in the person who puts his faith in Christ? What does it mean to die and rise in Christ? What does it mean when Paul says we are dead to sin, and dead to Law?

  21. Dave

    Hi Ron,

    First, my apologies for the long post. It’s probably a sign that I don’t understand all this well enough to explain my thinking in fewer words.

    Again, I really think our difference is in what we understand Paul to mean by “sarx” (the flesh). You see it as leftover habits and patterns of thinking & behaving that we fall into. I see it as an inclination to sin that is no longer able to dominate (we are no longer slaves) but it still has some power. (As I have argued previously, it had no power then there should be many Christians who no longer sin.)

    Now to your questions:
    1. why were Jesus and Adam (pre-fall) temptable without a sin nature?
    2. what fundamentally changes in the person who puts his faith in Christ?
    3. What does it mean to die and rise in Christ?
    4. What does it mean when Paul says we are dead to sin, and dead to Law?

    1. why were Jesus and Adam (pre-fall) temptable without a sin nature?
    You wrote, “So temptability cannot be merely a function of the sin nature. It something that is built into human nature, period, not the sin nature. ”

    Before addressing Adam and Jesus “temptability” let me offer a definition of temptation. In the context of our discussion I define temptation as an inducement to sin. The inducement is a reward that the tempted person would perceive as good (e.g. bread for Jesus when he was starving; sexual pleasure for King David), it may be a real reward or an illusion (lie) but some sin must be carried out to receive the reward. The sources of that inducement (according to Owen) may be “Satan, or the world, or other men in the world, or from ourselves, or jointly from all or some of them…”

    So then what is required in order for someone to be tempted (i.e. what is temptability)? Very simply it means that someone is exposed to one or more of these sources of temptation and that source offer a reward that the person perceives to be good. Eve was tempted by Satan, Adam was tempted by Eve. The reward offered was “you won’t die, you will become like God (lie).” Eve didn’t need a disposition to sin in order for the temptation to be real. In fact here disposition was certainly against sin to some degree because God was her benevolent provider. Christ was similarly tempted by Satan who offered good things: “bread”, “confirmation of God’s word.” and “authority to rule the world.” Christ’s disposition was wholly toward complete obedience to the Father because his relationship was one of unity in love and purpose.

    [Interjection: Owen’s wrote that it is critical to separate “temptation” from “falling into temptation,” and “sin.” He offers a strong biblical case that we fall into temptation when we fail to immediately reject the temptation but instead we give some consideration to the reward.]

    Now, back to comparing Christ and Eve…
    … both are offered a reward,
    … Christ it is food after 40 days of fasting (at this point the body has used up all reserves, death is a few days away at most and hunger which had diminished for many days has now returned with a vengeance.)
    … Eve is offered the promise/lie that she would become like God.
    … Christ responds by quoting scripture that states obedience to God is more necessary for life than his need for food
    … in contrast, Eve’s response was to consider the reward offered for sin: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

    Eve had fallen into temptation — she willingly considered rebellion against God. James 1:14 says “…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Eve willingly, without predisposition, gave full consideration to the reward of this temptation, an evil desire, and at that point she fell into temptation was lost. Adam fell in the same way. Jesus never gave any consideration to the reward attached to temptation but he rejected each temptation immediately. He never fell into temptation.

    What about Christians who have been born again? Are they like Eve before the fall? Are they like Christ? I think we can agree that believers are like Christ in one way, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. This means we have a union with God as Jesus was in union with the Father in Jesus’ time of temptation.. That is something that Adam and Eve did not have. God walked with Adam & Eve in the garden but the Holy Spirit did not dwell in them. Why then if Christians have the Holy Spirit working in them, do we still sin? Surely my desire to please God with the Holy Spirit empowering me to carry out that obedience is greater than some old sin habits – patterns of coping – in my psyche. No, there must be something in me that still desires to sin, something that resists the Holy Spirit – as Paul wrote “…the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Gal 5:17)”

    “Lusts” signifies a powerful desire The flesh and the Spirit are at war within us. 1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you…abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” If our sinful disposition was gone then why would Paul & Peter be warning us so strongly? It must be that we believers still have something of this sinful disposition within ourselves. If we do not walk in the Spirit then we will sin, we will sometimes produce some of those works of the flesh he lists in Gal 5:19 and we will sometimes fail to produce the fruits of the Spirit listed in verses 22,23.

    Your QUESTION 2: what fundamentally changes in the person who puts his faith in Christ?

