Man, Sin, Salvation: Part II

Man, Sin, Salvation: On Man’s State (Depraved)

In my last entry, On Man’s State, we saw that Man is a fallen creature, captured by sin, and under a death penalty, wholly incapable of doing anything about his predicament.

I would like to write more on what this means.

Total Depravity

Total Depravity refers to the whole of a person being depraved. It doesn’t mean that a person is as evil as possible. God’s common Grace keeps mankind in a sustainable mindset. That is to say, man is capable of creating laws, obeying them, enforcing them, and punishing wrong doers. This is not to say that there are no wrong doers or that those who ‘don’t do wrong’ are not sinful.

However, by God’s Grace, the world isn’t run on sheer chaos. Murder and rape, though it occurs, isn’t normal for the common man (though he is certainly capable of it). Too often though we allow the fact that we are NOT murderer’s, rapists, or adulterers (not in an action), to lull us into believing we’re not as BAD as some people.

Unfortunately, though, we are evil, and we are depraved.

Depraved By Nature
As fallen creatures, it is in our NATURE to be sinful. We are not sinners because we sin, we are sin because we are sinners. Ephesians has this to say about the natural man.

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

The natural man is DEAD in his sins. A dead man has no capabilities concerning life, motor skills, breathing, ETC, just as the man who is dead in his sins has no capability to NOT sin, to do good, or even to desire to do good.

What does that mean?

It means that as fallen men we are hopelessly dead! There is nothing a dead man can do about his condition. He isn’t simply ill requiring some medicine to get better. He is lifeless.

Such were we before we were brought to life, and a living man can do infinitely more than a dead man can.

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Wiccan Universalist

He’s a man I worked with in my former unit. A small, blonde, curly headed, blue eyed, Wiccan Universalist, “H” embraced his beliefs wholeheartedly.

He’s convinced beyond a doubt that there angels, demons, dragons, and dead spirits. He’s convinced that magic is a tool to be used for good or evil, and he’s convinced that no way is the right or wrong way.

He told me a story the other day in which he used to be able to set things on fire (his element is fire), but that was when he was possessed by a ‘blood demon’.

He went on to say that he had gotten rid of the demon a long time ago by performing an ‘exorcism’ (a New Age exorcism in which you just flush out the demon by expelling all of your energy/psychic power out of yourself and the demon goes with it. Not to be confused with the traditional, Christian exorcism of evoking Jesus’ name and casting the demon out.) on himself.

Apparently, though the demon was much stronger physically, he was not psychically strong enough (‘retarded’ was the word he used to describe the demon) to hold onto “H” during the exorcism.

At some point during the conversation though, “H” explained that you can be a Wiccan and still hold any sort of other beliefs.

“I’m not a Wiccan. I’m a Universalist…as long as you follow whatever you believe the best you can…” He went on to tell of the Spokes on the Wheel analogy, how every path leads to the center.

On magic, he said, “All it takes is faith. You can do anything as long as you really believe you can.”

Using his logic, I confronted him with these arguments:

“What if one person believes that his path leads to the center and that YOUR path leads the opposite way? If they contradict each other, who’s right?”

He responded by explaining that whoever is leaving right by what they believe, then they are right.

“What if I believe that I’ll be more powerful than anyone else by killing as many people as I can?”

He tried to bring law into the conversation at that point so I responded with, “But religion supersedes law since religion came before law.”

“Well”, he tried to counter, “A person like that wouldn’t exist for very long in this world.”

“But,” I said, “If by doing that, I become more powerful than everyone else, wouldn’t I live longer?”

The long and the short of this conversation was this: he COULDN’T and, indeed, WOULDN’T tell me that believing I would be more powerful by killing as many people as I could was WRONG! He had to agree with me.

Speaking of faith, I said, “So, if somebody jumps off of the empire state building but REALLY believes he can fly, he’ll fly?”

“It’s possible.”

He refused to see the logical implications of his own beliefs.

Following his own arguments to their logical end, his beliefs were shown to be foolish and absurd (though, he had no problem showing that himself) to those who were listening to us.

No doubt, we will encounter people with varying beliefs than ours. Some, very obviously, will be so absurd that they will easily crumble under logical scrutiny, and while that person may never see it, those who are listening in will see that, clearly deduced, such systems of thought simply DO NOT work.

The next time you talk with someone, don’t be afraid to discuss the matter with them. While they may never see the Truth, the Holy Spirit may be working on those around you, and their eyes may be opened to Truth.

