Question #1: Hi Doc! I had asked in bible study that is loving our neighbor is all we have to do and we're ok? and the teacher said yes, if we truly love our neighbor then we are not going to break God's law and pointed to Matt 7:12. And some people said that God cleanses us from all sins, past, present and future which I agree after studying what you had wrote on sin. But I believe that there are consequences for sin. I don't think that there are eternal ramifications for it because God's love for us is not contingent on our lack of sin. But there are always consequences for sin. Do you agree?
Response #1: Yes I generally do agree with what you say. The first thing I would point out is that when Jesus gives us the "golden rule" in Matthew 7:12, it is prescriptive as well as proscriptive. That is, it not only means that we should NOT do anything to someone else we would NOT want them to do TO us, but also that we SHOULD do FOR someone else anything we would want them to do FOR us. Thus in His discussion with the teacher of the Law when Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment, He replies that it is to "love God" but that the second near in importance to it is to "love others as ourselves" (Matt.22:35-40). Everything "hangs on these two commandments" because if we truly love God, we will refrain from doing whatever He does not want us to do, but will also conscientiously do whatever He does want us to do; and if we are truly "loving our neighbor as ourselves", we will likewise both refrain from harming them while not failing to do for them whatever good we should. The first or "negative" part of this equation involves our Christian "defense" or sanctification, wherein we follow the Spirit's guidance to avoid the works of the flesh (Gal.5:16-21). The second or "positive" part of this equation involves our following of the Spirit's lead to produce fruit for the Lord (Gal.5:22-26). This second part does involve good as opposed to bad behavior, but it also involves personal spiritual growth and the production or "fruit of the Spirit" that follows which helps "our neighbor" or fellow believer in Jesus follow the same path of sanctification, growth and production as well (cf. Jn.15:1-8; Rom.7:4-6; Col.1:10). Please note: by "good" it is important to understand that we are talking about God's good, not human good. What people consider "good" is often quite different from what is divinely good in truth. First and foremost, our neighbor's good is his/her salvation; for those who do believe, their spiritual growth and production is the number one priority our actions should support. This does not mean that traditional "good deeds" are out of the question (far from it); rather it means that traditional "good deeds" are only good in fact if they have the divine motivation of aiding salvation and spiritual growth at their core (and actually do contribute to that process, at least potentially). All the sacrificial charity in the world cuts no ice with God if it done for self-serving or otherwise incorrect motivations. No unbeliever will get to heaven through "good deeds" (please see the link: "The Last Judgment"); this life is all about Jesus Christ.
As far as the penalty for sin is concerned, what you say is true. Only Jesus could actually "pay" the penalty for sin. We could never be qualified to do so ourselves because we are not perfect -- and Jesus did pay the penalty for all sins which were, are, and will be committed in human history (please see the link: Unlimited Atonement). Therefore personal sin is definitely not an obstacle to our eternal salvation unless we make it one. Now no believer, no matter how spiritually advanced, will ever be completely above sinning since we will all continue to live in bodies corrupted by the sin nature as long as we abide in this life. But as believers, we are supposed to be growing, supposed to be following Jesus, supposed to be getting better not worse, supposed to be learning how to "put off the old man (i.e., sin nature)" rather than embracing it (Rom.6:6; Eph.4:22). If instead of responding to the Spirit, we decide to go our own way and sin with impunity, we will do ourselves very great damage. It is important in such discussions to draw a distinction between occasional failures (which all believers have) and a life of unrepentant, chronic sin. Even the greatest of believers like David, Elijah, Moses, and Peter and Paul were not perfect -- they all had a few signal failures which are recorded for our edification and instruction: if they could be tripped up, who are we to assume that we can be sinlessly perfect? Therefore the correct lesson to draw from their experiences is the need to be especially careful in the way we live our Christian lives. When it comes to less dramatic and less catastrophic sins and failures, these are more regular occurrences (though as I say the idea is that over time and with growth we become on balance less susceptible to failure and more resistant to it even though we will never come close to perfection). In all such cases, God provides us with the mechanism necessary to be restored to fellowship with Him and our Lord Jesus, namely, confession of sin (see the link: "Repentance, confession, and forgiveness" in BB 3B). However, even though Jesus died for all of these sins and paid the penalty for them in full, that does not mean that we will have no consequences for our sins. There are "natural consequences for sin (link to BB 3B)" and divine discipline for sin is a fact (link to BB 3B). So the consequences for sin are serious (in proportion to the seriousness of the sinning). But the matter becomes one of a threat to salvation only when a believer is so deep into rebellion against the Lord that they come to a cross-roads where they will either repent or reject His authority completely. If they take the latter road, the result is inevitably either apostasy (if they abandon their faith) or the sin unto death (if they persist in rebellion as believers): see the link in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death". But as Paul tells the Ephesian believers in the context of describing such extreme rejection of the Lord's authority, "you did not learn Christ this way" (Eph.4:20). Christians who are seriously investigating and giving ear to these matters are almost never the ones in danger of anything so extreme.