    As you noted, Gal 5:24 tells us that “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” The flesh is crucified, Satan is disarmed (Col 2:14-15). Their once irresistible power to bring about our spiritual death is broken. Yet both are still able to tempt us to sin, so we must walk in the Spirit to keep from falling into temptation. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is another fundamental change — without Him we have not hope of growing in holiness. We would be saved from spiritual death but ignorant of where to go next–sheep without a shepherd.

    If we walk in the Spirit then we will not fall back under the power of sin. We must be on our guard by being careful not to neglect the means of grace that keep us in the Spirit (e.g. prayer, meditating on scripture, and hearing it preached, fellowship, and communion.) In our weakness we will still sin (1 John 1:8), and need atonement for those sins (1 John 2:1-2), but we can progress in our walk so that we “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Eph 4:15)

    QUESTION 3. What does it mean to die and rise in Christ?
    It means to be dead to the law. Romans 7:1,5-6 “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?… For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by,”

    QUESTION 4. What does it mean when Paul says we are dead to sin, and dead to Law?
    (see above) We are no longer under the control of our sin nature which is in enmity to God so it lusted to rebel against the law. We are no longer under the dominion of the law, so it cannot justly condemn us to death, even though we still sin.

    Thanks again for the conversation. It is helping me to sharpen my own understanding of what I’ve learned from reading John Owen.

    Blessings,
    Dave.

  22. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave, good points in many areas.

    James gives us a picture of what temptation is. “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust (strong desire), and enticed…” Okay – that’s temptation, not sin. We’re enticed. We want the thing we’re not to have. Our desires have been led down a wrong path, we want the thing, and it isn’t yet sin. Then James continues, “Then, when lust (strong desire) has conceived, it brings forth sin…” Strong desire in and of itself isn’t the sin; it has to be married with something. That something is Action, whether inner or outer, because a choice has to be made.

    Eve considered the alternative to trusting God. She looked and saw the fruit was pleasant and was desirable to make one wise. Was that sin? No. The sin happened when she made the inner choice to throw the switch of faith away from God and over to the Serpent. Of course, better to not walk down that road at all. As we get better at dealing with temptation we learn to walk away a lot sooner much of the time.

    In the case of Jesus, did he desire the thing? He was hungry – starving, even, and at a huge weak point after fasting so long. Make these stones into bread. His stomach is aching, his body is a mess and is screaming out for food, and he’s weak. Does he want bread? He sure does. And he’s hit with other temptations. Don’t do it God’s way. You can have all you want my way, the easy way. The world is mine and I have the authority to give it to whomever I choose. Worship me. Prove you are the Son of God by throwing yourself down from the Temple. Then everyone will see you and worship you as Messiah. No Cross. The easy way.

    Did Jesus want this? If he was fully human, sure he did. His flesh, like ours, desired comfort, desired to avoid pain. We’re made that way; we’re human. He was fully man as well as fully God. He had to operate as a man, or the verse “he was tempted in all ways as we are” is a complete sham.

    Or fast forward to Gethsemane. He was sweating, trembling. His heart was heavy. He didn’t want to go through with it. Didn’t want to go through with God’s plan? He knew it was the plan from the beginning. And he didn’t want to do it. “If there is any other way.” Shaking, sweating. Frustration with the disciples. “Can’t you guys stay awake just for an hour? I’m in dire straits here.”

    In the end, although he was begging for an alternative plan, he didn’t cave in. He made the choice.

    My point is that desire is not necessarily sinful, even when a sinful objective begins getting desire’s attention. We can be angry, and sin not.

    It isn’t that we can play around with temptation, but that we don’t have to condemn ourselves for feeling it.

    If every temptation Satan ever offered to Jesus was like offering a free bluegrass cd to Paris Hilton, Jesus was not tempted in all ways like we are, and cannot empathize with our weaknesses.

    But he can empathize, because his own flesh, his soul/body, was weak as well. It was created tempt-able, because God wants us to have the power of choice. We cannot choose without considering alternatives. That’s one of the reasons Satan is allowed to continue being here. He’s always giving the alternative to faith in God.

    Satan is always giving the alternative: You’re not dead to sin. See? You want it. You need it. You can repent later. He stirs up desire and entices us. But the desire itself isn’t wrong. Eve’s desire to be wise was not wrong; her desire for fruit was not sin. But she was fulfilling those good, legitimate desires in the wrong way.

    That’s what the devil does to us, and what he did to Jesus. God’s way is too hard. It’s not fair. God is holding out on you and making it all too hard. You can have it the easy way.

    His main deal is to convince us we are not dead to sin. He stirs up desire, entices, and then brings in the Law: he says, You ought not. It’s wrong. Control yourself.

