Paul's Passing Thoughts

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 2, Defeating the Enemy, “Who Are We?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 1, 2015

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Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Blog Talk Radio False Reformation. This is your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to call in and add to the lesson tonight, the number is 347-855-8317. You will hear me say, “You are on the air. This is your host, Paul. What is your question or comment?” and just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional.

Per the usual, we’ll be checking in towards the end of the conclusion of our presentation and try to get a conversation going with Susan about the topic at hand to kind of round everything out.

The subtitle for tonight is, “Defeating the Enemy.” Last week, we met the enemy, “sin.” This series is about how we grow in our Christian lives and a big part of that is defeating sin, but that shouldn’t be our major focus. I have come to believe that we have been trained mentally to be sin-focused in our Christian lives rather than love-focused. The reason for this will be discussed shortly.

But our focus tonight is on who we really are as Christians. In regard to the stalwarts of Protestantism, who did they say we are? Well, Simul Iustus et Peccator, simultaneously saint and sinner. And trust me, that describes Protestantism in a nutshell: the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s of humanity. You ever wonder why the church is such a mess? It’s full of people who profess to have split personalities—how obvious is that?

Interestingly, many psychologists believe that split personality, or dissociative identity disorder is the biggest responsibility escape mechanism afoot in our culture. Hey, we just recently witnessed that in the American sniper murder trial, right? The guy who murdered Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield claimed innocence by reason of split personality. “Hey, the other guy did it, not me.”

This is so prevalent in the Protestant church, and worse yet, it’s drilled into the churched youth as well—“I’m just a sinning saint, and the sin did it, not me.” “Sorry I said that to you, I was in the flesh. Now that I am in the spirit, I feel really bad about it.”

Now, actually, that’s not authentic Protestantism—that’s Protestant Light that came alone in later years because our natural bent is to interpret God’s word grammatically, and the Reformers never meant for us to interpret our Bibles grammatically. Their prescribed method of interpretation matched their gospel. Simul Iustus et Peccator never meant that we had a split personality, what it really meant is that Christians remain unchanged and totally depraved. First, we need to understand how our spiritual forefathers defined us, and then we will discuss how the Bible defines us. Defeating sin begins by knowing who we are. And by the way, how can we even believe a true gospel if we don’t understand a true biblical definition of man?

Simul Iustus et Peccator does not mean that we are both saint and sinner at the same time. Another way of stating this is perhaps the more formal version, simul justus et peccator. This means simultaneously just and sinner. The saint is not changed, he/she is still a sinner, but the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith alone.

Said another way, we don’t change; only God’s perspective on us is changed. Christ died for our past sin, and therefore our past sins are imputed to Christ who paid the penalty for sin, but from then on, our sins are covered by the righteousness of Christ. This is known as double imputation. We don’t change, only God’s perspective in regard to us changes.

And so with this formula Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.

~ RC Sproul, simul justus et peccator, www.ligonier.org  June 26th, 2012

Indeed, that is the heart of the Protestant gospel. We remain unchanged, but by faith alone, we receive God’s Christ perspective. And by the way, when it gets right down to it, the Catholicism that Protestantism came from believes little different in regard to justification; the difference is really not even worth talking about. That’s why the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was possible—you can barely slip a playing card between the two gospels. In both cases, justification is a process, and not a finished work, and the sin of the sinner is lessened in sanctification, but we still remain short of the glory of God which is synonymous with a justified state of being. If salvation makes the “believer” just that is what both Catholics and Protestants call “legal fiction.”

Why? Because as Christians, we still sin, right? And look, here is the problem: the church is under the same classification as the world; i.e., “sinners.” “But Paul, we sin less than the world.” Oh really? Who is to say? Where is that standard? Besides, look at the real world: you will be hard pressed to make that case on any wise. What a confused mess!

So, who are we? Are we different people who really change, or merely people who are seen differently by God? Are we new creatures, or merely seen as God’s children when He looks at the world with His Jesus glasses on?