Please also see: "Christian Love"
Hope you find this helpful.
In the One who died for all our sins, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
Someone had told me this, and I never heard this position before.
"When a person gets saved there is a new creature inside of them "born of God" that cannot sin. However, we still have the flesh until the day we die. But that which is "born of God" that is inside the believer cannot sin. There are then two natures. We choose to either mortify the flesh (that which is NOT born of God which we still have) and thus allow that new creation make our decisions or to give into the flesh. Our flesh is not born of God and can still sin. So if we continue in the flesh (which is not "born of God") then God will more then likely mortify the flesh for us and take us home early."
Here is more on what is throwing me off.
"Was your flesh born of God? Can your flesh continue in sin? Was there not scriptural examples of people who continued in sin? (1Cor. 5; Solomon; Samson; Romans 7) The Bible does not use the word "new nature" but uses the word "new creature". No where in 1 John does it talk about birth of a "new nature" but it does talk about birth of a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision,but a new creature.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
However, Paul makes it very clear that we still live with the flesh(Romans 7). So contextually, if Paul is talking about the flesh of the believer in chapter 7, then that would tie into what is being talked about in chapter 8."
Is any of this true? What do you think?
These are somewhat involved issues which are somewhat controversial. There is much more on "regeneration" in the forthcoming part 4B of the Bible Basics series: Soteriology (see the link), but as that is available only in excerpts, I will give you my take here in brief.
To begin, I don't find the two positions given in the two e-mails the only alternatives. It is true that scripture does not say we have a "new nature". But as to the "new creature / new creation", scripture says we are "new creatures / new creations", not that we have "picked up" some new tertium quid within our essential composition. Here is what I have written about "the new creation" in BB 3B Hamartiology:
Created anew: Our new life has given us a new standing with God. We are no longer sinful in His eyes. For believers, life has begun again anew, and is now to be lived for Jesus Christ apart from sin (2Cor.5:17; Eph.2:10; 4:22-24; Col.3:9-10; cf. Rom.12:2; Eph.2:15).
