Paul's Passing Thoughts

A.W. Tozer – Passive/Aggressive Man Of God

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 18, 2018

The Bible does not have a single perspective on sin. Protestantism defines sin as a transgression of the law, maintains that definition throughout scripture, and applies that definition to believers as well.   When considering the meaning of a word, proponents of Systematic Theology will often look to the earliest usage of a word in scripture as the root definition. This is interesting considering that the first time “sin” is used in the Bible it is described as an entity that seeks to wield control over another (Genesis 4:7) and not a transgression of the law.

Sin seeks to control others through condemnation. This desire for control by Sin manifests itself with man himself seeking control over others in turn. You can be sure that if someone is wielding an accusation against you – if they are trying to condemn you for something – they are trying to control you.

What passes for the Protestant gospel these days is nothing more that an insidious desire to control through condemnation. Yet the Protestant gospel also keeps believers enslaved to the law as well under a false pretense. Sometimes such a notion is thinly veiled, as seen in the following Facebook meme:

Is it just me or does anyone else see the implicit condemnation in this meme? The message should be clear; Jesus loves you despite the fact that you are a filthy rotten sinner. In reminding us about Jesus’ love for us, the author takes a subtle jab at reminding us of our presumed “depravity”. This is nothing more than a passive/aggressive guilt trip. It is an attempt to guilt people into accepting the gospel (read “coerce”). Notice that the sentiment is ambiguous enough so as to be applicable to Christians as well as the unregenerate. It ought to be just one more piece of evidence that reveals the real Protestant doctrine regarding justification; that salvation is an ongoing process that must be maintained by continuous “faith alone” in Jesus’ work to obey the law in our stead and cover us with His imputed righteousness.

In contrast, the Gospel of the Kingdom is not a gospel of condemnation. It is a gospel of Life! Jesus never used condemnation as a means of coercing people to accept the gospel. In fact, Jesus Himself said that it was not His purpose to bring condemnation.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” ~ John 3:17-19

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” ~ John 5:24

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.’” ~ John 8:10-11

Because believers are now the born again offspring of the Father and are no longer under law, there is therefore now no condemnation! (Romans 8:1) It is not only erroneous to remind believers of their so-called “depravity” but it is outright evil because it is an attempt to control. Notice that according to this meme, as you think about your sin you should be reminded of how much Jesus loves you and what a great price was paid for your sinfulness. It is the cross chart all over again. This meme makes a pretense of Jesus’ love while driving us to focus on sin either wittingly or unwittingly. When sin becomes the focus the only result is fear of condemnation.

As believers, our focus ought to be on love, and love IS the fulfillment of the law. The reality that we are no longer under condemnation is incredibly freeing. We do not have to worry if we “mess up” in the weakness of our flesh because the law cannot judge us. It allows us to serve others by aggressively pursuing love. Furthermore, it informs our gospel message. We do not need to guilt people into accepting it. They are already aware of their guilt one way or another. Our gospel must be one that provides a solution to guilt. The Gospel of the Kingdom is one that provides man a way out from under the law and does not continue to condemn him by it. And that is not only refreshing, it is full of hope!

~ Andy

6 Responses

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  1. Wayne said, on June 18, 2018 at 12:31 PM

    Can you help me you understand the difference between the thought of the meme referred to and Romans 5:6 – 11? What am I missing? They seem to me to be expressing the same idea. Thanks

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    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on June 18, 2018 at 12:57 PM

      One would have to consider the intended audience for this meme. Is it directed towards believers or unbelievers? But in either case, what is the point of telling someone Jesus loves them despite their sinfulness other than to remind them of their sinfulness? Where is the hope in that? “Ok, Jesus loves me…so what?”

      The Bible does not teach believers to dwell on sin but instead focus on loving God and others. Moreover, the Bible does not even refer to believers as “sinners”. In fact, we learn from 1 John 3:9 that the one who is born of God CANNOT sin (for reasons that have been covered at length on this blog.)

      The only reason the apostle Paul makes mention of this is in the context of building his case for justification and describing the former (…while we WERE yet sinners…) state of believers prior to being born again. This meme makes no such argument. It only serves to pile more guilt upon an otherwise already guilty conscience.

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      • Wayne said, on June 18, 2018 at 1:12 PM

        I do believe that as Christians God does not view us as sinners. We are saints, yet at times we still sin (fall short of Godliness). And I am grateful that There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. I am also grateful that God loves me unconditionally. It brings me hope that He is a loving God towards me even though I still am not yet made perfect in this body. I do look forward to that day.

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      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on June 18, 2018 at 1:37 PM

        The Bible defines”sin” for the believer as a failure to show love. This perspective of sin is different from that of one who is unsaved. For those who are under law, sin is a transgression of the law and results in condemnation. God doesn’t love us in spite of ourselves for no reason whatsoever. He loves us (believers) because we are His dear children. Perfection is irrelevant. In fact “perfection” in the Bible is better understood as maturity. For all intents and purposes believers ARE perfect because we are God’s literal offspring, not because of anything we do or don’t do. Righteousness is a state of being, not because of some declaration or legal maneuver.

        Incidentally, you cannot say that God loves “unconditionally” because that would invalidate love. God loves mankind for mankind’s sake. This in itself is a condition of love; that man must be man, meaning his identity as an individual being and therefore having value. This is the very reason why God made a way for mankind to be reconciled to Himself; because He values man.

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    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on June 18, 2018 at 9:06 PM

      First, great post; second, Romans 5:6-11 makes Andy’s point to a “T.” Roman’s 5:6-11 shares some words with Tozer’s Platonist trash, but is far from saying the same thing.

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  2. John said, on June 18, 2018 at 5:09 PM

    Sigh. I took one look at the fridge magnet reformed/Calvinist nonsense meme and the hipster and his mandatory beard and silly fashion, and memories came back: “Remember you are precious in God’s eyes, you worthless worms!” And people bought that, hook, line, and no thinker.

    Andy, the Reformed’s god Luther has said they are both sinners and saints, and so it shall be in the land of the gospel/manmade beliefs from the land of eternal darkness where Calvin, Luther, the liar MacArthur and every, but every Calvinist liar resides.

    Have you hugged a Calvinist lately? Not? Don’t worry, God still has a plan for your life, it’s just so darn weird that he always tells a third person about it and not you. Gee, that’s personal and very objective, not to mention accurate and bogus bollocks.

    Saint and sinner? Schizophrenic much? Psychotic much? Well, that’s what you get when you’re in bed with the devil (within this context). By the way, I am two things in one, but please don’t tell anyone: I am half-man, half-biscuit.

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