Here is the answer: we are different if we are really Christians. We are not only declared righteous, we are not only seen as righteous—we are righteous. Obviously, the idea that we are still classified as sinners is going to greatly hinder sanctification. “As a man thinks in his mind, so is he” (Prov 23:7), Right? You know what, so much of my and Susan’s life is consumed with the fallout of this reality right now; in our lives, and the people that we counsel.

Bottom line: the Holy Spirit is not going to unleash His power in people who think they are still sinners. Susan and I are constantly trying to minister to people who have been told all of their lives that they are sinners just like everyone else that Jesus sees differently. In regard to the worst that society has to offer, we hear, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” And then we wonder why our kids have to learn everything the hard way. They are absolutely befuddled until the trap door lets loose underneath their feet while on the short end of a rope around their neck.

How does this work biblically, this whole notion that we are righteous beings? I think the best place to start is with a proper definition of sanctification elements. First of all, the flesh, or “members,” or “body” is not inherently evil. Listen carefully: the flesh is not biblically defined as “evil,” it is biblically defined as, “weak,” and “weak” is not necessarily evil. Christ was weaker than he was when He was in heaven with God, does that make Him evil? Hardly. Christ was weaker while not in His full glory; yet, He was completely holy. The elect angels are called “holy angels” (Mark 8:38), yet they are weaker than God, right?

Being weaker than God does not equal “evil.” God’s omnipotence doesn’t necessarily correlate 100% with His holiness.

Hence, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is ‘weak’” (Matt 26:41). Christ said the body is weak, but He didn’t say it is evil. And get a load of this: creation, even post fall, is “good.” This is what I am trying to say: the Gnosticism that Protestantism was founded on, the whole material is evil and spirit is good construct drives a lot of the anemic sanctification of our day and years past.

For example, creation is still both weak and good.

Romans 8:19 – For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

And…

1 Timothy 4:4 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

And…

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

So this can be the first point here in regard to who we are as Christians, we are weak, yet good. Let me add another definition: We are saved spiritually, our souls are righteous, but we await another salvation—that of the body. See it in the passage that we just read?

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Redemption is not salvation/justification. Redemption is glorification, or the complete renovation of our mortal bodies. It is salvation from weakness. It is when our willingness is set free to serve God in immortality. That’s redemption. This is important because when we are reading in our Bibles about salvation, we must interpret the passage according to which salvation is being talked about; justification or redemption. Let’s look at an example.

Romans 7:24 – Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

By the way, the word for “wretched” in this verse is a Greek word that means perseverance in the midst of affliction. Paul isn’t calling himself wicked, he is stating that he is afflicted by sin and longing to be saved from what? Right, the body of weakness. That’s redemption. Let me point out another verse to make an additional point:

2Corithians 5:9 – So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (NIV).

The goal is the same whether we are here in these weak bodies or in heaven—we make it our goal to please Him. Let’s add yet another point: the body is not evil because it can be used to serve God or sin:

Romans 6:13 – 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.

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.

How about this one?

1Corinthians 6:19 – What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (KJV)

1Corinthians 6:13 – The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 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.

Ok, as most of you that read my blog know, I normally use the ESV unless otherwise stated. In regard to my citation of 1 Corinthians 6:19, I read from the KJV because most translations have “a temple,” or “a sanctuary” etc.  “The temple” in the definitive is the better rendering. This gets more than a little interesting because more times than not when the word “temple” is used in the New Testament, it refers to the Holy of Holies. A good example of this would be Revelation 11:2 and 11:9:

2 …but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

In both cases, the exact same word that is used in 1Corinthians 6:19 for temple is used in these two verses out of Revelation. If you note Rev 11:19, the ark was located in the Holy of Holies, or the most holy place. 1Corinthians isn’t merely saying that our bodies are a run-of-the-mill temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, our bodies are likened to the Holy of Holies. Something to think about.