    And when we begin trying to control ourselves, we’re sunk, because we’re not relying on the Holy Spirit as our Keeper. We step into an independent-me mentality, walking according to the soul-body, trying to pull itself up by its own bootstraps.

    I believe in the Cross, in Christ, Romans 6 says we literally died. What did we die to? We died to that old union in Eph 2:2, which is why Paul in Ephesians then goes on to say, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live, then, as children of light” – because we are. We’re not to listen to lies: See, you’re still alive to sin. You want this. Sinner. You’re not freed from sin.

    That’s why Paul says we are dead to sin in Romans 6, and then dead to Law in Romans 7. We cannot manifest deadness to sin if we think we have to exert our own human self-effort to be good. It’s a righteousness that is by faith, not by works of the Law.

    John also says, “I write these things to you that ye sin not.” Then, “If any man sin, we have an advocate…” Note the “if.”

    Fleshly lusts that war against the soul. I would be hard pressed to come up with a single desire that is wrong in and of itself. The object can be wrong, the the desire or attribute itself isn’t. Sexual desire. Ambition. Jealousy. Hatred. These things are not wrong in and of themselves if pointed toward the proper objective. If pointed wrongly, they war against the soul rather than purging and purifying it. This is why Lewis and others said evil is parasitic and not creative.

  23. Steve Thurstan

    This discussion has been very good. One of the best that I have ever encountered. And it seems like a lot of the confusion stems around the meaning of “flesh” (Gk. sarx) and what we can or cannot do now that we are in Christ. “I” (my spirit) is regenerated, my “flesh” (or physical body) is not, which is a common meaning for this Greek word “sarx” for “flesh” throughout the NT. But if one views the “flesh” in Romans 7 as still the old man or “sinful nature,” then this poses a problem for what Paul has just previously said in Rom. 6:6 about the old man (or the sin nature) having died and no longer being part and parcel to us; and with us no longer being slaves to sin but slaves to God and to righteousness which leads to holiness (vv. 17-21).

    If that is the case, which it is, then another alternative meaning around this conundrum of the Romans 7 man is to see Paul as referring to his unregenerate state while still under the law and still sold as a slave to sin, with Romans 7:5 forming the thematic statement and springboard for all that he says afterward. Understood this way, then it makes complete sense that an unbeliever (not a believer) cannot do the good that they want to do for the likes of themselves. In this light, the present tense “I am” does not pose a problem for anyone either when commonly understood as the historic present tense used in the first person singular here. Its more common usage is seen being used in the second and third person, with the first person being very rare. But it was used amongst some of the Greek philosophers of Paul’s day, as it was also just earlier used by Paul in Rom. 3:7: “But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?” (NASB). Of course, Paul was no longer being judged as a sinner. He was just using the Jews’ argument by placing himself in their position to make it more vivid and real to them—more personable as one who use to be a Jew in their shoes. John Calvin, John Stott, Matthew Poole, Princeton theologian Charles Hodge, and Greek expositor Kenneth Wuest (to name just a few) all see this verse as Paul using the first person historic present tense to personate these wicked objectors. But when it comes to Romans 7, they conceded otherwise. Strange indeed, that these men would argue otherwise in Romans 7, but then buttress its usage of Paul doing so in Rom. 3:7.

    Galatians 5:17 poses another problem for the believer if they view “flesh” here also as the “sinful nature.” But if “flesh” is understood here as our physical bodies that we must still contend with, then this idea of still having “the disposition of sin” (or the sinful nature) vanishes altogether. But there is even another alternative interpretation to this verse and the verses surrounding it, as I will explain below.

    Most agree that Gal. 5:16-18 very closely mirrors Paul’s thoughts in Romans 6, 7 and 8, but only in reverse and in a shorter outline form. Gal. 5:18, of being led by the Spirit and no longer being under the law, mirrors Romans 6, and especially verse 14: “For sin shall not be your master, for you are not under law but under grace” (‘84 NIV). Gal. 5:17, of the flesh desiring what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit desiring what is contrary to the flesh so that we do not do what we want to do, mirrors Romans 7, and especially verses 15-19: “For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do….For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…this I keep doing” (‘84 NIV). And, finally, Gal. 5:16 of walking by the Spirit and never ever (a double negative here in the Greek) gratifying the desires of the flesh, mirrors Romans 8, and especially verses 5-7: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (NASB).