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Choices; Regrets

At points in one’s life, one may look back in regret at some decision he made. Perhaps he made mistakes, made decisions in haste, rashly and with little thought to the consequences. These consequences may have been long lasting, still leaving one with hurt, pain, and regret.

Regrets may have powerful effects on an individual, and, may be, at times emotionally crippling.

The Christian, however, need not be crippled be past failures, mistakes, and regrets. While nothing can CHANGE the decisions that we made, we can rest assured that despite our bumbling, hasty, rashness, we will never thwart the Sovereign Will of God.

The Will of God will always be accomplished.

However, it is my opinion, that it will be accomplished one of two ways; the easy way, or the hard way.

As human, it is sometimes difficult to trust that God is in complete control. We, oftentimes, want to effect change ourselves, often because we are impatient or think we know best.

Yet, more often than not, when we forsake the Will of God and try to find OUR way to effect the change WE want to see, it leads to pain and regret. All too often, we stand in our way and make the most difficult path towards the future that we can.

God’s Will is not thwarted because we bumbled, tripped, and ‘fell’ towards the future, for we are told in Romans 8 that, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

As Christians, those ‘called according to His purpose’, all things work together for good, despite the pain and regret that may come with it.

If we had been patient, looking for God’s Will in things, we may have avoided the pain and heartache of bad decisions, though, it is true, being in God’s Will does not mean that you will avoid all pain and heartache, for, perhaps God’s Will is for His child to grow in endurance and wisdom?

Perhaps God allows us to search for our own way in order to show us that there is no way but His?

Nevertheless, the point is this: life will have pain, life will have regrets, but joy may be found in God’s Sovereignty, for, according to His purpose, He has called us, and, despite the pain and heartache we may endure, all things end well, and to the glory of God.

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Concerning Free Will

The Calvinist does not deny Free Will.

We deny that that Free Will does us any good.

When you are faced with a choice, how do you choose? Naturally, you choose that which is your greatest desire. Your choice will always be based on your greatest desire, and no choice you make will be based on anything apart from this.

Romans 3 :9 What then? Are we Jews [1] any better off? [2] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

11 no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

13 “Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 in their paths are ruin and misery,

17 and the way of peace they have not known.”

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

There is nothing in our natural parts that desires, or seeks God. We have all turned aside and we all seek our own way.

I say again, on our own, we are INCAPABLE of desiring God. That is our Natural, Sinful State.Paul has even more than that to say about the human state.

Eph 2 : 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body [1] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Not only does Paul again speak of us living in our passions, carrying out the ‘desires of the body’, he also says we were DEAD in SIN. Not comatose, not sick, or ill. Dead.A dead man cannot do anything unless he has first been brought to life (regenerated) by God. (verse 4), it is at this point that we are then capable of making decisions based on a desire that was not previously ours, it is then that we have a heart of flesh, and are able to be repentant, remorseful for our sins.

Ezek 36:22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. [1] 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.

God makes it very clear that every act of righteousness was propagated by Him. He vindicates, He sprinkles the clean water, He cleanses from the idols and unrighteousness, He takes the dead, stone heart and replaces it with a living, heart of flesh, He puts HIS Spirit in us and causes us to walk in HIS statutes and to obey HIS laws. Long story short is verse 29, He delivers us from uncleannesses.

As Paul says, Romans 9 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, [2] but on God, who has mercy.When mankind comes before God, begging forgiveness, and asking for Grace, he does because the Lord commanded His steps that way, he does so because the Lord took his stone heart from him and gave him a new heart and a new Spirit, he does so because God drastically changed the will of that individual to turn from his own fleshly, sinful, evil desires, and quickened him in the righteousness that Jesus brings to all who call upon Him.Is this unfair?We all deserve Hell. We are all under sin and not a single one of deserves salvation. God saves the elect ” in accordance with his pleasure and will” (EPH 1:5), and allows the rest to go their NATURAL way, after their own sinful desires ” to make known the riches of his glory” to those of us he graciously saved.