When the Bible instructs us to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy, that’s because we are holy. That’s who we are. We are aren’t sinners saved by Grace, we are saints saved by grace. Note Hebrews 10:

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

This is a call for Christians to boldly enter the Holy of Holies which only the high priest of Israel could do on the Day of Atonement once a year after washing his entire body. The only reason we have access there is because we are in fact holy. Entering by the blood of Jesus means that His death removed the veil that separated us from the most holy inner chamber.

We are holy as our father is holy, but isn’t that legal fiction because we still sin? No. Last week, we met the enemy, sin. It is important to note that sin dwells in the flesh, but sin and flesh are not one. When the Bible speaks of the “desires of the flesh” or the “sinful flesh,” it is speaking of when the body is being used in the service of sin rather than a holy sacrifice to God. Romans 6 makes it clear that Christians are no longer enslaved to the sin master, but are now enslaved to righteousness. They have traded one master for another.

Last week, we also discussed the fact that there is a reaping and sowing among the lost and saved. Christians can suffer present consequences for obeying the sin master that no longer has jurisdiction over us. In severe cases, especially sexual sin, this can lead to physical death (1Cor 5:5, 11:30, 1Jn 5:16). In the case of the unregenerate, they bear fruits for death in the present and eternal. Christians should not fear eternal judgment, but we are commanded to fear present consequences (Phil 2:12, 13, 1Thess 4:3-7, James 5:9, 1Pet 4:17, Acts 5:1-11, 1Jn 5:16).

On the one hand, when the unregenerate sin, present death and eternal death are being compounded, on the other hand, when a Christian sins, only the death of present consequences are being sown. This is where we add another definition in regard to sin: there is sin that leads to more and more death culminating in eternal death, and family of God sin that reaps present consequences. Excessive family sin leads to the forfeiture of a rich entry into God’s kingdom resulting in a fearful shrinking back at the appearance of God (Eph 6:1-3, 2Pet 1: 9-11).

Also, the sin that formerly dwelled in the unbeliever died with Christ, and enslaved, but when the believer was resurrected, a remnant of the former sin somehow remains in the body, but has been stripped of its ability to enslave. I am not saying that I totally understand it, but Romans 6:20 seems to describe it as a reversal of freedom and slavery. We were formerly enslaved to sin and free to do good, but now we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

But that sin does NOT count towards our status as God’s children. As His children of weakness, we sin against our heavenly Father which also grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), but the only reason we sin is because we are clothed in weakness where some sort of remnant of sin exists. Some suggest that it is merely the habits of the old you that are in your memory—there are many different theories that fall short of being concrete.

Nevertheless, our souls are righteous (2Pet 2:8), and sin is an unfortunate choice when it gets right down to it, and not enslavement—the masters have been changed. You have been bought by the blood of Christ from the Sin master. You are considered holy because you are enslaved to righteousness (Rom 7:25; the word for “serve” in that verse is douleuō which means bond slave). Actually, Romans 7:25 is stating that Christians are enslaved to the law of God. Hence, they are considered holy.

Let’s pause here and add another element along with a biblical definition: the new birth is a literal death of the old person with Christ and a resurrection unto a new person with Christ (Romans 6:3-14). The saint is considered righteous and holy because he/she is no longer enslaved to sin. This staus is not forfeited because of the weakness and remaining sin that has been stripped of its status and ability to enslave. We are the actual offspring of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1John 3:9).

In conjunction with the new birth, I would like to conclude with the legal proclamation by God that declares us sinless. We are not only anthropologically holy, we are legally holy—we are just. How does that work?

Before we died with Christ in the new birth, we were under law. Every sin we committed was imputed to that law, also known as the law of sin and death, and were reaping fruits for death stored up for the final judgment. Now, I know that the Bible says that Christ was also born under the law, but so what? That wasn’t a problem for him because he could keep all of it. That’s just another way for the Bible to state that he was born into the world as a man like everyone else—under law.