    Verse 12 referred to by the gentleman earlier above of Paul speaking to “brothers,” should pose as no problem for us believers. Paul is not inferring that brothers and sisters in Christ still have a “sinful nature” (or are still in the “flesh”). He is just saying that we no longer have an obligation to it since we as true believers are no longer “in the flesh.” This is a statement of examining oneself of whether or not they are in the faith. If still in the “flesh” with a still prevalent “sinful nature” that practices sin, they will inevitably die. But if the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, we will inevitably practice godliness and surely live. This understanding of this verse is buttressed by all that Paul had previously just stated. He had just got through saying that what Christ has done for us, He did so that “the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4). And that we are “not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (v. 9). And it is after this last statement that Paul immediately follows with verse 12. To read this verse otherwise, is to read it only to one’s own personal destruction and not their edification at all; making them believe they are just as much prone to sinning as they are to living a holy life. Paul says the latter is to be preferred if one is truly “in the Spirit.” Recall verse 7, the one still in the flesh is “hostile” to God (like in Gal. 5:17), and “does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” Such a one is “not even able to do so! This sounds like the one that Paul had just got through describing for us in Rom. 7:18. But the believer “in the Spirit” on the other hand, Paul says, has been as a prisoner “set free” from the law of sin and death “in order that the righteous requirements of the Law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4). One is “not even able to do so”; the other (in Christ) is now able to do so.

    What Paul is basically saying above in Galatians, in tandem with Romans, is that when we are “under grace” and no longer “under law,” the tension described in Romans 7 and Gal. 5:17 are no longer ours for the taking. We CAN now do the good that we desire and want to do. And as St. John says, all those who are born of God no longer continue to sin (1Jhn. 3:9). And this is how we are to know if we are the children of God or not (cf. v. 10). Does this mean we can never sin? Of course not. But it does mean it is no longer our continual daily practice. We can now stop sin dead in its tracks. It can be a thought, but no longer a practice. We are tempted, but we are offered a way of escape. We may be led into temptation, but we can also be delivered from all evil. We die daily to sin before it ever gets a foothold in our lives. We nip it in the bud before it is ever allowed to bloom. This is the victory that overcomes the world, our flesh, and the Devil—even our persistent and persevering faith. And, by the way, when John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” he is referring to someone who is actually sinning and who is in denial of their sin (like Ananias and Sapphira). Otherwise, John’s statement in 1Jhn. 2:1 of writing these things so that we “will not sin” would be superfluous. Even for God to call Job “blameless” would be incorrect if Job was sinning daily; and this was the very thing that his friends were accusing him of as the reason for his plight. Job told them it was for “no reason” (9:17). God said it was for “no reason” (2:3). End of story. Away with such accusations to the contrary! But in listening to many so-called “Christians,” they would rather warm-up to the idea that we all sin daily as sinners, as a nominal Christian at best. “Blameless?” they say, “no way.” “Positionally? Yes! But practically? No way Jose.” We are all just sinners saved by grace. Nothing is different between us and the unbelievers except for the fact that we now have Christ and they don’t. But nothing has really changed within us, per se; except for Christ now dwelling within us, we still have the old heart (or old man and sinful nature) along with a new heart (or new man and new nature). The old heart or old man isn’t “removed” as God said it would be through his prophet (Ezk. 11:9; 36:26). According to many, it still remains within us. We still have a “divided” heart, contrary to what God has said through His prophet that we would no longer have (ibid).

    In both of these “alternative” views that I have presented above, the term “flesh” is left intact as is commonly defined in its ethical/moral sense as referring to “the sinful nature.” And rather than but heads with Rom. 6:6 and contradict it, these verses actually now compliment it, revealing the conundrum that we all found ourselves in before being saved. “Oh wretched man that I am (in such a state as that), who shall deliver me? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” But then Paul continues of his former state and life of one who use to be under the Law in Rom. 7:25: “I myself in my mind am a slave [Gk. douleuo, from doulos] to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (NIV). I like somewhat how the NLT renders this: “In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” And the Aramaic Bible in Plain English is also helpful: “I am a Servant of The Law of God in my conscience, but in my flesh, I am a Servant of the law of sin.” Essentially, Paul, as Saul, was a slave to two masters: to the law and to sin. Something that Christ said we cannot be (cp. Mat. 6:24). But Romans 7:1-6 goes on to say that all Jews who believe in Christ are released from that conundrum by dying to the law and to sin in order to faithfully be a loving slave to another, namely Christ. The Law and sin no longer “lord” it over a believer, as verse 1 in the Greek states; Christ now does as stated in verse 24.

    In conclusion, I would just like to say that all of you need a good healthy dose of reading my book called: Created In God’s Image, Not Adam’s! It deals with everything that is talked about in this discussion, and then some, being over 300 pages long. I also did a shorter treatise on this as a bible study guide, covering just Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9-10 and Eph. 4:22-24. It is called: The Old Man in Adam vs. The New Man in Christ. Both can be purchased through Amazon.

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