We believers are, like all human beings, composed of a material and a spiritual part (i.e., a body and a human spirit; see the link: "The Creation of Man" in BB 3A: Anthropology). The difference is that believers are "regenerated" (Matt.19:28; Tit.3:5), "born again" (Jn.3:1-15), "passed from death to life" (1Jn.3:14). What all of these phrases have in common is that they are refer to our possession of "eternal life", the key point of difference between believers and unbelievers. God considers us "spiritually alive" and no longer "spiritually dead", so that the curse of three-fold death (see the link: "The Three Aspects of Death" in BB 3B) that has existed for all human beings after the fall has in our case been overturned through Jesus' sacrifice and the grace that has as a result been made available to us through faith. That is why Jesus can tell Martha "He who believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die" (Jn.11:25-26): physical death is no longer an issue for us as believers because instead of being spiritually dead we are now spiritually alive and now possess eternal life (although we cannot now experience that eternal life to the full since we are in bodies with sin natures instead of in our future resurrection bodies), and instead of the second death we will experience our eternal life to the full forever. It is true that many things change for us at salvation, especially because now all believers receive the Holy Spirit when they believe. But we don't get a new human spirit, or a quickened human spirit, or a new "soul", or a new nature -- what we get is "fresh start" for our heart, and that is a very important thing. Here is what I have written about that in brief in Peter #26:
At salvation, everything becomes new. The hardness and darkness and senselessness of our inner-selves is done away with in the instant that we accept Christ as our Savior. We get a new lease on our spiritual lives -- in a moment of time. Our hearts are "cleansed by faith" (Acts 15:9), and we can now perceive God's truth. We have, in a sense, "new hearts" (Ezek.11:18-21). The former state of unbelief has passed away, and in Christ we are "new creations", with hearts untrammeled by the previous hardness and blindness (2Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15). This essentially means that the power of the old attitudes of negativity against God, all the old shackles on our spiritual perception, are broken, and we, our faith, is free to pursue God without hindrance. Along with the gift of eternal life we are given the chance and opportunity to think in accord with that pure life. This does not mean we now know everything we need to know as believers -- far from it: we still need to grow spiritually. But it does mean that we are now not hindered from doing so. God has given us a clean start in the heart. We must always be on our guard, however, against the reestablishment of the old, bad attitudes that alienated us from God in our state of unbelief.
As to Romans chapter 7, Paul is talking primarily about the state of the unbeliever who wants to do right (i.e., his situation as an unbeliever trying to follow the Law). It is only possible to do God's will through the power of His Spirit, and it is only possible for believers, those who possess eternal life and who are no longer spiritually dead, to do so. Romans 7, however, has important applications for believers too, since we are still here in life, still on the battlefield, still with sin natures in the flesh, still subject to sin and temptation, still imperfect, still prone to failure. When we give our allegiance over to sin (cf. Gal.5:16-17), we act as if we were unbelievers, and the things of Romans 7 apply to us -- until we repent and confess and are forgiven and cleansed and resume our walk up with the Lord up the high road to Zion (see the link in BB 3B: "Repentance, Confession, and Forgiveness").
As I say, these issues are somewhat involved, so please feel free to write back about any of the aspects above. You will find a great deal of related information at the following links:
"Spiritual Rebirth" (in Peter #19)
"The Believer's dealing with sin" (in BB 3B) -- includes important "changes" in believers
Hope this is helpful.
In the One who died for us that we might have eternal life and have it to the full, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks for clearing the issue up on God's hatred, it makes so much more sense now. I have a question concerning those who have cast out demons but were unsaved.
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
And then consider:
Mark 3:22-24 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them [unto him], and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
Jesus said "How can Satan cast out Satan?" Then in Matthew 7:22, how can those people cast out devils in the name of Jesus and still be "workers of iniquity" ? If casting out devils in the name of Jesus is a good thing then how can both good and evil be served at the same time and if casting out devils in the name of Jesus is not a good thing, then how can Satan cast out Satan?
James 3:11-12 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet [water] and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so [can] no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
Jesus also tells them in Matthew 7:21-23 that he "never" knew them. They were always unsaved. This really confuses me.
Always glad to help. On this latest question, allow me to start by focusing on Matthew 7:21-23. Some of the other passages are not necessarily directly applicable in that there are other issues of interpretation going on and I don't want to confuse what I see as the primary issue here (but feel free to write back if I don't answer all your concerns). The first and most important thing to note about this passage (and the close parallel in Luke 13:24-27) is that Jesus is addressing unbelievers, and most definitely not believers:
1) they are called "those committing lawlessness" in Matthew (anomia, "lawlessness", is sin: 1Jn.3:4) and "workers of unrighteousness" in Luke (adikia = the opposite of righteousness; cf. Heb.1:9 in the original Greek ms.). Note that these are not people who "occasionally" sinned, but rather people who are sinners, doers of unrighteousness, "by profession" (similar to the way in which believers, who do sin occasionally, are "non-sinners" by profession: cf. 1Jn.3:6).