In Romans 7:1ff, we find that when we died with Christ, the old us that died with Him was under that law, so guess what? According to Paul in Romans 7, it’s like a marriage covenant where one of the spouses died. The living spouse is no longer obligated to that marriage covenant, and is free to enter into another covenant.

The resurrection with Christ enters the recipient into another covenant—the new one; specifically, the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). Along with the new birth comes a desire to love and obey the new covenant which is really a different perspective from the law’s point of view.

Hence, the believer is free to aggressively love God and others through obedience without fear of condemnation. The sin we were once enslaved to is not the focus, love is. Why would the focus be on the former slavery and not the present freedom?

It makes sense that if we don’t change, sin, failure, and our depravity would be the focus. I fear that we empower sin in the lives of Christians because we give it far more attention than what is warranted. Sin shouldn’t be the focus, love should be the focus. God is love (1Jn 4:16), love matters more than sacraments (Gal 5:6), casts out fear (1Jn 4:18), covers a multitude of sins (1Pet 4:8), is the only gift that will not pass away (1Cor 13:8), and is greater than faith and hope (1Cor 13:13). The idea that Christianity is a “lifestyle of repentance” is egregiously misguided; Christianity is a lifestyle of love. The past bondage is not emphasized in the Bible; the freedom we have to love is what is emphasized.

Next week, we will talk about the particular applications of what we have learned. How do we do the Christian walk?

“How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3, Doing the Christian Walk”

Notes added to the audio version:

To the Ruling Elders of Southwood:

On September 4, 2011, our daughter and her family from Atlanta were here and we attended the Sunday worship at Southwood.  After the service, our 13 year old granddaughter, who is well grounded in scripture, stated that she was very confused by the message.  She had come away hearing that every good thing she does is wrong.  Why would she believe that?  We have gone back and listened again to that message, entitled “Duh,” and here is what we found:

The message is from Galatians 3:1-6. Paul is chastening the church for falling prey to the persuasion of the Judaizers, exhorting them again that God’s love for them was not by any of their own works but through the miraculous work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Jean seems to take the written word beyond its intent.  He subtly changes ‘God’s love’ to ‘God’s favor.’  He changes legalism to performance. He takes Jewish law and extends it to almost any action one does.  Here are some paraphrased quotes from the sermon.  “To keep God’s favor, the Galatians were believing they needed Christ and a dash of obedience which looks like those things called Christian disciplines. Christian walk Christianity is from the Devil. Faithfulness is feeling condemned for work you haven’t finished (as contrasted with faith: resting completely in Christ). Faith is a litmus test for teachers and leaders; the difference between faith in Christ alone and faithfulness is like the difference between truth and falsehood, between Heaven and Hell. Faith alone is all we will teach.” (Here Jean says this is what Paul is teaching but he gives no supporting scriptures to support his interpretation.) “Discern as false any book, sermon, or Bible study where you hear a dash of self justifying obedience.  Self justifying obedience is from Satan.

Jean’s statements, combined with the tone and inflections in his delivery, imply that he is scornful of Christian disciplines, preachers, Christian writers, the Christian walk, obedience, faithfulness, good works, and an individual’s efforts.  This message can lead to the conclusion that everything we do is evil and, by extension, that God and the Holy Spirit can do nothing through us.  The message lacks balance and leaves sanctification out of the equation.  A new believer under this teaching would be moribund after accepting Christ, hidebound in fear that he can do nothing right.  While it is true none of us have all pure motives, it is also true that God commands us to go forward and that the Holy Spirit will be with us.  God says we are His instruments for spreading the Truth.  We cannot do this if we are strapped by guilt; we can do this if we seek partnership with the Holy Spirit.

