Paul's Passing Thoughts

Understanding the World Through Under Law and Under Grace: Part Four; Sin

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 30, 2017

By Paul M. Dohse, PPT Editor

The Beginning of Sin

Ezekiel 28:12 – Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.  13 Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. 14 Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. 16 By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. 18 By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee (ASV).

Isiah 14:12 – How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! 13 And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall gaze at thee, they shall consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 that made the world as a wilderness, and overthrew the cities thereof; that let not loose his prisoners to their home? 18 All the kings of the nations, all of them, sleep in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But thou art cast forth away from thy sepulchre like an abominable branch, clothed with the slain, that are thrust through with the sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a dead body trodden under foot. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, thou hast slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall not be named for ever. 21 Prepare ye slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers, that they rise not up, and possess the earth, and fill the face of the world with cities (ASV).

Sin originated in an angel created by God. Revelation 12:4 may indicate that he led a rebellion in which 1/3 of the angels followed him. We know that some indeed followed him in rebelling against God. This is the origin of sin.

The Sin Question 

Did God see sin coming, and moreover, did He create sin? Of course, the metaphysical possibilities here are endless, and what we are going to do is stick with what we know objectively, yet, I will pause here to throw a few pennies into the philosophical coin jar. Unlimited possibilities does not necessarily equal a deficiency in creation. God doesn’t know everything because the word “everything” implies there is a limit to knowledge and that limits God. Knowledge in the eternal realm can’t have a beginning and an end because that limits God’s ability to know. God for certain knows everything, but everything has no end. And knowledge in God’s creation can have no bounds because that limits God. Unforeseen results aren’t the point, eternal knowledge/possibilities with no limitations is the point.

What God creates is good, but has unlimited possibilities, and that doesn’t make it ungood. Is God able to create something with unlimited possibilities, or must he limit His creation because it could cause Him some sort of trouble? Predestination presumes God is limited. He must control everything lest His own creation becomes a metaphysical boomerang. Before God created Lucifer, did He have knowledge of evil? If so, where did that come from? Or, is God unlimited by the unlimited? If God is unlimited, why does he need predeterminism? In contrast, freewill suggests God can’t be limited in any way by His own unlimited creation. Nothing created by God is a threat to God because of His unlimited power and intellect. God is unlimited in every respect.

That’s the long version of, “We probably don’t know.” But I do know this: I was teaching a Bible study one night for a Reformed church I was a member of and suggested that Christ didn’t know some things. Where do I get that? Among other places in the Bible, Mark 13:32. I tell you, the claws came out like you wouldn’t believe. The hostility was unreal. I was thinking, “Wow, are these folks going to start getting physical with me?” Yet, Christ plainly stated that there were things He didn’t know—get over it! When God visited Abraham and told him that He only knew what was going on in Sodom because of reports brought to Him, is that what He meant or was He just sporting with Abraham?

This is where we get into a discussion of God being limited by attributes assigned to Him by men. God is omniscient; therefore, he cannot… not know something. I beg your pardon, God can choose to not know something if that’s His desire—He is not limited by so-called omniscience. Look, I didn’t write the Bible, if God says He doesn’t know something that’s good enough for me.

But this is interesting, a Reformed person, actually more than one, has protested to me that by making the assertion that Christians are functionally righteous is to attribute an attribute of God to us, in essence, making ourselves God. Let me clarify this idea: they are saying that righteousness is an attribute of God like omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To say that we, as Christians are actually righteous in the truest sense is like saying that we are also omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. By being righteous like God our Father we make ourselves God. Interesting.

Another interesting note is this response we hear from time to time: “That Bible passage couldn’t be saying that because God is ________” (fill in an attribute assigned to God). This is eisegesis not exegesis.

Meet Sin

The primary catalyst of sin, or agent of sin, or the arms, legs, and feet of sin, is DESIRE. Take note of our first major bullet point in defining sin: it’s an unrighteous, or misplaced desire. Lucifer desired to be a coequal with God and put a plan of insurrection into place that led to a rebellion in heaven.

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

For our purposes in this study, we want to focus on, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Satan created a misplaced desire in her mind, and when the desire was acted upon, sin was conceived and it brought about death. Let’s now go to James 1:12ff.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sin is a Master Who Pays Death Wages

Sin’s primary desire is to control others (Gen 4:7). Why? Because that’s what sin does. It can be argued that total inability/total depravity is just a theological/metaphysical excuse to fulfill a lust to rule over others. The condemnation playbook executes this scheme: “Since you are totally depraved and unable, you need a ruling class to take care of you and think for you, and we need to be richly rewarded for saving mankind accordingly.” This has always played well with the masses in the condemnation realm albeit with ongoing disastrous results…for the individual.