2) they are not going into the kingdom because as it states in the previous verse only the person who "does the will of My Father in heaven" are saved / go into the kingdom (Matt.7:21), and the "will of the Father" is for everyone to believe in Jesus Christ and have eternal life (Jn.6:40).
3) as you point out He says "I never knew you" and in the Luke passage "I don't know where you're from".
So even based on the claims these people make in Matthew (i.e., even if we believe what they say, although our Lord doesn't seem to in the context), there is no indication that they ever were believers. Now if the "great things" these unbelievers claim they did were done as unbelievers, then they have no true merit with God. In the Luke passage, these people stress their familiarity with the Messiah while He was on earth, but in the Matthew passage they make some rather extraordinary claims. Even if these claims are true, however, because whatever they did will have been done not through the Spirit of God for the glory of God but through the energy of the corrupt flesh for their own personal motivations and glory, none of these so-called "good works" will count for anything before God (please see the link: "The Last Judgment"). In fact, trying to "work your way into heaven" is a gross insult to the Almighty, because it not too subtly suggests that 1) God can benefit from what you do and I may do (i.e., that He "needs us" in some way; see the link: "Satanic lie #3: 'God needs me' " and "The Distinction between Sin and Evil"), and 2) it suggests that what Jesus did on the cross wasn't good enough: you won't accept His perfect sacrifice but bring your own disgustingly foul works to lay before Him instead (just what Cain did).
Viewed in this way, I believe the question then resolves into just what these people had done. Aside from the exorcisms, they also claim to have prophesied and done miracles. Prophesying is speaking God's truth through the power of the Spirit, that is, being a direct mouth-piece for God; miracles or "powers" here are the significantly overt and undeniably supernatural kind, and while unspecified, no doubt include healing in ways that defy the natural order of things (as Jesus healed). Personally, I have my doubts about their claims. They may very well have held exorcisms (people still do this and are doing it with ever increasing frequency -- but without, so far as I can tell, any divine mandate, true spiritual gift, or actual success); they may very well have sounded off in an ecstatic state, but did they really proclaim a message from God by His Spirit?; they may very well have put their hands on the sick, but were those so ministered to really healed as a result? All of these things and similar things "happen" today too. In fact, an entire branch of Christianity is consumed with these matters, and as far as I can tell absolutely no such miracles, prophesying, or genuine expulsion of demons is really taking place at all. Many of the people who do these things are deceivers with various levels of self-deception. Some have apparently convinced even themselves that what they are doing is legitimate, but God is never deceived. The point is that if believers can engage in such questionable practices and proclaim and perhaps even believe that what they are doing is legitimate, certainly it takes no stretch of the imagination for us to assume that many unbelievers in Jesus' day had convinced themselves that they too were "working miracles" and that these "good works" guaranteed them a place in the kingdom of heaven. But, on balance, I find nothing in the protestation of these (obvious) unbelievers to convince me that they had actually accomplished what they claim. Certainly the Bible doesn't verify their claims, and Jesus never even bothers to answer them on these terms. I would suggest that they fall into the category of those today who make similar or identical claims, without these claims, however, having a stitch of truth behind them.
But let us assume that "somehow" some of these things were real -- or that the people who were doing them really believed they were real. Jesus' words to them in that case strike like lightning and have the following essential meaning: "Even if you have truly cast out demons, prophesied God's truth, and performed miracles of healing, if for all that you have not believed on Me, then you are lost; you cannot come in to the banquet in the kingdom but are instead shut out in the darkness. Nothing you could ever do of yourselves could ever save you, even if it truly were as miraculous as you claim. Salvation comes from accepting Me and My work; anything else is not of God but of the devil".
Hope this helps too!
In the Lord Jesus by faith in whom alone we have the eternal life in which we stand firm.