From here Jean goes back to Paul saying “…since you were 100% depraved when you were brought into the Kingdom by the Holy spirit and by no works of your own, why are you trying to be perfected by your own human efforts?  You are being deceived by the Devil.”  I believe Jean is paralleling Paul in this.  Jean then goes on to “We are like alcoholics ; we use Bible study, prayers, small groups, etc. as a crutch and the church rewards our ‘addiction’ with its approval.  How would you know if you were addicted?  Stop everything.  If you feel anxiety, then you are afraid of leaving your ‘fix.’”   So we ask: what does God have us do?  Jean’s answer is “rest totally in Jesus.”  So in turn we ask, what does Scripture say about resting totally in Jesus?  But we hear no clear answer from the pulpit.

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Unless sanctification is rooted in justification and constantly returns to justification, it cannot escape the poisonous miasma of subjectivism, moralism or Pharisaism…. Since the life of holiness is fueled and fired by justification by faith, sanctification must constantly return to justification. Otherwise, the Christian cannot possibly escape arriving at a new self-righteousness. We cannot reach a point in sanctification where our fellowship with God does not rest completely on forgiveness of sins…. Christian existence is gospel existence. Sanctification is justification in action.

~ Present Truth magazine: Volume 16, Article 3; http://www.presenttruthmag.com/archive/XVI/16-13.htm

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The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.

We say again, Only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

~ Present Truth magazine: Law and Gospel; Volume 7, Article 2, Part 2

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 1, SIN, Knowing the Enemy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 23, 2015

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Good evening, this is your host Paul Dohse and we have a lot to cover tonight. So, if you would, obtain your Bible, a notepad, and a writing utensil of your choice.

Tonight, we are going to cover the basic fundamentals of change in sanctification. We are going to focus heavily on the biblical definition of words used in the Bible that explain how we change in our Christian living.

This ministry believes that Christians really change to the glory of God in a lasting and meaningful way. Protestants, that is, Protestants who really know what Protestantism is about DO NOT believe that people change in a meaningful way pleasing to God.

But here is the rub of the deception: Protestantism defines change as perception only. FAITH is defined as a seeing only. You ever heard the maxim, “Perception is reality”? “But Paul, I have heard these guys say, ‘faith works,” Right, BUT what do they mean by that? In other words, who’s doing the works? Trust me, not us, and I have that in print all over the place. Early on in this ministry when I was the darling of many so-called “Old Calvinists,” they used to say to me, “Paul, it’s like the New Calvinist’s are saying that Jesus obeys for us.” Well, that’s exactly what they are saying, but we are not going to get into how they supposedly make that work in this study. Suffice to say that Augustine, Luther, and Calvin borrowed from Eastern mysticism to make it work.

Tonight, we are going to focus on the real deal. Look, at some point we stop seeking to prove people wrong, shake the dust off of our feet, and let the dead bury their own dead. I am almost to the point where I am saying, “Let’s get the home fellowship networks going and all but completely ignore the perpetual drama of the institutional church.”

Let’s start our study with the word, “sin.” What is “sin”? As Christians we need to stop more often at the four-way word stop and stop running stop signs with presuppositions. Here is what we do with words like sin: we see the red word sign coming and we drive right by without a pause while saying, “Sin is doing bad stuff.” Good is good; sin bad.

Where did sin come from? What is it? How does it function? To not have a complete understanding of sin greatly cripples your ability to understand sanctification. Listen, you don’t need to be a Bible scholar, all you need to be is a wordsmith. All you need to do is remember to stop at the word signs.

Let’s go to the Scriptures and first look at where sin came from:

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).

Also,

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.

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. Knowledge in God’s creation can have no bounds because that limits God. Unforeseen results isn’t the point, eternal knowledge 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 that 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.

That’s the long version of, “We simply 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 silly 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 the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Interesting.

Now, back to what we know definitively and can actually apply to our lives in order to please God and experience wellbeing. We are hunkering down on the word, “sin.” We are going to jump ahead a little bit and mention the primary catalyst of sin, or agent of sin, or the arms, legs, and feet of sin, 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 in authority, and put a plan of insurrection into to place that led to a rebellion in heaven. It could even be argued that he wanted to surpass God in authority, if “authority” is the right word. The concept of “authority” might have been misconceived by Lucifer to begin with.