Sin’s Use of the Law

Sin uses the law to condemn people which empowers sin. The power of sin is its ability to condemn. It uses the law for this purpose. Somehow, sin is able to use the law to provoke people to sin. The primary catalyst for this is sin itself. When sin has the ability to condemn via the law, the sin master is able to create desires within the individual that are contrary to the law. When individuals obey these desires, the degree and intensity of the desires increase to the point where the individual is unable to say no to the desire; the intensity of the desire is too intense. This is also known as “lust.”

Christ died to end the law’s condemnation. When this happened, sin was stripped of its ability to enslave; sin was stripped of its power. Though sin still resides in the mortal body, its ability to create lust in the believer in a way that enslaves is eradicated. Addictions in the believer can only happen, and do happen, through ignorance, weakness, and spiritual laziness.

Romans 6:5 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Colossians 2:13 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

1Corintians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Seven Exchanges of Salvation

In the transformation from light to darkness, there are seven radical exchanges; masters, the old us for the new us, condemnation and love, free will, wages, atonement/ending, and bodies.

Keep in mind that Protestant orthodoxy denies all Seven of these exchanges.

The first is most obvious; masters. Christ has purchased all people from the sin master with His blood; choosing to remain under the sin master is just that, a choice. Christ’s purchase has freed all men to choose. Christ died to end the law’s condemnation, and all people are born under the law’s condemnation; therefore, Christ died for everyone. Hence, Christ purchased everyone from the sin master.

Hebrews 2:9 – But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
1Corinthians 6:20 – for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The new birth is the literal spiritual death of the old us and resurrection of the new us; “ALL things are new.”

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

We are no longer under the law’s condemnation leading only to death, but now that same law brings us more life, and life more abundantly. Nothing has changed here from the old covenant to the new; the lawful use of the law (1Tim 1:8) leads to life and the unlawful use of the law leads to death. This was the gospel of Moses that had much glory but is being replaced by the “better covenant.” Instead of condemnation, the born-again believer loves the truth and God’s law (2Thess 2:10, John 17:17, Psalm 119) as opposed to formerly being indifferent to it, and obeys it for the express purpose of loving God and others. This is the exchange of condemnation for love.

At least one biblical definition of freewill is most interesting. Those under the condemnation of the law are free to do good, but enslaved to unrighteousness leading to an overall direction of indifference to God’s law and enslavement to sinful desires that vary from person to person. Those who are born again are free to sin, but enslaved to righteousness leading to a contrary direction of life. This is a reversal of freewill. Unbelievers can do good according to the law of God written on their hearts, but unfortunately, as discussed prior, it only leads to less condemnation in the end.

Romans 6:17 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Apart from believers foolishly lending their bodies to unrighteousness leading to possible chastisement from God and the world, in eternal considerations, believers can only earn life wages while unbelievers can only earn death wages. These death wages cannot buy eternal life. However, though eternal life cannot be earned, the believer can earn rewards.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

Note that God would be “unjust” to overlook the work of a believer. This is employment lingo; God would be an unjust master to not pay wages earned.

The old covenant was a covering for sin until “faith came” (see Galatians chapter 3). The new covenant is an ENDING of sin. Sin was imputed to the Old Testament law until Christ came and ended its ability to condemn. All religions other than Biblicism proffer a system for covering sin and deny a biblical new birth. Protestantism is guilty of this as well. Our sins are not merely covered—they are ended.

The new birth exchanges the use of our bodies. Previously, our bodies served the “desires of the flesh.” The “flesh” has two meanings in the Bible; it can refer to the material mortal body, and it can refer to whenever the body is used for sinful purposes, BUT, the “flesh” is not inherently evil as part of the material world. “Flesh” is a neutral term referring to the material body, but defined by purpose and use.

IN FACT, the body of the believer is a holy temple indwelled by the Spirit:

1Corinthians 6:15 – Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sine a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

A careful word study will reveal that the “temple” referred to here is actually the Holy of Holies within the temple. The purposes for the body differentiated by the two masters are exchanged. The body of the believer is sanctified and is to be used for making living sacrifices unto the Lord:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

This defines sanctification; our whole lives are worship, and our bodies are the temples we use to orchestrate that worship.

NEXT: Understanding the World Through Under Law and Under Grace: Part Five; Eschatology, the Other Salvation

One Response

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  1. John said, on May 30, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    A great study, Paul.

    “However, though eternal life cannot be earned, the believer can earn rewards.” Like Frequent Flyer miles but just a million times better. Or more. And they don’t expire!


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