My friend had wrote this and I thought is was nice to read but am not sure if there are mistakes such as "faith" being a sense. This is what he wrote:
"Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. We all treat the word "fool" with contempt but what do you think it really means? If we don't sense God is there or if we can't tell if God is there, what does that make us? If you look at the root word, it means to treat with contempt, to regard or treat as foolish, to fall wither and fade. The word "nabal" for "fool" means "senseless" and I thought that I read somewhere "dullness" but I can't find it. If you don't know there is a God and there is, it is because you lack the senses that we have which is "faith" but if God is there and you can't tell it is because many people lack the senses. "Fool" should really have a second corresponding word in English for those who are negative towards God because nabal can mean "impious", "ungodly", and "wicked" but men can become that when there is no fear of God. When these definitions were formed, we have to remember that men were standing in the day that God was doing miracles, parting the Red Sea, feeding the children of Israel in the wilderness and people still rebelled. There are probably twenty categories or more that I could give you for the existence of God like archaeological evidence, predictive prophecy, etc. I don't know what your knowledge on these things are. But at many job sites, there are signs that say there are at least three causes of accidents: "I didn't think, I didn't see, I didn't know". Who would disregard these three things? A fool? Can you see God? Can you always think of God? Do you know God? There is going to be a day of reconing at the end of this life when the books will be open and people will hear everything you ever did whether it is good or bad. If you want those bad memories erased, God can forgive you now but if you want to reject God and mess with things you don't know, you can continue living life by never looking and that would be dullness or living life without all of your spiritual senses. If you want to know more, I recommend calling on God and challenging God to make Himself known to you by God's way."
What do you think?
I would certainly agree that it is "foolish" not to believe in God, and "foolish" as well not to accept and faithfully follow Jesus Christ, the only way of salvation, if you do believe in God.
However, it should be pointed out that every human being comes to the point of realizing that there is a God (see the link: "Natural Revelation").
God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness - on men who suppress the truth [about God] in their unrighteousness. For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His - [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity - so that they are without any excuse: they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness. Claiming to be wise, they became foolish, for they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images and likenesses of corruptible men, of birds and beasts and reptiles (i.e., idolatry).
The fact that after realizing the existence of God many if not most people either 1) exchange the true God for false gods, or 2) blot out the knowledge of God altogether, is certainly "foolish", but it is informed stupidity: no one who has done so will be able to claim ignorance at the last judgment, for "God has made Himself known", but they have filled their own senseless hearts with darkness, and have thus by their own free will efforts become foolish even as they think themselves "wise".
Please also see these links:
Proving the existence of God
Natural and Special Revelation
More on Natural Revelation
In our Lord Jesus,
In the Adam and Eve story in Genesis, it seems to me that Adam scapegoated Eve, who in turn scapegoated the serpent.
Does this make sense to you?
As to your question, if by "scapegoating" you mean that Adam blamed Eve, I think that is certainly true. Adam says "the woman YOU gave to be with me gave me", insinuating moreover that not only was it Eve's fault, but that God was somehow responsible for helping to create the situation in the first place. Adam clearly had a guilty conscience. Eve's situation is a little less clear on that score, for she what recounts are just the facts: "The serpent deceived me and I ate". Since Adam was not deceived, his feelings of guilt are all the more intense; Eve was tricked. Of course that does not exculpate her sin. They both sinned. They both fell. The fact that Adam did so out of a clearly understood choice (i.e., sin with Eve or lose Eve) while Eve had no idea of the implications of what she was doing is the basis for the sin nature coming down through the male line (and the reason why a virgin birth was both necessary for our Lord's humanity to be untainted and also capable of producing an untainted human body).
There is much more about all this at the following links:
The Fall of Man (in BB 3A)
The Fall and Human Sinfulness (in BB 3B)
The Incarnation and the Virgin Birth (in BB 4A)
Have a happy new year in Jesus Christ!
Hello Dr. Luginbill!