Paul would sum this up with:Romans 9 : 14 What shall we say then?(W) Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses,(X) “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,(Y) “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For(Z) who can resist his will?” 20But who are you, O man,(AA) to answer back to God?(AB) Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21(AC) Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump(AD) one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience(AE) vessels of wrath(AF) prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known(AG) the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he(AH) has prepared beforehand for glory— ,

God, as Creator of the World, has EVERY RIGHT to do with us as He pleases! He is GOD! Just because you struggle to understand, or because you think it’s ‘unfair’, doesn’t change one very big thing: You are a lump of dirt that God created for His own pleasure, and He will do with you whatever pleases Him.You are, from the moment you are conceive, a sinful creature on your way to Hell and that is your natural, well-deserved fate. God, in an act of Mercy, graciously takes the heart of some and replaces them with hearts of flesh and puts a new will, and a new desire in him.

We are only able to come to Him once He has drawn us.

We wouldn’t want to come to Him apart from that. We are too busy chasing our own evil passions, satisfying our lusts, and following the desires of our bodies.

I think God for the grace He extended me, through no merit of my own, but because it brought Him pleasure, and I am able to more fully understand His Grace and Mercy simply because He did NOT ordain us all to salvation.

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Man, Sin, Salvation: Part I

Man, Sin, Salvation: On Man’s State

On Man’s State

Since the dawn of time (or, shortly thereafter) man has been in a quandary; fallen from Grace, removed from that paradise he was placed in. He is short of redemption and has found himself on death row with a jury proclaiming his guilt and a holy Judge dropping the gavel.

How did man find himself in this position? What events were orchestrated in what fashion that lead him, blood stained, before the jury?

Man’s Offense

Shortly after creation, man found himself in a paradise with a beautiful woman. They had it good. The whole place to themselves, trees, gardens, fruit, flowers, large carnivorous beasts reduced to mere cuddly animals. It was heaven on earth. That’s the way God intended it.

There was only one rule: don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:17). The world was theirs to inhabit, to have dominion over, and that was the extent of their restriction.

But there was another there whose purpose was Chaos and his weapons were Deceit and Pride. He is referred to only as the serpent (Gen 3:1).

He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” (HCSB Gen 3:1)

The woman, having never been beguiled, being perfectly innocent, converses with the creature on which trees they may eat from.

“…about the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.'” (HCSB Gen 3:3)

“No! You will not die…In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (HCSB Gen 3:4-5)

…So she took some of its fruit and ate [it]; she also gave [some] to her husband, [who was] with her, and he ate [it]. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked… (HCSB Gen 3:6-7)

Lead astray by their desire and the beguiling words of the serpent, Adam and Eve both eat of the fruit. They trespassed against the only Law that God had given them. They were perfect, innocent human beings. Yet, even in that perfection, they chose sin!

Now man stands before the Judge with the same bloodstained, betrayal on his hands: trespassing against the law that God instituted.

Man’s Guilt

Man’s guilt is two-fold. Firstly, it is genetic, passed down through generations of men starting with the first man, Adam.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is there is life-giving justification for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (HCSB Romans 5:12,18-19)

Through Adam’s sin, sin passed upon us all. For we, were we in Adam’s perfect state and mind, would have made the very same decision that Adam made. How can we say that we would have done differently? Are we better than Adam? Or was Adam imperfect? No. Neither we, then, were we in Adam’s position with his mindset and created perfectly, nor any human creature apart from Christ able to do differently.

We are guilty, secondly, because we have sinned. Whether or not we are as guilty as Adam makes no difference.

“For all have sinned…”(HCSB Romans 3:23) “…There is no one righteous not even one…There is no one who does good, there is not even one.” (HCSB Romans 3 10, 12)

So then we cannot say, “Why must I pay the price for something I cannot help. Adam has sinned and condemned me! I am not responsible!” Are you sinless? Have you not sinned yourself? Do you not, every day, choose for yourself what pleases you? Do you not lust and kill? So then you are guilty and condemned of your own sin as well!

One must look no farther for the guilty party than to look at oneself. He is condemned not only because of Adam, but because he too made the decision to eat the forbidden fruit.

Man is guilty and must pay the price for this guilt.

Man’s Sentence

Man’s sentence is singular, simple: death.

Paul neatly concludes his treatise on man’s sin and God’s salvation with this statement.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (HCSB Romans 6:23)

Apart from the intervention of God, Man is in a state of sinfulness and guilt. The sentence that hangs over the head of man is death.

Man is under a declaration of guilt for his inclination towards sin and the logical and justified end of that sin and guilt is death. In addition, man is placed in a state of eternal separation from God in a supernatural holding cell known as Hell.

The end of Hell is a lake of fire.

“And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (HCSB Revelation 20:15)

Man is seemingly in a state of no hope, sinful, guilty, and headed for death and Hell.

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