At that point, God doesn’t decide to immediately destroy Satan and the angels who participated in the rebellion. Some angels rebelled and others didn’t, I believe this is the metaphysical principle of freewill in action. We often hear it argued, “If I had a choice, and I chose God, that makes me better than the guy who didn’t choose God.” But wait a minute; didn’t God create all of the angels equally good? He did; equally good and with an equal ability to choose. Choice is just that, “choice.” It’s a created ability, not a predetermined outcome. If it’s a predetermined outcome, why would it be a choice? At this point, why wouldn’t God just put an end to the rebellion and call it a day? Did God predetermine that something He created as good fall into sin? I doubt it.

Next, we have Satan approaching Eve in the garden and using the catalyst of sin, desire.

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.

When we obey a sinful desire (we will revisit the obedience of sinful desires in much detail later), some sort of death comes about. In the life of a Christian, this death can be very subtle. Obviously, Christians can choose to obey sinful desires to the point where the death is not so subtle, but more times than not the death is subtle. Unkind words to your spouse may seem like a little sin, and it may be so trivial that she covers it with love, but where does the subtle death take place? Probably in the bedroom. Hey guys, let’s jettison ahead and toss up an example of how we are going to be able to help Christians with the word of God in the future as we tap into the unchartered territory of sanctification. When a fellow brother has ED, yes, it might be a medical problem, but it may also be the result of deaths. And even if it is medical, what led to the medical problem? Let me ask you a question: is eating a desire? And, is the third trip to the buffet a good desire or a misplaced one? Eating is a good desire until it becomes overeating, or an escape. Some people drink a 12-pack, other people will just grab a spoon and a whole half-gallon of ice cream. Right?

With that said, let me throw out another principle: we never judge, we eliminate (James 5:13-16). Indeed, Christians can suffer, and even be overweight due to difficult circumstances beyond their control, but you always eliminate death choices as one of the possibilities. If these principles are emphasized in home fellowships it will enable families to counsel themselves. No one knows their own life better than them. Ironically, formal biblical counseling has saturated the institutional churches and its popularity is exploding, but all that tells me is sanctification hasn’t been properly taught for years. Young men go to seminary to learn how to counsel, not to equip so they don’t have to counsel. What’s up with that? If the average Christian knows how to live life why do we need the present-day gargantuan biblical counseling movement? The institutional church has been derelict in their sanctification duties for 500 years and are now making millions off of their own failure!

David Powlison, one the biblical counseling gurus of our day: “We are bringing counseling back to the church.” That begs the question: what have you Protestant Bozos been doing for 500 years? Has there been a lack of funds? Why should we trust you now?

Look, teach good, strong sanctification from the word in the home fellowships and the movement will explode. Why? because that breeds life, and people like life. Make the teaching of the word central to your home fellowships and everything else will be icing on the cake.

Not only that, the only place where real change is going to be propagated is in the home fellowship movements—the institutional church is not going to buy into the idea of real change within the believer.

In verse 12 the word for trial is better interpreted, “temptation.” That should be evident from the verses that follow where the word “tempted” is used. And what is the reward for saying “no” to sinful desire? Right, the crown of life. Is that rewards of life in this life or when we stand before Christ? I think both (James 1:25).

Now, let’s go back to the garden. When Adam and Eve obeyed the sinful desire, they received indwelling sin:

Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Here is another HUGE word in the sanctification scheme of things, “seed.” We are going to look at a lot of words that make the complete sanctification picture, and this is one of the dominate sanctification themes throughout Scripture, “seed,” or “offspring.” Obeying the sinful desire gave birth to sin within Adam and Eve, and all of humanity then came from Adam and Eve. This doesn’t change until the Virgin Mary bears the Messiah, she is “the woman” and “the seed” of the woman is Christ.