This is awesome, thanks so much for your work. I've finally made it up to Part 3 of the Satanic Rebellion and am getting so much out of it. I'm looking forward to completing the series, and with Part 5 completed, I'm hoping it will provide me with greater incentive (and not a little more commitment) to continue. -O little foxes that ruin the garden, the bane of human existance, begone :-/!
Small correction for Part 3, pg. 50:
"Of all the marraiges that have since transpired...is the only one of which we can (say) of the bride and groom..."
Question: re: pg 47, that "Satan undermined Eve's resolve by appealing to her arrogance" - if this is correct, it would seem that Eve's first sin was arrogance (?) Isn't arrogance a sin? How did Eve all of a sudden become arrogant? What is the underlying foundation of arrogance? Pride? Where did all this come from, Eve? I thought you sinned by eating the fruit. Now I learn that you were arrogant too. How disappointing! ;-)
**** A doctrine of pride & arrogance needed*****
Thanks for your e-mail. I very much appreciate your kind words. You are also right that "arrogance" is not the right word for it. There is a part in everyone of us that likes to be flattered, that responds to stimulus of the sort the devil was dishing out. That is not necessarily sinful in and of itself; rather how we respond has the potential for sin. I should have said "ego".
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.
Proverbs 27:21 NIV
I will get to these changes soon. Thanks again for your help and for your enthusiasm!
In our Lord Jesus,
Hi again Doc!
Today I hearing a sermon on King Solomon's wisdom and him turning to other gods. I don't understand why or how Solomon can turn to other gods if God gave Solomon his godly wisdom?
I've got a few responses such as Solomon had great wisdom from God BUT he CHOSE not to use it. I find that difficult to fathom because why would anyone who had true godly wisdom choose not to use it? is that wisdom? to me, that sounds foolish which is a contradiction of true Godly wisdom. What do you think?
Platonism claims that if we really know what is good and right we will do it, so that all wrong-doing is the result of ignorance. But that absolutely runs afoul of everything the Bible has to say. Satan knew exactly what he was doing. He saw God face to face in all His glory and still chose to rebel. Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. He knew it was a mistake to choose Eve instead of God, but he made the wrong choice even so. And as Christians, especially as growing or mature Christians, every time we sin aren't we doing something very similar? We know God's Will but we choose our own will anyway.
Of course Solomon's sinful conduct was more than a one time, or reactive sin of relatively minor consequence. He chose repeatedly over time to put his own interests and the influence of his many foreign wives over what was good and right. This only goes to show that everything we decide while here on earth is of the utmost importance. Therefore it is not what the world thinks of as important that is important; rather it is what is going on in the hearts of all God's moral creatures that is truly important. Every good decision we make in favor of the Lord and His truth will stand forever for His glory and our reward. Every bad and sinful decision we make will be burned up -- praise God that we who persevere will not be burned up with them! Solomon did "know better", but knowing is not enough. It takes the exercise of our free will in response to God to glorify Him. Many people know what is right. Doing what is right is another thing altogether. The entire human race "knows" that there is a God and "knows" that they must come to Him for eternal life, but in the history of the world the vast majority of people have chosen to spit this knowledge out and live their lives out completely apart from Him. A critical part of the image of God, our ability to choose, is our corresponding ability to be able to deny the truth when we choose, to put truth and reality to death and to replace it with a "truth" and pseudo-reality of our own making. Were we unable to pervert and harden our hearts in this way, it would indeed be impossible for us to make decisions which contradicted the truth and ran afoul of wisdom.
It should therefore come as no surprise that even someone like Solomon blessed to have incredible wisdom so as to be in absolutely no doubt about the horrible consequences of his folly might still pursue folly. The pressures are great to do so. But that, after all, is why we are here; that is why there is a human race in the first place: to demonstrate the justice of all that God does and has done through the choices made by the creature He has created. The Satanic Rebellion series explores this principle in great detail, and there will shortly be much more about these matters in the forthcoming part 4B of Bible Basics: Soteriology (see the link for excerpts currently available).
In the only wise God our Savior and His Son our dear Lord, Jesus Christ.