But the primary purpose of Christ, the seed of the woman, is twofold: to bear the sin of humanity, and enjoin Jew and Gentile into one body through His resurrection by the Holy Spirit. This is “the promise” (the baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 1:4,5) made to Abraham and Christ (Galatians 3:13-18).

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit was regenerating immediately after the fall. Christ told Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:7), and that was before the cross. The new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two different things; the baptism of the Holy Spirit united Jew and Gentile into one spiritual body. In one of the parts of this series we will be looking at the Holy Spirit’s ministry in depth.

Believers “lived” by faith, or faith made them alive. Saving faith believes God. Hebrews 11 makes this clear. Their belief also made them righteous (2Peter 2:8). From the very beginning, in this way, there was enmity between sin and the seed of the Spirit:

1John 3:7 – Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother…

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Notice the contrast between “of [ek] God” and “of [ek] the devil” or “of [ek] the evil one.” Ek is a Greek preposition that denotes origin—where something came from (“out from”). All people born into the world process sin that came from Adam and Eve. However, indwelling sin does not make humanity direct descendants of Satan in the same way that the new birth makes believers direct descendants of God. When sin was found within Lucifer, it was the creation of a separate entity unlike the new birth imparts God’s seed within the believer. The new birth is being born of God and you are part of His actual linage—God’s seed is not a separate entity working in the believer. Sin, of course, has commonality with Satan in regard to character and enmity against God, but biblical references to people being descendants of Satan is in a manner of speaking. Sin does not make people direct descendants of Satan.

Let me bring my point into clearer focus. There was a time in history when Satan in fact tried to up-the-ante and create a human race that would have been direct descendants of the fallen angels. Said angels actually cohabitated with the daughters of men. God incarcerated those angels until the last days when they will be released as a judgment, and then wiped out mankind in the flood because of this direct descendancy which was also an attempt to wipe out the lineage of Christ (Genesis 6:1-4, Jude 6,7). Post-flood, another attempt at this is made at Sodom and Gomorrah and we know what happened accordingly (Genesis 19).

That’s an important distinction because this brings us to our next point in knowing the enemy; i.e., sin. SIN is a master. People born into the world are really more direct descendants of sin than anything else, they are the “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Certainly, Satan can rule over people through the mutuality of sin, but sin is a master in and of itself.

Genesis 4:6 – The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Again, we see the concept of life and death. The Hebrew word translated “accepted” in the ESV is really “lifted up.” Disobedience leads to a fallen countenance, a form of death, and obedience leads to being lifted up, a form of life. Again, we see the catalyst of sin—desire. Sin desires to master, and uses desire to tempt people to sin. As we will see further along in the study, disobedience not only leads to some kind of death in various and sundry forms subtle and not so subtle, the desire for the sin increases in intensity and becomes an enflamed lust that enslaves the individual. It could be argued that this is the first detailed gospel presentation in the Bible. Remember, people who believed God in the Old Testament were born again of the Spirit. Salvation is not just believing in the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, it is a plenary believing of God that says, “God said it and that settles it” misunderstanding at times notwithstanding. Cain did not believe God in regard to the fact that sin is a master who wanted to dominate Cain, so we read the following:

Genesis 4:8 – Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Death, right? Do you see the progression of death via disobedience and not believing God? See the intervention of God at various stages? That’s evangelism. God is modeling evangelism here. Let’s read further:

Genesis 4:13 – Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

God puts a restraint on the consequences of his sin in order to continue the evangelism process, and be sure of this—this is a microcosm of every life on earth and the way God seeks man out in the same way He did Adam and Eve in the garden. God uses us and the Holy Spirit to seek men out, and yes, many of the righteous will die in the process.

So, if man is enslaved to sin, why are there any positive things in the world at all aside from Christianity? Because man is created in the image of God. But let’s not run that stop sign, ok? Let’s stop and ask ourselves what that means. It means a lot of things; such as, man is made to work, create, and take satisfaction in his accomplishments. Man is made to produce and will not be happy unless he is accomplishing things. Man functioning against the purposes of creation is also sin, and I think the kind of death propagated by laziness is extremely obvious, right?

When man creates something and stands back saying, “It is good” that imparts life, not death. Also, man is created with the works of God’s law written on his heart and a conscience either accusing or excusing his actions. The bad feelings associated with a conscience that is condemning you is definitely a form of death, and a clear conscience is definitely life. Secular psychologist and former president of the APA Orval Hobart Mowrer built a whole career on this concept and helped more people than any other psychologist in human history. Basically, the same counsel God gave Cain; if you do well, your countenance will be lifted up, if you do wrong, you will be downcast. How does one love life?

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;

Do we have a problem in our society with people not loving life, viz, depression? You bet. To me, it is clear why depression is so rampant in our society. Also, note that Peter is citing an Old Testament passage,

Psalm 34: 12 – What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

We have to note that the very same death/life—cursing/blessing concept is operative in the New Testament as it was in the Old. Before we move on, here is another sanctification/counseling nugget: when an unbeliever comes to you for counsel it is a perfect opportunity to present the gospel. Please don’t take the approach that if they don’t become a believer any counsel that you would give them is a waste of time. No, tell them, as God told Cain, that God’s wisdom can indeed make them happier in this life, but ultimately they are still condemned. Both Christians and unbelievers live under the death/life construct, but only the Christian can have eternal life. Showing God’s wisdom for living reinforces the fact that the One who created us knows what’s best for us in this present life, but that doesn’t deal with eternal life, only present life. They need both, and that makes a great gospel presentation. If they opt out of the eternal for the time being, every time you teach them about present life it is going to remind them that they need eternal life. See how that works?

Sin is a master, and this now brings us to the ancient slave/master motif presented in the Bible; primarily, the slave trade, or the marketing of slaves and how they were purchased from one master by another from time to time. All born into the world are born into the slavery of sin.

Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

We will be discussing the law’s relationship to this later in the study, but for now, focus on the fact that those born of flesh, are sold to the sin master. This concept has a myriad of biblical citations. This concept also makes a strong connection between the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul.

John 8:33-36 – They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

Romans 6:22 – But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

And then,

1 Corinthians 6:20 – for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1Corinthians 7:23 – You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.

1Peter 1:18 – knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

2Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Christ’s death purchased all men from the sin master. All of mankind has been freed from slavery, but choose to remain enslaved; they deny the Lord that has bought them. Their present master is a real salve master who enslaves them, but the Master who has paid for them with His life wants to set them free. His yoke is light, and gives rest from the fear of condemnation. Though His servants live in fear regarding present death or life, the death or life of eternal life is a settles issue. It is a rest from works for justification, not sanctification. They are free from the fear of condemnation, and free to aggressively love God and others in sanctification. Christ is an altogether different Master. As he said, His servants will remain in the house forever unlike the household of the sin master. Not only that, He is a Master that is a brother and friend to the servants. The servants remain in the household forever because they are true family:

John 15:15 – No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Hebrews 2:11 – For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

Lastly, sin is presently a defeated enemy. Sin was defeated on the cross by Christ, but many men choose to be enslaved by sin and carry on its work. Nevertheless, Christ will not strive with man forever and will put an end to the works of sin. Christ came to destroy the works of sin created by the devil (1John 3:8). In the Millennial kingdom, Christ will put an end disease and sickness, and finally he will end the last enemy, death:

1 Corinthians 15:54 – When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

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.

That is our segue into next week. Sin is the cause of death, and the power of sin is the law. All fear of death has to do with judgment. What does this mean? We have met the enemy, next week we will learn what empowers him, and how he is defeated in the Christian life. “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 2, Defeating the Enemy.”

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